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 » 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"
.
In logic, reductio ad absurdum (Latin for "reduction to absurdity"), also known as argumentum ad absurdum (Latin for "argument to absurdity"), apagogical arguments or the appeal to extremes, is a form of argument that attempts either to disprove a statement by showing it inevitably leads to a ridiculous, absurd, or impractical conclusion, or to prove one by showing that if it were not true, the result would be absurd or impossible.[1][2] Traced back to classical Greek philosophy in Aristotle's Prior Analytics[2] (Greek: ἡ εἰς τὸ ἀδύνατον ἀπόδειξις, lit. 'demonstration to the impossible', 62b), this technique has been used throughout history in both formal mathematical and philosophical reasoning, as well as in debate.

-- Reductio ad absurdum, by Wikipedia

False equivalence is a logical fallacy in which two completely opposing arguments appear to be logically equivalent when in fact they are not. This fallacy is categorized as a fallacy of inconsistency.[1]

-- False equivalence, by Wikipedia

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

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.


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

Postby admin » Thu Jun 20, 2019 10:22 pm

Richard Edelman
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 6/20/19

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.




Image
Richard Edelman
Edelman at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, 2011
Born Richard Winston Edelman
June 15, 1954 (age 65)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Residence New York City, New York, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater Harvard University
Occupation President and CEO of Edelman
Years active 1978–present
Spouse(s) Rosalind Anne Walrath (m. 1986 - d. 2015)
Claudia Romo González (m. 2017)
Children 3 (with Walrath)
Parent(s) Daniel J. Edelman
Ruth Edelman
Website Richard Edelman

Richard Winston Edelman (born June 15, 1954) is the President & Chief Executive Officer of the public relations company Edelman, a position he has held since September 1996.

Personal life

Edelman was born on June 15, 1954 to a Jewish family, the son Ruth Ann (née Rozumoff) and Daniel Edelman, the founder of the public relations company, Edelman.[1][2][3] He was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy.[1][2]

On May 18, 1986, he married Rosalind Anne Walrath in a Jewish ceremony on at the Harvard Club of New York.[4] His wife is the daughter of the then-creative director of advertising agency JWT, and was a Vice President at the investment bank Keefe, Bruyette & Woods when they wed.[2] He has three daughters,[5] Margot, Tory, and Amanda.[6] In 2008 he was diagnosed with prostate cancer but had successful surgery.[7] In 2015, it was announced that Edelman and Walrath were getting a divorce. In 2017, Edelman married Mexican diplomat, Claudia Romo González.[8] Claudia had two kids, Joshua and Tamara in her previous marriage.

His two siblings, John and Renee, are also executives at Edelman, making Edelman the largest private, family-run public relations firm in the world.[9] His daughters, Margot and Tory, both work for his firm.[10]

Career

Richard Edelman joined the Edelman firm in 1978 after receiving his MBA from Harvard, where he had also studied as an undergraduate.[1] He had intended to take a job in marketing at Playtex, but his father persuaded him to join the family company.[5] He was an executive at Edelman by 1981 and in 1983, he was appointed president of Edelman's New York Office.[11][12] He was appointed president of the company in 1985. His father remained as Chief Executive Officer (CEO). At that time, the company's income was only $14.2 million.[1] He pledged to keep the company independent at a time when many other PR companies were being bought by advertising agencies.[13] He later became the regional manager of Europe before being promoted to CEO in September 1996, a post that he still holds today.[14]

Edelman is a regular attendee at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, having attended 9 times by 2007.[15] In January 2012, he presented to leaders in world governments and chief executives, and his main message to them was that, based on a survey by his company, the public do not trust governments and business executives anymore - they are the least trusted of any group.[16]

Social media

Edelman was one of the first PR practitioners to identify the importance of social media and create a specialist practice.[17] He coined the phrase circle of cross influence to describe how people are increasingly influenced by other people, the internet, new media and cable TV, rather than mainstream media.[18][19] He has written a blog since 2004, and is one of the first CEOs to do so.[20][21] In 2007 PR Week described his blog as one of the better-known PR blogs, in part due to some of his posts being controversial.[15]

He has advised the Canadian tar sands industry how to counter negative PR from NGOs using social media.[22]

Appointments

Edelman sits on the board of directors of the Ad Council, the Children's Aid Society, the Atlantic Council, the International Business Leaders Forum, the Gettysburg National Battlefield Foundation and the National Committee on United States-China Relations. He is also a member of the World Economic Forum, the Arthur Page Society, the PR Seminar and a director of the Jerusalem Foundation.[23][24] In 2009, Edelman was appointed executive jury chair of a new award recognizing the creative use of unpaid publicity, given at the Clio Awards.[25]

Views

Shortly after the mortgage lending crisis, Richard Edelman said that financial institutions have a PR problem. Richard claimed that financial institutions rank lowest on the company's trust barometer, because they don't explain the how and why of their actions to the public.[26] Edelman CEO Richard Edelman spends about an hour per day voicing his views on the company blog that he started to set an example for Edelman clients.[27]

Edelman helped raise donations for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.[28]

References

1. Dougherty, Philip H. (1985-06-14). "A Promotion At Edelman". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
2. "Miss Walrath Weds Richard Edelman". New York Times. 1986-05-18. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
3. http://www.adweek.com/news/press/daniel ... -92-146555
4. "Miss Walrath Weds Richard Edelman". The New York Times. 1986-05-18. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-04-07.
5. Barker, Sophie (6 August 1999). "PROFILE: Richard Edelman, Edelman PR Worldwide - Taking hold of the family firm. Richard Edelman has overseen a recent string of walkouts and a steady growth". PRWeek. Archived from the original on 2012-03-18. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
6. Bruell, Alexandra (December 11, 2012). "Six Things You May Not Know About Dan Edelman and His Agency - Lessons From 'Edelman and the Rise of Public Relations". AdAge. The new wave of leaders at Edelman will likely include three young women who share the company name: Richard and Roz's three daughters, Margot, Tory, and Amanda
7. Krieger, Candice (October 10, 2008). "Why the PR guru sees an upbeat story". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved March 12,2012.
8. "Claudia González Romo, Richard Edelman". The New York Times. September 17, 2017.
9. H. Lee Murphy (2005-10-17). "Edelman; public relations, Chicago". Crain's Chicago Business.
10. "Edelman: Agency Business Report 2014 - Edelman crossed the threshold of employing more than 5,000 people in 2013 and continued on its global growth path". PRWeek. May 1, 2014. Richard’s eldest daughter Margot, a VP in research at Edelman Berland, rejoined the firm in 2013 after a stint at business school. She works across clients such as Hearst and New York City FC’s Major League Soccer team. Tory Edelman started in fall 2013 as an account executive in New York working on Starbucks and Dove.
11. Dougherty, Philip H. (1983-12-20). "Advertising - People". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
12. "Around the World; Nestle Said to Have Paid For Rights Nominee's List". New York Times. 1981-05-28. Archived from the original on November 13, 2013. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
13. David Snyder (1987-09-14). "Dan Edelman: Playing at the Top of His Game". Crains Chicago Business. p. 25.
14. "Richard Edelman Biography". Edelman. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
15. Hannah Marriott (2007-01-26). "Profile: Blogosphere's Darling - Richard Edelman, president and global CEO, Edelman". PR Week.
16. Lewis, Al (January 25, 2012). "Lewis: A PR guy we can trust". Dow Jones Newswires. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
17. Shel Holtz; John C. Havens (2009). Tactical transparency: how leaders can leverage social media to maximize value and build their brand. International Association of Business Communicators/John Wiley and Sons. pp. 34–. ISBN 978-0-470-29370-6. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
18. Sina Odugbemi; Thomas L. Jacobson (2008). Governance reform under real-world conditions: citizens, stakeholders, and voice. World Bank Publications. p. 244. ISBN 978-0-8213-7456-6. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
19. "Keeping It Simple in a 25/8 World". New York Times. 2012-01-28.
20. Bob Walsh (5 February 2007). Clear blogging: how people blogging are changing the world and how you can join them. Apress. pp. 132–. ISBN 978-1-59059-691-3. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
21. Nancy Flynn (2006). Blog rules: a business guide to managing policy, public relations, and legal issues. AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn. pp. 183–. ISBN 978-0-8144-7355-9. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
22. Alastair Sweeny (20 April 2010). Black Bonanza: Canada's Oil Sands and the Race to Secure North America's Energy Future. John Wiley and Sons. pp. 221–. ISBN 978-0-470-16138-8. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
23. "Richard Edelman profiled in The Holmes Report". Edelman.com. March 31, 2009. Archived from the original on December 15, 2010. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
24. "The Jerusalem Foundation, Inc. (USA)". Jerusalemfoundation.org. Archived from the original on January 20, 2012. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
25. "Clio Awards Adds PR Category". Adweek. January 15, 2009. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
26. Alain Sherter, Bnet. "PR Man Richard Edelman Says Banks Have a Perception Problem. Wrong" October 13, 2009.
27. Debbie Weil, Social Media Insights Blog. Q & A with CEO blogger Richard Edelman. October 2, 2007
28. "Company Histories & Profiles: Edelman". Funding Universe. Retrieved January 6, 2012.
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Re: Buddhist Project Sunshine Phase 3 Final Report: The nail

Postby admin » Mon Jun 24, 2019 2:17 am

AMA with Carol Merchasin
April 11, 8:00-9:00 pm Eastern
Posted byu/thebasketofeggs
Reddit

Carol Merchasin will join us to “answer anything.” Please be clear that Ms. Merchasin has no affiliation with Shambhala and has never been employed by Shambhala. Most recently, Ms. Merchasin published a final report, which can be found on this sub here.

Bio: Carol Merchasin is a retired lawyer and former partner in the Philadelphia office of Morgan, Lewis and Bockius, a 2200 lawyer global law firm, where she was the director of Morgan Lewis Resources, providing training and investigation services to clients. Ms. Merchasin is an experienced investigator into workplace misconduct issues, and she has conducted dozens of workplace investigations, including those involving sensitive allegations made against top level executives.

In addition, Carol has developed and taught courses on investigative techniques to human resource professionals at many Fortune 500 companies. She was the lead author of the book, Case Dismissed: Taking Your Harassment Training to Trial, published by the American Bar Association.

Links of interest: If you would like to catch up on the topics referenced in many of the questions, here are links to the Buddhist Project Sunshine reports, and to Ms. Merchasin's own reports:

All of Andrea's BPS work can be found here - there are direct links to the phase 1-3 reports about halfway down the page: http://andreamwinn.com/offerings/bps-welcome-page/

Carol's reflection's on Wickwire Holm Report: https://www.buddhistprojectsunshine.org ... -Merchasin

Carol's final report on BPS: https://www.buddhistprojectsunshine.org ... -Merchasin

Note: Please do not post comments and opinions on this thread. The thread is reserved for questions. Please post your questions at the top level so they don’t become buried.

Merchasin's verification: This is a great picture. Please click through or click the camera icon to view: https://imgur.com/gallery/lvWk3pR

Image

April 11, 7:45 pm Eastern: Hello! Can't wait to get started. We will begin in 15 minutes. Ms. Merchasin will start with the questions that are already posted. The thread will be open until 9 pm for new questions. At 9 pm I will close comments on the thread.

Please keep your questions at the top level, so they don’t get lost. Follow up questions are good too. Please feel free to add those in reply to her responses. As always, please stay away from flames and ad hom. If I see anything that is purely flame or ad hom, I will delete it. Otherwise, I’ll stay out.

This thread has been locked by the moderators of r/ShambhalaBuddhism
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NEW (SUGGESTED)

level 1
rubbishaccount88
Call me Ra
25 points
2 months ago
In your entire arc of conduct from the beginning through this very AMA, you have been one of the most extraordinary examples of grace, bravery and intelligence I've ever seen. No question. Just another thank you so very much.

level 2
CarolMerchasin
21 points
2 months ago
I can not tell you how much that means to me. Everyone involved in this mess has struggled mightily and the thing that has sustained me and I think the others has been the swift and strong response of this community. So back at you....

level 3
AbbeyStrict
13 points
2 months ago
I just want to thank you as well, you have done such tremendous good in your work, helped so many people, especially the most vulnerable. You are a beacon of truth and justice.

level 2
thebasketofeggs
10 points
2 months ago
Second, and thanks to you too, Ra, for setting this up.

level 1
FarSwan3
7 points
2 months ago
Hi Carol,

Thank you so much for all of your work.

A friend posted your recent report on Sangha Talk on the Shambhala Network two days ago, but surprisingly it has so far only received one comment. I will try posting it differently so that more people are aware of it. I am afraid that people are becoming tired of looking at the situation anymore. This is unfortunate since your report seems to me to be much more complete than the WH report.

I was surprised to find out that you had also published something in February. Somehow with all the revelations, I was not aware of it. I forget how the BPS project ended up in all of our mailboxes, but yours did not.

level 2
CarolMerchasin
8 points
2 months ago
I agree with you that we get overwhelmed and have fatigue over these issues. Another factor is that many people have already left the sangha and moved on. I appreciate your willingness to post it again on Sangha Talk and I think that the link to the piece I wrote in February is above on this thread.

level 1
Cashoobutter
3 points
2 months ago
thank you!

level 1
TrimeTak
3 points
2 months ago
Are you still in contact with the claimants? If anyone wanted to reach out to them, to offer support or an apology, would that be appropriate? And if so how would one contact them? And lastly, are they safe, do they have support systems? Thank you for considering my garage of questions. Thank you for everything.

level 2
thebasketofeggs
5 points
2 months ago
Here is the Shambhala apology. It's beautiful... You can post an apology here.

https://shambhala-apology.com/

level 2
CarolMerchasin
7 points
2 months ago
I thank you for your garage! Because really you raise the most important thing. What are we doing for survivors? I am in contact with them, yes. And as to reaching out and an apology, I wonder if our moderator could later post the link for the apology that has been making the rounds. You can sign and you can add your own comments and they will get it. It has, I think, been helpful for them to know that many members of the community of thinking of their well being as you have here. Nothing has come out of Shambhala which is a real indication to me that it is going to be very difficult for them going forward.

level 1
thebasketofeggs
4 points
2 months ago
We are at the end of the hour. Ms. Merchasin has generously offered to stick around to answer the questions that were posted right before the hour, but we aren't taking new questions at this point...

level 1
dellarite61
5 points
2 months ago
Thank you.

level 1
GreenwayDance
2 points
2 months ago
How did you conduct your investigations? Did you visit the different jurisdictions and meet witnesses directly face to face? Have you interacted with any State or National investigators? As there are different states where these events are alleged to have occured - isn't that part of the FBI's remit? Have you called on the many resources the government provides to investigate and provided copies of the evidence you have collected?

level 2
CarolMerchasin
2 points
2 months ago
Do you mean in this investigation? The way I conduct investigations is to first frame the question and then look at everything that I might need to answer that question. So if the question is: did the Sakyong assault a woman in Chile in 2002? then I look for any documents that might point me toward answering that question. The internet is a wonderful resource for a lot of thing. I did interviews entirely by the Zoom video conference. All of the survivors are in different locations so the travel would have been enormous. For my work, I rarely interact with federal or state investigators as all of it is private.

level 1
CheredeDarievea
6 points
2 months ago
When the Wickwire Holm investigation was ongoing I looked up Selina Bath's CV and noticed that she is a trained workplace abuse investigator. Needless to say, the allegations against Shambhala are not typical "workplace" infractions, and involve a whole layer of vajrayana power dynamic that is absent in the workplace. Do you think that WH was an appropriate choice for the investigation? After all, Nova Scotia is no stranger to clergy sex abuse, and there must be law firms there that specialize in that.

level 2
CarolMerchasin
8 points
2 months ago
Yes, interesting. Of course, I didn't really think about that because I am a workplace investigator and while the vajrayana and samaya issues are foreign to the workplace, I think I felt that it would translate. But now I am not sure. I certainly share your concern about the ability to understand the dynamics and particularly as it related to Ann. So, perhaps it wasn't.

level 1
Virginia_Buddhist
2 points
2 months ago
Thanks Carol for all your hard work to bring to light the abuses of power and potential criminal acts by Mr Mukpo and others within SI. Thanks also for the tremendous empathy you have shown to the brave survivors who stepped forward. I have followed your work on this issue closely since last summer. It seems to me the way the old Kalapa Council and the IB have approached this controversy is designed entirely to protect Mr Mukpo and minimize the allegations of the survivors. I contrast that with the approach the Rigpa board took toward similar allegations against Sogyal Rinpoche, which appeared to be designed to get to the root of the problem and to give the survivors who stepped forward as much support as possible. Do you think this assessment is accurate? In your opinion, is there anything the broader Shambhala community ought to be doing to urge the IB to better act in the interest of the organization rather then protecting the perpetrators?

level 2
CarolMerchasin
7 points
2 months ago
As to the Rigpa situation, I am not familiar enough with the actions taken to say that they supported survivors and wanted to get to the root of the problem -- that may be true, I just don't know.

As to what to do? I would put pressure on the IB in whatever ways you can to answer the questions in one of the posts below. Are they going to implement the AOB? Do they have the power? As I understand it, they are in power for a year and then the Sakyong can come back and reverse everything they may (or may not) change. Is that true? I would want to support them in coming to some hard decisions and being absolutely truthful to the community. Truth is the most important thing. That builds trust. If they cannot be truthful, I wonder what is left worth saving.

level 2
CarolMerchasin
6 points
2 months ago
Thank you for your thank you! I appreciate it and I appreciate from all of you who have said that. Now, to your question. I agree that to my way of thinking the old Kalapa Council and the IB have approached this to protect and not with the level of transparency that they need. This is certainly understandable since they have taken a loyalty oath to the Sakyong and the lineage. How could we expect them to do something differently?

level 1
Cashoobutter
2 points
2 months ago
You investigated abuses committed by the current Shambhala leader Osel Mipham . I am wondering if through this process you were able to get a sense about his father Trungpa and any connections to abuses from his era?

level 2
CarolMerchasin
3 points
2 months ago
I have certainly heard about these and have for many years. But I have not, and did not feel that I could investigate, due to the passage of time and the inability to interview him and perhaps many others. So, no, I probably only know what you know already!

level 1
TrimeTak
2 points
2 months ago
As for mandatory reporters, what about an adult's right to choose whether an assault is reported or not and to whom? This allows the person some control, and in fact, perhaps the only point of control is the decision to report or not. After that, a whole string of things could follow that is beyond the person's control. It would be better perhaps to have leaders take the responsibility to reach out to the victim and offer support, offering him/her/they support and accountability. What do you think?

level 2
CarolMerchasin
3 points
2 months ago
Yes, I see what you are saying and I agree -- to some extent. Let me tell you how it happens in the workplace. Because it is exactly as you say, out of the person's control and it doesn't always work out for the better. At work, if someone sees you being harassed, assaulted, etc. they may have to report whether you want them to or not. So in that sense, the workplace requires mandatory reporting, at least if you are a manager. I get that doesn't always work out well and it definitely makes it beyond the victim's control. But I have also seen the "let's reach out to victims and offer support" be a disaster. I think for example that what happened in 2011 followed that script. People kept reaching out -- granted, with no possibility of a resolution. I think the "reach out and offer support" requires a lot of training and a strong culture of no tolerance to make it work. What do you think?

level 2
CarolMerchasin
3 points
2 months ago
I don't know that the concept of "mandatory reporters" applies to adults. I only know it in relationship to children. Do you know of a state that requires mandatory reporting for adult sexual assault?

level 3
thebasketofeggs
5 points
2 months ago
I'm a mandatory reporter for sexual harassment, assault, gender discrimination, under my university's (misguided) interpretations of Title IX. My students are adults.

Edit: Actually, the terminology is "responsible employee." Means the same.

level 4
CarolMerchasin
3 points
2 months ago
Yes, I see exactly the same in the workplace (and also universities where I also do work). It is dilemma for sure. Anyone who is a manager in the US workplace is in a sense a mandatory reporter.

level 1
thebasketofeggs
2 points
2 months ago
edited 2 months ago
Sensing a lull... I have a question that I think might be interesting...

I think of how much expertise you have and how you seemed to appear like a guardian angel. But the fact of the matter is, no center would be able to afford your services. Many don't even pay their directors. Now, it is evident there has been significant hoarding of money at the top, but out at the individual centers, there isn't any money. Just enough to pay rent. So what do organizations like local meditation centers do to make sure they have competent people in place. Maybe not people with your level of expertise, but if all you have to work with are the random people who come to meditate, how do you keep from having serious holes in the support that's available? It seems like there could have been some prevention if we'd been listening to people who knew what they were doing. Or if we could do so going forward.... (I keep saying we, but it's not we anymore. I left. They... Obviously I still care...)

level 2
CarolMerchasin
3 points
2 months ago
Such a difficult question. And yes, a parallel situation is legal services for poor people, not just poor organizations. I wonder if within all of the mandala of Shambhala they might identify -- for example -- a cadre of people who could do investigations. Because as I mentioned down below, if you ask people to report misconduct, you have to investigate that report. You can't just say well, yes, or well, no. So maybe there are some pockets of volunteer expertise, not just investigations, but all kinds of things, like trauma experts, conflict management, that could be centralized and farmed out to centers from within the organization. But nothing works, if culture doesn't change. That's the first thing.

level 3
CarolMerchasin
4 points
2 months ago
And people can be trained to do these specialized things. And also importantly, money has apparently been worded [hoarded] at the top when it should have been invested in creating a stronger environment.

level 4
thebasketofeggs
2 points
2 months ago
Do you know who does this well in terms of organizing volunteers? I want to say maybe Quakers?

level 5
CarolMerchasin
2 points
2 months ago
Hmm. I wouldn't have thought of the Quakers, I would have maybe thought of non-profits. But maybe that is not a good comparator?

level 1
CarolMerchasin
4 points
2 months ago
But even if we close at 9:00 I will get all posted questions answered.

level 2
thebasketofeggs
3 points
2 months ago
Thank you... that's very generous.

level 1
CarolMerchasin
3 points
2 months ago
So, folks, I have two devices going -- a function of being in Mexico with slow and uncertain internet at this moment. So if it takes me a bit to answer, have patience!

level 2
newclee
4 points
2 months ago
Thank you for making yourself available. I am wondering, do you think SMR will ever be charged with a criminal offence? Do you feel it would be better for those who were harmed by him to sue him in civil court? Several countries involved.

level 3
CarolMerchasin
8 points
2 months ago
The question of whether he will ever be charged criminally is difficult for me to answer, because it is completely the decision of the survivor involved. But if you are asking me (or would like to ask me) is it possible? Then yes, the answer is yes it is possible. In Nova Scotia because the assault happened in Nova Scotia.

level 1
BoneStar85
4 points
2 months ago
In your response to Cashoobutter's question, you mentioned that you've learned about the issues of trauma and dealing with people who have had trauma. Could you share some of what you've learned? Could you share especially what you've learned that people who've had trauma need--from their institution, from the perpetrator, and from their communities? We are trying to make this subreddit community a space that will be as supportive as possible for survivors (as supportive as is possible in a public online forum), and I'd love to hear any of your insights into what might be helpful vs. harmful. Thank you again for your work, service, and courage.

level 2
CarolMerchasin
5 points
2 months ago
The Treating Trauma Master Series. Free. Might have some interesting approach. I have found Dick Schwartz to be very insightful in other areas of psychology.

level 3
CarolMerchasin
5 points
2 months ago
https://www.nicabm.com/program/aff-trea ... paign=2036

level 2
CarolMerchasin
7 points
2 months ago
One of the sources that has been helpful to me is the research that is being done on institutional betrayal. If you look up Jennifer Freyd you will see a treasure trove of what I have found to be very practical information on how institutions need to do a better job of responding. What I personally found? That survivors of trauma need to respond in their own time, not mine, their own way, not mine, that they are not always consistent (a fact which I wished Ms. Bath had known when she interviewed Ann and that they are all having different journeys. Check out also Richard Schwartz now doing a free class on trauma. I will look up the contact info and post it in a minute.

level 1
GreenwayDance
5 points
2 months ago
edited 2 months ago
Hi Carol,

Thank you for taking the time to make yourself available to us, especially when all your work into the BPS reports must have been exhausting!!

I hope you can read through my questions as something in BPS3 has raised some extremely worrying points and I hope you understand how concerned I am as to the importance of protecting the most vulnerable in society.

Having read through the various reports, I see the very most egregious allegations are not limited by the Statute of Limitations, specifically in BPS3 quote:

“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.”

Indeed, such an allegation must and would be investigated by the police wherever it occurs, irrespective of when it took place.


Treaties are international – meaning if such an crime happened in 1960’s in New York, and in 2018 the crime is revealed but the perpetrator has moved to Australia, surely all that is required is a submission of the judicial papers and a request for extradition?

So, have the police been notified, and when?

Given that BPS3 alleges:

“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.”


You then wrote:

“I cannot investigate this allegation. The information that Ann has would have to go to the District Attorney in Larimer County, Colorado.”


The allegation here – the implication is so serious that there is no statute of limitations, it transcends jurisdictional boundaries and the police are duty bound to investigate, and to bring to account surely?

Also, as you wrote in your final report, “It is axiomatic in an investigation that all reports of wrong-doing should be investigated, even if anonymous.”


I assume that means the police would also investigate anonymous reports – indeed they have been known to do so.

So here’s the big question –

If you believe you have evidence, or you know someone that has evidence of multiple crimes of rape of underage children and it has not been reported to the police, surely that might be perceived as covering up, complicity or enablement?

Especially when these allegations are said to have taken place 15 years ago - that’s 15 years worth of potential victims?
And when there is nothing to stop the police from investigation it today?

Surely these underage children will be in their mid to late 20’s now, and there is a record of participants at these programs to help the police find any victims?

As I said, I hope you understand how concerned I am as to the importance of protecting the most vulnerable in society.

As an Attorney, you will have the expertise to convince the police to conduct a thorough investigation about these extremely serious allegations.

As I understand it, before reparations or penalty for any alleged crime can be demanded, it needs to be proven in a court of law first, and the court has all the powers it needs to summon records, witnesses and so on, to find these victims?

Has this happened?

Thank you in anticipation of your answer.

level 2
Browndogfoot
2 points
2 months ago
You are correct. These allegations that involve minor children have NO or in some cases, very long statute of limitations. In this case, the police in Larimer County have opened an investigation. And that is where this stands right now as far as I know. So yes, the police investigate as they are doing and if they find probable cause to prosecute, all of those powers you describe are available.

And I imagine (I am not a criminal lawyer) but I would guess that failing to report such underage sexual encounters would be a violation of some laws if it could be proved.

I hope this helps.

level 3
GreenwayDance
2 points
2 months ago
When was it reported? 2004 / 2005 or recently, and is there a crime reference number?

level 4
Virginia_Buddhist
2 points
2 months ago
The Larimer County Sheriff's Office began investigating allegations of sex with minors last fall. The detectives working the case indicated it may take several years to reach a conclusion.

level 4
Browndogfoot
2 points
2 months ago
It was reported recently after August. I do not know that there is a reference number but it is within the Larimer Country Sheriff’s office.

level 1
true___lies
2 points
2 months ago
What happened to the Ann's story on BPS 3 report? originally it was an extensive story on how Osel Mukpo had some sort of group sex with Ann and so forth with a lot of disgusting details. it seems like the original story has been scrubbed from BPS 3 (http://andreamwinn.com/project_sunshine ... Report.pdf) Now it only has names of supposed perpetrators.

level 2
CarolMerchasin
3 points
2 months ago
I don't know about being "scrubbed" from BPS 3 but what I just reported in my Final Report was that a witness came forward who described similar conduct that she had witnessed from the Sakyong that was not an invitation to group sex but rather a "cruel joke" or taunting. If you go to the Final Report you can read it there. It is the first numbered paragraph.

level 1
dellarite61
3 points
2 months ago
I'd like clarification on your use of the phrase, "It appears that..." Does this mean it is your opinion?

level 2
CarolMerchasin
3 points
2 months ago
Yes. I try to be precise about what I feel is a "finding" which means that it is more likely than not true and what is my opinion. Where did I use it and I can tell you for sure.

level 3
dellarite61
2 points
2 months ago
Thank you. "It appears that the Interim Board did not want to know the answers to a number of questions."

How can proof be revealed that they ARE avoiding the truth or covering up the truth. How do we prove it?


level 1
CarolMerchasin
3 points
2 months ago
Hi, everyone. I am happy to be here and answer all of your questions. I have put in most of the answers to the questions that were posted in advance but while you are looking at those I will post the rest of my answers.

level 1
Comment removed by moderator
2 months ago

level 1
lilydrum
4 points
2 months ago
edited 2 months ago
what do you think of the Sakyong's current position and his relation he is having with his students? Asking us about our commitments and samayas, without any clarification on behalf of himself how he is doing and what his path of healing and ammending is?

level 2
CarolMerchasin
13 points
2 months ago
I am not a Vajrayana student and so I can only give you one side to this story. I would never study with the Sakyong unless he was able to “practice what he preaches.” But there are Vajrayana students who feel differently.

And that’s ok with me. My objective all along has been for people to understand the truth or something as close to the truth as possible and then make the decisions that are best for them. So, if people still want to study with the Sakyong, then that is their business.

What I do not find useful is the “word salad” that has gone on around this issue. The Sakyong is stepping down, he is stepping back “from…teaching and administrative duties,” but wait, the Sakyong is teaching Vajrayana students. The Acharyas, are not still loyal to the Sakyong, oh but that was a misunderstanding, they are. There will be no ‘business as usual’, but yes, there is ‘business as usual’ and you can come to the Scorpion Seal. The communications that come out of Shambhala International seem disingenuous at worst and at best confused.

I wish that someone at SI would just straight up say,

“Look, we don’t feel like we can have a community without the Sakyong. We have a samaya vow with him, he owns the copyrights and whatever else it is that constrains us, and we just can’t go on without him. So, if you can deal with that, if you can deal with the fact that he probably will never hold himself accountable and we can’t make him do anything that he doesn’t want to do, then please stay with us.”

I am perfectly fine with that. Because then you know. You make an informed decision that works for you. I have a sense now that the communications are walking a fine line between remorse that is not genuine because they need to say something so that more people don’t leave but they can’t exactly say the straight up truth. Needless to say, the thing that needs to happen here is rebuilding trust and that can’t happen when there is no transparency.

As for clarification on what he is doing and what his path of healing is – I wish he would do that. But if the future looks like the past (which it sometimes does) I would not expect that to come anytime soon.


level 1
TharpaKunga
4 points
2 months ago
What in your view should Shambhala do - a set of requirements, say - to show that the organization is serious about reform and putting this story behind it? An A, B and C perhaps that the outfit can be assessed against and maybe held to.

level 2
CarolMerchasin
8 points
2 months ago
Well, I would go directly to the AOB recommendations. I love your idea of using something as a measure of progress, of accountability. So here are a few of the critical ones:

Public Response: Apologize! Hold the Sakyong accountable and tell us specifically how you will hold him accountable going forward. Everything starts here.

Tell us what you do and do not have the power or the will to do in implementing the AOB recommendations. Let the community know exactly what the obstacles are.

Leaders must end the culture that has allowed sexual abuse and abuse of power to go unpunished. To do this, the current teachers and leaders who knew, should have known and either covered up or did nothing, should be held accountable. Otherwise, you are rebuilding Shambhala with the same mindset that allowed this mess to begin with and you are losing trust with the community.

Separate the spiritual and governing parts of the organization. The Sakyong should not have the power that he has had. Can the IB do that? Can they have non-Shambhala members of the Board as has been recommended? Tell the community.

Enact a new Code of Ethics policy that includes the Sakyong and train people on it.

Enable the Care and Conduct body to revoke the teaching credentials of those teachers who are found to have violated the policy. To do this, I will mention, you must have people who are independent and capable of doing an investigation into the allegations that are made. The prior system of forced mediation is archaic and wrong.

Remake the Care and Conduct Committee.

There are others. But to my mind, these are the most critical.


level 1
VajraDr
7 points
2 months ago
edited 2 months ago
Do you think Mr. Mipham is at meaningful risk of criminal charges for the historical acts that have come to light? Do you think that he, and/or the Shambhala community, are at meaningful risk of civil suits? Do you have a sense of how the risks of criminal or civil proceedings may have shaped the behaviour of the organization since Project Sunshine (e.g. communications that say very little, caginess about harms and culpability)?

level 2
CarolMerchasin
5 points
2 months ago
The legal issue to understand here is that there are statutes of limitations in the US that govern how long you can wait before making a claim, both criminal and civil. There is a different statute of limitations generally for child sexual abuse and it is often longer than for adults. In this case, to the best of my knowledge (I am not a criminal lawyer), the only criminal charge could be from the survivor of the 2011 assault because it happened in Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia has an open ended statute of limitations. There may be other assaults that happened in more recent years that I am not aware of, but based on what I know right now, that is the criminal side.

Of course, there has been, according to the AOB report a lot of sexual misconduct that is not related to the Sakyong. There are criminal investigations going on in Colorado and in Vermont and perhaps other places that I am not aware of that could lead to criminal charges against other people.

And yes, as a lawyer, I understand that the risks of criminal conduct may limit what you want to say. That is a reality. But I have also many, many, times seen this – when you do not come clean, when you do not take responsibility, hold yourself accountable, the people who have been harmed begin to look elsewhere for “justice.” We have only to look at the Catholic Church to see how that plays out.

level 1
Quiddity70
3 points
2 months ago
Do you have names for teachers other than smr who have specifically been named as being fully aware/present and/or actual perpetrators? Have they been approached and given an option perhaps to clear their names and/or allow the accusations to be publicized? Do you not feel that such information as X current teachers were approached concerning their reported involvement and of those Y refused to let their names be published, and Z refused to even answer allegations, would be a useful metric?

level 2
CarolMerchasin
4 points
2 months ago
As to the names of teachers (and leaders) I have named only those teachers or leaders that I have either substantial corroboration for their knowledge of misconduct or they have already admitted their knowledge of misconduct. I did this in my reports in July and August and I haven’t noticed anyone coming forward with any statement of either denial or accountability. Not true – I just remembered that Ethan Nichtern did (although I did not name him as a person who had specific knowledge of misconduct). I don’t have his letter in front of me but I remember thinking at the time, that he provided a road map for others. But to my knowledge, there haven’t been others. Perhaps the IB and other teachers and leaders need to take his letter and use it as a model of what needs to happen.

So, yes, I think absolutely that teachers and leaders who knew about misconduct should be approached and given an opportunity to take accountability or tell why not. This should have been part of the WH investigation but it wasn’t. I think that the Interim Board as part of their responsibility to rebuild trust with the community can and should do that. As I understand it, the Board does have the power to remove teachers.


level 1
thebasketofeggs
3 points
2 months ago
edited 2 months ago
Having read your final report, and having had a chance to sit with it for a few days, I have a couple questions:

The person who witnessed Ann kneeling in front of Mipham referenced other times they had seen Mipham doing the same thing to other women. I guess exposing himself or "stroking" himself in such a way that the woman was aware of it but others in the room were not. How many times did they see this?

Further, just to be clear, what this witness says is that Mipham was in the habit of exposing himself in this semi-covert way, and also that what he was doing to Ann was purposely torturing her mentally? Is that a correct reading of your report?


level 2
CarolMerchasin
3 points
2 months ago
She cannot remember how many times she saw this stroking, exposing behavior. At least a few times and yes, her statement was that from her perspective it was a form of torturing and that he was in the habit of doing it. And yes, this woman was aware of it and the men to her knowledge were not – or at least never raised it with her. And yes, to Greenway Dance, to the best of her recollection, this woman was not present at the incident that “Ann” reported, she was simply coming forward to say that she felt that Ann possibly misinterpreted the meaning of the actions.

level 2
GreenwayDance
3 points
2 months ago
Perhaps this could be clarified as it appears the person was not a witness to any of the alleged events specific to "Ann"? Correct me if I'm wrong.

level 1
Kilimahewa
8 points
2 months ago
Can you say more about Shambhala threatening BPS with legal action in the early stages? What exactly happened?

level 2
CarolMerchasin
15 points
2 months ago
Gold Award2
Toward the end of April when it was clear that no one on the Kalapa Council would speak to Andrea about the issues of sexual misconduct, the Kalapa Council suggested that we enter mediation. I was familiar enough with the mediation process that I knew that we could not mediate sexual assault claims, but I thought that once the Kalapa Council received the information that we had – that there were three women making credible claims of sexual assault against the Sakyong – that they would certainly want to do what we were asking -- which was to commission an independent 3rd party investigation and have the Sakyong step down during the pendency of the investigation.

We met with the mediator on May 24, 2018 and we gave her our information. What came back to us from the Kalapa Council were lies. We were told that they were “not able to imagine that kind of thing” and that “that is just not the kind of man the Sakyong is.” Of course, what we now know is that they were aware of the 2011 assault in 2011 (because they said so in a giant conference call that was transcribed).

Eventually on June 24th on the telephone, the mediator conveyed the message that if we published the report Shambhala would take “any and all available action” against Andrea and me. I am a lawyer. I am certainly familiar with threats of legal action, but I can tell you truthfully that I was taken aback. That was on a Sunday and on Monday, we got a lawyer who took us on and led us through the entire process.

I want to point out that the threat of legal action came from people who absolutely knew that what the women were saying about the Sakyong was true. I also want to say that during the time between the meeting with the mediator (May 24, 2018) and the day Andrea published the first [second] investigation report (June 28, 2018) I tried many times to set up a call with the Kalapa Council and an associate attorney in Alex Halpern’s office. That never happened.

The Kalapa Council members are not the only ones whose loyalty to the Sakyong at any price led them to lie. A kusung on duty the night of the 2011 assault, the night of the Sakyong’s daughter’s birthday party, told me he knew absolutely nothing about any inappropriate behavior by the Sakyong -- he could not even imagine anything like that. In other words, the woman was lying.

Months later, I tracked down a person who told me he had met with this kusung a few days after the assault and the kusung told him, “The Sakyong fucked up big time the night of the birthday party.” This is the lengths to which people were willing to go. They had no choice – apparently their loyalty to the Sakyong required this. The lying is endemic. I heard that a teacher at a Shambhala retreat insisted that I have been disbarred – I suppose as a way to try to soothe herself into believing that this troubling information could not be true.

The level of disregard for the allegations and the confidence that Shambhala had that the damage could be contained reached a peak when one prominent Shambhala leader, the only one who spoke to me, told me that “only 10% of the community will read your report anyway.” It is hard for me to know what to call that attitude. Cynical? Insulting?

Oh yes, a bad prediction.


level 1
drala1008
8 points
2 months ago
edited 2 months ago
Can you tell us more about the 2002 incident back in Chile? As a former member, hearing about this incident made me so doubtful and it triggered my process of leaving Shambhala... Do you know why the affected person did not want to make a statement? Is she ok now? I have read your last message ( April 8) but if you could, please share more about your perspective in this particular case. Thanks.

level 2
CarolMerchasin
12 points
2 months ago
Yes, this was a shocking incident. This was also an incident for which there was considerable corroboration so even a cursory investigation would have had to conclude that it happened.

The reason that the Chilean woman did not want to make a statement was a general sense that the process was dishonest. There did not seem to be any willingness among the Shambhala leader’s to acknowledge that Shambhala needed to set up the investigation in a particular way in order to build trust.

For example, it was initially set up so that the Sakyong’s lawyer would receive the Investigation Report. This felt like ignorance of the role that perception plays in an investigation if you want women to come forward.

Steve Suflas, the lawyer for the Kalapa Council emphasized that there was no need for an independent monitor, and that everything was being done according to the guidelines of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. But because there was no independent monitor, people are left with questions about what the IB did, or more accurately, didn’t do and what they are or are not trying to hide.


Thank you for asking about the woman in Chile. She is good, actually. She is an amazing person!

What I said in my final report is this: I do not know what the limitations were that the Interim Board placed on the investigation, but I believe someone placed limitations on the investigation. And I am not talking about all limitations: I understand that the WH investigation was specifically to focus on the allegations of sexual assault against the Sakyong and no one else. That is a limitation that I at least understand. When I am called in to investigate I have a limited scope also. I am not just asked to come in and investigate anything that strikes my fancy. I usually have a question to answer: Did the Sakyong sexually assault a woman in Chile in 2002? In that, I would have no restrictions.

I have read someone else’s account that Ms. Bath was not permitted to investigate any incidents where there were no witnesses. I do not know if that is true. But I do know that Ms. Bath started to investigate the Chilean assault. I know she spoke to people who had knowledge. What I don’t know and what you should want to know, is what happened?

It also seems like she was not permitted to investigate the complicity of leaders. That to me is a huge oversight. I don’t see how anyone can think that you can remake Shambhala into a healthy organization without holding the parts that are unhealthy to account.


level 1
DaveLind
7 points
2 months ago
At what point in your research and investigation work did you come to understand how pervasive abuse is within Shambhala? Was there a specific encounter, or did the growing evidence erode any doubt over time?

level 2
CarolMerchasin
12 points
2 months ago
About the time that I had three women, unrelated, saying the same thing, pointing to the same pattern, then I knew that there was something there, it wasn’t random. I also know, if I have three women who are willing to come forward and talk to me, that there are many more that have not and will not. Estimates that I have read are that only 20% of sexual assaults are reported. So, absolutely, growing evidence erodes doubt but I will say the very first woman to come forward was extremely credible in every way, so I was reasonably certain I would find something right from the start even though I had no idea then of the depth of the misconduct. When I got to the 4th woman, the Chilean woman, I absolutely knew that this was pervasive.

level 1
Cashoobutter
5 points
2 months ago
what impacts has this whole thing had on you as a person?

level 2
CarolMerchasin
12 points
2 months ago
Wow, yes, there has been a lot of personal impact from this particular project. One positive thing is that I have learned so much about the issues of trauma and dealing with people who are working with trauma. I think that has made me an actual better person.

On the negative side, I worried a lot. I was frightened a lot. My stomach was tied up in knots a lot. I felt like a soldier on the front lines of an army without weapons. I lost friends. But I made more than I lost, I think.


level 1
Cashoobutter
7 points
2 months ago
what propelled you to exert your expertise as a volunteer and would you do it again now that you know the organization has no interest in the ordinary course of such investigations (thoroughness, accountability, change) but just mainly spin control?

level 2
CarolMerchasin
9 points
2 months ago
Some very insightful person here, NOQOL-RII, asked me a question about the books I thought had made me as person and thinking about my childhood reading reminds me that I have always been propelled by injustice. And if you add in silencing, I am unable to stop myself. When we refuse to listen and acknowledge the stories that these women were trying to tell, or were too frightened to tell, we take away every bit of their power. That is a horrible injustice. The thing that propelled me daily was that I had the opportunity to tell their stories.

Would I do it again? Yes. Despite the Shambhala spin control, or whatever it is that they are doing, I would do it again.
I learned a long time ago that it is all about process not goal. I focus on the process. I don’t have any control over what Shambhala ultimately does. I can only do what I know how to do. And that is to tell you what I think happened so that you can choose what you want to do. Then, we can try to persuade them to take a different approach but ultimately we may not be able to change their direction.

level 1
DismalPerformance
3 points
2 months ago
Are you related to Robert Merchasin who had a intense history with CTR, and I assume had strong feeling towards the Sakyong whether positive or negative before all this came out. His name is on the list of early financial backers of the Sunshine Project. In other words, did you have a dog in this fight prior to getting in bed with Andrea?

level 2
CarolMerchasin
14 points
2 months ago
The short answer is no, I did not have a “dog in this fight” before I “got into bed with Andrea.” In other words, “that dog don’t hunt.” (Are there extra points on Reddit for odd idiomatic phrases?)

The longer answer is for me to respond to what you have said and fill in with some additional facts that may help.

Yes, Robert and I are related. We got married in Michael Root’s back yard in 1983. He was a sangha member and I was an agnostic -- a lapsed Methodist. I did 5 levels of Shambhala training. I loved the teachings, but I was not temperamentally suited for either Vajradhatu or Shambhala.

I am not sure exactly what you mean by “intense history” with CTR so let me say that Robert was asked to leave the community after a (his words) “serious misunderstanding on Robert’s part” with CTR in the early 1970s and then he was invited back by CTR about 2 years later. Is that the meaning of “intense history?” If so, yes. He came back into the sangha serving as a kusung to CTR and occasionally for the Sakyong for another 12+ years.

Yes, Robert had strong feelings (positive) toward the Sakyong but Robert left the community in 1985 for a variety of complicated reasons, not having one thing to do with the Sakyong. Between 1985 and 2018, Robert had some practice-related encounters with him but these were quite limited. After we moved to Mexico in 2005, we extended our hospitality to Shambhala teachers who came our way providing housing for Allyn Lyon and Richard John. All of this is by way of saying, that Robert always had a positive connection with the Sakyong but it was not a strong connection.

Yes, Robert gave a donation to BPS. He has also over the last ten years, given many times that amount to Shambhala, and until this past year, he had a provision to leave money to Shambhala International in his will. I did not give BPS any money because I preferred to donate my time. Robert and I often do our charitable giving separately.


I think this next thing might help further answer. Robert wrote a letter to Andrea Winn on April 25, 2018 which was printed on her website the next day. It expresses why he gave the money and why he supported both Andrea and my efforts.

April 25, 2018

Dear Andrea,

I’m writing to express my concerns about allegations of sexual and other mis-conduct within the Shambhala mandala; about the Sakyong’s recent indirect, tepid response; and about allegations that reports of mis-conduct have been criticized, ignored or silenced by Shambhala International leadership. I was an early student of the Vidyadhara, whom I served as both a craftsman and a Kusung; I also served the Sakyong in the 1980’s. During those years, by the way, I was friends with your mother and dad.

It is troubling for us to hear allegations of wrongdoing that place us in conflict with people we love and to whom we are deeply devoted. We also hesitate to bring public shame to an organization we want to protect. However, there is no escape from our karma, as individuals or as an organization. Human life is marked by sharp ethical dilemmas; love and loyalty must be disciplined by right speech, right action and right livelihood.


At this point, Robert had no idea that the allegations were against the Sakyong. He gave money to BPS because he objected to the Sakyong’s “tepid” response and the silencing tactics of Shambhala International and in support of his belief that “the proclamation of the truth is fearless.” At this point, I was already two weeks into the project.

So, no, neither Robert and his “intense history” nor his positive feelings for the Sakyong were a factor in my decision to do this investigation. If Robert had had negative feelings for the Sakyong, that wouldn’t have made any difference either. The whole point was my sense that when an organization responds the way Shambhala did, there is something there to investigate and that is what I did.

I am trying to think of some good old Texas sayings like “If that ain’t a fact, God’s a possum” to bring this to a close but sadly, I think between the two of us, we have used most of them.

level 3
DismalPerformance
4 points
2 months ago
HaHaHA I can see this isn't your first rodeo. Enjoyed your detailed honesty and humor.

level 2
thebasketofeggs
7 points
2 months ago
edited 2 months ago
Carol wanted to let everyone know she feels this is a fair question, and it should stay, word choice notwithstanding. I don’t like to delete things unless they cross a clear line. I am leaving the question and comment about word choice. I’d like to point out that attacking dismal performance is ad hominem. I’m leaving that so people know what that is. Don’t do it.

Edit: Ad hominem is a logical fallacy. It is attacking the person rather than the ideas. Facebook sometimes feels to me like 99% ad hominem. It's not that the positions have no merit. It's that the format of the short reply lends itself more to a short sassy quip. It's a culture shift moving to this format. Just say why you disagree without the jab. No jabs.

level 2
Cashoobutter
8 points
2 months ago
"getting in bed with" is a poor choice of words here

level 3
Icy_Peanut
4 points
2 months ago
Very poor AND insulting. Dismal Performance is an apt name!!!

level 1
LostMeadow
7 points
2 months ago
Have Wickwire Holm's lawyers/employees committed any ethics violations? If so, I would like to report them to the NS ethics board.

lev
2 months ago
Carol, why is it that WH and Ms. Bath were not required to report knowledge of a CRIME in the 2002 case? Because it did not occur in Canada or US, but rather in Chile? Part 2: in your view, who should be mandated reporters in a spiritual/church organization - all meditation instructors, staff, other? Finally, was Shambhala the organization and/or its leaders negligent in not reporting crimes that they witnessed or acquired knowledge of?

level 2
CarolMerchasin
3 points
2 months ago
First, lawyers are not generally mandatory reporters and the term “mandatory reporter” is usually reserved for child sexual abuse. I think for those two reasons they had no obligation to report anything. Also remember, they either didn’t investigate the Chilean assault or it did not end up in the report.

As to who should be a mandated reporter (of child sexual abuse) in a spiritual organization, that is answered differently state by state in the US. But since Shambhala may operate in quite a few states it is always wise to adhere to the most restrictive law – that means that Acharyas and Shastris could be considered mandatory reporters. if we reframe the question to ask “who should be reporting issues of sexual misconduct” (not just child sexual misconduct) I would say that anyone who is in a position of leadership should consider themselves a person that should recognize and report sexual misconduct. To me, that includes meditation instructors, staff, anyone in a position of authority. That would mirror what is required of US businesses.

As to the issue of negligence, I do not know. What I remember from the bar exam is that to prove negligence, you must show a duty of care, that was breached and that the breach caused injury. And within those few words are a gazillion lawyers saying, “It depends.” I can’t even say, “it depends.” I have to say, “I just don’t know.”

level 1
herojig
5 points
2 months ago
edited 2 months ago
What should an ex-cult member worry about, when he left the cult (voluntarily and seemingly organically) decades ago? I was on the court, in the Kasung, have a box full of pins (somewhere) and have lived my life happily ever since leaving N. America. I'm afraid that now that I know, I'll be haunted, or whatever else people go through with suppressed memories (guilt, anger, fear, all of that). Any advice? Thx.

level 1
Icy_Peanut
12 points
2 months ago
Have you sent your final report to the Interim Board, to the Acharyas or to Process Team? Did they respond to your first report and are they going to respond now?

level 2
CarolMerchasin
4 points
2 months ago
Yes, I personally sent this one to the IB and I believe the other three were sent to whoever was in power by BPS. My first report came out while the Kalapa Council was still in power. They did a large conference call which was widely reported on and then they stepped down. I have not had any contact myself with the Interim Board or their predecessors. I do not expect a response, no.

level 1
thebasketofeggs
6 points
2 months ago
Two completely separate questions:

Why and how did you get involved with Buddhist Project Sunshine?

In your opinion, what would Shambhala need to do at this point to move forward as a healthy institution?

level 1
NOQOL-RII
6 points
2 months ago
What are the books which made you who you are?

level 2
CarolMerchasin
8 points
2 months ago
Books that made me what I am? Such an interesting question! The first book I thought of is Viktor Frankl’s, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” Here is one of my favorite quotes: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances.”

But then I got thinking about books that I read when I was a child – because isn’t that when we are forming our ideas about the world around us? To your question, maybe these early books influence us to become what we are more than any others. As a child, I read all the Nancy Drew books (I still love mysteries, not just books but the actual process of finding out what happened), Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter (the triumph of a young girl over her inhumane environment -- the underdog wins the day is another big part of my psyche), Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” (I can remember where I was when I was reading it and how it profoundly influenced me with new ideas about poverty and capitalism).
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