Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexually as

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

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

Postby admin » Sun May 12, 2019 2:25 am

Scorpion Seal Assemblies II, III, V, VI Garchen
by Shambhala
Accessed: 5/11/19



Program Details

Scorpion Seal Assemblies II, III, V, VI Garchen

July 13 / 12:00 AM - July 24 / 6:00 AM

Click here to register

From July 13 – 24, 2019 there will be a gathering of Scorpion Seal Assemblies II, III, V, and VI. This will create a potent mandala of practice, study, and celebration of the Scorpion Seal path.

Completing all required practice sessions is a prerequisite for attending the next Scorpion Seal Assembly retreat. Please indicate on the registration form if you have finished all required sessions or, if not, your intention for finishing them before attending this Assembly.

Shambhala Mountain Center will verify that you have previously attended the Scorpion Seal Assembly Year preceding the retreat you register for.

Lodge rooms are limited and will sell out for this event. To reserve a lodge room, please register and submit a deposit as soon as possible. Even if lodge rooms are shown to be available on the website your spot will not be locked in until your check or credit card payment is processed.

REGISTRATION DEADLINE: 8 weeks prior to start date, on May 18, 2019. After this deadline, tuition will be increased by 5.

Go to Shambhala Mountain Center's website
Site Admin
Posts: 33540
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

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

Postby admin » Sun May 12, 2019 4:56 am

Letter to Leaders in the Shambhala Mandala
by Zachariah Finley
May 5, 2019



Dear Leaders in the Shambhala Mandala,

I write to you to affirm my support for everyone who has experienced physical, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse in our community, and in appreciation for their courage in speaking their truth. I also write to let you know that I will no longer be affiliated with Shambhala as a vajra sangha member. Nor will I continue to be an office-holder, given that the Sakyong, some Acharyas and Shastris, high-ranking members of the Dorje Kasung, and in general those most responsible for these harms have failed to demonstrate accountability for what has transpired.

At a minimum, this accountability would involve those who have committed abuse in this community, and everyone who has covered up or facilitated that abuse, stating publicly and specifically what they have done, offering to relinquish their positions of leadership, and demonstrating their genuine intention to repair the situation. To my knowledge, with the possible exception of Ani Pema Chodron, not one Acharya, Shastri, DK official, nor other leader, has stepped up to do anything like this. There have been a few apologies, but these have not been followed up with the reparative efforts which the situation requires. I am not sure if any pressure is being exerted on those in leadership positions to assume genuine responsibility and demonstrate accountability for past misdeeds. I hope that it is, but I see no evidence of such.

Notwithstanding your failure to act, I do believe that the behaviour of some of you in positions of leadership constitutes a significant ethical breach. Were your abusive actions a manifestation of "crazy wisdom," the benefit to others, rather than the now obvious wreckage of suffering, would be evident. By this time I think you all have a fairly good idea of who among you is culpable for hurting others. Yet, manifestly, nothing is being done: the Interim Board and the Process Team are clearly working very hard, but many with real power in the organization -- the Sakyong, some Acharyas and Shastris, the leadership of DK -- have done nothing that would indicate that genuine change is on the horizon. Instead, we have platitudes and obfuscations about "this challenging time" and the Sakyong's "need to heal."

At this point, I believe that what should be put first is survivors’ need to heal. As regards the Sakyong’s need, I do not think that his healing would be possible without accountability.

Lately, there has been an effort in Shambhala to foreground social justice issues, and amplify the voices of women and racialized individuals as teachers. This is long overdue, and has come from the generous efforts of these groups, who have themselves been harmed by the entrenched white supremacy and misogyny so clearly evident in the sangha. But realizing the impact of longstanding systemic oppression and the profound pain it has caused, while necessary, does not eliminate the problem of silence and inaction related to abuse among the organization's leaders.

I am by no means blameless in my own life when it comes to misuse of power and privilege, hurting others through sexuality, or lying and covering up for my own or others’ misbehaviour. Certainly, recent events in Shambhala have given me ample opportunities for self-reflection and changing my behaviour. But I do think there is a need now to say this: what some of you have done, either through your own abusive behaviour or your complicity, has made it impossible for many of us to make this community our dharma home with any sense of congruence, integrity, or trust.

In one of his several letters, the Sakyong pointed out that he is a “human being on the path,” and I certainly do not begrudge him the opportunities and latitude that pertain to his status as a fellow human, any more than I would expect myself to be without fault. I do understand that he survived a great deal of trauma as a child, just as, according to others’ reports, he inflicted a great deal of it as an adult. I do not need for my teachers and leaders to be superhuman. But I do need for them to be decent. The Sakyong has not been, and neither have some of you.

Until now, for the past two years, I have been the Director of Practice and Education for the Vancouver Shambhala Centre, and, for the past three years, I have been a Scorpion Seal practitioner. I say this not particularly to establish my bona fides, so much as to acknowledge that I have been involved with supporting Shambhala, and that your inaction has had, and will continue to have, real world consequences. I am only a very small cog in this wheel, but I am leaving. Many others -- not just newcomers -- will as well, or already have.

What has, thus far, kept me from walking away entirely has been my sense of loyalty to my friends in the local sangha, some of whom will either need to leave themselves, or will have to pick up the work that I will leave when I go. But I will not continue to be a party to the avoidance and dismissiveness in which the senior leadership of our global community is so obviously mired.

To the Sakyong, to David Brown, to Adam Lobel, to Joshua Silberstein, to Wendy Friedman, to Richard John, to Mitchell Levy, to Jesse Grimes, and to others (you know who you are, I think): please, if you have done something wrong, confess it and make amends. Social media creates a difficult climate, but this problem is not insurmountable. There could be a zoom meeting series, or video recordings, among many other possibilities. And being harangued in the media or on Facebook is painful, but not as painful as what those harmed by your abusive actions or by your silence and cover ups have been through. After a genuine apology, there would need to be the long hard work of attending to the needs of those you hurt. Many of us are waiting.

If you have neither perpetrated nor enabled abuse, please put pressure on those who have. If you think that this is somehow “sowing dissension in the sangha,” please consider the impact of abuse and silence.

Many of us have no further recourse in this sad state of affairs other that non-participation. Some of you, by virtue of your position, may have other opportunities now to heal and protect this sangha.

Zachariah Finley
Vancouver, BC
Site Admin
Posts: 33540
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

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

Postby admin » Wed May 15, 2019 7:18 pm

Part 1 of 2

An Apology to Survivors of Shambhala Sexual Misconduct
by Fred Coulson
February 7, 2019



By now we are all aware of the letter that Mipham J. Mukpo (known to some as “Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche”) sent to the Shambhala community shortly before fleeing the country. In it he tried to respond to the findings of sexual misconduct that are documented in the third-party report that was commissioned by Shambhala’s legal counsel.

Mipham’s response is inadequate because it fails to address the survivors of his and his enablers’ abuse, and it falls short of the full apology he needs to make if he is ever to regain credibility in the eyes of his disappointed followers, and the world.

Attorney Carol Merchasin, who assisted with the Buddhist Project Sunshine project that started bringing Mipham’s misdeeds to light, wrote a brilliant analysis of Mipham’s letter, in which she suggested how a proper apology to the assault and sexual misconduct survivors might go:

We are beyond regret that your spiritual teacher and the organization you trusted and relied on abused you. All of us as leaders of this community have betrayed your trust; we have been complicit not only in seeing and allowing this aggressive behavior to continue, but we also inflicted more pain on you by not listening, by seeking to minimize the harm, by denying this happened, by demeaning you, by labeling you as ‘needy,’ ‘troubled,’ or ‘too ambitious.’ We understand that all of these actions were wrong – not only wrong but done in an attempt to protect ourselves and not you. For all of this we stand before you in breathtaking remorse for the harm we have allowed. In addition to making the changes that must be made to the organization, we intend immediately to begin a program of restitution and repair for each and every one of you who has experienced pain due to our action and lack of action.

If you feel that you may have been complicit in the abuse, whether directly or indirectly, whether you were a leader or not, then please join me in affixing your name to this apology. Feel free to use your refuge name, Shambhala name, or a pseudonym if you like. You can leave a brief comment expressing why you think this apology is important, if you feel comfortable doing that.

This is not a petition that will be submitted to any authority. This is merely a public statement of support for the survivors of Mipham’s and Shambhala’s abuse over the years, and a token of gratitude to the brave people who have come forward at great personal risk to expose the abuse.

Fred Coulson
(Vajradhatu/Shambhala, 1989-2004)

If you would like to leave a comment, please read the posting policy and privacy policy.

(And if your submission doesn’t show up right away, it’s probably because the moderator is taking a break. Please be patient.)

164 signatures
Fred Coulson says:
February 7, 2019 at 1:07 pm
I regret that my dues and effort over the years helped to enable Shambhala’s ongoing abuse of vulnerable people. And I apologize for the harm I did through my selfishness and lack of empathy.

Norbert Hasenoehrl says:
February 7, 2019 at 2:04 pm
I was part of this abusive system for 20 years. I gave money, time, energy to that organisation and tried to convince others to do the same. I am deeply sorry for that now. I ask foregiveness from anybody who was hurt in Vajradhatu/Shambhala.

Shannon van Staden says:
February 7, 2019 at 2:12 pm
I am deeply touched by your bravery to speak up. I am also very sorry for the harm you have endured and the shunning from your community. Just by being part of the sangha, I feel complicit.

Magnus Lidbom says:
February 7, 2019 at 2:30 pm
Thank you so much for speaking up. I’m terribly sorry for what you have gone through.

I’m a brand new member, but that does not absolve me from responsibility. Each and every one that is voluntarily part of an organization and supports that organization has a responsibility. A responsibility to find out what the organization is about and what the effects of supporting it is. Unless there is a complete replacement of the leadership structure I will be leaving.

Edmund Butler says:
February 7, 2019 at 2:56 pm
For those who were harmed by my carelessness and those I promoted – may you feel loved, at peace and cherish every moment free of this pain.

Brian Sullivan says:
February 7, 2019 at 3:47 pm
To quote further from Attorney Carol Merchasin’s important analysis,

“You cannot heal if you cannot honor the whistleblowers.”

I honor and thank you for shining a powerful light into a darkness that was spun for us to avoid.

Jez Taylor says:
February 7, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Your bravery is an example to us all, I thank you with all my heart and hope you find peace and freedom from the pain you have had to endure.

David Philbedge says:
February 7, 2019 at 4:34 pm
I appreciate your bravery, but I am so ashamed by the lack of bravery of so many that could have helped, in a variety of ways, which has meant that those at the sharp end, have had to bear the whole load themselves

Julia Howell says:
February 7, 2019 at 4:38 pm
I am sorry MM treated you with disrespect. I am sorry those who knew the danger and did not take action to prevent it from happening again. I am sorry that I knew and did not speak up sooner. I am sorry I kept company with enablers and fixers, those who don’t or didn’t believe you. I am sorry there was no place out in the open where you would be safe disclosing and responded to. I will not support Shambhala anymore–you are more valuable and worthy of respect. What do you need to move through the impact? Those affiliated owe it to you to find a way to fulfill that need, myself included.

Drukmo Daschon says:
February 7, 2019 at 4:40 pm
I’m sorry I ever met the universal monarch. I’m sorry I was ever involved. Sorry I said yes. Sorry people died due to the toxic cult of shambhala. Sorry for the pain I caused. Sorry it took me so long to realize how dangerous this is. Not sorry they are going down, though. Not sorry people with intelligence are leaving in droves!

Richard Allison says:
February 7, 2019 at 6:38 pm
By the sacrifice you’ve made you’ve acted as a true bodhisattva! I’m very grateful and at the same time extremely sorry for your personal pain, loss and sorrow. May all the world shower you with blessings…

Lise Hull says:
February 7, 2019 at 7:03 pm
I am sorry for your pain and wish you true freedom from your suffering.

Heymama Wolf says:
February 7, 2019 at 7:15 pm
Immense gratitude to all those who have broken the silence of abuse in Tibetan Buddhism!

Good Boundless Rainbow says:
February 7, 2019 at 7:31 pm
Thank you for speaking truth to power and hoping to change the toxic institutional culture. It’s very sad that Shambhala’s response has not lived up to the heart of the teachings themselves.

Carol Merchasin says:
February 7, 2019 at 7:37 pm
With hopes for healing in 2019.

Robert Merchasin says:
February 7, 2019 at 7:39 pm

Alyson Fyffe says:
February 7, 2019 at 7:58 pm
I am deeply grateful to all of the survivors for sharing your stories, even in the face of gaslighting, shaming and threats. I cannot imagine how difficult this has been for you, but in sharing as you have, you have saved many of us from harm. Thank you.

I am also sorry I supported this toxic organization, and that I did not take the time to understand what it was all about before giving it my time and money. I will do what I can to make amends for my part in supporting this culture of harm.

Justin Rezzonico says:
February 7, 2019 at 8:09 pm
I’m sorry people are choosing to protect themselves and the organization instead of the most vulnerable and the truth which is true dharma. I’m sorry Shambhala hasn’t reached out and said, “We hear you, what do you need?”

Kathleen E Moore says:
February 7, 2019 at 9:04 pm
I was part of this organization for several years and I totally jumped in even while witnessing problems from the very beginning. I apologize for the blindness that lead to my not noticing the extent of the harm being perpetrated. I apologize for the narrowness of my understanding resulting in ignoring the systemic nature of harm in this community. I apologize for believing, however briefly in the specialness of a leader, imbuing others -and myself – with less power and agency. I apologize for not asking more questions and for my lack of curiosity. I apologize to all those who were harmed by me. I really should have known better.
I have tremendous appreciation and gratitude for those who have had the courage to reveal their stories of suffering by leaders, teachers and students in this community. I know they have faced derision, dismissal, shunning, gossip, threats and discounting. They have been revictimized. I applaud you and I respect you. I am listening.

Margaret Ervin says:
February 7, 2019 at 10:53 pm
I am sorry that my support of Shambhala was support for a deeply misogynistic organization that consistently and systematically silenced, shunned, and disbelieved you. Though I didn’t know most of you, I did know one who was hurt and manipulated, and I am sorry. I now realize this is not a safe community. It is a community that helps women uncover their power, only to then objectify, mystify, and co-opt that power. It is a bait and switch. I am ashamed to have been part of that degradation. Shambhala is a sacrilege. It is a community that serves up the sacred feminine for the use of men, for the use of so-called teachers. I have stood by and watched the seduction, and I assisted in normalizing it. I congratulated you. I played along and tried to make myself seem part of the scene by doing so. I should have recognized it for what it was. I should have told you it felt creepy. Because it did. I should have been on your side, looking out for you like a sister should, not going along for the ride. I mean, fingers would have been pointing at me if I’d said, “Eek! What the fuck? Are you sure?” But I could have at least left. I’m leaving now. Even if you need to stay, and no matter what you need to do, I love you. I am on your side. May you have happiness and ease, and may you experience peace in the joy of your own perfection.

Kindness Warrior says:
February 8, 2019 at 1:43 am
I am so sorry that a community that was supposed to be a “culture of kindness”, has abused people so horrifically and that the head teacher didn’t even attempt to acknowledge the “rot” until he was caught. I am sorry for all the victims who were driven to suicide, psychiatric issues, PTSD, addiction, despair, and complete isolation. I am so sorry that sangha members continue to pour secondary wounding on top of that. I am sorry for the deep devastation Osel Mukpos conduct has caused to the actual lives of his victims. I am so sorry that many are still too terrified to speak out about being raped. I am not sorry to be leaving the cult of Shambhala. Ki Ki So So…. its time to go!!!!!

Linda Markowitz says:
February 8, 2019 at 5:18 am
I am so sorry that it took a deafening cry to wake us from great ignorance. And I’m sorry that there are still those who cannot hear the whole of that cry. May you dwell in great peace and equanimity and find joy, compassion and loving kindness in all that you meet.

Cheri Tiernan says:
February 8, 2019 at 6:25 am
I am deeply sorry for the abuse, shunning, shaming and personal attacks you’ve endured. I want to thank you for your courage and conviction in bringing these abuses to light. May you have peace and healing.

Jenny says:
February 8, 2019 at 6:45 am
I’m so sorry for everything you’ve been through, and sorry for any part of it I might have enabled. You deserved better. I send you love, support, and wishes for healing. Thank you for speaking out, if you could, and for surviving whether you chose to speak out or not. I see you.

Amanda Hester says:
February 8, 2019 at 7:32 am
I am so sorry for whatever role I have played, directly or indirectly, in causing anyone to feel and experience harm. I will continue to try, to learn, and to do better.

Kathy Southard says:
February 8, 2019 at 7:44 am
I am sorry for also gaslighting you when you first told me. I am sorry to have contributed to this culture of harm towards women and abuse of power. I am so sorry that I was so indoctrinated that it took time for me to listen to my basic intelligence and wisdom. I hope you always feel included and respected. I hope healing, peace, and kindness replace what you have experienced previously. My you feel vindicated and validated.

Daniel says:
February 8, 2019 at 8:42 am
Thank you for your courage in speaking out and for bringing to light abuse and those aspects which lead to a culture of complicity. As a former member of the kasung for little over a year, I am especially sorry that I didn’t do more to hold space for you, and that I didn’t recognize or dig into the toxic workings of the culture I was being asked to protect. I am sorry that I made a vow to an organization that used its structure to silence whistleblowers, such as yourselves, and that the inner circle of kasung, the kusung, were so derilect in their duty to protect you in your moment of need. There was a serious lapse of relying on innate wisdom, and rather an apparent turn toward fealty. As part of our practice we contemplate and attempt to manifest “Don’t be afraid to be a fool.” It is my opinion we were afraid to appear foolish in front of senior teachers by calling out abuses, and calling out aspects of the culture that we may have observed as toxic. You suffered because of fealty overruling the greater duty of care for the sangha. I am so sorry that my ego, and having it stroked by the opinions of others such as senior teachers, got in the way of your care. Though I never served Mipham Mukpo, I recognize within myself the qualities that could have lead toward fealty toward my trusted spiritual master over duty to the sangha. However those qualities impacted those around me, directly or indirectly, I am sorry to them, and I am sorry to you.

Kate Linsley says:
February 8, 2019 at 10:23 am
Crystal Gandrud says:
February 8, 2019 at 11:27 am
I am sorry that I have been complicit in a culture of abuse. I am sorry that it did not occur to me that it could change. I am sorry that I did not pursue more directly and vigorously the whispers and intimations I caught. I am sorry I could not keep foremost in my mind that those whispers meant people were being hurt. I am sorry that although I was aware that the Sakyong was one of the people we all knew to ‘stay away from’ (as well as many Acharyas and people in the inner circle) that I did not somehow connect that with being WRONG. I am sorry that I assumed the women involved in these exploits somehow ‘wanted’ to. What was I thinking? I am sorry I was basically blind to the reality of clergy sexual abuse. I am sorry that I looked the other way. I am sorry that when I did not look the other way or spoke up that I allowed the immediate negative feedback to hush me. I am sorry that I ‘dealt’ with the victims of power dynamics (even on the most mundane level) instead of going straight to the perpetrator-thereby reinforcing the idea that it was somehow not the problem of the perpetrator. I am sorry that when I was on the receiving end of misogyny that I did not more vigorously stand up to them and insist that they be held accountable. I am sorry for all the ways I cannot currently perceive or imagine in which I have contributed to the culture of abuse in Shambhala. I vow to do much better now and in perpetuity.

Sarah Wilson-Reissmann says:
February 8, 2019 at 12:23 pm
Tsering Rangjung says:
February 8, 2019 at 12:51 pm
I am sorry that I bought into the Shambhala story line, that I fell into the trap of wanting to be cool with outrageous behaviors so I would ‘get it,’ be part of the inner circle, and belong. I’m sorry I was so seduced by SMR and CTR that I didn’t prioritize people who were being harmed by the organization. I am seeing how my own conditioning and traumas led to me believing this was all ok, cool even, crazy wisdom. That the abuse I experienced myself was my karma. I offer my love to all who’ve been harmed, disregarded, discredited, shoved aside. What can I do to help you? What can Shambhala do to help you? I am grateful this is all coming out now so we can work together honestly.

Dr. Annie Price says:
February 8, 2019 at 1:52 pm
I am sorry I supported financially and emotionally a hypocritical predatory organization.
I am sorry I had no idea anything like this was happening around me.
I am sorry I lacked the confidence in my own innate wisdom but instead placed that confidence with someone as foul and disgusting as MM.
I am sorry I didn’t trust my gut feeling when I thought certain situations seemed strange and I didn’t speak up which may have resulted in someone being harmed.
I am sorry that practitioners/teachers perverted “vajrayana secret practices” as an excuse to justify horrible behavior.
I am sorry everyone used Trungpa’s “Crazy Wisdom” to justify mysogyny and sexual exploitation while we justified it as those crazy hippie years.

I am sorry I was so angry and disappointed that I did not attend an Atlanta community meeting that was suppose to open a discussion with John Rockwell regarding the allegations/investigations (and after spending most the time having everyone chant and mediate leaving only 20 minutes for discussion, saying that a simple accusation could damage a man and basically blowing it off )and I wasn’t there to stand up for victims by calling out how gross he was.
I am so so very sorry from the depths of my humanness that you either were not believed or told that MM shouldn’t be questioned. I ache knowing this happened to you.
I am sorry the leaders in every Shambhala setting have not lived up to their position and are not real leaders in any sense.
I am sorry Shambhalians are continuing to support him and find excuses for MM’s (or any other perpetrator’s) chronic aggressive criminal behavior.
I am devastatingly sorry your practice and your path to wisdom was clouded/confused or eroded by self serving people with no integrity.
I am sorry the investigation was obviously biased and in no way complete.
I am sorry that the investigator had the irresponsibility to publish hearsay/gossip by claiming one of you was trying to buy a way to the teacher. I am sorry there was ANY question that it could be a victim’s fault in any way.
I’m sorry that the findings were classified as sexual misconduct instead of what it really was- sexual predation and assault.
I am sorry and disappointed but not surprised that MM wrote an “apology” that was not real or heart felt and pointed the finger/blame to us to look at how we create harm.
I am sorry that all the community and victims are being asked to continue to follow this sick sociopath if we want to pursue these beautiful and dignified teachings.
I am so so very sorry. No one in our community should ever be put in a situation of harm. I am so very truly and with all my heart sorry you the victims have had to be the ones to shed light on this alone and have to relive and add new pain. We have all failed you. I love you and respect you and feel heart break and true sadness for what you have had to go through.

Adrienne Papermaster says:
February 8, 2019 at 2:21 pm
I’m sorry for my ignorance and my failure to question everything that felt off. I’m sorry that as a kasung I didn’t protect you. I’m sorry that I staffed and coordinated programs and took on leadership positions at my local center, helping to draw in many new people. I’m sorry that my time, treasure and love of the dharma supported a “mandala” that was rotten at the center. Thank you for your bravery. May you be happy, healthy and free.

Christopher Kilmer says:
February 8, 2019 at 2:51 pm
Boundless Lion says:
February 8, 2019 at 3:04 pm
I am sorry I didn’t see things earlier. I am sorry the gaslighting and shunning and narcissism is still going on. I am sorry for the recent hurts caused by the Sakyongs dumb letter and people’s blindness. I am sorry this organization does not have more courage and common sense. May all the survivors be safe and well.

Erik Blagsvedt says:
February 8, 2019 at 3:22 pm
JC Jaress says:
February 8, 2019 at 3:26 pm
My apologies for the unnecessary suffering caused at the hands of people in position of power. I offer my wish for healing of all parties affected. Also, my sincere regrets for the moments in my life when I have caused unnecessary suffering of others, regardless of scope, magnitude or intention. Much love.

All Pervasive Moon says:
February 8, 2019 at 3:50 pm
I am sorry for the harm done to a number of people through the Shambhala community and via Mipham Mukpo. I am sorry that I helped this organization to continue it’s cover up and silencing via my financial contributions and volunteer time. I am sorry the Sakyong will not make an actual public apology for the harm he has done and the confusion he has caused.
For all who have been in pain due to the way they were mistreated and for those who are now in mourning for the community they thought they had, my love and condolences to you. I hope there can be healing.

Mary Schroeder says:
February 8, 2019 at 3:50 pm
I am so glad that the perspective of “#metoo” has come to Shambhala, where it has been sorely needed. It is sickening to think of how women’s vulnerability and trust has been exploited by sexual predators within this organization. As with other organizations that have dealt with this issue, it is very important to look at those accountable, including SMR and others, to determine whether it is appropriate for them to continue in their current positions. Perhaps this is a time to reimagine Shambhala.

Tom Joyce says:
February 8, 2019 at 3:51 pm
Because I was mostly on the periphery of the Shambhala organization, I had no idea what was going on, other than an occasional “affair”—usually between a young woman and an older male teacher—which I assumed was consensual. I should never have assumed anything! When I first read the Sakyong’s initial admission of having had inappropriate “relationships,” I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I realize now that this was hurtful to those women who had been marginalized, victimized and used by the Sakyong and his power-elite for whatever reason. I am very sorry for any pain my misplaced trust may have caused. All I can say is that I did speak up when I saw things that disturbed me in Shambhala (i.e.: Chögyam Trungpa’s outrageous drunkenness in videos and the preening, sycophantic loyalty of the kasung—of which I was one—for “His Majesty.” I don’t know if Shambhala can—or should—survive as an organization, but I will continue to speak out against this destructive fiction of monarchy and systemic abuse as long as my voice is not silenced. Thanks to all who bravely came forward to speak their truth. Thanks to those who finally listened.

JOF says:
February 8, 2019 at 4:58 pm
Laying a big bouquet of roses at Julia’s feet. And Leslie Hays’.

Elisabeth Hazell says:
February 8, 2019 at 5:13 pm
I am so sorry that I didn’t know what to do when you told me. I am so sorry that this continues to be handled with such inteptitude. I am open to learning more about what I can do and I promise to bear my burden in changing this system, which should not have to fall to the survivors alone. Your bravery is to be commended and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Gerlinda Grimes says:
February 8, 2019 at 5:25 pm
I believe you. I’m sorry I contributed my money and time to an organization that prioritized its abusive leaders over you, over your truth. I’m especially sorry and ashamed that when I coordinated a level just as the news was breaking, I took a participant who had questions to the program director, a long time Vadryana practitioner, rather than offering my own perspective. I didn’t want to “overstep.” I lacked the courage of my own wisdom.

Elizabeth Batiuk says:
February 8, 2019 at 5:41 pm
Thank you for speaking up, sharing the difficult truth of your experience, and for shedding light on the harm that has been happening. I am beyond regret for the trauma that you have been through. I honor you for your fearlessness and for being your own true witness. I hope you find the solace, acceptance, connection, and appreciation that reflects the true compassion and wisdom that you are. I promise to believe and serve survivors in the process of healing from the harm of sexual misconduct and from the harm inflicted by those who are complicit in allowing it to continue. May you be happy and free.

Apriel JessupSearcy says:
February 8, 2019 at 6:20 pm
In deepest gratitude for your voices, your courage, your stength! Through your willingness to be the voices and the faces for those who have endured harm within our community. We are indebted to you for coming forward and being the stimulus for change. I am sorry for the pain, mistrust, and trauma you have endured. Know you have my love and support. May you find healing, peace, and sanity through the chaos.

heartbroken in halifax says:
February 8, 2019 at 6:35 pm
How can we help you? To the women who have been harmed: we believe you; we are sorry; we deeply regret any unwitting part we have played – ignorance is not an excuse.

Feeling complicit is another shock to us, along with many.

Many of us ‘still in’ feel betrayed by this teacher and the trust we had in him.

We wish you could have seen so many of us – women and men – speak out forcefully in many community meetings that we had no reason not to believe you.

We demanded to know what was being done to support you, and what changes were being made to make sure this never happened again.

We are deeply sorry for the pain that our teacher has caused you. That we have caused you.

Many of us who have wanted to reach out with our care and support but were reluctant to step into the FB fray, and are grateful for this forum.

We feel heartbroken.

You may strongly disagree with us for not walking away.

Yes, it seems that would be the right and only thing for any person with intelligence and integrity to do.

You may say that if we don’t leave then we are still complicit.

I hope you will hear that there are so many good people struggling at all levels in the community, questioning everything and every one. And working hard for real change.

Shocked, outraged, saddened – please know that there are many of us with our eyes now wide open, committed to assuring ‘never again’ and working to see if something worthwhile can be salvaged .

We need to hold the Sakyong accountable, and report to the authorities immediately anyone else who has harmed others.

We need to honour and respect each other. We need to get back to our Buddhist roots. We need to look deeply into the teachings and salvage what is true and good.

Deconstruction before reconstruction.

And for that cleansing fire, we thank the emotional bravery of all you women, heard and unheard.

Take care.

Please forgive me for not adding my name to this …

Nancy Ann Floy claimant #3 says:
February 8, 2019 at 6:40 pm
I am so terribly sorry for every woman girl man and boy who has been abused at the hand of MM and all of the other members of shambhala. You are not alone and it was not your fault and I believe you. I believe you. I am so terribly sorry for the ways that I have participated in this sick system and for not speaking up years ago. I am so sorry for running away instead of standing my ground and saying THIS IS NOT OK. I am so sorry for your pain for your shame for your self hated for your self injury. I am so sorry that you have lost your faith and your health. I am so sorry that you were ghosted by MM and that I did not reach out to you when you were gone. You survivors are goddess warriors. You are my Sheros and Heros and I bow down in the face of your courage your tenacity and your will to carry on. I love each one of you with all of my heart. Those who have come forward and those who are still in silence. I love you and you are never ever alone. You are a precious child of the Buddha and nothing can ever touch or tarnish your buddhanature. You are brilliant blazing pure crystal shimmering light. Never ever doubt this truth of who you are.

Larry Akey says:
February 8, 2019 at 6:55 pm
I’m sorry that all of the sexual predators in shambhala perverted the sacred trust that all of the students had in the dharma. I applaud those survivors who have already come forward and to those who don’t yet feel safe to come forward I wish you healing. I am so sad for all of this. I am so heart broken for all the survivors who had to go thru it

Jackie Blagsvedt says:
February 8, 2019 at 7:11 pm
To the survivors who have come forward. You are beyond brave. Thank you for being the whistleblowers. I’m sorry that you weren’t met with warmth and caring concern. May you be blessed and surrounded by skillful car providers who can accompany you on your path toward healing. I was sexually abused by my own step-father as a little girl. Don’t blame yourself for not understanding what was happening. It’s not your fault. The Sangha should have protected you. My community that knew my abuser’s history should have protected me and my sisters.

Sangye Choga Martin says:
February 8, 2019 at 7:19 pm
I am a survivor of long term sexual and emotional abuse outside and inside the Shambhala organization. I also held a leadership position during a period when the organization closed ranks around a victim. I was complicit in believing leadership narrative. That they had locally offered support. They characterized her as mentally ill and ensured me nothing had happened. I diverted further correspondence to an email address set up by Shambhala to record her activity for legal purposes. It was a community wide instruction I followed.
I’m embarrassed by my gullibility and ashamed of my ignorance.

Dori says:
February 8, 2019 at 7:31 pm
I regret any harm that was caused through my bystanding or silent witnessing of harms within Shambhala. While I believed that my decades of practice, study, teaching, and leadership were for the benefit of others, I ignored clear evidence that elements within the culture of Shambhala tolerated, perpetrated, and hid the acts of sexual violence that occurred. May survivors find peace and justice, may those complicit in harm tell their truth and be held accountable, and may the leaders who caused harm, including Mipham J. Mukpo, be removed from office and brought to justice.

Robin Ann says:
February 8, 2019 at 7:42 pm
I am so very sorry that on my very limited practice at Karme Chöling I did not call bullshit on the “teachings” about “ruling your world” and the perception of right and wrong, basic moral and ethical principles as somehow delusional. I should have done so, especially as an “outsider” even though, at the time, my gut was telling me that it wasn’t safe to do so. I might possibly have prevented done harm or at least named the crazy non-wisdom out loud.

Michael Stephens says:
February 8, 2019 at 7:45 pm
I greatly appreciate that a venue has been created that we all can express ourselves in this way. It’s very moving to read all these statements. As for me, I am so sorry to have participated for so many years and done so little to make sure Shambhala was a safe and genuinely inclusive environment. In my recent times, I naively thought things were at least OK, but I am very sorry that I did not do more to understand. I did not challenge the things that were going on in various parts of our society, especially in the environment around Mipham Mukpo. It breaks my heart to hear of all the physical and emotional abuse that was happening. Now that I do know, I cannot sit idly by any more. I wish for the survivors to know they are supported, and for real truth can finally come out.

Nelleke Strik says:
February 8, 2019 at 8:41 pm
I am deeply sorry for the harm that many people have suffered in Shambhala and I feel ashamed of the letter from the ‘Sakyong’ this week as well as his previous communications. I admire the courage of those who have spoken up. I support you all and send love and wishes for healing.

Frances Morris says:
February 8, 2019 at 9:08 pm
If I had known of the sickness and depravity of the community I was part of from 1978-2010, I know that I would have spoken up. I do not fear telling the truth. Unfortunately, I had no idea that people were being abused, sexually, emotionally and psychologically. I am now revolted by what has been revealed and wish I had never heard of Vajradhatu or Shambhala. I hope that all the survivors understand that we, the truth seekers, support them each and every one. I pray that there is justice coming to the perpetrators so that they never have a moment’s peace until there is reparation. As for the enablers, may they see how little compassion and bravery they have, and may they realize what hypocrites they really are!!

Damcho Palmo says:
February 8, 2019 at 9:14 pm
I am sorry that for so many years I made excuses to myself for things that I saw and heard about that didn’t seem right.
I am grateful to all of the survivors who have stepped up and spoken out.
And to everyone who didn’t for their own reasons .

Allya Francesca Canepa says:
February 8, 2019 at 9:32 pm
K. Chokyi says:
February 8, 2019 at 9:44 pm
I’m so sorry. I continue to be sorry. I have been open about my own trauma and worked with sexual trauma survivors since my first Courage to Heal workshop in 1988. And still I gave my money, my energy, and my recommendation to others to check out this misguided, abusive power structure. Worst of all, even when things triggered my survivor sense, I said nothing.
I got caught up in the meditation teacher social media moguls – best selling authors with large internet followings who claimed Shambhala heritage/credential and I kept their stars in my eyes while I said nothing.
I saw the way “advanced students” (Level III and up) demeaned new people (“Oh you level ones are so cute. I remember then…”) and then assert their power in sexual and emotional ways over them. It creeped me out. I protected myself. But, I said nothing.
I bought into the whole “Dharma Brat” syndrome – “he was raised as a Buddhist, he knows this stuff” – bought the books, paid for the seminars, and even though I saw the sexual immaturity and opportunistic overtures I called it “sweetly naïve” and “too spiritually focused to realize crude sexual allusions are not appropriate – he just thinks he’s being edgy.” I said nothing.
In fact, even now, I watch Lodro Rinzler, walk away from allegations of sexual misconduct without saying ONE. WORD. of accountability, and start selling his own meditation program – like his actions as a teacher didn’t matter -and still using his Shambhala credentialed “authority” to draw in more women – and I just shrug it off – and I say nothing. Sweeping this precious dharma son of Shambhala under the rug, no one is holding him accountable to his sexual misconduct, not even me. I am sorry I do not stand up. I am sorry I don’t really even know how.
I was world wise enough to steer clear of danger to myself sexually, then let my brothers and sisters walk through that flood without even bothering to yell “The bridge is out. It is not safe.” In my silence, in my ego, in my need to be accepted, I let you all down. I am sorry, and I sit nightly in the hope your healing will be powerful, swift, and soon.

Jessica Martin says:
February 8, 2019 at 9:45 pm
I am sorry to all those harmed, ignored, not believed, or hurt in any way. You did not deserve this. You came to this community with the best of intentions and trusted those around you. You were taken advantage of and we hear you, we see you, and we acknowledge your strength.

I’m sorry I invited people to this organization and encouraged others to participate even if they were feeling uncomfortable.

I’m sorry I didn’t trust myself, my heart, and my gut.

And I’m sorry we were not there when you needed us.

M Jane Ross says:
February 9, 2019 at 12:43 am
I am so deeply sorry for your pain, for all the hurt and loneliness, the sense of abandonment and loss of faith, the self-doubt and the distrust of others that you have endured. Having been through the hell of abuse of power, I stand beside you, thanking you for holding on for this moment, when bystanders and enablers step forward and accept their complicity and express their genuine remorse and heartfelt wish to make amends. When we who are allies speak up to honor you. May genuine amends be made by those who failed you, and may those amends reach you where you live, in healing and life-affirming ways.
I thank all who came forward with your truth, both the whistleblowers and the report writers, for your courage in speaking truth to corrupt power. You have done this for all of us in the wider Buddhist sangha. You have given us hope that abuse will be called out, that corrupt hierarchies and self-serving leaders will be unmasked, that remorse, care, and amends will flow to those who have been harmed and abandoned. That those who have harmed and those who have enabled harm will fully understand it is their duty to make things right, that they too may find healing from the knowledge that they have betrayed the Buddha’s cardinal Precept of non-harming.
May the heartfelt apologies and healing wishes expressed here be a stepping stone to profound healing. This is my wish for you who have been harmed, by the acts and failures to act of the Buddhist community as a whole, by us all.

Sergio garfagnoli says:
February 9, 2019 at 12:53 am
To confess wrong withaut losing rightness:
Charity I have had sometimes,
I connot make It flow thru.
A Little, likes a rushlight
To leader back to splendour.
(Ezra Paund)

Arnold Leiter says:
February 9, 2019 at 3:16 am

Tsultrim Pamo says:
February 9, 2019 at 5:15 am
Verse of Atonement:
All evil karma ever committed by me since of old
On account of my beginningless greed, anger and ignorance Born of my body, mouth and thought

Now I atone for it all (x 3)

Tommy says:
February 9, 2019 at 5:16 am
I am so sorry. I’m sorry for supporting a system that allowed abuse at the highest levels. I’m sorry for ignoring the risky elements of this spiritual model, telling myself that my local sangha was all that really mattered. (“There’s no corruption or misbehavior here in my sangha, so as long as I stay in my own backyard, I’m not too concerned about what goes on elsewhere…”). It’s a poisonous belief system that leads to allowing, either through ignorance or negligence, unchecked harm to be perpetrated on those who trust leaders that are, sadly, not worthy of such trust.

I am sorry for the victims of SMR and leadership’s behavior and all of the occasions that Basic Goodness and Inherent Dignity were marginalized for the sake of power and pleasure. I am sorry that I unwittingly supported that. I had no idea. And I’m sorry that, now that I do have an idea, that I sit in confusion and anguish myself, uncertain of whether to abandon a broken spiritual model or to try and stay to help rebuild it as one anchored in accountability. I’m sorry that I’m not farther along on my spiritual path so that the answers are not more evident.

I hope those who have been harmed can continue to find the truths of the Three Jewels in a community that values their courage, their dignity, and their right to protect their bodies and minds. I hope all of us can find the courage to speak up about what we feel about callous behavior, dangerous power dynamics, and situations that put the well being of others or ourselves at risk.

I am truly sorry for the survivors of this abusive power and callous behavior. I am sorry for our sangha at large, the Shambhala community, for being pulled into confusion and a divisive dialogue about our future, and I’m sorry this system created a power dynamic that doled out privilege at the cost of peace.

May the truth of our path forward, be it within or without Shambhala as we know it, be illuminated.

"Valkyrie" says:
February 9, 2019 at 5:42 am
Some are still blind. My meditation teacher who has been in Shambhala for 40 years both in the US and UK told me of a spiritual leader giving talks sitting up in bed naked while playing with the children. He was amused recounting it. I felt queasy listening to this. To him it’s just part of it. He laughs recalling drunkenness and womanising of Shambhala leaders yet insists that the Dharma that was transmitted was pure. I think he could contribute to the investigation but is keeping quiet. His loyalty runs deep.

བློ་གྲོས་བྱམས་པ་ says:
February 9, 2019 at 6:43 am
Changsem Gao says:
February 9, 2019 at 6:46 am
Christine Labich says:
February 9, 2019 at 7:19 am
I am most profoundly sorry for the ways that your natural openness, trust, and longing to be of service to the world were abused and taken advantage of. We as a community should have protected you, listened to you, and been clear-eyed and brave enough to call for accountability at all levels. I apologize personally for the ways I continued to support a harmful culture, despite the fact that the ways my own probing and questioning was deflected set off alarm bells.

Even at a distance from what has happened directly to you, this process of trying to distinguish what is happening is extremely painful. I can only imagine it must be a million-fold more painful to stand in the center of it all. I thank you for your courage, practice, and compassion, and may the deep knowledge that you are loved and full of wisdom abide in your heart always.

Sherap Seng ge says:
February 9, 2019 at 8:41 am
I am sorry for my complicity in supporting the organization that harmed you.
I always felt like something wasn’t right, and yet I stayed.

Stephanie DiLorio says:
February 9, 2019 at 9:54 am
You are brilliant and beautiful, worthy of love and protection. I wish Shambhala had been a safe place. It should have been. I am sorry it wasn’t. I wish that your community and teachers had believed you. I wish they had provided care to you. I believe you. I care about your healing. I am holding you in my heart and practice.

Renate says:
February 9, 2019 at 10:54 am
I’ve been so naïve. I’m so sorry that I prioritized “peace” and tried to come up with a reason, any reason, to explain any “misunderstanding” away. I’m so sorry that it took me so long to recognize what I was doing, that I was brushing away any feelings of unease and thereby brushing away any possibility for hearing you. I should have been there for you, should have been there with you, and instead I spent too much mental energy thinking “maybe he didn’t know what he was doing?”. I spent too long waiting for the moment where Crazy Wisdom behaviours would start to make sense. After all, it was promised to us. Stick around long enough, and you’ll gain the secret understanding of why things aren’t what they seem to those “outsiders”. It’s disgusting when I think back on it now. I’m ashamed that it took me this long to see the ways in which the organization habitually protects itself. I thought for a time I could work to fix it, but I was not strong enough. To all survivors, to all those who refused to be beguiled, I thank you for saving me.

Bob Kucera; Sherab Dorje says:
February 9, 2019 at 11:02 am
Katie Getchell says:
February 9, 2019 at 11:13 am
Thank you so much for your courage in breaking the silence, especially when faced with so much marginalization, minimization and ostracism.
I’m so sorry for your suffering. I’m sorry the very community that was your refuge negated your reality, and I’m sorry for any of the ways I was part of that.
I’m sorry that, for years, I suppressed my raw intuition and understanding of the world, and relied on a theocratic, disembodied, flawed path, and so became incurious & untrusting of the real inner lives and experiences of others.
I deeply regret censoring myself & withholding the genuine expressions of my heart when our “religion” came into conflict with my perceptions & innate knowing. I’m sorry for this obstacle to honest conversation, growth, and healing.
I deeply regret that I kept my mouth closed because I thought it was impolite to disparage anything about “the lineage.”
I deeply regret believing that a spiritual path is Off Limits for critique, and therefore that I added to the layers of obfuscation and confusion.
I deeply regret believing that members of the dharma hierarchy were beyond reproach.
I apologize for the walls this created between us and for the stupid reinforcement of power structure that I bought into.
I’m sorry that I believed that all the secrecy and ritual was inherently special and valuable, magical and beneficial, pure and safe. I’m sorry that I didn’t see that they actually create the ideal conditions for abuse & deception.
I’m sorry for any way that my participation, and my encouragement that others participate, perpetuated this damage that has hurt you. I’m sorry that for so long things didn’t feel right but that I didn’t articulate what I knew.
I apologize for judging my own life through the lens of (insufficient) devotion, surrender, discipline and broken samaya; and therefore projecting this cloud of misunderstanding onto others.

I believe you, and I promise to speak now and to support you.

Elizabeth Sawyer says:
February 9, 2019 at 11:30 am
Gratitude to all who have had the courage to apologize to those who have been harmed. For outing y/ourselves. To those who have been gaslighted, shunned, minimized, labeled as mentally ill, liars, and trouble makers. I have been on both sides. Both harmed and complicit. I am not from Shambala but I was aware that Chögyam Trungpa is literally the father of this abusive behavior. We must look in the mirror as Buddhist practitioners and ask ourselves what we are attracted to and why we will go along with abuse. Why we will stay and perpetuate the abuses in one form or another.

Michelle McPherson says:
February 9, 2019 at 11:30 am
I was horrified when I heard about the abuse you experienced from MM and other teachers and meditation instructors in Shambhala. You should have been safe, honoured, and valued by every member of the community. To know that you were ignored, belittled, shunned, and re-triggered by all the non-apologies and victim blaming in the sangha is heartbreaking. I am so sorry that I didn’t question the “nobody was ever hurt” historical storyline or trust my gut feeling that the concentration of power in the Court was dangerous. I’m sorry I accepted the “hippies will be hippies” excuses for the thread of sexual indecency and abusive behaviour that pervades the community. Please know that I am in awe of your courage and resilience, and that I was grateful to see clearly that it was time for me to leave Shambhala. But I wish that clarity had not come at your expense. Sending so much love and gratitude to you. I hope you are now surrounded by caring, loving people.

Andy Rose says:
February 9, 2019 at 11:47 am
Shulamit says:
February 9, 2019 at 11:48 am
I am deeply sorry that I gave my time, money, service and devotion to an organization and a man who are deeply deluded. I am so sorry for the heartache and pain of those who were exploited and harmed by Osel Mukpo, who I am convinced is a deeply damaged person and a true narcissist. I am sorry that none of the leadership in Shambhala has had the courage to step down and publicly denounce a culture of delusion, misogyny and abuse. It truly sickens me that good people are too invested in the brand of Shambhala to be able to think for themselves and see that what they’re invested in is led by a fraud, and not an enlightened leader who cares for them in any way. I am sorry for the many many more women who were exploited by Osel Mukpo and others who still feel too vulnerable to step forward.
Site Admin
Posts: 33540
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

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

Postby admin » Wed May 15, 2019 7:19 pm

Part 2 of 2

Tepa Dachon (riis) says:
February 9, 2019 at 1:45 pm
I’m deeply sorry for the harm, distress, and confusion you experienced. As a Shambhalian, I apologize for any role I may have played–directly, indirectly, or energetically– in perpetuating misuse and abuse of power within Shambhala. I am sorry that traumatized people often go on to traumatize and abuse others–as I believe has been the case with CTR and SMR. I wish you healing and am disappointed that collectively Shambhala isn’t offering you more at this time–restorative justice processes, compensation, and/or whatever you need to see your way forward with healing. Love and justice are not two…in Shambhala we still don’t seem to grasp that as a community or a force. Again, I am sorry.

Cate says:
February 9, 2019 at 2:34 pm
Finally, the veil is lifting from the Buddhists and uncovering their lying ways. The fact that the Dalai Lama is connected with the NXIVM cult is enough for me to stay far away from any Buddhist “group”.
My husband was in Gampo Abbey with Trungpa in the 70’s and was appalled at the partying and sex back then. He thought he was supposed to be in a spiritual community. After hearing a talk with Trungpa and his evil sidekick Thomas Rich (he doesn’t deserve a Buddhist name), where Thomas was drunk, we turned it off and never look back.
This whole Shambala thing doesn’t surprise me at all. It is a Buddhist cult.

Debra says:
February 9, 2019 at 2:44 pm
Giving some gratitude to you all, those who were harmed and those who testified as witnesses, for your willingness to stand in your truth, and that at least now you have been heard. Wishing you the peace and support you deserve.

Pseudonym Survivor says:
February 9, 2019 at 4:09 pm
I am sorry too, as a leader in Shambhala, I was not brave enough to speak up. I did not recognize the harm for what it was and I thought I could change things from the inside. We needed those of you who came forward to bring attention to the problems in Shambhala.

I feel voiceless and am using a pseudonym because I am also a survivor, but my needs are not the same of those who’ve come forward. I identify with all of those who’ve come forward and want to support you, so I write this apology as a leader

But I am also writing this apology to myself, as a survivor, knowing that there is not one solution to ease survivor’s pain. My needs as a survivor are not met by everyone saying they will walk away from Shambhala in solidarity. I don’t want to encourage people to leave, and I don’t want to encourage people to stay.

To those survivors who feel they need to leave and that Shambhala should be dismantled. I am so sorry for encouraging you to hang in there, for not trusting my doubt, and for holding up the patriarchy. I am sorry that I’m still not ready to take it all down, because I hear that you want me to join you in that call. I realize that having not come forward put me in, and came from, a position of privilege.

I want to change myself, change our community, and change the greater society as well. I want a real apology from SMR and I don’t want business as usual ever again. I will do my best to amplify your voices.

Naomi says:
February 9, 2019 at 6:39 pm
survivor in solidarity.

Deborah Marshall says:
February 9, 2019 at 7:30 pm

Dana Balukas says:
February 9, 2019 at 7:39 pm

Alex Metok says:
February 9, 2019 at 8:47 pm
I’m sorry I supported the court, and I’m hoping we can raise funds to support survivors. I want abused people to stop having to bear the brunt of this community’s work. The organization’s response has been shameful and harmful. I’m sorry.

David Suppan says:
February 9, 2019 at 11:58 pm
To all the whistleblowers of sexual, emotional and physical abuse of every spiritual stripe, please know that your redemption is at hand. The forces of forgiveness and understanding are taking root in the minds of gentle and tender compassion. The suffering of your unfortunate experiences are transforming into the fortunate experience of what is necessary to all human evolution – the advancement and outing of spiritual truth. Your stories of suffering have become our stories of forgiveness. We honor your courage in telling your story so that we can create the opportunities to become better human beings. I am committed to doing what I can to the healing of this or any other spiritual community. I send my prayers and spiritual counsel to all those who need healing. Love to you all.

Anonymous says:
February 10, 2019 at 12:36 am
I’m sorry that I lack the courage to call out my abuser by name, a long time student and MI in Shambhala, for fear for my personal safety and that of those I love. I value my safety first.
I’m sorry that even with #metoo I can’t share what happened, whenever I tried people turned their back on me. They did not want to see their friend as the physically violent, verbally abusive predator he was. I am sorry I could not protect his next victims. If you are one I am so sorry. I had to save myself
. I admire the courage and bravery of every person who has spoken up, you are beautiful, you give me hope.

Maria Julianna Bolda says:
February 10, 2019 at 3:27 am
I am very sorry for the way you were hurt in the shambhala community and for the my own actions or lack of actions: of pretending not to see, of not speaking up, of not listening to my heart and of not protecting you, that have contributed to the pain you have experienced. Especially as a kasung i should have protected you!! not the system or the teacher. My bodhisattva vow should have come first. You all have been very brave in speaking up and i bow to you and thank you for the chance this gives us – all of us, who are still in shambhala, including the sakyong – to wake up, to change, to regret and to repair the dammage we have caused.
With appreciation, Maria

Stefan Carmien says:
February 10, 2019 at 3:35 am
“We’re all doing what we can…”
J. Lennon

Byron Wild says:
February 10, 2019 at 5:56 am
Evan Silverman says:
February 10, 2019 at 7:02 am
I would like to apologize. I am so sorry!

Bernie Gay says:
February 10, 2019 at 8:37 am
Thank you all, including Tsultrim Pamo,

Verse of Atonement:
All evil karma ever committed by me since of old
On account of my beginningless greed, anger and ignorance Born of my body, mouth and thought

Now I atone for it all (x 3)

I ask the community’s forgiveness for the many times I have strayed from the path of kindness, compassion, and virtue –

Slim Shady (aka M&M) says:
February 10, 2019 at 9:46 am
Apologies for not ripping the cover off the Sham that is Shambhala. I’m sorry for not saying this louder, longer and more publicly! I’m urging others to go to tell the truth on yelp and social media for there local centers. If leadership won’t do the right thing (they haven’t and they have had the chance), then we must.

The notion of Shambhala is wonderful. So many of us would find great relief living in a genuinely enlightened society. What a wonderful tagline – “Enlightened Society”, its right up there with “Coke – its the real thing”. Its very hopeful. We know about hope and fear though.

We must ask ourselves, whats in the bottle? Sure its a lovely container, but what is really inside? What might one expect? Precepts that are followed perhaps? Is that too much to ask of a “Buddhist” organization? Too often the answer is, “Don’t be silly young Padawan, precepts aren’t needed here”. Keep studying (and paying). You will see how with skillful means any behavior can be justified. Abstention from Intoxicants, Dishonesty, Falsehood, Theft, Taking of Life – fail fail fail. They certainly aren’t practiced by many in leadership (booze is the key to a good fund raiser after all – especially after opening the mind through meditation). Cover up, dismiss as rumor, gaslight – wash rinse repeat (lies). Do as I say, not what I do. Protect the leader, besides its my side hustle, wink wink. Shambhala will happily take your life moment by moment and charge you for doing so (stealing of life). Its an organization that is not interested in openess, truth or reality (have you ever seen so much head in the sand behavior when it comes to finances?). Evidently Shambhala would rather believe in flying dragons than failing balance sheets and income statements.

On the outside it looks enticing. The ingredients are however secret. What are those secret ingredients you ask. Well you have to pay to find out, thousands and thousands of dollars (Or you can read a book and practice – its all there). Strange for something that is supposed to be free (of course you need direct transmission – just like measles). Reminds me of a ponzi scheme.
Will you actually learn the fundamentals of Buddhism as a Shambhala Buddhist? How could you when the “guru” doesn’t seem to understand them, at least if actions are a reasonable measure?

Is Shambhala even a church? I have my doubts. Its conduct is more like a school. Its leaders are more like laypeople. M&M isn’t a monk (obviously). A substantial portion of revenue is from charging for classes which are of a secular nature (levels 1-5). Doubt this? Look at how your center. Its an educational system at best, and should be classified as such. Potential students would be well advised to stay clear. Healthy options exist.

Are there any good Buddhists in Shambhala? Perhaps, but I have my doubts in this moment. If they exist, they would be pushed beyond the limits of silence and working within the system by the Sakyong’s latest attempt at apologizing. Any good Buddhist would be moved to significant decisive action. We’ve moved well past the first three karmas. Ask yourself this simple question, would you apologize sincerly and deeply to the entire Sangha for all your deep harm? Ask yourself this, if you had multiple houses and your “larger family was in need” wouldn’t you sell every extra one without hesitation? If you saw financial struggles wouldn’t you refuse $1000 meals and eat simple food? Would you continue to wear fancy robes while those around you donated money without having retirement savings? What kind of leader wouldn’t?? Reflect on those simple questions and then act. Stop donating to the centers. Stop the madness. Sanity must prevail.

A McCormack says:
February 10, 2019 at 9:55 am
I am so sorry that Shambhala, the teachers, and the leaders harmed you and continue to harm you. I am sorry that I chose to ignore and minimize past harms when I learned that the founder was an abuser. I am sorry that I supported Shambhala and its teachers directly through purchase of online classes and books. Thank you for your courage and your willingness to stand for the truth.

Robert J. Morales says:
February 10, 2019 at 9:57 am

Shadow of the Moon says:
February 10, 2019 at 12:00 pm
I am so sorry to have been a victim who thought she could prove herself worthy by spreading hope for what we could be, what was promised to us all, rather than what was. I thought there was something wrong with ME and that the forces of enlightened society were right. If only I could just go with the flow and make the flow bigger, maybe then I would have been okay. Maybe my pain, my shame, my crushed crumpled authentic struggle, my beautifully dark shadow secret, would meld into the holy peaceful light and disappear because of that.

That is how I am complicit. That is how I let others suffer, even as I floated high and disconnected, my own pain driving my profound wish for all this we were told to be true. Now, I hurt. I hurt so much, because my devotion may have stolen away pieces of my truth of being alive. Devotion may have altered the course of my life into a loneliness more profound than social isolation. It’s the loneliness of denying I was violated, treated badly, diagnosed, and sent away. Shambhala did that to me. I see that now, and I see how I used it as an example for what to do to myself. For what to do to others. I am sorry to the depths of my femininity, I am sorry from the depths of my womanhood.

I want to be brave. I am emboldened by your naming foes. The legal coverups, wrongs, damages, and advising to bring harm victims in the name of the greater good–throughout Shambhala–would never have happened, nor continue to happen, without the counsel of Alex Halpern. I am here shouting that his conduct needs to be investigated, at minimal by the community and perhaps among his professional peers.

Karen says:
February 10, 2019 at 6:07 pm
I applaud your courage for speaking up in an environment where very little support was likely to show up. If one person is spared the abuse you suffered you have done a great service, thank you.
I knew deep in my bones that the allegations were true as only someone that has endured sexual abuse can. I did my best to share the effects of abuse with my sangha, many were not ready to hear, maybe one day that seed will sprout.
This is an excerpt from an article in Time magazine that says it all for me.
No leader of an organization who fails to protect its most vulnerable members should be left in charge. (not to mention if they are the abuser) No person that looks the other way should be in a powerful position that others depend on.
I have left my leadership position and cancelled my membership with Shambhala.

Nyingje Dagme Pamo says:
February 10, 2019 at 8:22 pm
I believe you completely. I was a young woman in Shambhala and experienced grooming, procurement, and harassment, and someone I love has been hurt by MM. I’m sorry I have been a leader in a bystander sangha and this sangha has not come out and offered any empathy, which has confounded my attempts to be an ally. I will continue to use my influence in my community to raise awareness. I wish you healing.

Halifax survivor says:
February 10, 2019 at 10:36 pm
To everyone who has signed -including some I recognize – I cannot thank you enough. To finally be believed is more transformative than you may realize.

Christie Rainbeau says:
February 11, 2019 at 3:25 am
On our center FB page a few years ago, a woman posted something about how Shambhala promotes sexual abuse on our page. I was shocked. It was not someone from our group. It was explained to me that the case was occuring at some other center. It was being resolved through Care and Conduct and this woman was just causing trouble. We took her post down and blocked her and I was so angry at her for doing that. How dare she post something like that that isn’t true? Now here we are….

I believe you.

I was complicit and totally in la la land thinking the Sakyong was above human. Thank you for waking me up to my own ignorance.

I pray for your healing.

Tharpa Jigme says:
February 11, 2019 at 4:08 am
I could not have said it better but this time it is sincerely my apology to make,

I am beyond regret that my spiritual teacher and the organization I trusted and relied on for 20 years abused you. I have betrayed your trust; I have been complicit not only in seeing and allowing this aggressive behavior to continue, but I also inflicted more pain on you by not listening, by seeking to minimize the harm, by denying this happened, by demeaning you, by labeling you as ‘needy,’ ‘troubled,’ or ‘too ambitious.’ I understand that all of these actions were wrong – not only wrong but done in an attempt to protect myself and not you. For all of this I stand before you in breathtaking remorse for the harm I have allowed.

We are being taught that there is no ground, that everything changes and that clinging and not wanting to change causes suffering. PRACTICE what you PREACH!

Jinpa Samten says:
February 11, 2019 at 7:47 am
I want to see all people as equal regardless of their sex, religion, ethnicity, wealth or position in life. I aspire to put your suffering ahead of my own well-being. I vow to exchange my welfare for your suffering until samsara ends and space is destroyed .

Jigme Urbonas says:
February 11, 2019 at 8:34 am
Thank you all for your tremendous courage. I believe all of you. Grief and heartbreak surround thoughts of all of you, and of the trauma you have experienced. You certainly did nothing to deserve this type of treatment. You are absolutely blameless in all of this. Sending love and a wish for complete healing for all, including those who have not had the strength to come forward.

John Tischer says:
February 11, 2019 at 10:18 am
I’m so sorry for all the abuse anyone has experienced in the name of Shambhala.
Thank you to those who have come forward.

I want to point out the fact than many of VCTR’s older students left the sangha when we realized that Mipham Mukpo was not listening to any of us in terms of advice, criticism, or anything. He broke our hearts before he broke yours. The ones that stayed to keep the organization going, including all he appointed as teachers, Acharyas and the like, have gone along with this for many years. There is no excuse for this blindness, that many of us saw through. I don’t see how good intentions, at this point, can make up for this. It is a real tragedy. It does not in any way diminish the validity of the Buddhist/Shambhala teachings. What it does do is throw each of us back on our own responsibility for our spiritual path.

Susan Aposhyan says:
February 11, 2019 at 12:39 pm
I was at the Boulder Shambhala Center on Friday. I saw a framed quote by the Mipham Mukpo saying something to the effect that our primary duty is to cultivate a sane community. I cried seeing it.

When I was raising teenage girls, I wouldn’t let them go to any where in the sangha alone to keep them safe. I didn’t say anything to the other mothers. Some of their friends were molested and statutorily raped. I regret that and all my other complicities so much. I am so sorry that I have enabled this situation.

Laura Greer says:
February 11, 2019 at 3:27 pm
I’m so sorry for the terrible harm inflicted on people who had such faith and admiration for their teachers. I’m sorry no one listened. I’m sorry for the cover up. I’m sorry that Shambhala was allowed to become shrouded with secrecy, white mail privilege, gaslighting and more. I’m so sorry that so many students and leaders became so blinded by the teacher and the teachings. I’m sorry that the Sakyong and others have not owned up to the harm they’ve done or show any understanding of how their behavior has been harmful. I’m sorry the Sakyong can’t even give a proper apology.

I hope the people who have been harmed are as touched as I am by this outpouring of sincere sadness and regret. Like others, I would like to know what survivors of the harm need most from us right now.

. says:
February 11, 2019 at 7:10 pm
Dear One,

I love you.

I am so sorry.
I am sorry for the pain he inflicted.
I’m sorry he is such a arrogant piece of shit.
I am sorry you suffered for so long and held too much.
I am sorry for the excruciating amount of pain you are in now.

You are not broken. You are one of the strongest people I know. You are Brave. You are kind. You are loved.
I love you with all my heart.
I hope that someday you find the peace you so deserve.

Always Yours

Andrea Darby says:
February 11, 2019 at 7:31 pm
I am sorry. I am sorry that I was not able to rise out of the water that I was raised in and call out what I felt was off but had learned to ignore – the water in which girls and women were/are routinely subject to sexual assault, in my case beginning with “indecent exposure” on my front stoop at age 5, and then on and on and up. In Shambhala I leaned toward what was good and healing for me and those close to me, murmuring about and shrugging off most of the rest. I did not tune into the harm that shrugging causes others, as well as myself. I am sorry. I know now that it could have mattered, to speak up fully. I knew how deep these waters are and I knew that we had not yet illuminated that depth and should take care, if not for ourselves then for others. And I ignored that. I am sorry for that.

Roland Bryan Mendiola says:
February 12, 2019 at 9:52 am
I first learned about harm and abuse of power by the Sakyong in 2012 – but I did not know what to do or how to talk about it, and ultimately I did not want to look at it or ask questions. I believed it was something of the past and those who knew him told me that it had been addressed with him. But I closed myself off to looking into it more, to really seeing what was happening anytime that things in the community felt off or concerning. Even when harms were starting to get reported in the fall of 2017, I did not speak up when I could have – even to say “Why isn’t anyone talking about the Sakyong?” It has taken so long for me to not be silent, and I am deeply sorry. The other night, I wrote this public letter to further break my silence and let survivors know that I stand with you and am here for you any way I can be:

(Please know that the following is a reflection of my personal experiences, beliefs, attitudes, and actions – it is not meant to represent anyone else’s experience or perspective. I respect anyone who feels and thinks differently about these complicated and complex challenges, and I welcome respectful dialogue. If you’re reading this and you know the Sakyong directly, feel free to pass it along – I’ll also be trying to email it to him).

Dear Sakyong Mipham,

It has been a week’s time since the community received your most recent letter as well as the report by Wickwire Holm confirming your acts of sexual harm and misconduct, as well as abuse of power, perpetrated on women of this community. I sit here writing now, having come home from a heartening and always empowering gathering for our local people of color meditation group at the Shambhala Meditation Center of Portland, Maine. I feel resolved in sending out this message despite not knowing exactly what I’m about to say. But what I want to express to you in essence is this:


Just NO. Full stop. ENOUGH. NO MORE. Please STOP.

Maybe you haven’t been told these kinds of words enough before. Maybe you have and simply did not hear them or heed them. But I believe that more than anything, I/we need you to take a good long stop, to fully pause everything that has been the norm about this community, and really see and hear what is happening at this moment in time – AND to do the work necessary to fully appreciate what it means, how harm and trauma work, and how to make amends and possibly repairs for it. I have been a student of Shambhala since 2009 and a Buddhist practitioner since 2007. I first saw you speak in 2011 at a gathering of about 1000 people in Halifax, and I sat there in both awe and some skepticism – awe that I could feel this practice changing my life but skepticism of how much I could give myself over to you and this community. I met you once at a book signing during a leadership retreat at Karme Choling, and even exchanged a few words with you. I looked you in the eyes and told myself that even with my various doubts, I’m got dedicate a significant part of my life to this path. I’ve traversed that Shambhala path steadily over the years, I have held a variety of roles and leadership and teaching positions, I have consciously intertwined Shambhala with much of my everyday life. By almost all accounts, though I am not your formal student, I would consider myself a believer, a devotee, a person of faith in this path. And at the same time, I have known personally several of the women that it turns out you have harmed and abused. Like countless others, I have put my heart and soul into these teachings, these practices, this community. I am by no means a student without his faults or skewed intentions at times. I have seen my hopes, expectations, desires, judgments, agendas, and ego strivings get the best of me time and time again. But despite all that, what I do know is that I am someone who is utterly committed to making amends for harm when I’ve committed it, investigating sometimes a lifetime’s worth of bigotry or misogyny or prejudice, and aspiring to be more awake and aware and humble and human – through whatever means I have available to me. And though I have never called you my teacher, I feel like I have organized my life in such a way to align myself with the vision of Shambhala and your teachings – to be a genuine, gentle, and fearless human being willing to confront the world honestly and lovingly in order to create a more just, sane, and compassionate society. All this I know to be true to about myself – it has taken a long time to get here. And despite the many faults and imperfections of this community, I have believed in it. I believed in you – at least in your commitment to do right by this community.

The other evening, I made a fire at home and placed all of your books and teachings into it. I said a prayer for you and for this world. I think I even said a prayer for myself and the lostness I feel in the wake of all these discoveries of abuse and harm in Shambhala as well as the spiritual path in general. And even though I continue to carry that uncertainty and confusion day-to-day, what I do know more than ever in the last two weeks is that I don’t need you anymore. This community does not need you anymore – at least the way it has needed you in the past. That time is over.

Shambhala is not yours, it never was and never will be. Shambhala is not something you can trademark or mass produce or franchise. We are Shambhala – whomever holds Shambhala in our hearts and commits to living in the spirit of collective goodness and wakefulness and justice. Whatever Shambhala you might claim as yours from this point forward, I want no part of it.
Perhaps the day will come when you may be able to address this community with true remorse, self-awareness, and responsibility for your actions and attitudes. Until that day comes and beyond it, those of us still dedicated to these Shambhala teachings and manifesting them in the world will figure out on our own the healthiest and wisest and most skillful path forward. May I suggest that during this time you have before you, you really take the opportunity to understand what harm and abuse mean – not through intensive retreat and self-reflection alone – but through honest dialogue, therapy, couples/family therapy, organizational consultation,workshops, trainings, testimonials, documentaries, stories, research, and everyday interactions with a range of diverse individuals on the impact of trauma, systemic harm, and abuse of power. For yous own healing, and for the healing of all of those whose lives you touch. I suggest all of these because I know them from experience. How much can you honestly say you have done this work?

Please don’t write us anymore messages or letters. Please don’t act like we all created this situation in some equal or parallel way. Yes we all have our faults and we all have our ways of harming one another. But we have not all engaged in abuse of power at this level and continue to pretend like things are otherwise. I have yet to hear in anything that you have said that would make me believe that you truly understand the harm you have created for this community. I simply don’t believe you have done enough work or developed enough knowledge or awareness to know. And not just for the pain and hurt and abuse you have inflicted on the many woman of our community, but also how your words and actions are a clear expression of how truly broken the system is when it comes to grievances, injustices, unchecked power, and reparations. And yes, with all of this I hold you to a higher standard. That feels only fair in my heart. Those of us who have ever taken our seat as teachers or leaders or caregivers should know full well that we are always the ones to be scrutinized and questioned and held to a greater sense of responsibility, not the people we serve. The burden is on us to be more fully aware and responsible when harm is committed. It is not your place any longer to dictate how this unfolds. I believe you have given up that privilege.

If I sound angry in all that I’m saying, it’s because I am. I have no reason to deny that and I believe I have every right to it. But this truly is not about lashing out. Though you might not believe it – I’m not even sure I do – this is coming from a place of hope and love ultimately. For you, but also for all of us. I cannot in good conscience allow you to simply carry on in the same spirit you have all these years, not when I have the voice and the means to act otherwise. I am going to continue to create Shambhala and to teach in Shambhala – but now in the ways that I see fit, no longer letting Shambhala culture dictate what I believe is right or just or true. I will hold true to what I believe is true in Shambhala, and I commit myself to holding spaces in Shambhala that take a stand against harm and abuse in all its varied forms – starting with what has been happening in our own community. This letter is not to single you out as the sole perpetrator of harm – it is for anyone who even with some level of awareness enacted harm and abuse in this community. And if one day, someone asks me to step away because this is no longer my Shambhala, so be it. They will know where I stand.

I pray you find your way. I know from experience that this kind of path is often tremendously painful and heartbreaking. But it’s the only way, and it’s worth it. Believe me, I have been through my share of grappling with trauma, with mental illness, with grief and confusion regarding gender, sexuality, culture, identity, privilege, status, and power. It is heartbreaking, backbreaking work. But it is the only way to authentically come to terms with who we are and how we relate to each other and this world. I hope that one day you might prove to society that a spiritual leader (or any leader of significance in this world) can fully acknowledge and atone for the harms they’ve inflicted with real honesty, respect, and awareness – and that day my confidence and trust in you as a person will be restored. I hope we may find our paths crossing again – with you not as a king or a ruler or an exalted Rinpoche or teacher or guru, but as a fellow traveller and human being trying to realize the nature of suffering, harm, and healing – and the genuine and transformative love that comes with awakening to truth.

In Goodness Always,
Roland Bryan Mendiola

PLEASE NOTE: I use “us” and “we” in this message loosely and for effect in this letter. I know full well and fully respect that many do not share these feelings and attitudes. My intention here is to voice a perspective for myself and for those who for whatever valid reason choose not to share it openly.

Grace Goodman says:
February 12, 2019 at 2:58 pm
Dear Survivors,

I am sorry. Like so many of us, maybe like you, I came to Shambhala as a survivor. And I came to Shambhala to continue to heal and to survive “better.”

What I found was a system that overwhelmed me. That is all I will say here because this is not about me.

Had I known what was happening to you, I am sure that my own dysfunction would have caused me to dissociate from it. And for that I am sorry, too. Because I understand the hurt you have had to endure, how you have been told your reality is not the “real” reality, or just blamed, told you are crazy, told you are a bit “off,” not believed altogether, or maybe even told you need to practice more. I know.

For each one of you, and for Andrea Winn who helped bring all of you to light, I am grateful. I am grateful that you have forced me to see my own brokenness, and how it paralyzes me and silences me. And more importantly, how necessary it is for me to go beyond that and to stand up for you and with you.

The voices in this document are all of us who see you, and all of us who are holding you, and all of us who refuse to ignore the harms done to you.

Please accept my love,

Eric Kalabacos says:
February 12, 2019 at 4:00 pm
I was heavily involved in the community from the mid 80s through the late 90s. I deeply regret having accepted the party-line justifications for what I now see as rampant sexually abusive behavior by Trungpa, ROT, and other community leaders. I want to personally say I’M SORRY for not listening to my gut about this for many years. I also want to say THANK YOU to those who’ve been bravely speaking up despite the extreme gaslighting and other forms of social pressure coming from the Shambhala organization. You have really opened my eyes to the perverted sickness and power dynamic that has festered within it for decades. I commit to doing my best to vocally and actively supporting you all during these difficult times.

Gordon Young says:
February 12, 2019 at 4:02 pm
I am so sorry to have supported a system that enabled abuse, and could not acknowledge it. I am so sorry that I looked the other way, and failed to understand, failed to acknowledge what was happening. Thank you for coming forward with your stories, your bravery has made the world a better place.

Lizzy Cline says:
February 12, 2019 at 8:29 pm
To all who were abused – I believed you all, the first moment I heard. I’m so sorry for your pain and suffering, and that you weren’t heard from the beginning. I have defended you whole heartedly, in our sangha discussions on the subject.
I was abused as a child, and know first hand, about your pain. I cannot thank you enough, for being so brave and coming forward as you have.
May you all heal your hearts, minds, and bodies, from your trauma….sending much love

chodronstrong says:
February 12, 2019 at 8:46 pm

Mia Bolte says:
February 12, 2019 at 9:17 pm

Jeffrey Shralow says:
February 12, 2019 at 10:28 pm
I am so sorry, and ashamed. I am so thankful to the BSP for giving me the opportunity to realize the shame of the shambhala organization, and to turn to the path of truth. I am so sorry for your pain and sorrow. I grieve for the harm done.

Anandi/Tsultrim Gatso says:
February 12, 2019 at 11:08 pm
I hear you. I see you. I recognize you. I embrace you. I believe you.

Regrets says:
February 13, 2019 at 1:22 am
I regret that when Shambhala leadership, with what were in my opinion inauthentic intentions, reached out to PoC it was not out of a sincere desire, but more about preserving the brand with a veneer of ‘wokeness’. I regret that those from minority communities were put into teachings positions from the get-go instead of being given a proper education in the Buddhist teachings, which would have empowered them as true community builders instead of having them beholden to Shambhala. I regret that I haven’t had the strength to question this facade publicly due to my own fears and shame.

Mark says:
February 13, 2019 at 3:54 am
m sorry you were abused, then traduced and cast out like rubbish. I knew you were telling the truth the moment I heard you. I’m ashamed of any organization which did this and doubly ashamed of one which, still, is unable to make a full apology and amends. One simple word: truth – and yet they can’t. I left Shambhala a while ago now in poor shape because of sustained emotional abuse from people who are still out there, still “teaching”. What a mockery. I did not know that far, far worse was in the shadows. It’s a ramp, all of, a Ponzi scheme concealed by silks and spirituality. Stay away.

Susan McCaffrey says:
February 13, 2019 at 4:40 am
To the warriors who spoke up in spite of the fear, humiliation, embarrassment: I bow to your courage. You are heard and believed.

To the warriors who can’t speak up yet: you will know when the time and circumstances are right for you to speak openly.

As in all things, interdependent causes and conditions precipitated this situation. We are each and all responsible in some way, if we look closely.

I am sorry for my part in it all. I tried to perpetuate a sense of self-worth, of belonging, by not speaking up about instances of corruption, when I witnessed them.

We don’t have to pretend anymore.

Ken S says:
February 13, 2019 at 3:25 pm
It hasn’t been a lot over ~12 years but I’m sorry for whatever money I’ve handed over that went toward keeping a drunken sexual predator in silks. I didn’t know what was going on at the top of the organization until a year or so ago, but I probably could have known sooner, if I’d gone looking. If I’d been more conscientious.

And I’m sorry if my continuing to sit and sometimes occupy the timer’s spot at our local center’s open house nights is read as support for MM or his sycophants— honestly, I dont think he or they should continue to have any power to abuse; I’m done propping them up financially; I’m not in any leadership position and don’t aspire to ‘climb’— but I do continue to sit in that place because I’m just trying, sincerely, to help make that space for two hours a week healthy and safe for those who still want a community to meditate with and don’t know where else to go. I’m all for the ‘commoners’ turning away the ‘king’ and seizing the means, and surpassing the teacher’s failings. And I’m making a modest effort to facilitate other opportunities to sit collectively. I just feel those at the ground level, who arguably deserve the least blame, would be too harshly punished if ‘penance’ for any involvement at all was to be scattered into exile. Community is still valuable, though ours has to reckon with its institutional rot; as far as I can tell, many who are trying to salvage this one want to re-make it into what we (perhaps naïvely) thought it was, without the harmful parts. We know it’s still problematic, we know success isn’t assured, but we want to reclaim our society and rededicate it to enlightenment, and oust the charlatans. Then maybe, hopefully, it will be worthy of those it drove away.

Elissa Thomas says:
February 13, 2019 at 3:43 pm
I am so sorry I gave so much time, energy, and money to this organization filled with abusers. I am sorry that I was such an idiot that I actually believed the Shambhala teachers wanted to make the world a better place even when I saw behavior that was not consistent with basic ethics. I should have participated with groups doing real healing work outside of this cult instead of putting my efforts into Shambhala.

I am so sorry people hurt you. I hope that you can find peace — whatever that means to you.

Natalie Smith says:
February 13, 2019 at 6:37 pm
I am so sad and disheartened by this betrayal. I am so encouraged by the brave people who broke the silence. We are listening and reaching out to support you through this tumultuous time with Metta and compassion. May you rise confidently and live with peace

Lorien House says:
February 16, 2019 at 5:23 pm
In solidarity with all the abuse victims of the Shambhala cult.

Doria Cross says:
February 16, 2019 at 8:48 pm

Linda Catling says:
February 17, 2019 at 8:52 am

Vallie Stearns-Anderson says:
February 17, 2019 at 2:44 pm
I’m so grateful to have this opportunity to tell you how much I support you, believe you, and wish to be there for you. I knew Shambhala was sexist in its teachings since Warriors Assembly in 2005, and further knew it since vajrayana seminary in 2011, there were so many warning flags, the “virgin” (teenage) girls that were placed in the ritual of the Sakyong Wangmo’s empowerment, how she had to “sdo stroke” at the foot of his throne, how she has to prostrate to the guru on entering the shrine room, etc, etc, and yet I continued to give my time, energy and money to the Shambhala lineage. I tried so hard to do my werma sessions, not listening to my inner voice screaming that it was wrong, trying to be a good practitioner, going all the way to SSA3 — for what? To see that my gut was right all along, and my justifications were hollow, to not honour my inner wisdom. Then when I heard your stories. I knew right away that my fledgling career as a teacher was over, that I couldn’t “hold the lineage” any longer, but I apologize that it took me 8 months to give up my line-of-command post in the kasung, thinking I could be of benefit. I wasn’t of course. My reactions have been so slow-mo! I was so duped!! I am still trying to unravel everything. I will do what I can to support those in my local sangha, that no survivor has to be isolated and marginalized ever again,to learn from your bravery and integrity, to learn from your stories and your example. I send my heart to you.

Anonymous says:
February 18, 2019 at 6:22 am

Kate Crisp says:
February 18, 2019 at 7:35 am

Heather Crone says:
February 19, 2019 at 12:49 am

Fierce Certain Bliss says:
February 19, 2019 at 7:28 am
I am sorry I did not immediately stop contributing financially to my local Shambhala center the moment I first learned of your experiences. I am sorry that it has taken so much evidence, particularly the accounts of men, to finally spur me to action. I am deeply sorry that I used my position as a teacher of yoga and mindfulness to young children to encourage new families to become involved with the Shambhala community. I am sorry I sat calmly at the table when my local Shastri questioned your motives, your veracity, and your mental fitness. I am very much on the periphery of Shambhala, yet look at all of this complicity. I am so sorry for your suffering, and yet so grateful to you for sharing it with us. I receive it as a gift, as there is much here for me to continue to explore with great humility for a long time to come.

Alexis LaBarge says:
February 19, 2019 at 5:56 pm

George Howell says:
February 19, 2019 at 6:09 pm
Tears Tears Tears

Good inquisitive lion says:
February 19, 2019 at 9:18 pm
I am sorry, I wanted to be out of suffering so bad that I ignored everything that happened before.
I am sorry I did not trust my intuition and close this chapter before.
I am sorry I wanted to listen to the Shambhala teachings above anything else.

Prajna Moon Lake says:
February 19, 2019 at 9:50 pm
So sad and so sorry that not one person who was in a position to put a stop to these abuses of power did not do so as soon as they knew.

Diana Howell says:
February 19, 2019 at 11:05 pm
Don’t rock the boat. Sometimes it’s easier to let things slide. I allowed Shambhala culture to shape my actions, or rather inaction. I’m sorry for not doing something. For not listening wholly. For not speaking up when something was amiss. For not being there for you. I’m sorry the organisation took precedence over what was most important: you.

Zopa Jampso says:
February 19, 2019 at 11:57 pm
shame that I did not know, did not want to believe when I did hear…
sadness for and remorseful of your suffering…
hopeful for your healing…

Esther Rochon says:
February 20, 2019 at 7:21 am
For decades, I have been a teacher and MI at Shambhala and I did not see anything. There was an opaque wall between the insiders and the rest of the community, and I was encouraged to think that, in the lofty world beyond that wall, everything was good. I honestly thought Shambhala was a safe place. Because of my presence and involvement with Shambhala, I encouraged people to be part of it. Quite possibly some of them were later abused – or, like myself, became part of the smoke screen. I offer my deepest apologies to all the victims for my having been involved in that deception, and I do wish them a good profound healing.

heartbroken in halifax says:
February 20, 2019 at 1:13 pm
We were shaken by the accounts of the women who were abused. There were still ways we could sidestep the truth – it was long ago. The Sakyong is different now. We were never part of his circle and never knew such abuse was taking place.

Then another bomb: We were shattered by the kusung’s recent accounts.

No, it is not that we believe them more because some were men.

It is because they were privy to his behavior unmasked – crazy, abusive behavior which we never saw and could hardly believe. BUt now we do. He didn’t behave like this around his Acharyas, I can attest to that.

Many years ago a few clse students of Trungpa Rinpoche’s went to him to complain about the Regent’s abusive behavior. In particular an incident when the Regent verbally attacked a kasung on duty who did not feel he could defend himself.

Trungpa Rinpoche told us that we should talk to the Regent about his unacceptable behvaiour, “Teachers need feedback. If you don’t talk to him about this, who will?” We replied that Rinpoche appointed him and that he should control him. As we know, that didn’t happen.

There is now no question of the Sakyong continuing to teach or lead Shambhala but there is much worth salvaging.

We need your strong voices.

We need to purge the patriarchal model altogether and never again any one to cause harm to another.

Now is the time for things to fall apart.

Now is the time for healing.

I hope you will be part of the solution in the future.

Undr what name? With the leadership of what teacher? No idea.

What we do know is the vast majority of our sangha are good people – women and men who are dedicated to offering Buddhist mindfulness practice for a world in need.

Let’s keep the goodness and support each other in waking up – fully – at this time.

Gisèle Laberge says:
February 20, 2019 at 4:06 pm
For me, what is happening as the action of the Rigdens.
I love our community. I love the Buddhist and Shambhalians teachings.
The victims who have spoken are the most courageous and strong persons.
They are the samaya keepers.
I think we should honor them. They deserve our respect.
Thank you also to the kusungs who have spoken up.

I am so sorry… for humanity.
But, life is always young… We should celebrate this opportunity for a deep cultural change.
And be part of it.

Elizabeth says:
February 20, 2019 at 6:19 pm
I am so deeply sorry for the ways I was complicit with my money and time. Love to those who were violated. I am so very very sorry.

Laura Byrd says:
February 22, 2019 at 7:56 am
I apologize unreservedly. Through my participation in this organization, I have been complicit. Through my ability to see but my failure to take responsibility, I have been complicit. Through ignoring critical intelligence—mine, others’—I have been complicit. Through my complacency and selfishness and lack of bravery, I have been complicit. I breathe in this poison as medicine. I breathe out relief, safety, acknowledgment, care, commitment, courage, trust, clarity, light, comfort, space. Change. Love.

Theodor E. Kropf says:
February 23, 2019 at 7:35 pm
I apologize for being involved in petty local center politics that turned away so many good women and men. I am sorry for being naive enough to think it was okay for older men in positions of MI to manipulate younger women, and not say anything, even as they revel in telling me their exploits.

I am heartbroken for those who have given their lives to this organization in any way and have been discarded as mere lowly servants by the hierarchy. And many left financially destitute, with no assistance from the path they were so dedicated to.

“What god is he,
Who writes laws of peace,
And clothes them in a tempest?
What pitying angel,
Lusts for tears,
And fans himself with sighs?
What crawling villain,
Preaches abstinence,
And wraps himself
In the fat of lambs?
No more I follow
No more obedience pay.

-- W. Blake, Europe

Andrew Bowen says:
February 25, 2019 at 2:15 pm

Mark O'Donoghue says:
February 28, 2019 at 11:36 am

Frank Stelzel says:
March 5, 2019 at 4:01 pm
It felt like family. Attackers took advantage of that feeling. We all failed to protect you. This cannot be undone. We must take care that no one is allowed to trample on your wound any longer. This brutal family business must end. Now.

Danielle Loeb says:
March 11, 2019 at 10:55 pm
Thank you for your bravery. I am sorry I did not see… did not want to see… until I couldn’t not see. Thank you for helping us to see what the suffering we created.

Pat Shiwa Pema Parisi says:
March 12, 2019 at 9:58 am
I join with the other voices and express regret and I am deeply sorry for the harm that was perpetrated on you. I was part of this system for at least a decade and it’s likely that I turned a blind and naive eye to what was happening. I am sorry that we did not protect you. Thank you for your bravery in coming forward. I see and hear you. I honor you.

Judith Lechner says:
March 17, 2019 at 10:44 am
I’m sorry for being naive. For not questioning more. For going along with the dream of enlightened society. For being in a big cocoon created to not see reality. For the longing to believe this and let my gut intuition be silenced. How stupid of me!

Rod Fiorito says:
April 11, 2019 at 4:05 am
I am sad and heartbroken. I wish for healing for the survivors and clarity, humility and courage for the perpetrators to fully admit to and apologize for the harm they have done. Although I am unaware of any harm that I may have caused and have not already apologized for in the limited roles that I have had in Shambhala or even as a member of the community, I would like to know and make amends for any hurt or pain I may have caused in others.

Egolessness Earth Lake says:
April 11, 2019 at 5:16 am
I am so sorry I have been unseeing and cooperating with an abusive society. Your courage will not be forgotten.

Anna says:
April 11, 2019 at 10:21 am
I am sorry I supported Shambhala with my time and money. I am sorry I participated in a sick and abusive system. I am sorry I took vows and served as a representative of an unethical, dysfunctional, and deceptive institution. I am sorry for contributing, even unknowingly, to the personal and spiritual pain of others. To the survivors: I wish you safety, healing, and true community. May we all trust our own wisdom, and may our imaginations be boundless, as we envision a new path forward.

Anonymous LivingInFear says:
April 11, 2019 at 11:11 pm
I’m sorry for not being more perceptive as a Kasung and practitioner (1985 to 2002), as I did know about Mr. Mukpo sleeping with students, and never said a word. But worse (far worse) is the guilt I feel for letting my daughter (then 13 years old) take refuge with him. That was done in secret, with a group of other children (@ Sun Camp, RMDC). Years later, my daughter inexplicably committed suicide. Could this be related? We will never know, unless the Larimer County Sheriffs department makes a connection. But the burden of guilt is near unbearable, and this feeling humbles me to no end. This must be akin to what other survivors are going through, and to them, I offer my deepest sympathy and compassion – as well as a speedy recovery… and I am sorry I can’t find the courage to name myself, as so many other old friends here have. Bless you.

Ivan says:
April 12, 2019 at 8:31 am
I am sorry I initially dismissed shambhala’s past as well as your stories when I heard about them. I am sorry that I contributed to this organization with time and money, and that I encouraged other people to join it. I am sorry that I looked down at people’s resistances to shambhala’s hierarchy and some of its practices. And I am sorry I did not listen to those who worried about my involvement with such an organization.

Kent Martin says:
April 12, 2019 at 12:36 pm
I left Shambhala awhile back but I am sorry I was not more vocal about the problems I had at the time with hierarchy, elitism, and the idolization of MM. I never directly witnessed any sexual misconduct but I can’t imagine the pain and feeling of betrayal that those who were harmed must feel.

The whole experience has made me really wonder about my own capacity to be deluded, going along for the sake of going along and not trusting fully my gut feelings and moral compass. We have done so much of that as individual human beings when we join groups and put on blinders. In that way we are all responsible for the great crimes of history.

Alice Smiley says:
April 12, 2019 at 2:11 pm

Good Sparkling Intellect says:
April 13, 2019 at 7:57 am
I am sorry I didn’t speak loud enough about my hesitations. I’m sorry I accepted the “crazy wisdom” excuse for CTR’s behavior.

I’m sorry I was drawn in by Mitchell Levy’s charm and did not question at the time why he made me feel so special and above others.

I’m sorry I didn’t tell anyone about another teacher’s inappropriate behavior, usually linked to alcohol and drugs, the many midnight sexual texts and groping and kissing me. He was the son of a Shastri who grew up in Shambhala and I didn’t think anyone would believe me if I spoke up. By not speaking up, I might have left him to prey on another young woman,
and if that’s the case, I’m sorry. I didn’t have the courage. I thought I wouldn’t be welcome at my centre anymore. I was not brave enough. I’m still not brave enough to attach my name to this statement.

I’m sorry I gave my hard-earned money to Shambhala International. The organization doesn’t deserve it and it shocks me that the board is still asking us for money. Why aren’t they raising money to support survivors instead?

And most of all, I’m sorry that all of you went through the gaslighting, shunning and not believing by most of the people in your community by speaking up FOR YEARS. I’m sorry it took so long.

I love you all, brave survivors. I am with you.

Katie Yates says:
April 13, 2019 at 6:42 pm
I am deeply sorry for any harm I’ve caused as member of the kasung and as a member of Shambhala (1988-present). I stand with survivors of Shambhala abuse. I am grateful to my friends and my sangha family who are brave in the face of disgrace and of difficult reality. I value their lives and I trust their experiences. I will do my best to help in any way I can. With love.

Karma Ladron says:
April 13, 2019 at 8:16 pm
I apologize for not questioning out loud the over the top court display. It never made sense to me. Particularly since MM seemed hollow beneath the display, like nobody was home. Though privately I felt uncomfortable I never voiced my discomfort because I attributed it to my own shortcomings as a student. I apologize for not trusting my intuition, for not asking questions, and for going along.

Jessie says:
April 17, 2019 at 10:05 am
I’m sorry for not questioning more and therefore enabling a culture of dismissal and abuse. I didn’t know how bad it really was, and although I questioned some of the troubling issues with the hierarchy and patriarchy and racism, I never thought that both Mr. Mukpos were so abusive. While everyone is scrambling to salvage their dear communities, survivors are suffering the worst, and I have no idea really what current Mr. Mukpo is wanting to do to right this situation.

Zachariah Finley says:
April 24, 2019 at 9:32 pm

Dawn Boiani-Sandberg says:
April 28, 2019 at 7:19 am
After seeing such an outpouing of heart, authenticity and regret, in tears, I can really see why I came to this community. It was for all of *you*, my sangha who spoke here, such beauty and gentleness, incomparable. I’m sorry that people reduce all of us to a mere cult and complicit when there were a sad few who abused power and secrecy. I’m sorry to watch what we all built which was imperfect and beautiful, fall. I will be so sorry to never see you all again, or practice with you. You are Shambhala, my long term family, freinds, my refuge and it’s a travesty to see it all disperse to the wind, and let us be defined by one or a few persons mistaken views and actions.

Bob Sutherland says:
April 28, 2019 at 9:01 am
Many of these comments echo my feelings.

Tsultrim Chosang says:
May 3, 2019 at 12:13 pm
I wish to apologize to all those who have been harmed by Shambhala activities in any way, in particular those that have had the courage to come forward in this latest round of community scandal, which the various reports are both shocking and believable. This is at least the third generation of scandal for this lineage, each involving the leader, while the overall organizational structure is designed to financially benefit the guru household, rather than attending to those that come for religious training and community. This became clear to me awhile ago and I apologize that my religious ambitions led me to be complicit with the enabling organization for some time and for any further harm this led to. I have stopped and am looking for ways to manifest my intention to protect, by informing, those who are still within the confused organization with the dysfunctional operation (it’s dysfunctional), those who have been harmed in the past and are survivors of abuse (there are others), or those who may be arriving on the doorstep even now (beware, there are problems, a complex history). Thank you for your courage, all readers.
Site Admin
Posts: 33540
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

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

Postby admin » Sun Jun 16, 2019 1:13 am

Lady Konchok Has Apparently Just Died
at Reddit



Posted byu/SamtenLhari
2 days ago
Lady Konchok Has Apparently Just Died
I heard of this in an email. I don’t know any details.

2 days ago
Shambhala Times announecment / article: ... s-samadhi/

SamtenLhari posted on the thread " Update on Marpa House from the Interim Board"
2 hours ago
I have heard that the Interim Board has signed a contract for sale of Marpa House for $5MM to a real estate developer.
So much for listening to the community — and paying attention to Shambhala’s non-profit mission.
It’s all about the money.

11 hours ago
A lot of people who live/lived in MH slavishly supported a monarchy where there has been little transparency or accountability about money. This is what happens under those types of dysfunctional systems.

1 day ago
not gonna lie I half expected someone in this thread to be suggesting she'd been bumped off to smooth over the sale

1 day ago
No. The sale was already a done deal.
Let me explain do that you understand the level of distrust of many on this subreddit.
Shambhala is a charitable organization. It has a charitable mission. The operation of Marpa House as a residential practice center in Boulder is part of that mission and allows low income practitioners to remain and practice together in a community in the high priced Boulder real estate market. It is also one of the few remaining unchanged institutions from the time of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche — Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche’s father.
The Boulder community through incredibly hard work of many individuals formed a non-profit corporation, obtained 501(c)(3) tax status, obtained debt and equity financing and made a $3 million offer under an incredibly short time period. This group also had and has prospects for additional financing, including a $500,000 cooperative proposal from a Boulder community non-profit group that has a mission of promoting low income cooperative housing. There was also and is the additional prospect of raising more financing through a broader appeal to the Shambhala community.
What was the Interim Board’s response to this proposal? They rejected it out of hand and within days signed a binding contract for a $5 million sale to a commercial developer. They did not even respond to the Boulder community’s proposal. They issued a statement — which was a lie given their obvious intention to sign a binding contract — saying that they were interested in continuing to have discussions to keep Marpa House open. Apparently, those discussions can only take place now if the commercial deal falls through.
And what was the pressure to take the commercial deal? The excuse that a loan from the Potrang, an affiliated non-profit corporation, was coming due. If there were other reasons for needing cash quickly, they haven’t been explained.
This is why many people on this subreddit are pissed off and distrustful of the Interim Board and the Shambhala hierarchy altogether.
It is motivated by our genuine concern for what has been lost — the vision of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche for the establishment of Buddhist practice lineages in the West in a community based on Shambhala principles of enlightened society. The loss of Marpa House is just one example that brings the general concern into sharp focus.
Many of us also knew Lady Konchok or knew of her and have great respect for her many years of practice — including many dark retreats — and her level of realization. So, please don’t assume that you know who you are talking to and dismiss everyone on this subreddit as some rude group of disgruntled anti-Shambhala people.

1 day ago
This is a perfect instance where transparency from the Interim Board would go a long way. There are a range of possible explanations for why/how this all went down, but it's hard not to draw unfavorable conclusions without real info. I'd be curious to know what sort of liens/loans the Potrang has on the property? It's possible they have mortgaged it to the gills and a stream of related liabilities from the whole current shitstorm has put them in this position. On the other hand, if the Potrang owns it free and clear why wouldn't they just roll the debt? I don't think there are any purely innocent explanations here, but the lack of clarity from the Board is disheartening.

1 day ago
Agreed. And I say this even though I have friends on the Interim Board. They screwed the pooch big time on this — certainly in terms of communication and very likely in terms of (i) callousness and insensitivity to Shambhala’s charitable mission in making the decision, and (ii) failing to take into account the fact that this decision will further alienate Shambhala members, limit future financial support, and increase Shambhala’s financial troubles.
The only reason I say “very likely” is that there may be factors of which I am not aware because the communication has been so poor.

20 hours ago
I thought I read in the latest financial report that the IB didn’t budget for the repayment of the loan by the Pötrang. The reasons for the need of cash is that other assets owned by Shambhala International are not free of mortgages. Still it would have been mandatory to work with the community initiative and issue a transparent and timely information.

11 hours ago
This is the gist of the nasty financial entanglement. The Potrang is very much separate when accruing assets. And yet somehow, when covenants are being tripped and liabilities are coming due, the Potrang and SI are entangled. I don't know of any explicit malfeasance and the maxim 'never ascribe to malice what can easily be explained by incompetence' probably applies. Yet, having watched decades of financial appeals and many people destroy their own personal financial lives in service of the kingdom it's sad not to have better communication in these matters.

1 minute ago
What we are witnessing is the Sakyong's corporate alter ego vacuuming up all the assets in sight to cushion his fall. Since his career as a spiritual fraud has come to an end, he has to think about his future, and how to keep himself and his Wangmo living in the style to which they have become accustomed. The financial documents released by the Interim Board disclose next to nothing about how funds gathered by Shambhala corporate cutouts have been funelled into the Sakyong's purse, and how funds obtained from the sale of Marpa House will be disbursed. This "non-transparency" will continue until there is nothing left to conceal, and it's quite possible that Shambhala Global Services (SGS), the central cutout that has become little more than a bag for liabilities, will be in bankruptcy within a year or two. Alexander Halpern, the keeper of secrets and orchestrator of lies who betrayed CTR's intentions by aiding in the theft of the Trungpa Lineage from Trungpa XII, the rightful heir, will send the bankruptcy case to one of his influential friends to handle in a friendly venue, and those holding SGS debt will be given pennies on the dollar. The Sakyong will be as comfortable as all of the third-world dictators who loot their national treasuries. That Shastri trying to make people guilty about depriving the Sakyong of revenue by holding Shambhala trainings and not sending him a cut is just one more appeal to sympathy and nostalgia intended to prevent serious inquiry into the fact that this man will likely die rich.

If anyone in this organization had a grain of legal sense, they would be filing complaints with the Attorneys General of New York, Vermont, and Colorado, requesting enforcement of the law that requires assets that are transferred out of a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit to be given to nonprofit purposes, and not to enrich the executives controlling the nonprofit. The members of the Interim Board should be notified that they may face personal tax consequences for orchestrating an "excess benefit transaction" for the benefit of the Sakyong.


> The organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, and no part of a section 501(c)(3) organization's net earnings may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. If the organization engages in an excess benefit transaction with a person having substantial influence over the organization, an excise tax may be imposed on the person and any organization managers agreeing to the transaction.

Exemption Requirements, -- 501(c)(3) Organizations ... anizations

2 days ago
Seems true . type: breeze of delight
on facebook
they confirm the new

1 day ago
From the Shambhala Times announcement:
" there is no need for any sukhavati, or burning of her photo "
(in other words, no funeral is planned)

1 day ago
edited 12 hours ago
2nd paragraph of the announcement: "Further details on practices to be conducted in connection with her death and arrangements for her funeral will be posted on the Shambhala Times as soon as possible."

20 hours ago
I‘ve never heard about an incident that someone is so realized that no sukhavati is needed. And surely there’s no one on this planet so realized to assess if a sukhavati was needed or not.
Site Admin
Posts: 33540
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

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

Postby admin » Sun Jun 16, 2019 2:41 am

"The Spiritual Hero Age is Over": Interview with Bernhard Porksen
by Ursula Richard
Buddhismus aktuell
January 2019



How it happens that so many gurus are being disenchanted right now, whether there are patterns in the cover-up of abuse and whether there can still be role models in the future, the media scholar Bernhard Pörksen talks about these and further questions in an interview with Ursula Richard.


A contribution by Ursula Richard published in the issue 2019/1 "grow" in the section Talks

Ursula Richard: In a contribution published in the ZEIT entitled "Disenchanted Gurus," you speak of the end of the religious and spiritual age of heroes. In recent years, quite a few Buddhist gurus have been disenchanted. Why is this happening so often in recent years?

Poerksen: I maintain that this is essentially a media effect, because in the age of digital networking, the power of the guru or master, which seems to be unquestionably open, is more vulnerable than ever. All of a sudden everyone can join in barrier-free, formulate petitions, report on blogs and pillory pages about what has happened to them and what has been done to them. What we are currently seeing in Tibetan and Japanese Buddhism, and at the same time in countless yoga schools and communities around the world, is an underlying implosion of spiritual authority.

That means we know too much ...

... to worship unquestionably. This is a dynamics that is not at all understood in its entirety, because in the shattered view of the individual case we do not recognize the general tendency, the direction of the medial evolution. It is important to realize that aura, charisma and spiritual or secular authority are always a result of successful information and communication control, but increasingly less possible. The lonely valley, the closed monastery, the only imperfect visible misconduct - all this hardly exists in the age of digital media everywhere. A few clicks and we see a yoga master beating a woman's head on a video, watching on YouTube as a supposedly enlightened one vomits a golden egg he's put in his mouth before. In a Netflix documentary (Wild, Wild Country), we see the swaying guru, fueled with nitrous oxide and valium, keenly interested in luxury watches and his steadily growing Rolls-Royce fleet. We read in blogs and forums the shocking reports of abused women, hear of young Tulkus being beaten in monasteries by monks. We learn about an open letter circulating on social media about the brutality a spiritual superstar like Sogyal Lakar has hurt, exploited, and humiliated. We read on dedicated web pages about alcohol addiction and the attacks on women by Sakyong Mipham in the Shambala community. We study the current revelations about the Nazi past of Karlfried Graf Dürckheim and can provide us with the details of the sex scandals of Zen masters Eido Shimano and Joshu Sasaki without any hassle or under the hashtag "#metooguru" on Twitter always new cases and Research allegations. In sum, this means that the saint becomes a broken figure, the guru a sad, miserable, in the extreme case simply criminal character. And inevitably, the image of the sublime rivals its own experiences and the immediately retrievable documents of disassembly and embarrassment for supremacy over the concrete moment.

Can the influence of the digital media world be demonstrated more precisely and with an example?

Just think of the case of Eido Shimano. In concrete terms: He came to the USA from Japan in the 1960s, taught at short notice in Hawaii and lived there with the Zen monk Robert Aitken, who later became famous himself. Both broke up because Shimano had sold out to two students who suffered a breakdown in a row. Aitken pursued from then on the traces of abuse that drew Shimano. He collected material, he put on his own archive, he warned about crossing the border, but he did not do it in front of a large audience. And there was no digital publicity; the world stage of the network did not exist yet. There should be a newspaper article about the attacks, but it was not printed for some reason. For nearly forty years, Aitken documented what Shimano did he wrote down the stories told by abused women; he was given material by others, which he kept. Then he handed over his estate to a university, including a sealed package that said, "Eido Shimano - do not open." Eventually he agreed to the publication ... and the materials were disseminated and digitized ...

... and today there is a separate net archive on the case: The Schimano Archive.

That's the way it is, yes. Since 2010 you can find thousands of pages in various languages, compiled by many volunteers and whistleblowers. Texts, videos, sound documents ( It covers years and decades of abuse. In other words, in the age of the established mass media and the unpublished newspaper articles, Schimano seemed largely untouchable. However, under the conditions of digital networking his reputation was destroyed at record speed, he himself as a respectable person. One can see in this case, too, that the audience has become media-empowered today - and can even create publicity. This audience has become the new player.

Generally speaking, is all this good or bad?

In the last, this transparency and the new media power of the victims is absolutely welcome. The question, however, will be whether a radically sobered idealism is viable. Whether the many scandal-ridden communities, monasteries and centers simply crumble. And just a lot of depression and disillusionment lingers.

Here in Germany, the fall of the Odenwald School has aroused a lot of attention - a free school, which was considered a showcase for decades and now closed to abuse scandals. The interesting thing seems to me: Here, as far as I know, there was a post in the Frankfurter Rundschau, which reported from the scandalous incidents there, but remained completely ineffective. Only ten years later, the scandal then reached a wider public and did not let itself sink into the box of Pandora. Even with the scandals about Buddhist teachers, there were usually long prehistory, and one often wondered what else would happen or better known, so that what ever came to the public, would bring consequences. Do you think there are aspects

Yes, it always needs the interaction of five factors. On the one hand, it is important - in the sense of media logic - for victims to speak out with their names and faces; this creates the domino effects of reciprocal encouragement and liberating listening that wash away long-held and repressed things. On the other hand, persistently researching, courageous journalists are necessary to verify the allegations, make them known in the established media and are ready for the journalistic long-distance run, because such reporting takes time. Journalists have - as the first reports of massive Odenwald school abuse came up - come up with a mixture of comfort, disbelief, and the fear of corrupting the influential gurus and cheers of reform education with such a disgusting theme, simply did not look closely enough. In addition, courageous individuals from inside the attacked institution must follow their conscience - and continue to advance the Enlightenment without exaggerated consideration for the fate of the perpetrators and past allegiances. Such "inside-outsiders" are enormously significant, which is shown again and again. In the case of the Odenwald School, the rather new Headmistress, who was rather isolated in the reform education scene, played this role. She has decided to listen first, then to force the Enlightenment on with courage. Also, the supporter and sympathizer scene, which has perhaps lamented just about nasty journalists and the "abuse of abuse", has to rearrange and position themselves. After all, in order to prevent the topic from silting up again, an alert public, the increased sensitivity of the audience. This sensitivity, to return to Odenwald School again, was given in the second wave of revelations in 2010 by the dramatic abuse scandals of the Catholic Church in the US and Ireland, which were reported worldwide.

Can patterns be recognized in the Guru's disenchantment? Also with regard to the reactions of the institutions that the Guru chaired or was embedded in, of which he was usually protected for years.

The common reaction in the phase of institutional self-protection and institutional narcissism initially looks like this: one tries to save one's own image, to keep the scandal out of the public, plays it down internally, warns against the spreading of unproven gossip, pays optional hush-money or discredits the victims as untrustworthy and mentally unstable, tries to intimidate them, and responds to initially isolated media reports by imposing sensationalism and dirt campaigns on journalists. If one sees that this does not work, the phase of a fairly diffused revelation by the Master himself, the publicly celebrated purification ritual, follows. The Master then signals inner contemplation and a time of retreat, self-exploration. He says, that he was in despair, that he had possibly injured students without wanting to. Here is, which is mostly the unsatisfactory and obviously strategic such humility gestures, the existence of violations up to the crime of rape to the perceptual problem of the victim side. What has actually happened remains - as the lawyers have long been reading every punctuation mark - somewhat cloudy. But the master is sorry when someone feels hurt, because he loves his students more than himself! Whether it then comes to an objectifying reconstruction, for example, commissioned an independent law firm with the clarification of the allegations and the publication of the research results depends on the power relations within the institution.

Once again, are there any patterns that you believe support the cover-up of abuse in spiritual communities?

It exists, yes. The infallibility ideal is fatal, because for the spiritual seeker, when he recognizes Master's failings, everything is at stake, the entire sense cosmos seems threatened. If the guru turns out to be fallible, is it all possible that lies? Moreover, in some communities the connection to the Master is so much mystified as a kind of sacred bond that dissolution is not considered at all or is seen as a kind of karmic disaster that must be avoided. It also gives those powers who spend sexual submission as a privilege and a sign of surrender, somehow catapulting the student forward on the path to enlightenment. And finally, the actually meaningful recommendation common in many communities, Gossip and gossip and defamation should be the revelation blockade: then react to the disturbing warning with a taboo of somehow unappetizing communication, first sits down with a lowered look on the pillow, watching your own mind - and signaled in the direction of the bearers bad messages: "Leave me alone with this filth!" That is, even the inclination in some Buddhist schools to turn the external irritation initially into a cause for the reflected self-observation and a kind of mental training to premature judgment avoidance can be counterproductive. Because sometimes it is true that you have to look very carefully and examine the allegations exactly. And then forcefully intervene to end horrible suffering. The revelatory blockade will be: Responding to the disturbing warning with a taboo of somehow unappetizing communication, first sit down with a lowered look on the pillow, watching your own mind - and signal towards the bearer of bad messages: "Leave me alone That means, even the tendency in some Buddhist schools to turn the external irritation initially into a reason for the reflected self-observation and a kind of mental training to premature judgment avoidance, can be counterproductive. Because sometimes it is true that you have to look very carefully and examine the allegations exactly. And then forcefully intervene to end horrible suffering. The revelatory blockade will be: Responding to the disturbing warning with a taboo of somehow unappetizing communication, first sit down with a lowered look on the pillow, watching your own mind - and signal towards the bearer of bad messages: "Leave me alone That means, even the tendency in some Buddhist schools to turn the external irritation initially into a reason for the reflected self-observation and a kind of mental training to premature judgment avoidance, can be counterproductive. Because sometimes it is true that you have to look very carefully and examine the allegations exactly. And then forcefully intervene to end horrible suffering. Then you react to the disturbing warning with a taboo of somehow unappetizing communication, first sit down with a lowered look on the pillow, watching your own mind - and signaled in the direction of the bearer of bad messages: "Leave me alone with this dirt!" In other words, the inclination in some Buddhist schools to turn the external irritation initially into a cause for reflective self-observation and a kind of mental training for premature avoidance of judgment can be counterproductive. Because sometimes it is true that you have to look very carefully and examine the allegations exactly. And then forcefully intervene to end horrible suffering. Then you react to the disturbing warning with a taboo of somehow unappetizing communication, first sit down with a lowered look on the pillow, watching your own mind - and signaled in the direction of the bearer of bad messages: "Leave me alone with this dirt!" In other words, the inclination in some Buddhist schools to turn the external irritation initially into a cause for reflective self-observation and a kind of mental training for premature avoidance of judgment can be counterproductive. Because sometimes it is true that you have to look very carefully and examine the allegations exactly. And then forcefully intervene to end horrible suffering. observe your own mind - and signal towards the bearers of bad messages: "Leave me alone with this filth!" That means, the inclination in some Buddhist schools, the external irritation initially in a reason for reflective self-observation and a kind of mental training To turn into premature avoidance of judgment can be counterproductive. Because sometimes it is true that you have to look very carefully and examine the allegations exactly. And then forcefully intervene to end horrible suffering. observe your own mind - and signal towards the bearers of bad messages: "Leave me alone with this filth!" That means, the inclination in some Buddhist schools, the external irritation initially in a reason for reflective self-observation and a kind of mental training To turn into premature avoidance of judgment can be counterproductive. Because sometimes it is true that you have to look very carefully and examine the allegations exactly. And then forcefully intervene to end horrible suffering. Turning the external irritation into an occasion for reflective self-observation and a kind of mental training for premature avoidance of judgment can be counterproductive. Because sometimes it is true that you have to look very carefully and examine the allegations exactly. And then forcefully intervene to end horrible suffering. Turning the external irritation into an occasion for reflective self-observation and a kind of mental training for premature avoidance of judgment can be counterproductive. Because sometimes it is true that you have to look very carefully and examine the allegations exactly. And then forcefully intervene to end horrible suffering.

This year's Berlin Biennale had the motto: "We do not need another hero" - we do not need another hero. Nietzsche spoke of the death of God. If we no longer have a god and we now lose the gurus and heroes, what's left for us? In this context, you also speak of the "burning of role models". But what can we do with our need for role models that credibly embody what they teach, give us hope that what we are trying to achieve is actually achievable?

I think that this question can only be answered individually. Some will seek new masters in response to the disappointment, instant icons and heroes for the moment, if you will. Others will find ways to repress and rationalize disappointment, reinterpreting it as a learning opportunity, helping them to work on their own limitations and blockages. Or they will leave the spiritual path, turn away disillusioned. Still others will discover a post-mythical guru and "human master" whose authority is authenticity and closeness. All these are possible reaction pictures.

But is not this also a chance to grow up in the spiritual realm, in which we have often preserved salvation yearnings that can barely conceal their origin from our children's world? And what could this adult spirituality look like or what could it be?

I dont know. But of course you are right: The Guru 's disenchantment could - in theory - be followed by the adult spirituality that accepts the wounded, carved, but still given role model as normal, ultimately seeing in the Master, above all, the other person, the has many things in advance and can teach much, but which is by no means infallible and omniscient. But you see, I'm just a media and scandal analyst with no special spiritual skills. And as such, I would say: Right now, quite infantile salvation and worship desires are bouncing on the general lust for disenchantment and a garishly overexposed world in which every minor and major misconduct becomes known at lightning speed. And just this clash of perfection longings,

One of your books has the provocative title Truth is the invention of a liar. It contains discussions with Heinz von Foerster, a representative of radical constructivism. Now, in connection with the revelations about gurus, one often hears the argument that everything is just perception. The "victim" experiences actions as, say, sexually assaulting or perceiving certain touches as strokes and therefore experiencing certain things as hurtful or injurious. However, the Guru's intention was to help the person (in overcoming the ego, in enlightenment or whatever) and not to hurt her, so he had a completely different perception of his actions. And so there is regret (by institutional representatives of the guru) not about the act, but about the "victim" perceiving it as harmful.

Of course, there is the act. And the accusation of the victim and the attempts at deprivation of the perpetrator are not equally true. That would be a misunderstanding of constructivism, I mean. But I have to take a moment to explain this. - May I?

Of course, you may ...

My friend and mentor Heinz von Foerster, like many constructivists of the first generation, was inspired by the desire to vaccinate thought against dogmatism. He had survived the Nazi era as a so-called quarter-Jew in Berlin, he was shaken by the horror of ideologically fought truths inside and under no circumstances wanted to bite into the opponent, the ideologists are somehow similar by an anti-ideology. So he created a philosophy of cheerful departure, a guide to thinking differently, more head-on and corrective than a self-contained system of thought that should somehow stand in the semblance of the Absolute. - What do I mean by that? The Constructivism, which then became surprisingly fashionable in academic circles, was extremely suspicious. And I would add: Constructivism, which one uses to relativize the reality of abuse has itself become a dogma; it is a means of power, a propaganda trick with a supposedly epistemological touch. A consistent constructivism should, pathetically speaking, always remain a philosophy of the underdogs. That is, one corrects the big and small ideologies of everyday life, opposes totalitarian claims of truth, and at the same time practices a cheerful skepticism to see more than before. But that's about all. That is, one corrects the big and small ideologies of everyday life, opposes totalitarian claims of truth, and at the same time practices a cheerful skepticism to see more than before. But that's about all. That is, one corrects the big and small ideologies of everyday life, opposes totalitarian claims of truth, and at the same time practices a cheerful skepticism to see more than before. But that's about all.

And yet: The claim that there is no truth, only the individual perception, can be used to devalue the victims. This would mean that a Sogyal Lakar has always acted with good intentions, but unfortunately some people now feel hurt. Likewise, some of his followers argue. And what really happened remains open. It is only about the exchange of different images of reality and perceptions. And everyone is ultimately responsible for his worldview.

That's a danger - and a call for the exact distinction. Because, of course, there is the level of the facts, the reality of the first order. Whether someone was beaten, harassed for years and sexually abused - that can be clarified, if necessary with the help of police and investigators, then with the help of the prosecutor in court. The question of supposedly good intentions and pseudo-spiritual justifications, on the other hand, refers to the level of meanings, that is the reality of second order. There are countless different views here; here rules the dispute, the manifold interpretation that you then (but this is just a mistake or the strategically motivated trick) possibly used to doubt the events on the level of first order itself, according to the motto: Because there are different interpretations, the event itself must be controversial. And in the spirit of a personal-private construction of meaning, then someone can claim that he embodies the tradition of crazy wisdom, in which everything happens anyway only for the benefit of the students. But if you look closely, you see that such ideas - especially in response to a threatening scandal - usually represent a formally expressed form of bullshit, so even of those who represent them, not really believed. You want to make the possibly monstrous events somehow beautiful, that's what it's about. And every means is right - no matter whether one bends an epistemology or tells a "crazy wisdom" fairy tale,

One often disbelieves that leaders in leadership positions of spiritual institutions have not wanted to hear about the scandalous activity of their guru for years and similarly fall out of thin air like outsiders. But this is often claimed by them. There is certainly a great deal of self-protection here, but can it not be the case that the perception of such a responsible person changes so much that she really sees what corresponds to the view represented there and completely ignores it? Already Goethe knew: "You only see what you already know or know." Maybe also applies: "You only see what you have to see in order to belong."

They are actually blind then.

I do exactly this observation as I analyze the dynamics in spiritual or other communities shaken by sex, financial or manipulation scandals. There are those who could really only see and see what they wanted to see and believe anyway. They are actually blind then. And also blind to your own blindness. That happens. And in general, the more sectarian the group, the more pronounced the selective perception. However, more often, there are those who suspect something - and suppress the rumblings in their inner self and the doubt and protest of the inner voices, beautifully talk what they see and build the strangest explanatory bridges to the painful conclusion, the actual necessary knowledge and the to escape the action actually offered; You want to preserve community, affiliation and closeness to the Master, so you minimize the experience dissonance by all means and resources. And then the alleged non-seeing and non-knowledge starts to dazzle, sometimes seems to be simply a timid and then even more intensely practiced form of self-deception, which one day may even believe in.

We live in a time of indignation, of rapid excitement or irritability, of scandal, as a look into the (social) media shows and as you describe it very impressively in your latest book The Great Irritability. And we seem to be less and less observers of an event, but faster and faster, judges who absolutely set their moral point of view and make it the standard of all things. It seems to me to be important and necessary to draw away the mantle of silence about abuse in every form, but also about disparaging remarks concerning other religions and their followers, to clearly name this behavior and draw consequences from it. But how can we avoid hypocrisy and one-dimensionality ourselves? Do we need an ethic of the Enlightenment in the digital age? How could she look?

That seems to me a tremendously important question. In this book I develop - in the sense of a suggestion - an educational utopia, in order to not only get stuck in the inevitably gloomy crisis analysis. My question was: how can we dampen the unhealthy immediate excitement, preserve a communication climate of searching discussion, and re-establish the balancing act of the Enlightenment at a time when everyone, a smartphone in their hands, can quickly turn to the public? My own answer is succinct: we should become the digital society of the present for the editorial society of the future. What do you mean with that? In editorial society, the ideals and maxims of good journalism have become an element of general education. For example, they read: "Check first, publish later! Be skeptical, even with your own judgments! Analyze the sources! Always listen to the other side! Act transparent in dealing with your own mistakes! Pay attention to relevance and proportionality, so do not make an event bigger than it is! "In the maxims of good journalism, I maintain, there is an ethics for the general public that concerns everyone today. She should be taught in a separate subject at school. Because we have become media powerful, we must now also become media. Because what would be, seriously asked, the alternative? Paternalism? Increasingly sophisticated laws? The most effective communication control? For me, these are ultimately unworthy proposals shaped by education mistrust and educational pessimism. Since I wanted to counter - even optimist on principle -. Be skeptical, even with your own judgments! Analyze the sources! Always listen to the other side! Act transparent in dealing with your own mistakes! Pay attention to relevance and proportionality, so do not make an event bigger than it is! "In the maxims of good journalism, I maintain, there is an ethics for the general public that concerns everyone today. She should be taught in a separate subject at school. Because we have become media powerful, we must now also become media. Because what would be, seriously asked, the alternative? Paternalism? Increasingly sophisticated laws? The most effective communication control? For me, these are ultimately unworthy proposals shaped by education mistrust and educational pessimism. Since I wanted to counter - even optimist on principle -. Be skeptical, even with your own judgments! Analyze the sources! Always listen to the other side! Act transparent in dealing with your own mistakes! Pay attention to relevance and proportionality, so do not make an event bigger than it is! "In the maxims of good journalism, I maintain, there is an ethics for the general public that concerns everyone today. She should be taught in a separate subject at school. Because we have become media powerful, we must now also become media. Because what would be, seriously asked, the alternative? Paternalism? Increasingly sophisticated laws? The most effective communication control? For me, these are ultimately unworthy proposals shaped by education mistrust and educational pessimism. Since I wanted to counter - even optimist on principle -. also against your own judgments! Analyze the sources! Always listen to the other side! Act transparent in dealing with your own mistakes! Pay attention to relevance and proportionality, so do not make an event bigger than it is! "In the maxims of good journalism, I maintain, there is an ethics for the general public that concerns everyone today. She should be taught in a separate subject at school. Because we have become media powerful, we must now also become media. Because what would be, seriously asked, the alternative? Paternalism? Increasingly sophisticated laws? The most effective communication control? For me, these are ultimately unworthy proposals shaped by education mistrust and educational pessimism. Since I wanted to counter - even optimist on principle -. also against your own judgments! Analyze the sources! Always listen to the other side! Act transparent in dealing with your own mistakes! Pay attention to relevance and proportionality, so do not make an event bigger than it is! "In the maxims of good journalism, I maintain, there is an ethics for the general public that concerns everyone today. She should be taught in a separate subject at school. Because we have become media powerful, we must now also become media. Because what would be, seriously asked, the alternative? Paternalism? Increasingly sophisticated laws? The most effective communication control? For me, these are ultimately unworthy proposals shaped by education mistrust and educational pessimism. Since I wanted to counter - even optimist on principle -. Always listen to the other side! Act transparent in dealing with your own mistakes! Pay attention to relevance and proportionality, so do not make an event bigger than it is! "In the maxims of good journalism, I maintain, there is an ethics for the general public that concerns everyone today. She should be taught in a separate subject at school. Because we have become media powerful, we must now also become media. Because what would be, seriously asked, the alternative? Paternalism? Increasingly sophisticated laws? The most effective communication control? For me, these are ultimately unworthy proposals shaped by education mistrust and educational pessimism. Since I wanted to counter - even optimist on principle -. Always listen to the other side! Act transparent in dealing with your own mistakes! Pay attention to relevance and proportionality, so do not make an event bigger than it is! "In the maxims of good journalism, I maintain, there is an ethics for the general public that concerns everyone today. She should be taught in a separate subject at school. Because we have become media powerful, we must now also become media. Because what would be, seriously asked, the alternative? Paternalism? Increasingly sophisticated laws? The most effective communication control? For me, these are ultimately unworthy proposals shaped by education mistrust and educational pessimism. Since I wanted to counter - even optimist on principle -. Pay attention to relevance and proportionality, so do not make an event bigger than it is! "In the maxims of good journalism, I maintain, there is an ethics for the general public that concerns everyone today. She should be taught in a separate subject at school. Because we have become media powerful, we must now also become media. Because what would be, seriously asked, the alternative? Paternalism? Increasingly sophisticated laws? The most effective communication control? For me, these are ultimately unworthy proposals shaped by education mistrust and educational pessimism. Since I wanted to counter - even optimist on principle -. Pay attention to relevance and proportionality, so do not make an event bigger than it is! "In the maxims of good journalism, I maintain, there is an ethics for the general public that concerns everyone today. She should be taught in a separate subject at school. Because we have become media powerful, we must now also become media. Because what would be, seriously asked, the alternative? Paternalism? Increasingly sophisticated laws? The most effective communication control? For me, these are ultimately unworthy proposals shaped by education mistrust and educational pessimism. Since I wanted to counter - even optimist on principle -. She should be taught in a separate subject at school. Because we have become media powerful, we must now also become media. Because what would be, seriously asked, the alternative? Paternalism? Increasingly sophisticated laws? The most effective communication control? For me, these are ultimately unworthy proposals shaped by education mistrust and educational pessimism. Since I wanted to counter - even optimist on principle -. She should be taught in a separate subject at school. Because we have become media powerful, we must now also become media. Because what would be, seriously asked, the alternative? Paternalism? Increasingly sophisticated laws? The most effective communication control? For me, these are ultimately unworthy proposals shaped by education mistrust and educational pessimism. Since I wanted to counter - even optimist on principle -.

Finally, is there a maxim in matters of abuse?

Yes. One must, as hard and painful as it is, someday consider the unthinkable as conceivable - in spite of one's own experiences of beauty, silence and friendliness. "Recognize the other in its strangeness and its terror," is how one could formulate the categorical imperative of perception that applies here. "And then check carefully and without prejudice and act immediately to strengthen the victims and prevent future suffering."

This interview will be available in English at the beginning of January online with the US magazine Tricycle read.

Bernhard Pörksen is Professor of Media Studies at the University of Tübingen. He explores the power of public outrage and the future of reputation, and publishes essays and commentary in many newspapers, in addition to academic essays. His books with the philosopher Heinz von Foerster (truth is the invention of a liar) and the communication psychologist Friedemann Schulz von Thun (communication as a way of life) were bestsellers. In 2008 Bernhard Pörksen was elected "Professor of the Year".
Site Admin
Posts: 33540
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

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

Postby admin » Sat Jun 22, 2019 12:35 am

Lineage Delusions: Eido Shimano Roshi, Dharma Transmission, and American Zen
by Erik Fraser Storlie
February 8, 2011



In August 2010 The New York Times exposed the persistent failure of both the Zen Studies Society of New York and the larger American Zen Buddhist community to address Eido Shimano Roshi's forty year history of sexual abuse of women - and the desire, even now, to excuse or "explain" him. Equally distressing were Robert Aitken's posthumous letters, recently made available, revealing that Aitken, a deeply respected founder in American Zen, had lied for decades about Shimano's misconduct in order to protect, as Aitken explained it, "the American Dharma."

Were this an isolated case, it would not matter very much, except, of course, to the victims. But it's an old and discouraging story in American yoga and meditation communities. In forty-six years of Zen practice I've observed Asian (and now Western) swamis, tulkus, roshis, rishis, dharma heirs, lineage holders, and masters of various stripes, as well as their disciples, explain that the master's fiscal extravagance, alcoholism, cruelty, sex addiction, violence, and even rape is - of all things - "a teaching!"

We are told that the master "dwells in the absolute," or is a lineage holder in "crazy wisdom," or can raise the kundalini energy, or read our chakras and past lives, or help "burn up" our karma, or is offering to share our wife, husband, girlfriend, or boyfriend so as to assist us in breaking our unfortunate attachments - all of this, of course, to stretch us beyond our parochial notions of right and wrong and bring us to the ultimate attainment enjoyed by the master himself (the master almost invariably being male).

We have seen some dwellers in the absolute require absolutely better automobiles and accommodations, while their disciples labor at low wages in community businesses; we have seen some destroy their health with alcohol, while another infected students with AIDS, deluded that his spiritual "power" would block viral transmission. Shockingly, governing members of his organization knew his secret, yet did nothing to warn potential victims.

This is a Mad Hatter's tea party, where hierarchical robes and titles, sadomasochistic austerities, and subterranean libertinism mix together in incestuous "spiritual communities" filled with distrust and rivalries - all this in a scramble for the summit of some distant "spiritual" mountain. This would be comic if it weren't tragic.

And it is tragic.

It is tragic because countless Americans hunger for genuine meaning - meaning unavailable in the toxic mimics offered by game shows, professional sports, "reality" TV, ugly politics, "free-market" competition, and unimaginably wasteful wealth accumulation at the top.

Yet meaning is available - above all in the penetrating explorations into the mysteries of consciousness we undertake in meditation and yoga. And the most important thing we can bring to these inquiries - and to those we hope to further in these inquiries - is our sincerity and selflessness.

The Shimano scandal reminds me of why, some years ago, I refused the opportunity to become a Zen "dharma heir." I refused, knowing that, without this title, despite forty years of training and practice, I would never be a recognized Zen meditation teacher. The offer was generous. But to have accepted would have been tacitly to endorse a credential that conferred great authority - yet was given at the pleasure of a single person and based on a fantasy.

The doctrine of dharma transmission hangs on four overlapping assumptions, all of which must be true to establish its credibility. The first two are beyond proof, and the third and the fourth obviously false.

The first, that the historical Buddha attained a mind of absolute perfection, is pure poetry - fascinating, mysterious - and if accepted, accepted simply as an article of faith. Did the Buddha have such a mind? A wonderful question! Maybe he did. Or maybe, somewhere in the cosmos, he's still exploring, expanding, and perfecting his infinite wide-awake seeing. Or maybe all of us are, exactly at this moment, his eyes opening again and again - and wider and wider as our practice deepens.

The second, that the Buddha's disciple Mahakasyapa also attained this perfect mind and that the Buddha recognized it, depends upon the first. Perhaps, indeed, a perfect being could recognize and attest to the perfection in another perfect being.

The third, that an unbroken chain of such "mind to mind" transmissions has descended, generation after generation, in a known lineage, down to today's living dharma heirs, is simply false on historical grounds. As Edward Conze, the great scholar of Indian Buddhism noted, "much of the traditions about the early history of Ch'an are the inventions of a later age" - inventions befitting a Chinese culture that deeply honored family lineages traced through renowned ancestors.

The fourth, that every such transmission from master to disciple over the last 2500 years was genuine, is contradicted by the behavior of Shimano himself -- and, sadly, of any number of Asian and American teachers.

Stated simply, the doctrine of dharma transmission is just one more among the many attractive delusions held by human beings. Unfortunately, adherence to it gives the dharma heir a very powerful - and potentially dangerous - authority within the community of Zen practitioners, much as does the doctrine of the Apostolic Succession in the Roman Catholic Church, where the recent child abuse scandals illustrate the dangers of priesthoods that claim an authority beyond the ordinary and human. Those in such positions are sorely tempted to protect each other, ignoring or covering up the harm done by their colleagues.

So long as American Zen relies on dharma transmission as a credential, there will be one Shimano after another - and dharma heirs who will go to great lengths to protect the master that conferred authority upon them. For if the master who has declared me awakened has erred, if he does not, indeed, "dwell in the Absolute," then my own credential is called into question - along with my prestige and authority in the community and my ability to confer this power upon others.

Even if the magical claims of dharma transmission are discarded and it is recognized as an ordinary human institution, it still should not be retained as a method of training Zen meditation teachers. No truly meaningful credential can be conferred simply at the pleasure of one person. Indeed, as a method, it creates toxic interpersonal dynamics in communities, for the future recognition or preferment of a student is entirely dependent upon pleasing a dharma heir, or a presumptive dharma heir. If I wish to rise in this hierarchical system, I must pay court to the dharma heir and his or her favorites, and as a courtier in such a system, I can never openly acknowledge my self-interested pursuit of attention, for my goal is always, theoretically, "spiritual" development. Yet, of course, my ability to please a dharma heir and receive, in my turn, recognition and/or authorization will give me status and even employment opportunities. The dynamics of court, courtier, and courtship create endless distortions of human behavior even in ordinary institutions - a business, political party, or college. These run wild when the king, queen, pope, or dharma heir has imputed "special" powers. Anyone connected for a length of time to a Zen Center can cite examples.

Of course, many Zen teachers will refuse to discard this false credential. Those with the courage to act can take comfort from the Buddha's words in The Mahaparinibbana Suttanta, words that E.A. Burtt suggests bring out "one major and authentic note" among the various presumed "final" teachings attributed to the Buddha.

As the Buddha prepares for death, Ananda begs him to leave "instructions as touching the order." The Buddha responds that he has nothing more to offer. He has taught freely to everyone, his teaching is complete, and the community must now find its own way forward.

"What, then, Ananda, does the order expect that of me? I have preached the truth without making any distinction between exoteric and esoteric doctrine; for in respect of the truth, Ananda, the Tathagata has no such thing as the closed fist of a teacher, who keeps some things back."

Then the Buddha hints at the possibility of a coming power struggle, suggesting wryly that if any person now thinks he should run things, he should just go ahead and try. "Surely, Ananda, should there be anyone who harbors the thought, 'It is I who will lead the brotherhood,' or, 'The order is dependent on me,' he should lay down instructions in any matter concerning the order."

To illustrate the absurdity of such thinking, the Buddha even goes so far as to insist that he, himself, does not "lead" the order. "Now the Tathagata, Ananda, thinks not that it is he who should lead the brotherhood, or that the order is dependent upon him. Why, then, should the Tathagata leave instructions in any matter concerning the order?"

The Buddha is said to have said many things. But these words ring true. Monks seeking to establish governing hierarchies modeled upon patterns of royal or imperial lineages must have lamented their inclusion in the canon. These words were, to the hearers, most probably unforgettable - told and retold in the community too many times to be expunged. If they are indeed authoritative, the Buddha himself never had any notion of the creation of a lineage of dharma heirs.

We must move beyond dharma transmission and construct approaches by which teachers of American Zen Buddhist meditation can be prepared effectively - and transparently. There are many models in a myriad of professions, both religious and secular. I would suggest that for Zen in America to speak to people, to become more than an odd, idiosyncratic subculture, it must draw sustenance from America's deep roots in the democratic and egalitarian. English Dissenters brought the first churches to these shores. Their polity was congregational, where the minister served at the pleasure of the congregants. The minister was understood to be as susceptible to error as any in his flock.

Having moved beyond the fairy tale of dharma transmission, Zen communities can begin work on truly thorny questions. Why did so many of t he Asian "masters" who came to America, especially during the Sixties, behave in ways that to the objective beholder seem narcissistic, even sociopathic? What was their experience coming to maturity in monasteries and ashrams? Were they damaged in some way as children? And how, today, can the traditional Hindu and Buddhist emphasis on "non-attachment" be meaningfully taught in an America where many suffer "attachment disorders" - an inability to receive or return love?

To matter much in America, Zen must undergo its own painful Protestant Reformation - the deconstruction of lineage. This will free practitioners to learn from trained and accountable teachers in the spirit of the Buddha's final admonition: "Therefore, 0 Ananda, be ye lamps unto yourselves. Rely on yourselves, and do not rely on external help. Hold fast to the truth as a lamp. Seek salvation alone in the truth. Look not to assistance to anyone besides yourselves."

Front page photo by Mark Zastrow

Fraser Storlie (Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 1976, M.A., University of California, Berkeley, 1965, B.A. University of Minnesota, 1958) began a practice of sitting meditation in 1964 with Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. He studied with Dainin Katagiri Roshi, helping to found the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center. His publications include Nothing on my Mind (Shambhala 1996)), "Zen On Ice" (Quest Winter 1998), "Earth's Original Face" (Shambhala Sun March 2001 ), "Sawtooth Sesshin" (Shambhala Sun March 2002), and "Notes on a Friendship with James Wright," (Five Points: A Journal of Literature and Art vol. II, no. 3, 2007). He currently leads retreats and teaches meditation and mindfulness for the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota.
Site Admin
Posts: 33540
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

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

Postby admin » Sat Jun 22, 2019 6:30 am

Why Cocaine Turns People into Jerks, a Simple Explanation
by David Hillier
Aug 11 2016, 9:50am



We asked a scientist about the physical process that turns nice, normal people into assholes after they've done a couple lines.

Leo getting ready to blow some cocaine into someone's ass in 'The Wolf of Wall Street'

Cocaine's a funny drug, isn't it? I can't think of any other substance—bar maybe alcohol—with the power to turn a relatively nice, normal human being into an absolute fucking nightmare. "Yeah, yeah, haha—have a bitta that," your friend Grant is screaming, trying to ram the neck of a Polish brandy bottle physically inside your throat. "Haha," he's going, completely out of character, four lines deep now. "Probably going to kill him dead, that! Haha. Good fucking banter. Shall we do another bump? Let's do another bump!! Have I told you about my idea for a board game?"

Of course, not everyone turns into a big sentient clenched jaw after half a gram—lots of us can do cocaine without becoming self-obsessed or arrogant or devoid of all self-awareness. But some of us can't, which is where the "cocaine dickhead" archetype comes from: the girl who won't stop banging on about her screenplay; the guy who wouldn't be able to gauge the vibe of the room (extremely anti-him) if it was written out in spray paint on the wall.

So why, exactly, does this happen? And how come it only affects some people and not others?

"Cocaine tends to make people go into themselves, so they can either become introverted or be very sociable but a bit dominant or self-involved," says Katy Mcleod, director of Chill Welfare, a social enterprise that runs welfare tents at festivals across the country. "One big issue with coke is how it makes you feel in yourself and how you come across to others when under the influence. The two don't always match up. You might think you're being really witty and outgoing, when other people just think you're a twat."

To get to the root of the asshole chemistry, I spoke to David Belin from the Department of Pharmacology at Cambridge University. "Drugs target three psychological mechanisms in your brain," he said. With cocaine, you're effectively buzzing off the chemical dopamine flooding your brain every time you take a bump. "Dopamine is not pleasure itself, but a mechanism in the brain that allows for learning," Belin explained.

Imagine how a new guitarist might get a kick out of nailing "Smells Like Teen Spirt" for the first time but then immediately crave that feeling again so move straight on to "Heart-Shaped Box." There's a buzz there. You're focused. The world's a bit more thrilling. Cocaine replicates that feeling far more vividly. "It targets your brain so that dopamine is released all the time that you take it, and it feels great," says Belin. "You start building a very strong motivation for the drugs."

From here to the second psychological dust storm, cocaine kicks up between your ears. "Cocaine influences your pre-frontal cortex [the part of your brain that regulates behaviors and, essentially, your ability to make sound judgements]. It actually messes up your executive functions, your inhibitory control, and your decision making. So now you've got this very strong motivation [from the dopamine] and, because of the effects of the drug, you end up with an inability to inhibit your impulses and make good decisions."

Remember the time you repeatedly offered the girl at that party five bucks for a line, and she said yes, but only after making you promise you'd leave her alone forever? That. A study at Maastricht University in the Netherlands found that a single dose of coke—so a bump, or a little line—can impair your ability to recognize negative emotions in other people, which is why you're under the impression everyone is eternally interested in what you have to say, when, really, they are not.

"Third: Drugs facilitate habits, so at this point your impulses are full of motivation for the drug, and they reach your habit system and you just do it without thinking about it, necessarily," said Belin, referring to how moreish cocaine can be. "Also, with cocaine, there's no real physical withdrawal, but there's a strong psychological withdrawal. You feel anxious, you feel bad, so that adds to the motivation to continue taking the drug."

So that would explain why people might tease out the dregs of a bag toward the end of the night, or put the call in to Albanian Rocky at the same time you'd usually be waking up?

"Absolutely," says Belin, adding that all these urges are going to be further enhanced or inhibited by the likely addition of alcohol to the mix. The combination effectively creates a new potent drug—cocaethylene—when the two meet in the liver, which drastically increases your chance of a heart attack, even up to 12 hours after you've been mixing.

"It will lower your general inhibitory tone so you give into impulses you wouldn't normally," says Belin. Oh, and also, that thing where you're a few drinks ahead of everyone else and start muttering about getting some gear to "sober yourself up"? It's a myth. The cocaine is just providing more dopamine to battle between the other neurotransmitters competing for dominance in your brain. It might momentarily sharpen your focus, but in effect, you're only more stimulated.

The final thing I'm interested to hear about is why so many people tend to get turned on when they're on coke, even if, in the case of some guys, there might be structural problems to contend with.

"It may have have to do with general arousal," he said. "Unlike heroin, which focuses on pleasure by itself, cocaine makes the world shinier. So something that is beautiful—a partner or a potential partner—will become more beautiful, and you will want them more. Perhaps you don't have a choice."

The issue of choice, or lack thereof, has been something that Belin's alluded to throughout. If you've never taken drugs, you might be reading this and thinking, If it's such a problem, just don't do any coke. Which is fair. But is there a point where a so-called recreational user should maybe give his or her intake some proper consideration?

"Say you did it once at a party with friends and enjoyed it," says Belin. "Then, two months later, it's there again, but instead of being every two months, it might gradually become every Saturday, and you think, I'm fine, because it's only Saturdays. Do you really want it, or do you end up in this mood with friends and take it without really wanting it? If it's the latter, it suggests you are losing control. It's a reflex. It's the moment, the mindset. And the triggers—meeting with certain friends, drinking alcohol—for the drug mean you are always finding justifications. I suggest you meet up with these friends on a Saturday and agree that none of you will take cocaine. If you can't make it through the evening, you may be be on the wrong side of the story."
Site Admin
Posts: 33540
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

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

Postby admin » Sat Jun 22, 2019 9:03 am

Breaking the Silence on Sexual Misconduct
by Lama Willa B. Miller
May 19, 2018



In the Summer 2018 issue of Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly, Lama Willa Miller offers both her painful firsthand account of sexual misconduct by a guru and insight for fellow survivors and communities. Photo-performances by Cecilia Paredes.

Victim. Survivor. Consort. Partner. One of “those women.” I stare at these identities on the page, and one by one I try them on. The words feel like button-down shirts that are too small. Yet sometimes they seem to fit, depending on the shifting fragments of memory that make up that time in my life.

A young woman called me on the phone in October of 2016. We shared the same dharma teacher. We also shared a history, without our knowledge. When she first called, she said it was about graduate school—she was thinking of going and wanted to know what my experience was like. Did I remember her, she asked? In the past, she said, people at the monastery have compared us. Like you, I was completely devoted to the teacher, she said.

All in. Yes, I know what it is like to be all in. An image of a young woman in maroon robes at the monastery surfaces; I met her once, in passing, in the interview room upstairs.

We were on the phone for just five minutes before she broke down in tears. She did not tell me why she was crying, not in that first conversation. We talked around it. But I knew why she was crying. I knew why she was speaking in shadow language.

A few days later, I sit in front of my laptop, trying to come up with words to describe the experience of my twenties. I am writing them, as best I can, to communicate what it was like to have one’s heart held hostage—what it was like to be a dharma teacher’s secret sexual partner.

I was 22 years old, and my dharma teacher was the center of my world. I had given up everything.

The memories are dammed up in my body: the smell of sewage and cumin in the hot Indian air, the texture of newly ironed cotton on my skin, the whirr of sleepy ceiling fans above, the feeling of being unable to wake from a bad dream. These sense experiences are as accessible to me now as they were that day.

That day was in late January 1988. I was 22 years old, and my dharma teacher was the center of my world. I had given up everything—my old friends, my job prospects, my family, my possessions—“for the sake of the dharma.” I had thrown caution to the wind in order to follow this teacher’s vision for my life. All in.

That was the day he first approached me. We were alone in a hotel room in Delhi, for a dharma check-in he had arranged. The check-in lasted just minutes, though, before he grabbed my body and pressed his face toward mine.

My body was wrapped in burgundy robes, my head freshly shaved. It was sandaled and draped with a mala, a gao (Tibetan prayer amulet), blessing strings. That body had not been touched by a man for some time. I had been encouraged for many months to be celibate, a lifestyle culminating in monastic ordination. Just sixteen days before, at the insistence of this very same teacher, I had taken vows of celibacy for life.

When I was 22, I had no idea how to make sense of all of this. There was no modern literature, at least none I had seen, on teacher-student sexual relationships in Buddhism. Shoes Outside the Door, Sex and the Spiritual Teacher, and Eyes Wide Open weren’t yet written. Medieval narratives of Buddhist life in awkward translation were my sole reference point. In these tales, women were consorts, dakinis, muses—desirable reflections of the male gaze.

Words that Bind, Words that Liberate

Clergy sexual misconduct. Abuse of power. Exploitation. We don’t want to believe these words apply to us or our sanghas. We turn away from them for understandable reasons. We may be afraid of the shame they would bring to our Buddhist communities. We might worry they will threaten our practice or the values we hold dear. We may be afraid to look at the truth that the very teacher we believed to be the embodiment of perfection is, in fact, a complicated human being. Inquiring into these words means questioning everything, including some of our deepest beliefs. The courage and emotional energy required to do this is significant.

As “one of those women,” when I was in my twenties, I probably would not have connected these terms to my life even if I had come across them. While I knew by year three of the relationship that what was happening to me was painful and disempowering, I believed I alone was at fault. Even when I did finally come across these terms, long after the relationship had ended, they at first seemed foreign to me.

Yet as I inquired into the meaning of these words, they gave me a fresh frame within which to consider and explore my history. Could it be that what had happened to me had also happened to other people, both within my tradition and outside of it? Was it possible that I alone was not at fault—that my teacher’s actions were also responsible for the suffering we both endured? Was it possible that there are some boundaries that simply should not be crossed?

Boundaries and Power in Spiritual Communities

Over the years, women practitioners have shared with me stories of teacher sexual misconduct. It is more common than you might imagine:

“He came into my room during retreat unannounced. He asked me to undress. He also undressed. He sat on my zabuton and asked me to get in his lap.”

“I had a dharma interview with him. During the interview, he took my hand while I was talking about my aunt’s cancer. I was crying. I thought he was going to comfort me, but he took my face in his hands and kissed me.”

It was after the teaching. People were hanging around drinking tea. He came up to me and whispered in my ear, “You look delicious.”

“He said that if I performed better in bed, it would not last as long. I started to cry and tried to get up. He pushed me down on the bed and tried to insert his limp penis inside me.”

These are words of women in the Vipassana, Zen, and Tibetan traditions. Sexual misconduct is found in all schools of Buddhism, and it comes in many varieties. It can be verbal, such as an inappropriate comment or a proposition. Or it can be physical: kissing, fondling, and touching, all the way up to sexual intercourse. The offending teacher might frame the sex as casual or as spiritual. Secrecy is usually involved, and when it is, the harm is ultimately more egregious.

In a recent study by Baylor University, clergy sexual misconduct was defined as sexual advances or propositions made by religious leaders to a person in the congregations they serve who is not their spouse or significant other. This describes a type of conduct that has been demonstrated in research studies to expose individuals and communities to a significant risk of trauma and harm. As a result, a growing number of states (nine to date) have made clergy sexual misconduct a punishable offense.

This kind of sexual misconduct is different from other types. What makes something clergy sexual misconduct is not the specifics of the sexuality but rather that sexual activity of any kind is happening between two people who have—by virtue of their respective roles—entered into an implicit agreement. The student has implicitly agreed to trust the teacher with the course and health of their spiritual life. The teacher has implicitly agreed to refrain from exploiting their position of power and to respect the student’s trust and honor their vulnerability.

This agreement establishes a safety zone in the relationship. The safety zone is a liminal space in which a student can safely be vulnerable and open, and in which a teacher bears witness, embodies compassion, and imparts guidance. Trust in the safety zone is essential to deep spiritual work. The erosion of physical boundaries is one of several ways this safe space can be violated.

To understand why violating a safety zone is problematic, we have to understand something about power. Like psychotherapists, high school teachers, and professors, clergy (this includes dharma teachers, lamas, roshis, ajahns, spiritual friends, etc.) hold sway over their students simply by virtue of their rank and position in the community. They are powerful, but that power is often invisible; you can’t hold it in your hand or show someone its dimensions with a measuring tape. Nevertheless, it’s a highly influential force in our lives and the signs of it are there, if you know how to look for them. You can determine a person’s status, for example, by where they are seated in a room.

Survivors of clergy sexual misconduct start out with a deep sense of trust in their abuser that decays into feelings of confusion and betrayal.

Conventional professional ethics posit that the person who holds the greater power in a relationship holds more responsibility for maintaining the integrity of the boundary. This means that Buddhist teachers are the ones primarily responsible for maintaining clear boundaries with their students.

If the boundary erodes and the safety zone is compromised, the spiritual health and well-being of both parties is jeopardized. But the less powerful individual in the relationship is much more vulnerable, psychologically and spiritually. Like incest survivors, survivors of clergy sexual misconduct start out with a deep sense of trust in their abuser that decays into feelings of confusion and betrayal. And survivors of clergy misconduct face many of the same risks: depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, feelings of guilt and shame, and difficulty establishing trust in future relationships. These symptoms can descend gradually or suddenly and may go on for years.

Victims, Survivors, Thrivers

Soon after being approached by this young woman, I reached out to three other women in my community whom I either suspected or knew had been in a sexual relationship with my teacher. Eventually, we all came forward together in a formal public disclosure process facilitated by a professional mediator. The monastery hired the mediator to help them address the revelations with which they were confronted. In preparing for the disclosure, it gradually became clear that in order to protect the anonymity of the women who did not wish to be named, a category was needed to refer to them.

What are we? I wondered, scrolling through the literature on sexual misconduct. Victims? The word conjured up bruised upper arms, restraining orders, and children. Survivors? Destiny’s Child lyrics lapped at the edges of my consciousness. Eventually, I happened on a schema describing stages of recovery from sexual assault that sounded hauntingly familiar. The stages were called victim, survivor, and thriver.

The phase of victim comes early in the recovery process. Initially, many victims are unaware they are caught in an abusive relationship. Lack of awareness may go on for a long time, accompanied by growing feelings of aversion, extreme anxiety, and self-recrimination. In the victim phase, these feelings gradually take hold of the body and mind, resulting in a sense of powerlessness, loss of agency, invisibility, and shame. If the relationship collapses, the victim feels a paralyzing sense of loss and grief but may be reticent to talk about what has happened.

The survivor phase comes midway through the recovery process. In this phase, the person begins to recognize the complexity of what happened and the possibility that the teacher bears some responsibility. In time, there is a return of a sense of autonomy and agency. In this phase, the survivor begins to want to process their experience verbally and may seek support from a therapist or close friends. The individual may feel anger at the perpetrator for the first time and may also harbor profound regrets.

The third, or thriver, phase comes toward the end of the recovery process. In this phase, the person is able to look back on their history without intense emotional activation. It becomes possible to move beyond grief and regret to a sense of appreciation for the difficult experience as a formative process. In the phase of thriver, the person has essentially healed and moved on. While survivors may not feel strong enough to help others through a process of recovery, thrivers are often motivated to do so.

The web I was caught in was a subtle form of violence that was bigger than me.

In reality, these phases are not strictly sequential but rather mirror a human fluctuation between victimization and resilience. We might move into the phase of thriver and then backslide into the phase of victim.

We finally settled on referring to ourselves as survivors. The term kept all of us squarely in the middle of the recovery process, a place that seemed to be sufficiently empowering.

As the date of the formal disclosure meeting approached, I witnessed the reactions to this language of professional ethics in that sangha. Some felt the dyad of survivor and perpetrator was impersonal, dehumanizing, or polarizing. Some were concerned that it might perpetuate a disempowering narrative for the victims. Language has its limitations, and it can feel reductive.

But the language of professional ethics also has the power to liberate by making the invisible visible. In my own case, I had a hard time being objective about my situation for many years. It was entirely too personal. I had woven a narrative about my culpability and why I could not extract myself from an ultimately disempowering situation, a story fed by isolation, fear of losing connection, my self-beliefs, and even by Buddhist doctrine.

When I encountered this fresh terminology, it allowed me to step back and see myself as part of a larger matrix of power dynamics present in many religions. It helped me feel connected to a global community of women and men who have been through the same experience. The language allowed me to claim a truth I already knew deep down—that the web I was caught in was a subtle form of violence that was bigger than me, and ultimately unstable. Sometimes we need to see a pattern in order to become free of it.

Secrecy Is Toxic

My dharma teacher, at first implicitly and later explicitly, told me to keep our relationship a secret. This troubled me a great deal from the beginning. One evening I challenged him, asking, “Why can’t we be open about this?”

His demeanor changed immediately, and he replied, “Nothing saying very good. So much shame coming. You shame. Me shame. Monastery shame.”

I backed off. At the time, I believed there was nothing more karmically risky than making my teacher angry, and challenging his moral reasoning seemed even more heretical. Yet I remained deeply uncomfortable with the secrecy, and felt—despite my devotion to the teacher—that it was toxic.

Keeping a secret from one’s own community is lying by omission and eventually yields to uttering direct untruths. That small bag you are traveling with contains ritual implements, not your birth control. You are standing outside your teacher’s door to get his laundry, not because he has asked you to come by for sex.

In my own case, these small lies, and the much larger lie they represented, began to corrode my personal sense of integrity, and with it my sense of connection to those around me. Survivors find themselves in a double bind. To preserve their relationship with the teacher, they must hide things and lie. But lying means breaking a fundamental Buddhist precept. In my own case, telling myself it was “skillful means” was not enough to wipe out my feelings of uneasiness. This ongoing situation forced a wedge between me and my dharma siblings, people I very much cared for.

In most sanghas where misconduct is occurring, there is a circle of people in the know, but incredibly they may not be aware of each other. In other words, there is not just a secret; there is a culture of secrecy. Acts of deception, enabling, and dissimulation sometimes become so habitual that they seem perfectly normal, like brushing your teeth. If a community is going to heal from misconduct, it is important not just to address the misconduct but also to unveil the underlying culture that enabled it.

When secrecy is used as a method to keep a student from speaking up about an intimate relationship with a teacher, it becomes a powerful means of control. The secrecy can be used as leverage; if the woman (or man) reveals the relationship, retaliation of some kind will ensue. When it involves a spiritual community, that retaliation can be devastating. A powerful teacher’s words can sway the minds of an entire community not only to practice dharma, but also to marginalize human beings.

If a student decides to leave without speaking up—her other option—she is rarely rewarded for her discretion. Instead, the community, especially if it is insular, may see her departure as a kind of betrayal. This may be reinforced by the teacher himself, who privately experiences her departure as a loss of power and property.

I realized fairly early on in the relationship with my teacher that this code of secrecy divided me from myself. But I only realized later that by keeping this secret, I was complicit in an act of darkness that risked undermining the very community I loved. Even after the passage of time and with the help of therapy, I still harbor regrets about this. It is one of the many reasons survivors fail to speak up: we feel ashamed.

The Myth of One-Way Samaya

In the tradition of Vajrayana, there is something called samaya. While the word literally means “commitment,” it refers to sacred or clean relationship. If you have samaya with someone, it means that you have a commitment to uphold and view them in their fundamental goodness and dignity. Some textual sources state that a dharma student’s most important samaya is the commitment to their primary teacher. Taken out of the larger context of Buddhist ethics, this dimension of samaya would seem to imply that students should not question their teacher’s actions, no matter how unskillful. A one-way samaya sanctions students to become apologists for their teacher’s transgressions.

This is a distortion of the concept of samaya.

Any thorough evaluation of the larger context of Buddhist ethics reveals samaya is not unidirectional. Most teachers in the Mahayana tradition hold two fundamental sets of ethical precepts: the bodhisattva vow and the pratimoksha vows. The essence of these vows is a commitment to compassion and non-harm, respectively. The teacher’s most basic ethical compass should revolve around vows to enact compassion and vows to practice nonviolence. These are so fundamental as to be definitive of Buddhist ethics. If the teacher acts in a way that perpetrates violence or harm, he has contravened those fundamental commitments, even if the falling away is unconscious.

In some traditions, the highest and most hidden layer of samaya unfolds only in the sphere of nondual awareness. Within that sphere, all relationships are spontaneously pure. A practice of nonduality requires dismantling the illusion of separateness and embracing all inner and outer conditions, including one’s own shadow. To suppress the conditions that allow the shadow to be witnessed and processed contravenes the spirit of openness implicit in this samaya.

The essence of samaya is not blind faith. Samaya is a promise to uphold one another in mutual goodness, while recognizing our very human potential to go astray. We owe it to one another, as teachers, students, spiritual friends and sangha, to hold each other accountable, not out of malice but out of a fundamental belief in our capacity to navigate away from brokenness and toward greater integrity and compassion.

The Devil Is in the Details

Boundary crossings can vary from careless to egregious. They can be experienced as welcome or unwelcome, extend from mildly awkward to very traumatic. Without hearing first-person reports from all those who knew something, a community cannot get a complete picture of who was hurt and how. If that community does not know exactly what happened, and to how many people, it’s very difficult to know how to proceed.

Getting a full picture begins with deep listening to all sides. Many teachers who offend will either lie about their conduct or try to deflect responsibility onto others. It is important, therefore, to hear the accounts of survivors and witnesses in detail, if possible. The details often hold key information about the severity of the abuse, the patterns of abuse, and the depth of the harm.

Some time ago, I was part of a community in which women began to report sexual advances by the teacher. One of these women described how her relationship with this teacher began. In a dharma interview, she had confided to her teacher a history of prolonged early childhood sexual abuse by a close relative. Soon after, he invited her onto his lap and began kissing her. This behavior continued during dharma interviews at public retreats over the course of years, until it eventually was consummated in sexual intercourse.

Survivors are afraid of not being believed, of being shamed, of being rejected.

Details such as these provide critical information. In this case, the teacher sought cues of emotional vulnerability, such as a history of sexual abuse, and chose the location in a private room in a retreat space controlled by the teacher and his supporters before initiating sexual contact. This was followed by a gradual habituation and escalation of the behavior over time in the same context (known as grooming). The details point toward a teacher’s habits of perpetration.

Unfortunately, the more disturbing the details, the harder it is for a survivor to talk about them. Just saying it aloud takes great courage. Survivors are afraid of not being believed, of being shamed, of being rejected, of their confidence being breached. They are caught in the typical dilemma of incest victims; they may feel some affection for and protectiveness toward the perpetrator while simultaneously feeling disgust, anger, and distrust. Voicing these conflicting feelings is hard.

Most survivors will be hesitant to share what happened with the wider community, for all the same reasons (and more) that they are afraid to confide in any one person. But there is a cost to silence. The cost is disconnection, isolation, and darkness in areas that need more exploration and discussion, not less. The release of personal accounts—at least within the inner circle—is critical in order for the community to understand the depth of the harm and to prevent future abuses. Navigating this dilemma requires respect for confidentiality, compassion, delicacy, and tact. Ideally, a safe container can be created for survivors to tell their story in an appropriate setting, either in person or through a statement that is read by someone they trust.

What to Do

With the recent wave of revelations concerning sexual misconduct in the international Buddhist community, we may wonder, when will things ever change? My answer is never—unless education initiatives and concrete protections are put in place, and unless the veil of silence surrounding discussing teacher-student sexual relationships is lifted. Until then, every Buddhist community remains a temple of cards.

First, communities need to become educated about power dynamics, what constitutes healthy boundaries, and what happens when those boundaries are crossed. Boundary awareness trainings can actually be fun and empowering.

Second, concrete preventative measures must be put in place. Those measures include a teacher’s code of ethics, a formal grievance procedure, and training in liability for the board of directors.

Third, the loud, clear, and honest voices of women and men who have been in sexual relationships with their teachers must be heard. Without knowing the impact of misconduct on real human beings, we will never understand why we must take measures now to protect them. These issues will not be worked out by individuals or communities until we begin to talk about it freely.

Finally, dharma teachers who offend must be held accountable. When a community decides a teacher’s actions are above scrutiny, ethical violations will remain hidden. It is not enough for communities to promise change after a violation. They must do everything in their power to facilitate healing and restore trust. This is a long process that involves compassion, equanimity, and inquiring into the sangha culture in which harm was perpetrated and perhaps enabled.

The Dharma Is Still a Refuge

When my former dharma community’s secret history came to broader light, I found myself on the phone with a sangha member who asked, “What about my dharma practices, the ones I received from him. Are they still valid?”

I was moved deeply by this question. For communities who have been through a crisis of faith, this question is one of the first to surface.

My response to him was that while the teacher might have faults, the dharma is pure. Whatever teachings, transmissions, and authorizations you have received from the teacher are still sacred and valid, I said.

When I hung up the phone, I wondered whether disillusionment is not in fact the plague of the spiritual path but rather its catalyst. Don’t get me wrong—I would not wish this experience on anyone or any community. But perhaps true refuge can’t be found without a falling away of our false sense of security. It may be that the deepest teachings are not the ones transmitted in the dharma hall but rather the life experiences that challenge everything we believed to be true.

When everything falls apart, we are impelled to find a deeper dharma. Not a dharma of words and paper but an inner dharma of the heart’s own truth. And perhaps this is the essence of what our human teachers, fallible as they may be, have been trying to tell us all along.

Several strong, courageous women stand silently in the background of this article, women who have shared with me their stories of trauma and resilience and who have read and commented on this article. I extend my deepest gratitude to all of them.


“Advice for Women in a Secret Sexual Relationship with Their Buddhist Teacher,” by Lama Willa B. Miller
“How You Can Support a Victim of Clergy Sexual Misconduct,” by Lama Willa B. Miler
“When a Buddhist Teacher Crosses the Line,” an explanation of ethics in Vajrayana Buddhism by Mingyur Rinpoche
“Dalai Lama denounces ethical misconduct by Buddhist teachers,” a video of the Dalai Lama addressing sexual misconduct in Tibetan Buddhism
“Our Teachers Are Not Gods,” a commentary on the role of the teacher in Buddhist practice, by psychotherapist and meditation teacher Rob Preece
A series of videos by lawyer and women’s trauma counsellor Pam Rubin on abuse in Buddhist communities
“Confronting Abuse: Be Proactive,” an action plan for addressing misconduct in Buddhist organizations, from An Olive Branch
“Confronting Abuse of Power,” a forum discussion on abuse in Buddhist communities
Site Admin
Posts: 33540
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

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

Postby admin » Sat Jun 29, 2019 9:33 pm

Way of Shambhala: Making Enlightened Society Possible
by ... shambhala/
Accessed: 6/29/19



Way of Shambhala is an extensive path of training in authentic meditation practices and wisdom teachings. This program of courses and weekend retreats offers an experiential overview of practices, teachings, contemplative arts, and physical disciplines rooted in the ancient traditions of Shambhala and Vajrayana Buddhism. The program is open to people of all religious backgrounds or no religious background. It is recommended for new and experienced meditators as well as those looking to enrich their personal spiritual path and social action. It consists of three introductory components:

1. The Everyday Life series—five courses, with five weekly classes in each

2. The Shambhala Training series—five weekend retreats

3. The Basic Goodness series—three courses, with six weekly classes in each

Everyday Life Series

A complete overview of the path of meditation and spiritual teachings.

Meditation In Everyday Life: An introduction to basic meditation and how to develop a personal practice.

Contentment in Everyday Life: Mindful appreciation and gentleness to oneself. Foundational Buddhist teachings.

Joy in Everyday Life: Compassion, joyous discipline, and healthy energy. Buddhist teachings on aspiring and loving action.

Fearlessness in Everyday Life: Transforming fear. Buddhist teachings exploring ultimate reality.

Wisdom in Everyday Life: Playfulness, ordinary magic, and innate wisdom. An introduction to the vajrayana Buddhist teachings.

Shambhala Training

Weekend Retreats Levels I-V:

Shambhala Training is a series of secular meditation workshops, suited for both beginning and experienced meditators. Levels I-V provide a strong foundation in mindfulness-awareness meditation practice. These five workshops include meditation training and practice, talks by senior instructors, personal interviews, and group discussions.

Level I: The Art of Being Human
Discovering basic goodness in the world and in ourselves.

Level II: Birth of the Warrior
Cultivating the willingness to observe our cocoons of fear and our defense mechanisms.

Level III: Warrior in the World
Developing the bravery to step outside our cocoons.

Level IV: Awakened Heart
Opening to increased awareness and inquisitiveness about the world, as it is.

Level V: Open Sky
Sharpening one’s awareness, one finds the open clear sky of mind—a delightful source of wisdom and uplifted energy. Trusting our nature enough to let go into the present moment.

The Basic Goodness Series

Everyone has the right to feel his or her own goodness.

-- SMR

The Basic Goodness series of weekly classes introduces the view of Shambhala in an experiential way. The primary practice is Shambhala Meditation. The key difference between the Everyday Life courses and the Basic Goodness courses is that the Everyday Life courses emphasize personal transformation in daily life, whereas the Basic Goodness courses emphasize the experiential study of view and meaning.

Course 1: Who Am I? The Basic Goodness of Being Human

This course asks the question, “Who am I?” and explores the sense of self. It includes teachings on selflessness, the arising of ego, and enlightened-nature. We practice contemplative investigations of the self, based on the foundations of mindfulness.

Course 2: How Can I Help? The Basic Goodness of Society

This course asks the question, “How can I help?” and explores our relationships with others and an aspiration to help our world. We ask what enlightened society may be. The course focuses on transforming four aspects of society: family life (household), professional life, entertainment, and economy. We learn the traditional compassion practice of “sending and taking” (tonglen).

Course 3: What Is Real? The Basic Goodness of Reality

This course asks the question, “What is real?” and focuses on a study of the phenomenal world. It emphasizes core Buddhist teachings, such as impermanence, the process of perception, the “mind,” and emptiness. It is oriented toward the experience of sacred world, the magic of the natural elements. The course also has an ecological emphasis.

Rigden: Unconditional Confidence

The Rigden weekend retreat is the culmination of the Everyday Life, Shambhala Training Levels I-V, and Basic Goodness series. The Rigden is a representation of our enlightened nature and embodies the principle of unconditional confidence. Historically, Rigdens were enlightened rulers— those who could “rule their world” based on their unwavering experience of basic goodness. This retreat is led by a Shambhala master teacher (acharya) and includes a transmission of “windhorse” practice and an opportunity to proclaim a commitment to basic goodness by formally taking the Shambhala Vow.

Prerequisite: Wisdom in Everyday Life, Shambhala Training Level V, and, if possible, The Basic Goodness Series.
Site Admin
Posts: 33540
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Return to Religion and Cults

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests