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

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Divine Right of Kings
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 10/2/19

The theory of divine right was developed by James VI of Scotland (1567–1625), and came to the fore in England under his reign as James I of England (1603–1625). Portrait attributed to John de Critz, c. 1605

Augustus as Jove, holding scepter and orb (first half of 1st century AD).[1] The Imperial cult of ancient Rome identified Roman emperors and some members of their families with the divinely sanctioned authority (auctoritas) of the Roman State. The official offer of cultus to a living emperor acknowledged his office and rule as divinely approved and constitutional: his Principate should therefore demonstrate pious respect for traditional Republican deities and mores. Many of the rites, practices and status distinctions that characterized the cult to emperors were perpetuated in the theology and politics of the Christianized Empire.[2]

The divine right of kings, divine right, or God's mandate is a political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving the right to rule directly from the will of God. The king is thus not subject to the will of his people, the aristocracy, or any other estate of the realm. It implies that only God can judge an unjust king and that any attempt to depose, dethrone or restrict his powers runs contrary to the will of God and may constitute a sacrilegious act. It is often expressed in the phrase "by the Grace of God", attached to the titles of a reigning monarch.


Outside of Christianity, kings were often seen as either ruling with the backing of heavenly powers or perhaps even being divine beings themselves. However, the Christian notion of a divine right of kings is traced to a story found in 1 Samuel, where the prophet Samuel anoints Saul and then David as mashiach or king over Israel. The anointing is to such an effect that the monarch became inviolable, so that even when Saul sought to kill David, David would not raise his hand against him because "he was the Lord's anointed".

Adomnan of Iona is one of the earliest Christian proponents of this concept of kings ruling with divine right. He wrote of the Irish King Diarmait mac Cerbaill's assassination and claimed that divine punishment fell on his assassin for the act of violating the monarch. Adomnan also recorded a story about Saint Columba supposedly being visited by an angel carrying a glass book, who told him to ordain Aedan mac Gabrain as King of Dal Riata. Columba initially refused, and the angel answered by whipping him and demanding that he perform the ordination because God had commanded it. The same angel visited Columba on three successive nights. Columba finally agreed, and Aedan came to receive ordination. At the ordination Columba told Aedan that so long as he obeyed God's laws, then none of his enemies would prevail against him, but the moment he broke them, this protection would end, and the same whip with which Columba had been struck would be turned against the king. Adomnan's writings most likely influenced other Irish writers, who in turn influenced continental ideas as well. Pepin the Short's coronation may have also come from the same influence.[3] The Carolingian dynasty and the Holy Roman Emperors also influenced all subsequent western ideas of kingship.

In the Middle Ages, the idea that God had granted earthly power to the monarch, just as he had given spiritual authority and power to the church, especially to the Pope, was already a well-known concept long before later writers coined the term "divine right of kings" and employed it as a theory in political science. For example, Richard I of England declared at his trial during the diet at Speyer in 1193: "I am born in a rank which recognizes no superior but God, to whom alone I am responsible for my actions", and it was Richard who first used the motto "Dieu et mon droit" ("God and my right") which is still the motto of the Monarch of the United Kingdom.

With the rise of nation-states and the Protestant Reformation in the late 16th century, the theory of divine right justified the king's absolute authority in both political and spiritual matters. Henry VIII of England declared himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England, and exerted the power of the throne more than any of his predecessors. As a political theory, it was further developed by James VI of Scotland (1567–1625), and came to the force in England under his reign as James I of England (1603–1625). Louis XIV of France (1643–1715) strongly promoted the theory as well.

Scots texts of James VI of Scotland

The Scots textbooks of the divine right of kings were written in 1597–1598 by James VI of Scotland despite Scotland never having believed in the theory and where the monarch was regarded as the "first among equals" on a par with his people. His Basilikon Doron, a manual on the powers of a king, was written to edify his four-year-old son Henry Frederick that a king "acknowledgeth himself ordained for his people, having received from the God a burden of government, whereof he must be countable". He based his theories in part on his understanding of the Bible, as noted by the following quote from a speech to parliament delivered in 1610 as James I of England:

The state of monarchy is the supremest thing upon earth, for kings are not only God's lieutenants upon earth and sit upon God's throne, but even by God himself they are called gods. There be three principal [comparisons] that illustrate the state of monarchy: one taken out of the word of God, and the two other out of the grounds of policy and philosophy. In the Scriptures kings are called gods, and so their power after a certain relation compared to the Divine power. Kings are also compared to fathers of families; for a king is truly parens patriae [parent of the country], the politic father of his people. And lastly, kings are compared to the head of this microcosm of the body of man.[4]

James's reference to "God's lieutenants" is apparently a reference to the text in Romans 13 where Paul refers to "God's ministers".

(1) Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. (2) Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. (3) For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: (4) For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. (5) Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. (6) For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. (7) Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.[5]

Western conceptions

Main articles: Sacred king and Theocracy

Louis XIV of France depicted as the Sun King.

The conception of ordination brought with it largely unspoken parallels with the Anglican and Catholic priesthood, but the overriding metaphor in James's handbook was that of a father's relation to his children. "Just as no misconduct on the part of a father can free his children from obedience to the fifth commandment",[6] James also had printed his Defense of the Right of Kings in the face of English theories of inalienable popular and clerical rights. The divine right of kings, or divine-right theory of kingship, is a political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving his right to rule directly from the will of God. The king is thus not subject to the will of his people, the aristocracy, or any other estate of the realm, including (in the view of some, especially in Protestant countries) the church. A weaker or more moderate form of this political theory does hold, however, that the king is subject to the church and the pope, although completely irreproachable in other ways; but according to this doctrine in its strong form, only God can judge an unjust king. The doctrine implies that any attempt to depose the king or to restrict his powers runs contrary to the will of God and may constitute a sacrilegious act.

One passage in scripture supporting the idea of divine right of kings was used by Martin Luther, when urging the secular authorities to crush the Peasant Rebellion of 1525 in Germany in his Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of Peasants, basing his argument on St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans 13:1–7.

It is related to the ancient Catholic philosophies regarding monarchy, in which the monarch is God's vicegerent upon the earth and therefore subject to no inferior power. However, in Roman Catholic jurisprudence, the monarch is always subject to natural and divine law, which are regarded as superior to the monarch. The possibility of monarchy declining morally, overturning natural law, and degenerating into a tyranny oppressive of the general welfare was answered theologically with the Catholic concept of extra-legal tyrannicide, ideally ratified by the pope. Until the unification of Italy, the Holy See did, from the time Christianity became the Roman state religion, assert on that ground its primacy over secular princes; however this exercise of power never, even at its zenith, amounted to theocracy, even in jurisdictions where the Bishop of Rome was the temporal authority.

Antichristus,[7] a woodcut by Lucas Cranach the Elder, of the pope using the temporal power to grant authority to a ruler contributing generously to the Catholic Church

Catholic justified permission

Catholic thought justified submission to the monarchy by reference to the following:

1. The Old Testament, in which God chose kings to rule over Israel, beginning with Saul who was then rejected by God in favor of David, whose dynasty continued (at least in the southern kingdom) until the Babylonian captivity.

2. The New Testament, in which the first pope, St. Peter, commands that all Christians shall honour the Roman Emperor (1 Peter 2:13–20), even though, at that time, he was still a pagan emperor. St. Paul agreed with St. Peter that subjects should be obedient to the powers that be because they are appointed by God, as he wrote in his Epistle to the Romans 13:1–7. Likewise, Jesus Christ proclaims in the Gospel of Matthew that one should "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's"; that is at first, literally, the payment of taxes as binding those who use the imperial currency (See Matthew 22:15–22). Jesus told Pontius Pilate that his authority as Roman governor of Judaea came from heaven according to John 19:10–11.

3. The endorsement by the popes and the church of the line of emperors beginning with the Emperors Constantine and Theodosius, later the Eastern Roman emperors, and finally the Western Roman emperor, Charlemagne and his successors, the Catholic Holy Roman Emperors.

The French Huguenot nobles and clergy, having rejected the pope and the Catholic Church, were left only with the supreme power of the king who, they taught, could not be gainsaid or judged by anyone. Since there was no longer the countervailing power of the papacy and since the Church of England was a creature of the state and had become subservient to it, this meant that there was nothing to regulate the powers of the king, and he became an absolute power. In theory, divine, natural, customary, and constitutional law still held sway over the king, but, absent a superior spiritual power, it was difficult to see how they could be enforced, since the king could not be tried by any of his own courts.

Some of the symbolism within the coronation ceremony for British monarchs, in which they are anointed with holy oils by the Archbishop of Canterbury, thereby ordaining them to monarchy, perpetuates the ancient Roman Catholic monarchical ideas and ceremonial (although few Protestants realize this, the ceremony is nearly entirely based upon that of the Coronation of the Holy Roman Emperor).[citation needed] However, in the UK, the symbolism ends there, since the real governing authority of the monarch was all but extinguished by the Whig revolution of 1688–89 (see Glorious Revolution). The king or queen of the United Kingdom is one of the last monarchs still to be crowned in the traditional Christian ceremonial, which in most other countries has been replaced by an inauguration or other declaration.[citation needed]

Charles I of England, with a divine hand moving his crown

The concept of divine right incorporates, but exaggerates, the ancient Christian concept of "royal God-given rights", which teach that "the right to rule is anointed by God", although this idea is found in many other cultures, including Aryan and Egyptian traditions. In pagan religions, the king was often seen as a kind of god and so was an unchallengeable despot. The ancient Roman Catholic tradition overcame this idea with the doctrine of the "Two Swords" and so achieved, for the very first time, a balanced constitution for states. The advent of Protestantism saw something of a return to the idea of a mere unchallengeable despot.

Thomas Aquinas condoned extra-legal tyrannicide in the worst of circumstances:

When there is no recourse to a superior by whom judgment can be made about an invader, then he who slays a tyrant to liberate his fatherland is [to be] praised and receives a reward.

— Commentary on the Magister Sententiarum[8]

On the other hand, Aquinas forbade the overthrow of any morally, Christianly and spiritually legitimate king by his subjects. The only human power capable of deposing the king was the pope. The reasoning was that if a subject may overthrow his superior for some bad law, who was to be the judge of whether the law was bad? If the subject could so judge his own superior, then all lawful superior authority could lawfully be overthrown by the arbitrary judgement of an inferior, and thus all law was under constant threat. Towards the end of the Middle Ages, many philosophers, such as Nicholas of Cusa and Francisco Suarez, propounded similar theories. The Church was the final guarantor that Christian kings would follow the laws and constitutional traditions of their ancestors and the laws of God and of justice. Similarly, the Chinese concept of Mandate of Heaven required that the emperor properly carry out the proper rituals and consult his ministers; however, this concept made it extremely difficult to undo any acts carried out by an ancestor.

The French prelate Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet made a classic statement of the doctrine of divine right in a sermon preached before King Louis XIV:[9]

Les rois règnent par moi, dit la Sagesse éternelle: 'Per me reges regnant'; et de là nous devons conclure non seulement que les droits de la royauté sont établis par ses lois, mais que le choix des personnes est un effet de sa providence.

Kings reign by Me, says Eternal Wisdom: 'Per me reges regnant' [in Latin]; and from that we must conclude not only that the rights of royalty are established by its laws, but also that the choice of persons [to occupy the throne] is an effect of its providence.


Main article: Khvarenah

Ahura Mazda gives divine kingship to Ardashir.

Khvarenah (Avestan: 'xᵛarənah;' Persian: far) is a Zoroastrian concept, which literally means glory, about divine right of the kings. In Zoroastrian view, kings would never rule, unless Khvarenah is with them, and they will never fall unless Khvarenah leaves them. For example, according to the Kar-namag of Ardashir, when Ardashir I of Persia and Artabanus V of Parthia fought for the throne of Iran, on the road Artabanus and his contingent are overtaken by an enormous ram, which is also following Ardashir. Artabanus's religious advisors explain to him that the ram is the manifestation of the khwarrah of the ancient Iranian kings, which is leaving Artabanus to join Ardashir.[10]

Divine right and Protestantism

Before the Reformation the anointed king was, within his realm, the accredited vicar of God for secular purposes (see the Investiture Controversy); after the Reformation he (or she if queen regnant) became this in Protestant states for religious purposes also.[11]

In England it is not without significance that the sacerdotal vestments, generally discarded by the clergy – dalmatic, alb and stole – continued to be among the insignia of the sovereign (see Coronation of the British monarch). Moreover, this sacrosanct character he acquired not by virtue of his "sacring", but by hereditary right; the coronation, anointing and vesting were but the outward and visible symbol of a divine grace adherent in the sovereign by virtue of his title. Even Roman Catholic monarchs, like Louis XIV, would never have admitted that their coronation by the archbishop constituted any part of their title to reign; it was no more than the consecration of their title.[12]

In England the doctrine of the divine right of kings was developed to its most extreme logical conclusions during the political controversies of the 17th century; its most famous exponent was Sir Robert Filmer. It was the main issue to be decided by the English Civil War, the Royalists holding that "all Christian kings, princes and governors" derive their authority direct from God, the Parliamentarians that this authority is the outcome of a contract, actual or implied, between sovereign and people.[12]

In one case the king's power would be unlimited, according to Louis XIV's famous saying: "L' état, c'est moi!",[12] or limited only by his own free act; in the other his actions would be governed by the advice and consent of the people, to whom he would be ultimately responsible. The victory of this latter principle was proclaimed to all the world by the execution of Charles I. The doctrine of divine right, indeed, for a while drew nourishment from the blood of the royal "martyr";[12] it was the guiding principle of the Anglican Church of the Restoration; but it suffered a rude blow when James II of England made it impossible for the clergy to obey both their conscience and their king. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 made an end of it as a great political force. This has led to the constitutional development of the Crown in Britain, as held by descent modified and modifiable by parliamentary action.[12]

Divine right in Asia

In early Mesopotamian culture, kings were often regarded as deities after their death. Shulgi of Ur was among the first Mesopotamian rulers to declare himself to be divine. This was the direct precursor to the concept of "Divine Right of kings", as well as in the Egyptian and Roman religions.

Mandate of Heaven

Main articles: Mandate of Heaven and Son of Heaven

The Emperor of Japan rules as a divine descendant of the sun goddess Amaterasu

In China and East Asia, rulers justified their rule with the philosophy of the Mandate of Heaven, which, although similar to the European concept, bore several key differences. While the divine right of kings granted unconditional legitimacy, the Mandate of Heaven was dependent on the behaviour of the ruler, the Son of Heaven. Heaven would bless the authority of a just ruler, but it could be displeased with a despotic ruler and thus withdraw its mandate, transferring it to a more suitable and righteous person. This withdrawal of mandate also afforded the possibility of revolution as a means to remove the errant ruler; revolt was never legitimate under the European framework of divine right.

In China, the right of rebellion against an unjust ruler had been a part of the political philosophy ever since the Zhou dynasty, whose rulers had used this philosophy to justify their overthrow of the previous Shang dynasty. Chinese historians interpreted a successful revolt as evidence that the Mandate of Heaven had passed on to the usurper.

In Japan, the Son of Heaven title was less conditional than its Chinese equivalent. There was no divine mandate that punished the emperor for failing to rule justly. The right to rule of the Japanese emperor, descended from the sun goddess Amaterasu, was absolute.[13] The Japanese emperors traditionally wielded little secular power; generally, it was the duty of the sitting emperor to perform rituals and make public appearances, while true power was held by regents, high-ranking ministers, a commander-in-chief of the emperor's military known as the shōgun, or even retired emperors depending on the time period.

Sultans in Southeast Asia

In the Malay Annals, the rajas and sultans of the Malay States (today Malaysia, Brunei and Philippines) as well as their predecessors, such as the Indonesian kingdom of Majapahit, also claimed divine right to rule. The sultan is mandated by God and thus is expected to lead his country and people in religious matters, ceremonies as well as prayers. This divine right is called Daulat (which means 'state' in Arabic), and although the notion of divine right is somewhat obsolete, it is still found in the phrase Daulat Tuanku that is used to publicly acclaim the reigning Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the other sultans of Malaysia. The exclamation is similar to the European "Long live the King", and often accompanies pictures of the reigning monarch and his consort on banners during royal occasions. In Indonesia, especially on the island of Java, the sultan's divine right is more commonly known as the way, or 'revelation', but it is not hereditary and can be passed on to distant relatives.

South Asian kings

In Dravidian culture, before Brahmanism and especially during the Sangam period, emperors were known as இறையர் (Iraiyer), or "those who spill", and kings were called கோ (Ko) or கோன் (Kon). During this time, the distinction between kingship and godhood had not yet occurred, as the caste system had not yet been introduced. Even in Modern Tamil, the word for temple is 'கோயில்', meaning "king's house".[14] Kings were understood to be the "agents of God", as they protected the world like God did.[15] This may well have been continued post-Brahminism in Tamilakam, as the famous Thiruvalangadu inscription states:

"Having noticed by the marks (on his body) that Arulmozhi was the very Vishnu" in reference to the Emperor Raja Raja Chola I.


Historically, many notions of rights were authoritarian and hierarchical, with different people granted different rights, and some having more rights than others. For instance, the right of a father to respect from his son did not indicate a right for the son to receive a return from that respect; and the divine right of kings, which permitted absolute power over subjects, did not leave a lot of room for many rights for the subjects themselves.[16]

In contrast, modern conceptions of rights often emphasize liberty and equality as among the most important aspects of rights, for example in the American Revolution and the French Revolution.


Further information: All men are created equal

In the sixteenth century, both Catholic and Protestant political thinkers began to question the idea of a monarch's "divine right".

The Spanish Catholic historian Juan de Mariana put forward the argument in his book De rege et regis institutione (1598) that since society was formed by a "pact" among all its members, "there can be no doubt that they are able to call a king to account".[17][18] Mariana thus challenged divine right theories by stating in certain circumstances, tyrannicide could be justified. Cardinal Robert Bellarmine also "did not believe that the institute of monarchy had any divine sanction" and shared Mariana's belief that there were times where Catholics could lawfully remove a monarch.[18]

Among groups of English Protestant exiles fleeing from Queen Mary I, some of the earliest anti-monarchist publications emerged. "Weaned off uncritical royalism by the actions of Queen Mary ... The political thinking of men like Ponet, Knox, Goodman and Hales."[19]

In 1553, Mary I, a Roman Catholic, succeeded her Protestant half-brother, Edward VI, to the English throne. Mary set about trying to restore Roman Catholicism by making sure that: Edward's religious laws were abolished in the Statute of Repeal Act (1553); the Protestant religious laws passed in the time of Henry VIII were repealed; and the Revival of the Heresy Acts were passed in 1554. The Marian Persecutions began soon afterwards. In January 1555, the first of nearly 300 Protestants were burnt at the stake under "Bloody Mary". When Thomas Wyatt the Younger instigated what became known as Wyatt's rebellion, John Ponet, the highest-ranking ecclesiastic among the exiles,[20] allegedly participated in the uprising.[21] He escaped to Strasbourg after the Rebellion's defeat and, the following year, he published A Shorte Treatise of Politike Power, in which he put forward a theory of justified opposition to secular rulers.

"Ponet's treatise comes first in a new wave of anti-monarchical writings ... It has never been assessed at its true importance, for it antedates by several years those more brilliantly expressed but less radical Huguenot writings which have usually been taken to represent the Tyrannicide-theories of the Reformation."[20]

Ponet's pamphlet was republished on the eve of King Charles I's execution.

According to U.S. President John Adams, Ponet's work contained "all the essential principles of liberty, which were afterward dilated on by Sidney and Locke", including the idea of a three-branched government.[22]

In due course, opposition to the divine right of kings came from a number of sources, including poet John Milton in his pamphlet The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, and Thomas Paine in his pamphlet Common Sense. Probably the two most famous declarations of a right to revolution against tyranny in the English language are John Locke's Essay concerning The True Original, Extent, and End of Civil-Government and Thomas Jefferson's formulation in the United States Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal".

See also

• Absolute monarchy
• Ancien Régime
• Arahitogami
• Caliphate
• Church and state in medieval Europe
• Concordat of Worms
• Constitutions of Melfi
• Cuius regio, eius religio
• Exclusive right
• First Council of the Lateran
• Legitimacy (political)
• Prerogative
• Robert Bellarmine
• Robert Filmer
• Royal touch
• Sovereignty
• The True Law of Free Monarchies
• Vindiciae contra tyrannos


1. The imperial cult in Roman Britain-Google docs
2. Allen Brent, The Imperial Cult and the Development of Church Order: Concepts and Images of Authority in Paganism and Early Christianity before the Age of Cyprian (Brill, 1999)
3. Adomnan of Iona. Life of St Columba. Penguin Books, 1995
4. A speech to parliament (1610).
5. Romans 13:1-7
6. that is, the commandment: "Honor your father ..." etc., which is the fifth in the reckoning usual among Jewish, Orthodox, and Protestant denominations, but to be according to the law, yet is he not bound thereto but of his good will ..."
7. Passional Christi und Antichristi Full view on Google Books
8. McDonald, Hugh. "Some Brief Remarks on what Thomas has to say on Rebellion and Regicide". Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2011-07-30.
9. Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet. Sermons choisis de Bossuet. Sur le devoir des rois. p. 219, Image
10. Kar namag i Ardashir 4.11.16 and 4.11.22-23.
11. One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Phillip, Walter Alison (1911). "King § Divine Right of Kings". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 15 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 806.
12. Phillip 1911, p. 806.
13. Beasley, William (1999). "The Making of a Monarchy". The Japanese Experience: A Short History of Japan. University of California Press. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-520-22560-2.
14. Ramanujan, A.K. (2011). Poems of Love and War: From the Eight Anthologies and the Ten Long Poems of Classical Tamil. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-15735-3.
15. N. Subramanian (1966). Śaṅgam polity: the administration and social life of the Śaṅgam Tamils. Asia Pub. House.
16. "Divine Right of Kings". BBC. 2007-10-11. Retrieved 2009-12-21. [...] the idea that a king was sacred, appointed by God and above the judgment of earthly powers [...] was called the Divine Right of Kings and it entered so powerfully into British culture during the 17th century that it shaped the pomp and circumstance of the Stuart monarchs, imbued the writing of Shakespeare and provoked the political thinking of Milton and Locke. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
17. Baer, Robert V. Power & Freedom: Political Thought and Constitutional Politics in the United States and Argentina ProQuest, 2008 ISBN 0549745106 (pp. 70–71)
18. Blumenau, Ralph. Philosophy and Living Imprint Academic, 2002 ISBN 0907845339 (pp. 198–199)
19. Dickens, A. G. (1978). The English Reformation. London & Glasgow: Fontana/Collins. p. 399.
20. Dickens, A. G. (1978). The English Reformation. London & Glasgow: Fontana/Collins. p. 391.
21. Dickens, A.G. (1978). The English Reformation. London & Glasgow: Fontana/Collins. p. 358.
22. Adams, C. F. (1850–56). The Works of John Adams, with Life. 6. Boston. p. 4.

Further reading

• Burgess, Glenn (October 1992). "The Divine Right of Kings Reconsidered". The English Historical Review. 107 (425): 837–861. doi:10.1093/ehr/cvii.ccccxxv.837.

External links

• The Divine Right of Kings on In Our Time at the BBC
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Wed Oct 02, 2019 9:35 am

Natural Hierarchy

 A person does not need a philosophical background to believe in the existence of a natural hierarchy, wherein gods are superior to men and men to animals, or to observe that humans speak while animals do not. Moreover, humans are prone to mistaking what is normal for what is natural, a tendency that could easily lead to the use of nature as a normative standard for human behavior. The same tendency could also prompt a person to suppose that it is natural for animals to serve humans, and that they are naturally suited to doing so, since they normally fulfill that function. Neither view depends on any particular theory of nature or creation. The more sophisticated doctrines developed by the philosophers – and teleology should probably be counted among them – elaborate on and combine these habits of thought, and were probably made plausible by the conventional notions which gave rise to them. No other explanation, I think, could account for the readiness with which writers draw upon teleological ideas, and assume the understanding and acceptance of the audience. ....

I pointed out in a previous section that the Romans considered human society and social relationships to be part of nature. Thus, it would take only a short leap of logic to arrive at the conclusion that the human social order is or should be an extension of the natural order. By that reckoning, the natural hierarchy would be a paradigm for and justification of the social hierarchy. More than that, however, it would mean that the social hierarchy is part of the natural hierarchy, and that legal status distinctions do or should coincide with the natural distinctions of the scala naturae. To put it another way, legal status distinctions do or should coincide with distinctions in both purpose and type. If human society is teleological by nature, then the lower orders have been created for the purpose of serving the higher orders. Because they have been designed for this lower purpose, they possess a less perfect type. Therefore, the lower orders of humanity are innately inferior to the higher. According to this reasoning, social inequality is not merely formal, but reflects or should reflect the natural inequalities that exist between intrinsically different kinds of human. This view would provide a possible explanation for class specific man-animal comparisons. If some classes of people are less fully, perfectly human than others, then they are closer to animals. Moreover, if a certain class of human and a certain class of animal fulfill a similar purpose, than they should theoretically possess a similar nature....

It is easy to see how these ideas about human status could have interacted with ideas about animals and the scala naturae, to give rise to the notion that the scales of human and animal, social and natural status are one and the same. If the Romans were accustomed to think that there is a natural hierarchy of animals, ranked by their usefulness to human society, and if they traditionally recognized a hierarchy of humans, ranked by their usefulness to society, then the common measure of worth, usefulness, might well have prompted an analogy between the two hierarchies, or even an outright conflation of the two. The assumption that humans, like animals, are naturally supposed to serve society would have practically ensured such a conflation; to people who habitually assessed human worth in terms of utility, it would have suggested that utility is a natural standard of value for humans, as it is for animals. By this reasoning, the animal and human hierarchies are both natural, with the same natural criterion of value and standing. This view lends itself to the assumption that the two hierarchies actually comprise one, continuous scale of worth for animal and human, just as the scala naturae is one, continuous scale of inter-species worth.

Varro’s assimilation of slave and herd animal displays this pattern of thought. As I noted in the previous section, the idea of a natural hierarchy wherein all animals are subordinate to humans, and individual types are ranked by their usefulness to humans, is very much in evidence. Social status also plays a part in the text, in that Varro talks about slaves and “slave” is a human social status. Animals’ utility determines their worth to the human community, and so their standing, and the same is true for people. Varro defines servitude as an economic role, and this role or function dictates how he discusses and valuates slaves. Thus, Varro assesses man and animal by the same standard, which leads him to assign the same status to each. Because they fulfill a similar productive function, herd animals are a kind of slave, and slaves are a form of herd animal. This constitutes a conflation of natural and social status, since the social category “slave” is assimilated to the natural category “herd animal”, and the natural category “herd animal” is assimilated to the social category “slave”.

Varro also reveals one last assumption which may have contributed to the tendency to regard natural and social status as equivalent: herd animals are, in a limited way, members of the human community. I have observed that he treats domestic animals as natural slaves, as creatures destined by nature to serve man. That much we have seen elsewhere. However, he makes a point of recognizing their absolute necessity to man, as well. According to the Res Rustica, therefore, domestic animals are essential participants in the human community. They might even be considered partners, albeit unequal ones, since they engage in an exchange of vital services with their human masters. Only through cooperation between the two species can both survive. This circumstance might suggest that domestic animals are actually part of human society. If they are part of human society, then the natural category “herd animal” is a social category, too. Thus, the lowest member of the natural hierarchy, as a member of human society, is also the lowest member of the social hierarchy. Since “herd animal” is a social category, humans can belong to it, as well, if they meet the definitive criterion.Conversely, animals can belong to an ostensibly human social category, if they meet the definitive criterion. Because, as I have argued, the definitive criterion for both “herd animal” and “slave” is the same – to be useful in a certain manner – a legal slave is automatically a type of herd animal, and a herd animal a type of slave. In this way, man and animal occupy the same position in society, with the result that the status “herd animal” and the status “slave” can be used interchangeably to denote one natural social position.

The equation of slave with herd animal – and, more broadly, the equation of the social and natural hierarchies – is reflected in the language used to describe animal and human status. I have pointed out that the ancients regarded herd animals as slaves; accordingly, they were often associated with the vocabulary of subservience, the same vocabulary which was applied to servile humans. I have also discussed the long tradition of likening slaves to herd animals. Aristotle’s theory of natural slavery, as I showed in the previous chapter, makes use of both conventions. We have now seen that Varro, too, draws upon both tendencies in the Res Rustica. The fact that the Romans defined slave and herd animal in terms of each other, and classified one as a form of the other, shows that they did not differentiate between the natural and the social as we do. They could not conceptualize either state without reference to the other. As a result, the language used to talk about the natural status of animals, and that employed for human social standing, are hopelessly entangled. In chapter 1, I examined the most famous republican example of this phenomenon: the prologue of the Bellum Catilinae. There, Sallust utilizes the imagery of domestic animals and of slavery in close conjunction, in order to comment on what is naturally appropriate and inappropriate for humans of free standing.

Varro also offers examples of this linguistic and conceptual entanglement. I have talked at length about the fact that he describes field hands and shepherds, who both occupied a very low socio-economic station, by comparing them to herd animals. The conflation works in the opposite direction, as well: just as nature and animals inform the status of humans, so humans and society inform the ranking of animals. This occurs most clearly in the sections about pigs and oxen, whom Varro specifically locates within the hierarchy of herd animals. Pigs, he claims – quoting the old joke – were given by nature for feasting on; and so they were granted life instead of salt, to preserve the meat (2.4.10). As I explained before, the point here is that pigs provide humans with just one commodity, meat. Nature, then, created them for that one reason, in order to be killed and eaten. Until a pig can fulfill this destiny, the entire purpose of its life is to keep the meat fresh. Although the words “useless” and “worthless” never appear in the text, the joke assumes that a living pig is useless and therefore worthless. Cicero is more explicit: he actually applies the word “worthless” to swine. The proverbial uselessness of pigs no doubt prompted his characterization of Verres as a nequam verres, “worthless boar” (Verrines 2.1.121). Obviously a pig is neither useless nor worthless to itself. The designation “worthless pig” only makes sense if the pig is judged and ranked within the context of human society, according to its utility to humans. Its humble position is a kind of social status, in that it reflects the pig’s value to human society, as measured by the standards of that society. The pig is also inferior in relation to other herd animals, since utility determines the value and standing of them all. Furthermore, because the joke invokes natura, it attributes the pig’s lowliness to a natural order and plan. Thus, a brief witticism about pigs illustrates how men and animals, society and nature, are all subsumed into a single ranking system: to be worthless among herd animals, worthless to man, and worthless by nature, are all one and the same thing.

The equation of natural and social status is even more obvious in the passage about oxen, where Varro uses human social labels to indicate the value and standing of animals. He asserts that the ox is the socius hominum (2.5.3). Anything that can be a socius occupies, by definition, a social category. He also calls the ox a Cereris minister (2.5.3). Minister normally refers to a human job and its attendant, servile status. Here, then, is an example of the language of human servitude, linked to an animal. Moreover, and more surprisingly, he attributes to cattle the maxima auctoritas among herd animals (2.5.3), as well as maiestas (2.5.4). He tags a bull nobilis (2.5.3). These are words usually associated with the aristocracy. To express the prestige of the most important animals, Varro has borrowed from the language of the Roman elite, who were the most important humans. The text therefore demonstrates the conceptual and verbal overlap between man and animal, social and natural. In this case words from the sphere of human social relations have been applied to an animal, as a way to emphasize the value of its natural function.....

Macer compares plebs to herd animals:

Therefore all have now yielded to the mastery of a few... in the meantime you, in the manner of herd animals, offer yourselves, a multitude, to individuals for use and enjoyment, after having been stripped of everything which your ancestors left you…

According to this passage, the supposed servitude of the plebs, and their likeness to herd animals, consist of two elements: economic exploitation, and their willingness to be so exploited. Even though Macer does not explicitly mention herd animals again, these two concepts are both fundamental to the rest of the speech. The idea of the domestic animal – the perfect, natural slave – therefore shapes his portrayal of the plebs’ slavery and its opposite state, their freedom.....

A few powerful men ... have seized these goods. Thus the plebs can be said to offer themselves “for the use and enjoyment” of such men: the plebs’ ... labor, voluntarily undertaken, is enriching these individuals rather than the plebs themselves. Here, as we have seen elsewhere, ideological servitude and mastery exist where there is a relationship of economic exploitation: one who works for the profit of another man is a slave, one who keeps the profit from another man’s work is a master. If they were really free men, as opposed to slaves and herd animals, the plebs would be enjoying the fruits of their own labor.

Economic exploitation is one aspect that the plebs have in common with herd animals, who are also slaves. The other similarity is the plebs’ apparent acceptance of their exploitation, signaled by Macer’s accusatory use of the word praebetis. The plebs actually yield themselves up for servitude ... passively letting other men take the profits. The comparison turns on the belief that herd animals are slaves by nature. They always accept their lot with passivity and willingly labor for the benefit of human masters, because they have no alternative; they serve and obey in accordance with inescapable, natural impulses. This idea appears prominently elsewhere in Sallust. As I explained in the first chapter, it plays a part in the prologue of the Bellum Catilinae. There, herd animals are employed as a negative model, an extreme to avoid, precisely because they have no choice but to behave slavishly.

In keeping with the pattern outlined above, Macer’s speech does not posit that the plebs are naturally slavish or subhuman; in fact, it asserts the opposite. The oration draws its persuasive and emotive power from the tension between the servile role forced upon the plebs, and their naturally free and human character. Precisely because they are not slaves or animals by nature, they can choose not to submit to treatment which is unsuitable for human beings; they can choose to reclaim a truly human living situation by rising up and taking what is rightfully theirs. Therefore the reference to herd animals is in fact a clarion call to action. The plebs’ noble masters have imposed upon them a condition of economic servitude, a condition equivalent to that of slavish herd animals. They will continue to be treated like animals, and resemble them in character, if they do not correctly utilize their human faculty of choice and exercise their will to act. We see now why Macer claims that the struggle for liberty, even a losing one, befits a brave man, and why he later urges the plebs to remember and recreate the manly deeds, virilia illa, of their ancestors (15). The choice to resist, the will to freedom, the struggle itself is naturally appropriate to a man, utterly denied to a herd animal.

Although Macer only mentions herd animals once, the themes established in that one sentence continue throughout the speech. The negative example of the herd animal therefore remains very much in the foreground. Sections 14-16 dwell on the idea that the plebs are willingly submitting to their servitude, by supporting the designs of their self-appointed masters (like herd animals).
Macer accuses his audience of having a weak spirit, animus ignavus, since they are not mindful of their liberty outside of the assembly. All the power is actually in their hands, he claims, because they can choose to carry out or not to carry out the very commands which are imposing their slavery. The plebs are putting such orders into effect by executing them, and are thus rushing to enact their own servitude (like herd animals). Since their slavery depends on their connivance, they could win their freedom simply by refusing to cooperate.....

To labor endlessly for the benefit of others, without protest, is the naturally appointed lot of herd beasts. Unless the plebs want to share that fate, they must exert themselves....

Even Cicero utilizes the idea of plebeian economic exploitation when it suits him, which indicates that it was indeed a trope, and one with rhetorical currency. During his consulship, Cicero spoke against an agrarian law put forward by Publius Servilius Rullus, tribune of the plebs. The second of his speeches on the subject, De Lege Agraria 2, was delivered before the popular assembly. In this oration, Cicero had to convince the bill’s ostensible beneficiaries, the Roman people, that the proposal was actually contrary to their interests.... He portrays the promise of land distribution as a ruse, one which will enable a few powerful men to enrich themselves at the expense of the plebs.

The main thrust of Cicero’s argument is introduced in section 15, where he reveals the “true” aims of the bill’s promulgators. These men, he claims, will be established as kings and masters of the treasury, the revenues, all the provinces, the entire republic, the kings, the free peoples, and, finally, the whole world. ... He asserts that, in the proposed law, nothing is given to the citizens, but all things are gifted to certain men, that lands are held out before the Roman people while even their liberty is snatched from them, that the money of private individuals is augmented and public money drained, and that kings are set up in the state..... If, after hearing his speech, the citizens believe that a plot has been laid against their liberty, they should not hesitate to defend their freedom, obtained and handed down to them by the sweat and blood of their ancestors. Like Sallust’s tribunes, Cicero urges the plebs to action, emphasizing the need for will and struggle with his reference to blood and sweat....

The bill apparently called for ten land commissioners, decemvirs, to raise funds by selling public property; once the funds had been raised, they were to purchase land in Italy on which to settle colonies of Roman citizens.
Cicero devotes much of his oration to insisting that the decemvirs will pocket the proceeds from the sale of public property (35-62), neglecting to purchase the necessary land or to establish proper colonies (63-71). After making his case, Cicero concludes by posing the question, quid pecuniae fiet? What will become of the money? His final answer: “The decemvirs will hold all the money, not a field will be bought for you; after your revenues have been alienated from you, your allies harassed, and the kings and all the nations emptied, those men will have the money, you will not have fields”.

-- The Measure of All Things: Natural Hierarchy in Roman Republican Thought, by Erika Lawren Nickerson, 2015

Pan-Germans embraced the belief that the Aryans had stood at the top in the natural hierarchy of races and that the distinction of being the least polluted survivor of the Aryans belonged to the Germanic (or Nordic) race, of which the Germans made up the principal part.

-- We Men Who Feel Most German: A Cultural Study of the Pan-German League 1886-1914, by Roger Chickering

The Führerprinzip (German for "leader principle") prescribed the fundamental basis of political authority in the governmental structures of the Third Reich. This principle can be most succinctly understood to mean that "the Führer's word is above all written law" and that governmental policies, decisions, and offices ought to work toward the realization of this end. In actual political usage, it refers mainly to the practice of dictatorship within the ranks of a political party itself, and as such, it has become an earmark of political fascism.

The Führerprinzip was not invented by the Nazis. Hermann von Keyserling, an ethnically German philosopher from Estonia, was the first to use the term. One of Keyserling's central claims was that certain "gifted individuals" were "born to rule" on the basis of Social Darwinism.

The ideology of the Führerprinzip sees each organization as a hierarchy of leaders, where every leader (Führer, in German) has absolute responsibility in his own area, demands absolute obedience from those below him and answers only to his superiors. This required obedience and loyalty even over concerns of right and wrong. The supreme leader, Adolf Hitler, answered to God and the German people. Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben has argued that Hitler saw himself as an incarnation of auctoritas, and as the living law or highest law itself, effectively combining in his persona executive power, judicial power and legislative power. After the campaign against the alleged Röhm Putsch, Hitler declared: "in this hour, I was responsible for the fate of the German nation and was therefore the supreme judge of the German people!"

-- Fuhrerprincip [Fuehrer Principle], by Wikipedia

In his presentation of the Shambhala teachings, Rinpoche said that law and order have to do with the natural hierarchy that exists in the world. He used the four seasons as a good example of this nonvertical sense of order and predictability in life. Rinpoche felt that society should have a similar sense of orderly flow.

-- Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chogyam Trungpa, by Diana J. Mukpo with Carolyn Rose Gimian

Natural Hierarchy

By the same token, I have always encouraged both older and newer students to take initiative where they see fit, to jump in if it is truly beneficial, not to wait for the perfect conditions to come about, or for me to formally direct them or invite them to participate. It is not necessary for everyone to have specific instruction from me personally. When it rains, you don’t ask the clouds how to grow vegetables. You take the water and you grow vegetables. This is the notion of society. The role of the Sakyong is to provide space, to protect the space, so that the flowers can blossom. The sun does not pull the flowers up to the sky; the flowers grow, reaching toward heaven. If heaven is too close, the flowers will not exert themselves. Therefore the organization is necessary as the extension of the Sakyong’s ability to provide and protect the space.

The Sakyong is the centre of the Shambhala mandala. The centre of the mandala manifests as the Kalapa Court, the seat of the Sakyong and the heart of his government. The energy generated within the Court radiates outwards through the teachings, culture, and structure of the mandala. The energy that is generated toward the Kalapa Court is harnessed by the organization. It is not the role of the organization to dampen or suffocate. If it becomes too thick, its members tend to become complacent and irritated. When it can extend the energy of the Court as the basis of inspiration, the members of the community look in and around themselves for solutions, realizing their responsibility to motivate themselves and to communicate with others. This process is not simply one of administration, but also of education, since the curriculum must also reflect an understanding of the individual.

This is the primary teaching within the literature on natural hierarchy. Specifically, it means that yourself, as well as the rest of the leadership of the mandala, need to facilitate this dissemination of energy from the Kalapa Court. You must organize the mandala and extend communication in the most effective way. All the members of our community have strong virtues and diverse qualities. They need not base their situation upon whether they are participating as a member of these administrative groups. Those who are members should be functional, practical, and energetic individuals who have chosen to fully participate in and organize our community. But we need to wean ourselves away from thinking that if we are not in one of these groups, we have no real function in our organization. The more clearly we understand this, the more smooth the transition will be for the individuals leaving or entering administrative roles. Thus the society becomes healthy.

The nature of phenomena is change and fluctuation. When a rider has truly taken his seat, from a distance he seems steadfast in the saddle. However, to maintain this equilibrium, both horse and rider are balanced in a state of constant fluctuation. The relationship between the administration, the organization, and the society will likewise fluctuate.

Rather than specifying how we initiate these societal endeavours and inspirations, I leave it to you to disseminate this understanding and view, letting others know the importance and uniqueness of what we are doing—building a society. It is important that we all recognize that being involved at this point and engaging in socially enriching activities is part of the process. Rather than being handed the entire basket and its contents, we are learning how to pick fruits and vegetables and place them in our container of social initiative.

-- Treatise on Society and Organization, A communication from Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche to Richard Reoch, President of Shambhala,17 March 2003

Functions and structure of the court

These relationships within the court revolve around the Sage King, who is the centre of the court. He has people on his left and right sides, everyone at his or her appropriate position and distance: ministers, governors, generals, advisors, etc. When a king receives his subjects - the relationships are clear, visible and therefore natural hierarchy can arise. In this context the order of Heaven <-> Earth <-> Man can be equated with King <-> Ministers <-> Subjects. This is also clear from the description provided in 'The golden Sun of the Great East': 'In Kalapa, the capital, the dharma king of Shambhala first executed the primordial Ashe. On his right sat ministers on tiger-skin seats; on his left, queens on leopard-skin seats; before him, dapons on bear-skin seats; surrounding his domain, the Rigden dralas (..,)'. When a king receives his subjects - the relationships are clear, visible and therefore natural hierarchy can arise.

In the context of a Shambhala Centre this notion of a King, his advisers and subjects can be translated into the order of Heaven <-> Humanity <-> Earth. This means that people (humanity) are appointed to a certain post within the centre and they are responsible for translating the view of the teachings (heaven) into the actual workings of the centre (earth). There is a large responsibility that comes with such a post. The right people should be appointed to the right post, for mismatches can cause harm
.. In 'The golden Sun of the Great East': 'If the horse has no saddle, there is no dignity in riding. If the sun had no rays, the people would be blind. If the warrior has no sword, the blessings of the dralas cannot be gathered (...)'.

In a Shambhala Centre it also means that people should have a proper seat, not only on a board or as a title, but also a real physical seat. This means that a number of people - especially the director and the Rusung - should have a desk in an office from which to work. The function pertains to the role and position and duties individuals hold within the court: who does what.

A Shambhala Court should be viewed as a mandala, another expression of the word 'container.' In a mandala different levels exist all of them connected through a bright and clear path. In the table below, the various levels of the mandala are indicated according to the various traditions as well as the functions and activities of those levels.

-- Kanyu, Fengshui and Court Energetics, Based on the teachings of Eva Wong, edited by Peter C. van der Molen

Letter to Vajradhatu Board of Directors
by Vajra Regent Osel Tendzin
November 28, 1989

An Association of Buddhist Meditation Centers
28 November 1989

Dear Vajradhatu Sangha Member:

It was in January that I last addressed all of you. At that time, I informed you of my plans for retreat and requested everybody to continue with the practice and study of the dharma as given to us by the Vidyadhara, Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche. It has been a turbulent year. In some sense, the turbulence has expressed the naked and raw quality of our emotions, and at the same time has, in my mind, provided deeper access to understanding fully our own commitment. Some of this has been extremely embarrassing. However, as we have been taught, shedding the fortification of ego is not only embarrassing but painful.

Now it appears to me that it is time for all of us to take some definite steps to go forward, personally and as a sangha. It is time for us to re-examine as thoroughly as we can our practice and our place in this life.We all have a particular seat. We all have our innate worth. However, only the dharma can bring about that kind of equanimity and understanding.

Fortunately, the Vidyadhara was ruthless in working with his own students in this respect: he did not hand people solutions, did not provide baby food to grownups, and was constantly warning all of us of the dangers of spiritual materialism, self-made gurus, and spiritual trips. In this way he created Vajradhatu to carry on the authentic dharma which is not based on ego and the deceptions of mara. He let every one of us live out our karma in the context of a larger vision and a larger world. For that we should be eternally grateful.

How shall we now proceed to fulfill the Vidyadhara’s wishes and to fulfill our own lives? First of all, I feel that it is necessary for all of us to abandon ill will and negativity toward each other. Sometimes thoughts become so vivid that they stick in the mind like real entities. And as we might have experienced in our practice, no matter what we do, it is hard to dissolve them. Even if we practice all the different techniques, sometimes we still cling to negative feelings and emotions. Therefore, I feel we must practice as Milarepa did when encountering the demons in his cave. After trying all the techniques he could think of, he finally embraced the demons and said, “All rights, let’s play together.”

Please understand that I am not advocating some kind of love and light approach to the strong or bitter feelings we might have. I am not advocating lip service as practice. We must do this – for our own happiness and for the teachings to continue. There is no other way. If we carry with us even the slightest suspicion which could produce hatred, then we will find ourselves living in the hell realm, when our intention is to practice the dharma.

As for myself, I hold no grudges toward anyone, nor do I wish to see anyone suffer because of anything I may do or have done. At the same time, it is supremely important that all of us understand clearly the reality of cause and effect, so that we can impartially contemplate how situations such as this occur, and how they can be boycotted, as Rinpoche used to say. Panic brings about fear, fear brings about frozen space. Frozen space brings about the appearance of ego. It was my feeling a year ago and it is my feeling now that if we would not have panicked, but actually stuck together as a family, as a sangha, we could have boycotted the tremendous upheaval that occurred, and at the same time made great progress in our understanding. Since this process of ego is continually going on, we undoubtedly will have a chance to work on this again. However, we might as well start fresh right now.

I have been working on my health, with the help of the guru’s blessing and the blessings of the late Very Venerable Kalu, Rinpoche and of course His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse, Rinpoche, and also Trogawa, Rinpoche. Sometimes I feel great, sometimes not so good. Even so, I feel it is time once again for me to take up active leadership of Vajradhatu and the Nalanda Foundation, and depending on my health, give the various teachings that are necessary for people to progress along the path. Therefore, I would like to announce my intention to grant the Vajrayogini Abisheka in late May at Karme Choling, and to preside over the 1990 Vajradhatu Seminary at Rocky Mountain Dharma Center. Everyone will be kept informed with regard to the technicalities such as application forms, etc. Those are the teaching commitments that I would like to make at this time. I will stay on retreat until then.

Finally, I would like to make it completely clear as to my understanding of lineage and especially what was given to me as sacred trust by the Vidyadhara. As I have said, all of us have a place in this mandala, and none is higher or worth more or lower or worth less than any other. Nevertheless, in order for karma to ripen, in order for the dharma to bear fruit, there must be one lineage holder in whom resides the spiritual and temporal authority to say “Yes” or “No”. That karma has fallen to me. The samaya of my relationship to my own duty for me is beyond good and bad, success and failure. And having been warned over and over again by the Vidyadhara about the dangers of democracy, I must reiterate the nature of this command. At the same time, everyone is invited into the boiling pot of chaos which is our world. Everybody is appreciated for who they are. So the real middle way is neither authoritarian nor democratic, but simple the natural hierarchy based on the blessings of the Buddha and the Victorious Lineage.

In conclusion, I would like to wish everybody excellent health, wonderful dharma experiences, and worldly success of all kinds. Keep smiling.

With Blessings,
Vajra Regent Osel Tendzin

The Great Chain of Being is a hierarchical structure of all matter and life, thought in medieval Christianity to have been decreed by God. The chain starts with God and progresses downward to angels, demons (fallen/renegade angels), stars, moon, kings, princes, nobles, commoners, wild animals, domesticated animals, trees, other plants, precious stones, precious metals and other minerals.

The Great Chain of Being (Latin: scala naturae, "Ladder of Being") is a concept derived from Plato, Aristotle (in his Historia Animalium), Plotinus and Proclus. Further developed during the Middle Ages, it reached full expression in early modern Neoplatonism....

God sits at the top of the chain, and beneath him sit the angels, both existing wholly in spirit form. Earthly flesh is fallible and ever-changing, mutable. Spirit, however, is unchanging and permanent....

Each link succeeding upward contains the positive attributes of the previous link and adds at least one other. Rocks possess only existence; the next link up is plants which possess life and existence. Animals add motion and appetite as well....

The king is at the top, succeeded by the aristocratic lords and the clergy, and then the peasants below them....father is head of the household; below him, his wife; below her, their children....

At the top of the animals are wild beasts (such as lions), which were seen as superior as they defied training and domestication. Below them are domestic animals, further sub-divided so that useful animals (such as dogs and horses) are higher than docile creatures (such as sheep). Birds are also sub-divided, with eagles above pigeons, for example. Fish come below birds and are subdivided between actual fish and other sea creatures. Below them come insects, with useful insects such as spiders and bees and attractive creatures such as ladybirds and dragonflies at the top, and unpleasant insects such as flies and beetles at the bottom. At the very bottom of the animal sector are snakes, which are relegated to this position as punishment for the serpent's actions in the Garden of Eden....

Trees are at the top, with useful trees such as oaks at the top, and the traditionally demonic yew tree at the bottom. Food-producing plants such as cereals and vegetables are further subdivided.

At the very bottom of the chain are minerals. At the top of this section are metals (further sub-divided, with gold at the top and lead at the bottom), followed by rocks (with granite and marble at the top), soil (subdivided between nutrient-rich soil and low-quality types), sand, grit, dust, and dirt at the very bottom of the entire great chain....

Each rank has greater power and responsibility than the entities below them....

avian creatures, linked to the element of air, are considered superior to aquatic creatures linked to the element of water. Air naturally tends to rise and soar above the surface of water, and analogously, aerial creatures are placed higher in the chain....

The higher up the chart one went, the more noble, mobile, strong, and intelligent the creature....

The basic idea of a ranking of the world's organisms goes back to Aristotle's biology. In his History of Animals, where he ranked animals over plants based on their ability to move and sense, and graded the animals by their reproductive mode and possession of blood (he ranked all invertebrates as "bloodless")....

Ken Wilber uses a concept called the "Great Nest of Being" which is similar to the Great Chain of Being....

E. F. Schumacher wrote that fundamental gaps exist between the existence of minerals, plants, animals and humans, where each of the four classes of existence is marked by a level of existence not shared by that below. Clearly influenced by the great chain of being, but lacking the angels and God, he called his hierarchy the "levels of being".

-- Great chain of being, by Wikipedia
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Wed Oct 09, 2019 3:30 am

Shambhala threw out my Care and Conduct report
by Kathy Southard MSW, LCSW

Kathy Southard MSW, LCSW

So I didn't really want to do this. And this is the reason why people don't go the Care and Conduct route when leadership abuses their power because we know it falls on deaf ears. This is the aspect of Shambhala culture that needs to change, this power hierarchy. After a year of people telling me I should make a Care and Conduct complaint, I finally did. And you know, it did go the way I thought it would go, that they threw it out because I couldn't sign an agreement they asked me to before they investigated. I couldn't sign because the only people this agreement would protect was the organization and Debbie Coats, so I could not sign it. It would not protect me, it would only empower further harm is how I saw that agreement. Then in a letter to me, they solidified this view with some twisted views about me. It was typical that I am made out to be the one with the problem. So there's not much to do except let you read my report and my side. That one could read this and not take any action, but to otherwise malign themselves against me as someone who has experienced sexual harassment, sexual harm and rape, and what I've reported speaks volumes about the path Shambhala is taking. It speaks to their continued denials. It is very disappointing that Shambhala is just unable to walk the walk of what was previously preached. Here is my care and conduct report that Shambhala threw out and are not doing much about.

It's just my story. It's not the most important story either. Also I know there have been far worse abuses of power that have occured. But it's just what happened to me and it's indicative of the culture that empowers this to happen within Shambhala culture. Here we go. May it be of benefit.

Here's the report:

Debbie Coats

August 1, 2019

Dear Care and Conduct Committee,

I am writing because I would like to make a formal grievance against former Desung Head Commander Debbie Coats, who banned me from Shambhala without ever speaking to me or investigating what were false statements and rumors about me. That a person in a position of power would abuse that power to protect her personal friends and those in higher positions of power is a violation of her position that must be addressed.

My experiences were shaped by the culture of Shambhala, namely that women who express uncomfortable emotions are deemed “crazy” and “difficult” which is why they get expelled and that men who’ve engaged in sexual assault and harm are protected. This is a repeated pattern in Shambhala that the Desung Head Commander had enabled and propagated.

Experiences of Harassment, Sexual Assault and Rape

There were 3 separate events of harassment, sexual assault, and rape that I experienced while living in London and France between 2005 and 2012. I am not bringing forward a complaint about the actions of the people who harmed me, but I can detail them here as background information. Please be aware these were the experiences that led me to have emotional outbursts that Debbie Coats used as evidence of why I ought to be banned. I did not ask Debbie Coats to get involved. I never came to her about my experiences of harm nor ask her to investigate a rape.

I complained to Shambhala center executive members about one of my harassers since 2005, other women complained about him as well, and nothing was ever done about it, instead he kept being empowered. What has harmed me the most in all of this are Debbie Coats actions which she undertook without ever speaking to me. She made incorrect assumptions about my mental state and my competence based on what men, the men who had harmed me said about me, and then Debbie Coats had me banned.

I am most angry about the dynamics of power and the rape culture so prevalent in Shambhala, that allowed all these events to culminate in my being ejected and banned from the sangha. This is the reason I am most angry at Debbie Coats. She enforced the wishes of the men who harmed me, excluding me from my spiritual path and causing me even more harm.

It is my strong opinion as someone who has experienced harm resulting from sexual assault, rape, and harassment that Debbie Coats can never be trusted to support anyone coming forward.

For evidence, there are a series of emails that former Shastri Jane Hope can provide to you about the “alert” that Debbie Coats sent out about me. She can also back up my statements and events as she was involved at this time.

Debbie Coats has publicly stated she’s never banned me. However, this is a false statement. There are rumors going on about that I was unhappy with Debbie Coats and so I am making up lies. I have never asked Debbie Coats nor has she ever been involved in investigating a rape. There are ugly rumors being spread about me by Tony McAdam, one of my harassers, that I am just looking for attention and I have made false accusations of abuse in the past, which he states he has proof of. If he has proof, I’d like to see it. I bet it’s more twisted and untrue stories from some emails I wrote in 2005 which he continuously uses to threaten me with, still to this day in 2019.

I am most upset about and would like to show that Debbie Coats has enabled a culture in which women are victim-blamed, made out to be crazy, and then banned by men in power. As the Desung Head Commander she inherited this culture of making women out to be disbelieved and of protecting men, especially men in power. And this is the main problematic dynamic in Shambhala at this time.

It is a long and involved series of events that started in 2005, when I was 30 years old, and had just moved to London. At that time, I experienced sexual harassment by a sangha member, Tony McAdam, that made it difficult for me to come to the Shambhala center. I know he made other women feel this way also. Because I rejected his advances, he spread terrible rumors about me that Debbie Coats believed. He was close to her, had been the babysitter for her son, Ollie. Therefore his slander of my character was believed before I ever met Debbie Coats. The specifics of this harassment are below.

The Harassment by Tony McAdam

In 2005, a London sangha member Tony McAdam started harassing me. I often felt very uncomfortable around him. When I first showed up in London in the spring of 2005 Tony very often sat too close to me, followed me around, and when I wasn't looking he'd put his hands on me, i.e. to offer me a massage, which felt incredibly unpleasant and I tried my best to stay away from him. That I would seek to stay away from him seemed to incense him, making him increasingly angry with me.

He managed to show up to a private party where I was, knowing I was there, crashing it, and the proceeded to act in a foolish and creepy manner that got him thrown out by the host. He decided I was to blame about his getting ejected from the party and became more obsessed about me. I know this based on conversations with his girlfriend at the time. This led him to obsessively question her about me. She and I had been exchanging emails. When she couldn't take his obsessive, relentless questioning anymore she gave in, forwarding him all the emails I ever wrote to her. These were private emails never intended for anyone to read.

Tony read a lot of my personal information then made up a twisted story about me from these emails, then fed to Debbie Coats a very twisted and untrue story about me which she believed.

In late summer 2005, I received a telephone call from Debbie Coats. This was the first time I even knew of her, my first time speaking with her. She called me and spoke to me as if I had committed some horrible atrocity. In this conversation she accused me of attempting to destroy the London sangha and sangha members' relationships and marriages. She specifically told me I was trying to break up Linus Bewley and Pieracarla Katsaros's marriage. My reaction was that she was absolutely out of line to have called me out of the blue at work and accuse me of things I did not do. When my response was "No, these things did not happen." she responded with the sentence that I still remember: "Don't you know who I am?" in a manner that said to me that because of who she is, I couldn’t question her. When she asked that I come meet with her to discuss this matter, she said I could bring someone. I mentioned Keith Ryan who had been tutoring me weekly studying the Sutrayana manuscripts for Sutrayana seminary. She seemed to be taken aback by that and the phone call ended abruptly. There was never a chance to speak with her further about this. I didn't know at the time, but Keith Ryan was an ex-partner of hers. There was never any follow-up.

The weeks that followed, I'd gotten word from other sangha members I'd done something terribly wrong. There were whispers behind my back and meetings in which I felt harmed by what people were saying about me. I tried to just ignore everything actually and tried my best to stay far from Tony. If I knew he would be there, I would stay away. If he was there for some reason I'd leave. Despite this, I managed to get very involved in the London sangha through the help of Orhun Cercel, a friend at the time. This was long before Orhun became a Shastri and then Acharya. But because of him I became the programs head in London.

Still whenever Tony showed up, it was super uncomfortable from 2005 until I left London. Tony was made the coordinator for a Sakyong visit. As a student of the Sakyong, I wanted nothing else but to be involved, but when Tony was coordinator, he made my life hell. I couldn't be involved and I almost didn't show up to London for the Sakyong's visit. I managed to get there, but Tony harassed me so much I left in tears. Despite repeated complaints about Tony McAdam, not just by me but other women, nothing was ever done. I was repeatedly made to look like I had the problem.

Tony McAdam was close to Debbie Coats as he had been her son's babysitter and caretaker for years. So he was automatically believed and trusted over me. In these years from 2005 to2012, Tony would repeatedly threaten me with exposing my secrets from these emails he kept about me. He's still threatening me to this day. More recently he's been posting about me on Facebook, stating the following:

● That I am a pedophile,
● That I have made repeated false accusations of abuse and rape in the past,
● That I am angry at Debbie Coats for investigating reports of harm and finding my accusations unfounded, and
● These emails show that I falsely accused my parents of sexual abuse and then admitted I'd made it all up for attention.

ALL OF THIS IS FALSE and he's going around posting it repeatedly around Facebook and in Reddit posts I am told. I have never been sexually abused as a child, nor ever made up any false allegations of rape, sexual abuse or physical abuse from my parents or by anyone else for that matter.

It is also well known that Tony McAdam suffers from alcoholism and mental illness, has never been able to hold a steady job, and lives in public housing and off long-term disabled benefits provided to him by the state because he’s disabled by his conditions. Debbie Coats for whatever reason, still quite clearly looks to protect Tony and empower him in Shambhala while she paints me as being more disturbed than Tony points to her poor judgement of character and poor decision-making abilities to have ever been the International Desung Head Commander.

Relationship with XXXXXXX XXXXX

From 2008-09, I had a relationship with a senior member, teacher, and practitioner in Shambhala, former Director of the Paris Shambhala Center, European Secretary to the Sakyong, and currently the French head of the Kalapa Leadership Academy, XXXXX XXXXX. It became the most emotionally abusive relationship of my life. There were times he used sex to harm and hurt me, to make me feel degraded. He knew what he was doing because afterwards he would apologize and say he did not know why he wanted to do those things to me.

It ended very badly of course. And I am aware that he made statements to Debbie Coats and others about how difficult and "degraded" I am. I mention this because later Debbie Coats let me know that was one reason why she felt I ought to be banned. Because of who he is, I was made to look like an unstable and "degraded" (this was the word I heard used to describe me) human, hence, another reason for having me banned.


In 2010, XXXX XXXXXXXX, who at the time was recently retired from being a traveling kusung to the Sakyong, raped me. We had been very good friends. After the rape, I did not acknowledge what it was until years later, because it is so very difficult to accept that a good friend and a vajra brother whom I had trusted could do that. Instead I tried to repair it by trying to have a relationship with him, that led him to continue to violate my boundaries repeatedly, culminating in further conflict between us. Although I did try my best to repair that, too, including vouching for him in the UK court system, that he'd never physically assaulted me. I wrote a letter of support in 2017 for this court case. His ex-partner, mother of his child, was accusing him of domestic violence and had requested the courts in England to ban him from visitation rights with his son.

During this conflict with XXXX XXXXX, Debbie Coats got involved. XXXX had gone to her, expressing how difficult I was. I think after being raped, being difficult with your rapist, is rather normal. After someone uses sex to harm you, being difficult with him is also normal. And after someone sexually harasses you, to want boundaries and the wish to not engage with him is normal as well.

Debbie Coats Banned Me From Shambhala

As Debbie Coats was the International Head Commander of the Desung at the time, she used all these incidents as reasons to have me banned from Shambhala, banned from serving as a volunteer at any land center in North America in 2012. She had sent out a memo or an alert to all desung and HR staff across the sangha at Karme Choling, Shambhala Mountain Center, and Dorje Denma Ling, that if I were to apply to come there, I should be denied because I am an unstable and difficult person. This will also be her argument to you because she thinks I have emotional problems she was trying to “protect” me. I wish to let you know that I have no psychiatric history as an adult other than seeking psychotherapy which is usual for a clinical social worker and psychotherapist. In environments where I am respected and treated well, I excel and am seen as a leader. I hold a Master of Social Work degree from Boston University. For approximately 5 out of my 17 years as a clinical social worker, I was a member of the psychiatry department of Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard Medical School affiliated teaching hospital. In April 2017, I was invited as a member of Harvard Medical School faculty to give remarks at a yearly conference “Psychotherapy and Meditation”. For the summer of 2017 I went to SMC, invited by Acharya Dan Hessey as the Staff Path Coordinator, my job was to support staff with their meditation path. After the summer he asked that I might consider staying on, requested that I apply for the Director of Practice and Education, which ultimately I felt would not be a good fit for me. I am also a Scorpion Seal V practitioner. I know I am not so emotionally unstable, difficulty, or incompetent that I should be banned from all Shambhala meditation centers. I am far from that.

While Debbie may argue that she only prevented me from any leadership position in Shambhala, that is not true. She made it so that I could not come to a center to cook or even wash dishes. I was banned outright. At the time I was a SSA2 practitioner and honestly it was so painful, to feel rejected.

Additionally I am aware that Debbie Coats violated confidentiality by sending a personal email I’d written to her to Jane Hope in Debbie’s attempt to prove I am emotionally unstable to Jane.

Also on June 30, 2019, Debbie Coats also posted a public Facebook post about me, painting me as a disturbed liar, in an attempt to clear her name. This is another example of her poor decision-making and conflict resolution skills. She dismisses outright that she has ever done anything untoward and is focused on retaining her power and name.

I Was Banned Without Any Opportunity to Tell My Side Of the Story

This is how I learned what was being said behind my back and about the alert with which Debbie Coats had me banned: In late winter/early spring 2012, I was leaving my job in London. In seeking other opportunities I was very limited due to my work visa and being a non-EU, American citizen in London. I knew returning to North America would be better for me. At first, I thought I’d like to immigrate to Canada. As a Shambhalian, Scorpion Seal Practitioner, I thought the best place to end up could be Halifax. I could spend 2 years at Dorje Denma Ling and then maybe look to move to Halifax afterwards, be in the center of Shambhala, which is all I really wanted back then. I made contact with Dorje Denma Ling, told them a bit about my background and they encouraged me to apply for the Director of Practice and Education. So I applied. A few months later I didn’t get the job.

They told me they went with someone else who practiced Vajrayogini. I thought fair enough. But perhaps there was another job available? I asked about working in marketing as that was a job being advertised as being opened. The response to that request was that I didn’t fit the background of who they were looking for. Ok. So I asked perhaps I could come and work in the kitchen as an assistant cook. I never heard back after asking that question. I’d gotten ghosted. I didn’t think too much of this at the time.

Then I thought I’d go to SMC for the summer in 2012. They always need summer volunteers. I could spend the whole summer there and then figure out where to move to in the US from there. Because I was applying to be on staff as a Scorpion Seal II practitioner, the response was please come and I could decide which department I wanted to work in, it was my choice, anywhere I wanted. I said I’d be quite happy to be a program coordinator for the summer. It was pretty much all set that would be the plan.

Very shortly thereafter the next thing in my email inbox was an invitation to staff a dathun as a Meditation Instructor/ Assistant Director at Karme Choling. KCL was holding a dathun for the month of May 2012. I think it was April, at the time, and they were in need of MIs. It worked for my schedule that I could spend May at Karme Choling staffing a dathun. Then in June I’d go to SMC where I would spend the rest of the summer as a program coordinator. I applied to MI/AD this dathun, and you needed an MI/Shambhala mentor recommendation. I asked for this from my MI, Shastri Jane Hope in London. She agreed and then spoke to someone at KCL by phone to give her this recommendation. However, when Jane was on the phone with someone at KCL, she was asked about my emotional well-being and if I were under a lot of stress. She told me (and you can confirm/check with Jane) that she still recommended me as an MI despite what KCL had learned about me from someone else in London. However, no matter what Jane said, someone had said things to KCL slandering my name and my emotional wellbeing so that I was not accepted as an MI. (In 2014, I later staffed a dathun as an AD/MI). Jane asked me who could possibly be saying something behind my back that others would believe and I responded the only person who would do such a thing and who would be believed is Debbie Coats.

Later that day after being rejected from being considered an MI at KCL, because of untrue rumors put out by Debbie Coats, I got an email message from SMC. It was short and sweet. It said they’d gotten the “alert” and that I was no longer invited to staff there that summer. Honestly it was a mighty powerful blow on the same day I was told I wasn’t good enough to staff a dathun as an MI. I couldn’t stop crying for a few days. It has made me doubt myself, and it took a number of years to recover.

I am quite confident and willing to bring Debbie Coats to task for slandering my name without ever speaking to me, with siding with the men who have harmed me and raped me, and for not having any skill in working with conflict resolution or supporting survivors of sexual harm in the community. As the Desung Head Commander she ought to be held to a much higher standard. As the Desung Head Commander she ought to know how to support and care for the community, if that is her role, not just ban those she sees as “crazy”, while she protects men in positions of power or men who are in close proximity and in relationships with her.

I am also aware it is not just me. I am just speaking my story, but there are other women who have been in my position. If you cross another man in a position of power in Shambhala, it is the woman who is dismissed and not believed. I’ve seen it a number of times. It is indicative of the culture.

What I Am Asking

My wishes include:

That Debbie Coats is never in a position of power or authority over me or any other victim of sexual assault or harassment so that she could never have power over anyone who has experienced harm, especially sexual harm by men in positions of authority, and that she never be allowed to judge the outcomes of these situations again.

That she be stripped of any Kasung/Desung title or rank because she is responsible and helped to empower the culture that allowed abuses of power and sexual harm to go on unbated.

That the culture of Shambhala change, so that these dynamics of power aren't so prevalent, so that those harmed because of racism, sexism, sexual assault & harassment, and unfair power dynamics are not ignored and dismissed as being "crazy" and then further excluded from the sangha.

That sexual harm and male entitlement is no longer just part of Shambhala culture as it has been for a long time.

I am not a difficult person, especially when I am treated with respect and consideration. Since being banned in 2012, I did return to living in North America where my history was unknown. So I could blend in like nothing happened. However, since the ban, I’ve felt like there has been black mark on me, I've felt insecure as someone who is a meditation instructor and Scorpion Seal V practitioner, that people are talking about me behind my back, telling outrageous lies about me, that others believe without coming to me about them and that my worst fear could happen again, that I could just get banned because in a conflict born from sexual assault and harm, that I could easily be deemed crazy and difficult again, and would again get excluded and excommunicated from the sangha. This ongoing underlying fear has always been there especially since the day I learned I was banned from Shambhala.

Thank you for listening to my story. I would like to make it known that I am telling the full truth and nothing but the truth. I have not made any false statements.


Kathy Southard MSW, LCSW
Site Admin
Posts: 33192
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Wed Oct 09, 2019 3:39 am

Taking Samaya with Sakyong Mipham and some side thoughts
by mukposdingdong

Something reminded me of the vows we took with Mipham recently.

The part I want to share is that when we were being groomed to submit to his command, what was made very clear by the acharyas coaching us and the little piece of paper cheat sheet we were given at Vajrayana seminary, was that we weren’t taking a vow about committing to creating enlightened society but a vow committing to MIPHAM’s vision of creating enlightened society. The difference was reiterated several times. And I guess that’s the basic point of taking a Vajrayana teacher on — you commit to their expertise or method. Literally, his world.

But in the last couple years, I’ve heard so many Shambhalians say things to the effect of, the women he sexually ab/used had the wrong view (they could have said no, or you’re not literally meant to do what the teacher asks, or, he’s just human — you don’t actually view him as the Buddha, or, well actually it’s the guru within, not the external guru that’s important). I’ve also heard non-Mipham students affiliated with Shambhala (mostly Trungpa followers) say things like, what you were doing under mipham is not what is meant by enlightened society, etc — here’s the correct view... (and then they proceed to offer some interpretation, their own conceptualization/variant on the true meaning or intent of “the teachings” or explain vajrayana by importing instructions from another teacher). But the fact is, the samaya vows we as Mipham’s students took, were of and TO HIS vision. We were to defer to HIS discernment about reality, what to do with our minds, how to behave, follow his instructions, INCLUDING the sexual ones. It wasn’t enlightened society general, it was Mipham’s view of enlightened society. And the better you followed, the better student you were considered, rewarded and valuable to have around and near.

I guess I’m sharing this thought because I’ve watched so many sangha members dismiss Mipham in the last couple of years. And in so doing they are side stepping the abuse that all of his students endured BECAUSE they were his students committed to his view. A type of betrayal that those who weren’t his students cannot know because they didn’t commit to him or put their faith in him in the same way if at all. It makes me think that people who weren’t Mipham’s students, who didn’t take that vow with him cannot possibly understand the same betrayal or advise his students because they weren’t viewing him or their paths in the same way. And it seems a lot of the “schisms” I have witnessed — schisming between old Trungpa students (some now with other teachers) or don’t-need-a-guru/king-to-do-Shambhala types and Mipham’s Vajrayana students ride on this difference.

Maybe others feel differently, but part of the betrayal I’ve been feeling from community members (or ex members) is definitely from those trampling over and bypassing the particular betrayal many of Mipham’s Vajrayana students (even if they are no longer his students) have been experiencing. Some old Trungpa students are even doing happy dances he’s been outed but don’t care about his students’ suffering. A lot of, I told you so mentality. But the fact is, we were groomed to take a vow to Mipham’s vision of enlightened society — not yours. It’s no wonder some of us don’t want anything to do with Buddhism anymore — our teacher who we took the highest vows with to do as he said betrayed our trust and the sangha celebrated his misconduct being outed by throwing him under the bus and trying to keep the ship afloat without really relating to what the tradition has done to our lives. Basically, traumatized us by eroding the deepest trust and ab/using our vulnerabilities, showed us the hollowness of all we committed to in this so called tradition, that community doesn’t care about the individuals within it to the point they make it impossible to stay, that friends and family will choose religion or keeping “cool” jargon and unconventional identities or romantic memories of childhood from their upbringings over having each others’ backs.

In a forum elsewhere someone recently said something to the effect of, clergy sexual misconduct is a very bad thing and I take it very seriously and am so sorry, but please don’t take it out on the dharma or Buddhism — I want to keep my own goodies going because the thing that hurt you only hurt you, not me. If that’s really the Buddhist approach or view of relating to ones own and others’ suffering, then why would anyone abused and taken advantage of by mipham and the Shambhala community ever want to hear Buddhist words ever again? Sometimes it’s hard to tolerate your tolerance for Shambhala and your complete inability to see what it’s done to people let alone care. Your comments that you believe are more to the point than Mipham’s because you know best or it works for you, that you have the true or right version, know the point of everyone’s life, suffering and Buddhism are completely a turn off. The arrogance and self-centeredness of people wanting Shambhala to continue sans Mipham (especially those who haven’t even admitted to and related to his betrayal of his students) continues to appall me. If you are taking on the ship, you’re responsible for the harm it caused — doesn’t matter if mipham is king or not.
Site Admin
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Wed Oct 09, 2019 4:01 am

“No Secrets in the Village”: An Open Letter on Abuse in Dharma Ocean
by Andrew Merz, MDiv; Masha Mikulinsky, MA, LPC; Natan Cohen; Florence Gray; Diana Goetsch; Sean McNamara; Kara Deyle; A.B.
October 7, 2019

To whom it may concern,

This open letter discloses longstanding patterns of emotional and spiritual abuse within Dharma Ocean, the Buddhist community led by Reggie Ray. A copy of this letter has been sent to the Board of Directors of the Dharma Ocean Foundation.

The signers of this letter are former senior students, meditation instructors, dharma teachers, and key staff members within the Dharma Ocean organization. Many of us were involved with Dharma Ocean for at least a decade. The roles we held within Dharma Ocean gave us a great deal of direct and often near-daily access to Reggie Ray as well as to the inner workings of Dharma Ocean. Over the span of several years, most of us interacted with Reggie directly through formal staff roles during numerous intensive retreats up to a month in length. Some of us worked for months or years as paid Dharma Ocean staff members, participating in the operational functions of the organization. Most of us uprooted our lives to more closely support the vision of Buddhist practice and community that Reggie Ray presented. All of us have experienced and witnessed dynamics of emotional and spiritual abuse first-hand, and have left Dharma Ocean as a result.

This letter, while long contemplated, was finally written thanks to several courageous examples:

The letter by former Rigpa students, exposing the many abuses of Sogyal Lakar;
Buddhist Project Sunshine, which brought to light a long history of sexual misconduct, assault, and abuse of power in Shambhala International;
The open letter by a group of senior Shambhala students (also known as the Kusung Letter) that shared first-hand accounts of grave misconduct and abuse.

The patterns of abuse exposed in the latter two of these letters closely mirrors the abuse outlined in this document; Reggie Ray created Dharma Ocean in 2005 directly after leaving the Shambhala organization, where he had been a senior teacher for many years. We write in solidarity with these survivors of abuse and we thank them for their courage, determination, and selflessness in coming forward.

We want to make clear that the dynamics described here have persisted over the course of Dharma Ocean’s existence, and have continued regardless and despite the good intentions of the specific individuals holding senior leadership positions at any given time. Some of us, in our staff roles, were knowingly or unknowingly participants in activities that harmed others. We acknowledge and have struggled to come to terms with the fact that we implicitly condoned and enabled these abuses through our ongoing long-term participation in this community.

Our aim in writing this letter is to uproot systemic patterns of abuse within Dharma Ocean. One of the cardinal rules of high demand groups is for narratives exposing unethical behavior and abuse to stay within the system, effectively enabling continued abuse. Creating a public record of these experiences is thus a principal reason for writing this letter. We believe that those connected with or considering participation in Dharma Ocean should have the opportunity to be informed about the history and prevalence of abuse.

Patterns of abuse have become inextricably woven into every level of Dharma Ocean, creating a culture of fear and secrecy, and enabling sustained abuse of power from those at the top of a deliberately curated hierarchy. While Dharma Ocean has presented an image of openness to feedback, those who have risked offering feedback, however skillfully delivered, have most frequently been attacked, discredited, and blamed. For the duration of Dharma Ocean’s existence, the brunt of these attacks and gaslighting tactics has fallen most on community members already holding marginalized sociocultural locations: students who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC); Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Intersex, and Asexual (LGBIA) students; Transgender, Gender Non-Binary, Gender Non-Conforming students; women, and poor and working class people. Most of those who have attempted to give feedback or voice significant concern have been pushed out of the organization.

The forms of emotional and spiritual abuse perpetuated by Reggie Ray and, by extension, those in positions of leadership within Dharma Ocean, are commonly acknowledged as characteristic of high demand groups:

● grooming;
● love bombing new group members;
● questioning and doubt being discouraged or punished;
● public shaming of community members;
● a cycle of verbal abuse and triangulation in interpersonal communication;
● selective enforcement of rules/community norms; dissent framed in terms of spiritual immaturity/shortcomings;
● a pervasive culture of fear and paranoia;
● a charismatic leader insulated from any external accountability;
● reframing dissent or the loss of prominent members as proof of the worthiness and exceptionalism of the “in-group”;
● frequent public appraisals of other spiritual paths and communities, which were always found inferior by comparison with Dharma Ocean.
● the organization’s all-important ends justify its unethical means

Dharma Ocean’s Lies and Land Use Violation

This statement is written for Crestone residents, the Manitou Foundation, it’s land grantees, Dharma Ocean members, and other concerned parties.

During the winter of 2009/2010, I worked for Dharma Ocean Foundation (DOF) as Programs and Facilities Manager. At this time the organization was completing the planning stage of it’s new residence hall at what was then known as the Dharma Ocean Retreat Center (DORC).

The DORC, located at 2541 Carefree Way, Crestone, CO was built on land granted by the Manitou Foundation, which placed a conservation easement on the deed. In my understanding this easement was intended to protect the land from overdevelopment and overuse. One provision concerned the number of residential occupants that are allowed on a given parcel or building footprint (At this time I have been unable to procure a copy of the deed to confirm the exact wording).

Knowing that their plans for the residence hall exceeded these occupancy restrictions, Dharma Ocean leadership, including Reggie Ray and senior teacher / major donor Al Blum, commissioned blueprints that mislabelled the dorms in the basement. If I recall correctly, these cavernous rooms house up to 32 people. They are adjacent to large bathroom facilities and a kitchen. On the blueprints given to Manitou, the rooms were labeled “Storage.”

Al Blum instructed Dharma Ocean staff members, including myself, to lie to representatives of the Manitou Foundation at a meeting held to review the organization's application. When they predictably asked about the extraordinary amount of storage space on the plans, we verbally stuck to the lie that these rooms were intended for storage only.

While I cannot say whether we were believed, I walked away with the impression that we had executed a form of trickery that was careful, malicious, and quite typical for Reggie and Al.

The moment was one example of a culture of casual dishonesty, manipulation, and abuse on the part of Reggie, Al, and other Dharma Ocean leaders that I observed over several years working closely with them.

Natan Cohen
DOF Programs and Facilities Manager 2009-2010
Meditation Instructor 2009-2013
Protection Mandala 2010-2013
Member 2007-2013

The history of emotionally abusive dynamics and various forms of manipulation is well known anecdotally within the inner circles of Dharma Ocean and to many former Dharma Ocean members. A pattern of devoted students and staff members quietly leaving has existed, uninterrupted, since the beginning of Dharma Ocean. Most Dharma Ocean community members at large, however, never realize the severity of the dynamics of abuse and manipulation in the inner circle, and just how many people have suffered them and left.

As is commonplace in high demand groups, a member of the larger community could attend a number of Dharma Ocean programs and not notice the patterns described here. This is in part because of the ways systemic grooming operates, in part because abuse of power maintains plausible deniability through subtlety, and in large part because of a tremendous effort on the part of senior students to hide and shuffle responsibility for behaviors otherwise incongruent with the stated vision and principles of the organization.

Grooming within Dharma Ocean took multiple forms. When Reggie’s actions appeared to contradict the message and view he presented, Reggie would frame the incongruence in terms of a hierarchy of spiritual development. Those who were able to reconcile incongruence were deemed more spiritually advanced, as evidenced by senior student status and inclusion in Reggie’s inner circle. Newer members would naturally orient themselves to the reactions and explanations offered by senior students when making meaning of what is happening. While questioning and confusion were ostensibly welcomed, those whose concerns did not dissipate quickly enough were labeled as “too political,” “not ready yet,” unable to manage their “emotional upheavals,” or out of touch with their hearts/true nature. “Your practice just isn’t strong enough” was frequently employed by Reggie and others as a shaming and gaslighting tactic, to shut down critique and signal to others that the dissenter shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Anyone who served Reggie directly, either in program staff roles on retreat or as employees of Dharma Ocean, quickly learned that feedback is not welcomed or incorporated, even when it was explicitly requested. Loyalty and obedience are valued above all else, are constantly tested, and are taught through punishment of disloyalty. This happens in the context of teachings that reinforce an insider/outsider split: that the world desperately needs these practices and only we can deliver them, that all other approaches are inferior and lacking, and that we are special and fortunate for having found these teachings and have a responsibility to bring them to the world. The notion that we can only get this here—the truth about reality, and the spiritual practices we need to relate to it—is a core teaching in Dharma Ocean, and makes dissent and the decision to leave very difficult, if not unimaginable.

Progressive inclusion in Reggie’s inner circle was evidence of special status; many community members longed for more access to Reggie. Those who voiced criticism about him or some aspect of the organization were often swiftly (and at times unbeknownst to the person themselves) excluded from the inner circle and the program staff roles that are the testing ground for it. Fear of losing their place in the coveted inner circle often prevented members from voicing questions or criticism about behavior they witnessed.

Reggie constantly used triangulation to manipulate students, manufacturing rumors and making students doubt themselves. He would harshly criticize a student to others in a staff meeting, and then blithely say something entirely different to the student he had just defamed. It was common for Reggie to make up tidbits of information about a person and ask them about it to their face to see how they would respond. Even after someone left the community, Reggie frequently continued this behavior, for instance by feigning ignorance about why they left to that former student’s friends, asking “What ever happened to them?” or by rewriting the narrative of their involvement, saying “they were never really that devoted.”

A culture of paranoia, fear, and shame was rampant. The threat of being removed from the inner circle by Reggie without apparent or stated reason was always present. For many years Dharma Ocean maintained an unofficial “blacklist” of students whom Reggie had deemed no longer suitable to hold formal roles within the organization. The existence of the blacklist, the names on it at any given time, and any reasons for students being blacklisted was known only to select Dharma Ocean staff members and Reggie’s close confidants.

Reggie’s inner circle was exclusively people who had sufficiently proven their allegiance and who could therefore serve as effective buffers from substantial criticism within the organization, by both actively quelling others’ doubts as they arose, and by serving as an exemplar of the loyal and therefore successful student. As soon as they were unable to perform this role, or developed doubts of their own, they were demoted or cast aside, with the exception of major donors, who were generally given more leeway.

Being a self-appointed guru, Reggie faced no oversight or accountability, and his decisions in all aspects of the organization were the final word if he so chose. The Board of Directors of Dharma Ocean, for example, has consisted of Reggie’s appointees, all senior students, for the duration of the organization’s existence. When a group of senior students formed a committee to examine and address issues of Equity and Inclusion within Dharma Ocean and offered suggestions/critique he did not agree with, Reggie swiftly dismantled the group, disparaged and criticized the character, spiritual practice, and devotion of its members, and replaced all but one of the committee members with his own appointees.

Public shaming, criticism, and manipulation of staff members and students was common during intensive meditation retreats and day-to-day operations of Dharma Ocean. It was not unusual to see senior staff members in tears or actively distraught after suffering brutal verbal attacks in meetings with Reggie. Students were often afraid to comment or ask questions during programs, having witnessed the unpredictability with which kindness could turn to viciousness in Reggie’s responses. Lapses in behavior or allegiance would be framed as spiritual inadequacy or immaturity, with phrases like “they couldn’t handle the heat” and “this path isn’t for everyone” used to explain why a student may have distanced themselves, left, or been asked to leave after an episode of emotional abuse. A common refrain was that certain students were a “distraction to the container” and were thus asked to leave. Those who dared to question this view were routinely shamed and ridiculed. The implication was clear: those who could not handle the emotional abuse were not ready for the teachings. Those who stayed were the more determined and more spiritually advanced students.

In his relationships with close students, Reggie was constantly repeating a cycle: scathing verbal abuse, quickly followed by love-bombing, then distancing, and inevitably lashing out again, over often small transgressions. When a senior student would leave, having endured emotional and spiritual abuse for many years, Reggie’s narrative would often center his own feelings of betrayal and hurt, or portray calculated indifference. Having witnessed others disappear from the organization and be publicly and privately disparaged by Reggie Ray, at times even from the teacher’s seat during a retreat, most of us feared that fate. It was painfully obvious that if or when we left, whatever we did or said to him or others would be used against us for his purposes of controlling the narrative. Any attempt to counter or even discuss a narrative Reggie had formed of you, most often based on incomplete information gathered from others, would be regarded as being "dramatic," “just your ego talking,” “territorial,” or “controlling the space.”

Reggie used a striking variety of tactics to maintain control, most often at his students’ cost. One of the most pernicious was the deliberate misuse/misrepresentation of intimate information shared with him in confidence. On retreats, the explicit norm was: everything is welcome in this space; it is safe to bring forward the wounded parts of yourself to work with, the staff and teachers will support you. The implicit norm, however, was: anything that you share, especially where you’re most vulnerable, may be used against you. There was no such thing as confidential communication in the organization—all potentially relevant information, however inconsequential, made its way up the chain of command. The more dirt you had to share, the more useful you were. Driving this was an intense paranoia accompanied by an incapacity to even hear, much less consider, critical feedback. Such material was labelled “poisonous,” the result of someone “losing confidence in the situation.”

As Reggie euphemistically put it, “there are no secrets in the village.” Staff members who attempted to maintain confidentiality were inevitably coerced or cajoled into sharing what they knew about others. Reggie was known to publicly disclose incredibly intimate information about a group member when that person stepped “out of line,” even when the information had been shared with him in private under an expectation of confidentiality between teacher and student. This clear breach of the common standard of clergy confidentiality is another example of Reggie operating beyond accountability, putting himself ahead of the wellbeing of his students, and eschewing any semblance of the minimum ethical standards reasonably expected of a person in a position of spiritual authority.

The lack of accountability that applied to Reggie was mirrored by the organization’s lack of an impartial process for making or investigating a formal complaint about any community member’s conduct. The enforcement of rules and doling out of punishment was generally based on the status of Reggie’s relationships with the person perpetuating the dynamics and his esteem for the person most directly impacted. It frequently came down simply to who was more useful to him; he generally favored the person higher up in the hierarchy. It wasn’t unusual for victims who turned to leadership for support to be encouraged to focus on their own practice instead of on the abusive behavior. Rarely were steps taken to rectify or address the abusive behavior or offer support to the victim. Those impacted were often given the choice to leave, or to stay and simply endure the continued abuse.

For instance, when students in leadership positions made inappropriate sexual advances on retreat participants, which was was only eventually forbidden in a staff code of conduct, Reggie and senior leadership might playfully condone the behavior, respond with a slap on the wrist, or if necessary, publicly shame or demote the person in leadership. Certain community members, generally cis-gendered, heterosexual, white men, and others deemed most loyal and therefore useful in this system, were given de facto carte blanche to repeatedly perpetuate self serving, emotionally abusive dynamics from positions of power without any real consequences. When someone in the staff role of head chef, for instance, repeatedly verbally abused kitchen work-study folks who were only able to afford retreat by holding the work-study position, not only was the typically male head chef never removed from the role, even temporarily, but those same individuals were invited to hold that role again and again, over the course of a decade.

For those in the inner circle, who suffer the most under this abusive system, the impact is significant whether one stays or leaves the organization. Many of those who have left report an unparalleled devastation: loss of community, loss of a spiritual path and tradition, loss of worldview, loss of meaning and purpose, splintering of identity, profound betrayal by a trusted teacher, and for many a retraumatization and reenactment of abusive patterns experienced earlier in life. Those who worked for Dharma Ocean are faced with loss of income, in addition to the profound social and emotional costs. As with any abuse, the impact continues and requires tending long after one is no longer part of Dharma Ocean. Most have left silently, faced isolation as their narratives were erased from the fabric of the organization, and were left to grapple alone with the devastating aftermath of emotional and spiritual abuse in their own ways. For many of us, the draw to Dharma Ocean had come from a need and genuine inspiration to follow a spiritual path. This, of course, is precisely the vulnerability exploited by spiritual abuse.

We want to make clear that the aforementioned dynamics have persisted over the course of Dharma Ocean’s existence, and have continued regardless and despite the good intentions of the specific individuals holding senior leadership positions at any given time. Some of us, in our staff roles, were knowingly or unknowingly participants in activities that harmed others. We acknowledge and have struggled to come to terms with the fact that we implicitly condoned and enabled these abuses through our ongoing long-term participation in this community.

This letter is written in solidarity with and support of those who have who have left Dharma Ocean or other communities like it. The culture of collective amnesia and minimization regarding emotional abuse has persisted within the organization, but there are now many of us on the outside ready and able to share our experiences and support one another. This letter is additionally intended to be a formal acknowledgment and validation of the individual accounts/narratives that have increasingly begun to surface in public spaces, such as recent anonymous accounts posted on Reddit and this account of unethical business dealings.

If you have experienced spiritual and/or emotional abuse in Dharma Ocean and would like to add your name to this letter or just connect with us, please write to us at this email address:


Andrew Merz, MDiv; Reggie Ray's Personal Assistant 2012-2013; Editor for Reggie and Dharma Ocean 2012-2015; Assistant to Board Chair 2013-15; Meditation Instructor 2008-2015; Protection Mandala* staff 2011-2015; studied with Reggie 2005-2015.

Masha Mikulinsky, MA, LPC; BMRC Facilities Staff & Solitary Retreat Cabin Caretaker 2012-2013; Lead Cook 2010-2013; Meditation Instructor 2012-2015; studied wtih Reggie 2005-2015.

Natan Cohen; DOF Programs and Facilities Manager 2009-2010; Meditation Instructor 2009-2013; Protection Mandala* staff 2010-2013; studied wtih Reggie 2007-2013.

Florence Gray; Dishwasher 2006-2017; Transcript Clerk 2010-2017; studied with Reggie 2006-2017.

Diana Goetsch; Reggie Ray's editor on various projections 2009-2015; Protection Mandala staff 2010-2014; Inclusivity Mandala 2015-2017; Lead Meditation instructor at Dathun** 2015-2017; studied with Reggie 2007-2017.

Sean McNamara; Senior Teacher 2008-2015; Retreat teacher; Summer Meditation Intensive 2012, 2013, 2014; Meditation Instructor 2003-2015; Dharma Ocean Board Member 2010, 2012; Retreat Center Building Manager 2012; studied with Reggie 2000-2015.

Kara Deyle; Dharma Ocean Program Manager 2013-2016; studied wtih Reggie and held a variety of program roles including Protection Mandala and Meditaiton Instructor 2008-2016.

A.B.; Dharma Ocean Operations Manager 2009-2011; DOF Administrative Assistant 2008-2009; studied wtih Reggie 2008-2011.

* Protection Mandala describes a team of uniformed staff members during retreats who serve as close attendants to Reggie or other teachers and oversee the safety and security of a retreat and its participants, aka kusung and kasung

** A dathün is month-long intensive retreat

Links and Resources

If you have experienced abuse within Dharma Ocean and written an account that is publicly available, please be in contact with us. Relevant resources will continue to be added here.

Rigpa Letter
Project Sunshine
Kusung Letter
● A former DOF employee’s account of unethical business dealings
A Reddit thread containing multiple anonymous accounts of abuse in Dharma Ocean
Matthew Remski writes about high demand spiritual groups
Site Admin
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Fri Nov 01, 2019 7:56 am

The Buddhist Lodge

In 1903 an International Buddhist Society had been founded, following the period spent in the East by Allan Bennett, alias the "Bikkhu Ananda Metteya," who had passed into Buddhism from the magical activities of the Golden Dawn. An English Buddhist Society was formed in 1907, but by 1924 the chief association for the dissemination of Buddhist doctrine in England was the Buddhist Lodge of the Theosophical Society, founded by the eminent lawyer and judge Christmas Humphreys. In 1936 Alan Watts took over the editorship of the Buddhist Lodge's magazine, Buddhism in England, at the age of sixteen, and the same year, he published his Spirit of Zen. The father of this prodigy, L. W. Watts, was the treasurer and vice-president of the Buddhist Lodge; [30. Christmas Humphreys, Sixty Years of Buddhism in England (London, 1968), pp. 20-40. Other heroes of Kerouac -- for example, Dwight Godard, compiler of A Buddhist Bible, published in the United States in 1928 -- are also the heroes of the European Buddhists.] and Alan Watts also sat at the feet of Dmitrije Mitrinovic. In 1938 the younger Watts left for the United States and became a doctor of theology and an Anglican counselor at Northwestern University. Then he moved to San Francisco from where his influence spread first throughout the Beatnik, then throughout the hippie world. As has been rightly pointed out, [31. Theodore Roszack, The Making of a Counter-Culture (London, 1970), p. 132.] it is more the influence of Watts than the more learned message of the leading Zen authority for the West, D. T. Suzuki -- whose second wife was American -- that has been responsible for spreading Zen ideas. Watts by no means confined himself to Zen and was himself the modern representative of those "mediators between East and West" who first became prominent in Europe and America in the middle of the last century. [32. An additional factor in spreading consciousness of Zen in America was undoubtedly the occupation of Japan. After 1945 there was a great increase in East Asian studies, and it is interesting that Zen properly entered England after the Second World War, when Christmas Humphreys -- who had been sent as a counsel to the War Crimes Trials in Tokyo -- visited Suzuki. It is symptomatic of the close links between the Occult Revival and the coming of Zen to the West that at the time of his trip Humphreys was preparing a new edition of the Mahatma Letters to H. P. Blavatsky, and that his journey included a visit to the headquarters of the Theosophical Society at Adyar near Madras. See Humphreys, Via Tokyo (London, 1948).]

-- The Occult Establishment, by James Webb

The Buddhist Society had been founded in 1924 as the Buddhist Lodge of the Theosophical Society, from which it separated two years later as a result of the Krishnamurti debacle, and members and friends would soon be celebrating its fortieth anniversary. Christmas Humphreys, the President (‘Toby’ to his intimates within the Society), was Britain’s best-known Buddhist and his best-selling Pelican Buddhism had probably introduced more people to the Buddha and his teachings than had any other book since the publication of Sir Edwin Arnold’s The Light of Asia in 1879. Perhaps because of its origins in the Theosophical movement, and Humphreys’ personal sympathies (he believed Buddhism and Theosophy to be complementary), the Buddhist Society’s approach to the Buddha-Dharma was not sectarian but ecumenical. Besides running its own classes and holding the Summer School, it provided a platform for visiting Buddhist teachers of all traditions, and was the central body to which what London-based Buddhists called ‘the provincial groups’ were loosely affiliated. Since the appearance of Dr D.T. Suzuki’s writings in the fifties, Christmas Humphreys’ special interest within the field of Buddhism had been Zen, and his ‘Zen class’ (the scare quotes indicate its admittedly non-traditional status) was in effect the Buddhist Society’s equivalent of the Theosophical Society’s esoteric section. Other members of the society had a special interest in the Theravãda and it was one of these who, as the Bhikkhu Kapilavaddho (formerly William Purfurst), had in 1956 been mainly responsible for forming the [English] Sangha Trust and, I think, the Sangha Association, with the object of creating in Great Britain a monastic community for Westerners.

-- Moving Against the Stream: The Birth of a new Buddhist Movement, by Sangharakshita [Dennis Lingwood]

A.C. March, a Founding Member of the Buddhist Society and the creator of its Journal, now The Middle Way.

Buddhist Lodge Monthly Bulletin, edited by A.C. March, 1925-1926

-- Issei Buddhism in the Americas, edited by Duncan Ryuken Williams, Tomoe Moriya

"An Analysis of the Pali Canon" was originally the work of A.C. March, the founder-editor of "Buddhism in England" (from 1943, The Middle Way), the quarterly journal of The Buddhist Lodge (now The Buddhist Society, London). It appeared in the issues for Volume 3 and was later offprinted as a pamphlet. Finally, after extensive revision by I.B. Horner (the late President of the Pali Text Society) and Jack Austin, it appeared as an integral part of "A Buddhist Student's Manual," published in 1956 by The Buddhist Society to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of its founding.

-- An Analysis of the Pali Canon and a Reference Table of Pali Literature, by Russell Webb, Bhikkhu Nyanatusita

A.C. March (1929), "Comment on Ananda Metteya's Article," BE, 4(6), p. 130.

-- Men, Masculinities and Religious Change in Twentieth-Century Britain, edited by L. Delap, S. Morgan

Taixu, then thirty-nine years old, returned to China from the United States in late April 1929, arriving in Shanghai feeling rather optimistic about the future of his program of modernization and reform. He was encouraged by the response that he had received in the West to his plans for a World Buddhist Institute and to his call for greater cooperation among Buddhists around the globe, and obviously pleased that many had recognized him as a religious leader with both a vision for the modern reformation of Buddhism and a realistic plan for carrying it out. A.C. March, of the Buddhist Lodge of London, had concluded, for example, that "Taixu is a very practical man. He is no dreamer.... Now that China has definitely entered the work of establishing Buddhism throughout the world as a universal religion, we may expect great results to follow."

-- Toward a Modern Chinese buddhism: Taixu's Reforms, by Don Alvin Pittman

The same year, Humphreys founded the London Buddhist Lodge, which later changed its name to the Buddhist Society.[1] The impetus for founding the Lodge came from theosophists with whom Humphreys socialised. Both at his home and at the lodge, he played host for eminent spiritual authors such as Nicholas Roerich and Dr Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, and for prominent Theosophists like Alice Bailey and far Eastern Buddhist authorities like D.T. Suzuki. Other regular visitors in the 1930s were the Russian singer Vladimir Rosing and the young philosopher Alan Watts,[3] and in 1931 Humphreys met the spiritual teacher Meher Baba.[4] The Buddhist Society of London is one of the oldest Buddhist organisations outside Asia.

-- Christmas Humphreys, by Wikipedia

Buddhist Society in England (was the Buddhist lodge of the Theosophical Society), was founded by the most famous and influential of Western Buddhists, Christmas Humphreys (see Christmas Humphreys), who was a member of the Theosophical Society early in his life and who wrote appreciatively about H.P. Blavatsky to the end of his life.

-- Famous People and the impact of the Theosophical Society: Inventory of the influence of the Theosophical Society, by Katinka Hesselink

Resources for Buddhist Lodge (London, England).
Buddhism in England
Buddhist Lodge (London England)
Periodical: 1926-1943

Buddhism and the Buddhist movement to-day: an explanatory booklet compiled for the benefit of enquirers / compiled by the Buddhist Lodge, London
Buddhist Lodge (London, England)
[Book: 1930]

Concentration and meditation: a manual of mind development
Buddhist Lodge (London, England)
[Book: 1935 ]

What is Buddhism? : an answer from the Western point of view / compiled by the Buddhist Lodge, London
Buddhist Lodge (London, England)
[Book: 1929-1931 ]

I heard one of the Warriors of the Lodge say once that he is sick of hearing about the Vidyadhara. Perhaps he was referring to habitual patterns of some students living in the past. Perhaps fifteen years ago, there was a point to making a sharp distinction between the past and present. But that logic no longer serves the situation. It is simply not true that we, as a community, or we, as senior students, are clinging to the Vidyadhara’s memory, instead of living in the present Dharmic norm, generally speaking, although perhaps it does occur. The problem here is not clinging to the past. The problem is competing with it.

-- Keeping Alive the Transmissions of the great Vidyadhara, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, by Bill Karelis

Whoever set up that secret society Lodge business (Rome?) made a HUGE error. Set the whole thing back by decades. .....

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

When I wasn’t with CTR, I was completing my tasks as a nanny. And I was introduced to the Shambhala lodge with a party in my honor.

-- The first time I met His Majesty Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, by Leslie Hays

Scorpion Seal Authorization

This text is restricted to practitioners who have attended a Scorpion Seal Assembly or have been a Shambhala Lodge member prior to 1990. Please state the date and location where you attended SSA1 or received Lodge transmission.

-- Scorpion Seal of the Golden Sun, by Nalanda Translation

In 1975, Shambhala Lodge was founded, by a group of students dedicated to fostering enlightened society.

-- Shambhala Buddhism, by WikiMili

1975: Forms the organization that will become the Shambhala Lodge, a group of students dedicated to fostering enlightened society. Founds the Nalanda Translation Committee for the translation of Buddhist texts from Tibetan and Sanskrit. Establishes Ashoka Credit Union.

-- Chögyam Trungpa, by Wikipedia

The Council of Warriors and its Warrior General Martin Janowitz were empowered by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche in 1997 with the mission of re-energizing Shambhala’s world-wide commitment to realize enlightened societies in Nova Scotia and beyond and to promote the essential practices of Shambhala. The Halifax Kalapa Shambhala Society was initially formed as the Shambhala Lodge during the epoch of the Druk Sakyong, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. The Society included all Halifax practitioners who had received the authorizations to attend Kalapa Assemblies and to practice the Werma Sadhana and most recently was led by Warriors of the Centre Bob Vogler and Marguerite Drescher. As part of the transition to Shambhala’s current pattern of governance the Council of Warriors, worldwide ‘Lodges’ and Warriors of Centers were retired.

-- Windows!, by

Acharya Janowitz became a student of the Druk Sakyong (Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche) in 1970. He taught a wide array of programs and co-designed the first teacher training course. He was among a pilot group of Shambhala Training Directors. He traveled widely with the Druk Sakyong for many years and was named Kusung Dapon — senior Kusung (Court Protector) responsible for oversight of the personal guardian attendants of the Mukpo family, the Vajra Regent and his family, and the Kalapa Court. In 1997 he was appointed Warrior General of Shambhala by the Sakyong a position he held until 2010. The Warrior General is responsible for the leadership of the Council of Warriors, Warriors Centres and Kalapa Lodges worldwide. Acharya Janowitz is a member of Shambhala’s Touching the Earth Working Group and has developed Spirituality and Sustainability dharma programs. He was the founding Treasurer of Ashoka Credit Union. He was also founding Executive Director of Naropa Institute (now University) as well as a founding member of the Naropa Board of Trustees. Acharya Janowitz was Chair of the Board from 2000 to 2012. He has worked on numerous environmental sustainability and alternative energy development initiatives and is currently Chair of the Nova Scotia Roundtable on Environment and Sustainable Prosperity. He is also the Chair of The Authentic Leadership in Action Institute, or ALIA (formerly the Shambhala Institute) and Vice President and Practice Leader for Sustainable Development for Stantec Consulting. Stantec focuses on community sustainability, climate change adaptation, corporate social responsibility, sustainable infrastructure and strategic sustainability performance. He is a member of the Halifax Strategic Urban Partnership Core Leadership Group, Envision Nova Scotia Steering Committee, and Buddhist Climate Change Initiative.

-- Acharya Martin Janowitz, by

The following is part of a talk given by the Dorje Dradül to members of the Shambhala Lodge in January of 1979:

“... Also in our kingdom, we might have a percentage of citizens or subjects who might be Christians or Jews in their own right, and of their own faith. And it is necessary for them to take Shambhala Training as we run our country, and beyond that, they will find their own religious conviction of becoming true and good Christians or good Jews, speaking Hebrew perfectly. We should try to institute that particular approach. People of any faith that come along to our kingdom would practice their own discipline. Their theism has no problem if there is any contemplative discipline of their theism.

“So you are not taking this oath just to make people into Buddhists, but you are taking this oath so that you can afford to be beyond Buddhism. That's why we call it Shambhala. The oath water that you are going to drink is the water of greater vision.”

-- Shambhala Guide Resource Manual: A Resource for Directors, Students, and Centre Administrators


"Buddhism as Theosophy," Excerpt from Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West: Orientalism, Occidentalism, and the Columbian Exposition
by Judith Snodgrass

Buddhism as Theosophy

Olcott had originally accepted the invitation to Ceylon as an opportunity to establish branches of the Theosophical Society. Once he became involved in local issues, however, the promotion of Buddhist reform took priority and he declared that the Theosophical Society in Ceylon would be "devoted to all matters concerning Buddhism and would be the means of spreading Buddhist propaganda."22 The non-Theosophical nature of the society in Ceylon was underlined by the formation of a small and entirely separate "Lanka Theosophical Society composed of Freethinkers and amateurs of occult research."23

Similarly, although the invitation to tour Japan included the inducement of forming Japanese branches of the Theosophical Society, the one local branch of the society created with "Hongwanji officials for officers" was, as even Olcott observed, a mere formality; it "never did any practical work as such."24 By the time of his visit to Japan Olcott had become occupied with the idea of uniting the various Buddhists of the world, creating a united front against Christianity, and a common platform from which to proselytize. This was to be achieved through the Buddhist Division of the Theosophical Society, led by Olcott himself, "for it goes without saying that it can never be effected by any existing organization known as a Buddhistic agency."25 By the end of his first tour of Japan, Olcott was so enthusiastic about the plan that he considered resigning from the Theosophical movement to devote himself entirely to building up "an International Buddhistic League that might send the Dharma like a tidal wave around the world." Nothing eventuated from this idea because it was opposed by both Madame Blavatsky and "a far higher personage than she."26

Olcott's personal ambition for his visit to Japan was to initiate this movement by uniting Southern and Northern Buddhists, and to this end he carried a letter in Sanskrit from Sumangala, representing Theravada Buddhists, to the chief priests of Japanese Buddhism expressing the hope that the Buddhists of Asia would unite for the good of the whole Eastern world.27 As Olcott informed the gathering of the heads of the Eight Buddhist Sects of Japan: "My mission is not to propagate the peculiar doctrines of anyone sect but to unite you in one sacred undertaking."28 While Meiji Buddhist reformers were similarly committed to a united, nonsectarian platform, their goal was a union of Japanese Buddhist sects. Any vision they might have held of union between Mahayana and Theravada Buddhists was not to be achieved by reduction to a lowest common denominator, as Olcott proposed, but by encompassing the Theravada within the ultimate truth of Japanese Mahayana.

Why did Olcott wish to promote Buddhist unity? One reason was that he was opposed to the Christian missionary effort in Asia and believed that only by banding together could Buddhists be strong enough to compete with the Christians and counter the immense strength and wealth of the Christians with their Bible, tract, Sunday school, and missionary societies.29 Another reason was his Theosophical interpretation of Buddhism, which saw the Buddha as one of the Adepts and equated his teaching with Theosophy, the occult science that lay at the root of all true knowledge.30 Olcott's own account of taking Buddhist vows in Ceylon shows that he rejected all existing Buddhist practice: "[T]o be a regular Buddhist is one thing, and to be a debased modern Buddhist sectarian is quite another." He also claimed the greatest possible freedom for personal interpretation: "[ i]f Buddhism contained a single dogma that we were compelled to accept, we would not have taken the pansil nor remained Buddhists ten minutes."31 Olcott's public avowal of "Buddhism" was for him simply a statement of his commitment to Theosophy.32 "Our Buddhism was that of the Master-Adept Gautama Buddha, which was identically the Wisdom Religion of the Aryan Upanishads, and the soul of all the ancient world-faiths."33

Consequently, although Olcott's interpretation of Buddhism, like that of Pali scholars, denied the legitimacy of contemporary Buddhists whose practices he regarded as degenerations from the original teachings of the Master-Adept, it diverged significantly in other respects. It did not privilege Theravada Buddhism over the later Mahayana Buddhism, for it was here that he most readily found the "Mahatmas" and the "siddhis" of Theosophy. He also accepted the doctrine of the succession of Buddhas, the teaching that Sakyamuni was one in a line of Buddhas that are born in this world to revive the perennial dharma. This doctrine, though found in the earliest Pali sutras, was typically dismissed as "priestly elaboration" because it conflicted with the historical view that Buddhism was founded by Sakyamuni. It did, however, conform to the Theosophical account of the Adepts, conveniently providing Madame Blavatsky's "pre-Vedic Buddhism."

Olcott's Buddhist publications borrowed freely from the sources of both Northern and Southern Buddhism to support his Theosophical mission. The Golden Rules of Buddhism (1887) contained a chapter called "Adeptship a Fact" -- an overt appropriation of Buddhism to the cause of Theosophy -- that depended on selected passages from Chinese Buddhist texts.34 These liberties did not go unnoticed. Olcott's first publication on the subject was The Buddhist Catechism (1881), a Buddhist version of those "elementary handbooks so effectively used among Western Christian sects."35 It was intended for use in Buddhist schools and Sunday schools, to protest against and substitute for the Christian Bible tracts used to teach English in Sinhalese schools. The Buddhist Catechism incorporated Buddhist "legitimation" of concepts of Theosophical interest such as auras, hypnotism and mesmerism, the capacity for occult powers, and displays of phenomena.36 Apart from such dubious additions, it was a gross simplification of the doctrine and caused considerable uneasiness among the monks who supervised its production. Olcott commented that it would not have been published if he were Asian, but "knowing something of the bull-dog pertinacity of the Anglo-Saxon character, and holding me in real personal affection, they finally succumbed to my importunity."37 Even with these concessions, an impasse over the definition of nirvana almost aborted the project. Olcott attempted to suggest the "survival of some sort of 'subjective entity' in that state of existence," claiming that this was the view of Northern Buddhists, but "the two erudite critics caught me up at the first glance at the paragraph."38 On this occasion Olcott reluctantly modified his entry. He did nevertheless manage to produce in the Catechism a version of Buddhism that supported and propagated his Theosophical beliefs, and this anecdote-suggesting as it does that the work was produced under the strict supervision of specialists -- claimed authentication for it as an accurate interpretation of Buddhism.

Although the Catechism served its immediate political purpose and survived through multiple editions in several languages, Olcott's erstwhile patron Mohottivatte began composing his own catechism in 1887, explaining specifically the need to reassert the true doctrines of Buddhism against the false teachings many Western sympathizers had begun to incorporate into the religion.39 Since this incident occurred before Olcott's trip to Japan, the invitation was presumably offered in the knowledge of the shortcomings of Olcott's mastery of Buddhism.

Because he perceived a relation between Northern Buddhism and Theosophy, Olcott was predisposed to discovering Theosophy in Japanese sects. "It is averred ... that the Shingons are the esoteric Buddhists of the country. They know of the Mahatmas, the Siddhis (spiritual powers in man), and quite readily admit that there were priests in their order who exercised them."40 "Esoteric" here refers not to the Japanese Buddhist technical term mikkyo but to the Theosophical use of the word as it appeared in Sinnett's Esoteric Buddhism, published in 1883, a sense specifically denied by Japanese Buddhist priests.41 Olcott's comment that Fenollosa and Bigelow's "Guru," presumably the Tendai master from Miidera, was "a mystic and partial adept (they say)"42 reveals both his expectations of Mahayana Buddhism and his skepticism that a Japanese Buddhist priest could have such powers. His skepticism was also apparent in his disparagement of Japanese paintings of Rakan (Sanskrit arhat, Buddhist sages). To Olcott they were mere "caricatures ... of Mahatmas."43 Japanese Buddhism was, after all, "debased modern sectarian Buddhism" and was to be measured against Theosophy, which was for him "regular Buddhism."

Japanese disdain for Olcott's understanding of Buddhism became apparent in 1891 when he returned to Japan with the draft of the pamphlet Fundamental Buddhistic Beliefs. This was a grossly simplistic reduction of Buddhism to a mere fourteen points "upon which all Buddhists could agree," which Olcott intended to use as the platform for the proposed International Buddhistic League. Like the Catechism, it presented Buddhism at the level of sophistication of a Sunday school tract. Olcott, misinterpreting the courtesy shown him on his previous tour, had expected his document to be signed by all the leading abbots, the promoters and supporters of his first visit. To his disappointment, the Japanese refused to sign "these condensed bits of doctrine," complaining that "there was infinitely more than that in the Mahayana."44 He persuaded one member of the committee to sign by arguing the vital necessity of the Northern and Southern churches offering a united front to a hostile world. However, even this endorsement appears with the qualification that the fourteen points are "accepted as included within the body of Northern Buddhism" as "a basket of soil is to Mt. Fuji," an attempt to avoid the implication that the extract represented the essence of Buddhism.45 A partial understanding of Buddhism was acceptable, even commendable, coming from a sympathetic Westerner. It could not, however, be endorsed as institutionally accepted truth, even as a political expedient.

Olcott did eventually manage to obtain signatures from representatives of most of the sects, if not at the level of authority he had expected. Among the Japanese names are those of Kazen Gunaratna and Tokuzawa Chieza, for example, two young priests sent to Ceylon to study Pali. They had no institutional authority and were guests at Adyar at the time. One sect that is not represented is the Jadoshinshu, from which came the principal benefactors of his earlier tour and, incidentally, the official, if inactive, representatives of the local branch of the Buddhist Theosophical Society formed in 1889. Olcott, upset at this rejection, fell back behind the defense of Western scholarship and its model of Original Buddhism as the ascetic, world-rejecting, and egalitarian teaching of the historical Sakyamuni. On his first visit he had favorably characterized the Jadoshinshu as "the Lutherans of Japan."46 After the rejection, he wrote that they occupied "an entirely anomalous position in Buddhism, as their priests marry-in direct violation of the rule established by the Buddha for his Sangha" (that is, they were not ascetic). They were "the cleverest sectarian managers in all Japan" (not otherworldly), and "the most aristocratic religious body in the empire" (not egalitarian).47 Olcott, the "champion of Buddhism," exploited the versatility of the Orientalist stereotype against modern Buddhists. Those who conformed to it were criticized for not meeting the needs of the modern world. Those who did meet the needs of the world were simply not real Buddhists and could be criticized for failing to uphold the ideals.
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Mon Dec 09, 2019 2:35 am

Cult of personality
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 12/8/19

Soviet poster featuring Stalin, Soviet Azerbaijan, 1938

A cult of personality, or cult of the leader,[1] arises when a country's regime – or, more rarely, an individual – uses the techniques of mass media, propaganda, the big lie, spectacle, the arts, patriotism, and government-organized demonstrations and rallies to create an idealized, heroic, and worshipful image of a leader, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. A cult of personality is similar to apotheosis, except that it is established by modern social engineering techniques, usually by the state or the party in one-party states and dominant-party states. It is often seen in totalitarian or authoritarian countries.

The term came to prominence in 1956, in Nikita Khrushchev's secret speech On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences, given on the final day of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In the speech, Khrushchev, who was the First Secretary of the Communist Party – in effect, the leader of the country – criticized the lionization and idealization of Joseph Stalin, and by implication, his Communist contemporary Mao Zedong, as being contrary to Marxist doctrine. The speech was later made public and was part of the "de-Stalinization" process the Soviet Union went through.


Augustus of Prima Porta, 1st century AD

See also: Imperial cult

The Imperial cult of ancient Rome identified emperors and some members of their families with the divinely sanctioned authority (auctoritas) of the Roman State. Throughout history, monarchs and other heads of state were often held in enormous reverence and imputed super-human qualities. Through the principle of the divine right of kings, in medieval Europe for example, rulers were said to hold office by the will of God. Ancient Egypt, Imperial Japan, the Inca, the Aztecs, Tibet, Siam (now Thailand), and the Roman Empire are especially noted for redefining monarchs as "god-kings".

North Koreans bowing in front of the statues of Kim Il-sung (left) and Kim Jong-il at the Mansudae Grand Monument

The spread of democratic and secular ideas in Europe and North America in the 18th and 19th centuries made it increasingly difficult for monarchs to preserve this aura. However, the subsequent development of mass media, such as radio, enabled political leaders to project a positive image of themselves onto the masses as never before. It was from these circumstances in the 20th century that the most notorious personality cults arose. Often these cults are a form of political religion.[2]

The term "cult of personality" probably appeared in English around 1800–1850, along with the French and German use.[3] At first it had no political connotations but was instead closely related to the Romantic "cult of genius".[3] The political use of the phrase came first in a letter from Karl Marx to German political worker, Wilhelm Blos, 10 November 1877:[3]

American Presidents at Mount Rushmore Monument

Neither of us cares a straw of popularity. Let me cite one proof of this: such was my aversion to the personality cult [orig. Personenkultus] that at the time of the International, when plagued by numerous moves [...] to accord me public honor, I never allowed one of these to enter the domain of publicity [...][3][4]


There are various views about what constitutes a cult of personality in a leader. Historian Jan Plamper has written that modern-day personality cults display five characteristics that set them apart from "their predecessors": The cults are secular and "anchored in popular sovereignty"; their objects are all males; they target the entire population, not only the well-to-do or just the ruling class; they use mass media; and they exist where the mass media can be controlled enough to inhibit the introduction of "rival cults".[5]

In his 2013 paper, "What is character and why it really does matter", Thomas A. Wright states, "The cult of personality phenomenon refers to the idealized, even god-like, public image of an individual consciously shaped and molded through constant propaganda and media exposure. As a result, one is able to manipulate others based entirely on the influence of public personality...the cult of personality perspective focuses on the often shallow, external images that many public figures cultivate to create an idealized and heroic image."[6]

Adrian Teodor Popan defines cult of personality as a "quantitatively exaggerated and qualitatively extravagant public demonstration of praise of the leader". He also identifies three causal "necessary, but not sufficient, structural conditions, and a path dependent chain of events which, together, lead to the cult formation: a particular combination of patrimonialism and clientelism, lack of dissidence, and systematic falsification pervading the society’s culture."[7][8]

The role of mass media

The mass media have played an instrumental role in forging national leaders' cults of personality.

Thomas A. Wright in 2013 reported that "It is becoming evident that the charismatic leader, especially in politics, has increasingly become the product of media and self-exposure."[6] And, focusing on the media in the United States, Robert N. Bellah adds that, "It is hard to determine the extent to which the media reflect the cult of personality in American politics and to what extent they have created it. Surely they did not create it all alone, but just as surely they have contributed to it. In any case, American politics is dominated by the personalities of political leaders to an extent rare in the modern the personalised politics of recent years the "charisma" of the leader may be almost entirely a product of media exposure."[9]


Often, a single leader became associated with this revolutionary transformation and came to be treated as a benevolent "guide" for the nation without whom the transformation to a better future could not occur. This has been generally the justification for personality cults that arose in totalitarian societies, such as those of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong. The admiration for Mao Zedong has remained widespread in China. In December 2013, a Global Times poll revealed that over 85% of Chinese viewed Mao in a positive light.[10] Jan Plamper argues while Napoleon III made some innovations it was Benito Mussolini in Italy in the 1920s who originated the model of dictator-as-cult-figure that was emulated by Hitler, Stalin and the others, using the propaganda powers of a totalitarian state.[11]

Pierre du Bois argues that the Stalin cult was elaborately constructed to legitimize his rule. Many deliberate distortions and falsehoods were used.[12] The Kremlin refused access to archival records that might reveal the truth, and key documents were destroyed. Photographs were altered and documents were invented.[13] People who knew Stalin were forced to provide "official" accounts to meet the ideological demands of the cult, especially as Stalin himself presented it in 1938 in Short Course on the History of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks), which became the official history.[14]

Historian David L. Hoffmann states "The Stalin cult was a central element of Stalinism, and as such it was one of the most salient features of Soviet rule...Many scholars of Stalinism cite the cult as integral to Stalin's power or as evidence of Stalin's megalomania."[15]

In Latin America, Cas Mudde and Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser link the "cult of the leader" to the concept of the caudillo, a strong leader "who exercises a power that is independent of any office and free of any constraint." These populist strongmen are portrayed as "masculine and potentially violent" and enhance their authority through the use of the cult of personality. Mudde and Kaltwasser trace the linkage back to Juan Peron of Argentina.[1]

In popular culture

• The American band Living Colour won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1990 for their song "Cult of Personality".[16] The song includes references to Mahatma Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, Benito Mussolini, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin, and Malcolm X.

See also

• Authoritarianism
• Big lie
• Bread and circuses
• Celebrity worship syndrome
• Charisma
• Charismatic authority – Max Weber's concept
• Dictatorship
• Great man theory
• Imperial cult
• Imperial cult of ancient Rome
• Leaderism
• Lèse-majesté
• Narcissistic leadership
• Propaganda
• Strongman (politics)
• Supreme leader
• Sycophancy
• Totalitarianism
• Erdoğanism
• Putinism



1. Mudde, Cas and Kaltwasser, Cristóbal Rovira (2017) Populism: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press. p.63. ISBN 978-0-19-023487-4
2. Plamper (2012), pp.13–14
3. Heller, Klaus (2004). Personality Cults in Stalinism. Isd. pp. 23–33. ISBN 978-3-89971-191-2.
4. Blos, Wilhelm. "Brief von Karl Marx an Wilhelm Blos". Denkwürdigkeiten eines Sozialdemokraten. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
5. Plamper (2012), p.222
6. Wright, Thomas A.; Lauer, Tyler L. (2013). "What is character and why it really does matter". Fordham University: Business Faculty Publications. 2: 29. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
7. See Popan, Adrian Teodor (2015) The ABC of Sycophancy. Structural Conditions for the Emergence of Dictators’ Cults of Personality (PhD dissertation, University of Texas). Bibliography pp.196–213.
8. Popan, Adrian Teodor (August 2015). "The ABC of sycophancy : structural conditions for the emergence of dictators' cults of personality" (PDF). University of Texas at Austin. doi:10.15781/T2J960G15. hdl:2152/46763.
9. Bellah, Robert N. (1986). "The Meaning of Reputation in American Society". California Law Review. 74 (3): 747. doi:10.15779/Z386730. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
10. Staff (23 December 2013). "Mao's achievements 'outweigh' mistakes: poll". al-Jazeera.
11. Plamper (2012), pp.4,12-14
12. du Bois, Pierre (1984). "Stalin – Genesis of a Myth". Survey. A Journal of East & West Studies. 28 (1): 166–181. See abstract in David R. Egan; Melinda A. Egan (2007). Joseph Stalin: An Annotated Bibliography of English-Language Periodical Literature to 2005. Scarecrow Press. p. 157. ISBN 9780810866713.
13. Strong, Carol; Killingsworth, Matt (2011). "Stalin the Charismatic Leader?: Explaining the 'Cult of Personality' as a legitimation technique". Politics, Religion & Ideology. 12 (4): 391–411.
14. Maslov, N. N. (1989). "Short Course of the History of the All-Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik)—An Encyclopedia of Stalin's Personality Cult". Soviet Studies in History. 28 (3): 41–68.
15. Hoffmann, David L. (2013). "The Stalin Cult". The Historian. 75 (4): 909.
16. Here's List of Nominees from all 77 Categories. The Deseret News. Salt Lake City, Utah. 12 January 1990. page W7. Accessed 8 August 2017.


• Plamper, Jan (2012) The Stalin Cult: A Study in the Alchemy of Power. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press ISBN 9780300169522
Further reading
• Apor, B. (2004). The leader cult in communist dictatorships : Stalin and the Eastern Bloc. London: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1403934437.
• Apor, Balázs; Behrends, Jan C.; Jones, Polly; and Rees, E. A. (2004) eds. The Leader Cult in Communist Dictatorships: Stalin and the Eastern Bloc. London: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1403934436.
• Heller, Klaus and Plamper, Jan eds. (2004) Personality Cults in Stalinism/Personenkulte im Stalinismus. Göttingen: V&R Unipress. ISBN 3899711912. . 472 pp
• Cohen, Yves (2007). "The cult of number one in an age of leaders" (PDF). Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History. 8 (3): 597–634. Retrieved 7 September 2018.[permanent dead link]
• Gill, Graeme (1984). "Personality cult, political culture and party structure". Studies in Comparative Communism. 17 (2): 111–121.
• Melograni, Piero (1976). "The Cult of the Duce in Mussolini's Italy" (PDF). Journal of Contemporary History. 11 (4): 221–237. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
• Morgan, Kevin (2017) International Communism and the Cult of the Individual Leaders, Tribunes and Martyrs under Lenin and Stalin. London: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781349953370
• Paltiel, Jeremy (1983). "The Cult of Personality: Some Comparative Reflections on Political Culture in Leninist Regimes". Studies in Comparative Communism'. 16: 49–64.
• Petrone, Karen (2004) "Cult of Personality" in Millar, J. R. ed. Encyclopedia of Russian History, v.1, pp. 348–350
• Polese, Abel; Horák, Slavomir (2015). "A tale of two presidents: personality cult and symbolic nation-building in Turkmenistan". Nationalities Papers. 43 (3): 457–478.
• Rutland, P. (2011) "Cult of Personality" i. Kurian, G. T. ed, The Encyclopedia of Political Science. Washington. D.C.: CQ Press. v.1, p 365
• Tucker, Robert C. (1979). "The Rise of Stalin's Personality Cult" (PDF). American Historical Review. 84 (2): 347–366. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
• Vassilev, Rossen (2008) "Cult of Personality" in Darity, W. A,/, Jr. ed. International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences.

External links

• Why Dictators Love Kitsch by Eric Gibson, The Wall Street Journal, August 10, 2009


Beware of the ‘Cult of Personality’
by Tracy Vanderneck
August 16, 2017

The term “cult of personality” tends to conjure dramatic images of political or religious leaders influencing the masses. It seems grandiose and powerful. Cult of personality has varied definitions, but they all basically boil down to this: The situation that arises when an individual person gains intense loyalty from a group of people from the sheer force of his or her personality. Sometimes it is choreographed and uses tools such as the media to sway people to willingly step inside the person’s sphere of influence. Other times it is a slower, more subtle and possibly even unintentional ascent.

Cult of personality may often be used to describe political situations, but it is easily transferable to the entertainment industry (think Oprah) and to corporate culture. Look at Steve Jobs, walking on stage at company meetings in his trademark black turtleneck. Jobs had a reputation for being a bit off-kilter, but because of his brilliance in business and invention, he gained a following of people that would likely stick a fork in a light socket if they read somewhere that Steve Jobs thought this would make them be able to create better tech. As communication channels broaden and news streams 24-hours a day, it gets easier for people at every level elevate their personal brand.

Social movements and the nonprofit arena are not immune from this phenomenon. In the nonprofit arena, cult of personality tends to show itself in two main forms:

1. The first is similar to everything described above. The person gains a following as a leader of a movement. An example of this could be Joel Osteen’s following of religious believers. His followers have the conviction of the faithful and will accept his words as decrees from God.Another example would be the four co-chairs of the Women’s March on Washington: Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez and Bob Bland. The Women’s March on Washington was a quickly organized movement, with a deliberate set of planned goals and outcomes. The co-chairs rose to cult status when the march went global and included millions of people. It was a cause that needed leaders.

Joel Osteen and the Women’s March on Washington are both larger-than-life examples; they are both relevant here, because the movements they are leading are nonprofit organizations or are solidly backed by many nonprofit organizations.

2. The second type of cult of personality that manifests in nonprofits tends to be on a smaller scale, but can drastically influence the impact and longevity of the organization. This type of cult-like following can sometimes happen in organizations where the executive director/CEO is either the founder or has been at the organization 8 to 10 or more years. Such longevity can be good for the organization in many ways, but it can also foster an environment where the community feels as though the leader IS the organization.As fundraisers and nonprofit professionals, we know how important it is to keep relationships with donors and the community all about the organization and the mission. This can be difficult when a staff member and a donor feel like they have become friends. It is hard sometimes for the professional to remember that their relationship with the investor/volunteer exists, because of both people’s affinity for the nonprofit.

When the founder of an organization brings their friends and connections into the inner circle of the organization, building the nonprofit’s network out from there, it ultimately gives that person an exceptional amount of control over decisions made on behalf of the organization.

An example I saw recently was an organization’s program director who was found out to have benefitted from an unethical personal deal, which was made possible as a result of his position with his nonprofit.

Instead of being appalled or outraged or calling for an investigation or audit, the supporters of the director took to social media proclaiming his virtues. Some even excused the unethical deed under the belief that since the director is such a good person, and he deserves the excess benefit he received. See the problem here? The director became synonymous with the organization in the supporters’ eyes and, when wrongdoing was uncovered, they took his side instead of looking out for the best interest of the organization.

When supporters overlook unethical behavior or even outright fraud, because they believe the nonprofit leader to be a larger-than-life personality that is the mission, we’re entering the cult of personality realm. Even a generally ethical person can, over time, become used to being treated in such exalted way that they begin to believe extra perks are okay for them because of their position.

It takes a truly strong leader to ensure such a situation does not become a reality at their organization. Establishing transparent practices, making at least some decisions based on multilateral input, projecting the organization above themselves and instituting a succession plan are all positive steps that cut down on the type of environment that creates a cult of personality. Sometimes just knowing when a leadership change is the best move for an organization can make all the difference.

Nonprofit organizations hold an important place in our society and impact our lives in every area from health care to entertainment to religion. We must let these organizations do their best work without putting their executives on pedestals that create unhealthy organizational environments.
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Wed Jun 17, 2020 11:20 pm

Leaving Shambhala
by Rebecca Jamieson
June 10, 2020


I first learned to meditate when I was twenty years old. On a warm summer evening in 2004, I walked in the door of the Shambhala Meditation Center in Madison, Wisconsin and sat cross-legged on a rectangular blue cushion. A gray-haired woman named Kathy with warm, dark eyes and a face like the full moon taught me how to cross my legs, sit still, and notice my breath. When you wander away from the present moment, just label it “thinking” and return to the breath.


Once, I slept with a man without wanting to. I got into bed with him, stayed beside his body until morning, kissed him on the lips, went quietly home, then fell to the floor crying endless tears.


That summer evening when I first learned to meditate, my dear friend Miriam came with me. We sat side by side, hands carefully placed on our thighs, the faint buzz of cicadas droning through the open windows, along with the whoosh of traffic on Baldwin Street. We had discovered Shambhala through our writing teacher Paula, who rented an office above the Center. Paula’s classes were small and women-only, a circle of five or six students sipping chamomile tea in her cozy office, moving our pens swiftly across paper, then sharing our raw, newly formed words aloud, burning with power as they hung in the listening air. The classes always began with a meditation and a short reading from Buddhist teachers like Pema Chödrön. The clear, heartfelt wisdom felt like remembering a deep truth that I had always known but forgotten. They expressed something I had been starving for: a way to understand myself, to live with meaning, purpose, and heart.

When Paula had to stop teaching due to health issues, I missed the insight and community I felt in her classes. Then one day, I noticed a sign hanging above the door of the building where Paula had taught. I had never noticed it before. The sign showed a golden sun with a halo of squiggly rays like lightning bolts. It said, “Shambhala Center of Madison.” Shambhala was Pema Chödrön’s lineage. It felt like an omen.

Miriam and I went for meditation instruction that summer evening and never looked back. Over the next fourteen years, Shambhala would become the center of our lives.


It wasn’t rape. Or not in the way we like to think about rape: she said no, he said yes. He held her down, she tried to fight him off, but he was just too strong. It was something murkier, slipperier. Something no one wanted to talk about. It was not as clean or clear cut. It was just as dangerous.


Miriam and I weren’t the only ones attracted to Shambhala. When we joined, the organization had thousands of dues-paying members worldwide and many more who were unofficially affiliated to its web of over 200 meditation centers in fifty countries. Shambhala ran four land centers, a monastery, and was also affiliated with Naropa University. A statement on Shambhala’s website reads, “Our communities around the world cultivate kindness, bravery, and genuine dialogue. Our vision is to inspire compassionate, sustainable, and just human societies.” Their mission is “Making enlightened society possible.” The first time I heard those words—enlightened society—I thought, Yes. This is what I’ve been searching for.


Everyone I told about the man was eager to put words in my mouth: a little fling, a misunderstanding between friends. Years after it happened, when stories about Shambhala were seeping out like bile, other phrases emerged: sexual misconduct, sexual assault. One person even said the word I had avoided for so long: rape. I cringed when I heard it. After all those years, did I still not understand what he’d done to me?


I was drawn to meditation because I was suffering. Still in that excruciating limbo between childhood and adulthood, I was sensitive and insecure, with only a tenuous sense of who I was or where I was going. I had always felt like an outsider. Unschooled for most of my childhood, when I finally did go to high school for a year, I was bullied and struggled to make close friends. At twenty, I was still raw and shaky from running the gauntlet of adolescence. I was desperate to find somewhere I belonged. Somewhere that felt like home.


There was never a yes, a verbal yes. I went along with him in the way that women have been trained to go along: a smile on our lips, ignoring our screaming bodies. This going along is taken as a yes. He heard yes in the absence of a clear no. For years afterward, I too thought I had said yes. Now, writing this, my body remembers. I never said that word.


After that first night of meditation at the Shambhala Center, Miriam and I were hooked. We started going weekly, then twice a week, then more, sitting for hours at a time practicing shamatha, or “peaceful abiding,” as the sitting meditation was called. We started “Shambhala Training,” the intensive path of study that can take years to complete. We joined the Center as dues-paying members, then began volunteering.

In 2006, Miriam and I took the refuge vow, the ceremony in which you officially enter the Buddhist path. We knelt in the shrine room, surrounded by our community, or sangha, waiting in vibrating silence for the teacher to begin the ceremony. I wore a floor-length black skirt, a dark, fitted blouse, and a blue silk scarf around my neck. My short, tousled hair was dyed black to cover up the blue streaks. Photos of Chögyam Trungpa and his son Sakyong Mipham beamed down at us from above the red-painted shrine. We were about to officially join this incredible lineage. Goosebumps stood out on my arms as the teacher, an elegant, silver-haired man in a crisp gray suit, began the ceremony.

When you take refuge, you’re given a name that’s meant to show an intrinsic part of your awakened nature, yet is something that you’re simultaneously aspiring towards. Mine was Sheltri Wangmo, or Crystal Sword Lady. By that time, I had already gotten a tattoo of a sun on my upper right arm. Although it was different from the “Great Eastern Sun” that represented the essence of Shambhala’s vision, it still symbolized the teachings to me. Several years later, I would get a sword on the inside of my left arm, evoking my refuge name. I wanted the teachings inked into my flesh, a constant reminder.


Shambhala describes the structure of its global community as: “organized on the principle of a classical mandala, an energetic pattern of relationships radiating out from a central organizing principle. In Shambhala, the central organizing principle is the Shambhala lineage and teachings. Local teachers, meditation instructors, and leaders are appointed by the Shambhala lineage holder—the Sakyong—to lead people on the core path of training and provide personal support to those who want to study and practice these teachings.”


When I took my refuge vow, there was so much I didn’t know about Shambhala’s leaders, including its founder, Chögyam Trungpa. I didn’t know that he had married a girl in England—without her parents’ approval—when she was sixteen and he was thirty. I didn’t know that he had slept with many of his students and taken seven honorary wives, or sangyums, who were supposedly his spiritual consorts. I didn’t know that he was a raging alcoholic and died of cirrhosis of the liver at age forty-eight. I didn’t know that the community had already gone through one wave of scandal after Trungpa died in 1987.

The student he appointed as his successor was a man named Thomas Rich, though the title Trungpa gave him was the Vajra Regent Ösel Tendzin, or “Radiant Holder of the Teachings.” He emulated Trungpa’s patterns of abusive behavior, drinking heavily and sleeping with students. In 1985, Tendzin told Trungpa that he had AIDS, but kept sleeping with students without informing them. Eventually, he passed the virus to a young male student. The man later died.

The only reason that the sangha heard about Tendzin’s behavior was because the victim’s mother and sister took it upon themselves to personally inform them.

Even once the community knew, many defended Tendzin’s actions. A member named Irini Rockwell said at the time, ”My feeling for the Regent as my teacher has not wavered…I have the view that he should continue to teach. The Regent never intended to hurt anybody, and my religion has taught me to never, ever reject anybody who does not intend harm.”

Tendzin refused to resign, but was eventually pushed out of Shambhala. He died of AIDS-related complications in 1990, at the age of 47.


Chögyam Trungpa was famous for his style of teaching called “crazy wisdom.” While most Buddhist teachers will say that crazy wisdom should never be abusive or harmful, much of Trungpa’s problematic behavior was brushed off by his followers as a profound teaching that critics weren’t enlightened enough to understand.

After several years in Shambhala, I began to hear the stories. Often they were told laughingly, later in the evening after a weekend meditation program had wrapped up, usually after several glasses of wine. There was always alcohol at Shambhala events, and often quite a lot of it.

I heard about Trungpa pissing on the leg of someone he didn’t like at a dinner party, being driven around in fancy cars, waited on hand and foot by adoring followers, and posting a sign-up sheet for students to sleep with him. The stories were always chalked up to Trungpa’s crazy wisdom, his amazing power to cut through people’s bullshit and bring out their wisdom. They were usually told with reverence and a tinge of awe. No one mentioned any controversy about it within the community. I often felt uneasy, but the feeling slipped by so quietly, it was almost like seeing an eel flicker by under water, or trying to hold onto a dream upon waking.

I asked people who had known Trungpa what they thought of his behavior. Everyone said something similar: “His methods were unconventional, but he was the most compassionate, loving person I’ve ever met. He was a brilliant teacher. He changed my life.”

Even the skeptics seemed to accept Shambhala’s wild past because, as everyone was quick to say, “The Sakyong is so different from his father.” The photo of Sakyong Mipham that hung above the shrine in every Shambhala Center shone with a golden light. He was a marathon runner, happily married to, just one, woman. Looking up at his photo smiling beatifically down from the shrine as I sat for long hours in meditation, I felt a sense of comfort suffuse my body.

Everyone I met in Shambhala was so kind, so caring. The teachings were profound, reminding me that my basic nature—the basic nature of all beings—was sane, wise, compassionate, and good. I began to understand myself in a way I never had before, within a close-knit community of other people who were doing the same. It felt amazing.


After I moved across the country in 2008, from Madison to Portland, Oregon, I stayed deeply involved in Shambhala. I started working at the Portland Shambhala Center as their Administrative Assistant. I maintained a daily meditation practice and travelled all over the U.S. and Canada attending Shambhala retreats. I volunteered at the Center, in addition to my job there. I kept paying my membership dues, even when I was making so little money that I had to go on food stamps.


Shortly after moving to Portland, I began grappling with unprocessed childhood sexual abuse. Meditation gave me a way to work with the suffering that seemed more than I could bear. The Shambhala community gave me a kind, loving anchor, a space where I could show up weeping and be met with warmth and acceptance.

After my long-term partner ended our relationship, I was even more of a mess. Members of the Center stepped up to support me through the howling void of my suffering. They held me while I cried, my eyes swelling shut and nose dripping snot. They took long walks and listened to my endless dark river of misery. They let me sleep in their guest bedrooms when I couldn’t bear to be alone. They treated me like family. I still don’t know how I would have made it through that time without them.

Slowly, the thick veil of grief began to lift. I started therapy, enrolled in community college, and started a group at the Center for meditators in their twenties and thirties. There was still heaviness, but it was laced with flickers of happiness and glimpses of something beyond the shadowy land I had traversed for so long.


Lodro Rinzler

Lodro Rinzler was one of Shambhala’s prominent young teachers. He was only a year older than me, short, redheaded, with a small potbelly. He was funny, confident, and charming. He’d written several books. His first, The Buddha Walks into a Bar, was about navigating the pitfalls of dating, career, and friendships, and how you might bring all the normal experiences of being a twenty or thirty-something to the path of meditation. It felt edgy and exciting to read about the possibility of having a mindful breakup, a mindful hangover, a mindful one-night stand. I was studying to be a meditation instructor and had recently begun teaching at the Shambhala Center. In the young meditators group, we all looked up to Lodro.

He was touring the country promoting his latest book in October of 2013, and I was asked to coordinate his stop in Portland. The program included an event at Powell’s Bookstore, as well as a program at the Shambhala Center. I was responsible for taking Lodro out to dinner on Sunday and driving him to the event at Powell’s, in addition to coordinating the Monday program at the Shambhala Center.

As I watched him sit on stage at Powell’s, speaking with kindness and humor, the room crowded with other young people, eyes glistening, eager for wisdom, I felt a warm tingle of pride. I wasn’t just some newbie off the street who was hearing these profound teachings for the first time. I was here with the teacher himself. I was special. I belonged.

After the event, Lodro and I got drinks at The Sweet Hereafter bar, talking earnestly about dharma as we leaned across the small, dimly-lit table, sipping our Moscow Mules from shiny copper mugs. Afterwards, I drove Lodro back to the apartment where he was staying. As we sat in the dark car, the engine humming beneath the buzz of our voices, he asked if I wanted to come up for another drink. I hesitated, my stomach tensing. Something in me was saying no. But I was warm and happy, buzzed from alcohol and the attention of this famous young teacher who had just commanded a room full of people with elegance and poise.

I said, “OK, but just one drink.”


We entered the beautiful old brick building where he was staying and took the vintage elevator upstairs. Once we were inside the apartment, sitting on the small sofa with whiskeys in hand, he leaned towards me, his lips aiming for mine.

I pulled back and put out my hand. My palm made contact with his chest as I pushed him away.

I said, “No, I don’t want to kiss you.”

He smiled at me knowingly—that meditation teacher smile of infinite, benevolent wisdom. That smile that said, I know best.

“Let’s just try it,” he said. “I’m curious.” He leaned towards me again. “Just relax and see what happens.”

I didn’t want to kiss him. But some part of me was flattered to be getting attention from this teacher who I had looked up to.

In this wasteland between yes and no, I started to leave my body. My head was spinning, my thoughts disjointed and fighting each other. Lodro was a teacher, and I had been well-trained to respect Shambhala teachers. Was this crazy wisdom? Was there some profound teaching he was imparting that I was just too ignorant to understand?


In 1975, the poet W.S. Merwin and his partner Dana Naone had met Chögyam Trungpa at a meditation program in Boulder. A Halloween party was held near the end of the retreat, and at the height of the festivities, Trungpa ordered everyone to get naked. Merwin and Naone refused, escaping to their room as the party got more raucous. Trungpa ordered his students to bring them back to the party, by any means necessary. His students broke down the door to their room, and, despite Merwin breaking off a liquor bottle to keep them at bay, they dragged the couple outside, crying and clinging to each other, and presented them to Trungpa. He drunkenly berated them, then commanded his followers to strip them naked. They obeyed.

When I first heard this story, I brushed over one key detail: even after the abuse, Merwin and Naone stayed for the rest of the program. Now, that is the detail that strikes me most.


I had been groomed to idolize Shambhala teachers. We all were. I was told that I should use the word Rinpoche, which translates as “precious jewel” or “beloved teacher,” when I referred to Chögyam Trungpa or Sakyong Mipham. I was instructed to think of the Sakyong as an enlightened monarch and to call him “your Majesty” on the rare occasions when I was in his presence. During meditation programs, I was instructed to crawl on my knees to bring the teachers water, so that I wouldn’t show disrespect. At first I felt uncomfortable with this worship of authority, but everyone around me was behaving this way. They all had eloquent explanations about why this was an essential part of the path, why the top-down, male-dominated leadership made sense, how it was part of building an enlightened society. They said we all had basic goodness, but we needed an enlightened teacher to guide us, to mirror our wisdom back to us.

Some people voiced their discomfort about referring to the Sakyong as a king. Everyone listened and nodded politely. Secretly, I guessed that their failure to accept the Sakyong meant that they were missing some profound teaching, a teaching that I would be certain not to miss.


My hands pushed Lodro away. My hands said no. But his desire confused me—confusion masking survival. Some part of me remembered that it was safer to go along. Some part of me remembered that this is how women survive: believe that what he wants is what you want.

After Lodro kissed me, I said, “I want to go home, but I’m too drunk to drive.”

He said, “You can stay here. I promise I won’t touch you. We can build a pillow fortress down the middle of the bed—your side and mine.”

I hesitated, but I stayed. I pretended to believe him. If I didn’t, my community, my spiritual practice, the way I had made sense of my life for the last decade, would crumble.


If you continue on the Shambhala path for long enough, you’re encouraged to take a formal vow with the Sakyong. The vow is your entrance into Vajrayana Buddhism, a tantric path shrouded in secrecy. Vajrayana students are instructed to speak about their study with non-Vajrayana students only in the most general terms and to never reveal the specifics of their practices. Once you take the samaya vow, your teacher becomes your guru, and it is believed that you are bound to them—not just for the rest of this life—but over all your future reincarnations. If you break your vow, terrible things are said to happen.

If I didn’t say no, I must have said yes. Or, since I did say no, I must have done it incorrectly. I must not have been loud enough, forceful enough, meant it enough. My timid no could so easily be dismissed by Lodro, a legal court, the court of public opinion. Wasn’t it true that I was drunk? Wasn’t it true that I was wearing a short dress? A dress he later said made him think I have to have her. My no must have been defective. And if I didn’t say no properly, who’s fault was it but mine?


As soon as we were in bed, Lodro started kissing me again. He asked if I was drunk, as if he hadn’t heard me say I couldn’t drive myself home. As if assaulting a sober woman would be more acceptable.

I said “No.” I wanted to believe that I was sober, wanted to believe that I was making a choice, instead of simply being sucked out to sea by the riptide of oppression and trauma. I felt my body moving further from shore, felt the weight of dark water sucking me down.

Lodro wanted to have sex.

I said, “No. I don’t want to have sex with you.”

“Why not?” He asked.

“Because I have a history of sexual trauma,” I said. I felt like I had to explain myself. That a simple no wasn’t enough.

He shook his head solemnly. “I think you have trust issues,” he said, his voice like sticky syrup. His words fixed my limbs in place like a bug stuck in amber.

“Maybe this will help,” he purred into my empty ear. “Just lean in.”

Just lean in. It was a phrase I had heard dozens of times before. It was part of the jargon of Shambhala I had been steeped in, along with other phrases imbued with layers of meaning, things like: taking your seat, good head and shoulders, or auspicious coincidence. Just lean in was coded language, signaling, yet again, that Lodro was the teacher and I was the student. That he knew best.

A white-hot bolt of rage electrified my frozen body. In the darkness at the bottom of the ocean, pressed under bricks of water, something in me stirred.

“This is trauma we’re talking about,” I said sharply. “Leaning in will not help.” With all the effort I could muster, I dragged my body away from him, towards the edge of the bed. I crossed my arms over my chest, tried to summon the energy to kick my legs out from under the sheets, grope for my underwear, grab my clothes, and escape. But my body was still frozen, stuck to the bed as surely as if I was pinned under a whale. As desperately as I wanted to, I couldn’t break free.

Maybe he half-heartedly apologized. I don’t remember. He didn’t seem to understand what I had said. As if all his training in Tibetan and Sanskrit didn’t allow him to understand one simple, English word.

He didn’t stop touching me.

Now the deep water changed to an icy, spinning vortex. I had completely left my body. The only thing I could do was survive, as women have learned to survive for thousands of years. Textbook PTSD, a therapist said later.

The only way Lodro would stop touching me was if I got him off as quickly as possible, so I numbly gave him a blowjob. Afterwards, he quickly fell into a deep and peaceful sleep. I lay awake all night, hovering near the ceiling, my mind gnawing the bloody bone of itself.


The next morning, I pretended that everything was fine. I even got coffee with Lodro and kissed him on the lips before I drove home. It was a sunny day, the sky a crisp, October blue, the falling leaves shimmering crimson and copper. It took all my focus to get home. I felt like I was trying to outrun a tornado. Even as I calmly put on my turn signal and waited at red lights, I could hear the winds screeching, see the black funnel cloud gaining on me in the rearview mirror. As soon as I climbed the stairs and shut my bedroom door, I collapsed on the bed and curled into a fetal position, rocking back and forth, sobbing uncontrollably.

Now the storm wasn’t just outside, it was ripping off the roof. I could see beams splintering and windows shattering. Frantic, I called Miriam—still one of my closest friends, still the person I trusted most in a crisis. She sucked in her breath when I told her what had happened, made a low groan. I cried until I couldn’t see, wads of wet tissue spilling from my white comforter onto the wooden floor. The golden autumn light filtered through my curtains, illuminating each grain of dust. I tried to draw a shuddering breath.

On the other end of the line, Miriam spoke comfortingly. But there was a hollowness inside me, something sucking the air from my lungs. Neither Miriam nor I could say the words sexual assault. Even though the day was calm, I could still hear the tornado screeching. Everything I had built my life on, everything I had thought would keep me safe, now lay in a pile of rubble.

I never wanted to see Lodro again. But it was Monday, and I still had to coordinate his program at the Shambhala Center that night. I couldn’t bring myself to call the Center Director, even though she was a friend. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her what had happened, couldn’t even lie and say that I was sick. Even though I was sick, my guts a mess, my eyes swollen shut, my heart beating like the wings of a bird grasped in a fist.

I summoned all my courage and called Lodro. I told him that what he had done was absolutely not okay. He seemed confused, so I kept trying to explain. Even as I was angrily saying that he had manipulated me, I felt like I had to protect him. To protect Shambhala.

After the program wrapped up that night, I tried to confront Lodro again. I felt lobotomized, my mind and body still strangely disjointed from each other. I followed him back to his apartment, then sat on the same couch where he had kissed me the night before. I said again how totally inappropriate his actions had been, but I felt far away, as if someone else was saying the words. Lodro apologized, his round face pinched with contrition, his blue eyes moist and sorrowful.

I felt no relief, only a gaping, ragged pit in my stomach, a whirling void in my head.

I heard myself say, “apology accepted.” Didn’t the Shambhala teachings tell us to be compassionate? Didn’t being compassionate mean that we should forgive?


After Lodro assaulted me, I continued to feel sick. I couldn’t sleep and had continual flashbacks. I felt intense shame, despair, and hopelessness. I struggled to speak about it. Mostly I didn’t. It was an invisible rope around my neck: the way that so many women before me had learned to choke themselves.

Still, there was an ember in my stomach, an angry red eye that refused to shut. I kept fighting.


I reported Lodro’s assault, even though I still didn’t use that word. I told my friend, the Director of the Portland Center, and she was supportive. She and another local leader encouraged me to report it to the people at Shambhala International who were in charge of handling teacher misconduct.

Judith Simmer-Brown

Apology to Rebecca Jamieson
by Judith Simmer-Brown

I read with heartbreak the article posted by Rebecca Jamieson this week on Entropy Magazine. I wish to apologize and take responsibility for my part in the ongoing pain Ms. Jamieson has experienced in the aftermath of unwanted sexual contact with Shambhala teacher Lodro Rinzler in 2014. Ms. Jamieson contacted me that year in my volunteer role as Dean of the Teachers’ Academy of Shambhala, a role I held for 8 years. (I left that role in 2016.) One of my responsibilities was to oversee ethical conduct of Shambhala teachers in their official duties, and to serve as a liaison with the Care and Conduct process that addressed their ethical violations.

While I followed the “letter” of my job by immediately suspending Mr. Rinzler from Shambhala teaching for six months (though he continued to teach independently), my response to Ms. Jamieson was personally insensitive and brusque. I have had plenty of time to reflect on the damage such an insensitive initial response must have had on her. Not to be listened to closely, empathetically, by a Shambhala leader when she had not been listened to by Mr. Rinzler had to have been devastating. I was so busy being official that I missed the importance of a personal and kind response.

While at that time I was in the midst of my father’s steep decline and death, that does not excuse
my lack of care and empathy for her experience and pain. I am so sorry for Ms. Jamieson’s ongoing anguish, and realize that I failed personally as a woman and in my leadership role to support her in the way that she needed.

We in the Shambhala community have experienced painfully and very publicly the results of not preventing sexual abuse and not addressing its damage. We have not truly listened to or cared for those who have been harmed. In the past, we have placed the integrity of the organization above the care for its members, and this has caused additional immeasurable harm in our community. We are working hard to redress this on every level of our community. We recognize that this harm is a direct contradiction of our most precious teachings about the basic goodness of every human being and the importance of actualizing enlightened society in this very time. As Shambhala community leader, I am deeply sorry.

I was referred to Judith Simmer-Brown, an Acharya, the highest rank a Shambhala teacher could have. She was a Distinguished Professor of Contemplative and Religious Studies at Naropa University. One of her specialties was Women in Buddhism, and she had previously worked with sexual assault survivors. I had never met her, but in pictures, she looked late middle-aged, with a neat blonde bob, glasses, and a warm smile. My hands were shaking as I dialed her number.

“Hello?” She was rushed and curt. Before she had even heard my full story, she said that there was more pressing sexual misconduct than mine to address within Shambhala. She suggested that Lodro and I were friends who’d had a bad fling. Judith said she had known Lodro since he was a small child. There was tenderness in her voice when she spoke of him, tinged with annoyance, like an aunt discovering her nephew had stolen a cookie.

After our conversation, Judith reached out to Lodro without my knowledge or consent. Lodro told her that he was “heartbroken” that he had hurt his “friend”—meaning me. Judith wrote an email to the Portland leader saying she hoped we could “circumvent the Care and Conduct procedure and try to ameliorate the situation in some other way.” The Care and Conduct procedure was Shambhala’s internal process for dealing with conflict. Circumventing it would mean there would be no permanent stain on Lodro’s record.

Judith said she would work with Lodro to help him learn from his mistakes. He would not teach in Shambhala for six months. But soon after, I found out that Lodro was still teaching—a program about love and relationships. I confronted Judith, but she said she’d had no idea that he was teaching.

Adam Lobel

Apology to Rebecca Jamieson
by Adam Lobel

I am writing to publicly apologize and take accountability for my role in hurting Rebecca Jamieson, as she describes in her article:

Rebecca contacted me in 2014 and clearly, patiently, and powerfully described her experience of sexual violence and the specific incident with Lodro Rinzler. I should have immediately affirmed that it is entirely inappropriate and harmful for a teacher to repeatedly press for sex, but I failed to fully hear Rebecca and work for what she needed.

In our conversations over the next months, I also failed to quickly take action. Further, when it became clear that our exchanges were insufficient, I attempted to connect Rebecca with a leader with expertise in addressing sexual violence in the Office of Societal Health and Wellbeing. In retrospect—after Rebecca had already spoken to so many leaders—I see how passing the situation on to a different “office” was a form of gaslighting.

My mishandling of this instance of sexual harm within Shambhala contributed to years of unnecessary, silent and lonely suffering for Rebecca. I am deeply sorry for this. I am so sorry, Rebecca.

With these actions, I was complicit in the ongoing patterns of patriarchal institutions. The Shambhala leadership that I was part of failed to understand sexual trauma and what was needed for true community accountability. We did not adequately support the survivor, nor did we establish a team to work with the perpetrator to help create the conditions for accountability—we ultimately did not craft a transformative process.

Genuine spiritual traditions in our world need to be both profound and just. Our actions and inaction led to a broad collapse of trust and the disillusionment of many good people who we turned away from a beautiful vision. I commit to not repeating such patterns and to the ongoing path of generous, restorative healing.

I demanded to speak to another Shambhala official and was connected with Acharya Adam Lobel. He was another senior teacher and the Sakyong’s right-hand man. When I had met him in person several years before, I had liked and trusted him immediately. But when I told him my story, even though his voice was warm, he said, “That sounds confusing.”

A hot wave of shame drenched my body and the floor wobbled beneath me. If these revered senior teachers saw no problem with Lodro’s behavior, maybe I really was the one who was confused. Maybe they were right: it had been a bad fling, for which I was just as responsible as Lodro.

Adam said my options were to go through the Care and Conduct process or do mediation with Lodro. He said the Care and Conduct process would be like a legal proceeding, where my own statements, as well as Lodro’s, would be scrutinized and judged. He encouraged me to pursue mediation. Though outwardly Adam was nothing but kind, he subtly pushed me not to carry the situation any further.

Even though I was devastated and exhausted from this months-long back and forth, I still explored meditation. I spoke with the facilitator, a member of the Portland sangha who, to my knowledge, had no training in working with instances of sexual misconduct. When I asked her about the process, she said she would simply hold space for the conversation without “taking sides.”

Every time I imagined myself trying to talk to Lodro, I wanted to throw up. I couldn’t go through with meditation. I was left to grapple with my shame, confusion, and trauma alone.

Adam checked in on me once. I said I was fine, that I had moved past the experience. I didn’t know what else to say. In reality, my psychological and emotional health spiraled. I operated on autopilot, still attending events at the Center, but feeling increasingly alienated. I had thought of the community as a loving, trustworthy family, but the assault and how it was handled created a deep rift in my relationship to Shambhala, making me doubt the teachers and the teachings, and most painfully, myself. I blamed myself because it was easier than blaming the community I loved. I paid dearly for it.


I remained silent until one summer day in 2016. I was sitting in a coffee shop on the Oregon coast, drops of rain falling against the windows and the smell of salt and seaweed in the air. I opened my notebook to a blank page and found myself writing, I have never told you this. After that sentence, I kept scribbling feverishly for an hour, not noticing as the sky cleared and the afternoon turned into a vivid golden sunset. I wrote as if a swarm of bees were chasing me, as if my hair was on fire. It was the first time I had written about Lodro without just recounting the facts. It was the first time I had let myself write uncensored, unafraid of what anyone would think. In writing that piece, I started to set myself free. I shared it with two trusted friends, Jaes and Miriam. They both wholeheartedly supported me. Jaes said, “When you’re ready, this piece needs to live in the world. Other women need to hear this.”


In February 2018, Andrea Winn released the first phase of a year-long report she had conducted called “Project Sunshine,” which detailed widespread sexual violence within Shambhala. Winn recounted her own experience and that of other former sangha members through anonymous interviews.

In the introduction to the report, Winn wrote: “I was sexually abused as a child by multiple perpetrators in our community. When I was a young adult, I spoke up about the community’s sexual abuse problem and was demonized by my local Shambhala center, ostracized and forced to leave . . . Women continue to be abused in relationships with community leaders and by their sanghas.”

Seeing experiences like my own named as sexual violence, I felt a complex rush of emotions: rage, excitement, and relief.

In the months after the report came out, it was as if a dam had broken: a flood of survivors began coming forward to speak publicly about their experiences of sexual violence within Shambhala.

Miriam told me about a secret Facebook group for Shambhala survivors. Even though I didn’t think I belonged there, I requested to join and was accepted. There were three other women in the group, and through hearing their stories, I finally got up the courage to share my own.

I was terrified when I posted my story, afraid that they would brush off my experience as so many other people had. But they didn’t. Instead, they showered me with love and support, and told me that what Lodro had done was terrible. That it was sexual assault.

When I first saw those words on the screen, I was flooded with relief. I began to cry, my tears loosening all the frozen emotions that had been trapped in my body for so long.

The #MeToo movement was sweeping the country. Thousands of women were publicly sharing their stories of sexual violence and were being listened to and believed. If the women in the Facebook group believed me, maybe others finally would too.

I decided to file a Care and Conduct complaint with Shambhala International. At least then they couldn’t say I hadn’t done everything I could. I placed the complaint in June 2018. That same month, Winn released a second Project Sunshine report. It included multiple accounts of Sakyong Mipham sexually assaulting female students, including an attempted rape. Winn released a third report in August, which found cause to believe that the Sakyong had assaulted underage girls. Even as I was horrified by these revelations, part of me wasn’t surprised.

A member of the Facebook group connected me to a former women’s trauma lawyer who had been part of Shambhala. When I told her my story, she was furious. She confirmed once again that what Lodro had done was sexual assault. She said that if I wanted to, I could press charges.


After Winn’s reports became public, the Shambhala community began to unravel. It was messy, confusing, and overwhelming. Although I had friends within Shambhala who remained supportive, it was horrifying to realize that many other people I had known for years were more interested in protecting their idealized image of Shambhala than supporting me or other survivors.

I heard stories about several other women who were “befriended” by high-up Shambhala teachers after they were sexually assaulted by the Sakyong. They believed that it was an intentional strategy designed to keep them silent. Just as I had been “befriended” by Adam Lobel. His checking in on me, his assurances that he was there if I needed anything, now took on a whole new meaning.

Miriam and I had many long phone conversations during this time, me in Portland and she in Madison. We were both reeling from shock and grief at the allegations coming to light and the lack of appropriate or compassionate response from Shambhala leadership. We cried a lot. We yelled. We tried to make sense of our lives amidst the wreckage. Miriam told me that she supported me no matter what—if I wanted to leave Shambhala, to press charges against Lodro, or to get my story out in some other way. Miriam was sick and angry about what was happening, but she wanted to stay in Shambhala. Even more than me, she had built most of her life around the community. She had become a Shambhala teacher and travelled widely offering contemplative writing and photography programs. She still believed in facets of the teachings and community, even if it was increasingly clear that many aspects of the organization were rotten.

I knew that I had to leave Shambhala, but I didn’t know how. I agonized about how to publicly share my story. I knew the risks of putting my name on the internet with that kind of accusation. At best, I could expect condemnation from loyalists within Shambhala. At worst, I could be trolled, threatened, or possibly even sued.

To make matters worse, I was still working as the Administrative Assistant at the Portland Center. In addition to dealing with my own rage and grief, I was on the front lines of the community’s response, answering every outraged email, hearing each tone-deaf remark, trapped behind my desk as sangha members marched in and out of the cramped office, airing their grievances, expecting me to support them.

Sitting in the small, windowless office day after day that endless summer, I started to feel allergic to everything about Shambhala. Just setting foot in the big brick building sent a wave of nausea hurtling through my stomach. Once inside the cream-colored rooms with their bright brocade tapestries, the photos of Chögyam Trungpa and Sakyong Mipham still smiling at me from every wall, I got light-headed. I felt such overwhelming anxiety and rage that I could barely sit still, let alone work.

Outside of a few trusted friends, almost no one in the community knew I had been sexually assaulted by Lodro. I kept thinking that if they did, they would step up and support me. When a community meeting was called to discuss the Project Sunshine reports, I attended, hoping that I would finally get the support I had been craving for so long.

We sat on blue cushions in a circle on the turquoise rug, Chögyam Trungpa and Sakyong Mipham gazing down on us from the shrine. I avoided their glossy eyes, trying to get up the nerve to speak. My heart was hammering so loudly I could barely hear what anyone was saying, even though their voices were rising angrily. Someone said that even if the Sakyong had assaulted women, we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater—there wasn’t a culture of sexual violence, just a few bad apples. Besides, we at the Portland Center had never had any issues like that.

I exploded. My voice shook and tears blinded me as I said that no, it wasn’t just a few bad apples, and our center was not above it all—I had been assaulted by a Shambhala teacher visiting Portland, and he was never truly held accountable, despite my reporting it to local and international leadership.

There was a moment of stunned silence. I drew a ragged breath, too scared to look at the faces around me. Then the arguing continued, even louder than before. Now some people were using my story as ammunition to shout down those who had been defending the organization. No one looked at me. No one asked what I needed. No one hugged me, even though I was still crying. I sat there, surrounded by my community, utterly alone.

After the meeting ended, one person pulled me aside to see how I was doing—a friend who already knew about Lodro. He was the only person who acknowledged what I had just shared. He was the only person who expressed concern.

I realized that it was time to leave Shambhala. I called the Director, sobbing, and told her I was quitting, effective immediately. I agreed to train whoever they hired to replace me. Even in full crisis, I was still bending over backwards to help Shambhala. Writing that now, my jaw clenches, and my knuckles ache to shove themselves into someone’s face.


On July 1st, 2018, Lodro announced that he was leaving Shambhala—but not because of his own misconduct. The statement on his personal Facebook page read, “I am feeling a lot of pain around what is happening in the Shambhala community. I personally have clarity that it is time for me to officially exit Shambhala as an organization and no longer teach there.” He offered his support to anyone who wanted to talk about their experience or discuss any “rumors or allegations” they might have heard in Shambhala. He continued, “I will hold space and listen and share my heart if you would like me to. I am truly available to you.”

It was as if a swarm of hornets had attacked me. His bone-deep denial was astounding.
I found out later that Lodro had heard about my Care and Conduct complaint. But even if Shambhala revoked his teaching privileges, they would probably never make a public statement. He would still have control over the public narrative unless I did something about it. It was time to take matters into my own hands.

A woman in the Facebook group said she had talked with an investigative reporter and that her story of sexual assault by the Sakyong would soon be published on a prominent news site. She had requested to remain anonymous, and the newspaper had agreed. Suddenly, I had a path forward.

Before he interviewed me, the reporter asked if I had the emotional support I needed, since the conversation might be difficult. A lump gripped my throat and I couldn’t speak. How was it possible that a complete stranger had more concern for my well-being than members of my own community?


On July 23, my story was published: “Buddhist Teacher Quit Shambhala in ‘Protest’ Before His Own Sexual Misconduct Allegation Went Public.” The subtitle read, “He’s Promoting a Book Called Love Hurts.” I stared at the screen in shock. I’d had no idea that he was promoting another book. The irony of the title made me laugh, then choke.

Lodro denied everything. “I was deeply troubled by the allegations against the leadership of Shambhala and after learning of them stepped away from any involvement with Shambhala’s programs entirely of my own accord,” his statement read. “There is no truth to the allegation that Shambhala fired me. Nor have I ever been involved in any inappropriate sexual behavior or interactions with any individual.” There were also statements from Adam and Judith, saying that they had spent years “offering support” to me, and they hoped I would “find the healing” I was seeking.

After the article was published, I made a Facebook post telling the story in my own words. It was shared with a woman who had also been assaulted by Lodro. When she contacted me, my heart started hammering. After years of doubting myself, wondering if Lodro really had just made a one-time “mistake,” it was mind-blowing to realize that I wasn’t crazy. I wasn’t alone. The woman thanked me for my courage and said I was a hero. Her assault had happened several years before mine. At the time, she had told everyone within Shambhala who would listen, but nothing was done, and even her friends had doubted her.

She said she had heard of two other women who had also been assaulted by Lodro.


After Winn’s reports came out, the Kalapa Council, Shambhala’s governing body, sent a series of panicked emails, alternating between downplaying the allegations and tentatively acknowledging the abuse. One email read, “Members have at times not felt heard or have been treated as though they are a problem when they tried to bring complaints forward. We are heartbroken that such pain and injustice still occurs.” Adam was part of the Kalapa Council. Knowing he had helped craft those words felt like more gaslighting. It was impossible that as the Sakyong’s closest advisor he wouldn’t have known what was happening. However “heartbroken” Adam professed to be, he had played an active role in keeping the silence.

As Shambhala fall apart, the Sakyong sent his own series of tone-deaf and defensive emails, the final one admitting that he had engaged in “relationships” with women in the community, but only “recently learned that some of these women have shared experiences of feeling harmed as a result of these relationships.” Feeling harmed. As if, once again, abuse was just a matter of opinion. This was the great leader I had been trained to worship? This was the shining example of enlightened society whose conduct I was supposed to emulate?


I moved to Vermont for graduate school that August. As I drove across the country, the miles of road unspooling behind me, wind whipping my hair, gazing at the stars from inside my tent each night, it was a relief to leave the Portland Center far behind.

Once in Vermont, I still watched for news of Shambhala, hoping that healing and justice would finally come. There were moments when I thought it would. In August of 2018, Lodro lost his latest book deal. In early 2019, two different men—both long-time members of Shambhala—were arrested for sexually assaulting young girls they had met in the organization. Although I felt hopeful at these developments, soon enough, Lodro’s face began popping up on meditation websites again. He was still teaching.

In January 2020, Pema Chödrön, the respected teacher whose books had first sparked my interest in meditation, formally stepped down from her position as Acharya. Chödrön said her decision came after the new governing board had invited the Sakyong to teach a meditation program—without any input from the community. “The seemingly very clear message that we are returning to business as usual distresses me deeply,” she said. “I find it discouraging that the bravery of those who had the courage to speak out does not seem to be effecting more significant change in the path forward.”

Chödrön was applauded for her decision to resign, but I couldn’t help wishing she’d done it sooner. In the third Project Sunshine report, Chödrön herself had come under fire. A female student had allegedly told Chödrön that she had been raped by a Shambhala Center Director, gotten pregnant, and miscarried. Chödrön allegedly said, “I don’t believe you,” then continued, “Well, I wasn’t there, but if it’s true, I suspect you were into it.” Chödrön apologized to the woman in 2018, after the story became public.


I still struggle to wrap my mind around it all—the abuse, manipulation, confusion, and loss. How could this community have been so helpful to me—and so harmful? How could people I trusted turn their backs on me when I needed them most?

This isn’t a happy ending, or any ending at all, because the story isn’t finished. Will it ever truly end? Will Lodro be held accountable, along with the Sakyong and all the other abusers? Or will this all be covered up by the thick silt of time, like so many stories before mine? Years from now, will a new Shambhala teacher be abusing their students, and will the revelations come with just as much disbelief?

Only time will tell. Whatever happens, I hope this story will be a record. That it will keep echoing out from the caverns of silence. Telling the complicated truth.

Rebecca Jamieson‘s writing has appeared in various publications, including The Offing, Rattle, Hunger Mountain, Lion’s Roar, and Stirring. Her chapbook of poetry, The Body of All Things, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2017. She holds an MFA in Writing & Publishing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Fri Oct 30, 2020 11:00 pm

Survivors of an International Buddhist Cult Share Their Stories: An investigation into decades of abuse at Shambhala International
by Matthew Remski
Updated 17:11, Sep. 28, 2020 | Published 15:09, Sep. 28, 2020



ON APRIL 4, 1987, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche lay dying in the old Halifax Infirmary. He was forty-seven. To the medical staff, Trungpa likely resembled any other patient admitted for palliative care. But, to the inner circle gathered around his bed and for tens of thousands of followers, he was a brilliant philosopher-king fading into sainthood. They believed that, through his reconstruction of “Shambhala”—the mythical Tibetan kingdom on which he’d modelled his New Age community, creating one of the most influential Buddhist organizations in the West—he had innovated a spiritual cure for a postmodern age, a series of precepts to help Westerners meditate their way out of apathy and egotism.

Standing by Trungpa’s deathbed was Thomas Rich, his spiritual successor. Rich was joined by Diana Mukpo (formerly Diana Pybus), who had married Trungpa in 1970, a few months after she turned sixteen. Also present was Trungpa’s twenty-four-year-old son, Mipham Rinpoche. While the cohort chanted and prayed, twenty-five-year-old Leslie Hays listened from outside the door. Trungpa had taken her as one of his seven spiritual wives two years earlier. After being called in to say a brief goodbye, Hays walked out into the evening, secretly relieved Trungpa was dying. She would no longer be serving his sexual demands; enduring his pinches, punches, and kicks; or listening to him drunkenly recount hallucinated conversations with the long-dead sages of medieval Tibet.

Trungpa stopped breathing at 8:05 p.m. His attendants bathed his body in saffron water; painted prayers on small squares of paper and fixed them to his eyes, nostrils, and mouth; then wheeled the gurney into an ambulance to bring him home for a ritual wake. The cortège drove south, through the chilly night, toward Point Pleasant Park, the forested tip of the Halifax Peninsula. They pulled into a circular drive at 545 Young Avenue, a mansion dubbed “The Kalapa Court” after the fabled Shambhala seat of power.

Devotees rolled Trungpa’s body into the living room, which had been mostly cleared of furniture except for a Tibetan throne. They dressed the body in gold brocade and wrenched its legs into a crossed position to prop it up in a final meditation. In his death notice to the community, Rich stated that the guru had attained “parinirvana”—a transcendant state in which he would be free from the cycle of rebirth. (Years later, Trungpa’s personal doctor would cite liver disease from alcohol abuse as the cause of death.) “We vow to perpetuate your world,” Rich wrote.

Following Trungpa’s death, his Halifax congregation and hundreds of pilgrims flocked to Kalapa for five days of visitation. Temple guards in full military uniform admitted mourners around the clock. They filed into the dim room, through clouds of juniper incense, to chant, meditate, and bow in prostration. They believed that Trungpa’s consciousness was expanding into the infinite. One group member recalls throwing the windows open to the cold, wet air as a funk set in.

Some mourners knew Trungpa from his lectures on meditation. Others would have been enthralled by his 1973 book, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, which has sold 200,000 copies. Others still had likely attended the opening of his Naropa Institute, in Boulder, Colorado, in summer 1974, when 1,500 spiritual seekers had arrived to listen to him lecture beside countercultural heroes like Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. Many in the room in Halifax had uprooted their lives to live close to Trungpa, to work in his centres or transcribe his teachings. Some had pledged him their present and future lives through the ritual bonds central to Tantric religion. However they’d come, and for whatever reason they’d stayed, they were the core of what would become Shambhala International, a thriving network of more than 200 meditation centres and retreat destinations in dozens of countries. Headquartered in Nova Scotia, the organization’s motto is “Making Enlightened Society Possible.”

These days, Trungpa’s kingdom presents less like an “enlightened society” than it does a longitudinal study of intergenerational abuse and of how thin the line between religion and cult can be. In the thirty-three years since her husband’s death, Leslie Hays has felt her relief sharpen into fury. She has now emerged at the forefront of a movement of ex-followers who say that Trungpa’s public image as a spiritual genius has been used to hide a legacy of deception, exploitation, behavioural control, and systemic abuse. Their activism has organized around Trungpa’s son, Mipham, who eventually inherited his father’s empire and, in 2018, began to face his own public allegations of physical violence and sexual assault.

Over the course of two years, I’ve interviewed close to fifty ex-Shambhala members. They have told me stories of every type of mistreatment imaginable, from emotional manipulation and extreme neglect to molestation and rape—stories that turn Shambhala’s brand narrative, with its promises of utopia, upside down. Posting on the Facebook page created to support survivors like herself, Hays has shortened the group’s name simply to “Sham.”

NEARLY 2,500 YEARS AGO, Buddhism began, in ancient India, as an austere movement of self-discovery that preached meditation and meticulous attention to ethics. Early converts radically rejected the classism and ritualism of existing religions. Today, Buddhist teachings hold that the mind is the first and central source of conflict and that meditation can help a person see reality more clearly, past their anxious desires. This, it is claimed, can decrease or even extinguish cycles of violence.

Mass-market visions of this modern Buddhism tend to orbit around stately figures, like the Dalai Lama and Thích Nhất Hạnh, the antiwar cleric from Vietnam nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1967. American popularizers include Jack Kornfield and Sharon Salzberg, who co-founded the Insight Meditation Society, in Massachusetts, in 1975. Their professional trainings helped commodify and suburbanize ancient meditation techniques into secular wellness tools for use in self-help psychotherapy and even business coaching.

Trungpa’s organization grew in tandem with this popular interest. But his own reputation was built on the idea of enlightened chaos. He introduced his recruits to “crazy wisdom,” the practice of using bizarre and sometimes abusive methods to jolt devotees into higher states of being. In a series of 1983 sermons, he compared the attainment of spiritual wisdom to the act of rape.

Vajrayogini ATS, Talk Three
by Chogyam Trungpa
September, 1983


Q: Do the pleasure and formality contain the ayatanas so that they don't become rebellious?

V: That is right. And you are self-contained, at the same time. You are also satisfied -- but you are satisfied by being in the mandala situation, altogether.

Q. Thank you.

Q: Sir, could you please speak some more about the rape principle? Specifically, it reminds me of the story of Tilopa demanding the teachings from the dakinis. Who is it that we are raping?

V: The phenomenal world altogether; anything that is rapable. (Laughter.)

Q: So the rape originates completely from our side. It is a function of our vajra pride -- or isn't it?

V: If you can do it. But you have to be ready for it, and you have to be capable of doing it.

Q: Sir, how does that enter our practice of taking abhisheka? In terms of attitude, how would we relate with it in the actual self-abhisheka itself?

V: It is having blessings and devotion, and expressing those. You offer mandala gifts at each point; and then you have done your part already. Then finally you are allowed to snatch the abhisheka principles.

Q: There seems to be a psychological leap that we are making here, and I need a clue to figure out what that is. I was writing down a list of little things that don't make sense, that point to this leap that we are making. For instance, "vipashyana is represented by freshly cut heads"; "drive all blames into oneself is transcendental butchery,"; "Ha Ri Ni Sa is everyday world,"; "when you work it's a feast,"; "boss is guru principle"; and finally, the whole thing about raping the phenomenal world. I can see that there is a psychological leap going on. I can see that the world is self-liberating if you are Vajra-yogini in the world -- except there is still nothing there to hold onto with whatever the heck that is. I don't understand what the leap is.

V: Well, I am sorry to say that that is up to you to find out. (Laughter.) That is why you are doing your practice. And that is why it is called self-secret.

by Chogyam Trungpa


Then what is known as the ultimate abhisheka, of the self-abhisheka, could be achieved without a vajra master. So you receive, or you take more likely, the abhisheka principles; you demand the abhisheka principles. It is almost like rape, in some circumstances. You take the principles of the Vajrayogini mandala, wisdom and realizations; you grab them, grasp them. The reason I refer to it as rape is that you know that you are raping the opposite sex, hopefully. [Laughter] Knowing that, you rape. And you have some understanding that the rapee might have some kind of passion, and might give in at the end, although at the same time, the rapee is terrified.

What you get from the self-abhisheka is a further dissolving of your ego. At the same time, you get the idea that, without anybody's help, you can make yourself into a king or queen. As you know, the principle of abhisheka is the same as coronation. You have a water ablution to clean yourself; then you put a crown on your head; you are given various scepters to hold; then at the end, you are given a royal title, a particular name.

His butler recounted, in a memoir, Trungpa torturing a dog as a metaphor for how the unenlightened should be taught the uncompromising truths of Buddhism.

However, the truth was that Max was a nervous wreck, and beneath my dignified British facade so was I. Finally, Max asked Rinpoche if he could go back to Boulder for a few weeks. Rinpoche gave his okay and Max departed, leaving Rinpoche and me alone in a house surrounded by deep snow. By necessity Max left his dog, Myson, with us. One night after supper Rinpoche said, "Get Myson and bring him in here." I dragged the shaking dog into the kitchen and following Rinpoche's instructions I sat him on the floor and covered his eyes with a blindfold. I set up stands with lighted candles by either side of his head. Myson couldn't move his head without being burned. Rinpoche took a potato and hit Myson on the head with it. When the dog moved, the fur on his ear would catch on fire. I put out the flames. Now and then Rinpoche would scrape his chair across the tiled floor and whack him again on the head with a potato.

"Sir," I began hesitantly, trying to stop him.

"Shut up," snapped Rinpoche, "and hand me another potato."

I started to empathize with the dog. In fact, I became the dog. I was blindfolded and was banged on the head with a spud and if I turned my head my hears would burn and there was the squealing sound of the chair on the floor. Pissing in my pants I was that dog not being able to move, feeling terrified and at the same time excited. Finally, the scraping chair and the potato throwing stopped and we released the shaking dog, who ran upstairs to Max's empty room.

"That's how you train students," Rinpoche calmly stated to me.

"Jesus," I thought, "that's pretty barbaric."

Rinpoche had me change the telephone number so that Max could not call us before he came back. He arrived, bags in hand, concerned that he had not been able to reach us. Before he could say much else, Myson rushed in and jumped all over him in exuberant delight. Rinpoche deliberately scraped the kitchen chair across the tiled floor. The terrified dog shot out of the house and fled across the field. Max was shocked and pointedly asked, "Rinpoche, what did you do to my dog?"

"I don't see any dog," he replied, looking at me.

"I got it!" I said, with the realization of being blindfolded and having three things happen to you at once, knowing the scraping and the disappearance of the dog were both somehow illusion. In fact, it was all illusion. Everything was illusion, but real. Rinpoche smiled and warmly greeted Max.

Did I get it? Not then.

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

Trungpa also taught a technique called “transmutation,” by which an enlightened person transforms the common or even the disgraceful aspects of their life into the sublime, thereby purifying themselves. The Tantric texts, logic, and ritual by which transmutation happens are all meant to be kept secret—which worked in Trungpa’s favour. His true ministry, if openly known, would hardly have ingratiated him to buttoned-down Nova Scotians.

Trungpa first scoped out Atlantic Canada in 1977. He travelled in the guise of a Bhutanese prince, making his disciples, during dinner, wear tuxedoes or evening gowns and white gloves.

At the end our retreat year in late May it was decided that we would visit the Promised Land, the site chosen for the enlightened society of either the near or far future, depending on whose story you listened to. The land that was chosen was Nova Scotia, Canada's Riviera. I was in favor of establishing enlightened society as soon as possible -- a year or two at the most. Others seemed to be dragging their feet.

Our Grieves and Hawks uniforms from London were ordered but would not be ready in time for the trip. So I contacted a military surplus company in New York which I had located through their advertisement in Shotgun News. I ordered one dark blue naval uniform for Rinpoche and an army khaki uniform for myself. Onto these uniforms I sewed two bars of medal ribbons that Rinpoche had designed. On my uniform I sewed my Rupon of the Red Division insignia. "Rupon'' was Tibetan for a company commander, which was the rank I then held. "Major" was pushing it a bit. Next to that ribbon I added the Iron Wheel medal and the Lion of Kalapa Court of Shambhala. This was jumping the gun somewhat because the Kalapa Court, which was to be located in Boulder, Colorado, had not yet been established. At most there were rumors of a house on Pine Street and an offer to purchase.

Sometime in the early light of morning Rinpoche, his consort, Jane, and I pored over the chart of the Province of Nova Scotia. It was to be a two-pronged attack. The Regent Osel Tendzin with his Group "B" would advance by air to Halifax Airport. The three of us in Group ''A" would go by sea, driving first to Portland and then taking the Nova Scotia Cruise Lines luxury ship up the coast. We would cross the Bay of Fundy to Yarmouth. The secrecy and stealth of our attack would surely take the natives by surprise. Finally, all of my training and reading of the Horatio Hornblower books would become useful information. Rinpoche would go as the Prince of Bhutan and I as his aide-de-camp, Major Perks, Lion of Kalapa. Jane would be Lady Jane, although I preferred to think of her as Lady Jane Gray. We were glad of our passports, which had our cover names of Chogyam Mukpo, John Perks, and Jane Condon.

The limousine that was rented for the ten-day operation was a silver Lincoln Continental. With great care I packed our evening dress tuxedos, as we planned to dine formally every night in the soon-to-be-enlightened province. We drove up to Portland, Maine, the next day to embark for the journey up the coast. Our limo was a bit oversized for the luxury liner, which looked more like a large ferry boat. After parking in the depths of its hull we found we could not open the rear doors more than six inches. Lady Jane could just squeeze through, but the Prince would never pass the gap. I pulled on his arms for a while until we realized the futility. Then the Horatio Hornblower in me became active. "The window!" I exclaimed. Lady Jane let down the rear electric window. The Prince put his arms around my neck and with Lady Jane holding up his pants we extricated him from the silver trap. On the ferry that morning, as the sun rose, the three of us stood on the upper deck and sang the Shambhala anthem. I threw an empty sake bottle overboard with a written copy of the anthem in it.

The Yarmouth dock smelled strongly of fish when we arrived and Rinpoche remarked that it reminded him of Tilopa. A good omen. We drove up to Halifax to meet the Regent's party and begin the expedition. (It had been named KOSFEF, short for Kingdom of Shambhala First Expeditionary Force. Later, there would be a medal ribbon for each member.) The Regent's force was already at the hotel I had chosen from the tourist brochure, the Horatio Nelson Hotel.

We had dressed in our uniforms earlier that morning on the boat, so we arrived at the hotel in style. Michael Root, the Regent's aide-de-camp, had arranged for the Shambhala flag we had hand sewn during retreat to be flown at the hotel entrance alongside the Canadian flag. Somehow I had it in my mind that there would be crowds attending our arrival. Instead, there was only the Regent's small party in their pinstriped suits and formal dresses. That evening we dined in our full evening dress at Fat Frank's, Halifax's only gourmet restaurant. There were speeches and toasts to the formation of enlightened society. We all sang the Shambhala anthem, with Fat Frank and his waiters joining in the end chorus, "Rejoice, the Great Eastern Sun arises."

I felt like the Kingdom had already happened, although Jerry, who was the Dapon, or Head of the Military, looked very glum. Michael and I talked to him on the way back to the hotel. "This is all crazy," he said. "Take over Nova Scotia? Make it Shambhala Kingdom? It's nuts!" This should have been my line, but somehow I had been overtaken by the fantasy. It all seemed real, quite easy, as I explained to Jerry in my enthusiasm. He was looking at me like I was crazy.

"You know," he complained, "you all come into the Nelson Hotel and salute Rinpoche who is pretending to be the Prince of Bhutan. You have that Shambhala flag flying next to the Canadian real flag in the front of the hotel. That's crazy! People will think we're all crazy!"

"Well," I argued, "Fat Frank and his waiters had a good time. Everyone seems quite friendly."

"You just can't come in here and take over," said Jerry.

"Why not?" asked Michael. "No one else seems to be in charge.

Jerry just shook his head. "I don't know. Taking over a Canadian province, making Rinpoche king and then calling it the Kingdom of Shambhala. Doesn't that seem a bit weird to you?"

"No," I replied. To cheer him up I pointed out the good omens: Tilopa at Yarmouth, letting us fly the flag at the hotel, and Fat Frank who wanted to be one of us and seemed to be convinced of our reality.

The next day Michael and I set off ahead of the rest on our tour of Shambhala province. We had the task of locating suitable lodging in each town for our evening stop. The first town we came to was Glasgow, a destination chosen by me. To my surprise there were no inns or hotels, just a place by the name of MacTavish's Tourist Stop. Half the letters on the neon sign were not flashing but Michael and I went in anyway. The worn carpet­ing was a bright red tartan. I began to have serious doubts. Michael asked to see a room and we went up the creaking stairs with MacTavish himself. He opened the door with a key chained to a piece of wood marked with a plastic six. Inside was a blue tartan carpet stained by years of spilled food and beer. In the center was an old iron bed that had once been white and a matching three-drawer bureau. A single bare light bulb hung by a cord from the tin ceiling.

"Where's the bathroom?" I asked. ''Au, down to the end of the 'all," said MacTavish. Michael started to giggle. I was not giving up. If I could arrange to get a bagpiper to greet the Prince at the motel as he drove up, that would at least be something.

"Do you have a piper?" I inquired of MacTavish. "Oh, yer," said he. "We gets all the pipers. The Halifax Herald, The Nova Scotian Week we gets them all." Michael let out a roar of laughter. I slapped my hand to my head and sternly hissed to him, "I am trying to put some pomp and circumstance into this." Michael was collapsing with hilarity. "Yes," he sputtered between gasps of laughter, "but we have too much circumstance and no pomp.

"Let's find a place to get a drink and have dinner," I suggested. We drove around the small bleak town in about ten minutes. There was a fish-and-chip type cafe and a Chinese restaurant. That was it. "No need to dine in tuxedos tonight," I thought.

The main party arrived several hours later and there was quite a bit of joking about the rooms. Rinpoche asked about the dining arrangements and I described what I had found. "Is the fish­ and-chip cafe very Nova Scotian?" asked Rinpoche.

"Yes," I replied. "They have something on the menu called Solom Gundy. Also, cod tongues and cheeks."

"That will be fine," he said.

"What shall we wear?" I asked. No one had brought any jeans.

"Tuxedos without the military ribbons," was the reply. I rolled my eyes up into my head and looked over at Lady Jane for help. None was forthcoming. The Regent made a mild but ineffectual protest. Michael just laughed and Jerry became even gloomier.

We all showed up at the cafe, with its plastic-draped tables an paper napkins, in our best evening dress. "This is crazy," whispered Jerry to me as we went in. I was inclined to agree. To my surprise the Nova Scotians were very hospitable, putting tables together and finding some cotton tablecloths and matching napkins. They were quite excited to have us there and the Prince was more than charming, explaining that we were touring the province. He also intimated that we might be interested in purchasing a large property so that we might spend more time in such a delightful country. The following day MacTavish's one phone in the lobby was ringing off the hook. The whole of Nova Scotia was, it seemed, for sale.

The next morning Michael and I set off again. We had looked at a map, where I had spotted a shortcut to the Annoplis Valley. All we had to do was cross the bridge at Bridgewater. We drove for miles over back roads, past abandoned farms and small towns with empty stores. The blacktop road became dirt. Michael, driving along at high speed, came to a screeching stop at the edge of a cliff. I looked at the map in puzzlement. Michael called out to a man chopping down trees by the cliff. "Where's the bridge to Bridgewater?" he yelled.

"Oh, they ain't going to build that bridge for another four years," came the reply.

"But it's on the map," I protested.

"Oh yes," said the woodsman. "Well, we has to be ready, don't we?" Michael pulled out the bottle of rum stashed behind the backseat. We sat in the car and drank it all, watching the flowing river with its inaccessible further shore.

We were late getting back to the others, who had found a fairly good Best Western. It was the annual Apple Blossom Festival and the selection of the Apple Blossom Beauty Queen was being held in the restaurant at the motel. Dozens of teenage girls at a high level of excitement were running about the motel in white gowns. For once, our tuxedos were the proper attire for the occasion.

Word was spreading that the Prince of Bhutan was staying at the motel. The organizer of the festival approached me and asked if the Prince would like to have the Beauty Queen "presented" to him. "Delighted" was the response from the Prince when I relayed the message. There is a picture in a local Nova Scotian newspaper showing a ring of Apple Blossom girls, and in their white-dressed center, with the Queen on his arm, is the smiling Prince. The caption reads "Prince of Bhutan meets Apple Blossom Queen. The Prince and his party are touring the Province."

Meanwhile, the phone at the Best Western motel was ringing nonstop with offers of property for sale. Jerry was freaking out about the FBI finding out that we were planning to take over Nova Scotia.

"Who else would want it?" asked the Regent.

At the beginning of the expedition I had been full of hope about creating a new society based on British Buddhist morality. Now, after being tossed about between the reality of Nova Scotia, the reality of the Prince, and the reality of the Apple Blossom Queen, I was unhinged again. Our last night was spent at the Pines Hotel in Digby, a town which at one time had been a resort. Jan, the Regent's attendant, came and spent the night with me. We were both too English to have any passion between us. We sat up in bed smoking cigarettes and sipping rum.

"What do you think of Nova Scotia?" she asked.

"I don't know," I answered. Then putting my doubts onto Jerry, I said, "Jerry is dropping out of the plan altogether. I hear he has resigned as Head of the Shambhala Military."

"Yes," murmured Jan. There was silence. I took another sip of the rum, feeling it burning in my mouth.

"Well, I think it's wonderful," she said, feeling my hesitation. "I plan to move up here as soon as possible and join the sangha in Halifax."

Her cheerfulness was infectious. I smiled and said, with all my doubts evaporating, "I am going back to Boulder. We are creating the Kalapa Court, a court for Rinpoche and the Kingdom of Shambhala."

"Yes," she added. "They need us, old chap. We are English. We are the only ones who can do it."

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

He loved the region’s remoteness, isolation, and rain. Trungpa found in Nova Scotia the perfect setting for a kind of spiritual invasion. It was sparsely populated, with the highest unemployment rate in the country. Citizens were dissatisfied with local government and ready for something new. He observed that Nova Scotians were psychologically “cooperative” and “starved” and opined that they needed “more energy to be put on them.” Back in Boulder, he declared that he could feel the same goodness in the earth in Nova Scotia that he remembered from Tibet, which he had fled in 1959.

Trungpa started frequenting Halifax as his eastern seat after devotees acquired the Young Avenue property. By the time Trungpa died, around 800 of his most ardent followers—mostly young, well-educated, middle-class white Americans—had settled on the East Coast life, laying down roots from Halifax to Pleasant Bay, a small community in Cape Breton, where they helped establish Gampo Abbey, now presided over by one one of Trungpa’s most famous former students, self-help author Pema Chödrön. Followers opened businesses in the burgeoning wellness sector, working as massage therapists, acupuncturists, and psychotherapists. In the summer, they gathered for communal events, like [url]“seminary,”[/url] where Trungpa would teach Buddhist philosophy for days on end, and “encampment,” where members would march in parades and sing songs around campfires. Over the years, Maritimers joined the movement, drawn to its secular accessibility and devotional intensity, and soon came the first generation of born-and-raised Halifax Shambhala Buddhists, who joined the ranks of other so-called Dharma Brats in the US.

It was a community in thrall to Trungpa, a leader with an authoritarian streak whose eccentricities were typically passed off as transmutation. When he asked his dishevelled devotees to cut their hair and become professional, Trungpa—who had his suits hand-tailored on London’s Savile Row—was transmuting their late-hippie immaturity. When he dressed up like Idi Amin or rode a white stallion while wearing a pith helmet and phony war medals, he was transmuting the aggression of militarism.


When he insisted that his courtiers learn Downton Abbey–style dinner etiquette, he was transmuting the colonial pretension that had almost destroyed the Asian wisdom culture he embodied. On the grandest scale, Trungpa saw Shambhala as a transmutation of the nation-state itself—complete with a national anthem, ministers, equestrian displays, an army, a treasury, specially minted coinage, and photo IDs.

But Trungpa’s transmutations didn’t stop there. They were also used to rationalize the sexual abuse he committed against countless women students—abuse that devotees justified as Trungpa transmuting the repressed Christian prudery of North America and turning lust into insight. Public evidence of this abuse was first published in a local Boulder magazine in 1979, but the most public and credible accusations came from Hays on Facebook, starting in 2018. Hays remembers Trungpa demanding women and girls at all hours of the day and night, some of them teenagers. He was not only prone to outbursts of physical violence but, according to Hays, her job as a “spiritual wife” (traditionally a consort for ritualized sexual meditations) involved offering Trungpa bumps of cocaine, which she remembers his lieutenants pretending was either a secret ritual substance or vitamin D. Hays’s entire relationship with Trungpa testifies to how he used his charisma to prey on followers.

Hays grew up in a Minnesota farm town and moved to Boulder, in 1981, to study journalism at the University of Colorado. She was twenty. Three years later, she took a nanny job with a couple who were devotees of Trungpa, moving into their house. She was asked to attend a summertime Shambhala training camp so that she’d be more aligned with the family’s values. That winter, the couple was hosting a wedding that Trungpa himself would be attending. They regaled her with stories of his “unfathomable” brilliance and asked her to prepare to meet him with meditations that involved visualizing him as divine. They took her shopping for clothes and taught her to walk in heels. In our conversation, Hays remembers being impressionable at that age and thinking it would be fun “to meet an enlightened meditation master from Tibet.”

At the wedding, Trungpa lavished attention on Hays, then showed up at her employer’s house the next day to propose that they marry. Hays was baffled, so he invited her to his home for a get-to-know-you date. Guards ushered her into his bedroom, where he was waiting for her, naked. That same night, he asked her to marry him again. Stunned, she agreed, believing it to be an honour, and for a while, there was a honeymoon-like feeling between them. But, after the first week, Hays told me, things started to go wrong. In the bedroom, Hays says, he would use a vibrator until she screamed out in pain. Then Trungpa started to punch and kick her.

“What Trungpa did,” says Liz Craig, “was create an environment for emotional and sexual harm in which nobody was accountable for their actions.” Craig worked as a nanny in Trungpa’s household. “If he’d been publicly violent, it would have been easier to identify him as harmful and Shambhala as a cult.”

Another ex-Shambhala student, who asked to remain anonymous, knows of several women Trungpa physically assaulted besides her. “He pinched me to the point of leaving dark bruises,” she says. I reached her at her office in Nova Scotia, where she runs a practice as a sexual-violence trauma therapist. She described one summer-long event in 1985 at the Rocky Mountain Dharma Center (now the Shambhala Mountain Center), north of Boulder. She was twenty-three at the time and was recruited to cook and clean in Trungpa’s residence. Trungpa’s “henchmen,” as she calls them, would circulate through the participants to find the women he desired. “The entire scene around him was sexualized,” she says. “Trungpa was basically the king of the universe, and any contact with him was a blessing that was going to guarantee your enlightenment and eternal salvation.”

It wasn’t only women who were caught in Shambhala’s abusive culture. Ex-member Michal Bandac, now living in Germany, says that, in the 1980s, Shambhala adults introduced him to cocaine use when he was twelve. The scene was considered safe, Bandac says, because they were taught that, “according to Buddhism, the children are always better than their parents.” Bandac’s mother, Patricia, was a senior Shambhala teacher for thirty years and the director of the Nova Scotia retreat centre. Since leaving Shambhala in 2015, she has struggled to understand how the group affected her family. While she wasn’t aware of her son’s exposure to cocaine, she does remember him telling her about Shambhala women in their thirties luring him into his first sexual experiences. “I was kind of shocked,” she says. “But I didn’t do anything about it. It was so normalized. There was statutory rape going on all over the place.”

ABUSE CONTINUED after Trungpa’s death. In 1989, the New York Times reported that Trungpa’s spiritual successor, Thomas Rich, had been having unprotected sex with an unknown number of men and women while being HIV positive. This not only had gone on for years—Rich was suspected to have contracted the illness in 1985—but was likely known to senior leadership. Moreover, according to a 1990 article, Rich’s sexual history suggested such encounters weren’t always consensual. The media coverage forced Rich, in California at this time, into exile. After Kier Craig—Rich’s student and the brother of Liz, the Trungpa nanny—died of HIV/AIDS, likely contracted from Rich, even more Shambhalians fled the community. Program attendance and membership donations plummeted. The legal entities that held Shambhala’s assets were dissolved to avoid liability.

In the early 1990s, Tibetan clerics moved to stabilize Shambhala by certifying Trungpa’s son, Mipham, as a reincarnated master and the rightful heir to his father. It was an unlikely fit. Although in his thirties, Mipham didn’t have any of the expected monastic training and was not known for his charisma. Nevertheless, in 1995, Mipham was enthroned as sovereign over Shambhala and dubbed with one of his father’s own honorifics: “Sakyong,” which roughly translates to “Earth Ruler.”

As Sakyong, Mipham’s management approach was distinctly corporate. By 2002, he’d appointed the former public-relations head of Amnesty International as Shambhala’s new president. [Richard Reoch, joined the International Secretariat of Amnesty International 1971-1993. He then served as a trustee of The Rainforest Foundation 1996–2015.] He replaced the mostly male administration with a more gender-balanced and international board of directors. Between 1999 and 2018, Mipham’s restructuring helped Shambhala’s global membership grow from under 7,000 to 14,000. Members participated in programs and training at outposts around the world, drawing an annual revenue of $18 million (US) in North America alone.

In the early 2000s, memories of Trungpa and Rich’s acts of sexual abuse seemed to have faded. Chödrön, Shamabhala’s self-help superstar based out of Cape Breton, lit out on an extraordinary run of mass-media success, appearing on Bill Moyers’ PBS miniseries Faith and Reason and eventually selling more than 1.2 million copies of her books in eighteen languages. Mipham also moved to shield what were reputed to be the most mystical elements of his father’s teaching content behind a pay-wall. He developed a pyramid-style series of training sessions and ceremonies only he could preside over as a kind of papal gatekeeper. Sporting brocade robes, Mipham came into his own as a regal figure, giving ritual initiations to new and old members and creating newer levels of secret practices for devotees to invest in. In 2005, he married Khandro Tseyang—the daughter of a Tibetan spirit medium who claims a royal pedigree. From the outside, things seemed to be looking up. But it was during these same Camelot years that Mipham allegedly assaulted attendants and students.

One of those students was Julia Howell, born into Shambhala in Nova Scotia in 1984. For children who grew up in the community, the promise and betrayal of their upbringing are difficult to separate. Sometimes, Trungpa’s world felt like a happy place. Some describe loving the free-range summer “Sun Camps.” They were consistently told that they were special—the “first Western Buddhists,” who would both embody and evangelize a new age. They had been given early access to authentic Buddhism, so they were told, and the teachings would take care of them. They were encouraged to internalize the group’s meditation techniques and use them whenever they lost their feeling of “basic goodness.”

When Howell was twenty-four, her mother was diagnosed with stage-four breast cancer. That fall, Howell applied for the Tantric training that was said to eventually lead to full citizenship within the mystical world of Shambhala. Her aim was partly to prepare herself for the coming loss and partly to join her mother in practices to prepare for death. Howell’s initiations involved vowing to perceive Mipham—now the group’s leader—as the gatekeeper to enlightenment. When her mother died, in 2010, Howell practiced with an intensity that matched her grief. Her ardour drew her closer to Mipham’s inner circle.

In 2011, Howell went to a party at the Kalapa Court, the enclave that Trungpa founded in Halifax. The occasion was Mipham’s daughter’s first birthday party. Howell says that, after his wife had gone to bed and most of the guests had left, Mipham, drunk, assaulted her. “I felt frozen, without agency,” she says. “I had taken a vow at seminary to follow his instructions like commands.” Alone, confused, and grieving her mother, Howell plunged deeper into her practice to make sense of it all.

“This liturgy embodies the magical heart of Shambhala,” announces the text Howell used. Written by Mipham, it proposes that the gifts of Tantric practice flow from developing a pure view of the master, then merging with him, body and mind. A key part of the ritual involves a purification fantasy. Howell was instructed to visualize light streaming down from a deity seated at the crown of her head. The light was washing away the karma of negative emotions, seen as dirt and muck pouring downward, out of her body and into the earth. Inevitably, this brought up traumatic memories associated with the assault. “It was an exercise in self-shaming,” says Howell. Her practice included visualizing Mipham, in royal attire, hovering above her head, then morphing into a fantastical bird, who entered her body and descended to dissolve into light in her chest. Should another assault happen, rather than experiencing it as a violation, she would will herself to see Mipham as the Buddha. “I was really training to think that rape is not rape,” she says.

After more than three years of trying to interpret the assault and justify Mipham’s behaviour, Howell decided to face him. It took several months to get the meeting through underlings. Mipham offered her a weak apology “about the whole thing,” as Howell remembers. She recalls him performing a healing ritual for her, then handing her a mala—a sort of Tibetan rosary—and saying, “This is for your practice.”

Through the summer and fall of 2017, stories about similar abuse ripped into other spiritual communities. In July, eight former attendants of the late Sogyal Rinpoche, a celebrated Buddhist teacher and the author of the bestselling Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, published an open letter describing decades of physical, sexual, and financial abuse by the religious leader. In November, Karen Rain alleged on Facebook that renowned yoga teacher Krishna Pattabhi Jois had sexually assaulted her and other women under the guise of “postural adjustments.” The children of Shambhala were watching. Andrea Winn, who had lived most of her life in Trungpa’s kingdom, decided it was time to speak out. (As Winn declined an interview, what follows is from publicly available records.)

“Something has gone tragically wrong in the Shambhala community,” wrote Winn in “Project Sunshine: Final Report,” a feat of guerrilla journalism published online in February 2018. The report featured five anonymous testimonies of assault, rape, and abuse that implicated unnamed Shambhala senior leaders as either enablers or perpetrators. “We have allowed abuse within our community for nearly four decades, and it is time to take practical steps to end it.” Winn, now fifty-three, included details about her own childhood sexual abuse by “multiple” community members and how, when she spoke out as a young adult, she was shunned. Her healing process led her to a counselling-psychology degree specializing in relational trauma. “One thing that is clear to me is that a single woman can be silenced,” she writes. “However, a group of organized concerned citizens will be a completely different ball game.”

Shambhala’s old guard likely knew that Winn’s report was coming. Three days before Winn published, Diana Mukpo, Trungpa’s wife by legal marriage, posted a letter to Shambhala’s community news website attempting to discredit Winn and the project, calling it a personal attack on her family. “When I first heard about Project Sunshine,” Mukpo wrote, “I thought it would be a wonderful way to embark on this important process. But now that I’ve seen its connection to the spreading of inaccurate, misleading facts, I no longer have faith in its ability to assist with this important task in an unbiased and honest manner.”

Winn teamed up with a retired lawyer, Carol Merchasin, who worked through the spring of 2018 to corroborate testimonies for a second, more explosive report. This round focused on allegations of sexual misconduct and assault against Shambhala’s leader, Mipham. Merchasin recounts that they reached out to the Shambhala Kalapa council to present the allegations prior to publishing and to encourage the organization to conduct an investigation. No one from the council would meet with the whistleblowers, but, according to Merchasin, the council hired a mediator who threatened her with legal action days before she and Winn planned to release the second report online on June 28.

Soon after the report was published, Mipham paused his teaching activities and issued a vaguely apologetic statement announcing that he was committing to a shared project of healing. “This is not easy work,” he concluded, “and we cannot give up on each other. For me, it always comes back to feeling my own heart, my own humanity, and my own genuineness. It is with this feeling that I express to all of you my deep love and appreciation. I am committed to engaging in this process with you.”

Shambhala leaders could no longer dismiss allegations of long-standing systemic abuse.

But Winn and Merchasin released a third report, that August, that included two further accounts alleging that Mipham had abused his power. Facing pressure from local and international media coverage, Shambhala decided to launch an independent investigation. The investigator’s conclusion, released in February 2019, was that Mipham had caused a lot of harm, and they encouraged him to take responsibility and “be directly involved in the healing process.” Two weeks after the findings were released, six former personal attendants to Mipham came forward with an open letter about their years of serving him. They described his chronic alcohol abuse and sexual misconduct, his profligate spending, and his physical assaults against Shambhala members. Six days later, forty-two of the organization’s teachers posted their own open letter, calling on Mipham to step down “for the foreseeable future.”

Suddenly, Shambhala leaders could no longer dismiss allegations of long-standing systemic abuse. The community’s Dharma Brats—those of Winn’s generation and later who’d grown up in the kingdom—now had a lot to say and a place to say it.

SOMETIME AFTER the third report, Mipham fled Canada, with his wife and three young daughters, for India and Nepal. In February 2019, he issued a carefully worded acknowledgment of the abuse crisis, declaring that he would retreat from his teaching and administrative duties. “I want to express wholeheartedly how sorry I feel about all that has happened,” Mipham lamented. “I understand that I am the main source of that suffering and confusion and want to again apologize for this. I am deeply sorry.”

For more than a year, Mipham did in fact lie low, avoiding public events. But what is expedient in public-relations terms carries a steep price for Tantric devotees. For them, Mipham’s legal and administrative standing pales against the belief that his very body carries his father’s perfect revelation: the ritual keys to the Shambhala kingdom. It’s a Faustian bargain: they must petition for Mipham’s return regardless of what they know of him and despite the repercussions for people like Julia Howell. For those who believe that Trungpa’s revelation was messianic, the double bind is even tighter. It is said that Tantric teachings can be given only if devotees supplicate to the master for them. If they don’t literally beg for Mipham to come back, they’ll be personally responsible for the death of the enlightened society that was meant to save the world.

Last December, Mipham sent an announcement out over Shambhala networks featuring a cryptic love poem to his devotees: “Like a mist, you are always present. / Like a dream, you appear but are elusive. / Like a mountain, you remain an immovable presence in my life.” The rest of the letter offered family and business news and bemoaned the state of the world.

Two weeks later, a newsletter from the Shambhala board pledged support for Mipham’s return to ritual duty. The letter explained that 125 devotees had requested that Mipham confer the “Rigden Abhisheka”—an elite level of Shambhala teaching—in a bid to restore legitimacy to the damaged brand. In response, the Shambhala centre in France invited Mipham for the summer of 2020.

Pema Chödrön responded by stepping down from her clergy position. In a letter posted to the group’s news service in January, Chödrön said that she was “disheartened” by Mipham’s announced return. She had expected him to show compassion toward the survivors of his abuse, she wrote, and to do “some deep inner work on himself.” But it was the support from the board, she added, that distressed her more. “How can we return to business as usual?” she wrote. “I find it discouraging that the bravery of those who had the courage to speak out does not seem to be effecting more significant change in the path forward.”

The months that followed Chödrön’s letter have seen stock in Trungpa’s legacy continue to plummet. Shambhala centres in Frankfurt and New York issued rebukes of the board’s decision to support Mipham’s return. The board countered with a long-winded affirmation to steadying the course with reforms that stopped short of disinviting Mipham. And they kept fundraising.

Group members were further rattled when Michael Smith, a fifty-five-year-old former member of the Boulder Shambhala group, pled guilty to assaulting a thirteen-year-old girl he’d met through the community in the late 1990s. A similar case against William Lloyd Karelis, a seventy-three-year-old former meditation instructor for the Boulder Shambhala community, is set to go to trial next spring. Karelis is accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting a thirteen-year-old girl who had been assigned to him as a student in the 1990s. In February, the Larimer County Sheriff ’s Office closed a more than year-long investigation into “possible criminal activity” at the Colorado centres. They released a redacted file of their interviews with ex-members, which corroborated several of the abuse testimonies published by Winn and Merchasin, including Howell’s account of Mipham assaulting her in Halifax. No charges were filed.

On March 11, when the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, Mipham was leading a Tantric meditation retreat at a monastery in Nepal. Along with the monks, 108 pilgrims from seventeen countries attended—108 being a number of ritual perfection in Indo-Tibetan religions. Mipham’s blog reports a schedule of ceremonies, meet-and-greets with himself and his wife, and a sermon from the monastery’s abbot, who affirmed that Mipham’s leadership challenges were common to great Buddhist teachers. A wide-angle photo shows the middle-aged devotees, many of them white, sitting at attention in the shrine room. Each sports a lapel button emblazoned with what appears to be Mipham’s portrait.

After the retreat, which ended March 15, pandemic lockdowns shuttered Shambhala spaces around the world. With retreat and programming income slowed to nearly nil, the San Francisco centre notified members it was on the brink of insolvency, and the larger retreat centres asked members for a bailout. Mipham’s summer event in France was postponed, but he kept in touch with devotees by sending out pandemic practice instructions, including advice for devotees to chant the mantra of the Medicine Buddha, often used for healing.

On May 14, a group of the Nepal pilgrims paved the way for Mipham’s full return with an open letter reaffirming him as the organization’s leader. The writers claimed that “many of the allegations reported about the Sakyong were exaggerated or completely false” but that, “if someone felt hurt or confused by their relationship with him, he has done his best to address their concerns personally.” (Julia Howell confirmed that she has not heard from Mipham since the allegations were published.) Mipham’s Kalapa Court is wholesome, the letter continued, is responsive to the needs of followers, and remains the centre of the Shambhala universe. “There is no Shambhala without the Sakyong,” they wrote.

As of this writing, Mipham seems to be consolidating an inner core of devotees who will remain loyal to him and continue their journey toward his kingdom. And, while the remaining Shambhala administration claims to be working on reform policies, it’s not quite clear who will remain to enact them or keep the faith. I made multiple requests to Mipham for comment—directly and through various Shambhala administrators—about the Winn report, the independent investigation, Howell’s allegations, and his future teaching intentions. He did not respond.

FOR SURVIVORS of Shambhala, the reckoning continues—and with it, the struggle for recovery. Rachel Bernstein, a Los Angeles psychotherapist who treats ex–cult members, told me that it can be healing to reconnect not only with former members of the same group but also with former members of similar groups, so the person can understand that abuse patterns are standard and predictable. Janja Lalich, an expert on the effects of cults on children, argues that kids who grow up in a group controlled by charismatic leadership have almost no access to outside points of view or ways of being in the world. That’s why she encourages ex-members to reestablish secure bonds with family or those who knew them before they entered the group. But, for those born into a cult or recruited through their parents at a young age—as was often the case with Shambhala—this option is rarely open.

For survivors of Shambhala, the reckoning continues—and with it, the struggle for recovery.

John (whose last name is withheld for reasons of family privacy) ran out of options completely. In 1980, at the age of twelve, he left his father and stepmother in Miami to join his mother, Nancy, in Colorado, where, as part of her program in Buddhist psychology at Naropa University, she had to complete a three-month retreat at the Rocky Mountain Dharma Center. While she was meditating from dawn till dusk, John was in residence. One night, he said, he was woken up by a man—a student in his mother’s cohort—assaulting him. John froze and pretended to stay asleep.

al wife” and later died by suicide at age thirty-four.) When John was fourteen, he wrote, another man at the Rocky Mountain Dharma Center—possibly an employee—abused him. Around this time, John first attempted suicide.

John told me his mother had gone to Trungpa and asked him what she should do about her troubled son. According to John, the leader told his mother it needed to be handled by professionals. Then Trungpa told her that she should attend another intensive residential seminary program. At nineteen, John wrote his mother a letter about his sexual abuse. She never answered it, he said. Years later, he found it, opened, in a family photo album. He ripped it up.

The abuse followed John into adulthood. Monique Auffrey was John’s partner from 2000 to 2004; they have a daughter together, now eighteen. Auffrey knew John as someone who was both victim and aggressor, who struggled with substance abuse and who used Shambhala psychology to try to persuade her that his domestic violence was acceptable. In 2011, John was charged with uttering death threats against Auffrey and their daughter as they attempted to leave Nova Scotia. “My main memory of him is fear,” she said by phone from Calgary, where she’s the CEO of a non-profit that provides services to women and children escaping domestic violence.

Auffrey said that, when she was pregnant, John forced her to take Shambhala training. She hadn’t been part of the Buddhist group before meeting John. She spoke of a cycle of abuse similar to that described by victims of Trungpa and Mipham—and similar to John’s own history as a victim: “He would be violent with me, attack me, insult me, threaten me, and then the response to dealing with that was to meditate and take more Shambhala lessons.” Auffrey remembered “There’s neither good nor bad” being a consistent mantra in the group. “It always felt like there was no accountability for anything, no matter what it was,” she said. “The group’s ideology allowed people to get away with rape, with assault, with crimes that the larger population would never put up with.”

In our second interview, in May 2019, John described a moment that suggested he had finally abandoned Shambhala teachings. He was driving one day and pulled over when he heard an interview with Leonard Cohen on the CBC. “‘These religions that promise you liberation and freedom,’” John recalled Cohen saying, “‘that you will be liberated from all of this: it’s a cruel promise that won’t come true.’ “I just burst out crying,” John said. “I was just so happy that he said something I was feeling all along. That there was a scam or some kind of package being sold. And he was saying: ‘In many cases, you feel things worse, more intensely, more painfully.’” A month after that interview, John died by suicide in his Dartmouth home.

By phone, Auffrey offered a personal assessment of her late partner that seemed to ring true for Trungpa’s legacy in general. “If people had rallied together to hold him accountable for his own behaviour,” she told me, “there might have been a chance that he could have gotten the help he needed. That’s the way I like to look at it—to hope that, with intervention, we can change the course of such a destructive trajectory.” It struck me, after we hung up, that her words sounded almost Buddhist in their mindfulness and compassion.
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

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Part 1 of 2

The History of Karme Choling: Local writer offers a preview of 'Legends of Barnet’
by Kathleen Monroe
Sep 29, 2020 Updated Sep 29, 2020


Karmê Chöling, a Buddhist retreat center, nestles in a restored farmhouse in the foothills of the Green Mountains on an expanse of rolling meadows. Frequently, passersby glimpse white, peaked event tents. Tibetan prayer flags punctuate Patneaude Lane. A rich red-paneled, side-lighted door with royal blue, brilliant yellow, and green accents welcomes visitors. The symbolic lattice-patterned endless knot decorates a gabled portico supported by turned wood columns.

How did this Buddhist retreat center, celebrating its 50th anniversary, end up on a former dairy farm in a tiny Northeast Kingdom town? Finding no local answer to my question, I became engaged in a journey across continents to solve the mystery.

Local author Kathleen Monroe's book provides well-researched details she uncovered exploring the history of Barnet. Everything from abolition, to Karme Choling’s (above right) founding, to the story of the Hells Angels roaring into bucolic Barnet.

In February 1939, a baby boy, later named Trungpa, was born to the Mukpo family in Eastern Tibet. His mother dreamed on the night of his conception, “a being had entered her body with a flash of light;” that year flowers bloomed in the neighborhood although it was still winter….” At his birth, a water pail unaccountably filled to the brim with milk, and the village was blessed with a rainbow. Trungpa’s relatives dreamed of holy Buddhist lamas coming in search of a reborn Buddhist saint.

Ordained at age 8, the boy was schooled in lines of Tibetan Buddhism emphasizing meditation practice.

In 1959, Chinese military invaders attacked Tibet’s religious institutions, executing and arresting monks, looting, and destroying monasteries. Following the Dalai Lama’s escape from Tibet, 80,000 Tibetans fled to India through the Himalayas. Trungpa, and a reincarnate custodian of another Buddhist lineage, Akong Rinpoche, were among them.

In India, Trungpa and Akong were befriended by Freda Bedi, an Oxford graduate and one of the first Western Tibetan Buddhist nuns (1964). Bedi’s son recalled Trungpa as voluble, flamboyant, “a naughty boy but a brilliant teacher.”

In 1963, having improved his command of English, Trungpa studied comparative religion, philosophy, fine arts, and Japanese flower arranging at Oxford University. Akong, a doctor of Tibetan medicine, supported the pair by working as a hospital porter.

Trungpa and Akong arrived on the scene at a time when the Beat Generation and the Civil Rights movement were in full swing. The free love and counterculture movement, along with such radical ideas as open marriage, were emerging. Beat idols Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder, as well as leaders in the psychedelic movement such as Richard Alpert (known as Ram Dass) gained momentum in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Middle-class young adults set out to find new spiritual paths as traditional religious practice decreased. An interest in Eastern religions, including Buddhism, gained marketability. Young people sought teachers and gurus who offered meditation classes. Trungpa was in the right place at the right time to capture the imagination of the spiritually estranged and those disgruntled by Western materialism and political and social turmoil.

In the Scottish parish of Eskdalemuir, an Ontario-born lama founded a retreat center. In 1967, the lama returned to Canada. Retreat center trustees extended an invitation to Trungpa and Akong to replace the leadership. Samye Ling—Europe’s first Buddhist monastery—became one of the first stopping places for a hodgepodge of Buddhist scholars and hippies. In 1969, Trungpa published Meditation in Action, and his reputation spread like wildfire.

Trungpa sought to demystify the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism and make Buddhism accessible to Westerners. Akong wanted to hold onto the Tibetan cultural practices inherent in Buddhism. Friction intensified between the two men. Samye Ling, combined the rigors of a monastery with the unconventional freedom of a hippie commune. Aromas of pot and macrobiotic food wafted through the halls.

The villagers spread gossip about sex and orgies at the monastery. Trungpa struggled to impart the basics of Buddhist sitting meditation, but he remarked that most of those congregated “seemed to be slightly missing the point.”

Trungpa’s conviction was that the West was ripe for meditation. Akong, however, summed up the early days of Samye Ling by saying, “We didn’t have so much spiritual activity—we had hippies.”

In 1968, Trungpa spent 10 days in a Bhutan cliffside “tiger lair” seeking inspiration on how to bring dharma—Buddha’s teaching—to the West. The message he realized was to expose “spiritual materialism,” a term he coined and expounded on. In 1969, the unlicensed Trungpa suffered an alcoholic blackout, crashing his sports car into the façade of a joke and magic shop. The revelations in Bhutan, coupled with the accident, influenced Trungpa’s decision to renounce his monastic vows and fully embrace Western living. He believed the teachings of Buddhism should be free of cultural trappings and religious fascination to take root in the West. To proclaim the dharma to Westerners, he doffed his monastic robes, eliminated Buddhist jargon, co-opting vocabulary from other world cultures.

Trungpa and his wife, Diana Pybus, eloped in 1970.

In December 1968, 15-year-old Diana Pybus caught his eye. A rebellious schoolgirl, delighted by the Tibetan’s offer of marriage, Diana and Trungpa eloped on Jan. 3, 1970. Upon hearing the news, Diana’s mother fainted. The conflict between Trungpa and Akong Rinpoche intensified. Living in Scotland became increasingly uncomfortable for the young newlyweds.

Diana urged Trungpa to move to the United States. But how did his first meditation center there come to be located in Barnet?

Early followers, Tania Leontov, John J. Baker, Jean-Claude van Itallie, and Fran Lewis were able to piece together the story of the founding of Barnet’s Tail of the Tiger. Patience Lindholm, Jo Ann Newman’s daughter, helped fill in the picture.

In July 1967, thirty-one-year-old Tania Leontov (1936-), an off-Broadway costume designer, and Jean-Claude van Itallie, an American playwright, took van Itallie’s hit play, America Hurrah, to the Royal Court Theatre in London. The controversial play was forced to close. The director, Joe Chaikin, met Vietnamese Buddhist monks at a retreat center in North London. He encouraged members of the cast and crew to expand their life experiences and suggested they visit Samye Ling. Leontov, who knew nothing about Buddhism, set off to check it out. There she met Richard Arthure, Trunga’s secretary, who in turn introduced her to Trungpa.

“I realized I wanted to be in his presence,” Leontov recalled. Trungpa expressed his curiosity about the United States to Leontov. He wanted to lecture in America.

Studying under Trungpa at Samye Ling at the time was Josephine Ann Williamson Newman of Branford, Connecticut. Newman appreciated Trungpa as “a wonderful teacher.” She and Leontov became friends. Jo Ann, married to James A. Newman, Jr., vice chairman of international consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, was very wealthy.

Booz, Allen and Salomon Fill Key Positions
Sept. 29, 1970
New York Times

Booz, Allen & Hamilton, Inc., worldwide consulting and engineering organization, announced yesterday the promotion of three top officers with a combined total of 70 years’ service to head the new management team, effective Thursday.

They are Charles P. Bowen Jr., who becomes chairman, James W. Taylor, president, and James A. Newman, vice chairman. James L. Allen, 65 years old, a founding partner of the concern and chairman for the last 25 years, was elected honorary chairman. He will continue as chairman of the finance committee of the board.

Mr. Bowen, 56, has been president since 1962 when the company became incorporated. Before that he was the top managing partner of the firm, which he joined as a consultant in 1944. He has a degree in business an engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he graduated in 1935. The executive lives with his wife, a son and three daughters in Connecticut.

Mr. Bowen is a trustee for the Committee for Economic Development and a member of the National Industrial Conference Board.

Mr. Taylor, 52, joined the company in 1951, became a partner and, upon its incorporation, was made executive vice president. His degree from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1940 is in management engineering. Mr. Taylor is a director of the Association of Consulting Management Engineers, member of the American Institute of Industrial Engineers and a trustee of Beaver College.

Mr. Newman. 55, has been with the concern since 1946 and was a partner before becoming executive vice president in 1962. He received degree in chemical engineering from M.I.T. in 1937.

All three executives are on the board of directors of Booz, Allen, which became publicly owned Jan. 13 and is traded over the counter.

For the nine months ended June 30, the company's business volume was $42‐million, with earnings of 66 cents share.

Salomon Brothers announced yesterday the admission of four men—all of them in their thirties— as new general partners and of 16 others, including former Federal Communications Commission chairman Newton N. Minow as limited partners.

In addition, the giant investment concern disclosed that Sidney Homer, who has been a general partner since he joined the firm in 1961, has purchased a limited partnership. This was in anticipation of retirement on Oct. 1, 1971 by Mr. Homer, who has achieved a wide reputation as one of the nation's leading bond marked analysts. He has been in Wall Street since 1923.

Mr. Homer, who will be 68 years old next month, confirmed that he will resign his general partnership upon retirement and will not be active in the firm.

Before today's actions, Salomon Brothers had 29 general partners and 18 limited partners.

The new general partners are Jonathan H. Bigel. William M. Brachfeld, G. Clifford McCarthy Jr., and Morris W. Offit.

Mr. Bigel, 30 years old, is an arbitrage trader who joined Salomon in 1965 after serving for three years as pension administrator with the Bankers Trust Company. He lives in Hewlett, L. I., with his wife and three children.

Mr. Brachfeld; 36, is in charge of Government bond trading. He joined the firm in 1957 and was named limited partner in 1969. A resident of Riverdale, Mr. Brachfeld and his wife have two children.

Mr. McCarthy, a New York sales unit manager, is 36 years old. He lives with his wife and daughter in Staten Island.

Mr. Offit, 33, left the Mercantile Safe Deposit and Trust Company in Baltimore to join Salomon in late 1968. He is director of the concern's stock research. He and his wife have two children and live in Harrison, N.Mr. Minow is a member of Leibman, Williams, Bennett, Baird & Minow in Chicago. He and his wife, who live in Glencoe, Ill., have three children.

Salomon Brothers also announced that general partners Daniel M. Kelly, New York, and Julian L. Meyer, St. Louis, will become limited partners.

Booz, Allen Picks Senior Officers Library Reading Room []
Declassified in Part: Sanitized Copy Approved For Release @50-Yr 2013/12/17: CIA-RDP73-00475R000101900001-6
January 13, 1966

James W. Taylor

Edwin L. Morris

James A. Newman

A realignment of several senior posts for domestic and international operations was announced here yesterday by Booz, Allen & Hamilton, Inc., management consultants.

Named to new executive vice presidencies were James A. Newman, 51 years old; Edwin L. Morris, 56, and James W. Taylor, 47.

Mr. Newman, formerly a vice president, was named head of the company's eastern region. This includes direction of the company's Washington, D.C., office's management-consulting service for the Federal Government.

The executive, a native of Winchester, Mass., also was named president of Booz, Allen & Hamilton International N.V., a subsidiary, and as head of all European activities.

The presidency of Booz, Allen International was held by Ralph E. Smiley, who becomes chairman of the subsidiary.

Named managing director of European operations, reporting to Mr. Newman, was Newton F. Parks, a corporate vice president based in London.

Also reporting to Mr. Newman are Conrad Jones, a vice president who has been named managing officer of the eastern region, and Harry L. Vincent, who continues as head of the Washington office.

Mr. Morris, a native of Fargo, N.D., also served as a corporate vice president. He has been named head of Booz, Allen's central region and also as coordinator of marketing services.

John T. Shutack, a vice president, has been appointed managing officer of the central region, reporting to Mr. Morris. Both men are in the company's Chicago office.

Mr. Taylor, previously a vice president, was born in Bismark, N.D. He will continue as head of Booz, Allen & Hamilton's Operating Methods division and will assume additional responsibilities for its computer systems division.

After a time, Leontov returned to the United States. Over lunch, Leontov and Newman shared Trungpa’s curiosity about the United States and described her ambition to open a meditation center here in the States. “What are you going to do?” Newman asked. Leontov explained they would have to find farmland suitable for the venture. Impulsively, Newman piped up saying, “I’ll buy the farm.” The pair wrote letters to Trungpa, telling him of their plans and urging him to come to the United States. Leontov’s interest in convincing Trungpa to come to North America was driven in part by the hope that “Rinpoche could be back in my life.”

Discouraged after visiting farms in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, the women approached real estate broker, banker, and auctioneer Ken Rogers of St. Johnsbury, who suggested they look at a piece of property in Barnet.

In early January 1970, Newman, Fran Lewis, and Leontov pulled into Barnet. Beneath dark trees, silhouetted against the sky, they checked out the snow-covered babbling brook, and the good bones of the sunny, cheerful Patneaude farmhouse. Lewis recalls her first impression of the land—“Amazing! I am a big walker … and I looked at the land and said, ‘Man, I bet this is going to be a place to take long walks’ … but, at that moment the snow was so deep.” With funds from the Newmans, the group purchased Patneaude’s 430 acres for about $54,000.

Four followers—Fran Lewis, Jo Ann Newman, Richard Arthure (Trungpa’s secretary), and Tania Leontov settled on the Patneaude land on March 16, 1970, establishing Tail of the Tiger (TOT), the first Kagyü Buddhist meditation center in the United States.
The name “Tail of the Tiger” was chosen using an I Ching hexagram which says “Treading upon the Tail of the Tiger. It does not bite the man. Success.”

As can be imagined, the arrival of these new landowners caught the attention of Barnet residents. Cathy Ryder Thomas, formerly of McIndoe Falls, recalls:

“We heard that the Patneaude Farm was sold to Buddhists. We didn’t know what to expect. I was a teenager waitressing at Phil’s Drive-In in McIndoe. Phil’s was a car-hop place with a sit-down option in colder weather. I recall serving a table full of Buddhist women all chatting, laughing, relaxed, eating ice cream. We expected them to be more godly, or hippies, or a cult, but turns out, they were completely normal.

“At the Congregational Church in McIndoe, the congregation was concerned about the influence Buddhists would have on the local people. Gradually, we found they were generous, had a tradition of helping people, and they turned out to be a positive addition.

“Buddhists bought gas, shopped locally, and ate at the restaurant. The Buddhists gave people here broader cultural exposure and brought out the best in us. So many Buddhist people moved into town to be at the center of things! We have a tradition in Vermont of not getting too judgmental or we balance our prejudices with empathy. The Buddhists fit right in.”

At TOT, preparations were underway for Trungpa’s arrival. Richard Arthure, Trungpa’s student since 1966 was better known by his Buddhist name, Kunga Dawa. As Trungpa’s secretary, Dawa was asked to give seminars in Burlington, Lyndonville, New York, and Boston introducing Trungpa to eager listeners.

Trungpa’s 1969 book Meditation in Action could be purchased at New York City’s Samuel Weiser Bookstore—America’s “premier establishment carrying all manner of books relating to alternative religions and the occult.” Readers enthralled by Meditation in Action returned to the bookstore asking, “Where is this man?” The answer—”In Barnet, Vermont.”

A Trungpa biographer wrote, “… Tail of the Tiger was a cross between a hippie community and a Buddhist monastery and practice center, even if, at the time, the first element was still dominant.”

Trungpa dressed in colorful, loud, western-style clothing. He might wear flannel shirts or cravats. He left his shirt unbuttoned at the top, defying Barnet’s image of a spiritual master. Wildly charismatic, clever, inspiring, and brilliant, Trungpa encouraged acolytes to question their thinking, challenge their opinions, and urged generosity, patience, dedication, unceasing effort, spontaneity, outrageousness, and compassion. In the farmhouse and poorly-heated Barnet Town Hall, people wrapped themselves in blankets and rugs and huddled amongst pillows to listen to Rinpoche.

Newman sold the Patneaude property to TOT in about 1974.

The Karmapa, head of the Karma Kagyü lineage, came to America that year. Hosted by Trungpa, he was so impressed by what he saw that he renamed TOT “Karmê Chöling,” which means “Dharma Place (“place of cosmic law and order”) of the Karma Kagyü.”

Trungpa predicted he would live only a dozen years beyond 1970. He planned the important details of his funeral years before his death.

In 1986, he moved the international headquarters of his organization from Boulder to Halifax, Nova Scotia. There he suffered cardiorespiratory arrest in September. On April 4, 1987, aged forty-seven, Trungpa died. No one doubted that his death was accelerated by his legendary drinking.

At his spacious home in a posh Halifax neighborhood, Buddhists came to mourn his passing. Trungpa’s body remained in a state of samadhi, without decay and with the area around the heart remaining warm, for as many as five days after death. On April 11, 1987, his corpse was transported to Barnet where he rested in the shrine room at Karmê Chöling.

The population of Barnet—1,300 at the time—swelled for Trungpa's May 26 cremation. Residents rented out rooms. The Barnet Congregational Church bagged 3,500 lunches for visitors. Three thousand students and 50 Tibetan monks attended the ceremony. Karmê Chöling installed an office trailer, a refrigeration truck, a medical facility, and an administration tent to handle mourners. Motels, hotels, campgrounds for 60 miles were sold out. Eight Vermont Transit buses ferried mourners to the site. Citizens sold parking spaces at Harvey’s Lake, Dunbar’s field, Wendell Goss’, and the Barnet athletic field.

The population of Barnet—1,300 at the time—swelled for the May 26th cremation—irreverently referred to as “The Barbecue” by locals. Residents rented out rooms. The Barnet Congregational Church bagged 3,500 lunches for visitors. Money collected went to the support of the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Bridges for Peace program. Three thousand students, fifty Tibetan monks, and Joe and Alice Patneaude attended the ceremony.

Karmê Chöling installed an office trailer, a refrigeration truck, a medical facility, and an administration tent to handle mourners. Motels, hotels, campgrounds for sixty miles around were sold out. Dyer’s Town Market, Barnet Village’s general store, did a landslide business, selling “lots of cigarettes and lottery tickets.” Eight Vermont Transit buses ferried mourners to the site. Citizens sold parking spaces at Harvey’s Lake, Dunbar’s field, Wendell Goss’, and the Barnet athletic field.

After four days of rain, the cremation day sky was heavily overcast, the treetops shrouded in fog. The procession began with a lone bagpiper playing “Farewell to Nova Scotia.” Fifty maroon-robed monks followed, playing six-foot-long ceremonial horns, conch shells, reed instruments, and drums.

Trungpa’s body, facing east in a sitting position, was put into a structure called a purkhang, twenty-five feet high, topped with a gold spire. The outline of his face, a crown atop his head, could be seen through an ornate window. A cannon fired, startling the crowd, followed by a series of Buddhist chants echoing against the foothills. Fog gave way to a blue sky. “Within an hour, clouds crept above the horizon—long streaks, cobbled textures, mares’ tails. Then we saw it: a bright, circular rainbow around the sun. Then we saw another: a long stairway rainbow, on the edge of a violet smear of mist. The crowd cheered.” Meteorologists explained that the crowd had been treated to a glorious solar halo swiftly accompanied by cloud iridescence.

Legends of Barnet, Vermont: History, Mystery, Curiosities, and Culture of a Small Vermont Town, offers an in-depth study of the contradictions in Trungpa’s life. ‘Legends’ dives deep into researched tales answering: What’s the story behind eleven-year-old Jacques Cousteau’s first dive ever—in Barnet’s Harvey Lake? What is the truth behind the claim that the Goodwillie House was an Underground Railroad hiding place? How did the actions of a Barnet physician result in a change in New Hampshire law? Have imported Scottish clocks been ticking for centuries? Hells Angels roared into bucolic Barnet seeking summer lodging. Paranormal activity? We have our share.

To order a copy of Legends: Contact author, Kathleen Monroe, or 802-633-3052.
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