Shambhala Community Care
About the International Care & Conduct Panel
The current Shambhala International Care and Conduct Panel’s role is to manage the formal complaints raised following the Shambhala Care and Conduct Policy and Procedure. This policy was created in 2002 and revised in 2015 and 2018. This Panel will remain in place until a new structure and policy are adopted and is contributing to the drafting of new policies by providing feedback and advice based on its experience to the Code of Conduct Task Force.
The current members of the Panel are: Dan Peterson since 2013, John Sennhauser since 2002, and Ute Reinhart and Claudia Arnau, who joined the group in 2019 after the Shambhala Interim Board asked for further participation to the community. Please scroll down to read more about the Panel members.
The IB wants to remind the community the importance of mandated reporting and duty to warn. The Care and Conduct Policy applies to Shambhala Office Holders, as described in the policy. Referrals to the Care and Conduct Panel can be made to [email protected]
The existence of this policy does not replace the option, or in some cases the obligation, to contact law enforcement or other authorities. Though laws change from country to country and jurisdiction to jurisdiction, in many places guides, meditation instructors, and teachers in Shambhala are regarded as mandated reporters, and have an obligation to report instances of neglect, exploitation, abuse, and sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults. A person who has information and does not report can be held criminally liable for failing to report in some places. Suspicions of these forms of harm need to be reported – it is not up to Shambhala Office Holders to investigate whether the harm has in fact occurred or not. Therapists in some places have a Duty to Warn. Office Holders who provide meditation instructions might be regarded as providing pastoral counseling and be covered here. If a person hears of an intent to either harm themselves or harm or kill others there may be a legal obligation to inform authorities for safety’s sake. Center directors and office holders in general are encouraged to find out what the local law states in regard to mandatory reporting. Whether it is legally required or not we have an obligation to do our best to keep ourselves and others safe.
If you have questions about this please contact Dan Peterson, Desung Care and Conduct Officer at careand[email protected]
View the Care and Conduct Policy
View the existing Care and Conduct Policy and Procedure. Please note that Shambhala is in the process of updating these documents as part of our larger Care and Conduct Initiative. Please read the paragraph above for additional information, and continue to visit this website for updates on our work and progress.
Contact the Panel
Contact the Care and Conduct Panel with questions, concerns or to report a conduct issue involving a Shambhala office holder.
Report a Crime
If you are aware of criminal behavior of any kind, please report it to local authorities in the jurisdiction where it occurred.
International Care and Conduct Panel Members
(ENGLISH) John is an attorney who practiced in Seattle in the areas of civil rights and Native American land and fishing rights. His involvement with Shambhala began when he moved to Boulder, Colorado to study theater and dance at Naropa University. There he heard Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and became his student and later one of his attendants. John moved to New York City and was on the Board of Trustees of the Shambhala Center. He is currently a senior teacher for Shambhala. He lives in New York City with his partner.
(ESPAÑOL) John ha ejercido como abogado en Seattle en las áreas de derechos civiles, tierras de los Nativos Americanos y derechos de pesca. Su relación con Shambhala empezó cuando se mudó a Boulder en Colorado, EEUU, para estudiar teatro y danza en la Universidad de Naropa. Allí escuchó a Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, se convirtió en su estudiante y después en uno de sus asistentes. Más tarde, John se mudó a Nueva York donde formaba parte del consejo directivo del centro de Shambhala. Actualmente vive en Nueva York con su pareja.
(ENGLISH) Ute (born in Munich, Germany) joined the Shambhala Path in 1981 and became a Shambhala Buddhist in 1983. She studied with Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and later became student of his son, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. She has all the time been engaged in Shambhala and hold several positions in different cities in Germany, mainly as Dorje Kasung and Desung. She became a Shambhala teacher in 2005. At present, she holds the post of “head of Practice and Education” in Dechen Chöling. Besides being a trained artist in jewelry, she also completed coaching training and worked as a professional nurse aide. She is married with a French- Canadian and has 2 children from her first marriage. Ute joined the Care and Conduct Panel out of the wish to engage in an useful way at difficult places for the sake of Shambhala.
(ESPAÑOL) Ute (nacida en Múnich, Alemania) sigue la Vía de Shambhala desde hace más de 30 años. Fue estudiante de Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoché y después de su hijo, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoché. Siempre ha estado involucrada en distintos roles en Shambhala, sobre todo como Dorje Kasung y Desung. Es profesora de Shambhala desde 2005. Actualmente forma parte del equipo que gestiona el centro de retiro europeo Dechen Chöling y se ocupa de ‘Práctica y Educación’. Además de tener formación en joyería artística y coaching, ha trabajado profesionalmente como auxiliar de enfermería. Está casada con un franco-canadiense y tiene dos hijos de su primer matrimonio. Ute forma parte del Panel Internacional de Cuidados y Conducta desde 2019 con el deseo de ayudar a Shambhala en lugares difíciles.
(FRANÇAIS) Ute (née à Munich, Allemagne) suit la Voie Shambhala depuis plus de 30 ans. Elle est devenue étudiante de Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoché et plus tard du Sakyong Mipham Rinpoché. Elle s’est engagée en différents lieux de vie et en différents postes dans Shambhala, surtout comme Dorje Kasung et Desung. Actuellement, elle fait partie de l’équipe qui gère le centre de retraite européen Dechen Chöling et s’y occupe de la « pratique et éducation ». Elle a une formation profonde en bijouterie artistique mais aussi en coaching et elle est aussi une aide-soignante. Elle est mariée avec un franco-canadien et a deux enfants de son premier mariage. Ute a rejoint le panel par le souhait d’aider Shambhala aux endroits difficiles.
(DEUTSCH) Ute (geboren in München) ist seit mehr als 35 Jahren Mitglied in Shambhala. Sie ist Schülerin von Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche und später von Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. Sie hat sich von Anfang an sehr in Shambhala engagiert, in verschiedenen Zentren und verschiedenen Posten, vor allem als Dorje Kasung und Desung. Zurzeit ist sie Teil des Teams in Dechen Chöling und kümmert sich um „Praxis und Studium“. Sie ist Goldschmiedemeisterin und hat weitere Ausbildungen in Coaching und als Pflegerin. Sie ist mit einem Französisch- Kanadier verheiratet und hat 2 Kinder aus erster Ehe. Utes Wunsch als Teil des Verhalten&Fürsorge Panels ist es, dort hilfreich für Shambhala zu sein wo es schwierig ist.
(ENGLISH) Dan has been a student of the Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche since 1978, and subsequently of the Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. He has been a member of the Dorje Kasung since 1980, and applied to be in the Desung Arm of the Dorje Kasung in 2004. As a Desung he has served as the Center Desung in Seattle, the Garuda Region Desung Commander, the Desung Community Safety Officer, and most recently as the Desung Care and Conduct Officer since 2013. He works for the Department of Social and Health Services as a mental health resource manager. Dan has been married to Rae Hanashiro for over 35 years and has two adult daughters, and one dog – who is very much an adolescent male.
(ESPAÑOL) Dan ha sido estudiante del Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche desde 1978, y después de su hijo Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. Ha sido miembro del Dorje Kasung desde 1980 y se presentó al brazo Desung del Dorje Kasung en 2004. Ha servido como Desung del centro de Seattle, Comandante Desung de la Región Garuda, Oficial Desung de Seguridad Comunitaria, y más recientemente como Oficial Desung de Cuidados y Conducta desde 2013. Trabaja para el Departamento de Servicios Sociales y de Salud como gestor de recursos de salud mental. Dan lleva casado más de 35 años con Rae Hanashiro, tiene dos hijas adultas y un perro que es prácticamente un adolescente.
(ENGLISH) Spanish born in Madrid, Claudia has lived in Spain, Ireland, Indonesia and Thailand in the last two years. She is currently working in the office of UN Women for the Asia-Pacific region on Gender in Humanitarian Action, based in Bangkok. Graduated in Medicine, feminist, writing her master thesis on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in humanitarian settings, and Shambhala student since 2015, she is very driven to contribute in any effort on Care and Conduct in the Shambhala mandala. Even though she lives far away from home, she feels very connected to her local sangha in Madrid, where she is part of the committee directing the Shambhala center since March. Claudia is a member of the current Care and Conduct Panel since May and of the Code of Conduct Task Force created to draft the new policies. By being in both groups and in contact with the Interim Board, she is supporting better coordination and direct communication. Her deepest wish is that all this work is informed and guided by the wisdom of the sangha.
(ESPAÑOL) Española nacida en Madrid, Claudia ha vivido en España, Irlanda, Indonesia y Tailandia en los últimos dos años. Actualmente vive en Bangkok trabajando en Género en Acción Humanitaria en la oficina de ONU Mujeres para Asia-Pacífico. Graduada en Medicina, feminista, escribiendo su trabajo fin de máster sobre Protección ante la Explotación y el Abuso Sexual en contextos humanitarios, y estudiante de Budismo Shambhala desde 2015, su motivación es apoyar en cualquier esfuerzo sobre Cuidado y Conducta en el mándala de Shambhala. Aún viviendo lejos, se siente muy unida a su sangha local en Madrid, donde forma parte del consejo directivo del centro Shambhala desde marzo. Claudia es miembro del actual Panel de Cuidados y Conducta desde mayo y del grupo de trabajo del Código de Conducta creado para redactar las nuevas políticas. Estando en los dos grupos y en contacto con el Consejo Provisional, está contribuyendo a una mejor coordinación y directa comunicación. Su deseo más profundo es que todo este trabajo esté guiado por la sabiduría del sangha. Le encanta bailar, viajar, comer rico y las leonas.
Initiatives & Timeline
Our Community Initiatives
The Shambhala Interim Board — the governing body of the Shambhala international community — is continuing efforts begun in March 2018 by the former Kalapa Council to address issues of past harm in our community. We aspire to refine and bolster existing policies and procedures to create safer environments for our members and program participants.
The intention of this ongoing effort is to:
- Reach out to individuals who have shared serious allegations of past abuses and, if possible, work together to determine a path forward with investigating these claims.
- Create safe spaces to listen to those who have experienced harm and who have not felt heard by Shambhala leadership in the past.
- Create new strategies, policies, and procedures for working with sexual misconduct based these conversations, with input from the community and guidance from third-party organizations.
- Create mandatory training for all leaders including the Board of Directors, Guides, Meditation Instructors, Teachers, Center Directors and other office holders.
- Create support and training programs for regional and local leaders throughout our global community.
- Create spaces for our community to heal by sharing personal experiences and asking questions to leadership.
- Explore restorative and transformative justice methods.
Wickwire Holm Report
On February 3, 2019, the Shambhala Interim Board released the findings of the Wickwire Holm report to the Shambhala community. Please click the button below to download the report and supporting materials.
In late June 2018, allegations of sexual misconduct were raised against Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, the leader of the global Shambhala community, as well as other leaders within the community. In response to these allegations, Shambhala initiated a formal, independent investigation to be conducted by a neutral third-party investigator.
On July 6, 2018, Shambhala’s governing body, the Kalapa Council, responded to community requests for new leadership and announced their intention to resign via a phased departure. The same day, the Sakyong announced that he will step back from administrative and teaching duties in Shambhala during the investigation into the claims raised against him. Further details of Council’s transition will be announced the week of July 23.
On July 20, Shambhala formally announced the beginning of the third-party investigation, to be conducted by Wickwire Holm. The investigators will receive claims from victims for a period of three months.
On October 17, 2018, the Shambhala Interim Board was seated. To read about the board and their scope of work, visit their website.
On February 3, 2019, the Shambhala Interim Board released the results of the Wickwire Holm investigation to the Shambhala community.
On March 19, 2019, the Shambhala Interim Board released the reports from An Olive Branch to the Shambhala community. Click here to read the reports.
This website will be maintained as an ongoing community resource for information, updates and support.
The Shambhala Board of Directors maintains a webpage linking to their recent communications and initiatives. Please visit the site for information about the board, including FAQs, contact information and more.
The Shambhala Board of Directors, Shambhala Process Team, and International Care and Conduct panel have recently sent surveys to the Shambhala community. Please visit the website to access survey results and analysis.
In July of 2018, the Kalapa Council engaged the services of An Olive Branch, an independent third-party organization, to perform a variety of services in the wake of complaints raised about ethical misconduct on the part of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and other leaders and community members. Their assignment has now concluded.
Through our work with An Olive Branch, Shambhala intended to provide direct support to individuals who had been harmed within Shambhala and to begin the process of understanding and changing the structural and institutional processes that allowed misconduct and abuse to occur. The Interim Board wishes to acknowledge what has occurred, the impact it has had on individual lives, and express our deepest apology to those who have experienced harm in any Shambhala program or environment.
We are releasing all of the materials that An Olive Branch has delivered to the Interim Board. These include:
- The Listening Post Report, derived from the listening post service open from September 2018-December 2018 that was available to current or past members of the Shambhala community to receive support around various types of harm they experienced in the sangha. The report is a compilation of data, themes and quotations from these phone, video or written contacts with An Olive Branch. We received the final version on March 12, 2019.
- The Final Report which was written for the Interim Board, however, we would like to share it with the entire community as it contains An Olive Branch’s recommendations for Shambhala. We received the final report on March 14, 2019.
- The Code of Ethics, a new set of suggested policies and grievance procedures for community care and conduct. We sent this to the Process Team Steering Committee when they were seated, and have asked the Steering Committee to work with us on soliciting feedback from the community on the view, scope and feasibility of this proposed policy.
Scope and Purpose of The Listening Post
An Olive Branch was contracted to provide support, not to investigate claims. In this way, their scope and purpose is very different from a legal investigation. Reporters were not “investigated;” witnesses were not contacted; stories were not interrogated for veracity; reporters were not deemed “credible” or not (as is done in a legal investigation), and names were not disclosed to the accused for the purpose of getting both sides of the story. In fact, we recognize that to do so would be to put those who have experienced harm through yet another difficult process. Many who called into the Listening Post had already told their story to someone in Shambhala and were not believed or taken seriously. Therefore, it was critical to this process that individuals be taken at their word and not assessed for credibility.
Decision Process to Share the Listening Post
We would like to share openly with the community our process around deciding to share the Listening Post report in full. We received letters from sangha members, imploring us that flooding the community with graphic narratives of sexual violence that has occurred over the last 40 years would only continue to traumatize the community. Some people pointed out that we could not confirm the veracity of reports, thereby requesting that we not publish what they saw as unverified reports. Others wrote us insisting that withholding the Listening Post report would be seen as a cover-up, or concealment by the Interim Board. The Interim Board was not unanimous in its decision to distribute the Listening Post report with verbatim interview transcripts included. The majority decided, however, that withholding or summarizing portions of the Report would be seen as concealing data that the community had a right to read—or not read—without editing.
Issues of Confidentiality
We have also struggled with the issue of confidentiality of the reporters of harm. Even though An Olive Branch did not include names or locations in their report, many stories may be easily identifiable. There are also second- and third-hand reports, giving us no way of knowing if those involved consented to their stories being told by others who were there.
After receiving the report, we requested that An Olive Branch contact each person whose story is told in the form of a direct quote to solicit their explicit consent for their stories to be included in a report that would be sent to the Shambhala community. An Olive Branch informed us that many reporters wanted their stories to be public; however, we worried that not everyone who called The Listening Post understood or consented to a public release of their stories in the form of direct quotes. While this process delayed the release of the report because it took time for An Olive Branch staff to get back in communication with everyone whose story was included in their report, we felt it would be irresponsible, if not unethical, to publicize direct quotes of those who did not explicitly consent to it.
A significant number of reporters, upon being contacted, did not consent to having their story made public. Some reporters asked to revise their quotes. And some consented to their quotes being shared as-is. On March 12, we received a revised Listening Post report from An Olive Branch, this time only including direct quotes for people who consented to a public release of their stories.
As with the Wickwire Holm process, the Interim Board has not been given names of the reporters or the accused. When the accused was a current teacher or office holder, An Olive Branch encouraged reporters to contact the Care and Conduct Panel so that cases could be investigated. In some instances, reports were made to Care and Conduct, and they are under investigation. Some reporters expressed distrust that the current leadership would handle cases appropriately. A significant number of people indicated that they had already tried to report, formally or informally, within Shambhala and that they were ignored or did not receive a fair process. Because we do not have names, we again urge anyone who has experienced harm to contact both the proper authorities and [email protected] so that these cases can be addressed.
We are hopeful that the Process Team will facilitate community dialogue around existing structures of reporting and care so that we may improve them.
Reflections on Viewing the Listening Post Report
We encourage each person to reflect on whether they would like to view the enclosed Listening Post report. Rather than taking a paternalistic stance, which might lead the community to believe we are covering up misconduct, we felt that each person could make their own decision as to whether viewing the reports at this time was in their best interest.
**Please know in advance that there are graphic narratives of sexual violence contained in the Listening Post report**
There are instances of child abuse included in the Listening Post report. An Olive Branch staff are considered mandated reporters and they have notified the appropriate authorities according to state legislation where the abuse occurred (see Appendix 5 within Listening Post report for more detail on mandated reporting). The Interim Board requests that all instances of child abuse, sexual assault, or any other illegal activity be reported appropriately to the police; Shambhala should not attempt to adjudicate crimes internally. However, it is also important for Care and Conduct to be included in such reporting so that appropriate steps may be taken internally.
An Olive Branch Recommendations
As consultants to Shambhala, An Olive Branch submitted a final report detailing their work and making a set of recommendations to the Interim Board. Although this report was intended for the board, we wish to share it with the community. In this report, there are a wide range of recommendations about changes Shambhala could make at the organizational level to create a safer community. We would like the community to review these recommendations as we believe they can help frame needful discussions. It will take time for the Interim Board to dialogue with the the sangha and Shambhala Process Teams to determine how to best relate to them.
At this time, there is a working group tasked with improving processes for vetting teachers and office holders in Shambhala. This group is comprised of Interim Board members, the Care and Conduct Panel, and representatives from Practice and Education. Alongside this vetting process, we are considering a variety of child protection policies and looking at additional safeguards for any person in Shambhala who will be around children. We recommend that the community continue to look at training for teachers, MIs, and leaders around power and harm.
The Shambhala community can no longer deny or ignore sexual violence, harassment, and other forms of structural violence. At this critical time, we ask the entire sangha to reflect on what needs to change, and what we wish to preserve. In this regard, we are eager for the Process Team to begin their work, and we intend to do whatever we can to support their efforts.
These reports are shining light on longstanding systems of harm and abuse within Shambhala. We have an opportunity to demonstrate how a community can see itself clearly, learn from its mistakes and act decisively to better itself. The Interim Board is committed to doing this work and we invite all members to join us on this journey.
Listening Post Report
The Listening Post Report is derived from the Listening Post service open from September 2018-December 2018 to current or past members of the Shambhala community to receive support around various types of harm they experienced in the sangha. This report is a compilation of data, themes and quotations from these contacts with An Olive Branch.
Final Report from An Olive Branch
The Final Report was written for the Interim Board, however, the board is now sharing it with the entire community as it contains An Olive Branch’s recommendations for the Shambhala sangha. This report contains a wide range of recommendations about changes Shambhala could make at the organizational level to create a safer community.
Code of Ethics Draft
The Code of Ethics, a new set of suggested policies and grievance procedures for community care and conduct. The Interim Board sent this to the Process Team Steering Committee when they were seated, and have asked the Steering Committee to work with us on soliciting feedback from the community on the view, scope and feasibility of this proposed policy.
Interim Board Site
Access the Shambhala Interim Board’s website with leadership updates, news and communications.
Support for Leaders
If you are a leader who needs help relating to community issues, please contact the Shambhala Helpdesk and we will do our best to direct your question to the appropriate person.
Browse a list of upcoming regional events related to issues of community care. If you are a Shambhala leader and would like to have an event listed here, please contact [email protected] for instructions about how to list your event in the Shambhala Database.