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Shambhala Community Care

Background About the Initiatives

On March 19, 2018, the Kalapa Council — the governing body of the Shambhala international community — announced a new effort to address issues of past harm in our community, and to refine and bolster existing policies and procedures to create safer environments for our members and program participants.

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.

Please scroll down for instructions for how to report stories of harm via the various avenues currently in place.

This website will be maintained as an ongoing community resource for information, updates and support.

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.

Who is Involved in this Effort?

Shambhala has engaged the help of two third-party organizations to assist in this work.
Please read on for details about the scope of work of each group.

Sexual Harm and Misconduct Task Force

(Internal Team)

The Sexual Harm and Misconduct Task Force was formed in late May 2018 and will work to oversee the policy drafting process by An Olive Branch.  The Task Force will provide feedback to their draft, and assist in bringing in vested parties in Shambhala to provide early feedback, before opening up an opportunity for the entire community to submit comments before the policy is adopted. The survey link was shared with An Olive Branch to help inform them about input related to policy development.

Click here to read more about the group’s recent survey to the community and its members.

Wickwire Holm Investigators

(External Third-Party Organization)

Shambhala has contracted with Wickwire Holm, a full-service business law firm located in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to serve as the investigator into any claims of sexual misconduct raised to this third-paryt team. Selina Bath will be the primary contact and lead investigator. Selina is a Certified Workplace Investigator. She has extensive training in conducting investigations and is experienced in conducting fair, neutral and independent investigations. She has conducted numerous investigations within organizations of various sizes on matters relating to sexual harassment, bullying and disrespect in the workplace. She will be assisted by Will Russell, a member of Wickwire Holm’s Labour and Employment group. Selina, Will and Wickwire Holm are not personally affiliated with the Shambhala organization.

Click here to read about the investigation and Wickwire Holm scope of work.

 

An Olive Branch

(External Third-Party Organization)

Shambhala has engaged the services of An Olive Branch, an independent third-party organization, to support the sangha’s healing and reconciliation in the wake of complaints raised about ethical misconduct on the part of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and others within the community. An Olive Branch was formed in 2011 as a project of the Zen Center of Pittsburgh. Growing out of the need for greater understanding and reduction of ethical misconduct on the part of religious leaders, they provide services to organizations in conflict after a beloved teacher has been accused of misconduct. They promote understanding and healing and work to strengthen organizations’ boards and policies to reduce the likelihood of future misconduct. They have expertise, knowledge of best practices, and standards of excellence for their services. Their consultants have complementary skills related to training, facilitation, governance, and intervention.  The directors of An Olive Branch practice Zen Buddhism, but are not personally affiliated with the Shambhala organization.

Click here to read about An Olive Branch’s scope of work and timeline.

 

Past Communications

Please use this button to access a folder of previous communications from Shambhala leadership, beginning in February 2018. We will continue to update this folder with translations in as many languages as possible.

Questions?

If you have questions about this initiative, please use the button below to submit them via e-mail. Please note that we are receiving a high volume of questions at this time, and will do our best to respond in a timely manner.

Ways to Report Harm

Care and Conduct Process

Shambhala’s Care and Conduct policy exists to address cases of harm within the community and provide a path forward for all parties when a complaint has been brought against a Shambhala office holder. 

Click here to contact the International Care and Conduct panel.

Third-Party Investigation

Claims of sexual assault or misconduct by any teacher or leader in the Shambhala community can be raised directly to the investigator, Selina Bath, of Wickwire Holm. Claims may also be raised to her associate, Will Russell.

Click here to e-mail Selina, and click here to e-mail Will. They can also be reached at (902) 482-7030.

An Olive Branch

An Olive Branch will serve as a neutral third-party to receive stories of harm and provide victim advocacy serives. In the coming months, they will offer a Listening Post where stories can be brought forward.

This page will be updated once the Listening Post has opened in late summer.

Trauma Informed Working Group

A trauma informed working group has been established, consisting mostly of sangha members who identify as impacted by, as well as working in some capacity with or studying, trauma. This project is encouraged by some in, but arose independently of Shambhala International leadership, with the Shambhala Office of Social Engagement helping the group get off the ground.

At this time, we would like to offer the opportunity, for those who need it, to meet with a sangha member trained in professional trauma informed care, for some support and resource sharing. These volunteers have offered to speak with those who are seeking to understand a way forward in the context of all that has come to light over the past weeks and months. The goal of these conversations is three-fold:

  1.  To provide information about the effects of past trauma within this current context
  2. To help determine what sort of further help they will need and how to obtain it
  3. When appropriate, to be a space to communicate openly about their concerns for their spiritual path.

Volunteers will not be able to provide ongoing treatment, but one or two meetings for some support and guidance towards resources.

Again, all volunteers are professionally trained, not only in mental health, but specifically in Trauma Informed care. We will prioritize those who have experiences of past trauma in their histories. People seeking support will be able to choose who they meet with so there will be no risk of meeting with someone already known (unless of your choosing, for purposes of confidentiality). We will indicate if providers identify as, or have experience working with, particular groups (POC, Lgbtq, addiction, etc), and practice level.

If this would be helpful to you at this time, please email trauma.informed.shambhala@gmail.com with “Request for Support” as the subject. If you are someone who is trained in Trauma Informed care, and would like to offer, please email with “Offer of Support” as the subject. Please feel free to email with any other questions.

We hope this is of benefit and send our love and support!

May confusion dawn as wisdom,

Trauma Informed Working Group
Jonathan Kirkendall
Diana Tifase
Kristen Sabol
Jane Heyer
Gabriel Clare
Quentin Finney
Shastri Trinley Dawn Busby
Lakota Sandoe

Latest Updates

July 30, 2018

The Transition Task Force was announced, including their scope of work.  Please scroll to the “Leadership Transition” section of this website to read the full update and process.

 

What’s Next?

In the next two weeks, the Transition Task Force will send an e-mail introducing themselves to the community.

On August 15, Finance Director Ryan Watson will be sending a full financial report to the community.

Previous Updates

July 20: Two communications were sent to the community addressing Shambhala’s relationship with third-party organizations Wickwire Holm (independent investigator) and An Olive Branch (victim advocacy, policy drafting and the Listening Post).

July 18: Ryan Watson, Shambhala’s Director of Finance, announced that a full report of Shambhala’s finances will be released on August 15. This report will include information about Shambhala’s financial ties to the Sakyong.

July 10: The Sakyong wrote a letter of support to the community further apologizing and offering information about his life. 

July 8: The women Acharyas of Shambhala sent a letter of support to the community.

July 6:  The Kalapa Council announced their intention to step down via a phased departure.  Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche announced that he will step back from teaching and administrative duties in Shambhala during the independent investigation.

June 29: The Kalapa Council announced that the organization will engage a third-party firm to investigate claims of sexual misconduct by the Sakyong or any other leader within the community.

June 28: Project Sunshine released a public document containing three allegations of sexual misconduct by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, followed by a subsequent document containing a fourth allegation the following week.

June 27: The Kalapa Council wrote a further letter to the community acknowledging their commitment to continuing this work.

June 25: The Sakyong wrote a letter to the Shambhala community acknowledging his history of sexual relationships with women in the community.

June 23: An Olive Branch met in-person with members of the Kalapa Council in Boulder, Colorado to determine the organization’s scope of work with Shambhala.

June 22: The Sexual Harm and Misconduct Task Force released a survey to the community asking for recommendations related to Shambhala’s policies and procedures. Click here to access the survey.

April 23: Invitations were sent out to members of the Sexual Harm and Misconduct Task Force.  The group was formed over the following weeks.

March 22: The Sakyong sent an e-mail supporting Shambhala’s efforts to engage in these new community initiatives.

March 19: The Kalapa Council announced formal next steps to begin this work.

February 12: The Kalapa Council sent its initial e-mail committing to address issues of sexual misconduct and gendered harm within the community.

Leadership Transition

About the Transition Task Force

To separate current Kalapa Council members and the Sakyong from the appointment of the next board, a Transition Task Force team will be implemented to select and appoint Shambhala’s next Interim Board of Directors while the Sakyong has stepped back from teaching and administrative duties. The Transition Task Force, which will consist of several respected leaders from our international community, will not have any legal or fiduciary responsibilities for Shambhala.

This Transition Task Force has two tasks:

  1. Select and appoint an Interim Board. Within six weeks of being seated, the Transition Task Force will appoint an Interim Board of Directors to serve for a period of one year. Current Kalapa Council leadership will maintain their legal board roles until the Interim Board is appointed by the task force, at which point they will transition fiduciary and legal responsibility to the Interim Board. Please see below for a timeline.
  2. Select and appoint a Process Team. Working in tandem with the Interim Board, the Process Team will develop a process which will allow future leadership, representation, and governance to be improved. This team will be comprised of sangha members skilled in process, governance, and facilitation methodologies. The Process Team will listen to the community, take feedback, and guide a process to oversee the deeper and longer process of inviting a new approach to community leadership in Shambhala.

 

Task Force Members
Ani Pema Chödrön, Acharya
Arawana Hayashi, Acharya
Charlene Leung, Acharya
Suzann Duquette, Acharya
Debbie Coats, Dapön and Interim European Governing Body Member
Katrin Stelzel, Interim European Governing Body Member
Andrew Sacamano, Kasung Shastri
Sharon Owyang, Regional Director
Basia Solarz (Facilitator)

 

Timeline & Implementation

  • July 30: Transition Task Force is named.
  • August 1: Transition Task Force is formed, seated and begins their work.
  • September 10: Transition Task Force finalizes and approves the Interim Board and Process Team.
  • September 22: Kalapa Council transitions responsibilities to Interim Board.

Frequently Asked Questions

How were the Transition Task Force members selected?
The Kalapa Council reached out to the international community to find respected leaders with expertise in various areas who could serve on the task force. We believe that these leaders, based on advice and suggestions from the community, will select a strong, representative body for the Interim Board of Shambhala.

What is the relationship between the Task Force and the Kalapa Council?
While the Kalapa Council and Transition Task Force will work simultaneously, they will not overlap in their duties. The Transition Task Force will focus on selecting and appointing the Interim Board and the Process Group. The Interim Board will be seated as board members for the period of one year. Once the Interim Board is seated, the Transition Task Force will dissolve.

How will the Task Force appoint the Interim Board?
The Task Force will be empowered and responsible for the process of identifying, nominating and finalizing Interim Board members. During this time, the Kalapa Council will prepare an overview of Board responsibilities and briefings by area for incoming new Board members. Once in place the Interim Board will take over all legal and fiduciary responsibilities.

What is the Interim Board’s scope of work?
The Interim Board is not a “new Kalapa Council” but rather is the legal board of directors for the Shambhala organization. Board members are the fiduciaries whose responsibility is to steer the organization towards a sustainable future by adopting sound, ethical, and legal governance and financial management policies, as well as by making sure the nonprofit has adequate resources to advance its mission.The Interim Board may not necessarily hold pillars, offices, texts, etc. as the Kalapa Council once did.

What is the Process Team’s scope of work?
The Process Team will be selected and appointed by the Transition Task Force. They will be responsible for developing a process by which future leadership, representation, and governance can be created.

What is happening with Kalapa Councillors who hold other positions within Shambhala?
We have received questions about what will happen to Kalapa Council members once they have stepped down from their board positions. This varies role to role, as some also held paid positions.  Here is what we currently know:

  • Josh Silberstein is stepping down from the Kalapa Council as previously announced, resigned from the post of Chief of Staff to the Sakyong on July 13th, and will no longer be paid effective July 31st.
  • Jane Arthur is stepping down from the Kalapa Council as previously announced. She resigned from the post of Minister of the Government Pillar on July 26th and no longer be paid effective August 31.
  • Adam Lobel is stepping down from the Kalapa Council as previously announced. Adam offered his resignation as Kalapa Acharya to the Sakyong on July 24th, and will transition out of that role completely by August 31. He will no longer be paid effective August 31.
  • Wendy Friedman is stepping down from the Kalapa Council as previously announced.  Wendy will work with the Sakyong Wangmo and Office of Culture and Decorum leaders and delegates to determine how her role and this aspect of our world will go forward. She will continue to support the Yün teachings, and other texts that are currently held within the Office of Culture. She has never received a salary for her work in Shambhala.
  • Jesse Grimes is stepping down from the Kalapa Council as previously announced and will no longer be paid a monthly stipend effective September 30.  He will continue in his post of Kasung Kyi Khyap and chair of the Council of the Makkyi Rabjam during this transition period.
  • Robert Reichner is stepping down from the Kalapa Council as previously announced. Robert will continue to support the Yün teachings along with the texts and practices held within the Economy. He has never received a salary for his work in Shambhala.
  • Christoph Schönherr is stepping down from the Kalapa Council as previously announced. He stepped down from the European Task Force on Harm on July 14th. He will transition out of the role of managing director of the Shambhala Europe GmbH by September 30. He will no longer be paid effective September 30.
  • Mitchell Levy is stepping down from the Kalapa Council as previously announced.   Mitchell will continue in his role as Acharya and member of the Council of the Makkyi Rabjam. He has never received a salary for his work as a member of the Kalapa Council.
  • David Brown is stepping down from the Kalapa Council as previously announced and will continue as Executive Secretary to the Sakyong. He will continue to receive a salary for this work.

Frequently Asked Questions

Shambhala leadership has received several frequently asked questions by community members and leaders. We will continue to update this section as new themes and questions emerge.

 

What is the scope of known misconduct and harm cases within the Shambhala community?
Between 2012 and 2017, there were 12 cases raised against office holders (those holding official roles within the organization such as teachers and leaders). Some of these complaints were formally addressed by the International Panel, and some were referred to other entities in Shambhala for disposition. These included: the Office of Societal Health and Well-Being, the Office of Practice and Education, the Dorje Kasung and Desung Corps, the Minister of Governance and local Center Directors and the Office of Culture and Decorum.  We want to be clear and straightforward with the community about the scope of known misconduct. We also recognize that some have not felt comfortable raising complaints within the existing processes and procedures. These known gaps are being addressed by the newly formed Sexual Harm and Misconduct Task Force. There has not been a formal process for reporting misconduct by non-office holders and thus these matters have been often been handled in informal ways by local communities. The new sexual misconduct policy will expressly include these matters and offer options for resolving them.

    • These 12 complaints included: four (4) advances on or seduction of a subordinate; three (3) verbal sexual innuendo or inappropriateness; two (2) cases of unwanted sexual touching; one (1) case of undefined sexual misconduct; one (1) public charge of pedophilia; and one (1) sexual relationship with a student.
    • Of all cases reported to the Care and Conduct Panel (not only those 12 involving sexual misconduct), the following actions were taken: seven (7) terminations of teacher / MI authorizations; five (5) resignations or removal from positions; five (5) cases of monitoring conduct or support on path forward; four (4) departures from the community altogether; three (3) restrictions on teaching and/or attendance at centers or programs; one (1) entrance into therapy; one (1) leave of absence; and one (1) allegation was discovered to be unfounded.
    • In the past 10 years, there have been at least four (4) senior teachers who have been asked to step down from their posts. Two of these cases came through the Care and Conduct process and two happened outside of the Care and Conduct process.

Have new Care and Conduct cases been raised since the Kalapa Council’s announcements so far this year?
So far in 2018, since the announcement of these initiatives, there have been four (4) new complaints and one (1) possible pending complaint both involving inappropriate behaviors by office holders with flirtatious or sexual content.

 

What is Shambhala’s response to the allegations of sexual misconduct by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche?
In response to public allegations of sexual misconduct by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Shambhala has hired an independent, third-party investigator to look into credible claims of sexual assault raised against the Sakyong and any other leaders in the Shambhala community. The investigation has now begun. Shambhala will not comment further on any specific allegations of sexual assault until the investigation is complete.

 

Who is paying for this work?
Funding for these initiatives is coming from several sources:

  • An Olive Branch: A donor made funds available in February 2018 to go toward healing work for the community. The donor earmarked this gift for Shambhala to hire a third-party organization to assist with these efforts.
  • Investigation: Shambhala is paying for the legal fees associated with the independent, third-party investigation of sexual misconduct allegations.  These fees will depend on the final scope of work and number of claims brought forward.
  • Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche’s legal fees:  The Sakyong retains personal legal counsel that is separate and not associated with Shambhala’s legal counsel. He pays for his lawyer personally.

 

Hasn’t the Kalapa Council stepped down? Why are they still signing e-mails?
The Kalapa Council announced their intention to step down on July 6, 2018. This will be a phased departure in order to ensure a smooth transition for the next leadership group. A full announcement of this transition plan will be sent to the community the week of July 23.

 

Will translation services be provided for non-native English speaking victims who need to submit a claim to the investigators?
Yes. Will Russell of Wickwire Holm explains, “With respect to claims from non-native English speakers, our view is that we make the arrangements for any translation or interpretation. This will maintain the integrity of the investigation and minimize any concerns regarding bias.”

Additional Resources

Get Involved or Volunteer to Help

We want to encourage as many people as possible to become involved in these efforts. There are several immediate ways in which you can now participate:

  • Complete the Questionnaire: Offer your voice to the members of the Sexual Harm and MisTask Force by completing the questionnaire previously mentioned here.  Click here to access the questionnaire.
  • Volunteers Needed – Trauma-Informed Professionals:  Anyone who has a passion for the issue, resources to share, is working with/studies trauma, or has personal experience with trauma and how that’s affected their Shambhala path, is invited to contact trauma.informed.shambhala@gmail.comfor more information about becoming involved.
  • Volunteers Needed – Shambhala Office of Social Engagement:  The Shambhala Office of Social Engagement (SOSE) is seeking volunteers in a variety of areas including fundraising, communications and social media management. Please visit the public resource page for details about these opportunities.

Support for Leaders

If you are a local leader who needs help relating to community issues, or if you have practice-related questions, please contact the Shambhala Helpdesk and we will do our best to direct your question to the appropriate person.

Press Inquiries

If you are a member of the media with inquiries or interview requests for Shambhala leadership or Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, please contact Ashley Dinges, Director of Communications, using the button below.

Local Events

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 info@shambhala.org for instructions about how to list your event in the Shambhala Database.

2018-08-19, Columbus, Community Circle

Our community strength and big heart are fueled by each member's voice. On these Community Circle Sundays, open sitting occurs from 10-11am, promptly followed by our community meeting from 11am to 12:45pm.

 
2018-08-19, Burlington, Community Care Circle

Everyone is invited to come together to continue our conversation about the current situation in Shambhala and how we are caring for ourselves and others in these times.

 
2018-08-19, Durham, Sharing Circle

This gathering is for the purpose of listening and sharing from our hearts whatever is coming up for us around the allegations of sexual misconduct and upheaval throughout Shambhala.

 
2018-08-21, Portland, Community Listenig Circle

The Portland Shambhala Meditation Center offers Listening Circles as a space to our community so that individuals can come and share the multitude of feelings that have been arising for us all surrounding the current state of Shambhala.

 
2018-08-23, Philadelphia, Envisioning a Way Forward: Members Meeting

In this time of transition in Shambhala, what is most needed at our Center? All current members of the Philadelphia Shambhala Center are invited to attend this meeting.

 
2018-08-23, London, Community Meeting (10)

Community meeting to reflect on current issues in the Shambhala organisational culture.

 
2018-08-25, Durham, Women's Sharing Circle

This women's gathering is for the purpose of listening and sharing from our hearts whatever is coming up for us around the allegations of sexual misconduct and upheaval throughout Shambhala.

 
2018-08-25, Portland, Community Listenig Circle

The Portland Shambhala Meditation Center offers Listening Circles as a space to our community so that individuals can come and share the multitude of feelings that have been arising for us all surrounding the current state of Shambhala.

 
2018-08-26, San Diego, 'State of the Center' Community Meeting

The Executive Council will present the latest information on the financial health and leadership future of the San Diego Shambhala Center. We will also have an opportunity for discussion on how to keep our center healthy in the current climate of uncertai

 
2018-08-27, Montpelier VT(US), Community Care Meeting

Community Care gathering to share and update each other re: recent event in the Shambhala community.

 
2018-08-30, Philadelphia, Got Questions?

Got questions about Shambhala - the teachings, the organization, the history, the Philadelphia Center? Come and ask.

 
2018-09-04, Portland, Community Listenig Circle

The Portland Shambhala Meditation Center offers Listening Circles as a space to our community so that individuals can come and share the multitude of feelings that have been arising for us all surrounding the current state of Shambhala.

 
2018-09-07, Atlanta, Harp and Clarinet Concert

Member Susan Ottzen Offers an Evening of Healing Music

 
2018-09-10, Utrecht, Shambhala Sangha Bijeenkomst

Een tweede bijeenkomst voor leden en vrienden, om te luisteren naar elkaar en te spreken vanuit je hart over de moeilijke problemen van dit jaar in Shambhala.

 
2018-09-18, Portland, Community Listenig Circle

The Portland Shambhala Meditation Center offers Listening Circles as a space to our community so that individuals can come and share the multitude of feelings that have been arising for us all surrounding the current state of Shambhala.

 
2018-09-19, Shambhala Online, Lineage and Warriorship

 
2018-09-29, Halifax, (with: Geoff Crinean, Conner Loomis, ) The Bigger Game: Warrior’s Edition -- From Gulp to Action

 
2018-10-15, Utrecht, Vrouwen in Contemplatieve Beoefening Bijeenkomst

Shambhala Utrecht organiseert elk kwartaal een bijeenkomst speciaal voor vrouwen die in elke contemplatieve traditie oefenen.

 
2018-10-20, Open Sky Eugene, Social Liberation Workshop

This workshop will be a brave and caring space for us to connect with what Shambhala calls our basic goodness. We will look honestly at the social conditioning and hierarchy that maintain fear and prejudice about those different from us. All are welcome.

 
2018-10-27, Portland, Heart of Recovery retreat

 
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