An Apology to Survivors of Shambhala Sexual Misconduct

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An Apology to Survivors of Shambhala Sexual Misconduct

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There's a good thread out there with this title: An Apology to Survivors of Shambhala Sexual Misconduct A whole lot of people in Shambhala seem to be taking the sex abuse scandal seriously. This is encouraging. But a little squishy. The Shambhalians are gifted with the ability to speak very earnestly, with a lot of sincerity. Some of them are actually able to say the totally obvious, but difficult to say things, like this comment about Shambhala deflection tactics:
I regret that when Shambhala leadership, with what were in my opinion inauthentic intentions, reached out to PoC it was not out of a sincere desire, but more about preserving the brand with a veneer of ‘wokeness’. I regret that those from minority communities were put into teachings positions from the get-go instead of being given a proper education in the Buddhist teachings, which would have empowered them as true community builders instead of having them beholden to Shambhala. I regret that I haven’t had the strength to question this facade publicly due to my own fears and shame.

That's some pretty useful stuff. The thread as a whole should provide some comfort to the victims of the organization, and certainly it provides good evidence that a lot of people are leaving the Shambhala theme-park, never to return. I thought I'd point them to the next stage in their journey, so I posted the following -- I don't know if it'll actually make it past the censors -- who knows who curates the thread... At any rate, for what it's worth:

Charles wrote:"Cutting Through" was probably the third or fourth Dharma book I ever bought. "Myth of Freedom" was read so many times it fell apart. I loved Shambhala, the Way of the Warrior. As an old Nyingma student, who ran the LA Yeshe Nyingpo from 1986 - 1994, I have had a fair number of Shambhalian friends. My lama Gyatrul Rinpoche always said good things about CTR. When I finally got to see CTR at Crestwood Park in LA in like 1992 [Tara reminds me now that it must've been much earlier than that -- like in the eighties], he was so out of it, he peed on himself and was completely pathetic. I didn't understand, but I didn't judge.

It has been 18 years since I woke up to realize that my own Vajrayana sangha had become a cult, and it was time for me to leave. Fortunately, the cultic aspects of our group didn't include sexual depravity, and I didn't betray anyone by concealing a system of abuse. It just became money-driven, status-focused, and very controlling of sangha-members' lives. When my wife and I left the organization behind, we established the American Buddha website, and started publishing critiques of Tibetan Buddhism. Everybody hated us. Our former Dharma brothers and sisters shunned us with a passion. We were called crazy, pathetic, Chinese agents!

When Chris Chandler contacted us a few years back, she told us about her work taking care of Taggie Mukpo, and I checked into Radio Free Shambhala. That was a tepid little stew going nowhere.

Then, early this year, a friend advised me to check into the Buddhist scandal corner of the Internet, and I found out that the Sakyong, whom I long ago accused of stealing the Trungpa lineage in my article Born In Tibet, Again: The Exile of the Twelfth Trungpa Tulku, had been exposed as a serial sexual abuser and chronic alcoholic. I waited to read all the BPS reports and the Wickwire Holm report, and the Olive Branch report. As a lawyer and Buddhist, I was embarassed to see the blatant favoritism of the "investigators" who took money from Shambhala students and gave them so little value for their money. For heavens sake, not even an interview with the Sakyong? Really sad.

What's good about this thread is that the victims really can come here and experience, finally, some sense of being heard. Now, if you want to really help the victims, and yourselves, you need to go much further. Those who have left Shambhala should make up for their time in the organization by publicly announcing their disassociation from the the group, and should make it clear to everyone they ever directed toward Shambhala's door that their prior recommendation was a mistake, that the organization has a clergy sexual-abuse problem, and that no one should donate time, money, or labor to the organization.

Those who continue to attend activities at the centers also have a very important role to perform. Individual students at local Shambhala centers have got to lay it on the line -- every student needs to demand that their center draft a "LOCAL CENTER RESOLUTION REGARDING DISCIPLINE OF THE SAKYONG" that demands that the Sakyong be disciplined in the following manner:

1. Termination from his position as spiritual head of Shambhala

2. Termination from his position as the Director of the First Class in the Sakyong Potrang and all of its subordinate corporations

3. Termination of all payments of moneys for his support

Additionally, the students must demand that all Meditation Instructors, Shastris, Kasungs, and other title-holding clergy-equivalents be educated on their duty to comply with the Mandatory Abuse Reporting Laws in their state or province, and sign a commitment to immediately report, directly to law enforcement, all events of sexual abuse of minors of which they have knowledge.

The purpose of the Wickwire Holm and Olive Branch reports was to relieve all of the people in the Shambhala organization who know of child abuse from the duty to report it. This was done by allowing lawyers selected, groomed, and paid by Alexander Halpern to make "findings" about whether abuse like the serial statutory rapes described by Anne in BPS 3 actually occurred. The lawyers who did this "work" are aiding and abetting the violation of the mandatory reporting laws by "keeping it all inside the organization," and supporting the argument that some of the most egregious crimes of the Sakyong's maybe didn't happen.

So, forgive me if I haven't kept with the general tone of sweetness, encouragement, and "hopes and prayers." Rest assured, the Sakyong and his cadre of abusers do not fear your hopes and prayers. They fear only a few things: a phone ringing in the District Attorney's office, a video of an abused person being viewed in a grand jury chamber, a jury calculating just how much a person victimized by her Buddhist meditation instructor deserves for her suffering. You can tell what they fear by what they have invested in -- outright lies, legal doubletalk, phony apologies, and plane tickets.

I wish the individuals who think of themselves as Buddhists or Shambhalians to wake up from their dream of subservience and breathe the fresh air of individual freedom! I wish for those who have suffered injury to find their voices, and their lawyers. I wish for those who know of crimes committed to make those phone calls to the police, the child care authorities, the District Attorneys. I wish for each person who feels that some special rules apply to crimes committed in the temple, or by the lamas and meditation teachers, to realize that is absolutely the wrong way to keep the temple pure. Religion, spiritual practice, must never become a safe place for evil.

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