by Charles Carreon
June 12, 2020
Like so many of my posts, this one was sparked by a mischievous thought – what is Shambhala doing to strike a proper pose in these days of rage? I didn’t expect the Sakyong, an abdicated pseudo-monarch currently absorbed in expropriating the contents of the Shambhala treasury, to deliver a stirring social justice sermon. It would be nice if the Sakyong were the type of fellow who could credibly say, “Shambhala stands foursquare behind black protesters and their allies seeking racial justice, and I want every Shambhala student to courageously get out on the streets and join those human rights heroes, and show those people what enlightened society is all about! Let’s walk the talk!” Sure, it would be nice, and it will not happen.
Shambhala’s not that kind of operation. It takes a more radical organization, like the Vatican, to do that sort of thing. Of course, the Pope sits comfortably on his throne, and could put the Sakyong’s entire net worth on his credit card, so that may account for his willingness to endorse the cause of social justice so aggressively as to call up Bishops and other Catholic priests on the phone to thank them for marching and kneeling and praying in the George Floyd memorial protests. The Sakyong utters only blessings and prayers these days, as far as I can tell. Doesn’t want to be political, but he could be subtle about it. Maybe he can channel a new Medicine Buddha practice that works really well on tear gas, or protects from police truncheons? That would be great!
So, okay no Black Lives Matter endorsement from the Sakyong. I wasn’t expecting it. And Pema Chodron’s gone, so Shambhala has no friendly face to send out, no elder statesman. But I figured they’ve got to say something. So I figured maybe they could get Shante Smalls to speak on the topic. I did a site-specific search on Shambhala.org for “Black lives Matter,” and I got only one significant hit, which is Shante Smalls presenting “The Dharma of Black Lives Matter” back in 2018, that has a running length of way too long. I can’t say I’ve heard the whole thing, because I can’t listen to that much dead air (she pauses a lot), but they’ve still got it up on Shambhala.org, if you’re curious about the topic. And that’s the end of it. There’s no more Black Lives Matter references of significance at Shambhala.org.
Which caused me to think -- “Wait a minute. It makes no sense that Dr. Smalls would fall silent at this inflection point in black history. If she were a Shambhala asset, they would have deployed her at this moment. She would be illuminating the tropes of intersectionality, or in some other manner expatiating upon the workable nature of holding space. There is a mystery here to unravel.”
So I went to ShanteParadigm.com, the web-home of the good doctor of hip hop mindfulness, and did a site-specific search for “Shambhala,” and out it came, like the black tongue of a Tibetan demon – she done flew the coop! Yes, there it is -- on a page called “Leaving Shambhala,” Doctor Smalls’ departing words reveal the reason for all her pauses. She was getting ready to press pause on Shambhala for good. Here’s what she said:
The Professor’s goodbye does her credit, but she would do well to discard the shabby association the clings to her from claiming the Sakyong as her spiritual teacher, as she continues to do, elsewhere on the website. She is now a Mellon fellow at Emory University, and should clean her bio of associations with a man who would be hunted by Interpol, if there were any justice in the world.LEAVING SHAMBHALA, THE ORGANIZATION
As we transition to the new year according to the Gregorian calendar, I am reflecting on what is helpful and what hinders my ability to work for the liberation of others and self. Here is a letter I just wrote to the NYC Shambhala Center Governing Council regarding my withdrawal of financial support for any Shambhala entity:
“Dear NY Governing Council:
I want to first thank you all for your hard work toward repairing trust and relative safely at the NYC Center. After a year of being a member at the Pittsburgh Center, I was happy to rejoin the NYC Center after Acharya Eric Spiegel left the directorship.
However, in light of the Sakyong’s recent letter and the Board’s support of his return to teaching Rigden Abhisheka and other retreat, I can no longer support any Shambhala entity financially.
I am quite angry and shocked, though not surprised. My ire is really directed at Vajrayana students and leaders who refuse to hold our teacher accountable.
The Vajra sangha is responsible for being the container of kindness and liberation to the mahasangha and we have failed that, spectacularly.
My withdrawal of any financial support to the Shambhala organization is one small way of holding myself accountable as I continue to work for the healing of those who have been harmed and those who have harmed others.
Though Shambhala withdraws "active authorization” of teachers who don’t pay dues (another Ponzi scheme), I will continue to teach in other venues or other Shambhala centers or groups that wish to have me.
My heart is with you as Shambhala is in my blood and the NYC Center is in my heart, always
Happy New Year!“
As far as Shambhala goes, I think they miss Dr. Smalls real bad, because she was their last notable “BIPOC” teacher. This reads like the white folks on the verandah of the Shambhala plantation are just wringing their dry hankies about this big thing they have to pretend to care about. This is a savage mea culpa they’ve posted:
Gee, “We must do better.” That kicks ass, motherfucker. Whoever wrote that could like, write for Mitch McConnell. “We must do better.” I mean, shit, they could write for the Democrats, now that I think of it. Because it is a masterpiece of deflection.For years, our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) teachers, leaders and members have been asking for change, and directly expressing what they need. There have been many well intentioned efforts to both educate our white sangha and to listen to and support our BIPOC members, and yet white fragility and racism are still as prevalent as ever. This acknowledgement is not intended to discredit those who have tried to enact meaningful change in our community, particularly the ongoing work in many of our local centers. Many initiatives have started, but often did not receive the support and resources needed. Shambhala has lost some of its most dedicated members and teachers of color due to these failings. This must be acknowledged. We must do better.
This is a craven effort to pretend that Shambhalians feely guilt about not reaching out to some underserved community of “BIPOC” people. Why? Because they lost their last “BIPOC teacher.” Yes, okay, they did. Shante Smalls left. But she didn’t leave because Shambhala wasn’t nice to black people. She said why she left was because the Sakyong is an unreconstructed pervert and she didn’t want to give him her money. But instead of giving Prof. Smalls’ reason for departure the respect it deserves, they allude to her departure – “Shambhala has lost some of its most dedicated members and teachers of color due to these failings.” Which failings were those? “Not receiving the support and resources needed.” But that’s not what she said. She said she didn’t want the Sakyong giving people Abisheka. She said she didn’t want to sweep all this sickness under the rug.
Which just goes to show you how twisted those people at Shambhala are. They look out on the streets and see people dodging tear gas and batons, diving under bus benches to avoid getting slammed, and they think, “Wow, now that’s something we could use to cover for the Sakyong!”
Well, that's reprehensible, but more importantly to me, it's weird! You can see how this obsession with covering for the Sakyong is causing this group to see everything through that lens. Shambhala is losing "BIPOC" members for the same reason it's losing its other members -- because they don't want to be shills for a hypocritical, transparently absurd "lineage" with three drunks and three pervs out of three lineage holders, whose current incarnation does nothing but drain bank accounts and send thoughts and prayers. Thinking that people with different skin color want to get special treatment at the zendo is racist nonsense. A meditator needs a cushion and a quiet place to sit, regardless the color of their skin. They don't need special trigger-safe practice environments. This is a flinking projection set up for purposes of deflection. To deflect from the fact that the place stinks of decay, and the institution has rotted from the head.