On March 19, 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.
The intention of this effort is to:
- 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.
- 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. Such an investigation could include oversight or direct services from a third-party expert.
- Create mandatory training for all leaders including the Kalapa Council, European Council, 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.
The Kalapa Council will continue to communicate next steps in this process with Shambhala members via e-mail and on this webpage.
The Kalapa Council is working with mandala leaders to create and distribute resources as quickly as possible.
- For Members & Community Leaders: Access a webpage with additional information, including: resources for facilitating conversations locally; and a link to a forum where questions may be asked to Kalapa Council members. If you need help accessing the member portal, please e-mail email@example.com.
- International Care and Conduct Panel: To contact the International Care and Conduct Panel, please click here.
- Office of Social Engagement: The Shambhala Office of Social Engagement (SOSE) will provide a container and a support structure to individuals or groups who are inspired by the vision of Shambhala and wish to further the mission of Shambhala in the larger society. For more information about SOSE, please click here.
- Find an Event: There are local and regional events being held in Shambhala centers around the world to: educate our community around bias, create safe spaces for difficult conversations; and work together to cultivate compassion in the midst of all that Shambhala and the world is facing. Scroll to the bottom of this page to browse a list of events.
Updates as of July 13, 2018:
Investigation into Allegations of Misconduct: In response to anonymous 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. Next Steps: Shambhala will not comment further on any specific allegations of sexual assault until the investigation is complete. Details of the investigation process, including how to submit a claim, will be released next week.
Kalapa Council Leadership Transition: This week, the Kalapa Council began finalizing their transition plan, including forming the transition team that will appoint an interim leadership body. Next Steps: The current Kalapa Council plans to announce their transition plan to the community next week.
An Olive Branch: An Olive Branch has been formally contracted by Shambhala to provide support in the areas of: drafting new policies and procedures; victim advocacy; planning for and training incoming leadership; facilitating regional meetings; and working to promote reconciliation within the community. For more information on the organization, please visit their website. Next Steps: An Olive Branch will write their own personal message introducing themselves to the Shambhala community. This message will be sent out within the next week, including further details about the areas of work described above.
Update from the Office of Finance: Leadership has heard your requests for more detailed information about Shambhala’s finances. It is our desire to provide transparency around the organization’s financial situation and the ongoing financial challenges Shambhala leaders were working on prior to the impact of recent events. Next Steps: Ryan Watson, Director of Finance, will send a community-wide message on Wednesday, July 18 with further information.
Sexual Harm and Misconduct Task Force: The Sexual Harm and Misconduct Task force has now been formed. This group will work to create a sexual harm policy and other initiatives to address and prevent sexual harm. This will build upon previous work done by prior groups. The task force will focus mostly on creating a Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedure as an addendum to the current Care and Conduct Policy and Procedure. This new policy will cover all community members, whereas past policies have only covered office holders. The group will oversee the development and implementation of initiatives in this area. Invitations were sent to potential task force members, and the group was established in late May. This task force includes representation from individuals who have experienced harm inside and outside our sangha and who themselves come from diverse experiences and backgrounds. Click here to read more about the group and its members.
- Provide your feedback: The Task Force is offering this opportunity to our community to offer suggestions – particularly if you have experienced some form of misconduct in the Shambhala community. People of all genders and sexual identity or orientation are welcome and encouraged to offer feedback. You are welcome to participate anonymously, or to provide your name. Click here to access the questionnaire.
- Timeline: The group’s formation and activity will follow this general timeline:
- April-mid May: Forming the task force
- May-July: Listening activities
- August: Creating the draft policy based on all input received as well as additional nonprofit best practices.
- September: Soliciting public comment by posting the draft of the new Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedure, and making revisions.
- October: Presenting the document to the Kalapa Council.
People of Color Council and White Awareness Council: The Shambhala Office of Social Engagement (SOSE) is in the process of forming two new councils. Both councils are working to bring awareness to all pillars regarding these respective identities and practice. If you are interested in the work of SOSE or would like more information on these councils, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com for more information about becoming involved.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Kalapa Council 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 cases been raised since the Kalapa Council’s announcements so far this year? So far in 2018, since the announcement of these initiatives, there has been one (1) new complaint and one (1) possible pending complaint both involving inappropriate verbal 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 anonymous 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for 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.
Shambhala communities around the world are hosting regional and local events to: educate our community around bias, create safe spaces for difficult conversations; and work together to cultivate compassion in the midst of all that Shambhala and the world is facing.
Here is a list of upcoming local events: