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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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 May 22, 2018:
Frequently Asked Questions: The Council has received a high volume of questions surrounding the scope of known misconduct and harm within the community. With the help of the international Care and Conduct Panel and a concern for preserving confidentiality, we are able to release some general information about the known, reported cases of sexual misconduct. Please see the “Frequently Asked Questions” section below. We will continue to update this section with other common questions.
Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedure: The Kalapa Council is forming a group to work on creating 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. The existing Care and Conduct Policy and Procedure has covered all Shambhala office holders. This new policy will cover all community members. The group will oversee the development and implementation of initiatives in this area. In addition, the new Sexual Harm and Misconduct Task Force includes representation from individuals who have experienced harm inside and outside our sangha and who themselves come from diverse experiences and backgrounds. Letters of invitation were sent to potential group members as of April 24, 2018.
- Provide your feedback: While the task force group is being assembled, we will begin collecting feedback from the community about what you would like to see included in the Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedure. This survey will be released on May 23, 2018. A link will be posted here.
- 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.
Third-Party Support: The Kalapa Council will meet in-person with leadership of An Olive Branch in mid-June in Colorado to discuss the organization potentially providing support in areas such as policy evaluation and revision. The Kalapa Council is also in discussion with other organizations who may provide supportive services.
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 email@example.com.
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.
Practice & Teachings
In late March, the Sakyong visited Los Angeles to lead a daylong retreat with Rev. angel Kyodo williams. In the afternoon, the teachers were joined by panelists Jaweed Kaleem of the Los Angeles Times and Patti Giggans, Executive Director of Peace Over Violence, a sexual and domestic violence prevention center. The workshop theme was “Listening and Speaking from the Heart,” and the panel discussion explored how we can relate to each other with compassion in these challenging times. Kalapa Media has made the panel discussion available publicly. Please click here to view the talk.
Click here to read a letter from the Sakyong to the Shambhala community (translated in nine languages).
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: