IPE Letter to Sangha

We are longing to hold complexity in this time of pain and confusion.
We are committed to healing, accountability, and reducing harm.
We are invested in fostering an atmosphere of openness, loving kindness, and fearlessness.
We are uncertain of the answers but are committed to the process.

We are seeking complete liberation for all beings.

Since February of 2018 many in the Shambhala community have been engrossed in the pain, confusion, and upheaval following a series of revelations involving sexual harm and other systemic abuses of power by senior teachers, including the current lineage holder, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. (These reports have been investigated by a third-party investigator, Wickwire Holm. Their final report can be found here.) The Sakyong has stepped back from his administrative responsibilities. A number of initiatives have been put in place by the international organization. The international governing body, called the Kalapa Council, resigned and has been replaced by a Board of Directors.

In this challenging time it has often felt that each of us affected has had to be in our own boat as each successive wave in this storm crashes. Many have decided to step back or remove themselves from the community.

Recently, the board of Shambhala International invited Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche to confer a particular advanced program, known as Rigden Abhisheka, to a group of students who had requested it in Europe. This action led to the resignation of some senior teachers, including Pema Chödrön, and the indignation of many in the wider community. (You can read the Board’s most recent response here.). It is our longing for deep and transformative healing for all.

At a local level here in Pittsburgh, we spent much time letting things rest and are coming into a more active time. Now our sangha is engaged in an ongoing effort to examine our core values and embody them in our decision-making structures. We are asking many questions about paths forward and how we want to be together. A Working Group has been holding process and they are planning community meetings to help us collectively establish core values and a governance structure. The Working Group also helped to convene the Interim Practice and Education Team to work on programming.

As we move forward it is our intention to create strong dharma programs and spaces where love and justice are central, where responsibility for harm is acknowledged, and where healing can happen for all people. We are attempting to be responsive to the needs of this time and to live into prefigurative ways of making the future. This journey requires patience and creativity. We remain confident that genuine spiritual warriorship is needed to protect the earth, be with the alienation in our dominant culture, and live in this moment of history.

If you have further questions or would like to be involved in creating the future of our community please attend the upcoming meetings, offer your feedback, or contact us with programming requests- [email protected]

With care,
The Interim Practice and Education Team