The institutionalised cover up of crime in the Shambhala International Sangha

Published in March, 2018 and updated July 22nd. 2018

Introduction

My experience with Shambhala International from 2007 to date has led me to conclude that, despite a well-crafted aura of goodness based on high ethics, the organisation is as prone to corruption as any other. My intention in publishing here is to inspire others to tell their stories. I make no apologies for its length: it is brief compared to the review of Shambhala’s corrupt sense of justice which has long been required and which may now be starting.

Shambhala International lists 14,000 members worldwide, primarily in North America and Europe. Of these, approximately 2,000 ar5e vajrayana students of the organisations’ leader, Sakyong (‘Earth Protector’) Mipham Rinpoche (‘Blessed One’). It is reliably estimated and quoted by senior students that approximately 100,000 ‘unique visitors’  attend the 220 Shambhala Centres and Groups each year. In July 2018 credible allegations of sexual assault by Mipham and their systemic cover up by his Administrators were acknowledged by those Administrators after they had threatened legal action against their publication. Much of the trouble is a macrocosm of what I experienced in the organisation.

In 2014 I fled one of Shambhala’s four Residential Retreat Centres, Dorje Denma Ling in Nova Scotia, because Shambhala’s Administrators overtly ridiculed my evidence of numerous crimes at that centre, in particular my attempted murder by vehicle sabotage. They failed to inform either myself or the police investigation which I then initiated that they had quietly banned my main suspect from the centre for some of those crimes, just days prior to the discovery of my vehicle’s life-endangering sabotage. As the sabotage became apparent, he continued to slander me and complain about his ban to guests at Dechen Chöling, one of the other four Retreat Centres, to where he had silently gone after being banned from Dorje Denma Ling. Based on the (lack of) information they found, the Police concluded that Dorje Denma Ling was safe for me, even though my main suspect frequently visits Nova Scotia. This case is typical of the Shambhala Administrators’ habit of covering up crime while abdicating their duty of care. My inability to find either empathy or a sense of accountability within Shambhala following my voluminous reports on criminal activity within the Sangha, is evidence that the Administration’s sense of justice is deeply unethical.

In 2015, the just-retired President of Shambhala encouraged me to refer to this life-endangering sabotage as “attempted murder”. As the former Public Relations Manager of Amnesty International and a key broker in the Sri Lanka civil war ceasefire, I took his advice to heart. He also told me that the covering up of this kind of behaviour is “systemic in Shambhala”. The recent attempt by Lady Diana Mukpo to protect her husband, Mitchell Levy, from criticisms of his habitual preying on young women is a classic and very public display of this kind of behaviour in the Sangha.

I prefer to continue sharing my experience with Shambhala in public forums by way of alerting others to the destructive nepotism in the organisation and the harm to which they may be subjected should they join or remain in the group. Project Sunshine is revealing widespread child sexual abuse and its decades long cover up, involving senior teachers and others in the Shambhala Sangha. This reaches into the Shambhala International’s Board of Directors, the Kalapa Council where Levy resides as one of its oldest members. He is one of the Sangha’s most senior teachers and recently recused himself from discussions related to the now very topical issue of sexual abuse due to the many allegations of same against him, one involving a 16 year old girl with whom he had an ongoing affair as a man old enough to be her father. This nepotism, of course, extends to the Sakyong (“The Boss”, my former guru) as I narrate below. This blog is surely the tip of an iceberg and as time goes by this year, it seems that dogs are baying and skeletons are falling out of closets.

“It is not a breach of samaya to bring painful information to light. Naming destructive behaviors is a necessary step to protect those who are being harmed or who are in danger of being harmed in the future, and to safeguard the health of the community … We must distinguish teachers who are eccentric or provocative—but ultimately compassionate and skillful—from those who are actually harming students and causing trauma. These are two very different things, and it is important that we do not lump them together. There are plenty of teachers who push and provoke students to help them learn about their minds, but that is not abuse. Physical, sexual, and psychological abuse are not teaching tools.” Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, as presented by Shambhala’s own publication, Lion’s Roar.

~

 

Narrative

 

My transition to Dorje Denma Ling

In 2013 the Kasung Command led by Jesse Grimes, Toby Sifton and Ian McClaughlin and the now former Director of Dorje Denma Ling, Lennart Krogoll invited me to take up a dual post as Rusung and Artist in Residence. As Rusung I was charged with the spiritual, emotional and physical health, safety and security of all people at the facility, including both staff and guests. My role was supervised by Kasung Command. The post of Rusung became defunct with my departure, effective with its summary ‘dissolution’ in 2014. In my role as senior management at the facility, I was junior only to the Director.

As Artist in Residence it was agreed that I would set up a Joint Venture between my furniture-making company and Dorje Denma Ling by moving an 11 ton container of machinery, lumber and a thirty-year collection of specialist hand tools from British Columbia to Nova Scotia. An existing building onsite would be converted for the workshop operations. I had sold my property in BC in order to facilitate this major life move, having provided a Shambhala-based meditation group in my community there for the previous two years. I intended to enrol my daughter in the Shambhala School in Halifax and we interviewed there for this purpose. 

The Director, who from my point of view spoke on behalf of the Kasung as my most direct supervisor in my dual role, promised that I would be housed in family friendly quarters, and that my daughter’s airfares from British Columbia would be covered by Dorje Denma Ling to facilitate our relationship. I was asked to make a three-year commitment to the post, which I gladly did, having been recommended for the post by a handful of senior members of the community in both Vancouver and Nova Scotia generally. However, upon arrival in February 2014, I was only offered a one-year contract.

It quickly became clear that the Director had been numerously and formally advised between September and December 2013 by the members of Dorje Denma Ling (advisory) Council to not invite me to fill this post of Rusung/Artist in residence. This advice was offered primarily because, as the Director had grossly mismanaged the facility’s finances to date, it could not support the joint venture as proposed. While this advice is minuted in the Council’s meetings of the time, I was kept unaware of it by all concerned despite having many face to face conversations with all of them prior to my departure from British Columbia. 

I soon learned that the Director also did not have the legal authority to establish a for-profit business venture between my company and the organisation due to its charitable tax status. In pursuing that Joint Venture therefore he jeopardised Shambhala’s tax charitable status in Canada and therefore its success in Canada and reputation internationally.

I therefore moved my life across the breadth of Canada at the age of fifty-one and arrived at Dorje Denma Ling under the entirely false pretences of the Director and Kasung Command. At the April 2014 Dorje Denma Ling Council meeting, nine members discussed the Director’s attempts to establish the Joint Venture without any legal or internal institutional authority, or even an internal business plan to protect Dorje Denma Ling. Council advised the Director that, “in order to avoid a lawsuit”, (Torgny Vigerstad) the Joint Venture should be wound up. Council therefore voted, unanimously and with the Director’s agreement to compensate me some $9,000 in respect of costs incurred in the moving of my container across Canada.

Although he ultimately did authorise full payment of the $9,000 as agreed, the Director attempted to reduce that payment by 50% in an extraordinarily insensitive email exchange with myself days before honoring his minuted committment in Council. Aware that the Finance Manager of Dorje Denma Ling at the time, Sandra Selva had sought to have me fired on evidently trumped up charges, he allowed himself to be persuaded by her that the proposed 50% reduction was fair. Employing aggressive logic he compounded it by suggesting, unbelievably that as I was responsible for accepting the contract to work at Dorje Denma Ling I was responsible for 50% of my moving costs. He appears to ignore the fact I experienced a disruption in my life as a result of his stubborn idealism in misrepresenting the situation beyond any possible assessment I may have made. In fact, the contract came about entirely as a result of the Director’s wishful thinking and that of the persuasiveness of a local Shambhala resident of Tatamagouche, Angela Pressburger who had a vested interest in seeing the Centre flourish on account of her Bed and Breakfast business which was intrinsically linked to the success of the Center.

Kasung Command apologised for the eighty-square-foot cubicle which the Director forced me to inhabit despite his empty promises of ‘family accomodation’ of twice that size. I was obliged to live in it with all of the furniture and possessions sufficient for such accomodation. I was told there simply was no other space available, and, “Sorry about that”.

As it turned out, the Dorje Denma Ling Development Department’s construction budget had been depleted entirely, three months prior to my arrival due to the Director’s financial mismanagement. This left the much needed 500 square foot, three bedroom staff accommodation house 20% unfinished and well over time. It serves as a monument to how he, according to Senior Administrators, “…wrecked Doreje Denma Ling”. While the ‘Hemp House’ could have been completed in six months at a cost of less than $50,000, due to the Director squandering $200,000 on a long-term infrastructure plan for the facility, devoid of any proven market need for such and in the face of considrable skepticism of same, that project also failed. Naturally I was left to pay for my daughter’s airfares myself, the Director advising I approach Kasung Command to cover his committement to meet that expense while knowing full well that the Command had virtually no operating budget whatsover and had insisted that Dorje Denma Ling pay my wages for that very reason. 

Following the Director’s approval of Council’s advice to pay compensation to myself he excluded me from all of the Dorje Denma Ling management meetings for the rest of my nine month tenure, despite my appeals to all levels of the organisation’s administration and Kasung Command. The internal staff strife was at breaking point and alcohol consumption was epidemic—snow moving equipment, on which the facility depended for its daily survival, was routinely being operated by one person, Steve Ellenburg who was a known alcoholic and numerously observed to be consuming alcohol while operating it. His assistant appealed to me as a basic safety concern in this regard and, due to the Director’s inaction refused to work with Steve.

 

Working at Dorje Denma Ling

One month into my tenure the Director asked me to facilitate staff feedback on his, “…lack of care for Staff”. He called a staff meeting to inform us that he would be setting aside an entire day for twelve half-hour appointments to this end, the precise schedule and process to be coordinated by myself. Only one staff member of the twelve booked an appointment: Steve Ellenburg. According to Steve, the Director confided in him his surprise that he had not yet been fired. Clearly he was the most elgible of wiling candidates for the job, which appeared to number jusy one. A few staff simply ignored the exercise entirely, confiding in me their mistrust in the Director. One staff member told me, wide-eyed and waving his hand as though it were passing through the Director’s body, “It’s like there’s just nothing there.”

The Assistant Kitchen Manager, Roberta Canfield had aspirations to the Kitchen Manager’s post, naturally. She was a good cook and well organised. However, she also routinely bullied her junior staff into resignation so as to achieve her goal. Three people had succumbed to this treatment in the year prior to my arrival. One of her victims wound up in an alcohol-detoxification clinic after consuming three bottles of whisky in one day. He never returned. Although I was on leave at the time, when I returned neither the Director, Assistant Director, Michael Shadoan, Desung (Officer overseeing emotional health and wellbeing), Lilly Gleich nor the Personnel Manager, Marc Lanthier brought this to my attention as they should have. I had to ferret out the information, feeling somewhat responsible as the victim had finally turned to me as the last person on whom he thought he could rely for support. Sadly they all conspired to get rid of him when I was unable to help him, rather than deal with real issue: the well-known abuse by the Assistant Kitchen Manager. It turns out this situation was a microcosm of the way in which justice is often handled in the Sangha generally.

By her own admission, this Assistant Kitchen Manager recognised mental health issues in herself and, in her most vulnerable moment, asked me to arrange counselling. The Director failed to pursue this option even though I had arranged a suitable counsellor. At the start of my tenure he told me that his, “blind spot” was in firing people, but in reality he didn’t accept guidance, as with the Joint Venture and the Hemp House. He saw his Director’s role as governed only by the Sakyong despite Jane Arthur then holding the post of Land Center Director. He rarely sought advice in his role, and I never once heard him refer to the Land Center Director. His interactions with Dorje Denma Ling’s Advisory Council amounted to three meetings during my nine month tenure. More importantly, while the Shambhala Administration was entirely aware of his management failings via various offices and roles, it  entirely failed to intervene, something of which he was clearly curious as evidenced by his discussion with Steve Ellenburg as above.

On July 11th, 2014, Dorje Denma Ling’s routine water test by the Nova Scotia Health Department returned a result showing positive for coliforms. This rendered Dorje Denma Ling’s drinking water officially unsafe for human consumption at that point. Protocol indicated that a second water test should be performed within twenty-four hours. This was not undertaken even though the Kitchen Manager, Renate Hemphill and the Assistant Kitchen Manager discussed it and agreed to do it. Apparently they were “too busy” providing for the guests at the facility.

When it discovered the error five weeks later, the Health Department issued a Boil Water Advisory. Notices were posted at every tap per Canadian law and more water testing was undertaken. Everyone, guests and staff alike, naturally became very concerned. The Kitchen Manager resigned, citing her negligence in conducting the July water test and her difficulties in dealing her Assistant Kitchen Manager. 

The Assistant Kitchen Manager became the Kitchen Manager by default. She removed all of the Boil Water Advisory Notices saying there were, “…too many questions”. She began declaring that I had no role in overseeing the situation, even though I was routinely introduced to every guest at the beginning of every program as “our Health and Safety Officer”, and my posted job description clearly covered that role. At a Staff meeting in early September, the Director followed my recommendation and advised her that she was jeopardising his personal liability in removing the notices and that they should remain in place. he did not mention the possible health risk which at that point was still unknown.

She continued to remove the notices, which I was replacing with the sanction of the Diretor’s directive above. She said that the Health Department had made a “typo” on the water test and the water was potable and became very pset when I proved her to be lying. Officially, the water remained, “… non potable”, yet since achieving that distinction the Kitchen Manager had wilfully overseen its general consumption at the facility, unbeknownst to anybody else except the former Kitchen Manager. In that state, the water was consumed by over 600 guests including the Sakyong’s pregnant wife, senior students, children and Staff. One day I found one crumpled notice taped to the underside of the guest toilet seat. I had to assume that the hand of the Kitchen Manager was at play here, with sick humour.

It seems that it was a lack of requisite empathy for her victims in the Administration generally which permitted her continued employment in both the Sakyong’s private kitchen and at Dorje Denma Ling for seven months after the Boil Water Advisory.

So, while the war of notices continued with virtually no assistance from either the Director (beyond his directive) or the Assistant Director, I contacted the Nova Scotia Health Department’s Testing Facility to ascertain any anomalies in the process concerning the July water test. I was assured that there had been no, “…typo”, as claimed, that Dorje Denma Ling’s water was indeed non potable and that I was obliged to ensure that the formal Notices remain in place per Canadian Federal Law, until the Water Boil Advisory was officially declared ended by the Department. The Health Inspector firmly reminded me that we were, as ever, subject to her unannounced compliance visits.

When I informed the Director of same he made no response. In fact, when the Finance Manager, as an old friend of the Kitchen Manager, insulted me in front of him for pursuing his directive to maintain the notices without any evidence, the Director simply looked down his nose at me, silent, as if I were the offending party. A day later I was physically assaulted by the now emboldened Kitchen Manager in front of a witness when she threw me off the kitchen loading dock as I was investigating the situation, attempting to enter the kitchen to read the official water analysis document posted on the fridge. I was fortunately not injured though I fell the two feet to the ground. She unexpectedly rammed her shoulder into my sternum when I attempted to pass her in the narrow space which she had left for me between her body and the dock’s edge.

We then finally saw some action from the internal Administration. I was immediately ordered by the Assistant Director to stop posting the Health Department’s Notices despite the fact that we were obliged by law to keep them in place and the water testing was incomplete. I advised that protocols should be altered to allow the Rusung, instead of the Assistant Manager, to oversee water safety protocols at the facility. His response was typical of Shambhala Administrators—nothing to see, nothing to change, move along. In declining to effect my proposal he dimissed me with a snicker, saying, “I’m not sure how Roberta would feel about that”. He clearly had no regard for the fact that we had just served officially unpotable water to over 600 people. He apparently felt that not calling out the Kitchen Manager’s wrongdoing took precedence over repairing the ineffective administration of the facility’s water safety protocols and the disregard for the liabilities of the facility, the Director and himself.

The Director then published a still publicly available comment on a private website which monitors water safety in Canada independently of the government. The item highlights the Water Boil Advisory as above. The Director incorrectly states that the water at Dorje Denma Ling has was, “… never unsafe”, regardless of his witnessed directive to Staff regarding the Water Boil Advisory Notices and his admonsihing the Kitchen Manager for jeopardising his liability in removing them. He goes on to promote Shambhala’s mission to create enlightened society, regardless of its irrelevance in that context. I am left feeling that there is a tendency for those in power in Shambhala to live in their own bubbles of soporific belief that they are chosen warriors who will save the world. The fact is they merely represent another religious institution, as prone to corruption and deception as any other.

While I received absolutely no effective front line support from Kasung Command to this point, I then began to experience a concerted campaign of bullying, harassment and physical assault directed by the Kitchen Manager and involving two other staff, both self-important “old dog” students of Trungpa, the organisation’s founder, namely Jeremy Blackburn and Sandra Selva. By these three people, in an incident which can be seen as ‘mob bullying’, I was subjected to verbal abuse almost hourly for two months, as well as four other physical assaults after the kitchen dock incident, two of those with witnesses.

I asked the Director to suspend the Kitchen Manager pending counselling. He agreed to do this, but then declined. So, with his inaction, yete again, the stage was set to give free rein to the Kitchen Manager’s vindictive machinations. My personal effects began to be routinely sabotaged and a mixture of corn chips, grass and gravel were placed in my vehicle’s fuel tank. The Director suspected the Kitchen Manager in the vehicle sabotage while I told him that it was more likely the work of his ex-army chauffeur friend who he had recently employed in the Facilities Maintenance Department, Jeremy Blackburn. The Kitchen Manager was asked to agree to relocate her employment in mid-September 2014, following another of her abusive verbal outbursts, this time against a guest and involving slander against myself. She then turned her attention on me, saying openly that, “…because I’ve lost my job, he should lose his”. 

The Director failed to intervene in this abuse for six weeks and met each of my appeals with the sadly familiar institutionalised tendency to bury reports of abuse by frequently telling me so often that it began to sound like a mantra: “She’s digging her own grave.” His puppy dog eyes failed to convince me that he was acting responsibly. In particular, the physical assault and the vehicle sabotage went entirely uninvestigated by him, and the Kitchen Manager accordingly and predictably felt emboldened by his inaction. Slander against me prevailed like wildfire. I became sleep deprived due to the aggressive, nightly and entirely unnecessary operation of dehumidifiers next to my room, occasional random kicking of my door as the Kitchen Manager enetered her room opposite my own, late at night and early in the mornings. The abuse tactics were creative, unpatterned and entirely unpredictable.

Support from Kasung Command was entirely absent, their sole advice coming from Ian McClaughlin in late September and being to, “…ignore her”. No mention was made of my pleas for their support with regard to the unfolding phenomena of mob bullying. I was being gaslighted by my supervisors as ignoring my abusers was naturally impossible in an environment where twelve of us lived in close quarters while attempting to facilitate hundreds of guests in a calm, friendly environment. Even when a participant brought me to the Director for support in her complaint against the Kitchen Manager, he met the effort with derision. The participant had asked what was for dinner and received the response, “Revenge will be served”. The Director’s response was to chuckle and say, “Ooooh! That sounds tasty. I’d like to see the recipe for that!” The participant and I left his office in disgust at his heartlessness.

By mid-October, after virtually daily appeals for help, I managed to convince the Shambhala Administration to establish in-house, professional mediation using a community member. She was naturally biased as she depended on Dorje Denma Ling for the pursuit of her decades-old spiritual path within the community, being resident in nearby Halifax. The prospect of the Director losing his post for mismanagement of the facility was one she clearly intended to diminish as finding people to fill it is historically very difficult. It is poorly paid ($21,000/year) and a 24/7, often very stressful, job.

That mediation failed almost before it had begun as the Kitchen Manager merely used it to abuse me further by spreading slander about what we discussed in it among the Staff and guests despite our pledge to confidentiality while it was ongoing. Secondly, as the victim of mob bullying I was now being subjected to humiliation among the Staff I was technically managing, by being the alleged perpetrator of abuse in a mediation process which the Kitchen Manager ensured was gossipped about across the Nova Scotia Sangha.

She then assaulted me for the fourth time, during a programme hosting 50 participants and outside the shrine room where the programme was occuring. during abreak when all the partcipants were mingling around. In front of multiple witnesses, she body checked me as I attempted to get away from her telling her very clearly to leave me alone. Unfortunately the tension by this point had become so intense that I shouted this request repeatedly as nobody, again, felt willing to confront the Kitchen Manager during her assault. Although the Assistant Director finally and reluctantly physically removed her from my person, he then immediately denied witnessing the assault leaving the Kitchen Manager idly threatening to call the Police and have me charged with assault.

 

Leaving Dorje Denma Ling

Kasung Command (in the US) then panicked. They appointed a local mentor, something they should have done weeks prior following my voluminous appeals to them. A few days later they advised that my post had, “…been dissolved”, and I was ordered to take a one month leave of absence immediately, with no pay thereafter, my one year contract with four months left to run notwithstanding. There was a complete lack of basic employment regulation due processs as no hearing was held to hear my view and n disciplinary action was ever taken against me, prior to my illegal dismissal.

Wanting to continue with my studies in Shambhala, having committed so much to it and hoping that this situation was an anomaly, on October 24th. 2014 I gladly began driving to Shambhala’s Vermont residential facility, Karme Choling, for a month’s much-needed rest.

About an hour after leaving Dorje Denma Ling, I discovered that the strange sound on my vehicle came from the rear-axle gears: the oil cap on the differential cover had been removed. The oil inside the differential had completely drained from it. This could have resulted in my death as the gears could have seized while I was driving, and caused a major accident on the highway. I immediately suspected the Kitchen Manager in collusion with the Director’s friend in the Dorje Denma Ling Facilities Department, the latter having quietly slipped away to Europe just days earlier without explanation. I later learned that he had in fact been banned from Dorje Denma Ling due to his slander and witnessed physical assault of me and that this had occurred without my knowledge or formal input. However, his banning clearly occurred too late.

I began to investigate what I felt at least criminally reckless behaviour and to research which laws may be applied to the situation. As I could have died in the incident which occurred in the context of relentless harrassment, and as Blackburn is most likely to have known the mechanical implications of such an action, it seems obvious that had I died there would have been a murder investigation. In addition, given that no life was lost, the overwhelming likelihood of Blackburn’s involvement in the apparent first and second vehicle sabotages makes an allegation of attempted murder plausible in this case.
In this analysis I am supported by Shambhala International’s former President, Richard Reoch. He is also the former Public Relations Chief for Amnesty International and a broker in the ceasefire in the intractible recent war in Sri Lanka. On two occasions in 2015, four months apart he was careful in assessing what I told him of the scenario, found it to be credible, and earnestly encouraged me to not refer to the incident as merely willful aggression or recklessness, but as attempted murder. He encouraged me to do what I could to pursue all avenues of investigation in this. He was also very clear that I may get nowhere with the Sangha’s internal conflict resolution processes as wrongdoing was, “…systemic…” in the Sangha. He finally told me that if I approached the Sakyong, “…even though you think he should be interested, he ain’t! He just ain’t!”

Having effected an emergency repair, I drove to Maine to spend three nights at the home of Toby Sifton, one of the Kasung Command and my main supervisor. He consoled me with apparent heart, while I arranged for a new differential to be fitted to my vehicle at a cost of $3,000. Nobody offered any compensation and it was clear it was not worth asking for any, despite it being clear to Kasung Command that a major incident had just occurred at Dorje Denma Ling.

Sifton ordered me to silence so as to, “…not feed this beast”, namely the gossip surrounding the Kitchen Manager’s storyline. In my utter confusion, I began a month of attempted healing at Karme Chöling in Vermont. I effectively suppressed any criticism of anybody elses’s responsibility in the aggression which had, preventably, come my way. However, just as the Jews are not responsible for their holocaust, I am not accountable for that aggression and the Sangha remains at risk of harm because, to this day it has been swept under the rug.

Sifton informed me via email that I would risk his personally collecting me from Karme Choling to, “…exile on Ragged Island to subsist on seaweed”, (on the coast of Maine) should I discuss my experience at Dorje Denma Ling with anybody at Karme Choling during my month there. It did seem somewhat of a harsh to toy with making me his prisoner while the Kitchen Manager was left freely crowing around the Nova Scotia Sangha, “We ejected the Rusung from Dorje Denma Ling!” The Kitchen Manager was reported to have done this in the Sakyong’s Halifax kitchen in her role as his trainee cook. Still she was not questioned, and it would be six months before she was properly fired. As a victim of Sangha crime I was being silenced while slander was allowed to generate against me.

Sifton finished by ordering me to not tell the Director of DDL how he had betrayed me. “We will do that,” he said. I had my doubts. Later, in early 2015, he emailed me to advise that I remove my eleven-ton container out of jeopardy at DDL as soon as possible. He encouraged me to get counselling, although I still can’t imagine where one goes to get counselling on a Vajra Master breaking his Samaya with his students by allowing his Administrators to so ineptly mismanage crime in the Sangha for decades. Clearly these administrators were in panicked damage control, just as they are again now.

The current Administration and Board of Directors is largely staffed by all the same people as during the events described above. The current sexual abuse scandal involves credible allegations pointing to a pattern in the Sakyong of forcing his students to have sex with him, and the cover up of those crimes by his Board of Directors.

The response to my situation by Jesse Grimes as the head of Kasung Command is especially telling. He is the highest authority in Shambhala’s so-called justice system. According to Sifton, his initial response in October 2014 was, “Fuckerty, fucking fuckers!” Yet instead of immediately reporting the events to the Police, per protocol and out of concern for the safety of the people at and near Dorje Denma Ling, even seeing that I was in complete shock he simply did nothing. After I wrote voluminous reports he finally reworded the internal protocols on crime in the summer of 2015, such that anyone witnessing crime is advised to report it to the Police. The protocol effectively remained unchanged, as did the respect for it among those accountable for overseeing it.

Writing about his discussions with Grimes on the subject to me, he said, “Our policy is to leave crime to the professionals.” Yet they both failed to help those professionals when the Police investigation which I launched became sabotaged at Dorje Denma Ling by its Assistant Director, in the shamelessly convenient absence of the Director when the Officers arrived to question him.

I reported these events to the Police in Nova Scotia in 2015, from the sanity of my new home in the UK. The junior Constable assigned to the case was enamoured by the lies of the organisation and failed to take me seriously. The Assistant Director who had witnessed one of my assaults denied doing so and persuaded him that Dorje Denma Ling had done all it could by providing mediation between myself and the Kitchen Manager, deflecting all attention from Blackburnas my main suspect. No discussion was even had of the fact that the mediation immediately preceeded an inarguably life-endangering sabotage on my vehicle in a series of crimes of harrassment against me, and the Director’s firing for not caring for staff, oh, and his absence from the appointment with the Constable.

While I was attending a program Emily Bower led at Karme Chöling during my time there, she also advised me to contact the Police. However I was too traumatized to administer such a complaint at the time as I prepared to flee Nova Scotia for Europe. However we did meet again later within the Care and Conduct Panel Complaint which I filed in 2015. By contrast, on that occasion, no such advice was then offered and I had the impression that their purpose was to gather whatever evidence of wrongdoing there may be in the various Complaints in order to protect the organisation’s legal position, and by inference, the publicising of wrongdoing and guilt of perpetrators.

In fact, while inviting me initially to explain my complaint the Chair, Dan Peterson, assured me all information would be held in the strictest confidence and not shared with anybody without my express consent. I trusted them with my trauma, naively it turns out.

Six weeks later Peterson wrote to say that he had shared my information with the various people named in the case without my consent. He explained that the policy on information disclosure had changed and that the new policy applied retroactively, without notice to myself. Mary Whetsell, who was not a member of the Panel then suddenly appeared in my inbox discussing my Complaint. She apologised for the fact that I had not been informed of the new policies, although it was unclear that she was authorised to speak on behalf of the Panel. The email was copied to the Panel’s members. Emily Bower’s response was a curt, “Thank you, Mary. Emily” rejecting both my objection to the Panel’s breach of my confidentiality and her own responsibility in it. So if anybody trusts the current administration to safely address their trauma, I am confident it is completely unfounded.

The Director of Dorje Denma Ling failed to substantially communicate with me on any of these issues, in particular the second life-threatening sabotage on my vehicle in October 2014. In fact, he has not, to date mentioned the second sabotage to me at all or the very real possibility that it may have occurred because he did nothing about the first one.

While my efforts to engage every available internal conflict-resolution process had failed, including an appeal to the President’s Office and the 14 most senior Administrators in December 2014, I began to work on the assumption that Shambhala was actively covering up the criminal activities against me. For instance, while it is a crime in Canada to harass employees to force the termination of their employment, it is also a crime to not report a crime to the Police. Admittedly I should have reported to the police far sooner than I eventually did. I fell into the majority of victims’ behaviour in not doing so for fear of retribution and shaming, as well as being at the effect of trauma and confusion related to the events and my samaya with Guru, and all amidst an emergency continental relocation in midlife due to safety concerns.

 

Leaving Nova Scotia

In December 2014, I therefore fled Nova Scotia for my life, even though I had by then purchased property near Dorje Denma Ling with the intention of establishing my furniture-making business independently of Dorje Denma Ling. Clearly the risks of sabotage were too great in such a tiny community as Tatamagouche, where Dorje Denma Ling is situated. I was unaware of Blackburn’s being banned at the time and had I known this I might well have stayed. But that is hypothetical.

I then arranged for the removal of my container from Dorje Denma Ling, at my own expense thus far. In a classic doublespeak, despite voluminous reports on the situation from myself, the Care and Conduct Panel’s final letter to me cited my lack of reports as reason for not compensating me further for having again to move my container on account of their false pretences and for their clear breach of my contract. Jese Grimes wrote that he had investigated my allegations against himself and found himself to be innocent of everything. Sure.

That said, my voluminous reports persuaded them to fire the Kitchen Manager in April 2015 and the Director in September 2015. Their findings stated that he would be indefinitely barred from serving as an Officer of Shambhala and fired from his Directorship at Dorje Denma Ling, “…for failing to resolve conflict between Staff”. That said, David Brown, who considered my Appeal with Jesse Grimes then wrote Krogoll up in the Shambhala Times in glowing terms and announced his departure from his post as a resignation. Blackburn was never formally interviewed on his role in these events, so far as I can tell although every other staff member was given a cursory interview and my timely complaints about his behaviour are well documented. He had literally manhandled me out of a meeting in August 2014, which I had called with a group of people who all witnessed his behaviour. He then falsely accused me of the same behaviour via emails to various people with whom I was working, including the Director. “Manhandling” is common, he claimed and should not be tolerated etc. Nobody said anything and my reputation was unfairly tarnished with the Director’s passive approval.

One can assume that Blackburn was protected by Krogoll who, along with Anna Weinstein, his successor in the Kasung’s role of Sergeant Major, is aware of Blackburn’s witnessed physical assault on me. Despite more eloquent assurances left and right, nothing was done to curb Blackburn’s violence and, not surprisingly, it increased, to attempted murder and enabled by the unwillingness in the Administration to follow its protocols in dealing with crime and old dogs bullying or gaslighting new ones for the sake of their position.

It is this sort of absence of any real empathy in the former Director which inspired Sifton to write to me in 2015 and declare him “psychoemotionally deaf”. Sifton, to his credit, wrote to me saying that he had “not jokingly” proposed shutting down Dorje Denma Ling in a meeting of the Council of the Makkyi Rabjam, the governing body of the Kasung. This fell on deaf ears, despite a pair of them belonging to one who reeled when I told him about Balckburn’s clownish, heartless, reckless antics being dismissed by Krogoll as, “Oh Jeremy’s got a different sense of humour”.

During my decompression at Karme Chöling, I discussed my experience with many. I was invariably met with utter disbelief that their friend and huggable clownish mascot, Lennart Krogoll was capable of such callous heartlessness. Sifton’s parting advice in a 2015 email was about the need to read and study (the dead) Trungpa’s teachings, regardless of the fact that my living, supposedly caring guru was alive. I should get counselling on how my guru won’t talk to me about almost being murdered while following his instruction and to not,  “…publish in the Weekly World”. But now it has come to that, because charlatans must be exposed for the benefit of creating enlightened society.

Before assuming a post within the organisation, Officers are now required to sign, on seven individual pages instead of one, undertakings to report abuse appropriately and to the police if required by law. Like the current overt effort to train people in trauma management, if there’s no heart, no real empathy, policy will not be enacted. If you declare that you need training to file a Police report on ‘systemic, abhorrent abuse’, as the Kalapa Council has essentially claimed, while placing yourself on a pedestal of ethical superiority, enabling crime and yet declaring that, “…the future of the world is in our hands…”, (the Sakyong) you are only surprised by the calls of “Charlatan!” if you’ve drunk too much koolaid, whisky or both.

I became overwhelmed by the prospect of documenting events and providing evidence to the police in Canada while establishing a new life in a new country. However, I was told by Torgny Vigerstad, the person who was eventually forced by my reports to conduct an internal investigation among staff at Dorje Denma Ling that, while he failed to interview my main suspect in my attempted murder because, “I am not the Police,” I should be satisfied with the fact that I had “unseated Dorje Denma Ling’s Director”. Somehow he concluded that no Staff were involved in wrongdoing, so his efforts were clearly a very mateur whitewash. I am left feeling that these people have far too grand an idea of who they are. Krogoll is now living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, promoting himself as an advisor to entrepreneurs through an organisation called Futurpreneur. He offers courses in “Conflict Deescalation” with the sanction of the Sakyong, most recently sharing a stage with him at a major multi-organisation conference in Vienna called “Peace Now!”

As I stated earlier, the former President of Shambhala advised that I refer to the second sabotage incident as attempted murder. However, he did so one day after resigning from the post in February 2015, having ignored my October 2014 appeal to him for his intervention just one month prior to that sabotage. Having indicated “systemic” wrongdoing, I wondered whether having resigned, he felt freer to speak his heart, and whether when he initially received my appeal for help he was overwhelmed by other abuse which catalysed his resignation from the Presidency.

Indeed, in April 2015 I had written to the Sakyong directly and experienced this same lack of interest. As I explained to him, my quandary was that in following his instructions as my guru to practice with Shambhala, my life was threatened by the criminal activity which I had experienced within the organisation. He referred me to the high folluting Shambhala International Care and Conduct Panel hoo-ha, completely disregarding my alarm at having my four emails to that Panel’s Chair go unanswered for a month because the Chair wasn’t monitoring the Panel’s official email address. I ultimately found the Chair’s wife’s email address and used that with success. I received a reprimand for using a channel which wasn’t confidential, ironically and absolutely no sense of care in my evident trauma! So yes, in my view, the Sakyong ignored my attempted murder because I told his Justice System was shot and he sent me right back into it, only to be thrown under the bus. Is he a charlatan guru? Yes, without a shadow of a doubt in my mind.

 

The Nova Scotia Labour Standards Board Complaint against Dorje Denma Ling

During my investigations I uncovered another incident which implicates the Sakyong in other criminal activity. In 2014, the Dorje Denma Ling Development Manager, Dominic Watson-Wall filed a case with the Nova Scotia Labour Standards Board. At issue was the Director’s inability to responsibly manage the finances of and Provincial Labour Standards applicable to Dorje Denma Ling at the time. Krogoll’s mismanagement failed to provide the Province’s minimum wage for employees despite many advisory reports from Watson-Wall. After resigning, Watson-Wall filed a Complaint asking the Province to oblige Dorje Denma Ling to meet its legal obligation to pay minimum wage to its emploees.

As the Complaint neared its conclusion in 2016, it was debated by the Kalapa CouncilShambhala’s main administrative body, the Kalapa Council, which is chaired by Joshua Silberstein, the Sakyong’s Chief of Staff. Shortly afterwards, Watson-Wall tells me that he was approached by “a member of the Kalapa Council, cheque in hand” in an effort to persuade him to drop the Complaint, and allow the facility to limp along with virtually unpaid Staff and the necessarily stressed environment entailed in such a situation.

He rejected the bribe. The Nova Scotia Labour Standards Board issued its decision shortly thereafter, obliging Dorje Denma Ling to pay minium wage to all staff, retroactivately to January 2016 at a cost of some $35,000. This immediately rendered Dorje Denma Ling incapabale of opening for more than 5 months each year instead of the 12 months which it had sustained for years prior to the decision. So, clearly Krogoll grossly underestimated the disastrous potential of ignoring Watson-Wall, as did Selva as his Finance Manager.

 

My view of Shambhala is one of an organisation with very good intentions which does an excellent job of promoting itself as benevolent, with the taglines, “Creating Enlightened Society” and “Making Enlightened Society a Joke, sorry, Possible”. While Shambhala is content to advise that crime be reported to the police, it routinely avoids doing so for fear of damaging its image and the unquestionable benefit which it paradoxically has in improving people’s self-confidence. In my own case, through studying Buddhism and practising with Shambhala I have been able to reconcile significant family and personal issues and improve my life by achieving some significant inner peace, much like most Shambhalians.

However, it is delusional to suggest that I should continue practising with an organisation which is blind to my attempted murder and which tries, and fails, to flip my sense of betrayal by gaslighting me. To proposem, as they did, that I report their crimes to the Police, including the Sakyong and his Shambhala Administrators who then covered them up, and expect their enlightened kindness while continuing to practice in the Sangha is fundamentally naive. They have bitten off more than they can chew in life.

The current clarion call for the Sangha to employ “outside help” is often being met with ridicule. The suspicion is that the Administrators do not have the will to address reconciliation of internal abuse which derives from their blind subscription to the mantra, “We hold the future of the world in our hands.” This arrogance is not only serving denial within the sangha, but it also prevents the very acknowledgement of wrong action which Buddhism seeks to nurture.

It is further delusional to suggest that I should “practise the teachings and get counselling”, as nobody except my guru is fully qualified to counsel me on my samaya with him as that is a contract I made with him alone. The guru has become blameless and the victim, responsible in a situation where the guru’s responsibility to provide a safe space (free from attempted murder) is not and cannot be provided, not because it’s impossible but because the vajrayana view of everything is pure applies to crime, allowing to be experienced even though it is preventable.

I can only look to the example of the Buddha who ultimately rejected all of his gurus’ practices and encourage others to step onto this path with eyes wide open, trusting only oneself. I suppose it’s a good lesson really, although I do feel as though I have been “raped” by Shambhala, and numerously, for the sake of senior student’s egos.

Shambhala subtly promotes a view that we are in essence good and beyond reproach, capable of anything, of flying to the moon. However, in naively inflating a person’s potential, it routinely appoints people to roles for which they are both underqualified and under-supported. The so called “Vision of Enlightened Society” becomes such an intoxicating elixir that when mistakes or crimes occur, they are reasoned away as being the result of the excusable illusion of human existence. By this perversion of the dharma, the pain caused to others becomes acceptable collateral damage along the Sacred Path, because, “Everything is Emptiness,” or, “It’s all an Illusion”. That is called dharmasplaining, and it’s extremely dangerous.

In completing his review of my experiences at Dorje Denma Ling, Sifton told me repeatedly that I was experiencing a, “…hot ngöndro”, referring to a spritual practice, and that he was,  “…jealous”, of my experience. I took this to mean that I should accept my pain as a benefit of my practice. All I could think was, “Must someone die before these self-involved, deluded charlatans sit up?” I am reminded by a supporter of this blog that somebody already did die: a woman who slept with a man callously infected with AIDS by the Sakyong’s predecessor, the Regent. The latter took vajrayana buddhist pure perception/groundlessness/emptiness to a tragic result by believing that he was protected from infecting his sex partners. Have we learned nothing about ethics as a Sangha since the late 1980’s?

Sifton made entirely ignored my suggestion that we discuss how Shambhala deals (i.e.e covers up) crime in the Sangha, presumably for the same reason of a systemic, naive allegiance to absolutist, idealist philosphy. That discussion is now coming through the back door because the Care and Conduct Panel, as Shambhala’s Justice System, are becoming understood as the fox guarding the chicken coop. A huge sigh of relief was collectively breathed when the Sakyong married because it meant less managing of his alcohol fuelled sex parties and the ellegations of sexual misconduct which slowly filtered down to the Panel despite best efforts by the Kalapa Council to keep his drama in the inner, inner, circle. It’s worth remembering that the Sakyong reluctantly took the job after being wrenched away  from his mother in India to Samye Ling in Scotland, held captive there for a few years by Akong Rinpoche who placed him in a group home where he was burned with cigarrettes amongst other physical abuses and finally released to his father and his new teenage bride to be raised in Boulder as the son of an infamous alcoholic wise man with a penchant for cocaine and wives. Now in his mid fifties, having inherited a Sangha full of his father’s students who predictably disagree with the way he runs it or leave it, mocking him or respectfully (in rare cases) I have no doubt that the poor fellow needs therapy. Surely forcing a student to have sex with you during your first child’s birthday party is indication enough? Apparently this is not so for the fawning, saccharinistas who surround him, worshipping his every move hereby ensuring their position on the Ivory Tower’s ladder is securely pampered also.

The damage of such clergy misconduct and its enabling is both to the noble mission of the organisation and to the students caught in the institutionally sanctioned crossfire of the Administrative lack of empathy which is applied to any complaint of misconduct. While considering a life at Dorje Denma Ling and in Nova Scotia generally, I met many Shambhalians who told me that its four Residential Land Centres were intense places at which to live and work, yet ultimately worth every challenge. Should I have expected those challenges to include attempted murder and the systemic cover up of criminal activity at both these ‘lay monasteries’ and across the organisation as a whole? It’s not what I taught my meditation students when we read from the Sakyong’s books in the group I started in my own home two years prior to moving to Dorje Denma Ling, because his books tell a very different story. They also don’t describe how, between writing chapters he drunkenly forced his students to sexually pleasure him, knowing which the reader leaves with a rather different interpretation than not knowing.

 

Conclusion

In my view, the Shambhala Administrators collectively disregard the consequences of enabling criminal activity within the Sangha, in the vain hope that a falsely benign public image can be maintained. This is based on the application the vajrayana pure perception philosophy, recently controversially expounded by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. That view holds that crime is acceptable if it is seen in terms everything in the world being sacred.

A former personal attendant of the Sakyong who told me that “it’s only a matter of time before Shambhala is taken down by a lawsuit”, evidently speaks the truth. Shambhala is now experiencing the same fire into which Boston’s Catholic Church was thrown under the leadership of Cardinal Bernard Law. The bold efforts to address sexual abuse and abuse of power within the Sangha by Andrea Winn and Project Sunshine is drawing much support from the grass roots of the Sangha. This is in stark contrast to the abuse directed at the Project by Shambhala’s Administrators, and, it must be understood, by extension the Sakyong. As the Report of Phase two of the Project was recently about to be published, the Kalapa Council threatened to sue the independent investigator who had written it, should she publish the allegations against the Sakyong and his Administrators contained in it. The phrase used was, “…all available action”, a phrase which the Council unsuccessfully tried to convince readers, excluded litigation. The Sangha is now reeling in confusion as a result of the Sakyong’s various wrongdoings.

In Canada, it has taken decades to acknowledge the need for reconciliation of the abuse suffered by its aboriginal peoples at the hands of those intoxicated by power. Thankfully this process is now well under way – in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand likewise; in the United States, not so much; in Kenya it has begun; across the world we are seeing a rising confidence in truth telling about the very human trait of abuse of power. The courage of victims speaking their truths with the fearlessness about which, ironically the Shambhala Teachings talk, is giving pause to leaders everywhere who may be tempted to use their positions to either directly commit crime themselves or enable it by covering up criminal activity by others.

Shambhala’s relevance will be immeasurably enhanced should it apply its teachings to creating a responsible model for dealing with crime in a religious organisation. As the Sakyong proclaims, “The future of the world is in our hands”, it seems that he is up for the challenge of processes like restorative justice with his victims. The fear and arrogance which declines independent appraisal of its Administrators’ actions presumes that Shambhala is above the temporal laws which guide the societies in which its members reside. Regardless of how much it may feel like a chosen, divinely empowered army of noble, nonviolent, warrior lay monks, crime within its ranks will ultimately be subject to the Courts wherein its soporific niceties will be rendered void and only its pleas as to restorative justice models will save the organisation from an implosion if spiritual gluttony.

The institutionalised denial which, now Buddhist Project Sunshine is facing points to the Shambhala Administrators’ fear of independent appraisal. Nobody yet says this better than Lady Diana Mukpo, the wife of one of its most senior Administrators, the now disgraced Mitchell Levy and former wife of the organisation’s founder. Mr. Levy recently recused himself from internal policymaking on sexual abuse due to decades of sexual abuse allegations against him.

Lady Mukpo’s recent letter is now ‘featured’ on the Shambhala Times website. Her reaction echoes that of Cardinal Law in response to the allegations of his covering up sexual abuse: implausible deniability for the organisation’s systemic abuse. This clip from the 2015 movie Spotlight is a timely example of how religious institutions tend to lean on whistleblowers and maintain the staus quo denials of corruoted ethics so obvious to impartial observers. The award-winning movie addresses the Boston Globe newspaper’s success in exposing the institutionally sanctioned sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in recent decades.

For Lady Mukpo to call now for a “transparent, measured, and responsible accounting of the facts”, to heal the pains which her former husband and his son’s Regent caused decades ago points to the organisation’s inability to reconcile decades of past harms. Compounding this inept response, she characterises the Project’s allegations as gossip, mob justice and an attack on her family. This is in contrast to two of Mr. Levy’s colleagues on the organisation’s governing council who are on record directly praising the value of the Project to Ms. Winn.

Such a self-serving defense of her family heritage and honour, and an attack on the well-intentioned effort towards reconciliation would be unnecessary had the Administrators themselves not failed to make that effort. In my view, her letter is a Kalapa Council sanctioned broadside across the bow of Project Sunshine and the victims which are given refuge by this vessel. It amounts to blatant victim shaming, is fundamentally contrary to the Shambhala Teachings and ironically undermines the Shambhala Administration. It puts the lie to the Council’s simultaneous February 12th. letter where they ask for forgiveness for poorly administering the systemic, criminal abuse in the Sangha on which this Project sheds such a clear light.

The only risk which I can see with Project Sunshine is that it is not totally independent of the Sangha and may become subject to the perversions of its Administration. Pursuant to Lady Mukpo’s ideals, I have indeed attempted a responsible accounting of the facts, both by the Sakyong and within the Shambhala Administration. They have completely failed me, my perpetrators and their future victims, if any.

The Sakyong’s Executive Secretary, David Brown and the head of the Kasung, Jesse Grimes wrote to me jointly in their closing my Complaint to the Care and Conduct Panel, which the Sakyong personally advised I pursue. They concluded that no compensation was due to me for breach of contract or for being forced to relocate from Nova Scotia on account of my attempted murder, because I had made insufficient effort to notify the Administration of my experiences. They ignored the fact that I had engaged every available internal conflict-resolution process, written voluminous reports, immediately notified the Director of Dorje Denma Ling of the life-endangering sabotage to my vehicle and personally approached Jane Arthur as the Director of Shambhala Residential Retreat Centres three weeks after the event. She declined to speak with me in person at that point, or at any other opportunity over the next two weeks of my time at Karme Choling, near which facility she is resident and was present.

It was in this same letter, written on an elaborate Shambhala letterhead that Jesse Grimes reported his findings on my allegations that he was remiss in not reporting these crimes to the Police. It should therefore come as no surprise to anyone, and especially Lady Mukpo, that her family is receiving a little dissent just now because such is the position of royalty. The only surprise for me, as with the former Director of Dorje Denma Ling, is that it has not happened sooner.

I am satisfied now to know that I have done a civic duty in telling my story and to let people believe (and respond) as they will.

To those who have perpetrated crimes against myself: I have the protection of my local police force. Any attempts to further harm me online or elsewhere will be noted by them as possible evidence of guilt in crimes committed against myself and others and your ongoing, confused aggression. In the latter, I sincerely wish you well.

I also wish the reader all success in your pursuit of enlightenment.

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41 thoughts on “The institutionalised cover up of crime in the Shambhala International Sangha

  1. Effing Ada! And flabber my ghast! WELL DONE Edmund Butler. Brilliantly well done. I assume you know about the massive level of corruption at Rigpa recently exposed in the 8 signatories letter? Have you seen http://behindthethangkas.wordpress.com ? I published this online in 2010. It contains 3recent updates including the full text of the letter. You get your bodhisattva medal first class from me.

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      1. According to Prof. Donald S. Lopez Jr. describes in his book Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West, p16, “”Lamaism” is often regarded as a synonym for “Tibetan Buddhism.”…..The art historian’s comment echoes the nineteenth-century portrait of Lamaism as something monstrous, a composite of unnatural lineage devoid of the spirit of original Buddhism. As p6 also mentions “As early as 1822, Hegel, discussing Lamaism in his Lectures on the Philosophy of History, found it both paradoxical and revolting that the Dalai Lama, a living human being, was worshipped as God.”

        I feel terribly sorry to read what you have gone through. Lamaism is not Buddhism at all! Their teachings and practices have nothing to do with Buddhism taught by Buddha Shakyamuni. Lamaism is a cult as Chris Chandler wrote in Enthralled! I agree with her. I have found other scholars holding the same views about the practices and doctrines of Tibetan Buddhism (Lamaism) involve the sexual union of guru teachers with female consorts.

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  2. Horrible indeed. Thank you for sharing it Edmund.

    It reminds me on my own cults. This nativity, childishness, craziness, insanity mixed with good intentions but a lack of ability to live just up to the standards of society – not to speak about the standards or ideals of Buddhism… and then these haughty aims and goals »enlightened society«, the feudal exploitation and the exploitation of people’s faith, the seeing of oneself as an elite, impressing others with boasting language or visions while being basically dysfunctional, blessed with good intentions and insanity.

    I wonder how deeply this is ingrained in Shambala or how much this was an exception. You seem to say its actual widespread in Shambala. It wouldn’t make me wonder, considering a guru who doesn’t really care or take responsibility and the past with a history of whitewashing Trungpa’s deeds as enlightened crazy wisdom activity. The failings and harm has brought forth disillusioned and deeply pained people like Chris Chandler who basically tells now Tibetan Buddhism is a cult and worse…

    In 2011 I was myself impressed by Shambala. When we wanted to found a team for the German Buddhist Union to install an Ethical Charta and an Ethical Committee, it was a Shambala leader who invoked most people’s faith (including my own’s) and from whom I learned what excellent means Shambala has to prevent abuse. I totally believed it (not being aware of any new forms of abuse after Trungpa’s and his sucessor’s harming misdeeds). Being impressed and also finding the set up of »Guardians« (or something like this, Shambala has their own strange terminology) who supervise the well being of the Shambala follwers might work, I also recommended Shambala groups over the past years as a good place to learn meditation and as rather save.

    Thank you again for sharing your experiences and observations. I wish you all the best on your journey and truly honest, genuine, sane and compassionate friends.

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    1. Thanks Tenpel. I can only best repeat the words of the former President of Shambhala: this is systemic. Don’t believe for one second that the Kalapa Council, the senior administrative body of Shambhala will address this fairly. If they are capable of naievely trying to bribe their way out of paying minimum wage as required by law they will go into feedback loop trying to deal with all of the trauma which has lain buried by their hand for so many years. This is going to take some outside persuasion akin to that which occurred in Boston at the Catholic Church: see the 2015 movie Spotlight. This is what is on the cards for Shambhala right now. Blessings on your path my friend.

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      1. Thank you for your reply Ed and for the clean clear clarification as systemic.
        I just read Lady Mukpo’s attack on Andrea M Winn (Project Sunshine). I agree with your analysis on that.

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      2. Ah, you amended your comment.

        Thank you also for your view on how the Leadership’s honesty dealing with it. Yes, this scepticism or these doubts are justified, I think. Only external investigation by a party financial independent from Shambala might lead to any honest and clear, justice doing, result.

        I saw the movie Spotlight a while ago, it is so moving, so good and so true in how it shows the pain of the survivors, the tactic of the perpetrators … Its a really good, educating movie.

        Blessings on your path my friend 🙂

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  3. Edmund, it has been so sad to read your story. And it accords with what I experienced also with this organization. These people never offer actual compassion to those who have been harmed. They never even apologize. That seems to actually be against their religion. The king and all his minions never make mistakes and are incorruptible. They are bound to each other by vows of loyalty. They have gone down this road for so long I’m not sure they see any other possibilities anymore.

    What’s most heartbreaking in your story is hearing how you were treated **afterward**. Terrible things can happen, but one expects that an organization devoted to the creation of “enlightened society” would have an oversight committee that’s truly independent, devoted to the truth and to healing. But this is not the case.

    Thank you for your courage in speaking out. Shambhala should thank you too for that Shambhalian virtue, but it seems they have other values.

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    1. It *is* what happened at the Care and Conduct Panel which hurts the most: the guru’s utterly self-interested disinterest, not to mention that of the sycophantic Kalapa Council members. I am active in creating a file of victim impact statements which may eventually encourage some contrition in these charlatans.

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  4. Dear Edmund,

    I don’t know if you remember me. My name is Joe Pratt. I am a Kasung and Shambhalian living in Halifax. We met a few times when I was at Denma Ling for short visits.

    I have been shocked and horrified to read your story. I have literally shed tears and lost sleep over it. I have read it as I thoroughly as I could – several times. I don’t know if you will believe me but I care deeply about you and what you went through.

    I have felt compelled to examine very carefully the points you have raised. I would honestly like to help blow the lid off any deception or wrongdoing in Shambhala. I do think mistakes happen all the time in Shambhala. It is unavoidable because we are human and NOT enlightened. It is imperative that we recognize our mistakes. Constantly. As they arise. So that we do not perpetuate bullshit upon bullshit to cover our mistakes and thereby harm and abuse people. Maybe I am kidding myself but I actually think we ARE slowly learning that.

    Quite possibly you are not interested in what I think. Nonetheless I have been focusing on this a lot in the past week, and I would like to continue for a bit. I am doing this entirely on my own, not as part of any official reply from Shambhala.

    I do think you were unfairly put into a very difficult situation. I could go on at length about why I think that, but I do accept what you say about the circumstances leading up to the “Joint Venture”.

    I have thought over and over about many of your points. I have looked into several of them as best I can. I have done this partly because I actually have regarded most Shambhalians as NOT deceptive and unkind. I have not regarded Shambhala as fundamentally fucked up. I have not regarded the Sakyong as a charlatan. In fact I still don’t hold those views at all. Do I think mistakes were made? Absolutely. Do I think you were invited into a situation you should not have been invited into? Yes. Do I think people did not try support you? Actually I don’t think that. But somehow you were not able to receive the support you actually needed.

    I am worried that if I go on too much in this reply it will start to feel like I’m arguing with you or discounting your whole experience. I do not want to do that. I said I care about you and I mean that with all my heart.

    One thing I do feel compelled to bore into is the point of ATTEMPTED MURDER. That’s the thing I have thought about the most and looked into the most. I have spoken to several people about what and why their views are about that. I have never heard of that as a way to attempt murder, in news or in fiction.

    At this point, I honestly don’t believe anybody thought there was a murder attempt against you. I get that that language was used by Mr. Reoch in a discussion with you. I regard that as unfortunate and I don’t think he knew what he was talking about.

    I asked a mechanic friend of mine (non-Shambhalian) about removing the filler cap on a rear axle as a method of trying to kill someone. She literally laughed and thought it was preposterous. “It’s the last thing I would think of” were her words. I have googled it and looked at several youtube videos about how to do that. Many vehicles do not even have a filler cap. So someone would have to know that yours did. Then they would have to get at it (extremely awkward) without being seen. And if the oil were to drain out before or during driving, it would make a funny noise and the driver would pull over, just as you did. It would not be some sudden catastrophe at high speed on the highway. Also, I was told you had had the vehicle recently serviced, including rear axle work – and that was viewed by the police as the likely cause of loss of rear axle oil. That is to say the mechanic had not properly replaced the filler cap.

    I do not know for sure if any of that is accurate. Admittedly, I am in the realm of hearsay, as is pretty much everybody here. It’s just that I regard that as the sensible view. Not that a murder attempt happened. “Murder attempt” is hyperbolic and simply not believable. COULD it be the case? I don’t know, maybe. But if no one genuinely believes it – police included – then it is not proper or sensible to accuse people of a cover up.

    The other form of vandalism on your vehicle – which I think you said was also a murder attempt – was gravel being put into the gas tank. Without really knowing, I view that as a nasty thing to do, but not life threatening. My mechanic friend said it was just mischief and would not set the driver up for any kind of catastrophe; possibly not even ruin the gas tank. So maybe you have more information about that?

    I apologize for opposing you on these points, but I am determined to adhere as best I can to honesty and truth seeking.

    In short I sympathize with you on many points and I definitely think you are pointing to more than one sytematic problem in how Shambhala is currently run. I also think you have gone over the top in your thinking.

    I am willing to share thoughts on further points – such as the assaults – but I am going to stop for now. Please let me know if you want me to say more. You know how to contact me or I can post more stuff here.

    Sincerely and with love,
    Joe

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    1. Hi Joe, Yes I do indeed remember you and your supporting me at the time, on the ground at Dorje Denma Ling. I was always glad to see you approaching, as I am now.

      So far as I know the Police did not investigate my allegations about the oil filler cap because they were put off by the Assistant Director’s input and negative inferences on my character regarding the need for and provision of mediation. They clearly read this as my own mental health issues at play.

      The Police were duty bound to report to me on their investigation which I had asked them to conduct. The sum of their response was that there was no danger for me at Dorje Denma Ling, which of course was preposterous given the litany of physical and emotional abuse which I had experienced there.

      I am unaware of your assertion that the Police investigated the oil filler cap, disbelieve my allegation in that regard and that my allegation of a cover up is therefore, as you say, not sensible. This is the first I have heard of that. How reliable or impartial is your source?

      As for going over the top with this attempted murder allegation, you will not be surprised to hear that because I have had no reports of anybody investigating it, credibly or otherwise, I tend to disagree and suspect a cover up.

      My truck was a 4×4 and access to the undercarriage and therefore viewing the rear axle’s oil filler cap was fairly simple. The cap was evident from the rear of the vehicle if one bent down a little. You could have avoided ridiculing me by asking a few basic questions of me in that regard before publishing your conclusions.

      Granted the mechanic could have made an error, of course. You apparently did not investigate this before arriving at your conclusion. I interviewed him and understand, so far that nobody else has. I found his denial of the possibility plausible. Having repaired the first sabotage he asked, “What is going on up there!?” The likelihood that my truck was sabotaged for a second time in a month in an egregiously abusive atmosphere passively condoned by the administration of Dorje Denma Ling at the time, is quite plausible to an impartial person in my view. The conclusion that there is reasonable cause to suspect foul play must therefore also be plausible, even if only because that is what a number of reasonable people have arrived at already.

      The mechanic to whom I took the vehicle for the emergency repair was shaken. He told me that the gears could have seized fairly quickly and indicated that his years of experience told him that foul play could caused death in this case. So unlike your mechanic’s response to your questions, framed by your apparently foregone conclusion as to my preposterousness in making these allegations, both mechanics to whom I talked (and knew the vehicle) concurred that a danger to life had occurred and most likely as a result of foul play.

      While I recognise that there is alot of inference here, I regard your account of your mechanic’s assessment as serving your foregone conclusion that my allegations are over the top. Both the way you recount the conversation to myself as the purported victim and the words you impute to the mechanic read as though the conversation was not free from partiality, to my eyes. This is a perfect example of how we deal with crime in the Sangha and why the current abuse scandal and Project Sunshine now exist. By publicly coming to me here, without any prior enquiry to me in the last 3 1/2 years and purely as a result of my going public with these allegations in detail indicate that your express sadness has more to do with the embarrassment it may cause Shambhala. By arriving here with a foregone conclusion absent enquiry with myself indicates victim shaming. Precisely like Director Lennart Krogoll, as below it is the public statement I make that a cover up of crime has occurred which elicited your response, not any concern for myself or others who may be harmed were my allegations to prove true.

      In that, I suggest you are being grossly unfair to myself and the victims in this case. Jane Arthur’s ‘best friend’ has herself become a close friend of mine in recent years. She stated that there is the, “…overwhelming possibility that this was either wilful or reckless and someone must be held accountable”. My understanding is that whether the second sabotage represented a reckless or a wilful threat to life, under Canadian law the penalty for such a crime is up to 25 years in jail. As to attempted, I believe the penalty is the same.

      Torgny Vigerstad, who conducted the whitewash investigation at Dorje Denma Ling in this regard went ballistic, bless him, when I first told him about the incident. He knew there was foul play to hand. He gave me his written assurance that he would speak with main suspect having not done so at first when he interviewed all Staff at DDL. He later excused his ultimately omitting my main suspect from his “investigation” by saying, “I am not the Police”. His conclusion was that “No Staff member was responsible”.

      Consider now that this man had physically assaulted me in front of three other Staff; Krogoll and Anna Weinstein had both ignored my reports of it; he openly and repeatedly slandered me without recourse from his old buddy Krogoll; he used to be a military chauffeur; he lobbied for me to be fired on baseless accusations from both himself and the Kitchen Manager (whom Krogoll suspected in the first sabotage); Krogoll dismissed my concerns about him (as he had the Kitchen Manager saying, “She’s digging her own grave”) by saying, “He has a different sense of humour” and It seems quite plausible to suuggest that Krogoll enabled him via ignorance, in the life endangering sabotage of my vehicle.

      That resulted in what, in legal terms may be referred to as my attempted murder. Does it not reek of a cover up then that Vigerstad chose to avoid investigating that one person who had the motive, expertise and stupidity (or sick humour) to do this? Put yourself in my shoes before judging, Joe, and know that I cannot possibly present a complete picture here of the veritable clusterfuck that was Dorje Denma Ling under Lennart Krogoll’s inept management. Jane Arthur eloquently dismissed the whole thing as, “A perfect storm”, as though we can’t possibly sift through all the flotsam and jetsam of it to deduce accountability. She then swept it under the rug in the same spirit of Krogoll and Vigerstad.

      Anyways, I hope you can see that there’s a few people who disagree with, or have in the past, such amateurish conclusions as you make here. I only publish it now to show how an approach such as yours is typical of how my allegations have been addressed by the Sangha: dismissed, absent impartial and plausible enquiry.

      Krogoll failed to respond at all to the second sabotage until embarrassed into doing so by my sending a message to 14 of the most senior members of our Administration. His response was as immediate then as it should have been six weeks earlier when I first told him about it via email. As a result, three weeks later Vigerstad vainly made his “investigations”. So check your bias, Joe and remember, it is a crime to not report a crime. It is self-serving to propose that because there may be a novel method of attempted murder to hand, it is preposterous to suggest that it happened. Sure he could have used some other more common method but it is only creating more trauma for me to have you conclude I am over the top here without even speaking to me first. Lastly, you may want to check the Canadian definition of attempted murder. This fits my case, as I think you’ll find.

      As to Richard Reoch’s assessment that we are dealing with a cover up of attempted murder, I believe he is best placed to respond to your assessment of his contribution to this situation. We spoke twice on that contribution, months apart. It was as clear the second time as it was the first: this was attempted murder.

      As to gravel in the gas tank, I have taken pains to avoid inferring that this was life threatening. I apologize if this remains unclear and agree that such an inference would be implausible. Tell me how you deduce that, please, unless you merely seek to misinform the reader. Incidentally, sabotaging my vehicle thus was criminal mischief which went unreported by the Director. Compounding this, the Care and Conduct failed to hold him accountable in that case and four others of failing to report crime at Dorje Denma Ling, per its policies. In fact, Krogoll thought much of it amusing pranksterism.

      No need to apologize for opposing me on these points at all: that is why I am posting this, in part. The larger picture I am seeking to address by posting this is this: the Kalapa Council has admitted to overseeing a systemic denial of abuse in the Sangha in its February 12th. letter. Although in its March 9th. letter it suggest that Project Sunshine has been operating independently of the Council and had not inspired their February 12th. letter, I find this implausible.

      What is clear is that there has been a view at the senior administrative level of Shambhala for years that Shambhala is above the law. In my view, as the Administrators who crafted the protocol which says that crime must be reported to the Police, they have failed in responsibly administering crime in the Sangha, not least my repeatedly witnessed physical assaults at Dorje Denma Ling in 2014 and the systemic child sexual and other abuses to which they now publicly refer. Thye Kalapa Council letter now directs us to report sexual abuse internally. That is irresponsible because it fails to include the caveat that CRIME SHOULD BE REPORTED TO THE POLICE, and the Sangha should do all it can to cooperate with any Police investigation.

      In my case, when I sent the Police in to Dorje Denma Ling, Krogoll was unavailable for an interview and deputised his Assistant Director. That person had witnessed the Kitchen Manager’s assault on me in a crowded room, when he stepped in to break it up as witnessed by a number of people. They also witnessed the Kitchen Manager then threatening to charge *me* with assault! He then denied witnessing an assault to both myself and the Police and cast me as crazy to them by pointing to the professional mediation which I had arranged with the Kitchen Manager, claiming that the mediation was initiated by Krogoll. So now we have obstruction of Justice to convince you that there was a cover up crime at Dorje Denma Ling in 2014. I doubt it will though.

      My experiences at Dorje Denma Ling merely point to this view of enabling crime to save embarrassing the Vajradhatu Buddhist Church, precisely as happened with the Catholic Church. It should be challenged if we are to understand the situation more clearly and avoid furthering the systemic abuse we now discuss. My understanding at this point is that we will see litigation arising from the mounting number of victim testimonies and that Shambhala will be allowed an opportunity to design a restorative justice process which is monitored by the Court in order to begin to heal the harm that has been done. As crazy as everyone evidently believes I am, there are many seasoned Sangha members who are independently expressing the same view, some of them as members of the Kalapa Council, god forbid.

      Only by dealing with crime in a legally acceptable manner, via the Courts, can we stem the reverse flow of people who are increasingly disenchanted with Shambhala for attempting to seditiously deal with it internally. We have much to offer, but a Justice System more enlightened than the existing Court System is not something I would advise the Kalapa Council to continue pointing to as a noble achievement of the Sangha, at this point.

      I am happy to continue this dialogue openly or privately as you wish. I will happily speak with you over the telephone to avoid any recorded statements being made which may in future appear in a Court of Justice. In Canada, as in the UK and the US I believe, it is unacceptable to record a verbal conversation without the express consent of both parties, so be aware that this is not something in which I ever intend to engage, or have engaged.

      The point is, I reject nothing on the path including facing my alleged perpetrators with compassion. To be clear, I agree with you that most Shambhalians manifest kindness. Indeed, it is on account of that kindness, including your own that I have experienced significant healing. Just be careful to not shoot the messengers, please, as distasteful as they may be.

      “And I feel that what we have begun here, the rebuilding of society, begins with basic dialogue. It begins with us actually willing to take time to listen to each other, and not to listen by – not listening and by quickly coming with an answer, but by spending time.”
      SMR 2012

      “When communities fail to follow through on agreements or boundaries made in the wake of abuses, this can have a devastating effect. This magnifies an experience of abuse into institutional betrayal. It is a form of secondary wounding that, in my experience both personally and professionally, is very difficult to repair and often has some very long and very negative ripple effects. It destroys the bonds of trust that communities may be trying carefully to re-establish after having been shattered once already.”
      Pam Rubin  2014

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi Edmund,
      There are many things that I could write here. One thing I really need to know is if the child abuse allegations are being looked into by the police?
      Thank you,
      Shane

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      1. Hi Shane, The Canadian Police will only open a file based on a victim statement, or a confession. I believe the same is true in the United States. As for other jurisdictions where Shambhala operates, I am unaware. As such, at this time no Police files on criminal activity in the Sangha exist, to the best of my knowledge. That, in itself, if accurate which I believe it to be, says something about how the Sangha harbours criminals with idiot compassion as the situation is now, clearly completely out of hand. When I filed my Complaint to the Care and Conduct Panel in 2015 I suggested we strike a committee to review how crime is dealt with in the Sangha. There was no response whatsoever. Now we have a situation where the Leader and Board of Directors have just effectively resigned because of the poor administration of crime. Some people have to learn the hard way!

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    3. So tell me Joe, with the recent publication of the Kusungs’ letter can you still say that Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, the enlightened emanation of Mipham the Great, the splinter off the piece of kindling once chopped by Avalokitesvara, the Maha Bhodisattva of compassion and thereby embodying all the splendiferous qualities of Avalokitesvara himself… is NOT A CHARLATAN? Since when did Avalokitesvara bite people to communicate his frustration. Since when did Avalokitesvara HAVE any frustration? Did Mipham the Great DEMAND to be delivered unto him the equivalent of a, “…fucking Audi”, or to be sucked off by his faithful student so he could sleep?

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  5. Thank you Edmund for your kind reply. I am seeing this as I need to leave for work, so will reply again when time allows. Best, Joe

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  6. Thanks for posting this story. You might wish to read “Double Mirror” by Butterfield. It documents some of the worst of the early Shambhala tradition. I still go to shambhala centers from time to time, but go without a desire to rise in ranks or be part of the insiders. They have some good classes but I always look for the shadow.

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  7. Dear Edmund,

    Thank you for detailing your time at DDL. I trust the veracity of your accounting of events. We met in 2014 when I attended ESA and offered Reconnective Healing to ESA staff. I recall there were serious difficulties then and I am sorry that things got so much worse for you there. I feel sad that the organization was so willfully ignorant and dysfunctional and betrayed you.

    And I have witnessed that dysfunction in many parts of the mandala. Most notably the lack of qualification and training for people who assume management positions as center directors and in other positions of leadership. Dharma is not enough to create the enlightened society we long for. That will also require emotional maturity, which seems to be in short supply, as well as personal honesty and genuine compassion and practice skill in working together. Shambhala as I have known it is strong on Lha and very weak on Lu. We need more lu!

    I agree that it is time for change in Shambhala as well as the larger culture. And for that to happen we must be willing to face the messiness of what is and has been. We must come clean and stop using euphemisms for abuse and bad behavior. We must give up spiritual bypassing and be fully accountable. If we are willing to do that we might create real healing in the organization, which is a motly collection of mostly well-intentioned but often frail and neurotic people. But we cannot heal what we refuse to acknowledge. And it will probably require the Sakyong, whom I love dearly, being willing to get involved in the messiness of these human interactions.

    I hope your move to the UK has been good for you and I wish you all the best.

    With gratitude for your courage,
    Peggy Kass

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    1. Hello Peggy (!) and thanks so much for your honest response.

      As I see it, our current abuse scandal is a direct result of this spiritual bypassing. Right now at least two individuals are walking free in society having committed physical assault and attempted murder against me, because of it: the administrators of Dorje Denma Ling, including one current member of the Kalapa Council who oversaw the Residential Centres at the time, Jane Arthur, chose to avoid the Police to save face.

      They actively obstructed that investigation by ensuring the Director was unavailable for it. Am I wrong in that? Tell me, please, anyone. The Police told me otherwise… No Shambhalian, i.e. *not one* has yet asked me what the Police told me after I asked them to investigate and whether there might be something we could learn from that.

      I now have someone here incorrectly quoting their conclusions. Our formal protocol is to report crime to the Police. Now I find Shambhalians deriving their own, convenient conclusions from those false reports of my Police dialogue, with no input from myself. I have just been told elsewhere by a ‘dharma brat’ that the Police told me it was my fault. That is utterly false, yet that is what is out there because of, ultimately the view at the Kalapa Council that despite our protocols we are above the law. Try telling the tax collector that you don’t owe any taxes because you’ve ‘dealt with it internally’, or ‘more people will benefit from the dharma’ – you would not dream of it.

      This view that criminal behaviour can be better dealt with via an internal process like Care and Conduct is fundamentally corrupt. When they become aware of crime they mention nothing by way of encouragement to the alleged victim to report it to the Police. This has happened in my case and others, despite there being one or two lines here and there in the hubbub of the trauma to get them off the hook of the accusation.

      Ininferring there isn’t a case for the Police, while having voluminous evidence in front of them of same, repeatedly and for decades amounts to an obstruction of Justice and subtly blaming the victim, at the expense of the Organization as the Kalapa Council is now seeing.

      We need to start encouraging the Sangha to report crime externally, if only because failure to report a crime, child sexual or otherwise, being aware of the overwhelming likelihood of same is another type of callous, uncaring crime that sees perpetrators walk free to reoffend unchecked. What kind of enlightened action is that? Delusional.

      We don’t need training as the Council claims. We need the heart to file with the Police per our protocols, to the benefit of both the healing of the victims’ traumas and the perpetrators’ rehabilitations. We can tailor this process if we want: via restorative justice within the Court process, or otherwise. Acharya Maull did well, with a little push from Trungpa and served his time, long before we had anything called restorative justice. Others may also.

      *For those interested, restorative justice has worked well in aboriginal communities across the world, the South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commision, and is increasingly accepted as a means by which Justice Systems can successfully adapt to their environments. Shambhala will likely have much to offer that discipline, as it has so many others. The key is that perpetrators, enablers and their collective victims generally come away feeling that they have been heard, something which we clearly have much to learn about. Shame we had to come to it this way though, it must be said. Samsara’s a bloody business.

      So yes, Peggy, the real question here is where is the Sakyong’s appraisal of his appointed administrators’ performance? It is long overdue and was so, long before the inception of Project Sunshine’s noble efforts a year ago. Incidentally, contrary to what the Council is now claiming in its March 9th. letter, that Project involved them from the start, actively. Adam Lobel and Jane Arthur undertook to submit a statement for the Final Report having seen the drafts and declined at the last minute. They then published their February 12th. letter about ‘abhorrent’ systemic abuse in the Sangha as though they had just discovered it. They then sat by while Lady Diana Mukpo let off a broadside at the Project… in defense of the ‘family’ which has enabled this same abuse over decades while tripping on its spiritual bypassing. At which point does one look up the definition of ‘charalatan’? Simultaneous with a quick reread of the C18th. French Revolution I suggest.

      All that said, I am as certain that the ineffable Shambhala Teachings will survive as I am that they will be administered quite differently fairly soon. Anyone still unwilling to have this conversation (and there is alot of resistance to the exposure which ‘external’ influence promises) is, I suggest more interested in creating a pseudoenlightened cocoon than enlightened society. It’s a cocoon that won’t last long because you can only squeeze people for so long before the wisdom of mob justice implicitly arises.

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  8. The Kalama Sutta (Anguttara Nikaya 3:66), translated by Soma Thera, retrieved 2014-08-03:
    “It is proper for you, Kalamas, to doubt, to be uncertain; uncertainty has arisen in you about what is doubtful. Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias toward a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another’s seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, ‘The monk is our teacher.’ Kalamas, when you yourselves know: ‘These things are bad; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,’ abandon them. ”
    (https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.065.soma.html)

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    1. Tantrismuskritik – thanks for this. Your meaning in applying it here would become clearer if you could add some of what you felt in reading my post. Please consider? Many thanks Edmund

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      1. I think your observation on the gurus in Tibetan Tantrism is quite spot on. They have disguised themselves under the name of Buddhism. The financial and sexual exploitation and abuse were not seen or practiced in Buddhist monks and nuns (Sangha) during the Gautama Buddha’s era.

        Before we decide to approach any Buddhist cultivation centers or sanghas, it is important to observe the words and deeds of the guru master and the disciples in the center or group, whether it corresponds to the fundamental dharma preached by the Gautama Buddha. If there’s any doubt, the wise will choose to leave and continue on the path of searching for true Buddhism.

        If a so-called Buddhist cultivation center or sangha emphasizes that the attainment of the guru master surpass that of the Buddha, one should have a second thought about it as the truth is — if Buddha Shakyamuni had never been born, there wouldn’t have been Buddhism in this world, not to mention guru masters and sanghas. Thus, verifying behaviors of your guru masters against the teachings of various scriptures is crucial.

        Here is a scriptural extraction from Samyutta Nikaya, SN.12.41, for your reference.

        1. Below passage from Samyutta Nikaya, SN.12.41, clearly shows that the teachings and practices of Lamas deviate from the teachings of the Buddha:

        “What are the five fearful animosities that have subsided? Householder, one who destroys life engenders, on account of such behaviour, fearful animosity pertaining to the present life and fearful animosity pertaining to the future life, and he experiences mental pain and displeasure. Thus for one who abstains from destroying life, this fearful animosity has subsided. One who takes what is not given . . . . . . who engages in sexual misconduct . . . who speaks falsely . . . who indulges in wine, liquor, and intoxicants that are a basis for negligence engenders, on account of such behaviour, fearful animosity pertaining to the present life and fearful animosity pertaining to the future life, and he experiences mental pain and displeasure. Thus for one who abstains from wine, liquor, and intoxicants that are a basis for negligence, this fearful animosity has subsided. These are the five fearful animosities that have subsided.”

        2. There is only Three Jewels not four as in Lamaism, practitioners can also verify against below passages from Samyutta Nikaya, SN.12.41 before taking refuges under the Three Jewels with resolution to protect themselves from lamas:

        “What are the four factors of stream-entry that he possesses? Here, householder, the noble disciple possesses confirmed confidence in the Buddha thus: The Blessed One is an arahant, …..perfectly enlightened, accomplished in true knowledge and conduct, fortunate, knower of the world, unsurpassed leader of persons to be tamed, teacher of devas and humans, the Enlightened One, the Blessed One.’

        “He possesses confirmed confidence in the Dhamma thus: The Dhamma is well expounded by the Blessed One, directly visible, immediate, inviting one to come and see, applicable, to be personally experienced by the wise.’

        “He possesses confirmed confidence in the Sangha thus: ‘The Sangha of the Blessed One’s disciples is practising the good way, practising the straight way, practising the true way, practising the proper way; that is, the four pairs of persons, the eight types of individuals — this Sangha of the Blessed One’s disciples is worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of reverential salutation, the unsurpassed field of merit for the world.’”

        (SN12.41, Samyutta Nikaya, translated from the Pali, Bhikkhu Bodhi, Wisdom Publications, 2000)
        (https://archive.org/stream/SamyuttaNikaya/Samyutta%20Nikaya_djvu.txt)

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  9. Hi Edmund,

    Joe here again. I am picking up on our exchange from a few days ago.

    I am honestly very relieved to hear you have experienced significant healing – that is great news.

    The reason I thought you were saying that gravel in the gas tank was a life-threatening
    was this quote from your narrative “in particular the second life thretening sabotage on my vehicle…”. I accept that I misinterpreted that and I was not trying to mislead other readers.

    Did I influence the response of my mechanic friend who thought it preposterous to assert removal of rear axle filler cap as means to attempt murder? I don’t think so, but maybe. I honestly thought it was preposterous when I asked her so based on that alone I have to say I could have influenced her response. Besides the mechanics you and I have spoken with, can you point to any instances you are aware of where someone has actually tried to kill someone this way? As I said, I have never heard of it, even in fictional works. I have googled the question in various forms and found nothing so far.

    Also, can you kindly list the crimes you are referring to? I am seeing the incident with the rear axle oil, gravel in the gas tank, 5 assaults, and violation of a boil water order. I have already made one incorrect assumption based on reading your narrative, so I would appreciate a simple listing.

    Still trying to connect the dots…

    Sincerely, Joe Pratt

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    1. Hi Joe,

      I appreciate your acknowledgement of the possibility of introducing bias into an investigation here.

      As to the apparent gap between our different interpretations of attempted murder I can best refer you back to my previous response where I suggest you research the definition of it, and ask Richard Reoch for his. Happy to dialogue further on that information rather than more inference and probability.

      I wonder whether trolling through the world’s body of fiction to find someone who may have used sabotage on an oil filler cap to commit murder will prove anything, but tiresome.

      The first three paragraphs of my last response were fairly central to it, asking, ‘How reliable is your source’? I ask it because I appear to have less information about a Police investigation which I initiated, than you do! Could you perhaps acknowledge this and provide an explanation of how it is possible?

      I think it reasonable that we take one question at a time here, for transparency’s sake, would you not agree? So before we get too far ahead of ourselves I’d like to deal my unanswered question before your fresh ones. Does that seem sensible?

      Many thanks, Edmund

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  10. Hello Edmund,

    My sources of information are your narrative, and individuals who were living at Denma Ling during these travails + the person whom you feel conducted a whitewash investigation. People whom I hold to be basically decent and kind. As I said, all hearsay.

    I do not presume to be adding new information to what you already know about the police investigation. The thing I did misunderstand is that I thought you were at Denma Ling when the police came and that they spoke with you in person. It’s not that your narrative or anyone else indicated otherwise – there’s a lot of detail here Edmund and it’s a struggle to keep presented information straight.

    Permit me to step away from chronology and information seeking a little.

    Let us please agree that bias is largely unavoidable here, on all sides. We are all fallible human beings who inevitably distort and project story lines onto our experiences, yes? I am struggling to see acknowledgement in your narrative the possibility of other points of view being valid. That at least parts of other people’s story lines are worth considering.

    I do not know the kitchen manager’s story line at all, for example – I have not spoken with her, and probably never will. She will have a story line, though, I and do not see why I should assume hers would be entirely full of shit. She is a human being – however fallible – and I’d be surprised if she didn’t say SHE was traumatized by these events. Who am I to entirely dismiss that?

    Need to stop for now.

    Best, Joe

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    1. In dismissing my narrative as hearsay you myopically avoid the fact that much of what I say is documented. You fall into line with those who, as in Diana Mukpo’s February 12th. letter and the Kalapa Council’s same day letter, seek to silence victims of Sangha abuse for the well-being of ‘the family’ .

      For instance Torgny Vigerstad’s suspiciously institutionally self-serving avoidance of his investigating my main suspect is documented in his emails to myself. His conclusion that no Staff member at Dorje Denma Ling was involved in the second, life endangering sabotage on my vehicle must therefore be set aside as biased as my main suspect was a (documented) Staff member at the time. His version of the Police findings in the investigation which I request must therefore also be dismissed. Yet you continue to posit Vigerstad as a reliable source. Therefore my use of the word myopic in relation to your own self described prejudiced and incomplete so-called investigations of my case of late.

      Statements by the Kalapa Council such as their most recent March 9th. letter reveal their view that they hold themselves above the law, to the detriment of the integrity of the many well-intentioned people who populate the Sangha. In the context of documentation revealing child sexual abuse in the Sangha, by Project Sunshine the Council responds:
      “There are also currently no active cases of child abuse with the International Care and Conduct Panel. [We] will ensure that all claims of abuse are investigated… If you have a case to report, instructions for submitting can be found in the Care and Conduct Policy document.”

      It is only the criminal justice system which should be relied upon to protect those would like to make allegations of criminal behaviour and those would then need to defend them. Yet the Kalapa Council persists in perpetuating the illusion that it has jurisdiction in deliberating on crime. One must assume that Vigerstad’s attempts to investigate allegations of criminal behaviour at Dorje Denma Ling in 2014 were emboldened by such hubris, and allowed him to feel correct in not reporting them to the Police.

      This fox guarding the chickens thing must stop, otherwise crime will perpetuate. It is time for us to be transparent with the Court System and Police and trust that all of their difficulties in administrating justice do not allow us to operate our own criminal justice system above the law, however enlightened we may believe it to be. That is sedition and a clear attempt in my view to cover up any crime which may adversely affect the public image of Shambhala International .

      Shambhala protocols already established for years state very clearly that crime must be reported to the Police. In my case I presented clear evidence of the overwhelming likelihood of a cover up of criminal activity within the Sangha. Despite clear protocols to the contrary the Sangha’s most senior administrators in its justice system failed to hold those officers responsible for neglecting to report crime appropriately to then do so, including themselves.

      We must allow for our internal systems of conflict resolution to support people who wish to bring matters to the Police, or the Courts, if only out of a recognition that none of us is above bias in such a highly charged situation. 

      There is nothing to indicate that the criminal justice system *will* fail. We are able to engage the Court systems in the various countries in which we operate as a Sangha, using restorative justice models to deliberate crime, monitored by those court systems. Indeed we are obliged to do so or face the allegation of sedition.

      It is not our privelege to avoid the law on account of holding ourselves to what we perceive to be a higher ethical bar.

      It should interest you to know that my efforts of late have at least the partial support of, among others including numerous victims of abuse in the Sangha, the following: the former President of Shambhala (2003 to 2015) and former human rights activist as the global media chief with Amnesty International (1980 to 1993), Richard Reoch; one of my former Meditation Instructors; a current Rusung (Health and Safety Officer) of a key Shambhala Center; a current Desung of a long established US Shambhala Center; a recent, former Head of Household for the Sakyong; a former wife of Chögyam Trungpa.

      For the sake of caring for the emerging victims of this abuse I ask that you temper your bias with an open mind and attend to them accordingly. To this end, I have just published another account of abuse in the Sangha on this blog. I pray for tolerance in all of us in considering the perpetrators of abuse and their enablers, as much as I do for tolerance in listening to victims’ testimonies delivered through the lens of their trauma as they lumber into definitions of abuse which they viscerally know they have experienced. 

      With kind regards, Edmund

      The Kalapa Council’s February 12th. letter

      Diana Mukpo’s simultaneous letter
      https://shambhalatimes.org/2018/02/12/letter-from-lady-diana/

      Project Sunshine’s Report
      http://www.andreamwinn.com/pdfs/Project_Sunshine_Final_Report.pdf

      The Kalapa Council’s March 9th. letter
      https://shambhalatimes.org/2018/03/09/community-update/

      Stacey Mitchel’s account of abuse in the Sangha:
      https://shambhalacrime.wordpress.com/2018/03/15/my-time-at-shambhala-2009-to-2014-an-account-of-sexual-violence-at-shambhalas-monastery/

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  11. Dear Ed. Thank you for your courage in sharing your experience here. I am really heartbroken to hear what you went though. I know the person you are talking about who may have tampered with your vehicle. My partner and I had horrible experiences with him when he came to Dechen Choling after fleeing Denma Ling. He was bullying and using verbal slander against us so I understand what you went through. Luckily we were leaving quite soon so he had to turn his attention elsewhere. Truly horrible. I love the teachings and have found a lot of healing through them but things definitely need to change to keep our community safe and sane. It deserves it. Love to you and the lovely Janet. May your heart heal and I hope we cross paths again. With love, Shannon

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  12. Dear Edmund,
    Thank you for your courage. Wishing you well on the path to healing and equanimity. I left the organization in 1991, but certain revelations recently have been eye-opening and astounding.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ed: Thank you for courageously sharing your experience with Shambhala. I have also been verbally abused and physically assaulted in their centers. After spending one year in intensive training with them, 2013-2014, I left and never went back.

    And now there are allegations that the Sakyong has sexually assaulted several of his female students. Shambhala will protect the Sakyong and blame the women, just as they did with Chogyam Trungpa. I’d like to see Shambhala admit that it creates a culture conducive to sexual assault and emotional abuse.

    I was also really glad to read that Shambhala was charged with violating labour laws and are now required to pay centre workers minimum wage. This was also an issue that I brought up when I worked as a volunteer there, in exchange for reduced tuition for their ‘Level’ retreats. It’s illegal and I’m glad it was stopped.

    Shambhala was the first Buddhist cult I escaped. I switched to Nalandabodhi but they were just as delusional and abusive. Then I explored Triratna, but, similar history of sexual abuse and worker exploitation. Functions under a similar imperative to protect the sangha and its leader, not to face reality.

    With regard to exploitation and abuse, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If sangha leadership has abused and exploited people in the past, sexually, emotionally, financially, etc, they will do so in the future.

    Most of the Buddhist sanghas I have participated in are proto-cults. I stay out of Buddhist sangahs now, and practice on my own.

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    1. It seems you and I have learned the hard way, that half of all buddhist sanghas become embroiled in sexual assault scandals. So many are willing to give their power away to the guru and then find they have to fight to get it back so that it can reside where it belongs, inside oneself.

      Shambhala doesn’t like to think of itself as a cult but then no cult does. The fact is Trungpa, the Regent and now the Sakyong have been desperately uncaring at times and this recent exposé of the Sakying’s indulgences in student-enabled sexual assault must come as a shock to the many who thought they’d made a polished veneer for the Sangha impervious to the very critical analysis which buddhism has us develop.

      What a sad time for thousands of people, not least the victims who were molested but also for those who face criminal charges, essentially for duping so many people so royally while standing on a pedestal of high ethics and refusing to listen to the small voices like yours and mine.

      Best of luck, Shaun. Follow your heart.

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    2. Sorry about your negative experience with Buddhist orgs. Suggest you check out http://www.samatha.org Thai meditation well run by westerners. Absolutely no exploitation of any description. There are cultish elements in Chogyal Namkhai Norbu’s Dzogchen Community but no coercion and no exploitation.

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  14. Hi Edmund – we met at a Shambhala training in 2011. (I dropped out of Shambhala a year later.) I am so sorry to learn of your terrible experience and I hope that you make your way through the aftermath soon.

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  15. Thanks Lisa, My wife and I hold the Shambhala Teachings very dear. The Administration had to shift, so that’s fine. It will likely be a long time before I go into a Shambhala Centre however, as with that shift there’s even less protection, ironically for me from my aggressors. Perhaps the current Olive Branch process will see some resolution for them.

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  16. Dear Edmund, So sorry to read (just now) about the harm inflicted on you and the egregious lack of justice!
    “What goes around comes around”, as the Shambhala Community is now reeling with the
    accounts of sexual abuse. Your tale of broken promises, financial mismanagement, physical attacks and even attempted murder (ignored and covered up) is absolutely horrific!!! The Sakyong has stepped “back” and the KC has stepped “down”, and investigations hopefully will proceed. But the harm can never be undone.
    I have been a student first with CTR (since 1978) and then was a Shambhala Director for 3 years in New Haven. When the present Sakyong took over, I left to study with Khandro Rinpoche, Thrangu Rinpoche and later with Ringu Tulku. I have done a 3 year retreat in Crestone (2013-16), which was poorly supervised by a khenpo there, who was mostly absent on various trips around the world. During that time, I relied on myself to get through, and have since come to trust only myself.
    All this to say that I am not really surprised by your account.
    I hope that you continue to meditate and realize that true dharma can never be taken away from you, as long as you yourself take it to heart and apply it personally. This is something that many in the Shambhala community still need to learn! They mouth the words of “basic goodness”, “warriorship” and “enlightened society” but are clearly just talking the talk. They seem to be clueless re. real communication, mature responsibility and empathy. How sad!
    I hope you are enjoying a “fresh start” in the UK, which, of course, has its own very corrupt monarchy and police state. We live in “interesting times”, where the shadow government is being exposed along with their extremely nefarious activities. Shambhla is just a microcosm of same.
    It behooves all of us to wake up and expose the horrors of what is actually going on.
    Thank you for being brave enough to do just that.
    Sincerely yours, Frances Morris

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    1. What is this nonsense about the UK? Corrupt monarch and police state? Try Thailand or several African countries for example. I am not known as a strident patriot but that comment is a gazillion miles off beam. We have our problems but compared with many other countries we have minimal corruption and a civilised approach to law enforcement.

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      1. Could argue monarchy till the cows come home! The point I’m trying to address is how Shambhala International sweeps abuse under the rug and silences victims. Therefore, in saying it is creating enlightened society while hiring Harvy Weinstein’s advisor, Hilgitz & Co. as its PR firm SI is dabbling in charlatanism.

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  17. Dear Edmund. Thank you for the courage to articulately detail your experience. I am so sorry for what occurred and, in my opinion, your account bolsters the thorough documentation of the Project Sunshine group.

    I was so incredibly disappointed and saddened by Lady Mukpo’s comments, which were a weak attempt to silent that which will no longer be silent. It is exponentially disappointing when this kind of rhetoric comes from a) a woman b) a person who has gained, gains and will continue to gain financially from Shambhala and c) who makes no attempt to document what she says and d) has no proof of her claims.

    I will be following your work and Project Sunshine in great detail.

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