*No sooner had I posted this than a petition began circulating for Shambhala centers to separate themselves from the Sick One’s destructive pathologies. Here.*
I’m seeing ALOT of slightly waking worried students inside Shambhala following the latest letter from Mipham Mukpo.
In it he claims to be starting to understand the, “… power dynamics between myself as a teacher and my students…”, after 25 clearly lucrative years of being the Sakyong, the leader of the world’s pre-eminent 14,000 member buddhist community – until last year’s criminal allegations against him. He has self-styled variously over those years as His Eminence, His Holiness, The Incarnation of Mipham the Great (cost: $200,000 for that one, paid to Penor Rinpoche, who had earlier “recognised Steven Seagal as a reincarnated celebrity monk for some considerable payment), Earth Protector, Supreme Commander of the Vajra Guards (the paramilitary wing of Shambhala) etc. etc.
The text of the letter pulls a DARVO on victims of his sexual predation who have been testifying as to his habitual sexual misconduct and inability to show contrition
DARVO refers to a reaction perpetrators of wrong doing, particularly sexual offenders, may display in response to being held accountable for their behavior. DARVO stands for “Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.”
Those allegations of sexual misconduct became the subject of a contentious inhouse investigation recently. By all accounts it left the victims further traumatised, while Mipham did his best to avoid the investigation, failing to even provide answers to some of the questions put to him. Given that he also initiated the investigation saying he’d cooperate fully and then fled to India for a few months the day before it was published, he’s not the most popular kid on the block at the moment.
The Sangha is now asking for him to say sorry but as he’s been privately reprimanded for decades on his sexual assaults which he says he’s now forgotten, that seems an unfathomably naive request. While he claims to have apologised for his crimes, none of his victims have actually confirmed this claim and the case of a rape in Chile was not even investigated. The Sangha has not initiated a criminal investigation as yet, and in fact its Board falsely claims that no criminal activity took place – sexual assault is of course a crime as the current arrest of a prominent member of the Shambhala Boulder community, Bill Karelis, shows. So now Shambhala’s sparkling new replacement Board, having failed to heed my advice that it not publish statements on Wickwire Holm’s Report without first consulting a lawyer appears to have done just that. Like the Sick One, it is also now fair game for ridicule.
Despite the report showing that allegations of the Sick One’s criminal activity could probably be substantiated, in that it found he had most likely engaged in multiple acts of sexual misconduct against his students and that they were covered up, he gets a Pass on everything through deluded denial and nonapology. Not even the Board attempts an apology on his behalf while we await his contrition, or even to provide much needed resources for his survivors which might allow the Sangha to begin some real healing. Instead, both the Board and the Sick One have left the Sangha demoralised, confused, angry and betrayed by their actions over the past week.
Josh Eaton does this one justice, here, while Carol Merchasin as the original investigator who blew the lid off these crimes and cover ups via Buddhist Project Sunshine last year has issued a heartfelt, pragmatic piece on the Wickwire Holm Report here.
In this context, a few days after the letter and the Report, one of his students then posted something like, “Why don’t we just get rid of the Sakyong and we’ll run the show because after all, Shambhala is ours?” Well it is, because he really did nothing to create it beyond indulging his narcissism, and I have a solid source for that, so wait. But it’s not, legally and lately the Sick One’s taken to communicating via lawyers to ensure he keeps his toys.
Here’s my response, fwiw. Please discuss so we can help people over the fence, and get far away from charlatans whose former students are currently posting stuff like this, in response to the above noted letter:
[a Shastri is a senior teacher in Shambala who has pledged loyalty to the Sick One]
Somebody asked about the Shambhala constitution, whether the Sangha could rule its world etc.
The Shambhala Monarch enjoys the sole right to appoint Board members to govern Shambhala USA, Shambhala Canada and Shambhala Europe and their affiliated, smaller Centers around the world – “Shambhala”. He’s waived that privelege for now but he’ll soon resume it and change what he finds there if he wants to do so.
He has not however, waived the privelege to disband Shambhala entirely so I suspect any effort to get rid of him will help pay his lawyers’ mortgages, at the expense of the students. However, he does have that right, if people misbehave sufficiently or he gets sued, heaven forbid.
Ownership of the copyrights, name, treasures, Courts and paraphernalia reside in the Potrang which is a Charity controlled by one member, the Monarch, who appoints directors to advise him. Chief among them is Alex Halpern (of Wickwire Holm infamy), who has been Shambhala’s General Counsel since 1991. The Potrangs assets ultimately derive from the generosity of the Sangha so the fact that they are now privatised, often beyond the original intention of the donors can be confusing.
Recently, Nalanda Translation Committee’s premises were floated for sale to benefit Shambhala’s shortfall in day to day expenses. The benefit would have lasted only a few months before another asset would have been needed to be sold should that strategy have proved popular. As it happened, the person who donated the premises piped up and said she stipulated it should only be used for the NTC. So they put Marpa House on the market instead, for the potential benefit of meeting 18 months’ worth of Shambhala’s operating expenses and rehousing the Monarch’s 90 year old mother even though she doesn’t need to move at this time.
In that way the Monarch is legally ultimately responsible for all of the assets of Shambhala USA, Shambhala Canada & Shambhala Europe and their affiliated Centers in other parts of the world (“Shambhala”). Shambhala owns 29 properties here and there while the Monarch retains the juicy bits like the really expensive houses to which students may be lucky enough to occasionally be invited, or even to staff. The issue of Court Staff benefits and lifestyle has been explored in various reports over the last year, most notably on Reddit by a character named allthewholeworld in the Shambhala Buddhism thread.
All of this wealth then is maintained with the advice of some pretty smart people, besides Halpern and his various family members as it happens. Josh Silberstein’s wife for example is the granddaughter of one of the founders of Goldman Sachs and also serves as counsel for Shambhala. No doubt these New York connections helped Harvy Weinstein’s chum, Matthew Hilgitz find a role in protecting these assets recently when the switchboard lit up with the publication of Project Sunshine’s first Report, despite Silberstein’s legal threats. Hilgitz is known as a sleazy, very wealthy, very successful PR type who speaks one language only: money.
So, simply, nobody will be doing anything with an asset of Shambhala without the Monarch’s say so. This past year, despite appearances, that didn’t change at all. Unless the assets need to be sold by Court order to fund legal costs of and/or restitution to survivors of the Monarch’s royal abuses or some such, he’ll dictate precisely what happens to them thank you very much.
In that sense, Shambhala is more like a dictatorship with a veneer of morals based on mysteriously sourced texts which loosely reflect the Buddha’s teachings. These texts legitimise Shambhala, including the need to protect it from those who have not been trained and assessed by the Monarch’s appointed representatives in the study of the texts. The entire system is of course ripe for Monarchial abuse, narcissism, self-entitlement, disdain for his students (allthewholeworld discusses that aspect in particular), and a general identification with Dzongsar Khyentse’s view that vajrayana students and teachers are above the law.
It has the potential to become one helluva good party actually. At least that’s my take of the unwritten constitution of Shambhala society.
ps If anyone still thinks the above will change for the better they should read the following koolaid infused prose by an old dog who has been advising the new guard – I have that on solid authority.
pps An excellent overview of Shambhala’s inner despotism can be found by scrolling through allthewholeworld’s posts here on Reddit. Start by reading those headed, Details or the like and run with it from there. You can click on each comment box and see the parent thread I think. It’s all a bit new to me… good luck!