Addressing Harm

Currently our community is experiencing heartbreak and upheaval from reports of sexual misconduct by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Shambhala’s lineage holder, as well as questions of accountability among Shambhala leadership, which are being investigated by a third-party investigator. The Sakyong has stepped back from his teaching and administrative responsibilities to focus on self-reflection and to cooperate with the investigation. The international governing body called the Kalapa Council has also resigned.

Shambhala Boston is part of a global community which aspires to awaken kindness, goodness and wisdom within society. This vision is rooted in the principle that every human being has a fundamental nature of basic goodness. Yet to honestly hold this vision and aspiration means we cannot ignore the pain, confusion and harm that are also part of our experience. We need to look directly at the ways we maintain traditions, habits, power structures, language patterns, and other forms that perpetuate harm – individually or collectively, whether consciously or unconsciously.

The Shambhala path shows us that personal liberation is not separate from societal liberation. For the past 50 years as the dharma has taken root in the west, Shambhala has been situated within Western democracy, capitalism, and the problems of our larger society. The legacy of slavery, racism, sexism, sexual violence, homophobia, extreme wealth inequality, nonconsensual power differentials, constructs and currents of privilege, and other forms of inequality and injustice are also manifest within Shambhala. Our community is more engaged than ever before in acknowledging our history, seeing where we are caught, and transforming our culture to acknowledge and stop harm, and enact justice. And we know that much more work is needed to examine how these show up in our own hearts and minds.

Here in Boston we remain committed to teaching and practicing meditation, and to work together as a community towards collective liberation. At the same time, we are clear that meditation is not a replacement for therapeutic healing of trauma. We recognize that Shambhala has not always created a supportive and healing environment for those who come seeking to ease their suffering. We recognize that that we will continue to make mistakes, that not intending harm doesn’t mean no harm was caused, and that we will never give up. We are working on getting better at having challenging conversations. We are working to offer more affinity spaces for the practice and support of particular vulnerable groups. We are working on training our community to better recognize and undo the causes of all kinds of suffering.

We welcome you to join us in this practice.