Dear Members and Friends of the Adelaide Shambhala Meditation Group,
We are writing to acknowledge the difficult challenges facing the Shambhala community at this time.
As some of you know, the head of the Shambhala lineage, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, has been accused of clergy sexual misconduct. These accusations, detailed in two reports (Project Sunshine Phase One Report, Phase Two Report) by second-generation Shambhalian Andrea Winn, have rocked the Shambhala community.
We share the pain of those in our international community who have felt harmed and we are heartbroken for those people for whom these allegations have brought up past trauma.
In a letter the Sakyong wrote to the community on 10 July, he said he felt “a tremendous amount of sorrow for the pain, confusion, and anger that our sangha is experiencing. I accept accountability for this pain, and want to express my commitment to personal growth”. He fully supports the third-party investigation into claims of sexual misconduct in the Shambhala community that is now underway. The Sakyong has begun a “time of self-reflection to deeply listen and to better understand how the dynamics of power, gender, and my actions have affected others”. The Sakyong has “stepped back” from his administrative and teaching roles.
The Kalapa Council, our international community’s highest governance body, sent a letter to the community on 6 July stating that: “In the interest of beginning a healing process for our community, the Kalapa Councillors will step down from our posts”. That leadership transition is underway and an interim leadership body will be formed.
This is a time of great uncertainty for Shambhala. We, the Council of the Adelaide Shambhala Meditation Group, do not have answers or solutions in this time of confusion and pain. We are each working to ground ourselves in the precious teachings of mindfulness-awareness meditation practice and in the love and support of our sangha.
We do, however, make these commitments to you:
- We are committed to transparency now and in the future. We will share information with you as it becomes available and we are most willing to discuss any issues as they arise for you. If we are unable to assist you, we will do our best to help you find the answers or the support you need.
- We will not discount or minimise the harm that is caused by the abusive behaviour of any leader, teacher or member of Shambhala. We stand against any behaviour that objectifies women or marginalises or harms any individual or group.
- With your help, we will endeavour to do all we can to make Adelaide Shambhala Meditation Group a safe, respectful and welcoming place for all.
- With your guidance, we will discuss ways we can make our own sangha and our leadership group more open, participatory and inclusive.
We are offering a Community Care and Information session for everyone who would like to find out more about what has happened, sit together and, by holding our wide range of emotions and concerns, find strength and wisdom.
Details are being finalised but you are warmly invited to join us at the following Care and Information Session -August. Our shastri (senior teacher) Loretta Geuenich is at Shambhala, Boulder, Colorado at this time. When she returns, we will have a session for her to share what is happening at the international level. We will notify you as soon as we have details.
Relationship between Australian Shambhala and Shambhala International
Shambhala Australia is part of Shambhala International. Australia has Shambhala meditation groups in Adelaide, Northern Rivers (near Lismore), Melbourne and Sydney. The Australian groups cooperate and the coordinators of each local group are part of a national leadership group.
All Australian Shambhala groups are administratively and financially independent of Shambhala International. All Adelaide membership fees and program fees stay in Australia.
This is a web page (hosted by the San Francisco Shambhala Centre) outlining the range of responses to site contains links related to this issue. It includes letters from Shambhala governance and the Sakyong, links to Andrea Winn’s Sunshine Project, news articles, helpful blog posts and teachings. While the list is not intended to be exhaustive, it will continue to be updated as new information becomes available.
Please feel free to confidentially discuss any issues that arise for you with any Council member.
If these allegations of sexual misconduct cause you distress, please contact 1800-Respect: National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800 737 732); Lifeline on 13 11 14; or the South Australian Women’s Information Service for information and referrals on 8303 0961.
Future Adelaide and Australian programs
The Adelaide Shambhala Meditation Group will continue to offer programs that explore the profound view that human beings, at their core, are fundamentally awake and good. Our Monday evening Open House and third Saturday of the month programs will continue to provide opportunities for meditation, reflection and discussion.
The two-week retreat scheduled for January 2019 will also go ahead as planned. Please see our website for information and updates.
You are in our hearts. Please keep us in yours.
The Adelaide Shambhala Meditation Group Council:
Please contact the Adelaide Shambhala Meditation Group on this email if you have concerns or questions: [email protected]