Shambhala Board of Directors
The Shambhala Board is comprised of ten members currently holding a three-year term. Initially, a group of eight Shambhala students were selected by the Shambhala Transition Task Force to serve as the Interim Board for a for a period of 12 months, starting on October 17, 2018. In October 2019, the Interim Board became the Shambhala Board of Directors with sole authority to run Shambhala independently for a period of two years. In May 2020, additional members were added to the Board.
The Board holds the legal and fiduciary responsibilities to govern Shambhala USA and Shambhala Canada and to work closely with the governing body of Shambhala Europe. The Sakyong has pledged to support the Board and has waived his right to suspend or appoint directors to the board until October 17, 2021.
The primary focus of the Shambhala Board is on the financial health of Shambhala, responsible management of Shambhala resources and the ongoing care of our community. The Board works closely with the Process Team, a group created by the Transition Task force to work on Shambhala community, healing, culture, governance, and learning.
Your support and input is greatly appreciated. You can contact us at [email protected]. We will be providing regular updates through this website and in letters to the community. We have a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) which you can find below to address the most common questions that we receive.
We are humbled and honored to help Shambhala in this period of transition.
Yours in the Vision of Shambhala,
The Shambhala Board of Directors
This website will be maintained as an ongoing community resource for information, updates and support.
Scope of Work
- Keeps the Shambhala organizations compliant with their legal obligations.
- Keep the Shambhala organizations financially solvent.
- Support the work of the Process Team and collaborate with them when appropriate.
- Support Shambhala Europe, reflecting the wisdom and aspiration of the European Shambhala sangha.
- Support the regions and the centers around the world in continuing their work.
- Support the ongoing work of Shambhala central services, the various employees, and the ongoing work of the pillars.
- Be in communication with the community about important developments and decisions in Shambhala.
- Develop, support, and administrate a new Care and Conduct Policy.
- Release to the community all reports of legal and ethical issues within bounds of confidentially.
- Keep the Sakyong apprised of our work even though he has delegated authority to the Shambhala Board until October 2021.
Shambhala Board Members
Shastri Mark Blumenfeld
Mark became a Shambhala student in 1979 and was an active member of the New York City Shambhala Center before moving back to his hometown of Madison, Wi in 1990. He was a founder of the Shambhala Center of Madison Wi, and was appointed by the Sakyong as a Shastri in 2012 and is the former Chair of the Shastri Council. He is retired from a successful career as a technology executive and management consultant, and brings experience in organizational development, project management and administrative systems. He is married to Dr. Lora Wiggins and has three adult children.
Phil Cass, PhD, was first introduced to Shambhala through the Shambhala Institute in 2001 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. After attending several of the Institutes and also the Authentic Leadership Program at Naropa University, he became the Chair of the Shambhala Institute Board which then became the ALIA Institute. Just prior to ALIA being held in his hometown, Columbus, Ohio, he found the local Shambhala Meditation Center of Columbus and most recently took the Refuge Vow. He is retired after 33 and a half years as a CEO of several not-for-profit and governmental health and behavioral health organizations. Before retiring he founded the Physicians Leadership Academy which has now become an affiliate corporation of the Columbus Medical Association. He has been the Co-Director of the Academy for 7 years and still serves in that role. He is married to Dr. Laura Weisel and has two adult children and an adult step-child.
Susan Engel connected with Shambhala while living in Vermont in 2001 and is currently a member of the Minneapolis Center. She lived at Dorje Denma Ling from 2009 – 2013, serving as the Finance Manager, Chagdzö and Assistant Director, and was also a member of the Treasury Council and the European Treasury Council in recent years. Her professional career has mainly been in finance and operations, for both private sector and nonprofit organizations. She has a BA from the University of Virginia and an MBA from Yale.
Lilly Gleich joined Shambhala in Chicago in the early eighties. After Seminary in 1985, she served as the Shambhala Training Director there. After a career as an independent video producer, she moved to Nova Scotia in 1988 to work at Vajradhatu Recordings. She has served Shambhala in various capacities including roles as a Kasung, teacher, meditation instructor, and council member. She is a retired psychologist with experience in counselling, program planning, and community consultation. Currently she holds the post of Desung for Dorje Denma Ling Land Centre. She has extensive experience as a board member for non-profit organizations with skills in grant-making, human resources, and media. She lives with her husband in rural Nova Scotia down the road from Dorje Denma Ling.
Peter Nowak joined the Vajradhatu Sangha in 1984 in Vienna, Austria. After meeting Trungpa Rinpoche he became Director of the Vienna Dharmadhatu in the late 1980s. He holds a PHD in applied linguistics with a focus on patient-centred communication in health care. Since 1990 he conducted research and organisational development initiatives for the Austrian health care system, some in collaboration with international research networks and for the World Health Organization. He taught at several universities and is now department head for “Health and Society” at the Austrian Public Health Institute. He has three adult children with his first wife and lives now with his second wife and his stepson in Vienna. Practicing Scorpion Seal is his grounding and joy.
Tai has been studying the Shambhala Dharma since 2009 and is active at several centers throughout the Northeastern US. She maintains two careers, working in Commercial Banking as a portfolio manager for Project Finance deals while also running a private practice as a psychotherapist specializing in work with people who are healing from trauma. Tai’s breadth of experience in her finance and mental health fields allow her to bring a variety of useful skills to her Board position. She enjoys a quiet life in coastal Connecticut.
Susan is a long-time businesswoman and practitioner. After receiving her MBA from Kellogg School of Management, she went on for 22 years to be a banking executive for a number of major corporations and then for 13 years until the present, run a family commercial real estate company. Her experience as a dharma practitioner began after meeting Trungpa Rinpoche in 1974. She subsequently served the sangha as Co-coordinator of the Chicago Dharmadhatu, Kasung, Co-Ambassador of the Vancouver Dharmadhatu, Senior Teacher, Chair of the Boston Design Committee, Member of the Boston Shambhala Board of Trustees and Core Member of the Shambhala Trust. She is a member of both the Boston and New Haven, CT Shambhala Centers, dividing her time between the two cities.
Paulina has a Business Administration Degree and has worked most of her life in the financial field. She has a strong background in risk assessment for banks and credit and bond insurance companies. She lived in Johannesburg, South Africa and Toronto, Canada, for more than 6 years, coming back to her home country, Chile, in 1995. She is a Scorpion Seal practitioner, and joined the Shambhala community in 2002, serving as Chagdzö for several years.
Care and Conduct
The updated Care and Conduct document is available to Shambhala members. To access the document, please click the link below and log in to your Shambhala member account. For login issues, please contact the Helpdesk at [email protected]
Shambhala Community Grant Fund
Diversity and Inclusivity Initiatives
We are pleased to give an update on the first round of community grants. In our June Board update, we announced the first three grants, which were awarded to The Touching the Earth Collective ($22,000 USD), Expansion of the Shambhala Art Heritage Teachings ($7,014 USD), and the Technical Upgrade of the Shambhala Archives Data Management ($12,800 USD).
A total of $79,536 USD was awarded to these seven first round projects. The projects being sponsored are summarized as follows:
- Touching the Earth Collective– $22,000 USD funded. The purpose of this initiative is to leverage the successful efforts of the Shambhala Touching the Earth Collective through both the compelling launch of its Shambhala Online portal, and a targeted one-year pilot project featuring online working sessions by Irene Woodard in order to initiate or amplify engagement within and beyond these Shambhala communities as exemplars and agencies of environmental transformation. Funding for this project is also from two other organizations, Greenfaith and Living the Challenge.
- Expansion of the Shambhala Art Heritage Teachings – $7,014 USD funded (for Phase 1). This initiative will make the Shambhala Art teachings more widely available by creating online versions of the courses and additional resources. This will give the worldwide sangha and broader community access to tools to work authentically with other people in the world. This initiative will be led by Steve Saitzyk, International Director, Shambhala Art, Anne Saitzyk, Assistant Director, Shambhala Art, and Stuart Rice, Director of Communications, Shambhala Art.
- Technical Upgrade of the Shambhala Archives Data Management – $12,800 USD funded. This grant will enable the first phase of a modernization project for the Shambhala Archiveswhich will allow the archives to better manage the tremendous amount of data associated with audio and video teachings and securely house that data in an online environment multiple workers can access. A group including Jeanne Riordan at the Shambhala Archives and other archive and library experts will be coordinated by Alex Van Gils to accomplish this phase.
- Addressing Bias & Trauma – $8,350 USD funded. Mindful Connections for Trauma-Sensitive Practices (MCTSP) pilot. Intention: to provide a small test group (no more than 25) of acharyas, shastris and senior Mls–those actively working with meditation students or giving meditation instruction in person or online–the skills necessary to provide a safer, welcoming, healthy, trauma informed meditation space and practice. Feedback from the course will be integrated to make the course more applicable for a Shambhala context. The course, as it stands, was written for secular groups–primarily educators and helping professionals in the Pittsburgh region. Initiative led by Trinley Busby.
- Awareness Raising Officer Training – $7.500 EUR / $8,500 USD funded. Project developed by the Shambhala Cologne Center led by Anne von der Eltz, Ulrike Lückenotte, Verena Gädeke and Arnd Riester. The purpose is to create a safe space where participants can explore our Shambhala culture, share personal experiences and discover blind spots. Oriented to all German- speaker teachers, MIs and guides, as well as persons from the government pillar of the centres will be invited. As a pilot the outcome will be documented and available to others Center who are interested in the subject.
- Establishing the Path of Inclusivity Warriorship & Social Liberation – $7,800 USD funded. This initiative develops the Path of Inclusivity Warriorship —life training in how to create brave and caring environments that welcome everyone to our Assemblies, land centers, and local Shambhala Centers, with special sensitivity to dominant group power dynamics. This proposal seeks funding to support the recruitment and training of Inclusivity Warriors, the compilation of training resources, and the development of a curriculum manual that will support inclusivity efforts in Centers and online. It will help Shambhala become a richer and more diverse enlightened society. Charlene Leung will oversee the project.
The second round of community grants focus on diversity and inclusivity. In total, $20,960 USD was awarded to the following projects:
- Examining Whiteness: $3,900 USD Examining Whiteness with the heart of Warriorship and the Four Dignities of Investigating Whiteness and Racism.
- Workshop on White Identity: $3,500 USD Exploring Whiteness and how it shapes individual interactions.
- Enhancing Spirituality and Social Justice for Sustainable Change: $1,5500 USD This project provides spiritual & self-preservation resources for BIPOC people and promote more racial diversity and inclusion.
- Mindfulness and Attachment-based parenting: $3,560 USD “incorporate evidence-based mindfulness, attachment, and trauma-informed parenting principles to serve high-risk, single mothers of very young children and further parenting discussion within the Shambhala Center.
- Lu-Collective Active Peace Circles:$5,500 USD To configure an Active Peace Circle – restorative justice framework – and address a case of conflict within our Center.
- Letter Writing Campaign to End Violence Against Black People: $3,000 USD Using contemplative practice, writers are encouraged to identify incidents of violence against Black people and to connect with their feelings about it.
If your initiative is funded, please keep in touch!
Grant recipients will need to keep us informed about the progress of the initiative. A grant may be subject to particular conditions. Grant recipients will be required to complete an evaluation report using a template and instructions provided by the Board. Reports will include a summary, expense report, achievements, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
Shambhala leadership has received several frequently asked questions by community members and leaders. We will continue to update this section as new themes and questions emerge.
Why didn’t the IB sell Marpa House to the CoMH group?
- Please refer to our July 30 communication for an extensive, detailed comparison of the offers we received and our rationale for proceeding forward with the third-party developer. It is worth repeating that in May, we were presented with two offers: one for $3M (with an uncertain closing date, entirely financed) from the Community of Marpa House Group (CoMH) and one for $5M (close in 90 days, all cash) from an outside party. Considering all of the elements and variables, the IB made the decision to accept the significantly stronger offer.
- As we made clear to CoMH group, we could only consider another proposal from CoMH if that contract fell through. In May, while we could have told the CoMH group to cease all efforts to purchase, we encouraged them to put in a stronger backup offer in case, and only in case, the deal fell apart. We recognized that, due to multiple contingencies in the contract (such as title, survey, appraisal and inspection), there was never a guarantee it would close.
- CoMH began to work toward improving their initial $3 million proposal to be ready if the $5 million deal with the developer did not close. At the same time, in May, we recognized that CoMH would need to do a lot of work to improve on their offer since it had almost no equity and the loans they had at that time were only “soft pledges.” We offered them the time and counsel of our Development Director and two of the IB Finance Committee members, if they wanted it. After that, two members of our Finance Committee members worked with them regularly. Those members continuously clarified that any offer they would make would be seen as a backup offer only if the contract in progress on Marpa House did not close.
- Thus, as of May 22, we have been under contract for the sale of Marpa House. From that date until August 7 when the sale was finalized, we were never out of contract and never legally able to accept another offer. The May 22 contract held firm, and we closed on the sale on August 7, 2019.
Did the CoMH group make a follow-up offer after the IB’s July 30 communication was sent?
- Yes. Shortly after our sangha-wide communication was sent on July 30th, we received an amended offer from the CoMH group which was for $4.2 million. It is important to reiterate that we thoroughly reviewed the CoMH group’s first offer of $3 million and found it to be unacceptable. The table and figures we included in our communication reflected the two offers we had on the table in May because it was important to show how and why we came to the decision to accept the outside offer. We accepted a $5 million offer that was all cash, no commissions, with a short closing period. Since this outside offer was accepted on May 22, 2019, we and the buyer have proceeded in good faith to go forward with the agreed purchase. No matter when the CoMH group’s second offer was received, we could not responsibly breach the outside contract in favor of a $4.2 million offer with contingencies that was based largely on debt and without formal bank financing approval and still both below market and appraised values.
If the CoMH offer was $4.2 million and the developer’s offer was $4.9 million, why wouldn’t you take the community offer?
- The decision to sell Marpa House was communicated February 1 to the community and we asked the community for help, saying that we would need to put the property on the market by the end of March. Knowing that the community group was forming, we extended the deadline, and met with them in the middle of May when the IB was together in Boulder. At that time, we thoroughly reviewed their offer of $3 million and determined that it was not viable for two primary reasons: the offer was significantly below market value, and was risky as it relied on financing that had not yet been secured. Around the same time, we received the $5 million offer and determined that it was a very viable, all-cash offer that could close quickly. For these and other reasons detailed in our July 30 communication, we decided this was a very good deal for Shambhala, would help with impending debt obligations, and would create a path for the organization to continue into the future.
- We went into contract with the third-party developer, received a $500,000 earnest money deposit, and then proceeded along through the due diligence period. We were pleased that we were able to obtain a price of $4.9 million, and the earnest money only became non-refundable on July 26th. The community offer of $4.2 million came in a few days after, was still below the appraisal and market value of the property and had significant financing contingencies.
Why did the Interim Board oppose the Landmarking of MH?
- At the urging of the CoMH group and a group of neighbors, Historic Boulder submitted an application for Landmark Status for Marpa House for the sole objective of blocking the sale of Marpa House to the third-party developer by lowering the development potential of the property. The IB was not consulted about this activity before it was initiated. We were not supportive of Marpa House being submitted for Landmark status for many reasons: it changed the future uses of the property when we were already under contract; it could reduce the number of potential buyers; and significantly reduce the appraised value of the property, impacting its potential value to other buyers if the contract with the developer had fallen through.
FAQ Archive by Topic
What is the difference between the Interim Board and the Kalapa Council?
- Members of the Kalapa Council were chosen and appointed by the Sakyong. The members of the Interim Board were selected by the Shambhala Transition Task Force.
- Kalapa Council members served until they voluntarily stepped down or were asked to by the Sakyong. The Sakyong cannot remove members of the Interim Board from their commitment to Shambhala until October 17, 2019. On August 17, 2019 he signed a resolution extending the board’s term. For more information, please scroll down to the question titled “Will there be any changes to the Interim Board’s tenure which was originally to be 12 months?”
- Several of the Kalapa Council members were salaried employees of Shambhala. None of the Interim Board members are employees of Shambhala, nor do they receive a salary for this work.
What is the relationship between the Interim Board and the Sakyong?
- Unlike the Kalapa Council which acted under the direction of the Sakyong, the Interim Board acts independently, in consultation with the key constituencies of Shambhala; the members, center and group leadership, teachers, and the Shambhala Process Team(s). Accordingly, the Interim Board will keep these constituents informed of its activities with the intention to create a stable and sustainable financial and governance environment for Shambhala.
How will the Interim Board communicate with the community?
- We plan to make regular updates to this website and provide regular communications of our activities and plans through emails to the community. You can access our past communications here.
- We plan to have regular Zoom meetings with Shambhala leadership groups.
- We are investigating other ways we can communicate with the global community.
- The Process Team will be a critical conduit of feedback from the community to the Interim Board.
What decisions can the Interim Board make? What can’t they make decisions about?
- The Board can make all operational, financial and legal decisions necessary to manage the organization of Shambhala USA and Shambhala Canada.
- The Board cannot make decisions for the Potrang, although they will make recommendations and collaborate where appropriate.
- The Board will not rule or decide on matters of doctrine. The Shambhala Terma and its paths are the purview of the Sakyong.
- The Board has no authority to appoint Acharyas, Shastris, or any lineage positions or to make appointment of positions in the Dorje Kasung. However, the Board reserves the authority to remove or censure such teachers for reasons of findings of misconduct pursuant to Shambhala policies.
- The board cannot amend the Articles and Bylaws of Shambhala without the Sakyong’s consent.
Will there be any changes to the Interim Board’s tenure which was originally to be 12 months?
- On August 17, 2018, the Sakyong as sole member of Shambhala USA and Shambhala Canada signed a resolution extending the term of six members of the Interim Board for three years and acknowledged the retirement of two of our members, Martina Bouey and Sara Lewis, effective October 17, 2019. For the next two years, he has relinquished his authority to replace or add board members after which time the Sakyong would regain his authority to hire or replace directors if he chooses. The resolution acknowledges that this group is now the Board of Directors of Shambhala, a change from our current interim status. This board will have the authority to replace or appoint new board members during this two year period.
How does the Interim Board relate to the Shambhala Process Team(s)?
- The Interim Board will work closely with the Shambhala Process Team on issues related to governance and community care, particularly on those suggestions that require funding or legal review.
- The Interim Board may choose to solicit and implement suggestions by the Process Team, based on community input.
- We plan to have regular updates and communication with and to the Process Team. Currently members of the Interim Board meet bi-monthly with the Process Team Steering Committee.
How does the Interim Board relate to the four pillars? Does the Interim Board act as the heads of the four pillars?
- The Interim Board does not operate as a replacement for the Pillar Heads that were members of the Kalapa Council. However, at this point, in the absence of a board level leader, the leaders of the four pillars report directly to the Interim Board through the relevant committee of the Board and the Interim Board meets regularly with the four pillars as a group.
- The pillar heads of Government, Kasung, Economy and Practice and Education were members of the Kalapa Council. The Interim Board has no members who are also pillar heads. No pillar heads sit on the Interim Board. The Interim Board has work groups that have identified key leaders within each pillar to have ongoing communication with and to represent issues from the pillar that may need Board interaction, such as matters that require funding or legal guidance.
Is there a legal basis for the Interim Board’s authority?
- Yes, pursuant to the Bylaws of Shambhala, the Interim Board has been legally appointed, and by resolution of the voting Member.
What are the legal and financial entities that make up Shambhala? How are they governed?
- What is often referred to as “Shambhala International” is the combination of three entities – Shambhala Canada Society, Shamahala USA and Shambhala Europe. Shambhala USA and Canada operate together as Shambhala Global Services (SGS) and are currently governed by the Interim Board.
- Shambhala Europe (GmbH) is a non-profit limited liability corporation registered in Germany. It is a 100% subsidiary of Shambhala USA and therefore bound to resolutions issued by Shambhala USA. Shambhala Europe operates as part of SGS, is strategically aligned with SGS and exchanges services with SGS. Regional operational decisions are typically made by the European Council together with the managing director(s).
For more detail see the finance report from August 15, 2018 pages 2-7.
How will the Interim Board address sexual harm in Shambhala?
- The Interim Board acknowledges that the Shambhala community has a history of improperly and inadequately relating to sexual harm. We are committed to the ongoing support of the community as the unfolding of work in this area continues.
- We are especially sensitive to resisting a top-down approach that seeks to polish or smooth over harm that has already occurred and further pledge to be in dialogue with the Process Team and the community at large to reflect on our next steps as a community.
- The Interim Board is planning to implement a replacement for the Care and Conduct Policy that has been generated through work by An Olive Branch, a Shambhala Task Force, and the Shambhala Process Team.
- We also hope to encourage and support processes that consider how all forms of structural violence reinforce harmful power structures that benefit some community members over others.
Wickwire Holm Investigation & An Olive Branch Report
When were the findings of the independent investigation conducted by Wickwire Holm given to the community?
- The investigator received information through the end of the reporting period which closed on November 16, 2018. The Interim Board received the final report on February 2, 2019 and released it to the community the next day. That release contained a cover letter from the board, a summary, and all three investigative reports. You can access all of that information here.
Did the Board provide us with the complete investigation performed by the Selena Bath at Wickwire Holm?
- Yes. All three completed investigations were released to the community that the Interim Board received. Ms. Bath completed investigations for which a claimant was willing to identify themselves to the person whom they were claiming had harmed them and these were the only investigative reports that she delivered to the Interim Board. In total, she opened six investigations but Claimants connected with Claims #2 and #4 did not want to proceed and Claim #6 was referred to Care and Conduct. The Interim Board did not receive any reports on Claims #2, #4 or #6 but only on Claims #1, #3 and #5, all of which were released to the community.
What period of time did the investigation reports cover?
- Of the 10 people who reported issues of sexual misconduct with the Sakyong (of which only 2 were investigated, as per FAQ above), 2 specific claims related to the time period after 2005; 2 were in the late 1990s; the rest were between 2000-2005. Of the 20 people who reported issues of sexual misconduct with other Shambhala leaders, 10 were from 2005 to the present and 10 were before 2005, with some going back to the 1980s.
If someone feels that they would still like to have an investigation who should they contact?
- The investigation period is now closed with Wickwire Holm. If a community member has a care and conduct complaint they should email [email protected].
- If this matter involves sexual assault, community members should report such cases to the police. There are many advocacy organizations such as RAINN which can assist individuals and centers with reporting, and with caring for those who have been harmed. Shambhala as an organization will also report instances of sexual assault to proper authorities. While we are working to improve care and conduct procedures, Shambhala should not attempt to deal with crimes internally.
What is the IB’s response to reports on the Internet that a portion of the Wickwire Holm investigation was halted in December and the issue of the complicity of Shambhala leaders was eliminated from the scope. Did the IB curtail the scope of the investigation? If so, why?
- On page 1 of the IB’s February 3, 2019 letter to the Community we stated: “One of the most important principles we expressed to Ms. Bath (the Wickwire Holm investigator) was that all Claimants’ and Witnesses’ identities would be kept confidential. However, for an individual’s report to become a claim, the individual had to be willing to identify themselves to Wickwire Holm and to have Wickwire Holm identify them to the respondent. Otherwise, there would be no way for Wickwire Holm to investigate and to interview the respondent and any witnesses to the claim.” The IB took this principle very seriously – we were aware that some women whose stories appeared in Project Sunshine (BPS) reporting were explicit that they did not want to be investigated by Shambhala after inquiry from Ms. Bath. However, once a claimant came forward in that manner, there was never any limitation on the scope of the investigation which was left to the professional judgment of Wickwire Holm.
- Secondly, if we went ahead with an investigation and reported on an allegation of abuse without the consent or input of the person harmed, this could potentially lead to re-traumatizing the person harmed and producing an unbalanced report. When you read the Wickwire Holm report, Ms. Bath disclosed that Claim #2 was not investigated because there was no claimant, per the framework described in the above bullet. From the IB’s perspective, BPS did not do the extensive investigation that Ms. Bath performed, with many witnesses and verifications. For example, claimant #3’s claim of assaults reported as “Anne” in BPS was found to be not credible. BPS had called out Shambhala members by name, essentially defaming individuals with allegations that an extensive investigation found to be not credible. After the Wickwire Holm report was released, there were on-line assertions that an investigation was halted. In one case, Claimant No 2, this was true, but it was based on considered judgment and care for the women involved laid out in the approach described above. In terms of complicity of individuals, Wickwire Holm investigated all of the claims that claimants requested. Ms. Bath did not make judgments or identify by name witnesses and bystanders but did report how credible they were in terms of giving information. If she had received a request to investigate a named person who was complicit, she would have done so.
When did An Olive Branch report come out? What was in it?
- On March 19, 2019, the Interim Board released three documents from An Olive Branch. Please visit the Community Care page to access and download the reports.
What is being done to acknowledge and address the harmful actions or complicity of teachers, meditation instructors, or other influential individuals in promoting or supporting a culture of abusive behavior in Shambhala?
In terms of Care and Conduct, the IB has started a number of initiatives on this topic:
- We are fundraising to be able to hire a Director of Care and Conduct who will address these issues.
- We are working with the PT to publish a more robust Care and Conduct policy and grievance procedure.
- We are getting feedback on whether training on imbalance of power should be instituted for Shambhala leaders and teachers.
- We are doing an investigation into Shambhala’s handling of one or more alleged child abuse cases from the 1990s.
- We have just released a survey about Care and Conduct procedures and issues that will be reported on by September of 2019.
- We do believe that there needs to be a lot more careful attention, training and vetting on this topic — there is a lot of work to be done which is why we think having a Director of Care and Conduct is crucial.
What is being done to publicly apologize to, care for, and/or offer reparations to the victims who have come forward?
- This is a topic that has not been handled in a public way. We understand that many people do not feel safe in Shambhala and we want to begin to address those issues. However, the IB does not have any lists or names of individuals harmed or abusers or those who have been complicit. An Olive Branch and Wickwire Holm collected information from potential claimants under a guarantee of confidentiality, and they have abided by that promise.
What is the IB’s opinion on the 15 recommendations and Code of Ethics that An Olive Branch put forward?
- We look to address these issues with a new Code of Conduct and grievance procedure. Some of these topics, for example, whether to serve alcohol, are not being addressed on a global organization-wide level. We are looking to local leadership to find the skillful means for their particular community.
The Sakyong Potrang
What is the Sakyong Potrang? How is it related to Shambhala?
- The legal entities of the Sakyong Potrang are the Sakyong Potrang USA (a nonprofit corporation registered in Colorado), and The Sakyong Potrang Canada (a registered Canadian Charity). The Potrang entities support the lineage succession of Sakyongs and hold lineage texts, ritual implements, trademarks, copyrights, and the lineage sites of Kalapa Valley and the Kalapa Court in Nova Scotia.
- The Sakyong Potrang is also the sole member of Shambhala USA and Shambhala Canada and, as such, has the right and responsibility, among other things, to appoint and remove Directors. As of October 16, 2018, the Potrang waived this right in the case of the Interim Board, and recently continued the waiver for another two years until October 17, 2021. Thus, during this period, Shambhala USA and CAN will assume the responsibility of sole governance of Shambhala and including the appointment, replacement and removal of Directors.
- Also within the Sakyong Potrang are staff positions that support the Sakyong’s teachings and activity, provide administrative services for the Shambhala mandala, and provide the Shambhala Organization’s access to the Sakyong’s teachings. This staff includes positions at Kalapa Media as well as support for transcribing, editing, translating and distributing the Sakyong’s teaching materials and producing lineage events and retreats. Support for the Sakyong’s travel pertaining to practice and teaching is also supported by the Potrang.
Shambhala Global Services (SGS) pays no support directly to the Sakyong, his family or for their living expenses including ownership costs of the Kalapa Court in Halifax or elsewhere. SGS does pay rent to the Potrang for its share of office space at the Kalapa Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. SGS has provided support for Potrang staff salaries for positions that supported the Sakyong’s teaching activities, but those payments ended in May 2019 with the exception of sharing the cost of office rent. For more detail See the finance report from Aug 15, 2018 pages 6-9
How does the Interim Board relate to the Sakyong Potrang?
- The Sakyong Potrang’s mission is to hold and protect the intellectual property of the Sakyong Lineage and to support the Sakyong Lineage by supporting the activities of the current Sakyong. The Sakyong Potrang is legally separate from Shambhala International, but closely aligned, as it holds the source of many of our teachings.
- The Interim Board has interacted with the Sakyong Potrang on matters that have bearing on some of our mutual financial and legal responsibilities.
- The Interim Board works with the Directors of the Potrang to keep in communication about community needs, programming and lineage teachings.
Why did you take an oath to the “lineage of the Sakyongs”? What does that mean?
- As Shambhala students, we believe in Shambhala as our lineage, and our commitment as a Board member is to help the preservation of the teachings for future generations to come. The Sakyong is the current lineage holder, and we aspire to contribute so that the Lineage will go beyond our generation.
What is the Mukpo Family Office?
- The Mukpo Family Office (MFO) is a name used to refer to the bookkeeping, accounting and tax work (all hourly part-time) done to manage the Mukpo family’s finances.
How does the Sakyong get paid? Can you describe all his sources of income? What income and payments does he get from Shambhala?
- Shambhala does not make any payments to the Sakyong or his household. His present income comes from the Potrang and from private donors. The MFO tells us that the Sakyong has not accumulated any significant assets over the past 25 years of teaching except for a home that is currently for sale in the Boulder area.
What is the difference between lineage costs and payments to the Sakyong and his family?
- “Lineage Expenses” refer to the salaries of the Sakyong and Sakyong Wangmo, their health insurance, a food stipend, and church-related travel and vehicles. All Lineage Expenses are covered by the Sakyong Potrang.
- For details please refer to the “Finance Report to the Shambhala Community” https://shambhala.org/index.php?file=2018/09/Finance_Report_to_Shambhala_Community_2018-09-20.pdf
What are parsonage costs? Who pays them?
- A parsonage allowance is an allowance designated by the governing board of a church to its clergy or ministers for the expenses of providing and maintaining a home. This allowance is exempted from the minister’s gross income for tax purposes. Parsonage allowance is also called rental allowance or housing allowance. This allowance can cover costs such as rent, mortgage, house maintenance and repairs, property taxes, utilities, insurance, and remodeling expenses. Parsonage costs for the Sakyong and his immediate family are paid by the Sakyong Potrang.
- In 2019 Shambhala contributed to parsonage costs for Lady Konchok’s household at Marpa House which also provided for her husband Pema Gyaltsen Rinpoche and her son Gyurme Dorje Lama who support rituals and ceremonies for the Shambhala community.
Why doesn’t the Sakyong sell the courts and give the money to Shambhala?
- The Halifax Court is owned by the Potrang. Significant donations have been made over time to create and maintain a Court in Halifax. Selling the Court in Halifax would be opposed to the historical intent for those donors.
- The Boulder Court is owned by the Mukpo Family. At this time, The Sakyong and Sakyong Wangmo have decided to put the Boulder Court on the market (either rent or sell).
Where is the Sakyong now? How do I see his schedule?
- The Sakyong will be in retreat and spending time with family in Nepal.
What communication has the community received from the Sakyong?
- The Sakyong wrote a letter after the release of the Wickwire Holm report. You can access that communication here. He also wrote a letter about his stepping back from teaching and administration after the community received a communication from six kusung. We understand that he is continuing a period of self reflection, listening and learning.
Did the Sakyong leave the country because of the allegations?
- No. This trip was agreed to 3 years ago, and the plans have not been impacted by the current situation.
Whose interests does the IB consider paramount: the sangha’s or the Sakyong’s? If the latter, how will accountability be achieved and the interests of sangha members be safeguarded?
- In the Introduction on board.shambhala.org, it states: “The primary focus of the Shambhala Interim Board is on the financial health of Shambhala, responsible management of Shambhala resources and the ongoing care of our community. The Interim Board will work closely with the Process Team, a group created by the Transition Task Force to work on Shambhala community, healing, culture, governance, and learning.”
- We have used this mission statement to guide our actions and decision-making. Although we have worked directly with the Potrang on issues with the Sovereign Place lease sublet where we shared offices, on terms of a promissory note that the Kalapa Council signed to repay $1.2 million CAN to the Potrang, and on other legal, financial and staffing issues, Shambhala is now operated more directly as its own entity than it has been in many years.
- The IB has worked hard to untangle intertwined relationship of the Potrang and Shambhala. By May of this year, the IB established that all sangha-facing staff would report to the IB and all funds Shambhala received stayed in Shambhala with the exception of the last of the shared rent.
As of August 17, 2019, the Sakyong signed resolutions for Shambhala USA and Shambhala Canada granting provisions that we had requested. Six board members will continue past October 17, 2019 with Sara Lewis and Martina Bouey needing to leave the board to focus on their careers. These resolutions essentially create an independent board for another two years, giving members three year terms.
Does the IB see the Sakyong’s return to an official community position—be it teaching, leadership, administrative, honorary, whatever—as a goal for the board to use its time, goodwill and resources to accomplish?
- These issues of great concern to everyone are equally of concern to the IB, but the IB has not actively pursued these topics or supplicated the Sakyong nor have we received any requests from the Sakyong on these issues. We have seen our role as holding the organization so that there is the space to work out these issues properly.
Fundraising & Financial Contributions
How do I make restricted gifts for particular purposes?
- Many people wish to make restricted gifts as a way to offer to a particular project or area of work in which they feel the most passion or connection. While restricted giving is a natural part of philanthropy and giving, at this time, it is most helpful for people to give unrestricted funds, as the current leadership is working hard to develop good strategies to prioritize the areas of work and projects that most need funding.
If you feel strongly that you wish to make a restricted gift, you can do so in the following ways:
- When you donate online on the giving webpage at shambhala.org, there is always an option to leave a note in the comments field. The same applies for bank transfers – you should always be able to write a note in a comments field.
- If you mail in a check, you can make a comment on your check about what you wish your funds to support.
- You can email or call John Shaw in the Shambhala Finance Office and specify what you wish your giving to support. ([email protected] /+1 902-425-4275 ext. 2)
- In many cases, you simply need to give directly to the entity to which you wish to support. For example, all the land centers have ways to donate via their website as well as contact information for their Finance or Development Offices.
What is a reasonable amount to give in Europe?
- For members, a minimum donation of 35€ per month to their local center or Shambhala Europe is suggested. This does not include fundraising for special occasions (Shambhala Day, Harvest of Peace etc.) If this does not seem feasible, please contact your center leadership to explore alternatives.
I don’t want to give money unless I can be sure that it doesn’t go to the Sakyong. Is there a way I can give money and have that assurance?
- Donations to your local centers, Shambhala USA, Shambhala Canada and Shambhala Europe are used to provide Global Services for members and centers like materials for practice and education, program planning, the websites, the database and center support. They do not support Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.