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Jul 08
Sunday
Opinion Pieces
In the Days to Come

One person considers the future of her relationship with Shambhala 

by Carol Henderson

Ever since reading the June 25th letter from Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, I have been swept by waves of emotion. Feelings are both deep and close to the surface; the sight of a flower or the sound of a child’s laughter can easily bring me to tears. Memory is interrupted; I start an old familiar chant, and find myself halting and lost partway through.

Having read much of what is out there online, I know that whatever eventually comes of the recent allegations, my relationship with my teacher will never be the same. The effortless, sunny quality of devotion that I’ve enjoyed for years has vanished. Each of us connected with Shambhala will have decisions to make about that connection. I respect each person’s choices, and trust that each person will find their own wisdom and their own way forward.

As the #MeToo movement has swept away old ways of thinking, as every case and story has arisen, I have found my thoughts to be in sympathy with the survivors of abuse. As a survivor of sexual misconduct myself (conduct unrelated to any teachers or leaders in Shambhala), I almost always believe those who speak out about abusive behavior, and I am in awe of their courage as they bring dark episodes into the light. My natural place is with the survivors, and my heart is with them.

Since reading the letter, I have spent much of my time in meditation and sadhana practice, which has helped to work with the sweep of emotions and allowed me to gain some insight into my own path going forward. I would like to share with you what that path looks like so far. First, I have taken many vows in Shambhala, and I intend to keep those vows — all of them. For me, when a promise is made from the heart, with forethought and great intentionality, that is a promise to be kept regardless of what happens afterwards.

Through these difficult days, I have been appreciating the value of what I have learned in Shambhala. These teachings and practices are good; they work for me and for so many others. In my life and the lives of those around me, the Shambhala path has brought sanity, joy, and insight. I have gained so much in self-discipline, in ability to appreciate others and be kind, in wisdom and knowledge about the nature of reality. I cherish these teachings, many of which have come directly from the Sakyong. For that learning, I am deeply grateful, and I expect that I always will be.

I will continue practicing the sadhanas and other practices received through Shambhala, and will continue working with others as a meditation instructor. These practices have great value, and great effectiveness in generating positive change. I will continue making financial contributions supporting the centers at Karmê Chöling and Sky Lake, since I believe in the work that they do. I will continue to serve as a member of the Dorje Kasung, that having been one of the vows mentioned earlier.

After much consideration, I have also decided to participate in the program I had planned to attend this summer. Scorpion Seal will be very different this time, and I will be there to experience that difference. I have always enjoyed preparing for a program, both the practice requirements and the sorting and packing of things to take with me. This time, though, going through the list of what to bring, laying out clothing, texts, and supplies—usually a task filled with delightful anticipation—has instead felt heavy and sad.

Sadhana practice over the past few days has made another thing clear: Shambhala is my home. I will not abandon my home in these challenging times. I will stay and do all that I can to make it a good home for myself and for others: a home that is welcoming, nurturing, respectful, healthy, and safe for all who enter there.

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15 responses to “ In the Days to Come ”
  1. Manuel Medeiros
    Jul 8, 2018
    Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this.

  2. Vicki Giella
    Jul 8, 2018
    Reply

    Carol,
    Thank you so much for sharing your heart and mind with us. I find your words a good, gentle cushion of support.

  3. Susie Cook
    Jul 9, 2018
    Reply

    Thank you

  4. Irene Woodard
    Jul 9, 2018
    Reply

    Dear Carol
    Thank you for sharing your sad and steady voice. And for the work you do always…
    Love
    Irene

  5. For almost anybody that went thorough the shambhala teachings it comes natural to think at it as a home. I left that home because it was clear to me years ago and from the international side that there was a “culture” of abuse (general not specific) and silence. My point is that who commit to stay home commit as well to clean the home. Please do clean the home. Please make that home and family really illuminated. The light is love, forget compassion and meditation and sadhana and think about love as we love our just born kids. Please make the home clean and invite us to come back. We miss you.

  6. Irene Woodard
    Jul 9, 2018
    Reply

    Carol, your journey described is one of tenderness. Thank you for your openness

  7. Benoît Côté
    Jul 9, 2018
    Reply

    Merci Carol
    for daring to open your personal space to us and for the great and hard work that you do.

  8. Christine Heming
    Jul 11, 2018
    Reply

    Thank you Carol for your courage to share your personal journey with us. And many thanks for keeping this voice of Shambhala alive.

  9. Mark Turnoy
    Jul 12, 2018
    Reply

    Thank you for your heartfelt letter, Carol!

  10. Elaine Martin
    Jul 13, 2018
    Reply

    Yes I feel similar in many ways. See you at scorpion seal! We need to come together and share. What a great opportunity this will be.

  11. Thank you Carol for your story. I’ll be here to help with making ” a home that is welcoming, nurturing, respectful, healthy, and safe for all who enter there.” You are not alone. Perhaps we can create a home that Fabrizio will visit. Sending love.

  12. Margaret May
    Jul 13, 2018
    Reply

    Yes. and Yes. and Yes…

  13. Linda Willow
    Jul 14, 2018
    Reply

    Beautiful; thanks for the lovely example of how to proceed.

  14. Claudia Murray
    Jul 15, 2018
    Reply

    Thanks so much for this share, Carol. We have one another, the sangha, that jewel which is shining brighter these days, as we trudge together through the “slime & muck” and open to conversations of greater transparency, trust and care. And we have the opportunity we’ve always had, to manifest enlightened society. That was the invitation the Vidyadara extended and that the Sakyong upholds. It was not something they could hand us on a silver platter. It is part of what we’ve vowed to do together. It’s the opportunity not to move to a better neighborhood, so to speak, to escape whatever it is that threatens us or to make a better neighborhood for ourselves, and abandon others in the process. But to come together, as a community, and sweep every corner. Some of that furniture never got moved, and now we’re finding the dust bunnies. Only in this context, it’s more like what one finds under a refrigerator that’s never been moved in 40 years. And on top of that, the refrigerator is in a glass house for all the world to see what a neglectful housekeeper one is. Very mortifying. As for those who have been harmed, we are hearing you, we are listening, we are changing and we are in this together.

  15. Carol, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this very complicated and emotional situation. I appreciate your clarity and compassion. May you be well.


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