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Shambhala News Service
Mandala Appointments, Retirements, and Resignations

June 28, 2019

Atlanta, GA: Sue Gilman succeeding Daniel Phillips as Shambhala Center Director
Berkeley, CA: Shambhala Center Leadership Team: Radha Chandra,Tim Dunning, Emily Earlenbaugh, Carol Henderson, Don Henderson, Sandra Ladley, Alex Lotz, Faith Miller, Jesse Miller, Mollie Mowat, Chinh Nguyenquoc, Elena Oxman, Martha Roberts, Joshuaraen Thornberry, Martha Silverspring and Scott Tracy; succeeding Shambhala Center Director Arelly Sanchez-Shackett. (Note: This leadership team is always changing; any member can join).
Davis, CA: Elvia Garcia and Mark Robinson succeeding Patti Larson as Shambhala Center Directors
Halifax: Kathryn Heckman, Interim Director succeeding Center Director Michelle Munro
Milk Lake Retreat Centre: Kelten and Randy Olson. Co-Directors
NorCal Region: Rebekka Martorano succeeding Cody McGough as Shambhala NorCal Regional Director
Portland, OR: Rayna Jacobson departing as Shastri
Seattle, WA: Annica Holder and JoAnn Schindler succeeding Michael Busby as Center Directors
Tucson, AZ – Bernie Gay departing as Shambhala Center Director


 

April 25, 2019

The Interim Board of Shambhala would like to announce the following appointments, retirements and resignations on behalf of the Government Pillar and the Pillar of Practice and Education:

SHAMBHALA GLOBAL SERVICES
Kalapa Publications: Emily Sell succeeding Jeanne Cain as Director

ACHARYAS
Santiago, Chile: Magali Meneses resigned

SHASTRIS
Annapolis, N.S.: Christine Heming retired
Edmonton, AB: David Kahane resigned
Fort Collins, CO: Jonathan Barbieri retired
Madrid: Felipe Rodriguez retired
Philadelphia, P.A.: Alexander deVaron succeeding Tom Berthoff as Shastri
Pioneer Valley, MA: Andrea Darby retired
St. Margaret’s Bay, N.S.: Alice Haspray retired
Santiago, Chile: Elisa Marzuca, Francesca Nilo and Jaime Sepúlveda resigned
Vancouver: Joachim Sehrbrock and Mariel Gomez resigned

LAND AND CITY CENTER DIRECTORS
Asheville: Donald Sheehan succeeding Matthew Parkinson (resigned)
Fort Collins: Pam Turner and Keith Ela succeeding Gailmarie Kimmel
Ottawa: Loretta Colton and Colin Cordner succeeding Lynn MacDonald
San Diego: Carolynn Larson-Garcia succeeding Louise Julig
Sao Paolo: Patricia Regner Hatushikano succeeding Charles Betito-Filho
Toronto: Victoria Hagens, incoming director

We would like to welcome those warriors entering, or re-entering, their positions of leadership, and thank those retiring warriors for their heartfelt and devoted service to Shambhala.

 

Edit (June 22, 2019):

The following individuals requested clarification that they did not retire from their post, but instead resigned. We would like to welcome any individual on this list who would like to share anything about their resignation, retirement, or appointment to comment on this article below.

Matthew Parkinson
Mariel Gomez
Magali Meneses
Joachim Sehrbrock
David Kahane
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15 responses to “ Mandala Appointments, Retirements, and Resignations ”
  1. Zachariah Finley
    Apr 26, 2019
    Reply

    To call all of these “retirements” is complete whitewashing. A number of these are in fact resignations. It is, at least in part, an exodus of leaders who are angry and heartbroken. That is the real story here, and it is what the Shambhala Times should be reporting on, unless you simply wish to be the propaganda arm of an organization doing damage control.

  2. Jamie Moffat
    May 5, 2019
    Reply

    Hi Zachariah – can you please let me know where the statement has been posted? Would like to share them through the Buddhist Project Sunshine News Service – I only have just seen your letter copied on Facebook. Are you aware of others?

    All the best,

    Jamie

  3. Angela Pressburger
    Apr 26, 2019
    Reply

    Since it didn’t make it into this list, please note that our Canadian Land Centre, Dorje Denma Ling, will host an Oath Ceremony on Sunday, May 5, 2019, to celebrate outgoing Director, Heather Scott and welcome our new Director, Catherine Neil.

  4. Agreed

  5. Sabine Putze
    Apr 28, 2019
    Reply

    I think the letter of the Interim Board said the same as Zachariah Finley: “Many of these individuals have publicly shared their reasons for stepping down; each person’s account is nuanced and distinct so we wish not to gloss over their reasons –including a feeling that they were appointed by the Sakyong and can no longer serve as his representative–with a neutral term like “retirement.” We wish to acknowledge the personal struggle faced by many leaders at this time. ”
    So I see an acknowledgement here of the fact that these are not a “retirements”as usual. Liebe Grüße aus Wien/Austria.

  6. Zachariah Finley
    Apr 30, 2019
    Reply

    Sabine, I do Not think it would be too difficult acknowledge this, not only in the communication from the IB, but here in Shambhala Times as well. I also do not think it would be too difficult to add links to the public statements that have been made by those resigning.
    I think we have to be very careful at this time not to cover over the truth with seemingly “neutral” language.
    Liebe grüße zurück!

  7. Shambhala Times Team
    Apr 30, 2019
    Reply

    Thank you for this feedback. We at the Shambhala Times are in the process of reaching out to each person on this list regarding how they would like the end of their post to be acknowledged: either as a retirement, as a resignation, or as something else. We will post an update to this story on this page.

  8. Zachariah Finley
    May 1, 2019
    Reply

    Thank you so much for this.

  9. Christine Heming
    May 2, 2019
    Reply

    I am posting to clarify my position in stepping down, which I feel is a retirement. I was planning to retire in the fall. I stepped down earlier not out of anger but simply to become once again an ordinary citizen of Shambhala and speak only with my own voice. It felt right.

  10. David Kahane
    Jun 28, 2019
    Reply

    It is good that the Shambhala Times has just now reopened these comments, with an invitation to those of us who have resigned to communicate.

    For what it’s worth, here is the letter that I sent to members of the Edmonton Shambhala Centre on April 14, announcing my resignation. Other communications from me can be found on the Edmonton Shambhala Centre blog. I have no objection to my words being shared.

    Wishing you all well,

    David

    ++++

    “To the Edmonton Shambhala community,

    I write to say that I am resigning as Shastri (senior teacher) for Edmonton. There’s been a beauty and intimacy to practicing with you, teaching, holding space for conversation, and supporting other teachers. I am grateful to have had this opportunity.

    For many years, I was carried along by the momentum of my progress along the paths of practice, leadership, and teaching. Shambhala has been the core of my life, my friendships, and my identity. Yet a lot has unravelled since last June. I had invested trust in the Sakyong and the Shambhala organization, then learned more and more about patterns of harm, ignorance, and hiding within the international community. I had invested trust in Shambhala practices and teachings, many of which still resonate powerfully for me; yet I also now see the elements of Shambhala practices that never rang quite true, and how I set these qualms aside, and how that’s not something I can any longer do with conviction. I had thought that by pouring more and more of myself into this community and practice, I was increasing wisdom and balance in my life—yet as things have fallen apart, I am less sure of this. I have so loved the delicate, honest connection that teaching Shambhala dharma has allowed, yet am unsure of the benefit that I have provided by drawing people into Shambhala.

    Looking at the international Shambhala community, I am still waiting for leaders to prioritize care and restitution for victims. I am still waiting for those complicit in harms to speak honestly about their roles in what happened. And I am sobered by confusion and aggression and avoidance that continue to emerge from many directions, often dressed up in ingrained Shambhala language and justified by devotion to teachings and lineage. I don’t see any villains in this piece, but rather humans trying hard, caught up in their inner conflicts and in the tangled mess of harm and conviction and delusion and wisdom that make up Shambhala culture and structure.

    I admire the commitment of those who are stepping forward to try to mend this community even as I’m uncertain that things can or should be mended.

    It is time for me to step away.

    Please reach out to me if you would like to talk. It’s painful leaving relationships behind and I am curious about what life these might have outside Shambhala.

    I apologize for errors or harms that I have committed in my formal roles or as a peer in community. I have done my best, and I know that many harms are perpetrated even as we do our best.

    I love you and wish you well.

    David”

  11. Jonathan Barbieri
    Jun 28, 2019
    Reply

    Jonathan Barbieri retired on the completion of his three year term

  12. Tom Berthoff
    Jun 28, 2019
    Reply

    Hi,

    Here’s the letter I sent to the Philadelphia community last October, announcing I would be stepping down as Shastri as of Shambhala Day 2019.

    Tom
    ——————
    Dear teachers, meditation instructors and guides,

    You may have heard that I’m going to be stepping down as Shastri as of Shambhala Day 2019, which is the end of my three year commitment, and I’m not planning to do any teaching or mentoring at the center at this point.

    I write this with a deep feeling of grief and sadness. I’ve felt this way for months now. My sadness arises because it seems that the energy I have invested at the center over the last eighteen years has not been effective in the ways I had hoped.

    I’ve spent a long time explaining, educating, encouraging, recommending, mentoring, and trying to get people involved, excited and committed to the complete Shambhala path. Now I’m seeing clearly that where my intention was to inspire others, it would have been better to encourage many people to wait–to not go forward when they had serious doubts, and to discourage people from doing advanced programs and trainings when they clearly were not ready. A lot of what I’ve done has been about my own inspirations, not about relating to people where they were. That is a painful realization, but healthy and sane at the same time.

    The allegations about the Sakyong’s misconduct, and the very real history of sexual impropriety by Trungpa Rinpoche and the Vajra Regent Osel Tendzin, have been brought into the cold light of day. It seems that the truth of some of those allegations and the recognition of that history has caused many people to question those teachers, the teachings, the practice, the Shambhala culture, and made them take a hard look at their own involvement. This is tremendously important: each person needs to recognize and honor the truth of what happened, and come to a personal decision about their involvement and commitment. This has to happen.

    I’m speculating, but I wonder if people who have been “on the fence” in terms of their relationship to our teachers, who have underlying doubt, have tried to ignore their doubts or rationalize them or explain them away. Now that there’s no doubt about some of the things that happened, it seems like the suppressed fear and doubt has exploded. This is necessary. It has to happen.

    Personally, I’ve had the same realizations and questioning. But what has arisen naturally for me is not doubt and cynicism, but renewed commitment and appreciation for the Shambhala teachings and practices. I feel my own strong commitment to the Shambhala teachings, and my devotion and loyalty to Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. I’ve been studying and practicing under their guidance since 1982. The Shambhala terma is the focus of my life, relationships, work, and practice.

    One of the translations of the title “shastri” is “one who is well-versed in the commentaries” [shastras in Sanskrit]. Because of my study of Buddhist history and familiarity with the stories of lineage figures – Kagyu, Nyingma, Gelug, Zen, Mukpo, etc. – I know that periods like this have happened many times at many points in the past, and continue to happen in the present. It seems like periods like this serve to remind us that “dharma” is about “truth” – the way things really are. It also reminds us that teachers arise in a particular context as human beings, not as gods or infallible avatars. Tulkus in particular manifest in order to demonstrate the path for the benefit of their students, which includes making mistakes and working with their own confusion. If you look at the Shambhala terma, working with confusion about the “confidence which is primordially free” is a core element.

    History also shows that sometimes lineages die out, and that teachers and their teachings fade away. Sometimes periods of obstacles and negativity are resolved, lineages are strengthened and purified, and the world benefits. We’ll see what happens.

    Right now what is arising for a lot of community members worldwide is doubt and anger, and the desire to do something different. Many of the teachers, meditation instructors and guides here in Philadelphia are feeling the same way. Some have already left the community or have decided not to go further on the Shambhala path. Some want to bring other teachers, teachings, traditions and techniques to the center.

    Just to be clear: there are many valid and valuable teaching lineages in the world and many insightful teachers, and I have no problem with the center hosting those teachers. However, I have a real problem with promoting teachers who have rejected the Shambhala teachings and who disrespect Trungpa Rinpoche and the Sakyong. I also cannot support teachers and programs that simply use the center as recruiting ground for their own aspirations. As a Shastri and representative of the Sakyong, I cannot support such teachers and programs.

    The only authority I have as Shastri comes directly from the Sakyong, and the vow I took was to propagate the Shambhala teachings. Specifically, the role of the Shastri is to work with other teachers, mentor newer teachers, cultivate a community of educators, and strive for excellence in the teaching and instruction of the Shambhala Buddhist teachings.

    I’ve already had a number of interactions with other teachers, administrators, and community members where conflict has arisen. I have the impression that I don’t have the support of a good portion of the other educators, that I don’t have the trust or respect needed to guide or mentor other educators, and I don’t have the energy and ability to work with people skillfully in this context.

    I feel the only way forward for me is to step out of my formal roles at the center, to focus on my own practice and study, and to support activities at the center that I feel are important with my participation rather than with my guidance. I will remain a part of the community and will participate in ways that seem healthy and uplifting.

    I wish you all the best.

    Warm regards,

    Tom

  13. Thank you, David, for your letter. It reflects much of what I feel related to all the personal investment I’ve made in Shambhala for almost 30 years. Healing of victims should be the top priority, not healing of the organization. These are different issues, because within the organization and its folkways are embedded the problems that have caused so much harm. Frankly, I’m glad I made the break from Shambhala because it means I’ve grown up. The hierarchical structure of governance and the stratified levels of spiritual credentials that both the teachings and governance structure contain can foster the type of unhealthy behaviors we find in highly dysfunctional families. And, if it is the only family you have, you end up doubling down on becoming more neurotic instead of the other alternative–leaving home.

  14. Annica Holder
    Jul 1, 2019
    Reply

    Hello,

    I would like to clarify that in Seattle, JoAnn Schindler and Annica Holder have succeeded Michael Busby, not Matthew Lyon.

    Thank you,
    Annica

  15. Shambhala Times Team
    Jul 1, 2019
    Reply

    Thank you, Annica, we have edited this accordingly!


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