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Letter from Ani Pema Chödrön

Dear Shambhala Community-

This is a letter that Ani Pema Chödrön sent recently to the Shambhala Board and the Acharyas and now wishes to share it with the community. 

Warmest best wishes,

Glenna Olmsted, Executive Assistant to Pema Chödrön


January 14, 2020

Dear Acharyas and Shambhala Board Members:

I send New Year’s greetings and my love to you all.

I’m writing to let you know that I have decided to step down as an acharya.  As you know, I haven’t actually served as an acharya for a long time, and I have been considering retiring for a few years.  And now, the time has come.

When I read the recent letter from the Sakyong saying that he wished to start teaching again and would do so for all who requested, I was disheartened.  I experienced this news as such a disconnect from all that’s occurred in the last year and half.  It feels unkind, unskillful and unwise for the Sakyong to just go forward as if nothing had happened without relating compassionately to all of those who have been hurt and without doing some deep inner work on himself.

Then came the letter from the Board informing the Shambhala community that they have invited the Sakyong to give the Rigden Abhisheka in June, and I was dumbfounded.  The seemingly very clear message that we are returning to business as usual distresses me deeply.  How can we return to business as usual when there is no path forward for the vast majority of the community who are devoted to the vision of Shambhala and are yearning for accountability, a fresh start, and some guidance on how to proceed?   I find it discouraging that the bravery of those who had the courage to speak out does not seem to be effecting more significant change in the path forward.

I understand that the Board’s decision to invite the Sakyong was based on the compassionate intention to benefit the 125 people who wish to take the abhisheka in order to continue on their path.  But for me, personally, to have the very first indication of how we are going to manifest be that we are returning to business as usual is shocking and also heartbreaking.

I feel that as a community committed to creating an enlightened society, we deserve something better than business as usual.

Hopefully, it’s not too late to reverse this trend.  For instance, the Board could be proactive and invite a few small groups of people with differing views to propose ideas for how we can go forward – ways that include everyone in the community and that provide accountability for all that has happened.  If the Board could then make it their priority for 2020 to start to implement some of these plans … that, in my opinion, would be very wise.

I will close by just saying thank you very much to the acharyas for continuing to teach and help the community and to the Board for the admirable work they have done to stabilize the community’s finances and to establish a new and more efficient code of conduct.  Nevertheless, I do not feel that I can continue any longer as a representative and senior teacher of Shambhala given the unwise direction in which I feel we are going.  

Yours in the vision of the Great Eastern Sun,                                                                         

Ani Pema aka Pema Chödrön

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201 responses to “ Letter from Ani Pema Chödrön ”
  1. Thank you for all of your discussion. After receiving and posting 200 responses, we are closing comments on this article at this time. We encourage you to continue discussion with fellow Shambhala members on the Shambhala Network at https://shambhalanetwork.org/.

  2. To Vetali: I find it so interesting that your experience was that of the community and practice changing from an “exclusive, hard-to-access, cult-lite group” (that “we used to be in the 80’s”) to “open, achievable path and practices.” I think that is so funny really. Ironic. Because as one who was involved from 1973 on, I found it just the opposite. Since the conflation of Shambhala and Buddhism, the community has shrunk, guru worship has become more solidified, secrecy around the Court has increased, and the path and practices have become longer to “achieve” (certain transmissions for example take what, 12 years now?) and much more expensive. I think perhaps it may be each practitioner’s experience that the path and community becomes more open when one is fully engaged and practicing with it. And if Shambhala has become someplace that offers “achievement” then we really all do need to start over.

  3. It bewilders me that it has taken you over half a century to call for accountability. There are so many who clearly have such great affection for you. But where was your voice when Chogyam Trungpa and Ösel Tendzin were breaking trust, and hearts, and spirits?

  4. Jon Poland (Sharchen Pawo)
    Jan 29, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you Ani Pema for your courage and example. You are proof that there are still warriors in Shambhala. Ki ki so so!

    When I tried to say much the same thing at my center (though not as eloquently), I was shot down. I don’t feel I have a voice at my center and I too am disheartened at the managed rehabilitation of the Sakyong. I have already requested the Sakyong to release me from my samaya vow early last year. I haven’t been attending mediation lately, partly because it feels too awkward to go. And painful as it is to contemplate, I have been considering resigning my membership.

    Your letter prompted a meeting at my center on Sunday. I would have liked to attend to learn if I have a place there, but I will be out of the country. Your bravery has inspired me to go and ask questions when I return.

  5. Tera Lhadron
    Jan 28, 2020
    Reply

    Likely too little, too late similar to the downing of the last Concord. The co-pilot said, “Wait, we can do something.” The pilot responded, “Too late”.

  6. The Shambhala Board should ask HH Dalai Lama to select a new lineage holder for Shambhala. A wide range of Tibetan Buddhist teachers should also be invited to contribute to this reforging of the Shambhala tradition. To be genuinely rehabilitated the Sakyong would have to permanently give up wealth/power/sex, and spend some years in retreat. Ani Pema has demonstrated great integrity.

  7. I feel Pema really spoke out wha’s in my mind that has not emerged very clearly for me. I love Sakyong and still feel he is the best potential leader for Shambhala. But not in this way, not before he directly addresses to the mistake and relate to the people who has been hurt.

  8. dear ani pema
    brave bodhisattva mahasattva
    thank you very much

  9. Pema points out that there are conflicting interests in the Sakyong’s return to teaching on these shores. There are those who feel great benefit from his teachings, particularly the Scorpion Seal, and have a keen appetite for more. And there are others who bear wounds from his intimate actions, into which his return may pour salt. The choice to put the interests of the favored ahead of the wounded might be seen as capitalistic, perhaps even Trumpian. A decision for this era.

  10. Personally speaking, as a Shambhala member I was never all that happy with its leadership except for you. Your loss by stepping away though I do understand your reasons for doing so, to me, is very great. Your teaching and many books have sustained and enlightened and encouraged so may. Please, I hope you will reconsider. I don’t want the Sakyong back and feel he should step down, not you. Thank you, with gratitude, Sandra Noel, Seattle Shambhala member.

  11. Michelle Williams
    Jan 26, 2020
    Reply

    I’m thinking reading this that sometimes forgoing what you want to get, for the right reasons, is a greater good. I saw the Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country recently, for me it showed where we can go off course with what is central to what Buddha may have been teaching with our misguided spiritual aspirations and aims. I for one don’t want to attain enlightenment if its at the knowing expense of others suffering and pain. It can be hard to really touch in with what we know to be most compassionate and caring so thank you to people like Pema for a vocal reminder of the need to touch in with that.

  12. In my opinion, you embody all that the path represents. We are all so fortunate to have learned from you. You are a gift and your leadership and integrity are an example to us all, and to Shambala, in particular. With so much love and gratitude.

  13. Joani Nunez
    Jan 24, 2020
    Reply

    This is what people with integrity do in the face of “business as usual”. She’s the real deal and my respect for her is now even stronger. Thank you for sharing this. It’s big, and it’s important. To pretend abuse and dysfunction haven’t happened and that saving the lineage and the work/path/lessons/teachings is more important than the truth or the people harmed is the worst kind of collusion and enabling.

  14. Terry Grant
    Jan 24, 2020
    Reply

    Why didn’t the Board ask Ani Pema to lead Shambhala into a new healing age where those hurt by the Sakyong and senior teachers are welcomed, heard, and offered compensation, where many teachers are welcomed, where the Sakyong is lovingly required to truly examine himself and speak to the community and to individuals he hurt about what he finds, to apologize, as Ami Pema humbly did for her small part. The process of TRANSFORMATION has been aborted Without such a process, Shambhala has returned to business as usual, the business of silence whispering “Now let’s all just be nice, move on, and forget that ever happened.” An old familiar nausea roils my belly, an unease that I now recognize was nearly always there in my Shambhala years. To honor my belly’s knowing was, in the end, what I finally learned in Shambhala, for which I’m utterly grateful. In my new sangha I honor my caution with my teacher. I have compassion for that need to be cautious and discerning, and gradually, compassion for every human who has danced this story. Thank you, all. May all beings find our way, dancing.

  15. Alma Carpenter
    Jan 23, 2020
    Reply

    “With all due respect, for a nun to stop dharma teachings no matter what the circumstance is anything but Buddhist.”

    She didn’t say she was going to stop teaching dharma. She’s didn’t say she would stop teaching at all. She can teach wherever she wants. She is just not going to teach under the tutelage of the Sakyong as an acarya. She is more recognizable than the Sakyong for all of her books out there and that was long before this “Shambhala Buddhism,” that doesn’t exist. She has heart and that’s what matters. Buddhism has been around for 2500 years.

  16. Kyle Curley
    Jan 23, 2020
    Reply

    Responding to a comment that seems to blame Ani Pema for posting this letter here. I am not asking sarcastically, but if anyone can, please point me to where “Pema” posted this publically. What did she have to do with this being so public? I really don’t know, so any info will help.

    Also, some people seeking Sakyong’s empowerments have chimed in here. I’m glad to learn their names. Not for any kind of trouble, just to know who actually wants teachings from a true samaya breaker. I wish I was sorry about my bluntness, but I don’t feel that way. Sakyong obviously broke his bonds thousands of times, if not more. I knew that long before all of this came up (met him numerous times in 2005-2007 and was very much unimpressed and even sadenned because I did not feel I should seek empowerments from him and I knew he couldn’t be ‘my’ root guru. He was hung over, blamed it on having taken a dark retreat, I noted that in a paper as a Naropa student, I got points taken off for it by one of his students).

  17. Jessica Rymland
    Jan 23, 2020
    Reply

    With all due respect, for a nun to stop dharma teachings no matter what the circumstance is anything but Buddhist. If the 130 students are asking the Sakyong for Rigden Abhisheka, who are we to stop. This is a relationship strictly between the Teacher and student. I am one of the many students who wish to recieve this abhisekha but due to all this outside drama seems like it will not be possible.
    You say you wanted to step down long time ago, but how do you feel that stepping down at this time that too so publicly will benefit anyone? this letter has caused more disharmony on top of all the sufferings we have experienced so far.

  18. Ann OBrien
    Jan 22, 2020
    Reply

    After reading the reactions to Pema Chodron’s resignation letter, some of which I find somewhat disrespectful, I can only conclude that there is still much more healing that needs to take place. I truly hope that we can find a way to continue the work that has begun, and which has involved a huge commitment from Shambhala members who have spent more than a year facilitating communication to the larger membership. I am grateful for their work.

  19. Step back quietly? Do you really think releasing this letter publicly and creating such imbalance in the community is wise as a nun who continuous practices and teaches compassion for all? Best thing would have been to contact the board and let them know- not post her letter on the Shambhala times for the world to see .

  20. And what about the people who have known the Sakyong for 45 years? How come we don’t have the right to say he would never do anything to hurt anyone like how some of the woman have accused him of ?

  21. Marie-Francoise
    Jan 22, 2020
    Reply

    Soren I love your answer!!! Thank you !!

  22. Thank you so much Ani Pema for your thoughtful words and actions. Unfortunately, many of us in other traditions are experiencing the same thing. Our communities have been shaken and harmed by those in power. We are finding that our sanghas have continued to study and practice the Dharma while recognizing the fallibility of some of our teachers. We in our fellowships of wise friends are learning how to heal.

  23. Anne Jefferson
    Jan 22, 2020
    Reply

    I send my heartfelt gratitude to Pema for expressing dignity and a relentless request of Shambhala to act with integrity. Her calling out the board as acting with “business as usual” points to the structural change so needed to safeguard against abuse and be more inclusive. The Sakyong should leave Shambhala. By allowing him a place in the organization the board discounts members who so courageously stood against abuse. Offering sessions for contemplation and discussion isn’t enough. Not only does the leadership need changing but also the culture of secrecy, guru-student model, and hierarchal structure. Decisions on leadership and policy should come from the democratic participation of the entire membership.

  24. kunga pawo
    Jan 22, 2020
    Reply

    Pema, we love you and support your view.

  25. Anna Bieri
    Jan 22, 2020
    Reply

    Dear Ani Pema
    Thank you so much for your words!
    With love and gratitude Anna Bieri

  26. Heather D Reynolds
    Jan 22, 2020
    Reply

    I am saddened by this news. Pema’s teachings have been a blessing to me. I agree with her decision, however, I am saddened that someone who can misrepresent themselves would be given the power to continue under the guise of compassion. I believe I have heard the Dalai Lama respond to the question of defending himself with he would hold compassion for the perpetrator, however, he would also protect himself. I understand the desire of the 125 people and they are owed no harm, however, surely there must be a different solution available to those people. Although I appreciate Pema’s decision and definitely her bravery to take a stand, the harm is now passed along to the many students she nurtures with her wisdom, her experience and her humour.

  27. About the Abhisheka in France not being definite–I’ve been told that DCL have listed it on the database.

  28. Thank you for your clarity. This is my basic dilemma–the mind says “this behavior is unacceptable” but the heart says “he is still my teacher”. I am grateful for everything he has done to change our community and practice from the exclusive, hard-to-access, cult-lite group we used to be in the 80’s (when I began) to the open, achievable path and practices we have now. As someone else on this list said, when the guru is supplicated by sincere students to teach, it is in his/her Vajrayana vow to do so, and does not mean “business as usual”.

  29. Jeanne Riordan
    Jan 21, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you Stuart for adding context to this comment thread. I am also concerned that the efforts of so many in Shambhala to maintain the sanity and health of our communities is overlooked. I came into this organization because of the sanity of the Buddhist and Shambhala teachings of VCTR and have stayed because of the genuineness of SMR. I have listened to the what they have said and benefited from their generosity, as well as from what Pema has taught and has maintained at the Abbey. I raised three daughters in Shambhala as a single mom. I have suffered at the hands of thoughtless and selfcentered students in our community. But the goodness of the teachings and the generosity of a lot of people on this path has confirmed my faith in it.
    Thankyou

  30. Bravo, Pema Chödrön. That is COHERENCE. :)

  31. Lodro sangmo
    Jan 21, 2020
    Reply

    Have to add this note for anyone who might think that Ani Pema has made this situation “more complicated” or was “trying to steal the limelight” or acting out of a desire for person gain.

    I have known Ani Pema for forty-five years and in my view none of this is true, and the very LAST thing that she would ever want is to steal the limelight.

    If she hadn’t devoted her life to caring for others and teaching the dharma she would be most happy to remain in her retreat cabin except to visit her close family.

    This situation causes her great pain and those of us who know her personally can say that she has taken this bold step back out of the deep kindness and caring that is Ani Pema.

    She doesn’t need me or anyone to defend her.

    And I understand everyone may have her or his opinion.

    Just felt the need to offer mine as someone who has known Ani Pema was many years. There are not many genuine, kind and wise teachers; she is one.

  32. Thank you Pema for your intervention. It is heartening to see that years of practice and devotion does not have to lead to minimising/ignoring abuse and harm for personal spiritual advancement. Your message along with David Schneider and Reggie Ray’s recent apology for abuse in Dharma Ocean give me greater faith in the teachings than recent events and progress reports.

  33. Elizabeth Selandia
    Jan 20, 2020
    Reply

    Unaware of how this “reply” works, I add that I chose the comment below written by Nicolette to place my own comment, now floating below this.

  34. Elizabeth Selandia
    Jan 20, 2020
    Reply

    Hello, I could place this under several comments but chose yours due to your stated close association with the organization. Here is my comment posted beneath those posts with her letter the featured topic:
    This the first writing of the nun’s I’ve read: I am frankly dismayed by her decisions and her reasons, preferring instead that she stay and work for the changes she is demanding.
    I question why she choses to be so public and wonder if she is seeking to become center stage in this ongoing scandal that would seem to be better resolved, might I suggest, by her confronting him directly (and not airing these issues again publicly).
    As such, since she focuses her complaints around his giving a wang, it would appear to me the nun is in violation of any samayas with vajrayana. So, my only question is why she would want to jeopardize her success in vajrayana just to put herself in the limelight with her letter, as it has now become in the limelight? Pretty sure the Sakyong is trying to save his marriage, and this is likely more important to him than the organizational ineptitudes.
    This will be the last thing of her writing I read, therefore and thereby.

  35. Ellen Kahler
    Jan 20, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you Alice for adding this important additional information into our awareness. This is important to know and mirrors what David Schneider intends as well (as stated in his letter), to not leave our community completely, but rather to step down as an Acharya.

    I also note that the update from the Process Team today to our community is in no way suggestive that there is “business as usual” going on … in fact, a great deal of much needed and deep organizational and culture change is under-way in our community. This is good news and deserves our continued engagement and patience.

    I also feel it is important to note that while the Board may have joined the invitation to the Sakyong made by Denchen Choling to confer the Rigden Abhisheka in June 2020 to the 125 students who have requested it, the Sakyong has not yet agreed to do so, and may choose not to. Nothing is definitive at this time.

    It saddens me to learn that so many of my dharma brothers and sisters are choosing to leave the community, especially given this additional information, rather than being part of forging a new culture, governance and organizational structure within Shambhala. This is messy, hard work. No one ever said creating enlightened society would be easy! If you must go, i wish you lots of love. I will miss you. You will always have a place in my heart. What we have shared over the years cannot be undone.

  36. Reading all this messages …. I am terrify …. right now I just want to put my two cents into this opinions and feelings battle: for me this letter is not wise. I am really disappointed in Ani Pema Czodron choice. This letter is opening the pandora box. It’s not at all helping the situation.

  37. Pema is a bright light and she has ton of admirers and I might add they keep coming because of this statement ….not many people have done more for Shambhala than her.

    I was wondering about this 125 students plus the Sakyong … why don’t you what happen in December those two letters as selfish, petty and lacking any lungta and consideration. It does surprises me that you would push for Abisheka … how are you going to practice a light transmission given this context and obscurity you guys are setting as a ground? How?

  38. Lodro sangmo
    Jan 20, 2020
    Reply

    Ani Pema. So grateful for your bravery and kindness.

    Let us request the Board to state openly that Shambhala is now a welcoming and inclusive place for those who do not consider the Sakyong their teacher, or their king, nor his Scorpion Seal programs as their path.

    A Sakyong-led Shambhala no longer seems sustainable.

    Could the Board see this an an option – the Sakyong could focus on those who want to practice the Scorpion Seal path with him and allow the centers to open up the doors again to other teachers and Buddhist practice for the rest of us.

    (BTW – Rabjam Rinpoche and the previous Dilgo Khyentse also received those texts and transmissions directly from the Dorje Dradul, even though Sakyong Mipham once proclaimed he was “the only person on the planet who could give those teachings.”)

    May the Board and the Acharyas think of us – the mostly-silent majority – and invite Buddhist teachers back to our centres for those of us who want to go back to our Buddhist roots and continue to support our centers so the doors don’t close.

    Seems fairly clear that the majority are not interested in business as usual, as Ani Pema has so well expressed.

    Please don’t think we lack compassion and forgiveness for the Sakyong.

    We wish him well but until he steps way out of his comfort zone and expresses a direct and unequivocal apology for the woman and others he has harmed, and tells us how he will be different and how things will change it seems his followers are few.

    Ani Pema, may you continue to give others the example of what it means to be emotionally brave and kind.

  39. Alice Haspray
    Jan 20, 2020
    Reply

    The following is printed as an Update in a Lion’s Roar digital article (link below)
    Link to Lion’s Roar article including update:
    https://www.lionsroar.com/pema-chodron-steps-down-from-shambhala-position/

    In response to Pema Chödrön’s letter, the board of the Shambhala organization issued a statement saying:

    “The Shambhala Board respects Ani Pema’s decision to retire from her position as acharya. She has expressed to us that she would like to remain a part of the Shambhala community… We have been in dialogue with her, and are planning a meeting in the coming weeks to discuss with her ideas about how the organization can move forward.”

    The statement from the Shambhala Board also quotes a private communication from Pema Chödrön to the board in which she wrote:

    From Pema to the Board: “At this time, I am still very hopeful that a path forward that would include everyone in the community can be designed and implemented. Therefore, I have no intention of leaving the Shambhala community and would always do my best to be there for anyone who might need it. However if no path forward can be found, that would break my heart, and I’m not sure what I would do.”

    Link to Lion’s Roar article including update:
    https://www.lionsroar.com/pema-chodron-steps-down-from-shambhala-position/

  40. Thank you so much Ven Pema Chodron for making clear, what needs to be made clear.
    With love & respect,
    Santacitta Bhikkhuni

  41. As a new generation Shambhala student where my parents have been members of the Shambhala community for more than a decade, I am a bit confused. With all due respect to ani pema Chodron, I have grown up reading her books and for her to decide to “step down” as a form of protest or something or showing her disagreement with the recent announcement of the Sakyong teaching again is just sad, she’s angry? Well what happened to all her teaching about compassion and forgiveness? I’m confused. It’s clear that some students are ready for the teachings and Sakyong to return why not have compassion for those 130 students who have requested his teaching and are anxiously waiting for his return? Including my parents and me. Growing up in Canada and having been to their center I remember attending his teachings. Never once did I get a bad vibe or intent. His teaching helped me with my depression and I know countless people he has helped. I was taught that without faith and unwavering devotion to ones teacher what exactly do you have? Oh wait we get those “few” students who bail and even worst speak ill of their spiritual teacher with absolutely no compassion. I am 23 and looking at these comments and the politics going on in the Shambhala community makes my heart break. Some guided by greed anger and jealousy, have forgotten the true practice of the Buddha dharma and “sangha” which includes your teacher. Anyway I don’t understand she could’ve just quietly left and not try to “stop” the teachings just because she disagrees with it. I have seen her interview with Oprah and now I just think she’s a hypocrite. Sorry ami Chodron but You’ve lost an admirer!
    P.S forgiveness is the attribute of the strong and now I can surely tell who are the real Shambhala students. Who have stood by their teachers through hell. And as another Shambhala student I would like to thank those who have chosen forgiveness and compassion over anger and hate.

  42. Donna J Cox
    Jan 19, 2020
    Reply

    Pema is full of wisdom and expresses it compassionately. Shambhala leadership is compromised as evidenced by the bad decision to invite Sakyong to give the Rigden Abhisheka in June. Where is wisdom in this invitation? The Board must re-examine this decision and the perception it creates among the community and externally.

  43. Barbara Erb
    Jan 19, 2020
    Reply

    Dearest Pema,

    I cannot begin to tell you how much I admire and respect you for your courage. It must have been very difficult to come to this decision, and yet so important and necessary. You are one whom everyone looks to for guidance and integrity. You have shown it with this letter. We have a shining star to keep us on our path, one who is willing to speak the Truth, no matter what the consequences. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this and for all the teachings and grace you have imparted during your life of service. The letter gives me chills of gratitude that there is someone in our world like you. Just when it seemed like Integrity and Truth have left and are nowhere to be found, you write your letter. They are still alive!! Like Kwan Yin with a thousand arms, you deliver Love with a sword and my heart opens wide.

    Love, Barbara

  44. Seweryn Julin
    Jan 19, 2020
    Reply

    Dear Pema, I was very surprised and saddened by your message. I understand your concern about things just going back to business as usual and sympathize with that but what I don’t understand is how you can judge what the Sakyong is doing even before you know what he will be doing. How can you, I or anyone know that things will be ” business as usual”? I am sure the Sakyong is wiser and kinder than that! At the very least we all could give him that benefit of the doubt and the space to respond to the situation before we react, judge and condemn. How can you or anyone say that the Sakyong “ is just going forward without relating compassionately to all of those who have been hurt and without doing some deep inner work on himself “ what makes you so sure? Do you or anyone know what he has been doing, through whatever means he might have chosen as the best for the moment? To me it is incredibly sad how many people seems to believe they know with absolute certainty what the Sakyong has done, will do, should and shouldn’t do! And that even when he kindly responds to his students requests and needs which, as I’m sure you would agree, after all is what one would expect a good Lama / spiritual leader to do, he is criticized for that and even accused of being unwise, unkind and unskillful. I wonder, how you feel, in retrospect about this message from you to our community – was it really skillful, kind and wise?

  45. Unfortunately I hear a lot of aggression in this post.
    This is not the Bodhisattva way.
    Recognizing that you are being a jerk does not release your mindstate.
    Compassion is the only way forward.
    We need not look any farther than taking refuge to know that we are all in this together.

  46. It’s extremely naive to think any credibility and trust can be established in the Shambala community again as long as Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche remains in his position. And since he alone has authority to effect any change, members of the community will remain at risk unless, and until, he alone decides to step down. Without that, all the good intentions and well-wishes of the Board and members of the community are meaningless, in addition to being naive.

    People who abuse power do not willingly relinquish it.

  47. Neil McVeigh
    Jan 18, 2020
    Reply

    The way to that splendiferous state of consciousness beyond duality is fraught with challenges and difficulties
    that ultimately fade and dissolve into nothing forever and without a trace. As you ramble on through life,
    whatever be your goal,keep your eye upon the donut and not upon the hole.

  48. Adrienne Papermaster
    Jan 18, 2020
    Reply

    Adding my thanks and gratitude to Ani Pema, my first Shambhala teacher, for this fiercely compassionate and direct communication. I so appreciate your clarity and the integrity of this decision.

  49. I sense something might not be quite right here and acknowledge that it might be my concerns that are not right
    Over the years, Pema Chodren travelled with the Sakyong a fair number of times, she was involved in organizing programs/seminars/public events that required working with him and his staff, she had occasion to visit him at Court and observe how he interacted with staff. She was was open, inviting and kind, the type of person people might well feel able to discuss concerns with, especially very troubling concerns that would go to the very essence of how Shambhala was governed and how the Sakyong related with students and staff. She would almost have to be willfully blind/deaf not to have registered these serious concerns. Shambhala information goes around the sangha like wildfire, there are few secrets especially ‘secrets’ of this magnitude.
    Unless Pema Chodren completely insulated herself from the Sangha, which, as a very senior teacher she could not do and remain effective she had to have heard about at least some of these concerns Even if she thought it was malicious gossip, she had a duty to seriously look into the matter, to invite input and, having done so, if she remained open and non-judgemental regarding inout from others would most likely have been advised of many concerns.
    She could have only avoided hearing of these concerns… well, actually, I do not think it possible for her to not to have heard of these concerns and, given that, it was her duty ( some might even say her fiduciary duty) to probe until she had the full story
    Now, there seems to be a growing movement to have Pema Chodren lead Shambhala back to the light but, knowing i could be totally wrong, it worries me Pema bears responsibility for being one of the who either contributed to the path into some darkness or who did not make any or very little effort to stop the path moving into the dark
    I truly apologize if i am wrong, I Want to be wrong but something does not seem to be right. I hope this is posted and look forward to reading where i might have got things wrong.

  50. Helen Foster
    Jan 18, 2020
    Reply

    It is a misconception that as Buddhists we are trying to get rid of our emotions.

    We work to move from reaction to chosen response but we do not deny our humanity.
    Our Precious Enlightened Guides work with us in the human realm where it is possible to make a human mistake. We must not deny them their humanity. Nor be blind to it. Nor ignor it (the root of ignorance)

    These are the teachings of relative and ultimate Bodhicitta. Both are to be cultivated on the Bodhisattva path.

  51. Thank you for taking this stance. We were waiting for women to take a stance to keep the wisdom without the corruption. I wish Shambhala had recognized Ani Pema as the thought leader that she is instead of continuing lineage in the way they did.

  52. Helen Foster
    Jan 18, 2020
    Reply

    Agreed

    BUT
    We must not forget our Bodhisattva vows. Compassion is the weather vane of our actions. Have you increased or alleviated suffering?

    If we value ‘progress’ on the path above compassionate action are we really practicing Vajrayana or looking for ‘self’ liberation?
    Actions that increase suffering are at a very minimum unwise and unskillfull. The human experience is an evolution we continue to participate in and shape.
    Our precious enlightened guides are participating in the evolution of humanity.

    Our actions are our only true possessions as they are the only thing we carry with us from this incarnation.

  53. Jennifer Reichling
    Jan 18, 2020
    Reply

    Why is Shambhala leading with an old fashioned framework? I think it is just perfect that they are revealing the privilege that still exists within many Buddhist structure. It is not the time to trigger with words like ‘male privilege’, but it a time to validate the importance of the woman’s role in Buddhism going forward and how we must lead now, to balance the failed structure of long standing patriarchal model. Blessing dear Pema, dear teacher. May this be swiftly rectified so we can get on with the business at hand.

  54. Will Wolboldt
    Jan 18, 2020
    Reply

    Sincere gratitude to Ani Pema for her courage and clarity! This is a critical decision point in the legacy of Shambhala. Where is our allegiance?
    If we go back to business as usual, then what do we really have to offer to this confused world? The stakes are high. Are we just another compromised institution scrambling prop up our bottom line?

  55. For guidance through these times, you could refer to The Great Treatise on the Path to Enlightenment by Je Tsongkhapa – Chapter 4 Relying on the Teacher.

  56. Patricia Donegan
    Jan 18, 2020
    Reply

    Dear dear Pema:
    In this dark age you lead us on the true path of heart. Please keep reminding us of the wisdom, compassion & skillful means of the enlightened ones and possibly of ourselves. Deepest thank you…

  57. Thank you for speaking truth to power and shining a light on history.

  58. Patricia Donegan
    Jan 18, 2020
    Reply

    Dearest Pema:
    In this dark age you lead us on the true path of heart. Please keep reminding us of the wisdom, compassion & skillful means of the enlightened ones and possibly of ourselves. Deepest thank you…

  59. Patricia Donegan
    Jan 18, 2020
    Reply

    Dear dear Pema: in this dark age you lead us on the true path of heart —please keep reminding us of the wisdom, compassion & skillful means of the enlightened ones and possibly of ourselves. Deepest thank you….

  60. I would question the students who are so hungry for teachings that they are willing to forgo integrity. Remember, vajrayana transmission is a sacred endeavor which is traditionally carried through with a process of “analyzing the teacher”. An important first step which has been forgotten in our materialistic times.

  61. “Whoever is defiled
    And devoid of self-control and truth,
    Yet wears the saffron robe,
    Is unworthy of the saffron robe.

    Whoever has purged the defilements,
    Is self-controlled, truthful,
    And well established in virtue,
    Is worthy of the saffron robe. (9–10)”

    Excerpt From
    The Dhammapada
    Gil Fronsdal

  62. Elizabeth Cuidet
    Jan 18, 2020
    Reply

    Than you for your guidance for many years and may you continue on your path.

  63. I come from another community turned into a cult by it’s founder & the leadership board. The name is Ogyen Kunzang Choling, founder by Robert Spatz alias Lama Kunzang in the 70’s.
    It is rooted in Belgium, France, Portugal (now terminated) and Spain when the hardcore group of adepts still surrounding Spatz is hiding.

    Our story started in 1997. Police European wide raid into the cult. The cornerstone of WHY today, most of the childrens that were born or raised inside OKC are today Free at last.
    During the 18 years that lead to the actual trial that started in 2016, the cult organisation did everything in its power to retaliate against the investigation, lied about everything to shutdown the government radar on its behavior over the years, never used an independent investigation to actually understand what enfolded with its own children’s adepts. The parents were so indoctrinated that only a few used the police raid to reclaim their Rights, be responsible for their own life and their own childrens.

    Since then, there has been a trial, that lasted for 8 months, were 23 childrens, today grown up adults told their story, some for the very first time, in front of the court. If the judicial case contains already, and since 1997, ALL the crimes that enfolded into this community-cult, it was really, us, adding 23 testimonials to the court case that really shifted the attention from financial crimes to sexual & physical abuses on childrens.

    This enfolded, inside a so called “Tibetan Buddhist” inspired “community” where Tibetan Buddhism was the cornerstone of the daily life of the adepts and their childrens.

    In total we know of 11 cases of sexual abuses in girls minor of age with aggravation of a position of authority when the abuse enfolded.
    more than 30 cases of physical abuses on boys and at least 2 known case of sexual abuses on 2 adult women.

    In total this community-cult is crumbling under no less than 170 charges, from financial fraud and other forms of financial crimes to sexual abuses, neglect, and generally abusing, manipulating all the community in the sole interest of the Founder of the cult Robert Spatz.

    Spatz was inspired by Trungpa, even if he was also jealous and feeling small compared to him, much of the “crazy wisdom” concepts that Spatz was using inside OKC (Ogyen Kunzang Choling) were directly inspired by Trungpa.

    What allowed this to happen ?

    How is it possible that a place that was visited by the supposed most admiring teachers of Tibetan Buddhism of this time, visited OKC in one way or another and never asked questions, never suspected anything and even when they got the information that something was deeply wrong, they did nothing to prevent this madness to happen ?

    Direct or indirect complicity.

    Pema Wangyal Rinpoche, Djigme Khyentsé Rinpoche, Rabjam Rinpoche and even the Dalai Lama, endorsed the Ogyen Kunzang Choling cult without asking much. Even when these 3 individuals were alerted, they denied the documents they where shown.

    Today it’s 2020 and after countering an appeal in court from the cult-organisation after a 4 year suspended sentence they appealed, the civil parties and the Belgian state won the appeal in the Cassation court and now on the 20th February, there will be a new trial, in a new court.

    meanwhile, Rabjam Rinpoché and Matthieu Ricard, visited Nyima-Dzong as if “nothing had happened” and a short list of very well known TIbetan so called “masters” keep visiting without even recognizing what enfolded in the “monasteries” centers they keep visiting “out of compassion” for the remaining adepts.

    This is just a short resume of a very dark story, more information http://www.okcinfo.news

    To come back to this article, When I read Ani Pema Chödrön retiring from this circus I feel good and happy, because it seems there is still some people with some integrity in the high level corridors of the micro Tibetan Buddhism world in the West. Perhaps, Ani Pema Chödrön stance could even influence the Dalai Lama so that he would Act on his 2018 promises to organize an international meeting on sexual abuses inside TIbetan Buddhist “schools” in the East and West.

    Perhaps, other “teachers” like Ringu Tulku & ANY of the TB’s currently being used by OKC on their website to legitimize their image, perhaps these so called “enlightened” beings could request to take off their own name & image from being used by a cult organization posing as a Tibetan Buddhist organisation.

    Perhaps, TIbetan Buddhism would not emulate the Catholic Church and wait 30 years before having no choice but to finally act on these grave crimes.

    And perhaps this letter from Ani Pema Chödrön is something that could guide the communication staff of these high priest and put them in the right track : actually applying Buddhism and letting go of man-made drifts like Vajrayana & “Guru Yoga” ideology that are at the root of all the crimes that enfolded inside Shambhala, Ogyen Kunzang Choling or RIGPA.

    Perhaps the Tibetan’s currently in the west would wake up to the fact we have laws in this corner of the globe and before they get recognized as accomplice they should very much clean their ranks, updates their ethics moto and certainly watch their actions since it seems organic tibetan buddhism wisdom is not enough anymore.

    peace out,

  64. Thank You for this useful reply.
    Some of my fb friends often quoted such pseudo-teachers, because their words are so clear and deep. But my friends refusing to see the conduct, isolating conduct and view, thinking that vajrayna teacher can have “crazy wisdom” (

  65. Jason Bates
    Jan 18, 2020
    Reply

    Bravo!

    Reading this recent letter from Ani Pema, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was a bit off for me and at the same time seemed familiar. So, I reread the letter, and then read also the previous letters from Lady Diana and the Acharya‘s. I also read the last few communications from the board and the Sakyong’s letters over the past 18 months.

    Reflecting on these public messages by Ani Pema, Lady Diana and the Acharya’s on this forum, I could not help but feel that while they clearly strive to make a public decoration of embracing the moral high ground as they see it, I don’t find their messages particularly healing, practical or helpful to me or to my Sangha mates.

    On the other hand, as I reflect on the last few communications from the Shambhala Board of Directors, they all struck me with their thoughtfulness, deep caring, and respect for the different voices in the community. Their concern for everybody’s well beings and striving to set a practical path forward is very clear. I find their messages progressive, helpful and healing.

    What Ani Pema clearly missed from their previous letters is that many of the issues that she would like to be addressed, are being addressed by the board. They just don’t happen to all fit into the timeline that she prefers.

    As I also reflect on the Sakyong’s previous messages; I see very clear concern for the community, and remorse as to what occurred, and the resulting confusion and pain in the community.

    I believe the way forward involves compassion for everybody. Our community has been divided for really so long on so many issues, that probably it’s a good time for people who are not happy with the way things are going to consider doing as Ani Pema has. I think it will lead to a more harmonious and healthy future for the Sangha.

    I know I’m a jerk, but one thing I know for sure is that it’s a happier world when we unite and stand behind the people that are actually trying to solve our problems – whether that’s the board in finding a path forward for Shambhala, the process team working on the nuts and bolts of the solutions or the Sakyong looking to support those who want to progress on their spiritual path of self-discovery.

    So, bravo Ani Pema for stepping back from what you no longer believe in. Maybe we’d all be happier and the discourse more civil if more of us followed your lead.

  66. I am interested to find out if the Board to the Shambalah community has made the decision to permit the Sakyong to give the Rigden Abhisheka, in such a case, are they fully aware if the Sakyong still has his Vows and Samaya fully intact to be able to have the full ability to bestow to the students the abhisheka and will the students be able to receive the full empowerment and practice it to enable genuine Blessings from the Lineage Masters and Full Awakening?
    ☀️.

  67. I cried when I read this because Pema Chödrön acts with integrity which is what is needed from the Sivananda leadership in the aftermath of the Sivananda scandal

  68. Robyn Hamilton
    Jan 18, 2020
    Reply

    Forty years ago I lived at a Zen Buddhist community for 12 years that was rocked with sexual scandals by 4 of the 5 top teachers. We held a large sangha forum where people could express their outrage, betrayal, and grief; the teachers apologized and took responsibility.

    Many nuns and monks disrobed and the center shrunk to a fifth of its size. One nun committed suicide over shame that she had slept with her married teacher and the loss of faith she experienced.

    The 3 male teachers and the one female teacher left to form new meditation centers in deifferent parts of the country. Over the years we would hear how these teachers and their centers fared.

    All four achieved continued status and recognition in the national Buddhist community, publishing books and articles in the Shambala Sun and the Yoga Journal, etc.

    The head roshi tried to reform himself but failed, dying of acute alcoholism at an early age and disgracing his new center with child abuse reports and spousal abuse.

    Another teacher founded a big center on the opposite coast but had affairs with married students and divorced his devoted wife.

    The third male teacher founded one center, which became disbanded after it became known that he had an affair with a married student while also married. He then relocated, remarried yet another student, and declared himself reformed and faithful to his third wife, only to repeat the pattern of having an affair with another married student and yet another public disgrace.

    I have not heard anything damaging about the female roshi but I don’t know.

    The shame and confusion of sangha members caused by these deluded actions of their teachers is long lasting, and caused many to forsake Buddhist teachers in general.

    I was fortunate to leave over thirty years ago and connect with a Vipassana meditation center where there were standards of teacher conduct and a system of accountability . You could feel the difference in purity and integrity.

    Eventually I connected with a female Vajrayana teacher with utmost integrity who has trained other teachers who also have sterling characters and embody love, kindness, and Bodhicitta .I now have 3 female teachers that I have known for 25 years who have stellar qualities. I am so grateful for their shining examples of the possibilities of the Path, and for the love and patience they continually shower upon me.

    We can have love and compassion for transgressors but they should not be entrusted with power again this lifetime. Let them be humble and serve the dharma in humility,

    I pray that those affected by this situation . I hope they devote themselves to teachers who truly embody purification and Buddhist values.
    May everyone be blessed by a worthy guru!

    Robyn Hamilton

  69. Claire Ryder
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Way to go Pema,
    Your honest words help balance the topic. Thanks for being direct….

  70. Thank you Frances. So agree. Thank you Pema. You are doing the right thing.

  71. Dear Pema,

    Your letter feels a courageous, clear, and compassionate use of your power to influence positive change. For the world. Silence perpetuate old ways of being that are so hurtful. Thank you, Beth Boynton

  72. Susan Nelson
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    “An emotional response”?

    There is real emotional depth
    in her letter, why not? And wisdom also.

    To be spirtually engaged one does not need to be divorced from emotion.

    Pema is senior in the community and should be consulted by those making
    decisions in the aftermath of the scandal.

  73. i have not been following the events closely in relation to the sexual harrassment and related issues. has justiced been achieved? do the women feel justice has been achieved?

  74. Deep respect for Pema of whom I read many of her books in the 90s. Not a Shambala person myself but accept Pemas approach in this case is to back off quietly rather than a big deal drama.

  75. Brian Beej
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Deep respect for Pema of whom I read many of her books in the 90s. Not a Shambala person myself but accept Pemas approach in this case is to back off quietly rather than a big deal drama.

  76. Thank you Pema for your brilliance in action, speech and mind.

  77. Carrie Eizik
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you Ani Pema. It is good to see someone from Shambhala “walk the walk”. Makes sense that it would be a woman!

    In loving kindness.

    Carrie

  78. People are still people, regardless of their words and actions…warts and all. You have given me personal blessings, Ani Pema, just by ” seeing” me. And for that I am eternally grateful. We all have our own burden to carry. Peace✌
    Gayly forward

  79. Janet Freed
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    And my heart remains a place of prayer…

  80. Alma Carpenter
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Update: The statement from the Shambhala Board also quotes a private communication from Pema Chödrön to the board yesterday in which she wrote: [And should be noted.]

    “At this time, I am still very hopeful that a path forward that would include everyone in the community can be designed and implemented. Therefore, I have no intention of leaving the Shambhala community and would always do my best to be there for anyone who might need it. However if no path forward can be found, that would break my heart, and I’m not sure what I would do.”

  81. Tracey Monahan
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Well said Syd
    Bad behaviour should never be rewarded. Everyone in this incarnation realm, in order to balance oneself, must own their purposeful actions & inactions.
    – As for teachings & lineage holders, one’s teachings are in fact infused with one’s current energetic state. That said, much reflection and atonement of action are very much required, prior to the reinstatement of any individual who’s lost their moral compass. Titles and teachings mean nothing without moral uprightness.
    -I pray he balances himself, sooner than later
    Ani Pema, Blessings to you

  82. Ian Powell
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you Ani Pema for your years of good service. I believe your deep insight and kindness has touched many lives.

    Reading Ani Pema’s books is one of the primary catalysts for my connecting to the Shambhala tradition in the first place, back in 2001.

    I also agree with what Ani Pema said in her fall 2019 interview with Oprah on the importance of allowing someone to change, of not fixing them in one’s mind as a demon, completely bad, frozen in time.. rather, allowing that someone might learn their transgressions and change..

    May we all have such bravery.. <3

  83. Susan Hall
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you Pema for speaking out so with such a gentle hard line. There is no replacement for genuine integrity.
    Personally I feel shamed by association- could I have done more than walk away. Yet I am more heartbroken for the young shambala students, students in my children’s generation. Many have little knowledge of buddhist teaching, relying on the shambala manifestation which I understand has a copy write. This is an abhorrent situation. I hope through your foundation, books and activities you will continue to bring light to these dark times.

  84. Thank you for that. I feel, and my heart feels, that this is so.

  85. I’ll start off by saying I totally respect Phema Chodron’s response and appreciate the communication. However I don’t feel like retreating or stepping down is the proper response. I would have liked to have seen her “step up” and address the Sakyong personally in her capacity as Acharya. Retreat is not going to solve anything other than the further collapse of the organization. In my opinion. Maybe that’s what needs to happen? I don’t know and don’t pretend too, but I feel like our top leaders just throwing their hands up is not the best option?

    Also, the speculation on the inner development of the Sakyong seems to me an emotional response and not fit for a letter of this caliber? Also not acknowledging the tremendous work by the community as a whole and suggesting that this is “business as usual” is a bit too low level for a community wide letter too. IMHO. I am simply another human trying to figure this out and have nothing but love and respect for Ani Pema. She has helped me a-lot over the years. I remain positive and encouraged that we as a community can and will regain coherence and attain enlighten society. Even if it takes 500 years :)

  86. Lynne Johnson
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you so much for taking such a powerful stance. Your decision means so much to all survivors of sexual abuse everywhere.

  87. Jan Morrison
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Ani Pema – thank you for your letter. My heart seemed frozen since I read of the decision to invite the Sakyong to teach. Your words melted it.

  88. Chime Drolma
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Dear Ani Pema……It is so like you to speak courageously & truthfully to power, especially when that power has been abused. The Sakyong (is this man REALLY still our earth protector?) has slunked off to the other side of the planet, spent a bit of time in contemplative practice (or so we hear) and is-unbelievably-already receiving “special” students (all of whom I know are female). Were I an Acharya I, too, would be stepping down. What would motivate the Acharyas to invite him to give the Rigden Abhisheka in June? Money? Show must go on mentality? I havent a clue~because, for me, he wouldnt be allowed anywhere near a sacred practice let alone leading one. Not yet, anyway. That he is is quite worrisome for it puts the motives/ethics of those directing practice in question. Perhaps its time for a monumental Shambhalian shake-up. One that hopefully will land us on our feet again-where we remember that sangha & dharma, not money or power-over positions, are the gems, precious and true. They need our protection and respect-not those in positions of power and abusing this sacred priviledge. I wish you, Ani Pema, the very best in this new stage of your life. You go with the love and respect of thousands whose lives you have touched. OM MANI PEME HUNG HRI❤❤

  89. Gisèle Laberge
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you dearest Pema,
    Our situation is so alive, so painful and confusing. Pema, I appreciate that you and David have written to us.

    I am very sad that the Sakyong is coming back without communicating more. The persons hurt are not only the one that have been sexually used without consideration but our whole community. This absence of communication makes me more confused.

    He gave us exquisite teachings and practices. I study and practice them with respect and inspiration.

    He said to WALK THE TALK.
    We are together creating a GOOD HUMAN SOCIETY, an ENLIGHTENED SOCIETY. Then what kind of values are being promoted, on many-many-many levels?

    With a brocken heart and with confusion,
    Still nourishing the aspiration that the Sakyong will really meet us,
    Gisèle Laberge

  90. Alice Mansfield
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Dear Ani Pema,
    Your letter reflects your integrity and I thank you. Thank you for being you and all you have done. I am not a member of the community, but your online lectures and books were very inspiring and helpful during a difficult time in my life.
    I loved your honesty, humbleness, humor and kindness. For me, you are buddha. It is time for women to run things. It’s that simple.

  91. Dick Kruithof
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Respect Ani Pema! Taking a clear stand is the way to go.

  92. The words and actions of a true leader.

  93. Wow! Thank you Pema for your courage to speak up and take a stand. I hope you continue to use your voice and wisdom and platform to create positive change.

  94. Teresa Myhre
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    As a woman who has suffered sexual abuse by men, I too am deeply saddened this board has decided to allow Sakyong to continue teaching when he has not taken responsibility for the harm he caused so many. It is now known that victims of sexual abuse have a much more difficult time healing those deep betrayal wounds when the perpetrator does not take responsibility. Since he is clearly incapable of “Owning” what he did it is clear to most of us he should not be allowed anywhere near women or children. The men on this feed ignorant of that harm need only read this feed to get a better understanding of why so many are against his return and it speaks volumes of those who allowed his return. I will have nothing to do with, and will withdraw all support, until it is properly dealt with. I applaud Ani Pema and her courage to speak out against this injustice. Supporting Sakyong, is like Trump supporting Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh acted exactly the way my step fathers did when they were outed for their inappropriate behavior. Shameful behavior from both the board and Sakyong. Makes me wonder if the board is full of the same kind of men. It’s been my experience that men who protect those kinds of men are usually the same kind. I will be closely watching to see what comes next. I hope the board gains some courage to do the Right thing in regards to the harm done by Sakyong.

  95. I have respect for you and for the community though I am not a part. I was involved in two communities, that split in two after misdeeds by the teacher. Many left broken heartened and sorrow full. In both cases the teachers behaviors were not addressed by those who stayed. It is time for a moral ethical principled compassionate stand. Many believe President Trump is the chosen one and stand by his version of truth no matter what. He is yet to apologize for anything. The parallels between him and this Teacher are remarkable. If this community can not choose better what hope for us in the larger society. The microcosm reflects the macrocosm. The lower reflects the higher. What would love do? Where is the dharma warrior and the dorje sword of truths wisdom discernment? Where oh where?

  96. PETER S COOK
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    I am also heartbroken by these events and though I understand Pema’s reasons for leaving, I wish there were a way for her to stay to help effect mindful change.

    Here is a letter from the Board to the community explaining the considerations behind the decision to permit the Sakyong to give the Rigden Abhisheka.

    https://www.dechencholing.org/board-email-re-rigden-abhisheka-at-dechen-choling/

  97. Patricia Blaine
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    There will never be anything wrong about a teacher agreeing to give abhisheka to students who earnestly request it or to agree to teach those who sincerely request them. That is the basic vajrayana relationship. It has nothing to do with a third person’s assessment of “business as usual”, that concept doesn’t seem to apply at all to a personal heart exchange between teacher and student.

  98. Cheryl Abraham
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you for your integrity. I understand and respect your decision. I hope you will continue to teach and inspire. You have saved my sanity many times over the years and am grateful for you.

  99. carlos ferreyros
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Pema-la is just the best. Such a clear mind and a pure heart vision. May all the suffering of all those who have felt threatened or abused be pacified and may all those who have committed an abuse of any kind, be shattered by the mirror of the compassionate heart.

  100. Amanda Suutari
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    I would love to see more transformative justice process is being applied to sexual misconduct cases like this. There is a great example by a tantra teacher named Reid Mihalko, which I encourage all of you to check out. It combines the process of accountability challenge and support for both perpetrators and survivors. It creates a meaningful context and container for reflection, ongoing accountability, and learning and integration moving forward. Spiritual communities seem to continue to play out this story of power and trauma repeatedly. We need to find better processes to understand why they occur and develop best practices for growing beyond them. https://www.timetoast.com/timelines/reid-mihalko-s-accountability-process-abbreviated-timeline

  101. Roberta Teller
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you Pema Chodrin. You clearly walk the talk and for that I am most grateful…….

  102. Jane Alper
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you Ani Pema for saying so beautifully what is in my heart. I’ve felt so isolated in my grief and anger. Your letter makes me hopeful that another sangha could arise among those of us who feel as you do.

  103. Thank you,Pema! You have always had my respect as a straight shooter. And once again you told the truth, and I respect you greatly. The organization is way off the track in what they are doing, thank you for speaking up ad removing yourself from that for which you do not believe is right.. I wish you well in your retirement. It was because of you and your book When Things Fall Apart that I have been a Buddhist practicioner for the past 20 years. I thank you for that gift.

  104. Gina Stick
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    I believe we are in a teaching moment that is closing. I believe there is a wider obscuration at hand that has not been sufficiently sussed out. We are missing the deeper point, which is also the gateway.

    That obscuration is the fog of theistic devotion, spiritual materialism. The forms are not real – solid – that is their magic.Yet they are real – that is their power. Dharmic forms hoover on that edge between real and not real. If real, that is materialistic, solidifying, serious with no humour, denying emptiness – eternalism. If not real, we deny sacredness and dignity, frivolous, embarrassed – nihilism. We are entangled in theistic devotion and that is a root problem.

    We can transcend by recognizing the obscuration, inspecting it, seeing the teaching in the moment, and having a sangha wide conversation/study around the issue of genuine non-theistic devotion, and our root teaching on transcending spiritual materialism. There used to be a palpable felt boundary between our vivid dharmic container and the so-called setting sun world. That boundary has dissolved.

    I dont think these obscurations are a one shot deal, as in, jump over the line from brownie to girl scout. Theistic patterns and spiritual materialism are the ongoing contexts. We have to continually clean house. I recall how the VCAT would almost tear the paper off the walls to cut though our obscurations. But now we have to do this ourselves, through the jewel of sangha. We can speak truth to each other if the container takes the lid off and allows for raw, frank conversation. This is not about blame, or rant. It is about learning. Inquisitiveness. Where is the dharma in this? Seeing the dharma in the obscuration is the liberation. The slogan the Garuda carries is “The Fearless Proclamation of Truth”, or, The Proclamation of Truth is Fearless. We can find fearless truth honestly without aggression.

  105. Isabelle Tanner
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you, Ani Pema, for your wisdom and compassion. Thank you for sharing your strength. Thank you for asserting the power of you convictions. May we all find strength in the example you set before us.

  106. Brian Callahan
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    I am saddened by Ani Pema’s letter + glad that she has found clarity around her relationship with Shambhala.

    As a student of SMR, who supplicates him to return and continue teaching, I know that each of us has to find our own relationship with the teacher. The basic question to answer, from this Vajrayana student’s point of view, is whether one believes the teacher can transmit the teachings on awakening the mind-heart?

    If your answer about a teacher is yes, then you can work with her/him even when they have faults.

    If your answer is no, you don’t believe the teacher can transmit awakened heart-mind, then even if the teacher is perfect, they are likely not your teacher.

    For those of us who still consider SMR our teacher, let’s thank Pema for her long service and wish her well.

  107. Brian Callahan
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Shambhala is as real as we will let it be, as real as our own courage to shine the light of kindness and awareness into every corner.

  108. Syd Bridges
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you for making this courageous stand, Ari Pema. The pusillanimous Shambhala Board should be hanging their collective heads in shame for this decision.

    I have worked both as a volunteer and a paid member of staff at SMC for nearly eight years. I have endeavoured to maintain the crumbling infrastructure here. It seems an apposite metaphor for Shambhala at this moment.

    The Sakyong has left by the front door and is now climbing back through the bathroom window.I regard this as completely unacceptable. When he has made restitution to his victims, and has shown by his deeds that he is a reformed character, then the front door should be opened to him. But that time is certainly a long way away, if it ever arrives.

  109. I believe shambala is real

  110. Note: My earlier comment is intended for Mr Stuart Rice as a reflection and feedback.

  111. Only a male could have written this. Your denial of the pain caused by Sakyong’s arrogance is disheartening. To those of us watching this path unfold, it speaks volumes to the level of hypocrisy to be found in even the most hopeful of settings. Very sad…

  112. Maria Mellano
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    I’m sorry but I have no idea what she referring to. For those of us who are not following this, some context would be helpful.

  113. Noelle Foster
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    As a mother, feminist and dharma practitioner, I applaud Ani Pema for her integrity. I am with several of those who have commented here—if Shambala cannot clean up it’s act, if this is the culture of that sangha, I want nothing whatsoever to do with it. I am appalled and disgusted. One of the comments below mentions “senior teachers” so it seems the problem is not just with Sakyong. A teacher who cannot keep the precepts is not a qualified teacher.

  114. Stuart Rice
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    I respect Pema Chodron’s right to her own relationship (or lack thereof) with Shambhala, the lineage, and the current Sakyong. However, I think her letter ignores a couple of things. The first is the tremendous amount of work that individual centers, the Board, and the Process Committee have begun on issues of power abuse and exclusion in the community. To say that we are “back to business as usual” is dismissive of those efforts. The fact that we have not “solved the patriarchy” (as it were) and instantly created “a path forward” is to be expected. As reported by Jeremy Hayward in his “The Dragon King of Shambhala,” the Vidyadhara talked of Shambhala as a 500-year project. We are barely at the beginning of this larger work of enlightened society — and all it entails.

    On the Sakyong, Pema comments that he is neither “relating compassionately to all of those who have been hurt” and nor “doing some deep inner work on himself.” While I assume that she and the other Acharyas have more access to information about the Sakyong than the larger sangha, I don’t know if she is in a position to assume that he isn’t doing this work. Can anyone except the Sakyong speak directly to his own process and his own actions?

    The Sakyong is returning to teach students who have asked him to teach. There is no appearance of collusion — that these Vajrayana students seeking Rigden Abhisheka have done so with proverbial or literal guns to their heads. If Pema believes that the Sakyong should refuse to teach students who supplicate him, then there needs to be a specific statement from her when it would be appropriate for him to teach. But in the absence of that, people who wish to be students of the Sakyong in the Shambhala Lineage have a right to ask their teacher for teachings, and the Sakyong has an obligation to answer. Perhaps it would be better to ask these hundred-odd students why they have asked for this abhisheka, in spite of the fact that there is “no path forward for the vast majority of the community who are devoted to the vision of Shambhala and are yearning for accountability, a fresh start, and some guidance on how to proceed”?

    I wish Pema long-life, and thank her for her continued presentation of the dharma. May we all have such an opportunity to be a light to so many.

  115. Kirk Laughlin
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    The idea of inviting Sakyong Mipham back into the Shambhala community is an outrageous betrayal of the courageous souls who spoke out and — more fundamentally — an act that contradicts the very core of Buddhist teachings. I greatly admire Pema for speaking out so clearly and compassionately. Let’s hope her decision triggers an honest examination of the disillusionment that clouds the minds of the “leaders” of this once great organization.
    And Sakyong Mipham, try living as a mendicant monk for ten years or so. Disavow your silk and lavish comforts. Maybe after that experience, your former community will be open to re-examining the earnestness of your parth as a practicing Buddhist.

  116. R Philippe
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    I have gone through hardship in a quite likely situation as a Siddha-Yoga practioner more than two decades ago and I really wish someone like you had spoken with such wisdom. As a Buddhist, since 22 years, I have seen too many sings of  silence over misconducts of well knowned teachers that reminds me how we have rarely stood up to disagree as the Buddha told us to. I bow to your lotus feet dear Ani-La for how strong and pure minded you stand

  117. Thank you for being the real deal, over and over.

  118. You and Ani Pema both speak words that reside in my heart, too. Thank you.

  119. Judy Hirsh
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Ani Pema,
    Thank you for your honest and forthright words. This is exactly what I feel. I love the Shambhala teachings and community and hope we can find a new way forward. I want to be optimistic but so far the evidence is contrary. I so appreciate that you stand up for what is right and set a courageous example for us. With love & gratitude, Judy

  120. I am shocked and saddened to read about these events. I had no idea these abuses had occurred.

    Am also sad to also read of Pema Chodron’s retirement. I wish there was another avenue for her to continue her work.

  121. I am sad to read that Ani Pema aka Pema Chödrön is retiring. More disheartening is learning about the circumstance which urged her to write this letter.

    While I respect her choice to guide her career, my selfish wish is that she find another place to continue her work. Her writings have been a clear bell in my heart – and I know I’m not alone.

  122. I wrote a similar letter to the Halifax Shambhala Centre a couple of weeks ago echoing the same reasons for my wish to formally withdrew my membership while sending metta to the sangha my heart will always love. Thank you Ani Pemi for this wise action and all you do for the global sangha. Deep love and respect. In solidarity xo Moka

  123. Gayle MacDonald
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you Ani Pema, for being the voice for so very many women, those who have been hurt by Shambhala and those who came to Buddhism for an alternative to the deep sexism in other religions and/ or to escape reprieve from sexual assault in society generally. The Sakyong needs to take a really good look in the mirror. And then resign. Shambhala has truly lost its way.

  124. There is much hidden here, that is assumed to be visible. First there should be some open public discussion of what has happened. How can we find out more?

  125. Lodro sangmo
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    HURRAH FOR PEMA!

    PLEASE LISTEN TO HER – it can never be, or appear to be, business as usual.

    Some of us have been begging some of the Acharyas and the Board to speak out.

    Be brave.

    Walk the talk.

    Give the Sakyong the direct feedback he needs. For his benefit and ours.

    He harmed many women.

    He harmed many of his closest attendants and advisors.

    He harmed the whole sangha.

    He has never taken responsibility or said he was truly sorry.

    He has been deeply deluded.

    All the practice he is doing does not seem to be cracking him open as he needs to do.

    Perhaps it is too much for him. Understand.

    But he needs to stay away until he can do this.

    What is the Board thinking?

    That the sangha, other than the few who are staying with him, will accept the view that: he’s been on retreat; he’s better now; it’s all okay to continue as before.

    The Sakyong needs to speak directly from the heart and say he deeply regrets causing this harm and set out how he will change.

    Are the Acharyas and Board helping him see this?

    PATH FORWARD? People who still feel devotion for him should have the freedom to follow him on the Scorpion Seal path he created.

    The rest of us should also have the freedom to stay within Shambhala and practice with other teachers, to go back to our Buddhist roots.

    Imagine a center without Sakyong pictures, without a throne, without royal titles, without chants that seem best suited for already-devoted students.

    Imagine a warm, inviting, inclusive space where everyone felt welcome and at home.

    Where people of all beliefs and traditions could learn mindfulness meditation and benefit from the dharma teachings and many genuine teachers, including Pema Chodron.

    Where all teachers must have attained some realization of goodness, kindness, humility and respect. Always accountable.

    Was not this the original vision of Shambhala?

    Creating an enlightened society?

    THANK YOU PEMA. MAY YOUR BRAVERY INSPIRE ALL SHAMBHALA LEADERS AND SAKYONG STUDENTS IN DENIAL.

  126. Nearly forty years ago, when I first walked into Dharmadhatu (now called Shambhala Center) I was immediately struck by the fact that it was controlled by a patriarchy of single white males whose arrogance and entitlement went unchecked. As years passed, I witnessed the harmful and hurtful consequences of this attitude. Women whom the patriarchy considered to be ‘less than’ were expelled from their midst. Once, a single mother who openly acknowledged that she was struggling to make ends meet, came into the center to learn meditation. She returned to meditate several times. But when she asked for help from the organization, she was escorted out of the center and told never to return. A board member who was having difficulty making it to meetings because of her family was similarly dismissed without regard for the sacrifices she had made through the years. I write this post to give voice to these victims and the many others who are not here to share their stories. I write this post to honor the pain that was caused by the institutionalized sexism that appears to have continued unabated and unchecked. Finally, I write this post to help us remember that these systemic problems were in evidence from the early days of the organization, but far too many of us chose to look the other way.

  127. Rosalie Wright
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    You Ani Pema and the teachings have always been One in my experience of Shambhala. You are the lineage in my mind and heart. I wonder if Chögyam Rimpoche foresaw that by your example of keeping the precepts you would one day be THE definitive voice of goodness decrying the treatment of practitioners including children in the Sangha by leadership and Mipham. You did not rush to judgment but rather waited to see if Mipham would rise to the task, which he did not. Your letter begins the healing for me. It cuts through the confusion. Four years ago I attended my first and only dathün in Vermont. My daughter Maggie was my teacher for several years before and she urged me to go to dathün. Lyle Larson of the Davis CA sangha was and continues to be my meditation instructor, full of integrity and wisdom – my remaining link to the Sangha along with Mark Froelich, who offers sitting twice a month to a small group of practitioners here in Ann Arbor, MI. They are men of good heart. Thank you for who you are and for your extraordinary teaching. Thank you for embodying the very best of Shambhala. May your years to come be peaceful and joyful, and your heart at ease. We will always remember you with great love and respect. May it be so.

  128. Dear Pema,

    Gratitude. Shambhala is not my only community to go through a deep crisis of trust.

    What is reconciliation? What does it mean to hold one another to account with humanity? To hold ourselves to account in this practice? These are the questions of our time.

    I thank David and you for this teaching, for your continued generous and generative wisdom.

    With warmth and deepest respect, Nanci

  129. Walter Logue
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    you are officially dead to me Shambhala>
    I will still support the land centers because there is a chance for dharma to grow there, but not in this administration. It is dead. Any teaching sessions you offer from this parasitic organization is only taking from people, not giving.
    If you cannot see that PEMA SHOULD BE THE ONE THAT IS ASKED TO LEAD THIS SANGHA, then you have no idea what the hell you are doing.
    ALL BY HERSELF, she could revive this sangha.
    THERE IS NOTHING YOU COULD DO THAT WOULD BE MORE UNIFYING,
    but it seems increasingly obvious that unifying is not the intent.
    EVEN IF SHE REFUSED, which she might well do, it would show a maturity that is frankly ABSENT in this organization for quite some time now.
    We should all be crying and reconsidering our direction.
    From Kingdom to Tabloid in our free fall, how much farther can we fall before we change course?
    How sad and childish, Osel CHILDISH

  130. Margaret Rottsolk
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you, Ani Pema. The clarity in this letter helps me to trust my own way through my brokenheartedness with this situation and organization’s choices. The teachings have been so helpful to me… and the behaviors I’ve seen confusing.

  131. Thank you Ani Pema Chödrön for giving a clear voice to what many of us think and feel.
    And thank you for giving a big wake up call to those of us who just want to go on practicing buiseness as usal.
    Love and respect for your fearless and honest decision.

  132. Gabriele Martin
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    You are a Dharma teacher and you are angry. Why do you teach? And why are you angry?

  133. Dear Ani Pema,
    I’m so grateful that you’ve chosen to share your message with the community at large. You’ve put such powerful words to thoughts and feelings many of us are having. I know you’ve spoken for me personally when you use words like disheartened, dumbfounded, shocked, unwise, unskilled. I appreciate and agree with everything you’ve said here.

    It is compelling to consider the situation in perspective: 125 students who wish to proceed on the path as we’ve been doing it, balanced against the rest of the international community including the many, many people who were harmed, and who continue to be retraumatized the longer this goes on without addressing the harms.

    I especially appreciate the map you’ve drawn for a path forward, rather than just saying, I’m done.
    You’ve presented the board with a very clear choice: enlightened society or business as usual. By doing it publicly, you show the community what we *could* be doing: small groups, individuals, working in truth and compassion to actually address the deep wound in our midst and to actually change the organization. Yes, when we’re dealing with an organization the size of Shambhala, it’s like turning the Titanic. But it sure beats just rearranging the deck chairs.

    Thank you and bless you,
    Tunde Nemeth

  134. Thank you Pema. My trust in your teachings is restored with your heartfelt communication. I come from a family of attorneys. The Sakyong committed serious criminal offenses and has dodged jail time. The feudal male patriarchal world of Tibet has shown its power in the return of the Sakyong. As the Dalai Lama said About his situation “this is not what the Buddha taught.” Women and children are still not safe from moral injury in the Shambhala community. There is still time to rectify this. I hope and pray the board Listens to Pema.

  135. Marilyn Webb
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    So clear. So compassionate. So right. Thank you dear Pema for this and for all you have done to bring the Vidyadara’s teachings so powerfully into the world.

    With love,
    Marilyn Webb

  136. Patricia Hall
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    How sad that so many are reluctant to hold others accountable for their actions, for the misdeeds of one now become the misdeeds of all.

  137. Thomas Westgard
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    I wondered the same thing. From the comments it appears that a woman was sexually mistreated by a man with a position of authority.

    However, I’m also aware that the reason I don’t know what happened is that I’m not a part of the organization, and that makes me reflect on the reasons I want to know what happened. I want to believe that my motivations are good, but maybe it’s just the appeal of salacious gossip that draws me in.

    This letter is in the gray area between a public statement and a communication among people who share a long-standing connection. Maybe I should learn to rest with that ambiguity. I’m honestly not sure what is best.

  138. Elizabeth Berlasso
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Dear Ani Pema,
    The clear winds of change are upon Shambhala. How exciting! Thank you for a brave step forward. Please keep teaching us! I continue to have deep love , appreciation and respect for you.
    Elizabeth

  139. Dear Ani Pema Chödrön,
    Thank you so so much for express clearly your thoughts’ sharing with no barriers and warm heart. Thank you for not forgetting all the heartbroken practicionners who had to take distance with our community and stay rootless’ not in the benefic way, in a tremendous spiritual pain. Reading your letter, I feel tremendous relief to know that somebody like you, in whom I have great confidence, had the same concern that i, and i feel understood at least by you and less alone. I am supposed to do the Scorpion Seal 5 in Dechen Chöling this year, some studients ask the Sakyon to teach it, but I don’t want him to come back without encounterings, speakings about what happened. I feel stabbed. Than you again. You taught the 1992 seminary with the Sakyong where i was, i am always joyfull to remember you and hope meet you again, I love you, your heart, your honesty, wisdom, and all other vertus you developped. Much love. Aline Thivolle

  140. Christina Kicki Andren
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Are we now divided into two groups:
    one Business as usual and another creating a truly Enlightened Society?
    Thank you Pema Chödrön for liberating me and others to follow fearlessly the second option. May our leaders be many and in the end include all in a Society created from deep and honest compassion!

  141. Roland Bryan Mendiola
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    This. What I’ve been waiting for any Shambhala leader to say. Thank you Ani Pema, this is the first heartening and inspiring thing I’ve read from a teacher in so long..

  142. Stephanie Murphy
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    While we have not been active in the Shambhala community for a few years because of proximity, I am deeply upset abouut what has happened. I do not see how his position in this way supports the students in any way. I admire your courage for speaking up, and removing yourself. I hope more people step-up. From what others say here, you will be deeply missed. May your journey continue to be beautiful, always. Many Blessings!!

  143. Nancy LeBlanc
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    I am saddened to hear that the Board is allowing Sakyong to teach.I almost feel as though they are trying to “wipe out”, what has happened. I have many times, spent a month at KCL, and have been so happy to do so, working to pay my way,but when he was there the, “energy”, was much different. I have never connected to him, and avoided KCL whenever he was there. My Main Teacher has always been HH Dalai Lama, and will remain so. However, that said Ani Pema, I have Always felt a tenderness towards. So Grateful for all you have offered throughout the years, with teachings, books, Truth & Gentlness . I hope you will enjoy Peace & Much Good Health. With Gratitude & Love~ Nancy LeBlanc

  144. Peggy Vassallo
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Just want to say Thank You from a mom who has daughters on the path. Your action speaks for us. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  145. Kate Grierson
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you!

  146. Michael Brandt
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Wouldn’t have had the guts to go and sit a full Dathun if I had not read the Wisdom of No Escape.
    Thank you for your inspiring, warm and truly protecting way of teaching the Dharma.
    I think it’s a wonderful sugggestion to form groups to see how we could go forward. Maybe we could in working together with teachers from the Karma Kagyu lineage, see how we could maker the Karma Kamtsang Ngöndro and the Vajra Yogini and Chakrasamvara sadhanas more assesible for contemporary practioners. That is: give it the same format / structure as the Werma SSA path.
    Warm regards,
    Michaèl Brandt Shambhala center Arnhem the Netherlands

  147. Mark Emerson
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Sounds like you people have unwittingly become involved in a cult. That might be the best place to start, sorting out why it is you find yourself in such a place.

  148. Stephane Valay
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Dear sister in the Dharma, I feel so gratefull for the strong message you just sent to all of us, a matter of ethic and wisdom, a matter of loyalty to the dharma and the shambhala teachings, free from any spiritual bypassing, a teaching on how to be “droit dans ses bottes” ! Thank you. May all the shambhala acharyas, and on top of it may the head of shambhala lineage get inspired !

  149. Sandra nilsen
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Om mani padme hum

  150. Vincent Hill
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    I truly hope that this is only a step back from this community and that you will find some other place to land to give talks and teachings, we cannot afford to lose your voice completely.

  151. María José Gallego Obieta
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you Pema Chodron for your manifestation.
    This days I have the impulse to travel to Pirpan, to shake Sakyong’s shoulders. There is a lot of not wanting to see. I mean: the Sakyong or the team around Him are out of the reality, are they conscious about that.

  152. Bird Trungma
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Dear Pema:I am moved by your fearlessness in this situation. I am wondering whether or not you intend to continue as the head teacher at Gampo Abbey. If so, then since you are disaffiliating from Shambhala, and since Thrangu Rinpoche continues to hold the official position as its abbot, might it be possible for you (both of you) to move Gampo Abbey towards reorientation as a Kagyu monastic organization? That might be impossible or impractical; I do not know, but it is something which could be beneficial for the nuns and monks who are living there at present. For those who are there and have taken lifetime vows, the situation must feel even more confusing and terrible than it feels for the lay sangha. I also wonder whether the Shambhala Board has considered asking for assistance or advice from the gurus of other reputable Tibetan Buddhist lineages, as for example, His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse gave when he spoke to the Vajradhatu sangha shortly after the Vidyadhara’s parinirvana? Seeking such guidance or advice might be more productive than the Shambhala Board banging their heads, trying to solve the situation entirely on their own. These traditional lineage gurus have a great deal more experience working with all kinds of painful problems than the members of Shambhala’s Board, so why not at least give a listen to whatever wisdom they might have to share? I am in no situation to present this suggestion to the Board, but if you think it makes sense, you might consider presenting the idea. In any event, please accept my warmest wishes for your path going forward.

  153. Sabine Putze
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Dear Ani Pema,
    Thank you so much for sending this clear letter. You have helped me with your statments and teachings also over the crises long time ago with the Regent as well. You have been the only voice in the dispair I had about the trustworthiness of Shambhala and its developement. Here in Vienna /Austria we are still a Shambhala center and try to bring forward the heart and wisdom of the teachings we received. We try to keep up this meeting and practicing place on a local level. I don`t know how on an international level Shambhala continues. I have met friends in Europe with whom I think we can work together to build a sane community without deception. So I am inspired at the same time. For me personally also for my personal difficulties and non inspiration times, I am listening to your teachings on dvd, online courses and so on. With deep gratitude. Sabine Putze

  154. Marlen Arkesteijn
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Dear Pema,
    thank you so much for formulating so precisely and thoughtful what many of us think as well. With you with all of my heart and thank you for all the valuable lessons you are teaching.

  155. Julie Michaud
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    I am very grateful to hear this, as I have been quite upset and wondering what will happen from this whole corruption of the sacred way. Thank you for taking the step that shows the truth in the direction that Shambhala should be going.

    You are brave and courageous and display true compassion, not a wishy-washy compassion, but a strong and brave compassion. Your words have given me new heart in following in the path.
    Much honour and gratitude to you Ani Pema

  156. Marie-Francoise Louyat-Provot
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Dear Ani Pema,
    Thank you for your precise soft and sharp letter. You are fully right. In Rotterdam/Holland one of our member exactly requested to DCL what you are proposing. See, some people in the community have initiative as some tim, for us, in Europe, the way to the board is too long and America is very different also in their approach. But it is an other theme. I wonder if you personally had contact with the Sakyong and support him in his process. Did he accepted your support? I miss that part of the story…especially from you. Faithfully and in the vision of the Great Eastern Sun.

  157. Josie Kane
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you Pema. You have been a light for me and many. You are an incredible teacher and someone whose books I have recommended to many clients. Your latest book arrived at Christmas and I could not bring myself to read it feeling so torn about what has happened in the community. I didn’t know if you would speak up, it seemed silent from so many and not the good silence. “Those who remain silent only help the oppressor”. I am reminded of this quote from the Museum of Human Rights that is so relevant these days. I am wholeheartedly grateful that you have continued to authentically walk your talk. It means so much. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  158. Sophie Bazgier
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    I am so thankful for that letter, it is a clear bright voice.

  159. Joanna Dowey
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    I have just checked Sakyong on the Shambala website. There is no indication there at all of the controversy surrounding him due to his profoundingly inappropriate behaviours as a spiritual teacher. I would like to thank Pemba Chodron for her wisdom, courage and honesty and hope those at Shambala can try to live up to her example.

  160. Dear Pema, for 25 year’s I have been listening to your teachings. For me you were Shambhala, you are the Earth protector. I fully understand your decision and would like to thank you for your wisdom and compassion.
    Have a good retirement. Lots of Love❤️

  161. Blessings to you, Ani Pema. You are truly “welcoming the unwelcome” & stepping into your courage. I’ll say goodbye now to Shambhala, & let them go. The days of letting men in power abuse that power without accountability are over.

  162. Frans Albregts
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Dear Ani Pema,

    I disagree but who am I to. I understand the reason for the pain you are taking now and I hope you won’t feel it personally for a long time. Disagreement with history or what you are writing? Know that I value what you wrote: every single appearance. I know that isn’t a Dzogchen way of putting remarks for award. I am sure your remarks haven’t been cause for not being able to offer reconciliation to anyone and am sure you and the Sakyong are on one line together. You are wonderfull. I ask you humbly to neglect me again and disregard this commentator in your feeling.

  163. George Gomez
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    While I am heartbroken by your decision I do cherish with all my heart all of what you have contribute to the richness of what are the Shambhala teachings. I also agree wholeheartedly with your decision and reasoning. The Sakyong is unfortunately, like many leaders in our planet, not paying attention to the facts on the ground in order to avoid personal responsibility. So many of us are caught between believing in the teachings and feeling like we have been bamboozled into thinking that SMR would have some sudden strike of insight that would allow him to bypass the honest hard work of rehabilitation. The frog is meditating in boiling water.

  164. Jean A Vickers
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    None of what has occurred has diminished your teachings, Ani Pema. At a very dark time in my life, your teaching brought me to light. I will forever be grateful to you for the gentle push all of your teaching has given me.

  165. Cory Mosteller
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    I have been quietly waiting to see what would happen here and what has transpired by the choices of the board is extremely disappointing. I want nothing to do with Shambhala at this point and will find a better community who respects women, demands that male leaders be held accountable for abuses committed, and that our children are in a safe environment from harm.

  166. Shana boutte’
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you for being the strongest voice in the room, stepping aside and living out loud honestly, while using a whisper to speak truth and act in love what many have tried to silence.

    Your solidarity has a profound impact.

    I am in awe of your actions and have gratitude for your movement towards justice.

    Thank you for being a true leader by removing yourself from a pained community.

    You are admired, cherished and appreciated more than words can express.

    Thank you for doing and being love.

  167. Thank You Ani Pema for your kind and generous heart, all your years of holding the light for us, and now, your bold and clear decision.

    Until the underbelly of this organization is brought to the light, it does not have the integrity to carry on the Buddha’s teachings. Your decision is a balm to our hearts. If trust is to be restored choices like the one you’ve made most become the norm rather than the exception.

  168. Thank you for your kind and gentle teachings. Following your conscience and sharing this decision so openly is very freeing. My heart felt lighter as I read your words. May your days be filled with peace.

  169. Calandra Mulder
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you for your integrity, your many years of service, and your clear signal that “business as usual” in Shambhala is unacceptable.

  170. Sheilagh Hagens
    Jan 17, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you so much Ani Pema. Thank you for your courage. I simply cannot understand the response of the Smambhala community to the issues that arose around the Sakyong. It has consistently shunned and punished those who felt hurt and betrayed by the Sakyong’s behaviour. I have been unable to read your.books or listen to your talks because it has appeared up until now that you were one of those who shunned.
    Oh dear, I have so much to say and such a need to be heard but this is notbthe place. Thank you again for your honesty and courage.

  171. Anne-Marie Suddreth
    Jan 16, 2020
    Reply

    I do hope the Board is listening

  172. petra hunsche
    Jan 16, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you so much Pema

  173. Bobby Hughes
    Jan 16, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you for your honest and courageous letter, Pema. And thank you for your years of service to this community. I wish you all the best in your retirement and life, and I wish Shambhala as an organization can someday thrive again with all the clarity and brave tender-heartedness that you yourself have exhibited.

  174. Abby Hulser
    Jan 16, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for saying the words that i have been feeling in my heart, Ani Pema. These words validate and ground my experience following the Sakyong’s recent letter. Over the last 2 years, I was most hurt following this letter. I had held hope that we as a community could do the work to get through this. My heart feels shattered and ungrounded. The teachings and the path are indestructible and will always be that way for me. Yet, I can not go forward within Shambhala “business as usual”.

  175. Andrea Hicks
    Jan 16, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you! I have been struggling with the sense of business as usual all year and both the Sakyong’s letter and the Board’s letter completely discouraged me. I hope that this clear, compassionate letter is taken to heart by the Sakyong, and the Board. So many of us have been yearning for a new path forward. In the vision of enlightened society we cherish you. Thank you again.

  176. James Girsch
    Jan 16, 2020
    Reply

    Your post is great, but can you be more transparent? I am not in with the in crowd and we don’t know what happened, and it’s not being talked about openly. I just read your books. Can we speak openly?

  177. Bonnie Jackson
    Jan 16, 2020
    Reply

    Is there another way for the 125 students to continue on the path without having the Sakyong, at this time, give it?
    I have felt the blessing of the dharma through the vessel of Ani Pema for decades. I have been on hold spiritually since the Sakyong’s actions. I feel for both those hurt by his actions and for him. Clarity has yet to congeal in my heart about the role of the Sakyong. However, clarity has formed in terms of Pema. I support her wholeheartedly. Please listen to her.

  178. Thank you for your stand.

  179. Suzanne M Jones
    Jan 16, 2020
    Reply

    What a relief to know I am not crazy in my feelings about how Shambhala International and the Sakyong are proceeding. To read that someone of David Schneider and Pema Chodron feel the same as I do about “the situation.”

    Thank you both for your past and continued service to Enlightened Society.

  180. Dave Lindberg
    Jan 16, 2020
    Reply

    In this very dark age of the dharma, small yet brave steps like this seem to be all we’re left with once we’ve started to perceive the pain and suffering caused by generations of Shambhala leadership.

  181. Judy Sullivan
    Jan 16, 2020
    Reply

    I’ve stated exactly the same feelings when I heard it is business as usual. How sad.

  182. Gerri January
    Jan 16, 2020
    Reply

    Ani Pema,

    Oh have been and remain one of the foundational Buddhist teachers for decades. I don’t understand Shambhala’s decision. If your resignation doesn’t effect change, then your path seems honest and clear. You will be sorely missed.

  183. Elaine Martin
    Jan 16, 2020
    Reply

    Thank You

  184. Thank you. Thank you Pema Chödrön.
    I have been waiting for you. I see you are in deed awake, I had assumed you were, and now I can see that my assumption was correct. Thank you.
    May many gain strength and inspiration from your stance, from your clarity and from your courage.
    Sincerely, Pamela

  185. Organize =intense= idealism and see what happens. I took a hike after Chogyam. Krishnamurti is shaking his head and shrugging somewhere right now. “Mischief.” Again.

  186. Susan Hobart
    Jan 16, 2020
    Reply

    Blessings and thank you for your always enlightening dharma.

  187. 道見雲海
    Jan 16, 2020
    Reply

    My dear freind,
    It is with both sadness and a hopeful that I recive your message. On the one hand I concur with you as I my self left many many years ago and the organization is loosing a compass point it sorely needs. But on the other hand as you head out on the open sea of this fragile world I am certain you will have many more wonderful adventures ahead.
    My warmest regards
    道見

  188. Mary Boudreau
    Jan 16, 2020
    Reply

    WOW such integrity I admire you and share your desire for honesty indeed

  189. Trudy Stern
    Jan 16, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you Ani Pema, with love and respect. T

  190. Thank you Ani Pema for this your open heart letter. It was heart warming to read your honesty/transparency so graciously written. My heart heard your words, and my being resonated the silenced inner feelings that have been unjustly repressed. May you be healthy & joyful on your journey forward. With appreciation for your years of dedicated generosity ❣️
    I bow to you & speaking your wisdom

  191. Thank you Pema for taking action. Many will stand right next to you, if not in person, definitely in Spirit.
    Blessings,
    Joanne

  192. Linda margrie
    Jan 16, 2020
    Reply

    Pema i dont begin to understand all the nuances that make up shambala. But i do know your teachings with laughter gentleness and love have changed my life. Please do not stop teaching we need your wisdom. In australia we have been through hell surrounded by flames and death of so many wildlife. People have been kind generous but there is also such anger and disappointment your teachings have kept me centred. Please if you leave shambala which would be sad please keep in touch and keep teaching us around the world on you tube if that is the only way. I wish you peace and gentleness always and hope your letter allows you to continue at shambala but if it doesnt work out your students will still be with you.

  193. Chris fortin
    Jan 16, 2020
    Reply

    I am full of heartbreak and anger at the decision of Shambhala to continue with business as usual. I am a long time buddhist practitioner and Buddhist teacher and am deeply concerned . I applaud Pema Chodrons courage and clarity .

  194. Frances Morris
    Jan 16, 2020
    Reply

    Dear Ani Pema,
    Both Eleanor and I are supportive of your decision to step down as an acharya.
    We have been saddened by the continuous blatant ignoring of victims, the sale of Marpa House, the recent recurrence of sexual impropriety of a senior teacher towards young women at RMSC who came for a seminar from Chapman University, and the hostility towards anyone who has been a whistleblower.
    We also agree that the Sakyong has proved to be tone deaf to all students who don’t supplicate or prostrate to him. It seems he has done nothing at all to address his alcohol or sexual addictions. We very much doubt that he will.
    I hope that your resignation and your letter will have a positive impact and change the misguided course of”circling the wagons” and shutting down open communication.
    Your friend, Frances

  195. John Tischer
    Jan 16, 2020
    Reply

    I want to thank Pema for her letter and add my complete endorsement of her statement.

  196. Sad but inevitable decision for Ani Pema Chodron. Ani Pema will continue to be a guiding light in her own right but I was always proud that she was an Acharya for the Shambhala community.

  197. Ravenna Michalsen
    Jan 16, 2020
    Reply

    What a beautiful way to actually acknowledge what has been going on. Thank you Ani Pema for this very refreshing communication.

  198. D’Arcy Colby
    Jan 16, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you so much, Pema, for having the courage to speak the truth, simply, directly and with kindness.

  199. Jonathan Robert Felch
    Jan 16, 2020
    Reply

    Acharaya Pena Chodron,

    Thank you for your service, teaching, and heart-felt reflection on these recent actions.

    One thought that comes to mind. It is traditional when teachers are recognized as terms that they be taught to 12 fortunate students who could propagate and disburse those teachings to the world. So far as I know, there has never been a nyingthig that has not been so shared. I home you continue to carry the Sharma of the Vidyadhara going forward.

    Jonathan Felch


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