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Acharya Resignation Letter

Este artículo ha sido traducido al español aqui.

Questo articolo è stato tradotto in italiano qui.

The following is a statement to the Shambhala community, offered by a group of acharyas
who are resigning from their role, but will remain active in Shambhala and beyond.

July 5, 2020

Dear Shambhala Warriors,

It is with sadness and open hearts that we share our decision to step down from the role of
acharya. This decision has not come easily and is not made lightly. Some of us have served in
this role for many years, and have devoted our lives to serving Shambhala vision. We all remain
dedicated to working toward the further manifestation of this vision.

Although we have each known Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche in various ways and served in
different roles over the years, we share having had a complex relationship with him, seeing both
his wisdom and confusion. For much of this time, we felt confident in our ability and wish to
represent the Sakyong, an essential aspect of the role of acharya.

However, in the midst of the crisis around sexual misconduct and abuse of power, in an effort to
support the community and encourage the Sakyong to engage in a process of accountability and
healing, we acharyas asked him to step back from his teaching role. We openly shifted our focus
toward serving the community. At that time, and since then, his communication with us has
been minimal.

When the acharyas finally met with the Sakyong on May 21, 2020 via zoom, it became clear to us
that he intends to work with a smaller, exclusive group of students. It was our sense that, at least
at this point, he would not focus on rebuilding relationships with the many students and
practitioners who are longing for further healing and transformation. Instead, he articulated a
path forward based on clarifying lineage rather than attending to community well-being. To us,
this feels different from the broad and inclusive social vision that inspires us.

While he expressed dismay and concern over the ways things have fallen apart in Shambhala
over the last two years, the Sakyong did not mention the revelations of his own past misconduct
as a principal cause, nor did he indicate a willingness to enter into dialogue. On the call, we were
not invited into conversation with him, and we feel that communication is essential to moving
toward repair.

We still remain open to conversation. As acharyas we, like so many in the Shambhala
community, have been holding in a “wait and see” pattern, hoping that the Sakyong would join
the community in a process of healing and reconciliation. In the end, he asked us to recommit to
being his representatives or to retire with dignity.

Now we find it more important than ever for the Shambhala community to face the wounds that
have been part of our heritage for a long time. These need to be acknowledged more fully and
worked through in a thorough and well-designed communal process. Without such a process, we
cannot in good faith continue in our role.

We remain loyal to the Shambhala vision and teachings, the Scorpion Seal path, as well as the
lineage streams introduced into our community by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. We recognize
the importance of an “open umbrella” approach that supports the range of practices in our
community, including Shambhala, Kagyü, Nyingma, contemplative arts, cultural forms, and
social engagement.

We commit to the difficult work of forging a good human society, learning from past harms in
our community and acknowledging our own failings. We recognize that we acharyas have
participated in and enabled the culture that has caused harm. We have much to learn
individually and as a community. At the same time, we see a lot of strength in the community
and willingness to engage in cultural change.

We support the Care and Conduct initiatives, the commitment to accountability, transparency,
and inclusivity that they embody, including the new societal trainings being developed in the
right use of power, diversity and inclusivity, gender dynamics, and the reduction of harm having
to do with sexual predation, racism, and more.

In leaving this position, it is not our intention to abandon the Sakyong, for whose inspiring
teachings we feel deep gratitude. Nor is it our intention to abandon the sangha and the vast
community of warriors. We appreciate the kindness and wisdom of the remaining acharyas who
have been our friends and colleagues for a long time.

The world is calling all of us with countless voices in great pain. The earth is crying out; our
polarized cultures are crying out; our broken systems are crying out; oppression and injustice
are crying out; the dralas are crying out. We aspire to listen and respond with compassion.

We are not giving up. We join with the community to collaborate on ways to move forward
together. We are open to dialogue, to continue to teach as we are able, and to serve the vision of
good human society in every way we can. How this will manifest remains to be seen and will
undoubtedly vary for each of us.

Yours in the vision of the Great Eastern Sun,

Emily Bower
Holly Gayley
Lodro Dorje Holm
David Hope
Beate Kirchhof-Schlage
Mitchell Levy
Adam Lobel
Barbara Märtens
Noel McLellan
Melissa Moore
Arnd Riester
John Rockwell
Sabine Rolf

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81 responses to “ Acharya Resignation Letter ”
  1. Richard Hill
    Jul 14, 2020
    Reply

    Hearing the sangha chant the old chants written by Chogyam Trungpa was like Dragon Thunder. The new chats written by his son are lineage propaganda and sound like white bread dipped in water. The Shambhala lineage is carried on by those who try to practice the teachings, not by hereditary.

  2. Piotr Witkowski Poland
    Jul 14, 2020
    Reply

    Dear Acharyas.
    I had a pleasure to meet some of you. And such teachers like Barbara Maertens, Sabine Rolf were crucial in my maturing in Shambhala.
    I appreciate wisdom of all of you and your personal manifestation of goodness.
    And I would like to thank you for your so dilligent work for so many years.
    You are indeed authorities for so many people, and most of us in Shambhala have more vivid connection and contact with you than with the Sakyong. So your words are meaningful for many of us, and they influence our minds. And he lies great responsibility.
    I feel a lot of pain and sadness (and confusion in me) while reading this letter.
    I respect your decision to resign from the role of the representatives of the Sakyong. But I have a question – from what kind of attitude this decision arose? I am sure that many people in our community identify with your point of view and will follow you. But are we going toward this direction of solidifying perceiving the Sakyong as an evil and source of all confusion in Shambhala? Maybe the split in Shambhala is inevitable but creating new order in Shambhala society on the foundations of dissatisfaction, dissapointment and blaming may not be succesful. For me this crisis is so painful and consuming so much my energy – I do really cry for peace in our community and for healthy, open communication. And I have no doubts that it will be a long process. I wish all of us to go beyond the enemy.

  3. I have been contemplating my relationship to the Shambhala organization (not the teachings themselves, for I still feel that the Shambhala terma are teachings for our time. I have wondered when the senior leadership was going to speak up/speak out and when that happened, how it would manifest.

    I feel relief that so many people for whom I have tremendous love and respect have expressed themselves.

    I still wonder when the Sakyong will acknowledge the tremendous harm he has caused and own his behavior.

    I have already begun transitioning to another local sangha because I have serious doubts about whether the Sakyong will own his behavior and get treatment for his obvious alcohol problem. Our local sangha has already lost over 50% of its membership and close to 80% of its revenue. The center is in serious danger of losing its space because we simply cannot make rent. 90% of this is related to the revelations about the Sakyong’s behavior and the other 10% is due to the coronavirus pandemic. My heart is very heavy but, I cannot continue on a path with a corrupt teacher. I hope the Sakyong will take action to heal this sickness in our sangha. If he doesn’t do so, I will have to leave.

  4. Katherine Irish
    Jul 13, 2020
    Reply

    The news of the Sakyong’s behavior wounded me as it did many. However, I was also deeply troubled not only by the Sakyong’s behavior, but the complicity of those who held positions of leadership, who knew about his behavior and said nothing. Thank you to the 13 Archaya’s who have taken a stand.

    If the Sakyong’s childhood held trauma based on his father’s behavior and this led to a disquiet in his soul, he had every opportunity and advantage offered to a person to heal through Shambhala teachings. His behavior was an affront to Buddhist teachings, was aggressive, disrespectful and harmful to those who wanted to learn from him. It is not a matter of judgment, it is a matter of trust and that trust has been shattered beyond what a simple apology can mend.

  5. Ashley Howes
    Jul 13, 2020
    Reply

    Good discussion. If I understand aright, the Sakyong – not for the first time – is planting his flag in a new spot and rallying those who wish to follow him around that banner, after which the perimeter will be sealed and those outside will be apart from, and no longer a part of, his lineage which only he is permitted to lead. At least this is a clear position. Hopefully it will soon lead to further clarity, which has been sorely lacking (for decades now!).

    On the other side, we have a wide diaspora of community members who over the decades have drifted away for a wide variety of reasons; most recently a large swathe of ex-CTR students couldn’t go along with many radical changes made in the early 2000’s I think (am not sure since drifted away before that period). However, nearly all such partings had something to do with feeling that one’s membership in the community no longer made sense, be it because of lack of connection with the teacher, the teachings, the practice or fellow members. In most cases, I suspect, sitting practice became an increasingly rare experience, either alone or in a group – once that goes, it all goes.

    At this point, and thanks to the Sakyong’s seeming decision after waiting a couple of years for the dust to settle, the community has come to a long overdue fork in the road, namely: will the community only be defined by what a Sakyong decrees, or does it have its own self-existing autonomy, can it comprise various different levels of commitment, different lineage streams, including different styles from region to region (and continent to continent) and including being unified on the symbolic and spiritual level by devotion to a Sakyong lineage?

    Sadly, we lack the collective ability to analyze, let alone debate such things. The entire affair the past two years has mainly been treated as a combination of media scandal and opportunity for soul-searching, often with official spiritual workshops like the U-Process Team process which has nothing to show for itself after a long time. The Board is merely a placeholder group, essentially managing accounting issues but addressing none of the deep, structural issues at play and claiming no authority to do anything structurally significant.

    Yes, there are elements involving sexual and other harms in the mix, but these are symptoms of deeper pathologies, as Koos de Boor rightly pointed out. This entire community from top to bottom, including its Sakyong and including every member who has walked away, is a mutual co-creation. One of the root fallacies has been to fixate overmuch on the role of the Leader to the point where in recent years local Centers voluntary handed over the deeds to their property to a single entity. What madness!

    The only way forward, I suspect, and given the community’s inability to think and act for itself (a condition in effect since 1987 btw) is for the Sakyong to renounce ALL property holdings of community assets. ALL. Of course he can teach whatever he wants to whomever wishes to study and practice with him, but the wider community has to finally step up and create a modern, self-owning, self-administering organization that does not depend on secret society transmissions and arcane ritual to function. Each local Center should own and pay for their own assets, appoint their own directors and teachers, teach new students, be fully trained in the Open/Outer Mandala teachings so they can in turn train new teachers (all of which has already been in place for decades now lest it be forgot!), and not beholden to any higher authority in such functions. This can be affected rapidly and easily if only the Sakyong would exercise good leadership and insist upon it. If he does not, then he should be made to articulate why he does not. Is it his wish to keep losing half the mandala every ten years or so, to throw away all the heart connections, time, money, effort, faith and devotion for the sake of having a smaller, more devoted band of uncritical loyalist followers? What does he really want? Why won’t he say? Why can’t we ask him? Why don’t we ever discuss these things in a dispassionate, functional, organizational way?

    For the broader community to exist in any meaningful way, it cannot be ruled by a tyrant. I am sure the Sakyong never wanted to become one, but become one he did, legally and functionally, perhaps the moment all the properties were handed over to him.

    In my opinion, all the Acharyas should have resigned long ago for enabling this sort of vision and view, and the Board of Directors as well. They have presided over a massive schism and broken the Dharma Hearts of countless thousands of once active, devoted members who have either self-exiled entirely, or who exist now as members still, but as ‘ghosts on the fringe of the mandala.’

    This is the legacy of the current Sakyong, old and new Board, and the Acharyas. All of them are extremely fine, dedicated people in many ways and I reject the view that indulges in aggressive, mean-spirited invective trying to criminalize the entire affair from top to bottom, or which puts all the blame on CTR, VROT and SMR. But the entire affair has been badly managed for decades now and the community has exhibited no collective ability to address deep structural issues, as this latest letter from the Acharyas, some of its leading members, so clearly attests.

    The community is not going to be able to ‘spiritual workshop’ its way out of this. Either the Sakyong has to do the right thing and return ownership of all Centers to local members, along with mandating their own local leadership etc., or the local Centers have to make a Claim for that Right, both on spiritual, community and local jurisdictional legal levels, or the community must accept this schism as a done deal, with the members not in the loyalist rump walking away completely, maybe with tears, maybe with heads held high, but with dignity and integrity intact; for that ultimately, is the meaning of samaya.

  6. Mark Turnoy
    Jul 12, 2020
    Reply

    Dear Acharyas,
    Thank you for all of your teaching over the years and your clear and, to me, kind statement of the reasons for your resignation. I hope that many other beings and I will continue to benefit from your understanding and skillful means, and that your lives will go well!
    With appreciation,
    Mark Turnoy

  7. Eric Laufe
    Jul 12, 2020
    Reply

    Nicolette de Hoop,

    Thank you. What you are expressing is closer to CTR’s 1000 year view than our “two year view”. Right now we are in a groundless space filled with many hopes, fears, and projections. I think it’s called “karma ripening” and purification. It is up to each one of us to clarify our own “relationship” to the Sakyong, the lineage, and the teachings. There is no “right” decision. There are also no “wrong” decisions. It’s a personal path. Look inward, deeply. Don’t solidify, grasp. or fixate. The only wisdom arises out of emptiness, which is inseparable from our own minds, and it’s only happening “now”. Everything else is projection. This takes great courage. It is very easy to grab “the wrong end of the stick”. The Great Eastern Sun is not relative. I realize this may sound like “dharma-speak”, but maybe give it some examination.

  8. Eric Laufe
    Jul 12, 2020
    Reply

    Acharyas “retired” and “not retired”, fellow Shambhalians,

    I hear everybody and nobody. Tremendous amount of projecting. Does anyone actually know? People are working with their own karma.

    I see great courage all around. Keep asking the questions. That’s enlightened society.

    Eric Laufe, Boulder, KOS

  9. Paul Seaton
    Jul 12, 2020
    Reply

    The teacher leads one to the awakening of one’s mind as enlightenment. The sun of enlightenment shines on the animate and inanimate without conditionality. If enlightenment is non dual and unconditional, permeating emptiness like space. What better conundrum to lead one to exercise universal responsibility for the enlightenment of everyone. Very bold, fearless… if you are to embody the teachings, either way, are you Fully walking the path of the warrior?

  10. Newcomb Greenleaf
    Jul 12, 2020
    Reply

    I just re-read your letter, this time aloud.
    It is a document that should be
    the foundation of a new Shambhala
    that I will gratefully rejoin.
    I’m proud to have known some of you
    and thank you all.

    In the dharma,

  11. The Vajrayana tradition is rich, complex, terrifying, peaceful and simple. The practice encompasses all aspects of mind and experience, leading the Practioner through the mirror of their conditioned mind to experience ultimate awareness.

    The healing begins when we accept responsibility for our actions and other’s actions at an individual level and are able to be humble enough to expect nothing in return.

    Pure motivation is difficult to understand from another viewpoint.

    All of us are in the mandala of sentient existence together, none of will attain enlightenment without the other, that is the truth.

    This news is both happy and sad and will change.

    May the change ahead flower into the mind of the ultimate Buddha of all our mind.

  12. Chris Bacon
    Jul 10, 2020
    Reply

    Dear Acharyas,

    I know you have born many burdens on our behalf and I am forever grateful for that. I have loved and admired many of the people who signed this letter. I have also been contemplating the harsh and economically damaging criticism of my teacher and his associates and his culture for the past two years. As I have had the great fortune to interact with His Majesty and see many others interact with him, and see the dynamics in the natural cloud of followers that he magnetized, I have first hand insight and connection with him. I chose him as my teacher. I read all of the reports. I recognize the dynamics in the reports. I see that people are frustrated and angry and threatening and leaving. And absolutely none of this is surprising to me. I have seen it in other communities and environments as well. It’s pervasive in our culture, yet we have a political scapegoat process to try to hold the popular attention long enough to make an institutional change. I do not find the totality of the reports to be conclusive relative to the character of the interactions reported. I saw the initial half truths become whole truths over time without any further information. I prefer this now which still contains a “big” unknown. If you don’t know the cause, then you can’t fix the problem. I know what I see with my own eyes. This uprising is business as usual for me, in stark contrast with the Sakyong’s behavior. My loyalty to the Sakyong is only tainted by my inability to unflinchingly hold my seat in the face of people who are overtaken with vengeance. I freeze and feel fear and I hesitate, but I come back again and again. This has been a powerful practice for me. I extend my same loyalty to every human being who may be denigrated or unjustly persecuted or discriminated against etc. That is my ongoing pledge to you and to all who listen.

    Every person is naturally empowered to offer invitations and accept or decline invitations. You are declining the invitation to continue as representatives of His Majesty, but you still want to be involved in Shambhala. I am grateful for that. This sounds like you are simply moving outward in the rungs of the mandala. I see absolutely no problem with this. Your service will undoubtedly be of great benefit. And I also want to make a point.

    Your letter joins in with the popular denigration of the inner rungs of the mandala. You mentioned seeing the Sakyong’s confusion, interpreting the extent of his communication as evidence that he is no longer interested in us, you mentioned an exclusive group which I am involved with and it is a far cry from exclusivity. You tried to further specify what was missing in his apology. You said that he was not leading activities that you felt were critical for Him to lead ( or maybe you felt that he needed to at least bless your efforts in this regard ?) (Along with all of your other efforts, of course). All of these require that you claim the higher ground. In doing this, you are actually trying to take over the center of the Shambhala mandala. It might be a hit and run, but at the moment you denigrate, you are speaking from higher ground. You are doing this in the way that our culture has learned to complain without follow through or to sometimes take over hierarchical establishments. But the Shambhala mandala is rooted in basic goodness, and the hostile takeover appears to be harnessing the energy of doubt in basic goodness. Perhaps you think that an exception needs to be made in this case ? This would not be new to me either if you are. Democratic processes are also completely vulnerable to setting sun tactics over time. VCTR said that be needed to establish a living Sakyong lineage to protect the Shambhala teachings, and I see that this applies to our situation. I hear your criticisms as personal disappointments. I simply object to the way they were stated as objective external truths, because my samaya vow exists within those same objective external truths. Did you mean to be challenging or ridiculing my samaya vow ? In defense of my vow, will I now need to contradict what you said ?

    I have no doubt in your characters. I know you are in a social vortex of opinion. I am only trying to point at a social phenomenon that might be affecting all of us AND which might be opportunistically clarified. This crisis has taught me to hold my seat in the face of panic and doubt. I want you to know that I am fully seated in Shambhala with the living Sakyong in the center of the mandala. I’m very sorry that he did not meet your expectations, but that doesn’t mean that I will surrender my throne to you or allow you to disrupt my personal relationship with the Sakyong in any way. Now my simple act of maintaining my vow could look like a conflict with your opinions and your opinions carry a lot of weight. This puts a lot more pressure on me. Perhaps this is good, but I think this is why it is said that teachers should not criticize other teachers. It’s not your job to hold my seat for me, but I don’t want to slight you in order to do it. I will do my part and I am very glad for all of yours. As dignified Shambhala people, I will treat each of you as an honored guest, just as I would treat a visiting lama. I wish you all health and prosperity and I look forward to seeing you around.

    Chris Bacon
    Rusung, Santa Rosa

  13. Carrie O'Leary
    Jul 10, 2020
    Reply

    Dear Acharyas, I am grateful for this sane and open letter describing the yearning for healing and the attempts you’ve made. I believe that we cannot, as a community, move forward without a full and open process that includes the Sakyong and any close students. We are able to reckon with the truth, and if the Sakyong is shielding himself from the processes that have been put in place to account for the harms that have occurred, he is shielding himself from sanity. He isn’t a leader of the Shambhala lineage that I recognize.

  14. Let him have his little kingdom and his little court.

  15. Ben Taylor
    Jul 10, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you Acharyas for everything you have given us personally and our communities too. I fondly remember everyone who made the trip over to Australia to share your wisdom with us

  16. Evelin Ebinger
    Jul 10, 2020
    Reply

    Why “American democracy”? How is it different to just “democracy” for you?
    I am from Europe, Germany. I like your comment to the letter. And I am really wondering.

  17. Newcomb Greenleaf
    Jul 9, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you for putting it so bluntly.

  18. Daniel Kaemmerer
    Jul 9, 2020
    Reply

    Dear Acharyas,

    This is all so very sad. Please have my heart-felt gratitude for your kindness, generosity and teachings over the years. Your efforts have deeply enriched my life and understanding as well as that for many other sangha members, and I am forever grateful. If you choose to teach again, I will be elated!
    Please have my love and best wishes for your path.

    Dan Kaemmerer

  19. Kristine McCutcheon
    Jul 9, 2020
    Reply

    Gratitude

    for so much
    and in so many ways

    for being student, teacher, both – repeat

    for communicating, hearing, learning – repeat
    for feeling, being, touching – repeat
    for coming back again and again – repeat

    for dancing, laughing, singing – repeat
    for crying, grieving, anger – repeat
    for lack of power, powerful and neutral – repeat

    for right, wrong, whatever – repeat

    love – repeat

    Kristine

  20. Lila Dlaboha
    Jul 9, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this information. I love you all. A Shambhala practitioner of 20+ years, I was fortunate to receive Shambhala teachings from two of the Acharyas on the list and am so thankful for it, for the enormous awareness and compassion it released in me. My practice has deepened even more since the crisis with the Sakyong. It’s taught me how not to rely on a living guru for self-knowledge and absolute realization. I am extremely grateful that you met with the Sakyong. Perhaps the event does not really qualify as a “meeting” because, as was mentioned in your letter, no discussion was allowed or encouraged. This fact, in and of itself, is very troubling. It seems to me that the Sakyong is acting according to the dictates of the Mukpo clan, which is following ancient or obsolete rules of monastic jurisdiction. … Thank you, Acharyas, for being exemplary teachers of the Shambhala vision. Please put me on your email list! : )

  21. Gail Whitacre
    Jul 9, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you for your many years of service, your thoughtfulness, your heart and reaching out and…May connections sprout and flower. Love to all.

  22. I am so very grateful for your years of service, but I am deeply sadden at your leaving. I miss you already. All of the Acharyas have been such an important source of wisdom to me and the community that the loss of thirteen feels catastrophic. But I understand your reasons for leaving and agree with you. I wish you only the best in life and for your future endeavors.

  23. John Tischer
    Jul 9, 2020
    Reply

    SMR didn’t get the message when half of VCTRs students left the sangha about ten years into SMRs tenure,
    because he was changing the Shambhala Path in not a good way. Finally the Acharyas realize he doesn’t listen to them. They were all his enablers, as far as I can see it. The situation is not all that profound. It’s simply tragically ordinary crap.

  24. I agree.
    I am so happy he did find his way out of that mist of confusion and white supremacy.

  25. Christine Behrens
    Jul 9, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you for speaking up so gentle and clearly and having taken this decision. Some of you I know for many years and part of my inspiration to follow this path had to do with our connection at different times in my life. I am very grateful for this. Thank you for your commitment to the community.

  26. Denise Kilshaw
    Jul 9, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you so much for everything, and please do continue to teach what inspires you. Stepping out into the world as sangha takes courage and a leap into the unknown. The dralas and lineage are there for us all!

  27. Robert van Vranken
    Jul 9, 2020
    Reply

    Human relationships are inherently samsaric. There is no point in fretting over them not being right.

  28. Stephan Skambraks
    Jul 9, 2020
    Reply

    Dear former Acharyas,
    reading your letter I feel so much relieve. And at the same time, it is shocking. How is it possible that things have come to such a painful point? Is it the misunderstanding of the concept of Basic Goodness, thinking that also on a relative level everything is good? You recognize you have participated in and enabled the culture that has caused harm. After all, that is a brave statement. Everybody in the Shambhala community has his or her own responsibility, I am glad to hear you take yours. For myself, already a long time ago I have felt something was wrong, but I did not speak out loudly. Because of loyalty, so was my reasoning. That is my part. Later on, when I dared to speak, that was mostly not welkom. Meanwhile, times have changed.
    Enlightenment and confusion are very close together. On an absolute level, there is neither purity nor impurity. Only primordial purity….. On our relative level, we have to embrace what is good and virtuos and to abandon what is harmful and unhealthy.
    I wish everybody who is or has been in in the Shambhala / Vajradhatu community finds his or her way on the path to ultimate freedom.
    “To quench your thirst there is no need to drink the entire stream; a few mouthfuls will suffice. Similarly, liberation can be achieved by practicing a few Dharma instructions; there is no need te practice them all.” Shabkar Tsongdruk Rangdrol
    I am glad you mention the importance of an “open umbrella”, including all of the heritage of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Shambhala as well as Kagyü, Nyingma, contemplative arts and so on. For me personally, that there was since a long time no longer this open umbrella was painful and confusing. Everybody has to find out what suits him or her best. All Buddhists are equal, but Shambhala Buddhists are more equal then others… that seems te be a risky opinion, leading to arrogance, narcisme, spiritual materialisme.
    Humbleness is the dwelling place of the forefathers….
    Thank you, former Acharyas, for offering space and openness for everybody to find his or her way. Although there are different paths, may the realization of the unity of ground, path and fruition lead everybody to ultimate freedom.
    Stephan Skambraks (member of Amsterdam SC)

  29. Nicolette de Hop
    Jul 9, 2020
    Reply

    After reading the Dharma Brat letter and the last letter of the Acharya’s, I would like to respond and communicate my personal view.
    If I remember correctly: The Acharya’s, an institution created by SMR, to support him in spreading the Shambhala Dharma, asked the
    Sakyong to step back, when the Sangha was in turmoil about supposed misbehaviour from their leaders.This happened 2 years ago.

    As a Lineage Holder, acknowledged by his Father Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and HH Penor Rinpoche, the
    Sakyongs role became to teach and instruct students, from which he is refrained since 2018.

    SMR and his family moved to Nepal; my take is, to protect his Family from all the negativity, true and untrue and its exaggerations
    on Facebook etc.Plus the fact Rinpoche cannot teach, so his income is reduced and life in Nepal is cheaper than in Canada.
    SMR excused himself for his behavior towards the women in question and that should be it.
    Being asked by students to explain his behavior, smells to me, as so called “confessions” in dictatorial gouverned countries.
    The Buddhist Path is a PERSONAL one;people can be disappointed by the Sakyong, but he has his own way to deal with the situation,
    as we all have.

    If Rinpoche restarts teaching, I hope the insights, he has discovered during his retreats, will be shared with his students, so we might benefit
    in dealing with our own confusion.
    For me it feels good to have a Teacher, who did not resign, who has alternately been praised and attacked publicly, but still intends to
    continue his role as Teacher, for which he was born, and not being modelled by our ideas!
    How would you feel to live under such circumstances?
    Nobody is perfect,hopefully we all learn from our faults, also Lineage Holders!

    I am happy the Sakyong has married the Sakyong Wangmo, has become a father, has in-laws, a Family, where he can love and be loved; something he has not known himself as a child!

    We all have our Karma and in Shambhala,lots of tools are created, to help us to connect with our Basic Goodness!
    Shambhala Training and the Scorpion Seal Path Practices have sprung from the minds of the two Sakyongs and are preserved in a Lineage with
    a Lineage Holder.
    The Sakyong is a human being with antennas to connect the Drala’s.This gift provides us, members of Shambhala, with Texts, Sadhana’s
    and Poetry, which we can study, contemplate, discuss and practice.
    The Sadhana of Kindness seems simple, but difficult to practice in our daily life!
    The key is to recite/read these texts from our hearts, so we, as Warriors, can benefit this beautiful but troubled world.

    Kiki Soso Nicolette de Hoop

  30. Pamela Williams
    Jul 9, 2020
    Reply

    As it is ultimately one’s path, the bravery and courage deserves support. I thank the Acharyas for their leadership and direct teaching.

  31. Koos de Boer
    Jul 9, 2020
    Reply

    Dear Acharyas

    Thank you for your letter. What gives me hope for the future is the fact that you see your part of this drama. That you participated and enabled this culture of abuse.
    When the Sakyong arrived in North America he was traumatized by his experience In England have held hostage by Akongs students. He found a family situation that was not easy. His father was on the road teaching all the time. Lady Diana could take on the mother role, as she expressed a while back. So the role of education fell to the sangha, us. From us he learned about sex, from us he learned about power, from us he learned about money. Now these ideas of the sixties and seventies became questionable.
    We can not put all the blame on the Sakyong , we were in this all together. Otherwise we just get stuck in our opinions and close ourselves for others.
    Lets forgive the Sakyong , we all have made mistakes in our life.
    Love Koos de Boer

  32. Gina Rodriguez
    Jul 9, 2020
    Reply

    Finally someone said what I’ve been thinking all along. Thank you for your clear vision of the situation. This is not just a Sakyong problem. These seeds of dysfunction were planted long ago and we need to recon with them.

  33. Ozzie Cheek
    Jul 9, 2020
    Reply

    Dear, Dear Archaryas, some of you I know and some of you I don’t. How sad and how generous of you to sacrifice your own positions once it became clear that the Sakyong continues to put his own needs first, those of the community second. The longer this goes on and the more I read about it, the more the Sakyong acts like a politician instead of the leader of a spiritual community. It appears that he is content to be a cult leader, and in the process destroy the connection of practitioners his father began in the 1970s in North America. If Shambhala is going to survive and indeed even thrive, the Sakyong cannot hold any office or any role. We have a number of people capable of bringing the Shambhala community back together, but only one person capable of dividing the community so greatly that it will disappear. If you believe anything you proclaim, noble teacher, walk away. Leave the healing and rebuilding to others who are more capable. Lineage is just another name for holding power.

  34. Julia Vidal
    Jul 9, 2020
    Reply

    I’m so moved by this wonderful, honest and heart-felt letter. For many of us, Mahayana students in the Shambhala tradition, Acharyas and other senior teachers have been the channel through which we get to learn and taste the Dharma in its pure and more beautiful form, transmitted from human heart to human heart. The wealth of the Shambhala treasure has come to us through people like Barbara and Sabine, to name the ones I personally know from this list, who have had the generosity and the pull to travel to small centers in countries with small Sanghas to share with us their wisdom and their love for the treasure of the Shambhala teachings. A treasure that for many of us has become one of the greatest gifts of our lives. I can only express the deepest gratitude of my heart to you all for being the vehicle that has brought the profound and brilliant Dharma of Shambhala to our lives, and wish that you continue to share your wisdom with us for many, many years.
    I bow to you all with respect and love.
    Julia

  35. Helen Effron
    Jul 9, 2020
    Reply

    I would also appreciate a list of the acharyas who are still active because many of us have heard that other acharyas who did not sign this letter have “resigned
    privately”.

  36. Marlen Arkesteijn
    Jul 9, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you Acharyas for this sensible and open-hearted message and your leadership. It is a relief for me to read your letter, true warriors. It is a pitty that Shambhala is falling apart in this way, but we will find our paths.

  37. Sisko Luukka
    Jul 9, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you

  38. Sherab Gyatso
    Jul 9, 2020
    Reply

    Dear Acharyas,

    I find it quite astonishing that some of you have devoted large portions of your lives to helping students of Vajradhatu/Shambhala, yet cannot even speak to the Sakyong to discuss your concerns. Instead you are told, either get with the program, or leave. That degree of unkindness does not sit well with the teachings of the Mahayana, or the notion the Sakyong has been propagating that we should all become kinder.

    It is a seminal moment when the last Acharya to teach Kagyu/Nyingma (the Dorje Loppon, aka Vajracarya in Sanskrit), the Kalapa Acharya, and the Ashe Acharya cannot discuss matters with the Sakyong, and feel they have no choice but to leave their positions.

    I hope you have a plan to preserve and further disseminate the teachings of Trungpa Rinpoche, since the reasons that led you to depart suggest a reduced likelihood that Shambhala will survive in its current form.

  39. Is there a way for this not to be a schism? Traditional Asian vs Western? Lineage holders are revered ever so differently.

    I hope that our Portland, OR sangha somehow finds a way to have room for extremely divergent points of view and not fracture any further. The field of the Great Eastern Sun is spacious and vast.

    Thank you, wise souls, for your very tough decision. I look forward to continuing to learn from you.

  40. Conny Anderson
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    Joel,
    Thank you. In the vision of the Great Eastern Sun.
    Conny

  41. Carter Smith
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    @Robert Bartlett — Thanks you for expressing my feelings precisely: “Shambhala only has one chance to survive: to be reborn in concert with the values and views of modern American democracy. Until that happens, Shambhala practitioners will be skeptical about participating in a medieval setting. Spiritual Disneyland may have sold its last ticket.”””
    My wife Franny has a thriving book study here — just finished “Spiritual Materialism” (it gets more deeply alive with each reading) and is now into “Places that scare you”. We are both SS3 students but I started to feel uncomfortable in 2005 after 6 weeks of Vajrayana Seminary, Ngundro, and Abhisheka — standing in the dripping cold mountain rain for hours to throw rice at the new King and Queen of Shambhala!
    My heart goes out in thanks and compassion to each of the acharaya’s that have made the hard decision to retire and to those have made the even harder decision (for at least some of them) to stay.
    With much love and thanks (and good cheer) of this sad, tender heart,
    Carter Smith, Los Angeles Shambhala

  42. Linda Mockeridge
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    I offer deep appreciation for your guidance and modeling of the Shambhala teachings over the years. I hope we will continue to see each other. Your courage in writing this letter and letting us know what is happening is appreciated. Thank you all.

  43. Bill Solomon
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    I’m very saddened to read of the recent developments. I was hoping common sense would eventually prevail that the Sakyong would come to a wisdom understanding. All of the resigning Acharyas have gone above and beyond in the name of the greater good. Many of you are friends as well as my teachers and the prospect of not seeing you again is palpable. I do hope that you all continue in your role of teaching, perhaps in a Phoenix like organization that arises from the past to support the many. There are many in the Shambhala world that have similar feelings. Thank you so much for your service, dignity, courage and real leadership. Be well, dear ones!

  44. Meg Rinaldi
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    Sometimes. walking away is the best. Let’s be clear–your bodicitta belongs to you, the dharma is yours, do we need to beat this dead horse any further? Each of the senior teachers have done their best. You are dealing with a narcissist who has made it clear he is not interested in the well being of the larger community–only in catering to his sychophants. It is time to grieve and it is time to move on. Lingering is not productive. There are many fine teachings and teachers available. Hitch your chubas and move on.

  45. NancyWallace
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you for writing your sincere, heartfelt letter to us , the minions still wondering what …is going on, and if it matters. I’m wondering if there is a list of acharyas still active ? Thank you again and bon voyage .
    NancyWallace

  46. Robert Bartlett
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    Dear Acharyas,
    In the closing of your letter, you expressed your heartfelt desire to serve your bodhisattva vow: “The world is calling all of us with countless voices in great pain. The earth is crying out; our polarized cultures are crying out; our broken systems are crying out; oppression and injustice are crying out; the dralas are crying out. We aspire to listen and respond with compassion.” You make an interesting point by resigning as Acharyas to again become fully human and fully bodhisattva. Your minds have been cluttered with Shambhala delusions of grandeur. Welcome back. It’s nice of you to join us. Join me on my own two feet–it’s a great way to practice, and it’s only mildly painful. However, there is no institution to hide behind.

    You could have really taken a stand and informed the Sakyong that your bond was with the cries of the world and that you would be serving Shambhala’s independent board. The world’s cries might not be heard until samaya is merely an artifact of a bygone medieval era. A lack of democracy, creativity, and openness is destroying Shambhala, as it destroyed all other medieval institutions, including the actual nation of Tibet.

    I am a loyal follower of CTR’s and SMR’s teachings. I’m inspired by their service to wisdom and enlightened living. I am grateful for years of great companionship from peers in my local Shambhala sangha and in the land centers. I am a product of all those influences, and thus I have the courage to leave delusion behind and embrace the nowness of American democracy. Democracy is the faith that I love above all others, and the ground of Shambhala. Feel the earth below your feet. There it is: Shambhala! It was there all along. You were just too caught up in your Acharyaness to see it. Take off the blinders and live for a while in the wonderful world of now.

    Shambhala only has one chance to survive: to be reborn in concert with the values and views of modern American democracy. Until that happens, Shambhala practitioners will be skeptical about participating in a medieval setting. Spiritual Disneyland may have sold its last ticket.

    In Northern California Shambhala, Shambala Training is basically defunct, but book study groups are thriving. The current group is studying Smile at Fear–one chapter a week. Do you see my point? I have been lucky to do both kinds of study. The leaders of NCS realize that they have to adopt more democratic methods to survive even another few months. My life has been greatly guided and improved by CTR and his entire legacy, including the magical kingdom of Shambhala. But I have to confess to mostly interpreting the teachings through the lens of the tradition of critical thinking instilled in me by American democracy. I trust it above all else. It’s the only Shambhala that I want to profess loyalty to. I doubt if any institution will last for long trying to oppose it. Can Shambhala exist in the nowness of American democracy? What should it look like to do so? I’m very sorry to see your lives disrupted. You are clearly worthy people with good intentions, and you are skilled teachers in your own right. I hope to see you apply your creativity to keeping the beneficial aspects of Shambhala alive. My heart is full of best wishes for you.

  47. BARUSKA KNIGHT
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you for your gracious separation. This must have been heart-wrenching for you. Your courage in the face of disheartening conditions
    Is a model for me and my fellow Buddhist practitioners to follow..

    You have lol been called on to give so much. And again you give by excellent example.

    Blessings on your paths.

  48. Morgan Burnham
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    I am so confused. I am so many degrees of separation from the politics of how we got to this point. I know some of you personally and hold you in very high regard. I don’t have a fair reference point in this situation.

    My gut is telling me that we are entering a wilderness of wolves; The fear of the wolf guiding decisions that leave the unguided abandoned to the wolves.

    I grant your blessings so that the experience of this unbroken bond of teachers and family may carry on through my practice and action in this life.

    Much love.

  49. Vallie Stearns Anderson
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    Dear Warriors,

    I too am grateful for your letter, your honesty and courage. I hope you continue teaching and leading as Shambhala finds its bearings. It feels like we have the chance to really manifest the “open umbrella” you speak of, the true spirit of enlightened society. I was beginning to fear there was no place for me since returning my samaya vow, but reading this, I feel hope. Thank you.

  50. carol greenberger
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you so much for your bravery and candor. It is hard to not hear what is going on behind the scenes (as usual), as I watch our Center here in Asheville, NC fall completely apart, but you have given me hope that our community may be rebuilt in some way. The teachings are pure. CTR left us with what we need.

  51. Such bravery and clarity of vision. I bow to you. Thank you.

  52. Karen Fish
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you all for resigning as senior teachers to a Rinpoche who appears to no longer hold a vision of wide-ranging, inclusive enlightened society nor a commitment to community healing. I appreciate the transparency and grace in this letter. Thank you for your past and continued engagement in a vision of good and broken-hearted human society.

  53. Joanna Horton McPherson
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    This is the first step toward a Shambhala, after this time, I want to be part of with you acharyas. Many many thanks for being brave and capturing your vision and inspiration so those of us in the community may follow you. I left Shambhala for the reasons you alluded to, and will study with you knowing there is hope.

    Joanna

  54. Dearest erstwhile Acharyas:
    I want to thank you all for seeing what has sadly become apparent to many of us: The Sakyong is more concerned about control than the well-being of the Shambhala sangha. Today (July 8, 2020), the Shambhala Board just offered you all a hollow thank-you, ignoring all of the pain associated with your “retirement” and hoping nobody will notice that there is something rotten in Denmark. Slapping a smiley face on your principled rejection of a shameless power grab by an unrepentant abuser is not going to help. They hold a fiddle whilst our beloved Rome burns.
    My hope is that the Board’s action clarifies a line between that which is productive and that which is not. Between who are inclined to seek the Great Eastern Sun and who are too afraid to oppose hypocrisy. We can build a community that rejects the abuse of power, but we must be brave. For those of you who, like myself, are still active in our local Centers, NOW IS THE TIME TO FIGHT. If we can coalesce around open-hearted resistance, we can reclaim our basic goodness. If we fear, however, then all is ashes. As the teachings tell us, we can work with ashes, but what a waste…
    With love,
    Eric Haag
    Member, Washington, DC Shambhala Meditation Center

  55. Jolie Bernstein
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    I feel such deep appreciation and thanks for your wisdom. honesty, exertion and care of our mutual journey, right here in the slime and muck of ‘our own’ dark age. Eh Ma Ho! Best of luck to all the Sweet Hearts.

  56. Samantha Garcia
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    To see the ethical failings of just the “Sakyong” is insufficient. Shambhala’s ongoing culture of enabling corrupt leadership began with trungpa.

    In 1975 trungpa’s best trained students, at his command, forcibly strip a couple against their will and their calls for someone to call the police.
    https://boulderbuddhistscam.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/the-party.pdf

    Trungpa’s personal butler recalls trungpa’s animal abuse: https://imgur.com/a/RpxnbQi

    Much more history to account for detailed here.
    https://shambhalalinks.blogspot.com/2019/09/httpswww.html

    These former Acharyas are calling for an open “process of healing and reconciliation”. This process, to have any merit, needs to address the fullness of Shambhala’s and Vajradhatu’s harmful and problematic history. I look forward to the public comments from these and other Acharyas addressing the totality of this history and any complicity they had. Lead by example.

  57. Barbara Mahon
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    Dear ones Acharayas. I am grateful you are able to take this bold step. I have witnessed the reluctance of many to make any sort of declaration and still wonder at those who have been so unwilling. It is only in facing the unwholesome that we heal. Less than that is to be complicit in harmful ways.. Blessings on you all wherever the Shambhala path leads you. It is unlikely but possible that the Sakyong will reconsider..

  58. Chris Hakim
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    Losing thirteen senior teachers to keep one Sakyong seems like trading a horse for a donkey.

  59. Joel E Mandel
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    Well said, siblings of Noble Family!

  60. Susan Derning
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you. I am very touched by your letter. It takes great courage, bravery and warriorship to acknowledge what has happened and to address it. It breaks my heart that the Sakyong can’t seem to do this. Thank you for your willingness to do so.

  61. Debbie Lassiter
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    This is a moment that I have been waiting for in absence of other action as you clearly discuss here – thank you for doing the right thing.

  62. Robert Cox
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    Dear Friends,

    Thank you for your many years of leadership. excellent teachings clarifying the path and kind friendship to all of us in the sanga. I wish you many years of good practice, long life, good health; please remember how much you are beloved by so many of you fellow journeyers.
    KiKi SoSo Ashe!
    Bob

  63. Leslie English
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    dear Acharyas,
    thank you for all the consideration and generosity you have given our community.
    I continue to be absolutely stunned by the Sakyong’s apparent failure to acknowledge his wrong-doing and harm, and ask for forgiveness. If such a statement was made by him in the past 2 years, I have missed it.
    This is inexplicable and, if true, unforgivable.
    Surely so many thousands of people, who gave their all to help their centers and their practice flourish, deserve better.
    Leslie English

  64. Will Vanlue
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you for your open, honest, and heartfelt communication. Your words echo thoughts, concerns, and hopes I have for Shambhala.

  65. Stephanie Miller
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you for your courage and your honesty. Many of you have had an impact on my practice in profound ways. Thank you for your service and dedication to the path. I’m grateful for you all.

  66. Jody Zemel
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you all for your service over the years. As a student of Chigyam Trungpa, I applaud your commitment to the dharma and the sangha over all these years, and look forward to creating enlightened society for all of us, with our broken hearts wide open.

  67. Maite Snijder
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    Dignified Warriors. Thank you for teaching so much braveness.

  68. P. Kevin Strader
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    Thanks for your time on the path and your teaching and caring. What a wonderful investment you have made in your lives and ours. And, thanks for this action. Perhaps it will help his victims feel witnessed again.

  69. Vicente Sanabria
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    As a member of the Boston Sangha since 2010 and will continue to support the Eastern Sun vision for an enlightened society. I appreciate your modeling of the teachings that we have received. Staying true to our inner path is always best when not seasoned with compromise. It takes on a life of its own and is always present when compromise is in the vicinity. For the benefit of others, you’ve taken on the Bodhisattva role for the greater good. Gracias por eso.
    Paz,
    Vicente

  70. Joel Stevens
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    Well spoken.
    /bows/

  71. Linda Willow
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you for letting us know of your meeting with the Sakyong. Very concerning implications. Sounds like our leader will be focusing on continuing an elite “insider” group that gets special privilege versus tending to the larger community struggling to truly engage enlightened society. Great respect for each of you. I am not a tantric student and wish to say that if I stay in Shambhala, it will be because of leaders like you and what YOU bring, not the Sakyong.

  72. Je ne pratique que depuis environ cinq ans à Shambhala.
    Je lis cette lettre qui m’attriste bien que je ne connaisse que très peu certains des Acharyas et d’autres pas du tout ou, que de nom.
    J’ai la sensation qu’une attitude et des faits sont éclipsés en tout cas que toute la lumière sur cette affaire n’a pas été faite.
    C’est en tout cas une drôle de sensation que j’éprouve à cet instant.
    Je vous remercie en tout cas pour ces explications nécessaires aux membres de Shambhala.
    Muriel

  73. Jane Alper
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    None of this could have happened without the cooperation of those closest to the Sakyong. I think healing, if it is possible, must include open conversation about the role of Shambhala leadership, including the acharyas, in enabling and concealing this deplorable situation.

  74. Mary Fugiel
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    Very sad that these excellent teachers must resign in the midst of our community’s confusion. While I
    do not regard Mr. Mukpo as my teacher at this time, I too am grateful for the Shambhala teachings he’s
    encouraged in the global centers and land centers. It’s unfortunate that the lineage initiated by CTR is in
    disarray, however, I continue to serve as a devoted mahayana student. Best wishes to all, Mary Fugiel

  75. Carol Harwood
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    Dear former acharyas,
    I cannot imagine the soul searching that you all must have gone through! I am deeply grateful to receive this letter and equally grateful for the tone with which it was written.
    It took me a long time, after my mandate as center director in Montreal ended in Feb 2019, to come to my own decision. I needed time, on my own, to process the whole experience and finally come to a decision.
    I accepted to break my samaya bond with the Sakyong. After a lot of conflictual emotions, it was finally done with a clear and peaceful heart. This is not the guru I wish to follow and for many of the reasons you expressed in your retirement letter. Trungpa is the guru of my heart. I choose, for now anyway, to remain with Shambhala. I love the sangha, the dharma, as transmitted by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and though I may remain without a live guru, I continue to love the Buddha and his profound, indestructible teachings.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you for all that you have done, this last action being especially meaningful to me.
    Yours in the dharma,
    Carol Harwood, Shambhala Montreal

  76. Renya Krempl
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you so much for speaking with such dignity, clarity and heart and for acting with dignity and courage. It is sad that your letter has become neccessary, but it was. It gives me hope for the future of the Shambhala community!

  77. Neil Kolwey
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    I feel moved by your letter, and appreciate your courage and honesty. Thank you for speaking up so beautifully.

  78. Gayle Hanson
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    I am very grateful to you all for your service for these many years. I send much appreciation and respect for the bravery it took to make this difficult decision. May we all remain in the vision of the Great Eastern Sun which is still shining behind these clouds.

  79. Zack Bennett
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    Amazing and so clearly articulated! I only wish I saw more names on this list!

    Thank you for your courage and leadership!

  80. Sheila Craig
    Jul 8, 2020
    Reply

    With a broken heart, I thank you for your dedication to Shambhala vision, and your courage in taking this step.

  81. Bravo! How wonderful! What a brave and courageous step! Thank you!


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