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Nov 23
Shambhala News Service, Translated Articles
Shambhala Statement on Harm in our Community

As part of our ongoing journey of learning about and understanding harm within Shambhala, the Shambhala Board has released the following Statement on Harm in our Community. In addition to English, the Statement is also available in Français, Español and Italiano.

Statement on Harm in our Community from the Shambhala Board of Directors
November 2021

In order to find our way forward as a global community, it is vital that we, the Shambhala Board, on behalf of the organization, continue to acknowledge and confront the issue of harm in our community. As one of the oldest and largest Buddhist communities in the western world, we feel keenly our responsibility to nurture and further the Buddhist and Shambhala Dharma by demonstrating the authenticity and genuineness of our teachings to others.

Individuals coming to our community have every right to assume they will be respected and treated with care and compassion. It is our greatest aspiration to create a Shambhala that does so. We are acutely aware that we have not always met these goals. 

Any Shambhala teacher, leader, or member, past or present, in any position, who may have caused harm, has acted against our deepest held beliefs. We are sorry and deeply saddened by this. Causing such harm creates suffering and there are no special circumstances that can excuse it. We know that this includes conduct by our most senior teachers and leaders. We do not want to disregard the power and truth of their teachings, but we also cannot ignore the consequences of their misconduct. We strive to hold and retain the goodness and power of our teachings without being blind to our human failings, and we commit to a path of reconciliation when harm has happened. 

We have invested and will continue to invest in work aimed at preventing future harm in our community. The Shambhala Code of Conduct, the Child Protection Policy, and their underlying support systems commit the Shambhala organization to ethical standards that apply to every individual inside Shambhala. There are no exceptions. If misconduct happens, we want to hear about it, and will provide the protection and support called for in our Code of Conduct. We respect the courage and effort it takes to report harm and sincerely appreciate those who come forward. 

The Shambhala Board affirms its commitment to the following ongoing initiatives:

  • The creation of a safer and more caring organization through funding and programming support for the Code of Conduct.
  • Providing effective culture shifting programming such as Diversity and Inclusion Training, Right Use of Power, Restorative Approaches, Gender Dynamics, and more.
  • Support for facilitated community conversations to investigate the causes and effects of harm in all its forms.

We believe it is essential for us to clearly see the causes and conditions that create harm, and understand how to truly be kind and caring to each other. It is through our conduct that others know us. We aspire to be a community whose members practice dignity and respect for all and whose ​teachings and practices are a useful example to others walking a spiritual path.  

The Shambhala Board

In the coming months Shambhala will be launching a series of community conversations intended to shape a reparative process for our community. These conversations will be free and open to anyone who wants to attend. More information on dates and times for the conversations will be shared soon. 


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6 responses to “ Shambhala Statement on Harm in our Community ”
  1. It’s rather depressing to see such a naive, blase response from a serving Acharya. This statement only works if you fundamentally misunderstand the word “community”.

    As Matthew points out above, the problem is that the “community” is not actually the Shambhala community. It’s the remnants of what used to be the Shambhala community after many people have left because they were disgusted, saddened or discouraged by the seeming insistence of the Shambhala powers-that-be to simply carry on with business as usual (it’s worth remembering that the events which precipated this reflection first came to light getting on for four years ago), after many surviviors of those events were ignored, shunned or verbally insulted; and after some people felt driven out by the constant sniping and passive aggression from people who wanted the whole thing to be swept under the carpet in some way (look at certain threads on Shambhala Network for some good examples of this!)

    So the community conversations which this document hopes to encourage is really circular, self-referential navelgazing which will come to an essentially predetermined conclusion. That’s because there are certain opinions which are simply not valued and because certain courses of action which would be almost automatic in most other spheres of life in this situation (officially suspending the Sakyong from teaching for having breached Shambhala’s duty of care to programmes participants, for example) are considered to be uncountenanceable–including at levels as official as the Process Team.

  2. What about the voices of all those who left in sad acknowledgment, grief and disgust over the past nearly four years?

    Your community has now self-selected for people who were able to imagine that the long pattern of terrible behavior which came to light was fundamentally forgivable, reparable and not inextricably bound up in the culture and teaching of Shambhala itself.

    It is thus structurally unable to be a conversation which truly reflects that diversity of views, despite the fact that many of those who left are aghast to see it continue and would vote for Shambhala to come to an end.

  3. Steve Ellenburg
    Nov 27, 2021

    When people were complaining about the Regents behavior, Rinpoche told the Regent and the sangha “you are not ‘allowed’ to hurt others for your own selfish reasons”. That is the only ‘code of conduct needed.
    Wake up and be kind!

  4. Jeanine Greenleaf
    Nov 26, 2021

    Who will be the Judges and the jury?
    You are doing something that has been done before and didn’t work.
    Good luck,

  5. Judith Simmer-Brown
    Nov 23, 2021

    Thank you for issuing this important statement, reflecting all the work that has been happening repairing trust and wholesomeness in our community. May it be of benefit!

  6. Amanda Sommers
    Nov 23, 2021

    Is trungpa’s institutional clerical sexual assault on 11 and 13 year old girls in front of his enabling house staff and kusung part of the harms that the Board is going to acknowledge?


    It would help if the Board would identify what harms they are speaking about, there are so many to choose from.


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