Home     Contact Us         Log in

Community Articles - Category Archive

Feb 19
Tuesday

Letter from Lady Diana Mukpo

Filed under Community Articles, Opinion Pieces

Dear Members of the Shambhala Community,

I write to you today with a very heavy heart. This is an incredibly painful time for all of us. However, in many ways, I feel that the situation we find ourselves in as a community was inevitable. The deep dysfunction and unkindness at the heart of our organization has been like a festering boil that finally burst. The revelations that have come to light over the last year have been horrifying. It has been so shocking to hear how women have been harmed. The abuse of power and violation of trust that allowed this to occur is unimaginable. As an organization and as individuals, we need to do whatever we can to support not only the women who have been abused but, as we now know, the men who are victims as well.

I have been heartbroken for years as I have watched the expansive vision of the Vidyadhara becoming more and more reduced. He used to say that Shambhala was a vast umbrella that would encompass many different activities and levels of practice. Over the last two decades, our community has become fractured, and the teachings that promise the way toward manifesting an enlightened and compassionate society have become hollow words.

During my seventeen-year marriage to the Vidyadhara I saw him manifest and teach in many different ways. The priority for him was always to find the best way to connect with people. I am sure that if he were alive today, he would be using totally different forms to interact with his students than those he employed during the era in which he was teaching. During his lifetime, he created the Kalapa Court to be a vehicle for students to have access to him. The current interpretation of court is a perversion of the initial intention. The Vidyadhara’s court was designed to build a bridge for his students to interact with him. The current model has built a wall.

I feel that the model of the court and of monarchy has become an obstacle, within which, as we have recently heard, there were abuses and cruelty. I have avoided the court situation for many years, having felt increasingly uncomfortable in that environment. It has been very sad for me, but I felt that I had to distance myself. At the same time, not being aware of the harm that was being perpetrated, I felt that it would only have caused divisiveness to speak out publicly about what I perceived to be a misunderstanding of the teachings. I have watched so many of the beautiful parts of our culture disappear and be replaced by what I have perceived to be a culturally bound religiosity. Like many others, I also have felt marginalized and have been subject to unhealthy power dynamics. If I had thought that speaking out publicly would have helped, I would have done so. In many respects, I now regret that I did not do so earlier. Privately, over the years, I have tried to give the Sakyong advice, but his reaction has been to avoid communication with me. I wrote to him twice last summer imploring him to take responsibility for his actions. We spoke on the phone, and I made a similar plea. Ultimately it is up to him to do what he can to repair the harm he has created.

There has been much discussion about the Sakyong’s childhood. He had a very difficult time growing up. When he arrived in this country as a traumatized ten-year-old child, I, his stepmother, was nineteen. I did not have the parenting skills to help him sufficiently. I am sorry about this and wish it had been different. His father was always loving toward the Sakyong but did not give him as much attention as he needed. This too is sad, but we all have different degrees of trauma. It is the nature of life and doesn’t really excuse his abuse of power and all that went along with it.

There also has been plenty of discussion about the Vidyadhara over the past year. I feel that it is my duty to be completely honest about his life. He was the most brilliant, kind, and insightful person that I have ever met. He was also ultimately unfathomable. When one examines his life, it is easy to make judgements, since his behavior was so unconventional. He was a human being and was not perfect, but he was unrelentingly kind and helped many, many people. During this difficult time, many people have spoken up about how he saved their lives. This is how they have put it, and I can connect with that completely.

In general and understandably, people – especially those who did not know him and only are hearing second-hand stories – may pass negative judgements on him. I know that there is one person who has prominently spoken up about feeling traumatized by the Vidyadhara and those around him. As his wife, the last few years of his life were very difficult for me. There is no question in my mind that alcohol had a devastating effect on both his body and mind in his latter years. My sense of this is quite different from some of the students who were close to him at that time. I have heard from a number of close students that they had positive experiences during that era, and I honor that. I think this is a time for us to honor one another’s experience, rather than judging or dismissing it. Simply speaking for myself, however, this period was very difficult. Nevertheless, it does not negate the brilliance of his teachings both in his words and in
the sacred environments he created as learning situations.

The Vidyadhara taught that the Shambhala teachings should be practiced along with the Buddhadharma, and that the two must support one another. He wrote, for example: “We can plant the moon of bodhichitta in everyone’s heart and the sun of the Great Eastern Sun in their heads.” (Collected KA, page 194.) The Sakyong’s de-emphasis and outright omission of the Kagyu and Nyingma teachings in the last 15 years has been a great detriment for our community. As much as the Vidyadhara conducted Kalapa Assemblies where he opened the Shambhala terma, at the same time he also taught Vajradhatu seminaries where he transmitted the Buddhist teachings of the three yana’s in a traditional manner. Not long before his death, when he was very ill, he made it a priority to give the Chakrasamvara Abisheka to several hundred students. This was an important Buddhist ceremony empowering people to practice advanced vajrayana teachings. He felt that it was imperative that he give this transmission to senior practitioners. I truly believe that he saw the Shambhala and the Buddhist teachings as
equally important.

At the first Kalapa Assembly, in 1978, there was a lot of discussion about what problems might arise from propagating the Shambhala vision. In that era, people often openly questioned the Vidyadhara and each other about any number of things. The following question was posed to him:

“As someone who has been worried about fascism and the possibility of the degeneration of Shambhala into that, could you say something that might be a safeguard against that?”

His response was: “Gentleness, meekness. Most of the warriors are meek persons. That’s it. And also they are practitioners of Buddhadharma.” (Collected KA, page 148)

There are many other examples of how the Vidyadhara viewed the two aspects of his teaching as equally important and supportive of one another. I do not think it was his intention to combine these teachings into one “Shambhala Buddhism”, as the Sakyong did after the Vidyadhara’s death. This move has created deep and painful rifts, not only with Trungpa Rinpoche’s heart students but also with respected members and teachers within the Tibetan community. So I think we need to look to the buddhadharma, as well as to the Shambhala teachings, to help us find the path forward. This does not invalidate the path taught by the Sakyong, nor the diligence of his students in applying themselves to it or the genuine experience of devotion many have had. Rather, it is a call for us to incorporate a bigger version of our relationship to the dharma.

I am writing to all of you and sharing my innermost thoughts with you today because I do believe so strongly that this community is worth fighting for. The incomparable practice of meditation and all the valuable teachings we have received have helped numerous people. Clearly, everything has to be re-evaluated and a healthy organizational structure needs to grow out of this. Over the past year, I have worried that the unfolding of events would be the destruction of Shambhala, but now I am wondering if, in fact, these disclosures might be what actually saves our precious community. I truly pray that we can get back on track and become what we profess to be, becoming a safe and nurturing home for those who seek these teachings. I don’t have the answers, nor do I know how all this is going to happen. There is certainly going to be more difficulty as things unfold.

Please know that I am willing to help in any way I can. I will make myself available if anyone would like to reach out to me.

In closing, I would like to discuss the role that I have played as the copyright holder for all the Vidyadhara’s written and other intellectual properties. Since his death, almost thirty-three years ago, there have been close to thirty books published, and many more could appear in the years to come. It always has been and will continue to be my intention to make his work accessible and available to all those who wish to practice and learn from his teachings. I consider this legacy as a sacred trust and will continue to work to protect and safeguard his teachings so that they will be available to people for years to come. I will do whatever is necessary to honor this commitment to all of you.

 

Holding you all in my heart,

Diana J. Mukpo

Contact Lisa Fiore at: [email protected]

 

Este artículo ha sido traducido al español aqui.

Entries filed under Community Articles


Transformative Leadership

Transformative Leadership – HIGHLIGHT

Heather’s stack of program readingCOLUMN: In Everyday Life An Interview with Heather Scott Heather Scott, former Director of Shambhala Online chats with Dan Glenn of the Shambhala Times about her experience in the Transformative Studies PhD program at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Could you begin by telling us ... continue
Posted June 1, 2015 by Dan
The Fourth Karma and the Painful Point

The Fourth Karma and the Painful Point – HIGHLIGHT

Protea,COLUMN: Dispatches from the Front Lines by Shastri Jennifer Woodhull Dispatches from the Front Lines is a bimonthly column initiated by Shastri Jennifer Woodhull of Cape Town, South Africa. It’s intended to open up dialogue concerning the conflicts dogging Shambhala groups and centers all over the world. So far, ... continue
Posted May 31, 2015 by Dan
Appreciating Jill Scott

Appreciating Jill Scott – HIGHLIGHT

by Maggie Colby, International Programs Manager, Shambhala On the morning of Monday, June 1st, two days after this article was posted, Jill Scott passed away peacefully in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She had entered palliative care only a few days before. Friends and family will be gathering at ... continue
Posted May 30, 2015 by
Getting Back to Roots

Getting Back to Roots – HIGHLIGHT

COLUMN: Kitchen Wisdom Dorje Denma Ling’s Root Cellar by Lisa Harris, Column Co-Host Planning a root cellar is a big project. It’s a sign of a strong commitment to working with local produce, and taking a big step toward food security. Dorje Denma Ling recently constructed a root cellar ... continue
Posted May 29, 2015 by
The Psychological Tasks of Old Age

The Psychological Tasks of Old Age – HIGHLIGHT

miksang image by Charles BlackhallCOLUMN: Aging in Enlightened Society article by Victoria Howard In 1988 I wrote an article called “The Psychological Tasks of Old Age.” I was 42 years old. I had my reasons for thinking that I knew something about the topic. I had spent hundreds ... continue
Posted May 23, 2015 by
Appreciation Agenda

Appreciation Agenda – HIGHLIGHT

COLUMN: In Everyday Life guest article by Acharya Michael Greenleaf originally published on Samadhi Cushions “Oh, I know, Uncle Seward, there is one other thing…” We were finishing a late breakfast in the Gallery, the small, upholstered room at the Hotel Carlyle, on Manhattan’s upper east side. We were the ... continue
Posted May 8, 2015 by
Méditation: 10 raisons de NE PAS pratiquer

Méditation: 10 raisons de NE PAS pratiquer

La pratique correcte… vue autrement ! Par Acharya Michael Greenleaf première publication de cet article dans Samadhi Cushions Ces jours-ci, tout le monde parle des raisons de pratiquer la pleine conscience. Et qu’en est-il des raisons pour lesquelles la méditation est une mauvaise idée ? D’après ma propre expérience, voici 10 ... continue
Posted May 5, 2015 by Dan
An Interview with Machen Corps Commander Michael Weiss

An Interview with Machen Corps Commander Michael Weiss – HIGHLIGHT

Machen Corps Commander Michael Weiss The Machen, in the Kalapa Court, is the court cook. The Machen are responsible for the nourishment of the Sakyong’s family and their guests. For the past 11 years the Machen Corps has been commanded by Mr. Michael Weiss. Hailing from the ... continue
Posted May 3, 2015 by Dan
Wimberly Honored for Sustainability Work

Wimberly Honored for Sustainability Work – HIGHLIGHT

by Jayne Sutton, Shambhala Times Correspondent David with his son Nyima at the Halifax awards ceremony Early April brought quite an exciting week to David Wimberly, a St. Margaret’s Bay Shambhalian and ardent activist in Nova Scotia for decades. He was honored by both the Province and ... continue
Posted May 2, 2015 by Dan
A Letter Regarding the Earthquake in Nepal from Shastri Amy Conway

A Letter Regarding the Earthquake in Nepal from Shastri Amy Conway – HIGHLIGHT

Dear Shambhala Sangha, Photo by Bob Sonne on his 2008 trip to Nepal and India As you have probably heard by now, yesterday a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal killing more than 2,500 people with other deaths in India and Tibet. Aftershocks today have also been devastating. The ... continue
Posted April 28, 2015 by Dan
Sugaring at Karmê Chöling

Sugaring at Karmê Chöling – HIGHLIGHT

Last year, the Karmê Chöling staff, under the guidance of Jason Winchester, ‘sugared’ the land at Karmê Chöling for the first time in many years, eventually producing over 12 gallons of maple syrup. This year, they are at it again. This column recollects last year’s experience, from the eyes ... continue
Posted April 27, 2015 by Dan
Becoming Who We Want to Be: Toronto Shambhala, Part 2

Becoming Who We Want to Be: Toronto Shambhala, Part 2 – HIGHLIGHT

COLUMN: Shambhala on the Move by Margaret May This is part two of a two-part series on the tale of the transformation of the Toronto Shambhala Center. Click here for Part One.  September 2013: It is a Tuesday night, about fifteen minutes before sitting and instruction begins. In the Community ... continue
Posted April 26, 2015 by Dan
Learning to Cook for the Guru, or, "Watch the Schmaltz"

Learning to Cook for the Guru, or, “Watch the Schmaltz” – HIGHLIGHT

COLUMN: Kitchen Wisdom by Judy Sachs Sullivan Serving in the household of the guru is both a precious opportunity to be in the center of the mandala, to spend time with the teacher (albeit in a formal setting with a prescribed position), and serve in a courtly environment. ... continue
Posted April 25, 2015 by Dan
The Splendiferous House that Ryken Built

The Splendiferous House that Ryken Built – HIGHLIGHT

COLUMN: Aging in Enlightened Society by Steven Wilke At halftime, he grabbed the belligerent man and slammed him against the Lamp Post’s bathroom wall, finally shutting him up. “Some people are trying to watch the football game in here,” Tom explained to the bewildered, pinned patron who had been ... continue
Posted April 24, 2015 by Dan
A Waste of Time

A Waste of Time – HIGHLIGHT

COLUMN: In Everyday Life guest article by Acharya Michael Greenleaf originally published on Samadhi Cushions The $600/hour litigator is wearing a custom suit. A smart dresser, and if it helps to paint a picture, yes, he’s from Brooklyn. Nothing much gets by this savvy fellow. He’s talking to me. ... continue
Posted April 12, 2015 by

RSS feed for the Community Articles category

View all posts from authors in Community Articles: Luz_Rodriguez Ashley_Dinges alexvangils Kathryn_Rile Chris_Morel Claire_Crevey AnnicaCrouse Dennis_Pack Alexandra_Kalinine Jennifer_Holder PauletteMGraf Mark_Whaley Dia_Ballou Larry_Barnett carolecrea cghenderson charizzzard Heather_Alinsangan donnawillia Nicole_Arseneault Karen_Smith

Sites with content in this category: https://shambhalaarchives.org/ https://shambhalatimes.org/ https://shambhalatimes.org/ https://shambhalatimes.org/ https://shambhalatimes.org/ https://shambhalatimes.org/ https://shambhalatimes.org/ https://shambhalatimes.org/ https://shambhalatimes.org/ https://shambhalatimes.org/ https://shambhalaarchives.org/ https://shambhalatimes.org/ https://shambhalatimes.org/ https://shambhalatimes.org/ https://shambhalatimes.org/ https://shambhalatimes.org/ https://shambhalatimes.org/ https://shambhalatimes.org/ https://shambhalatimes.org/ https://shambhalatimes.org/



Website Development by Blue Mandala using Wordpress MU.
All content and source Copyright © 1994-2019. Shambhala International (Vajradhatu), Shambhala, Shambhala Meditation Center, Shambhala Training, Shambhala Center and Way of Shambhala are registered service marks of Shambhala USA

Facebook

Get the Facebook Likebox Slider Pro for WordPress
Translate »