Shambhala in Crisis: & 3 Ways to Fix It.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Nov 23, 2012
get elephant's newsletter

Update: All updates have been moved here.

Shambhala Mandala in Crisis: & 3 Ways to Fix It.

A Sense of Urgency; We Can No Longer Afford to Brush Concerns Under the Rug.

The unsurpassable teacher is the precious Buddha,
The unsurpassable protector is the precious Holy Dharma,
The unsurpassable guide is the precious Sangha
To the unsurpassable Three Jewels I make this offering.
~ Buddhist Opening Chant

Context.

For those of you who may not know, and those of us who may forget why we care, Shambhala is more than a Buddhist community. It’s a worldwide, diverse container in which meditation, and the accessible (and actually fun) teachings of sanity, are made available to all. As the UN doctrine states, it’s in the minds of men where wars begin—and therefore, it’s in the minds of men where we must create peace. Meditation does that. Furthermore, the Shambhala mandala takes this kind of peace-making off the meditation cushion, in what we term “post-meditation”—you know, everyday life.

From Shambhala Centers in every city to rural meditation retreats, to the Dorje Kasung service organization (kinda like…grown-up Buddhist Boy/Girl Scouts, pretty much the best thing ever), to translation committees and books and Dharma Art and schools, the Shambhala mandala has been a strong, but vulnerable society for decades, now.

For the first time, over the past year, I’ve heard whisperings (never publicly acknowledged) that Shambhala is in trouble. I’ve heard more than just the usual complaints—I’ve heard reasonable, wise, experienced and young leaders alike talk about organizational, financial problems. I’ve been hearing this for a year, waiting for someone knowledgeable and wise to communicate with us about what’s going on and what we can do to help.

But positive change comes from the bottom, up, sometimes. Lately, I’ve talked with senior students and the new generation of leaders, and heard the same problems described from different points of view, all united by a sense of exhaustion and a resigned willingness to “let it all go.”

I’m not cool with that. Shambhala isn’t about us, or our community. It’s for the world. Trungpa Rinpoche and the Sakyong both regarded their teachings and our community as a vehicle for offering sanity and real joy to a world beset by unnecessary suffering and neurosis.

Shambhala can be fixed. While I may not have an accurate handle on the problems, or solutions, here’s my best shot. I invite you to offer your *constructive* evaluation of our challenges and solutions below in the comments section.

Yours in the Great Eastern Sun,

Waylon Lewis

 

First, two videos each of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and his son and heir, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche—both worth listening to in the spirit of getting past our projections of them and remembering their fundamental message.

Shambhala appears to be in nothing less than crisis—still fixable, however.

I grew up in Vajradhatu, now known as Shambhala, the biggest and strongest and loudest Buddhist community in the United States. Thirty years later, it’s falling apart.

Shambhala is hemorrhaging money month by month (I’m not at liberty to name numbers, but hemorrhaging is apt, and without hyperbole). We’re insecure (we now exclude teachers from other traditions at our many Shambhala Centers, whereas before we were a big tent, the umbrella under which all Buddhist lineages drew strength). We’re staffed and led by valiant but often overwhelmed, head-down, passionate (it’s impossible to generalize—Shambhala is led by many responsible, kind servants—but by and large appointments seemed characterized not by a desire for leadership or entrepreneuralism or outward-facing, magnetizing troublemaking…but rather by enthusiastic allegiance to new curriculum. Everyone’s doing the best they can, and better. Everyone’s trying). We’re divided in two: the Sakyong‘s innovation (which is profound and needed) has step-by-step replaced his father, Chogyam Trungpa‘s teachings, classes, paths. And elder students, with their enthusiasm, deep training, joy and…money…have left in waves, wave after wave after wave over the years. Another wave of “culture loss” and diaspora just occurred.

For the first time since I was 16 or so—when the Shambhala sangha (community) was painfully split by Trungpa‘s death and then his successor’s inglorious fall and, then, saved by the Sakyong, young and uneager to teach, riding forth as if on a white horse to lead and heal our community—my community seems poised to fall apart, to dissolve, to become a fractured shadow of its former mainstream, well-known, joyful, outward-facing self.

Let me be clear: I’m not partisan, here. I’m loyal to the Sakyong, my teacher, and have personally experienced that he’s a profound vehicle for the Dharma, the teachings of Buddhism, and the Shambhala lineage. I’m also born and brought up in the spiritually-rich society that his father, Chogyam Trungpa, created. There is no conflict. In this phenomenal world, on both practical and spiritual levels, there’s plenty of room for both styles and manifestations—of course, both strengthen one another.

@waylonlewis on Instagram: Photo taken at Shambhala Sun offices.

That said, mistakes have been made and continue to be made, and the Sakyong would be the first to say that as our community’s leader, and first servant (service is the ultimate smile), responsibility is his first. And, simultaneously, any blame and responsibility belongs equally to myself, and all of us in the Shambhala mandala. It’s up to us. All of us.

The problems, as I see them—having talked with those close to the Sakyong, as well as those more on “the outside”, as well as those in administration—are few, and workable. But our problems are urgent, and will kill the sangha, if not fixed now, by leader servants who can address them.

Three Problems, Three Solutions.

1. While the Shambhala Sangha is vast, and led ably by President Richard Reoch and many devoted servants, money is beyond tight. Changes to curriculum have encouraged old students to defect, taking their donations, energy and service with them, and a few of the large rural centers are buckling beneath hard luck and incompetent business administration. Our umbrella is small—we don’t invite enough new energy in, we squash programs and replace them with less-attended substitutes, we have actively disinvited teachers from other traditions and communities.

Problem: overwhelmed administration.

Solution: appoint leader servants who are devoted not just to the Sakyong, but to the actual fulfillment of his vision—which means we need folks happy to get dirt under their fingernails, to reach out and invite involvement from our community, who know how to smile, and mean it, and to be tender and hard-working, all at the same time. We need to do a better job supporting, paying, training, and connecting with our hard-working leaders.

2. Senior students and teachers are leaving in droves—taking with them their money and training. They could and should be mentoring, passing the baton to the next generation, and teaching publicly. Instead, they’re bitching and moaning, disrespected, unable to teach (unempowered by the Sakyong‘s new teachings), curriculum changed again and again until they’re irrelevant. Only, the aren’t irrelevant—they’re our core, our base, the heart that pumps blood throughout the corporeal mass that is a healthy Shambhala.

Problem: We need our elder students and our newer students and curriculum to be interconnected.

Change happens; it’s fine and inevitable. But it need not happen at the expense of worthwhile tradition and experience, or you get what we got: the worst of both worlds, where Shambhala Centers are under-loved and burnout is a constant danger, and elders are disrespected and pushed aside, taking their teaching and money with them. 

Solution: when Coca Cola came out with New Coke, there was a rebellion. Smartly, Coke listened, reacted, and brought out Coca Cola Classic to assuage the (wallets and) loyalty of their countless, yet fickle fans. We need a “Coke Classic” track: a renewal of Lineage and Devotion and the countless other programs and teachings and practices that have been shunted aside as new replaced old timeless. Then Trungpa-loving folks, satiated, would realize the Sakyong can and should innovate all he likes. The Sakyong’s teachings are profound and timely, I’m told (I’m one of many who, despite not being a hater, has fallen behind and beneath wave after wave of curriculum change). If I could send my future children to Seminary, Alaya, to Ikebana or Kyudo, to Shambhala schools, to Shambhala Training, to video talks by Trungpa Rinpoche to the mandala that I grew up within, that would be glorious, wonderful, amazing. If simultaneously, newer students could enjoy the Sakyong‘s new teachings, his new books (which deserve devoted, professional campaigns behind them—they’re great books) then the Sakyong would become what he should be, and what the world needs—a teacher of Buddhism, meditation and Shambhala values and practices to the world, to millions and not just our little community—his books renowned and his face on the cover of magazines, a guest of talk shows (he’s funny, wise, eloquent…and, ladies, cute), etc. A reference point for joyful sanity in a world beset by strife and suffering.

3. On a practical level, the Shambhala mandala is losing vast sums of money, monthly. Time is urgent.

Appoint folks who can handle money, magnetize morale first and donations second and money-making New and Classic curriculums, third. Cut unnecessary expenses (like airfare and extravagances for extended family, perhaps). Invite other teachers to use (and contribute) to our mandala. Well-loved President Reoch and the many devoted directors of centers, and acharyas (senior teachers) deserve help, and better pay. Reconnect with a weakened Naropa, a strong Shambhala Sun/Buddhadharma/Mindful, elephant, Shambhala Pubs—any sangha-created organization that can help.

Problem: Money.

Solution: Leadership that can communicate; heal rift between Classic and New; fundraise and run Shambhala like the profitable social-benefit business that it could be.

Coda: I write the above reluctantly—I’m out of my depth on this, of course, though I took time to talk with old and new, in and out folks—but someone needed to say something and invite a constructive dialogue (douchey comments will be deleted). The many inaccuracies and faults in the above “problems” and “solutions” are my fault, alone. The above is offered out of devotion and enthusiasm for seeing Shambhala continue to offer a fun, practical, open community for meditation and social-benefit to all, everywhere, for another hundred kalpas.

The Sakyong and his Queen. A kitchen shrine is a wonderful way to honor the fundamental intention behind nourishment.

Without Shambhala, I would be suffering immensely and of little use to anyone. It taught and trained me to be human. I owe it everything—and like most of us those looking in from the outside, my ignorance about how to help does not mean that I wouldn’t happily answer a call to help in a capacity I have any energy and skill for. I’ve offered in various contexts, many times, as many of those inactive Shambhala students out there have done. That failing is addressed above.

We need flowering leadership, not lids.

~

By this merit may all attain enlightenment,
May it defeat the enemy, wrong-doing,
From the stormy waves of birth, aging, sickness & dying,
From the ocean of suffering may I free all beings.
~ Buddhist Closing Dedication of Merit

~

Update, some relephant perspective:



14,336 views

About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.

Comments

112 Responses to “Shambhala in Crisis: & 3 Ways to Fix It.”

  1. […] our problems are real and some of them are urgent and solutions are urgently needed and the issues a… and our horse has also ran…it’s time for some […]

  2. Susan Williams says:

    thanks Layth, I appreciate your honesty, practicality and levity. xoxox Susan Williams

  3. Lilly says:

    Neither would I ..I said absence

  4. Anonymous says:

    as others have said elsewhere — Radio Free Shambhala and Bill Karelis have taken a look at the finances, which have not been in good shape for years. Waylon, it sounds like you've heard finances are worse than usual.

  5. Lilly says:

    Yes I do realize that I was quoting you and at the same time I also feel that it reflects the predominant attitude that drove me and many others away..But let me just speak for myself though.
    As for the other part..My "regrettable selfishness".. I do still have many friends in this Sangha but I have otherwise completely let go of the scene and I do not miss what I left behind. I had had my misgivings about the extravagant spending but those who cared were nobodies like me.. RMDC went Disney and became Shambhala Mountain center.. It went from an affordable place to do a solitary retreat to way too expensive to pitch a tent.. And they destroyed a wetland to do it. But that was back then and this now.. The Sakyong is a nice guy but his idea of wanting a million students I find ridiculous..sort of more of that coke thing. Selling Dharma.. Trungpa taught us much and so have many other people.. What we do with it is up to us. Hopefully some of us will use it to make a better world, with or without SI.

  6. Sopa Chöga says:

    Shambhala is not an organization. This is a common misconception, but it's totally wrong. The Druk Sakyong created a Vajra culture that can't actually be "censored" or changed in any way by the church of Shambhala Buddhism. His students, and their students, and any person who adopts that culture, in the organization, around the organization, and even way outside the organization is part of Shambhala. The organization's success is not a determining factor in the success of the project of enlightened society, though, to be fair, it can sure be helpful. Thinking larger than the organization is critical.

  7. Anonymous says:

    At every ninthun I have attended recently there is never more than 2 other people sitting.

  8. chavarrj says:

    I appreciate this article and have also appreciated reading a lot of the discussion happening here.
    Some of the discussion on this thread, however, is a little disheartening. So, I just wanted to say a gentle reminder…

    When we are giving someone feedback (correction, constructive criticism, etc.), it should raise their lungta, not lower it.

  9. Suzanne says:

    Totally agree — have been saying this for years. Big difference between Shambhala and Shambhala International!

  10. […] Original Post: Shambhala in Crisis: & 3 Ways to Fix it. […]

  11. Stefan Carmien says:

    I have been doing Kagyu nongdro for 34 years, did seminary in '78 and fizzled out in about 3 years, spent the rest of the time in the sangha doing service (AV mostly) moved from Boulder to Germany in 2006 and suddenly finished prostrations. Saw several friends in same boat pick up their practice and finish with the new Shambhala nongdro, but decided my vow with VACT was what I needed to honour and am now in the middle of mantra. I feel totally supported in doing this by my 'local' sangha (Dechen Choling and the few vajra siblings in this part of Spain – where I live now). It's a bit lonely but works for me – plus the recent addition of Lodro and Larry M to help us (and the Lopon's amazing mahamuda classes), I feel there is a place for me in *this* sangha. As for what I do after I finish, maybe scorpion seal maybe vajrayogini – I have a while to decide. But, for me, the important thing is that there is a place for me in the sangha and that I follow my heart. As for the ‘true believers’, statistically we are just like any other organization and there will always be a small number of assholes, thank them for sparking compassion and regard them as children.

  12. Jigme says:

    So much love for the three jewels expressed in so many different ways…like the facets of a diamond shining in sunlight.
    May all sentient beings be free and at their ease.
    May Dharma flourish.
    Thank you all for your generosity and thoughtfulness.
    All best,
    Jigme Urbonas
    Indian Harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada

  13. old dog says:

    Thanks Waylon.

  14. Kirk Cornwell says:

    When I arrived at Taiil of the Tiger (now Karma Choling) in 1974, the wisdom was there, but there was also a ring of big city types (yes, I'm a country boy) who were extremely protective of Chogyam Trungpa and eager to decide what was best for the rest of us. Sound familiar?

  15. Ira Zukerman says:

    I appreciate this discussion. Waylon, also, thanks for your Elephant Journal, which is probably the only on-line service I subscribe to with cash money (though not much).

    I should say I became aware of this discussion today (how did the rest of you hear about it?) from the post in the current version of sangha talk on the Shambhala Network. Sam Scoggins posted there about this. So, it's important to understand, for all of us, whether we agree or disagree about how Shambhala is shaping up…that it provides container elements for us to share our unhappiness, too.

    That's probably my 3rd of 3 points I would make. My own pretty long standing training in Shambhala, since about 1975 proper, is to frequently think about things in threes, as in 3 fold logic. So, consistent with Waylon's point, I guess, there are newer technologies of dyads and such which may have come forward since the presentation of 3 fold logic, particularly. I'll be neutral on that, I think.

    But another point I'll reaffirm from Laythe Mathews…there is, as an initiative fully in our Shambhala community, for all tantra students to come together (or at least if you think you have the time) to engage in study of Mahamudra, with the Loppon, who many of us have had the pleasure to study with over the years. If you don't know about it….well…I don't know why…and if I were you…I would look at your sources of information…and see why you don't. Also, though…you're really not too late, as the program is a bit early. Check out both the group under the Shambhala Network on Kagyu Mahamudra, and also, go to Shambhala Online to get signed up. Or…go to your local center, as some 300 people are attending, many or most through a center hookup. Here in DC, we're integrating this study on tantra weekends, so that those counting by time can include this as a study portion of their practice.

    And, as a last point, I'll affirm one point from Mr. Chender. While natural maybe for organizations to throw out the old as administrations roll forward….we have too little signs of rot, if you don't mind my saying.

    An old analogy from the Vidyadhara is that rather than seeking to throw out some of our "thingies," we might treat it as manure, and include it. Somehow, it seems our many senior teachers over the years could be more well heard. For example, there have been many ambassadors in our communities. I suppose Jonathan, recently parted from Shambhala Mountain Center, was active in the role of director until very recently. Although it's a system (ambassadors) that has dissolved…and we do engage in dissolving in our practice….we frequently also "re-arise" as that which we dissolve. Wouldn't it be nice to see some of the senior teachers of yore continue to be encouraged to be active and engaged in what we're doing. Of course, this is happening is some measure, thank goodness, witness my second point above. Still, there could be lots more.

    Anyway, I…like Waylon, owe a continued debt to this community. Nevermind that I've been also seeking to splice new genes over the last decade….I seek to grow my training here still, and look to Shambhala as a place of nourishment. And so, it is as a stakeholder, and with the encouragement I've been given, I join in sharing that I am frequently both happy and sad, and understand that such sharing is both my pleasure and duty.

    Many thanks,

    Ira Zukerman
    DC

  16. elephantjournal says:

    If it's rumor or innuendo, that's because this conversation hasn't yet been hosted on a more uplifted, well-read forum open to sanghawide and public communication, as there used to be with the Vajradhatu Sun. There certainly could be. If it's rumor and innuendo, that's because finances aren't transparent to you or I or you or you or any of us, which is fine and understandable but does not make a discussion of important issues easy. And if I had Shambhala's balance sheet, I wouldn't publish it—would you have me do so? I don't think so. I was given numbers via various folks I talked to, and have chosen not to print them for precisely the reason you offer.

    As for waves of elder sangha leaving and feeling disaffected, read some other comments—that's not rumor or innuendo. Some departures are inevitable and natural, of course. But many are unnecessary if there was a "Coke Classic" option whereby folks could study Kagyu Nyingma dharma, and not be funneled into newer teachings, however wonderful and worthwhile they are.

    Thanks, Martin—see you around town!

  17. elephantjournal says:

    Thank you, Chavarrj. This is where our practice comes to fruition, or not—in our ability to walk our talk, or come back after we lose our minds. It's tough stuff, but worth doing gently, and with a genuine smile, or at least a genuine apology when we mistake self-righteousness for truth.

  18. elephantjournal says:

    Amen! The good old days were never the good old days. The good new days and the good old days are and were both full of rich possibility, practice and difficult issues. A key difference: Rick Fields and the Vajradhatu Sun made for uplifted communication and discourse. I'm heartened to see the Shambhala Times and our executive director finding new ways to communicate.

  19. elephantjournal says:

    Well said! Still, as you say, the organization, the centers, the books, the teachers, the trainings and programs…all provide wonderful, needed form.

  20. elephantjournal says:

    Good for you attending! Invite us and your friends and stir up some morale! I'll come!

  21. elephantjournal says:

    Yay! Hope you said hello. She's awesome.

  22. elephantjournal says:

    If this were a fortress, challenging comments wouldn't be accepted here. It's more of a, say, vajra dzong…letting in truth as long as it's not expressed with trollery. As for problems, we all have them—in the same breath I suggest sollutions. How is that overly solid?

  23. Rick Gilbert says:

    Thank you for this, Stefan-it's very encouraging

  24. elephantjournal says:

    I did ask, and have been doing so for a year. You seem to be defensive, which is strange, because I'm not attacking. I love the sangha.

    I was in Halifax for four days. In that time I talked with about half a dozen folks in, and half a dozen folks halfway in, halfway out. No exaggeration. I attended the Sakyong's Birthday, and Trungpa Rinpoche's Naropa talk from 1975, held at the Shambhala School. I visited the Shambhala School a second time. I talked with Noel at length, though I haven't sourced or quoted him here. I caught up with sangha at the Farmers Market, and at your parents' cafe, and other third places, and met with the folks at the Shambhala Sun.

    But, mostly, I was there to take my mom out to dinner.

    Re your below comment:

    Have you? You're working with Shambhala, so you are in a position to do so. I'm not. I'm happy to, if you'll give me the means. Seriously!

    "Half" refers to many of our elders, our parents' generation. As for 9,000 members and your other states, please provide some hard proof, or you're doing just what you're accusing me of, Gordon—engaging in discussion without evidence.

    Finally, I'd asked you to breathe deep—I'll do the same—circling wagons and acting defensively isn't helpful on either end—we can all agree we're devoted and enthusiastic, and just as in a personal relationship, discussion problems and solutions is sometimes helpful, and can be done without rancor, and is itself a testament to wanting to make things work.

  25. elephantjournal says:

    To my knowledge we haven't deleted any comments—our comment system doesn't allow overly long comments, so just split them into two or three and comment them in.

    If however your comment was deleted, it was because you were being insulting, name-calling, ad homineming and such.

  26. elephantjournal says:

    Amen. This is the kind of comment to be expected, or hoped for from Shambhala leadership/servants—thoughtful, fun, passionate but not knee-jerk defensive, devoted and GES forward looking without ignoring challenges.

  27. Buddha says:

    Yea, sorry about that. It wasn't deleted. I didn't click on the red replies link. Even Buddha isn't perfect. But we really do have to end this fraud of people giving people high fives for doing nothing other than obscuring the truth for their own selfish desire to maintain power. And we all thought this didn't happen in the spiritual world. It needs to stop. The problem is the ego and it can only be dealt with via the truth. And what Waylon has done here is to provide a democratic (I know see) forum for this discussion. Just to make my point again… egoism might be fine on wall st. because these guys aren't supposed to be anything other. But to have egoism in the spiritual realm is the worse thing in the world. Worse than any other fraud anywhere else. And these people need to be condemned. Good work Waylon.

  28. Craig Morman says:

    part one(continued in replies)

    Hi Waylon,

    I want to first commend your effort. There are things that need to be discussed within Shambhala, and you have tried to start a dialogue.

    And, by making the kinds of statements you did, undocumented, unqualified, and many inaccurate, I am afraid you are creating more confusion than wisdom. I won’t be able to cover everything in detail without writing a novel, please forgive the nuances left out, but hopefully this will clear a few things up.

    First, you keep talking about the non-public nature of the finances. All you had to do was go to shambhala.org and search financial reports. Sure one needs a member password, but those are easy to get, and what non-member would care? You would find exactly how short Shambhala was in 2011 as well as the intended budget for 2012. The problem is essentially that 2012 fundraising has not met projections. There is no big secret; people don’t look at these things because they don’t understand them, or they find them boring.

    It is also important to note that the central body of Shambhala, while providing the spine and nervous system for the local centers, and incurring expenses in the process, has no self-generated revenue. So, while there has been a budget shortfall at the center of the mandala, membership has increased by 10% in the last year. Addressing this disparity is in process. While I don’t agree with all of the ideas for correcting this problem, some of them are very good. When concerns have been expressed, I feel at least thus far that they have been addressed.

    As far as new curriculums are concerned, no one has been asked to repeat material they have already covered just because it has been presented in a different way. It is true that in order to teach the Way of Shambhala courses, one needs to have been trained in the approach. However, if one was already teaching Shambhala Training levels, which are basically unchanged, they still can. (We recently hosted one such retreat with a teacher who has done no extra training, and is not following the Scorpion Seal path, but who taught a wonderful block of graduate levels). My experience with teaching the Way of Shambhala has been that it brings teachings that for years often stayed in the realm of concept, into the experience of students quite quickly. I too felt some resistance to some of the ways things were presented, but it was mostly due to having my own buttons pushed. Having seen the results, it is clear to me that the new curriculum works quite well.

    I was also brought up in the Kagyu, three month seminary style, and made the transition to the Scorpion Seal path seamlessly, but I had already finished Ngondro. I admit that I sometimes miss Vajrayogini practice, but that has been my choice. I have a close friend who has done both Ngondros, continued on the SS path and finished Vajrayogini all at once. It is quite doable.

    Stehphan and Layth point out some of the efforts that have been made to support the continued study of the Kagyu and Nyigma paths within Shambhala. I am sure there will be more to come.

  29. Craig Morman says:

    (part2, more to come)
    Stehphan and Layth point out some of the efforts that have been made to support the continued study of the Kagyu and Nyigma paths within Shambhala. I am sure there will be more to come.
    It is true that many senior students feel out of place. But your characterization of them leaving in droves is nothing new. It is to some degree the nature of a spiritual path. The first time that happened was when Trunpga Rinpoche took off his robes, the students and teachers of Samye Ling revolted. Then there was the introduction of Gomdens, the introduction of the Shambhala Teachings, Trungpa Rinpoche’s death, the Regent situation, and more recently the shamatha inbreath debate and the opening of the Scorpion Seal. Actually, a number of students have returned since the opening of the Scorpion Seal as well.
    While I hope that those students who genuinely want to be involved can be better accommodated, it is not going to be by bringing back a three month version of seminary. You touch on a problem here, but so superficially that it creates confusion.
    Then we have the issue of inviting teachers to centers. This is somewhere else you could have gotten more information by sending an email or two. Had you contacted Mitchell Levy, or Michael Gayner (who are in charge of relating with other teachers and communities) you could have gotten a description of the new guidelines for inviting outside teachers, as well as the reasons these guidelines were implemented, rather than speculating that it has to do with Shambhala being cloistered and insecure. The actual context behind the new guidelines is that it is unwise to just invite anyone because they are a Buddhist. If, for example Khandro Rinpoche wanted teach for a weekend on the Mahayana there would be no problem. The problem arises when teachers come to centers and give pointing out instruction to new students and the general public, or offer advanced practices to people who have no context or background for understanding them. It is common practice for Tibetan Lamas to say “repeat after me”, and have the students say something in Tibetan three times. Then the teacher says “good, now you have taken Refuge”. It is like spraying an auditorium with a fire hose and saying, “now you have been baptized”.
    I have personally seen the damage that this approach can cause in new students. A new student I was working with was given a visualization practice at a brief retreat that caused tremendous confusion. This is why these guidelines exist. They do not say that teachers of other lineages cannot teach within Shambhala, they just clarify the way that it should be done.
    Further, the reason why many of the Tibetan teachers who taught at Shambhala Centers no longer do is simple: In the eighties and early nineties, we were the only place to go. Many of those teachers have their own centers now, and no longer need our spaces.
    It is also necessary to mention that it is not uncommon to ask students not to take initiation with more than one teacher. It does not mean one cannot read the books or go to the talks given by another teacher. The reason for this is simple as well. Having two separate samayas, with two separate sets of requirements makes it difficult to keep either. Many Lamas ask their Vajrayana students not to try to have multiple root Gurus with different samaya requirements, this is not in any way unique to the Sakyong.

  30. Craig Morman says:

    (part three, almost there)
    You offer three simple solutions, which essentially amount to ‘get new leadership’. I don’t think this is helpful. Having worked full time for Shambhala in various capacities for six years now, I can tell you that it isn’t that easy. For one thing, so much time is spent just keeping things afloat that it is difficult to make progress. Progress happens, but it is slow, and never as much as one would hope. There is an inevitable loss of institutional knowledge whenever a new person enters a position. I agree with Gordon that it would have been much better for you to talk to people in positions of leadership about what they are doing before declaring them incompetent. Who exactly to you recommend to fill those roles?
    Now, I want to cycle this back to the positive side of you writing this. While I feel very strongly that you should have done your homework before posting this, I do feel there is a need for much more open discussion. The problem that I have is that the issues you illustrate are inaccurate, and don’t even scratch the surface of the real things that need to be addressed.
    The Financial situation is urgent, more than I have seen it in the past. It is, however, nothing new. I have barely scratched the surface of the question of senior students feeling disenfranchised, not because I don’t care, but because it is a hugely multifaceted issue. There are many senior students still very active, there are many who only would have stayed had Trungpa Rinpcohe lived forever, and there are those in the middle, those still committed, but feeling left out. It is the third group that needs to be better incorporated into what is happening now.
    Since the beginning of the Shambhala Sangha, our teachers have had a huge vision that has not always meet with what we regard as terrestrial reality. Someone in the comments made fun of the Sakyong saying that he felt Shambhala could have millions of students. I wonder if she knows that Trunpga Rinpoche said the same thing at a Kalapa Assembly (I am not going to look up the exact talk, but it is there). Or that he envisioned billboards in L.A. advertising Shambhala Training. It has actually always been this way.
    One of the big problems right now is that in an effort to strengthen and establish the view behind Shambhala as a culture, the information flow has become a bit too top down. While there are ways to give feedback, it can be difficult and doesn’t often change things. Decisions are made without consulting the community to any large extent. A further problem is that we are provided with a constantly optimistic outlook. It is definitely good to feel that Shambhala can succeed, but sometimes things that need to be discussed are swept under the rug.
    I see two fundamental problems with the way our leadership is structured within Shambhala. One is degree of proximity. With people who have other full time jobs trying to solve organizational problems with each other over skype, creativity can suffer. Secondly, too much familiarity; for a group to be both creative and cohesive, there needs to be some familiarity, as well as fresh voices. With no familiarity you get chaos, with too much you get people recycling similar ideas, and then agreeing that they are wonderful. This not the fault of the leaders themselves, but a structural issue that needs to be addressed.
    As I said before, I have found that when I have expressed disagreement with a policy, it has been well received and addressed. This goes back to when I was a 21 year old hippy who no one knew what to make of, up until now. We are running into some big government/growing pain issues. They need to be addressed. You tried to do that, and you may have accidently started a dialogue that might bear fruit. I just needed to address some of the factual issues.
    Thanks for caring so much and being willing to take a leap.
    Craig Morman, Co- Director Casa Werma, Patzcuaro, Mexico

  31. dawn says:

    Thanks for saying that, I forget about attending Nynthuns! Well, we have a packed house at tomorrow nites Werma Feast with the Sakyong, over 200 (or 250) attending… wheh! 🙂 It's all good my friends…

  32. Barnaby says:

    Dear Michael Chender,

    Thank you for framing the reality of an ever-changing and increasingly complex world (and the enlightened society of Shambhala within the world) in a larger context. Thanks to everyone for their comments. Where ever we go – us human being types – there we will be…there's no escaping from our individual or collective experience. Within that situation my "raft" has been the fact that if I have the capacity (on some level and with at least one person) to be honest with myself and to nurture an "until my dying breath" life-long desire for learning and growth in the dharma…all will be well, and all will be well; and all manner of things will be well.

    In crisis there is opportunity. What a wonderful opportunity for Shambhala to learn and grow and to root that learning and growth within its capacity to be honest with itself. Are we imperfect, do we make mistakes, has harm been caused to others, have others woven elaborate cocoons and scabs around that harm (both the perpetrator and the victimized) to develop a narrative, a storyline, a deep wound oral history about this; have others forgiven, moved on…and have others decided that Shambhala no longer works for them (left) while others find themselves sinking more deeply into the meaning of the teachings provided by all teachers, trusting their own natures to cipher out what works for them from what does not work? Yes, yes, and yes.

    The current crisis seems to present a great opportunity for folks to sit down with a book called "The Human Side of Change" by Robert Evans. It's also a great opportunity to take a look at other organizational structures that are dedicated to, if not an enlightened society, certainly a sane and sober one…like Alcoholics Anonymous for example. Granted they are not about promotion and more about attraction, not about an overall king and more about workers among workers…I think (and know) that there is much to be gleaned from how they trudge their happy road to destiny in the work they do…particularly when it comes to how they regard and handle finances. But there are many other examples as well.

    I remember President Reoch saying once that some day Shambhala, as an enlightened society, will have to come to terms with even larger societal and human tragedies within its own sangha, if it is truly going to expand, embrace and transform the poison in the world into nectar from the heart. Well, he didn't say "transofrm the poison….heart" bit…but he said something like that. The point was simple – Shambhala is as much as an inside job (working with our heart, mind) as it is an external one – working and being with others. Again, to repeat this phrase, in an increasingly complex and ever-changing world, what else would you be expecting? Best, Barnaby

  33. Padma Kadag says:

    Lohs..Lohs…Rinpoche!!!!! Hahaha

  34. Gordon says:

    Waylon,

    To be clear I'm mostly taking issue with this as a piece of lazy journalism rather than trying to refute the particular points you are making. I think Craig does an excellent job of laying out the whole situation at the very end of this thread. There are tons of formats where you could have asked how Shambhala is doing — the Times, the Shambhala Network, facebook, writing an open ended article as "Waylon Lewis" — but that's not what this is. This is a more or less official sounding post from an journalist-y kind of web site making positive claims that a) there is a crisis in Shambhala b) that people are leaving the community "in droves" and c) that you have the solution for all of its woes. You do this without even cursory fact checking or due diligence, or giving the organization you're deriding a chance to comment. I have sympathy for many things, but bad blogging is not among them. It's also silly to post an accusatory ill informed piece on the main page, then ask people to put on kid gloves in the comments.

    As an example, it really looks like you mostly gathered information for this piece by asking some of your friends and acquaintances how they feel about stuff. This is a fine way to get information about your friends and acquaintances, but a terrible way to find out how an international community is doing. This is a really common way for, especially second-generation people to come up with general conclusions about Shambhala, and I just hate it.

    Why I hate it is that by saying "at least half of Shambhala hates the new curriculum" and you've only talked to a small segment of Shamabhala, you are saying that they are the only people who matter enough to think about. There are lots of Shambhalians who connected through the Way of Shambhala Classes, and lots of people who are involved and inspired because Werma is our main practice. By not thinking to ask these people what they think you are basically just saying they don't matter. It doesn't matter if a bunch of people in Missausauga love the current curriculum, Shambhala is in crisis when some set of the "respected elders" who you happen to know get irritated or disheartened. Obviously I think these people should be welcomed, and I'm sad when they leave, but they are not the whole of the community and they do not get to decide when that community is or is not in crisis. To do that you have to actually ask people generally how they are doing. Forums like the Kalapa Governance Gathering, the Shambhala Network, the Letter of the Morning Sun and the various surveys are all designed to do that. So you should talk to the people who have gathered this information before crying wolf. These people are not idiots, they do not make curriculum changes that make people run screaming from the room, or torpedo the donor base.

    I mean honestly, you are criticizing a set of classes (the Basic Goodness Series) which hasn't even been offered yet it in Boulder. How the hell are you expecting anyone have informed views on classes they have not taken?

    Again, I will publish something on the Shambhala data work I've been doing when it's written, and that will be on the TImes. I will say this about it though. One thing which is clear from the data is that people who do the in every day life classes are a lot more likely to keep practicing than people who don't. This is exactly what the classes were designed to do, and what more or less everyone who has taught them reports. People actually develop a daily shamatha and contemplation practice, which is something we've been trying to do for 40 years. Personally, I don't connect with them, but I understand that the fact that I don't personally like something does not mean it's bad, and that the fact that my friends think something does not make it true.

  35. Student! says:

    Just a note…The basic goodness series HAS been offered in Boulder (for the past 2 months). I'm a student in it. There have been about 20-30 of us in it…Someone should ask us what we think of it :). I, personally, am pretty happy with it.

  36. Gordon says:

    Whoops! apologies! I was just assuming since they're offering the one in January that they hadn't put on the first course. This is why one should check the database.

  37. elephantjournal says:

    More richly diverse comments via Shambhala, an open group on Facebook:

    More richly diverse comments via Shambhala, an open group on Facebook: Jillaurie Crane thank you for writing this
    November 23 at 6:08pm · Like · 1
    Corwin Halwes I would like a moment to say nothing… Thank you all very much.
    November 23 at 6:24pm via mobile · Like · 2
    Rick Gilbert Thanks Waylon-posted a comment.
    November 23 at 6:54pm via mobile · Like · 2
    Miriam Hall Thank you.
    November 23 at 7:47pm · Like · 2
    Stephanie Potter "…May the sangha expand and may all the activities
    Of exposition, debate, and composition; learning, contemplating, and
    meditating flourish.
    May it be a harmonious community, have long life, freedom from illness,
    and so on,…See More
    November 23 at 10:45pm · Unlike · 6
    Walter Logue Could you please be quiet more quietly my dear friend Corwin??? PUH lease!! (I am crafting something as a response Way, which I may or may not post… tough one my friend. If it were not challenging then it would not challenge people, non? Growth equals stretch)
    November 24 at 12:17am · Edited · Like
    Alan Kelly Thanks, Waylon and others, including sectarian and non-sectarian peace practitioners. What is the sound of solving a problem, when nobody is there to tell?
    Sunday at 10:56am via mobile · Like
    Michael Chender Dear Waylon,

    I became a member of elephant with the username michaelchender and a
    simple password but after many attempts it refuses to let me in. Will
    you please post this for me?

  38. elephantjournal says:

    Waylon Lewis Michael–there's a password reset button or email [email protected] and we'll sort it our for you asap. And, yes, honored to post your comment.
    Sunday at 3:05pm · Like
    Richard Heilbrunn "We tend to think that the threats to our society or to ourselves are outside of us. We fear that some enemy will destroy us. But a society is destroyed from the inside, not from an attack by outsiders. We imagine an enemy coming with spears and machin…See More
    Monday at 4:24am · Like · 3
    Stephanie Potter Threads, thread counts, and the fabric we all are weaving together.
    Thanks, Waylon Lewis!
    Monday at 4:57am · Like
    Ans de Vries Dear Waylon, as a European Shambhalian I am not sure what you plea for solving Shambhala 's problemen is about. I think that the American situation differs from the European. Of course, we have our financial problems too, and we too have a divide betwe…See More
    Monday at 5:09am via mobile · Like · 4
    Stephanie Potter Dear Ans de Vries – Thank you for a nice post, and a perspective from across the pond.
    Monday at 5:14am · Like
    Madeline Schreiber Perhaps the financial crisis is a huge problem for the central office, but not so devastating for the centres and regions. It sounds like Europe is fairly stable. And I think the individual centres can work our economies of scale for themselves where ever they are. So maybe it's just the same old problem we've always had . . . how to fund the central office adequately *?*
    Monday at 6:01am · Like · 3
    Gordon Shotwell Madeline, I think that's exactly right. My view is that this is not an organizational crisis, but a central services cash flow problem. Ironically, one of the reasons why we have this problem is because the mandala is growing, and so there are more people relying on Shambhala's paid staff each year.

  39. elephantjournal says:

    Mike Henderson I'm part of that growth! 😀

    Andrew Forbes When I see Shambhala taking a sideways approach to covering up our controversial history; watering down the teachings in hopes to attract more people; hearing a lot of teachers who are using the platform to sell themselves as 'professional buddhists' o…See More

    Waylon Lewis Gordon, you should head up our propaganda division! Though you'd have a lot of competition.

    Gordon: comment removed by request of Gordon

    Waylon Lewis Ans, great comment–as I said in the post I've offered to help in roles I have some experience in, but that's not particularly relevant here. What is more relevant is, clearly, there's not an effective instrument of sangha-wide, both fringe and outside…See More

    Waylon Lewis It's a joke, Gordon. You know, humor. That said, if you get out there, you'll hear a lot of devoted, serious concern.

    Gordon: comment removed by request

    Waylon Lewis Thanks, Gordon! I hope so, of course.

    John Perks Since I have been living in Shambhala, I look around everything seems fine,in fact brilliant,of course there is work to do….perhaps Shambhala is a state of mind..for some it could be an organization…Cheers JP

    Diane Kalsang Whitcomb I had a lot of trouble with the article. I have to say I don't agree with much of it. As much as older students drift away, some also drift back — especially since the Scorpion Seal teachings have been introduced. Yes, there are issues with funding the center of the Mandala, but my understanding is that the new model is working well in Europe and is being rolled out in the US beginning this year.

    I think there are as many *opportunities* arising, as a result of this period of growth and transformation, as the things you may consider problems. I certainly wouldn't call any of it (except fixing the funding model) a "crisis." And the funding model is being actively addressed.

    In my experience, Boulder is a hot spot for the old student/new student divide complaint. As someone who practices there fairly regularly, my sense is that this is overblown. And as a relatively "new" student, it really hasn't been my experience at all. There are many Old Students who I consider mentors and friends, and who have not fled the Sangha. Those who do usually do so because they are attracted to different teachers, and Boulder offers many other Buddhist opportunities.

    Also, there is good reason and rationale for the guest teacher policy, which again, I don't consider a "Crisis." Shambhala is Shambhala. Let's not confuse who we are and what we're about. The money problems are not a function of older students practicing with other Sanghas. It's a function of growth, and the economy and it's being addressed.

    Waylon Lewis Diane, I got much of my information from folks in NYC, Halifax, other places…and terming constructive checking in with where we're at "complaint" is lid-talk, and not kind nor necessary nor accurate to those among us who've had a hard time or have questions or issues. VCTR said never to let go of our critical awareness! As Howard Zinn used to say in a political content, do not confuse dissent with lack of patriotism—rather, it's the opposite.

    That said, I'm psyched you feel so positive, and welcome any points of view. I'm interviewing Carolyn, our executive director, and if you or anyone here has questions you'd like to ask her, leave you question in comments on the blog itself. Comments here are not part of any lasting discussion, as they'll fade with the Facebook Wall.

  40. elephantjournal says:

    As I've said to Noel, and should be obvious for anyone who reads online or reads elephant, this is a blog, not the New York Times. Not even close. We do our best, here, and walk a road paved with good intentions.

    I've done more to support a needed dialogue about something we all carea bout than Shambhala itself, which should be frankly appreciated, not condemned anonymously.

    If you want journalism, we can do that—you need to subscribe, writers need to get paid, and then we can do investigative research. elephantjournal.com/member —just a buck a month, and if we get enough, I'm planning to start paying writers, hopefully this year. It needs to happen.

  41. elephantjournal says:

    I replied to you above, Gordon.

  42. Gordon says:

    In the words of the immortal Andrew Sullivan: Blogger please.

    You don't need to be the New York Times to send an email to someone saying "hey, I'm planning on publishing about the financial woes, do you all have comment?" Or, as Craig mentions, do a little bit of online research on the Shambhala members section. Even just writing an article which asks the question rather than proclaims that we need a change in leadership.

  43. Margaret says:

    Thank you Craig – informative and beautifully articulated.

  44. Robyn Traill says:

    Dear All,

    I appreciate everyone tremendously. I don't have the gumption right now to dive into the nitty gritty like many of you have, but I would like to offer a few simple experiences of the past few weeks gathered in my mind as a tone or colour that perhaps I can pass on.

    For the past 6 weeks I've provided space at the request of Carolyn Gimian, for a course in "Symbolism, Art and Meditation" which centered around the video-recorded talks by VCTR that became the Dharma Art book and later True Perception. This weekly evening gathering was mostly attended by 25 somewhat crusty "original" students. Every week, for a time, we sang, drummed, painted, created and generally played like children. I found the talks themselves mindblowing and provocative. The people were fun to be with, sharp, foolish, and hearfelt. I didn't really know many of them before but so much freshness amidst the sore backs. What an honor to be with.

    I've been working with the "Atlantic Centre for Contemplative Science and Technology", as visualized and led by Jim Torbert and David Whitehorn. They have offered me an opportunity and challenge to "put my money where my mouth is" and bring what I value the most, essentially the heart of my Mukpo heritage, to secular, professional society in as accessible a form as possible. Out of that group, (or parallel to it?) some of us have designed and will teach in April a Masters course in contemplative education at the local university.

    The Shambhala Center in Halifax has been booking many high school tours and I gave a tour to 45 Grade 12 students from the small town of Lunenberg (90 min away) who were so focused and engaged in the instruction in sitting practice. They want us to come down to their school to teach more of the school in January.

    I run a small independent school that is separate from the Shambhala organization and I receive constant support for my own lungta from the current leadership of Shambhala (R Reoch, C Mandelker, Jesse Grimes, Terry Rudderham etc etc) There is no tangible short-term benefit they receive other than they know when they see a good thing for society.

    Last weekend I dropped in to the St Margaret's Bay community who held a gathering of stewards of the environment, people who were really getting their fingers dirty joyfully finding gentle ways of living sustainably in community, not out of fear, but out of inspiration. The age range in the room went from the 20s into er . . . the 70's

    I saw the Dorje Loppon Lodro Dorje a week ago and we talked about the mahamura study group of 40 people he is leading at the Shambhala Center. He is a jewel that guided me and many of my vajra siblings through our path during the late 80's and early 90's and I was so happy to hear of him currently teaching.

    This summer I heard one of "those" talks by SMR where I felt his intimacy, directness and clear understanding for me as a householder yogin. I knew he knew the texture of my life and practice. I went to the talk out of duty, and my wife's advice that it would be good for me.

    And there is Windhorse Farm, and John Wimberly running for city council and Elephant Journal and this blog and and

    Maybe all of us have a list of small ordinary pieces of brilliance, humor and expansion constantly arising. Isolated they might not feel the warmth of each other's vitality. If you take a thousand embers and gather them together they will surely make a fire.

    And I know that little of this is the Shambhala organization per se, and it doesn't point to a solution to solve the money, admin or generations, but it is the reason that I, like Waylon, Noel, Layth, Michael and others, will never, ever give up on this world.

  45. Will Brown says:

    (Repost from ShambhalaNetwork.) I read the article but haven’t yet parsed the many threads of commentary. It is provocative, unsubstantiated, and yet throbs from Waylon’s heart. I cringed at the repetitive “older students and their money” theme but agreed with the curriculum frustration. But hey, as my friend C. reminds me, this is a young lineage – another thousand years and it will be worked out!

    Broaden the base. Keep the SSBS. Open up to other traditions and thought leaders. Don’t give up on anybody. Remember the View.

    (Added) "Leaving in droves"? Hmmm… Longtime practitioners still wanting another "now". How about that "great view of emptiness"?

    It was recently publicly announced that a Shambhala administratove department had its budget cut. So, not totally hush hush.

    The Sakyong made clear a few years back that the Shambhala Terma was a ground where we all could meet. Kagyu and Nyingma to us is like wet to water – inseparable, it's not going anywheres.

    My Level 1 was only in 2008 so am no grizzled vet) but I just finished a new class, Basic Goodness series, called Who Am I? And theres a strong thread here which has potential to lead to people joining in droves and the dharma going out into the community. The material has great group and solo exercises as well as an intro to the Abhidharma (development of ego).

    Your blog is a dharmic wildweed and in this connected age everywhere is Tahrir square. So, be the change.

  46. elephantjournal says:

    My understanding is that Kagyu Nyingma has "gone somewhere"—no longer on our shrines, particularly, and the nyingma no longer taught, though available?

    As for older students and money, money is energy, as many New Agey types like to say—but on a practical level losing one's core base will affect any rock band, business, organization, and…yes, community.

    That said, of course—as a former sergeant and still-member of the DK, I've spent many countless hours learning from and enjoying and crying because of our elder warriors. Money is the least of their contributions, and we could use all of them. I mention also their wonderful teaching, training and magnetizing ability, but you seem to have pruned that out of your post?

    Yours in GES,

    WHL

  47. elephantjournal says:

    I love this and want to read this over and over again and pull it like a warm blanket around my heart. Thanks for this.

    It should be its own post.

    I too attended one of those talks by VCTR at your inspiring Shambhala School (which deserves much more fundraising support, which Noel and Kyle and I talked over slightly), the day after I think SMR"s bday celebration at the Shambhala Center. Why aren't the VCTR talks hosted at the Shambhala Center? The talk at the Shambhala School that I attended was made up of only 10 of us—I was by far the youngest, and I'm not that young. It would seem more accessible, perhaps, if offered at the Shambhala Center and widely advertised?

    In any case—good to hear the mandala in Halifax and the surrounding areas feels so rich to you. I am reminded of Lady Diana's response to me about kyudo when I interviewed her a few years ago: "If it feels under-appreciated, go more often! And invite all your friends! Before long, it'd be happening again!"

    And it was good to see you, Robyn. Keep up the hard, cheerful work.

  48. Thom says:

    This "article", regardless of it being factual or not, is clearly true to someone. So I urge everyone to go to your local Shambhala Center or your nearest Land Center and find out if what was said is true for you. I live and work at a land center and have been here for 2 years and have been a part of the sangha since my childhood. Personally I see old and new students coming together more so than ever – Acharyas and Senior students who have been practicing decades longer than Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, coming together under his banner of liberation; a new generation rising to the new challenges that didn't exist for Vajradhatu. In earlier years we just hired whomever to do whatever, the fact that someone was willing to work for cheap or free was enough. Things just aren't the way they used to be. But it is changing, we have to adapt if we want to stay afloat, if we have to change the curriculum a bit to continue to spread the Dhrama in the massive way that we do, so be it. If just one person benefits from this, is that not worth it? As someone that grew up in the sangha I am aware of the territorial or tribe-like mentality that can take over. The, "I was here first" and the, " we used to do it like this" are irrelevant. This frame of mind is our enemy; if you don't see this as a Sacred World then it probably won't be for you. If you're not attempting to recognize basic goodness in yourself then you might have a hard time seeing it in the world. With the unconditional Basic Goodness that we all posses these trials and tribulations can be recognized for what they are, the beautiful and miraculous nature of the phenomenal world. So please investigate your local Shambhala community and make decisions for yourself. So much of this rests in our hearts and hands, that is why the Shambhala Lineage is so strong and dedicated.

  49. […] introduction. Shortly after the publication of Shambhala in Crisis (click for context), which listed Three Seeming Obstacles & Three Possible Antidotes, and the following sangha […]

  50. Waylon,

    Thank you for your essay. It was a delight to read it and began a healing process for me that I hope continues. I am a member now for 35 yrs, a sadhaka, officer in thee Dorje Kasung, MI for 30 yrs and have received Kalapa Assembly transmission. Have not done scorppion seal..
    My positive suggestion is to ask carolyn about the possiblitiy of the Sakyong empowering the “classic” Kagyu members who have been MI / teachers for 20 or more years to do Refuge vows. This could be done after a weekend training that would not he on a pass/ fail basis. It would be a genuine regal gesture of healing that would have more meaning than a stained glass window at a center. It would not lessen the Acharya role one bit and lighten their load. But it would also give us older folks some new found meaning in this seemingly alien atmosphere of the present. I go to our center and all that I loved and served with sincere devotion has been removed without a trace. I feel like a stanger in a strange land.
    We have been of service for many years and would just like a respectful job with some gravitas rather than just teaching another course a smile and a shove out of the way.
    Again thanx so much for your brave attempts at dialogue.

    Bruce

Leave a Reply