March 15, 2024

Someone recently asked me what I think about Shambhala.

Someone recently asked me what I think about Shambhala.

I’ve written and spoken about it before, but here goes:

I grew up in the Buddhist community, and am grateful and proud to have done so. 99% of folks I’ve known on the Buddhist path are boring, wholesome, caring, meditators, etc.

That said, I am glad that Shambhala locally as well as internationally has separated itself from the leader who allegedly did the misconduct, sexual assaulted students, misused power. In some cases Shambhala centers etc have separated themselves or made statements way too slowly or unclearly, but Shambhala overall is a good Buddhist meditation organization and there’s always bad actors in every school, church, business, restaurant, etc–humans being humans. In the same way that we don’t throw out all of a church or organization or non-profit for the awful actions of an individual, Shambhala should learn from this, foster communication and discussion around tough issues.

For years I wrote respectful but troublemaking criticisms and boring exposes of Shambhala and its teachers and had very little support in doing so. Now that it’s cool to hate on or drag the organization, I have little support in being critical and constructive. That’s fine, but worship and hate are two sides of the same problem: theism.

Not an excuse but doesn’t mean the whole community by any means is part of it. I grew up in it, am not a member and haven’t been for many years (though I still meditate and study), and am glad the leader was called out for abuses, tho I don’t hate him. He was our teacher for two decades, and hurt people hurt people—his own origin story and service was always a mix of trauma and blessing.

Shambhala’s mission is to be of benefit, to offer meditation and teachings to work with human neurosis toward fostering kindness and basic goodness, and I ardently hope it can learn from these bad actors’ actions and be of benefit for generations to come.

That mission—if Shambhala can learn from all this and move forward—is urgent, in this day and age of social media strife and climate crisis and speediness and depression.

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