Organisation Shambala international
Resignation letter of 13 Acharyas with the key point being the the unwillingness of head of the group to enter into a sincere dialogue at July 8th2020
"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. [...] 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 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. [...] 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."
full text (in English, Spanish und Italien) here: https://shambhalatimes.org/2020/07/08/acharya-resignation-letter/
Open letter of 68 adults of second generation (whose parents were Shambala members) to the head of the group Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche at June 30th 2020
"The following republishes an open letter from second-generation members of the Shambhala community to Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, the community’s leader and spiritual teacher. The letter expresses a heartfelt request for the Sakyong to engage in a path of authentic accountability for his actions that harmed specific individuals and the community at large": "We are saddened not to have seen any movement from you toward more genuine apology or toward taking full and direct responsibility for the harm that your past behavior has caused—both to individuals who were directly harmed by misconduct and to the community as a whole through emotional turmoil, the closure of Shambhala Centers, and more. We have not seen from you a sufficient public attempt to acknowledge these harms, to listen to community members, or to initiate healing in any other fashion. We are deeply concerned that the lack of genuine accountability will be the undoing of the Shambhala community and lead to the disappearance of the Shambhala teachings in our lifetimes. As students of a genuine path of spiritual warriorship, we take sexual harm very seriously. We also believe that healing and accountability are fully embraced within the vision of the Great Eastern Sun. The vulnerability and discomfort of pursuing a path of authentic accountability are not a punishment. Rather, they are a mark of warriorship and compassion that will lead to restoring faith and trust in our relationships and in your role as an earth protector. Such a path would require bravery and willingness to do hard work guided by experts in accountability, sexual harm, and healing to truly address the needs of all those who were harmed. We believe you can do this, and we ask you to take this step as a warrior, a Buddhist, and a vajra master. We are further saddened by what appears to be a growing ingroup/outgroup between two minorities of extreme loyalists on one end and extreme critics on the other end. Each group creates self-confirming echo chambers while community members trying their best to hold the paradox of a fallible human sakyong fade from the conversation. In this light, we feel it is important to address the recent letter that has been circulated informally by several students who describe themselves as the “Nepal pilgrimage planning group.” This letter states that you “shared that [you] will do [your] part to help facilitate healing by teaching and connecting with students in a gradual and organic manner.” We are concerned that communications in an “organic manner” will exacerbate the growing ingroup/outgroup dynamic rather than facilitating healing. What we need from you now are open, transparent communications that reach the worldwide sangha in an equitable manner; our community is too large and in too much turmoil for ad hoc, organic communications through a selective group. In the past, you created many skillful lines of communication and used them well for this purpose. Now is the time to engage the sangha. Now is the time to do the hard work of creating enlightened society. Because we long so deeply to see community healing, we feel it is important to say a few more words about the letter from the “Nepal pilgrimage planning group,” given their claim to understand your views and intentions. This letter, while seemingly well-intentioned, misguidedly suggests that community healing can be achieved in three ways: (1) by your having had private conversations with people harmed by your behavior; (2) by your having sent several apology letters to the sangha in 2018; and (3) by members of the community continuing to practice the dharma faithfully. With respect, sir, these three ways are not sufficient to facilitate community healing. First, the entire community has been harmed as a collective, beyond individuals—centers have closed, local sanghas have fallen apart, people’s trust has been broken. While it is laudable that you have sought personal forgiveness from individuals whom you harmed, that does not constitute healing at a community level. Second, the letters you sent to the global sangha in 2018 do not in and of themselves constitute community healing. Repairing the extent of harm to the community will require more emotional work on all of our parts. Given the scope and severity of harm, several email apologies represent merely the first of many steps. Third, while we should always incorporate practice into what we do as Shambhala Buddhists, practice alone will not produce community healing. Practice is practice for showing up as warriors in difficult situations. Practice is practice for living in the challenge. Now it is time to live in the challenge—to show up with warriorship to the difficult conversations and emotional exchanges required to heal. Sir, we ask you now to step onto a path of genuine, authentic accountability on behalf of yourself, the community, and the global Shambhala organization. We ask you to courageously take responsibility for your actions and the harm that has resulted from them. We ask you to engage in open-hearted, vulnerable two-way communication with the community, including with local Shambhala Centers across the mandala."
letter to be retrieved here: https://shambhalatimes.org/2020/06/30/open-letter-from-68-dharma-brats-to-sakyong-mipham-rinpoche/ and http://www.dharmabrats.org date of retrieval: 12.7.2020
To the International Shambhala Board from the Board of Shambhala Stockholm
"To the International Shambhala Board from the Board of Shambhala Stockholm:To the Shambhala Board, to the Shambhala community
We write this letter in agreement with Pema Chödrön, London Shambhala Meditation Centre Council, the Interim Governing Council of the Shambhala Center of New York and The Board of the Boston Shambhala Center. We are opposed to the Shambhala boards´ decision to invite the Sakyong to give the Rigden Abhisheka in June at Dechen Chöling. Despite the recent letter from the Shambhala Board, we feel this is the wrong decision and does not take into account strong sentiments in the community. Shambhala Scandinavia has been severely affected due to the accusations of sexual misconduct by the Sakyong and that which was revealed in its wake. Shambhala Stockholm has lost half of its members. Since January 1st this year, Shambhala Stockholm no longer has a center. 3 out of 5 teachers have left. The head of finance has left. The head of web has left. We have been affected in other ways as well; we had a very prosperous collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art that was terminated. When trying to rent a place for a retreat we have been asked to explain our view on the accusations of Sakyong, in order to be considered etc. Shambhala Stockholm started 25 years ago and has not received any reports of sexual misconduct during this time. We have enjoyed a great connection between the groups in Scandinavia; a relationship that took years to build. Helsinki no longer has an active group. The Copenhagen group was founded in 1977 as a Trungpa group and one of the oldest in Europe. It has survived for 42 years; until now. Copenhagen no longer has an active group. The Oslo group remains but with much less activity. This clearly shows the consequences on the Scandinavian region and how we have been affected by the crisis. Members are still leaving. Lately because of the announcement by Dechen Chöling inviting the Sakyong to give the Abisheka. A lot of circumstances have been revealed since this crisis started. Showing that there are fundamental problems within Shambhala that allowed this to happen. That there has been a severe culture of silence in Shambhala that let this go on for a long time. We have heard it from teachers, we heard it from people in the Kalapa council and others, that they are sorry that they didn't act in time.
Now its time to act. Now its time for change. Not going back to business as usual. This is not a small question we are dealing with. This is about the future of Shambhala. And it’s not only a small issue concerning us in Shambhala. It’s in Rigpa, in Zen, in the Catholic Church, in the society at large. It’s a huge task and the measures taken should be significant. Not just on the surface. A mail from Sakyong is not enough. A new Care and Conduct policy is not enough. It’s the core mechanisms that have to be dealt with. The structure of the organization that allowed this to happen. Shambhala has to live with these accusations. They are just a mouse click away. Easy to find. The article about the Sakyong are in the New York Times and recently The Washington Post reported about Pemas decision to step down etc. Do we want a Shambhala that closes itself, shutting down questions from the larger society? Trying constantly to defend and protect itself. Many of us connected with Shambhala in particular because of its fresh, new approach and form. A way of practicing not caught in old rules, traditions and structures. Of the many of the worlds many Buddhist organizations, Shambhala for sure would have the potential to change. Finding new ways to be up to date with the world. Not holding on to the old forms.
For us change is essential. Change on many levels. According to the Shambhala.org web site; The Sakyong has waived his right to suspend or appoint directors to the Shambhala board until October 17, 2021. Are we then going back to business as normal, with the same structures as before; one-man-rule, the guru on the top, and everybody else in different positions appointed by him? This, to many is seen as the main cause of these problems. The Board of Shambhala Stockholm The Regional Coordinator of Scandinavia
Here are some quotes that we feel expresses our view; ”'When I read the recent letter from the Sakyong saying that he wished to start teaching again and would do so for all who requested, I was disheartened. I experienced this news as such a disconnect from all that’s occurred in the last year and half. It feels unkind, unskillful and unwise for the Sakyong to just go forward as if nothing had happened without relating compassionately to all of those who have been hurt and without doing some deep inner work on himself.” Letter from Pema Chödrön to Acharyas and Shambhala Board Members
”There isn't enough evidence shown that things have fundamentally changed. Without that fundamental change, this abhisheka looks like a first step in a return to business as usual. That is profoundly disappointing and disturbing.” The Interim Governing Council of the Shambhala Center of New York
”The vast majority of the LMSC Council, its teams and Trustees oppose this invitation. We consider it premature and likely to cause a fracture in the organisation, resulting in many members leaving and substantial further damage to Shambhala.” London Shambhala Meditation Centre Council
“Many of our members who put their faith in the International Board are disappointed by this decision, which gives the appearance of virtually no minimum standard, plan for oversight, assessment of the Sakyong’s understanding of his past misdeeds nor his capability to resume teaching.” The Board of the Boston Shambhala Center
“In An Olive Branch's work with other Buddhist organizations in the United States, we have seen the suffering that stems from concentration of power in one person – the founder, head priest, Rinpoche, or other titel. When one individu al, no matter how enlightened they are, is in control of both the spiritual and secular aspects of the organization, accountability is absent” An Olive Branch Final Report March 2019
“Its a big problem. Its not only Shambhala. Its not just Rigpa in the west. Its a deep rooted problem. Its not just one person. Its the system. As we all say; power corrupts. Power corrupts absolutely. So unless the teacher truly is at the level of absolut wisdom and compassion, they should not be given absolut power.” Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo&Lama Tsultrim Allione"
Response to Pema Choedrons withdrawal as Acharya by Robyn Hamilton 18.1.2020
"Forty years ago I lived at a Zen Buddhist community for 12 years that was rocked with sexual scandals by 4 of the 5 top teachers. We held a large sangha forum where people could express their outrage, betrayal, and grief; the teachers apologized and took responsibility. Many nuns and monks disrobed and the center shrunk to a fifth of its size. One nun committed suicide over shame that she had slept with her married teacher and the loss of faith she experienced. The 3 male teachers and the one female teacher left to form new meditation centers in deifferent parts of the country. Over the years we would hear how these teachers and their centers fared. All four achieved continued status and recognition in the national Buddhist community, publishing books and articles in the Shambala Sun and the Yoga Journal, etc. The head roshi tried to reform himself but failed, dying of acute alcoholism at an early age and disgracing his new center with child abuse reports and spousal abuse. Another teacher founded a big center on the opposite coast but had affairs with married students and divorced his devoted wife. The third male teacher founded one center, which became disbanded after it became known that he had an affair with a married student while also married. He then relocated, remarried yet another student, and declared himself reformed and faithful to his third wife, only to repeat the pattern of having an affair with another married student and yet another public disgrace. I have not heard anything damaging about the female roshi but I don’t know. The shame and confusion of sangha members caused by these deluded actions of their teachers is long lasting, and caused many to forsake Buddhist teachers in general. I was fortunate to leave over thirty years ago and connect with a Vipassana meditation center where there were standards of teacher conduct and a system of accountability . You could feel the difference in purity and integrity. Eventually I connected with a female Vajrayana teacher with utmost integrity who has trained other teachers who also have sterling characters and embody love, kindness, and Bodhicitta .I now have 3 female teachers that I have known for 25 years who have stellar qualities. I am so grateful for their shining examples of the possibilities of the Path, and for the love and patience they continually shower upon me. We can have love and compassion for transgressors but they should not be entrusted with power again this lifetime. Let them be humble and serve the dharma in humility" in https://shambhalatimes.org/2020/01/16/letter-from-ani-pema-chodron/ Abrufdatum: 16.1.2020
Pema Choedroen steps back as an Acharya at Shambala, 14.1.2020
"Dear Acharyas and Shambhala Board Members [...] I’m writing to let you know that I have decided to step down as an acharya. As you know, I haven’t actually served as an acharya for a long time, and I have been considering retiring for a few years. And now, the time has come. When I read the recent letter from the Sakyong saying that he wished to start teaching again and would do so for all who requested, I was disheartened. I experienced this news as such a disconnect from all that’s occurred in the last year and half. It feels unkind, unskillful and unwise for the Sakyong to just go forward as if nothing had happened without relating compassionately to all of those who have been hurt and without doing some deep inner work on himself. Then came the letter from the Board informing the Shambhala community that they have invited the Sakyong to give the Rigden Abhisheka in June, and I was dumbfounded. The seemingly very clear message that we are returning to business as usual distresses me deeply. How can we return to business as usual when there is no path forward for the vast majority of the community who are devoted to the vision of Shambhala and are yearning for accountability, a fresh start, and some guidance on how to proceed? I find it discouraging that the bravery of those who had the courage to speak out does not seem to be effecting more significant change in the path forward. [...] But for me, personally, to have the very first indication of how we are going to manifest be that we are returning to business as usual is shocking and also heartbreaking. [...] Hopefully, it’s not too late to reverse this trend [...] Nevertheless, I do not feel that I can continue any longer as a representative and senior teacher of Shambhala given the unwise direction in which I feel we are going." in https://shambhalatimes.org/2020/01/16/letter-from-ani-pema-chodron/ date of retrieval: 16.1.2020
"Pema Chödrön, born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown, became one of the first Westerners to ordain as a Buddhist nun in 1981 under Shambhala founder and the Sakyong’s father, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. In 1984, she established Gampo Abbey, one of the first Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in North America, in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Since then, she has become perhaps Shambhala’s most high-profile teacher, writing several bestselling books, including When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times (Shambhala Publications, 1996), and recently appearing in an hour-long interview with Oprah Winfrey, where she spoke about the issues at Shambhala." in https://tricycle.org/trikedaily/pema-chodron-shambhala/amp/ date of retrieval: 18.1.2020
David Schneider steps back as an Acharchia at Shambala 13.1.2020
"Acharia steps back David Schneider’s letter: Dear Friends in the Noble Sangha and Shambhala Community,This is to say that after serious consideration, I plan to step back from the role of acharya. Trying to do this properly, I have written a letter to the Sakyong, since he was the person who appointed me. That letter, like the decision, is highly personal; I am not suggesting that any other acharya—nor anyone else in the community—do other than what their heart tells them to do. My letter to the Sakyong expresses much gratitude. It was an honor to serve in that capacity for many years. Then gradually it wasn’t.Similarly, I want to thank you for the opportunity to go into the teachings and practices together these past 23 years. It has been very moving; a tremendously rich path. I would not have traded it for any other, even if I could have. This is not to say that everything has been OK. Clearly, everything has not been OK. We would not have experienced such a powerful societal explosion—ongoing—if everything had been OK.I did not myself see the things initially alleged against the Sakyong; but I did observe, and I was part of, an unhealthy, selectively hierarchical system of privilege and power, one that led to many people getting hurt, women mostly. I personally tried never to cause harm, but I am sure that through the years, I have done so. This will have come from my stupidity, greed, and concupiscence. These qualities, and actions arising from them, are a source of personal shame and of karmic consequence. I can only hope to find forgiveness.As for teachings, I tried to stay close to source materials, passing along wisdom from Buddhist and Shambhala traditions. Where I have interpolated with opinion or personal narrative—and especially if I have led anyone astray from true dharma—I offer sincere apologies. I trust this can be purified through further practice and study with genuine teachers.While I love many acharyas as individuals, I feel very differently about us as a group. We have never been cohesive, nor are we now. In leaving, I hope to avoid divisive internal politics, sudden barrages of useless email, and especially attempts—in which I have also participated—to push our group into reductive or simplistic positions. I hope no longer to be thinking about whether or how the Sakyong will answer our entreaties for communication; to no longer be chewing over questions of loyalty, or definitions of our role. I want to set down the title — one that seems to me to have no future, and to exist in the present on a very questionable basis—and use the remainder of my time thinking more creative thoughts."
https://www.reddit.com/r/ShambhalaBuddhism/comments/ems4yw/acharia_steps_back/ date of retrieval: 13.1.2020
Shambhala scandals continue with arrests of two former teachers, revelation of a fixer 28.12.2019 https://www.dailycamera.com/2019/12/28/top-10-local-stories-of-2019-no-3-shambhala-scandals-continue-with-arrests-of-two-former-teachers-revelation-of-a-fixer/
SPECIAL REPORT: Secrets of Shambhala 13.12.2019
"For months, Chapman News has been investigating an interterm travel course at the Shambhala Mountain Center in Colorado. Today we bring you a special report that raises questions about student safety."
Shambhala sakyong’s Boulder County house for sale The Marshall Road home is listed for $2.4 million 15.8.2019
Shambhala Mountain Center apologizes for not properly addressing abuse, sexual misconduct, 10.7.2019
SMC Response to Recent Denver Post Article, 10.7.2019
Shambhala, the Boulder-born Buddhist organization, suppressed allegations of abuse, ex-members say
Director of Boulder Shambhala Center: “Our culture failed to support many of those who’ve been harmed” , 7.7.2019
Shambhala, the Boulder-born Buddhist organization, suppressed allegations of abuse, ex-members say
Director of Boulder Shambhala Center: “Our culture failed to support many of those who’ve been harmed” 7.7.2019
Report: Shambhala had former member go through therapy instead of Boulder police after reported sex assault 2.7.2019
Buddhist official tells police alleged abuse victim was exploring her sexuality, 1.7.2019
https://www.denverpost.com/2019/07/07/shambhala-sexual-abuse/Buddhist official tells police alleged abuse victim was exploring her sexuality
Karme Choling makes decision to rehang pictures, in act of disregard for survivors' mental health Jamie 29.6.2019
New arrest for child sex abuse at the embattled Buddhist group Shambhala
The arrest follows a year of multiple allegations against current and former members of Shambhala International. Joshua Eaton 28.6.2019
Another former Boulder Shambhala member accused of sexual assault on a child Mitchell Byars 28.6.2019 https://www.dailycamera.com/2019/06/28/another-former-boulder-shambhala-member-accused-of-sexual-assault-on-a-child/
Second former Boulder Shambhala member accused of sexual assault on a child
Michael Smith, 54, arrested on suspicion of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust Mitchell Byars 28.6.2016
Another Former Boulder Shambhala Member Accused of Sexual Assault on a Child Jamie, 30.6.2019
Letter of Resignation and Departure from Shambhala Community - Katrin Stelzel May 30, 2019
"Katrin Stelzel has been highly involved with Shambhala over the past 31 years. She was the Joint Managing Director of Shambhala Europe, the Mukpo Family European Secretary, a Transition Task Force member, a representative of the European Potrang and a member of the Shambhala Europe Treasury Council. She recently sent this letter of resignation by email to about 200 friends and colleagues, wherein she discusses some of her reactions to the developments over the past year, and identifies and apologizes for the various forms of abuse that were taking place. For many, this has been a cathartic read." in https://www.buddhistprojectsunshine.org/single-post/2019/05/30/Letter-of-Resignation-and-Departure-from-Shambhala-Community---Katrin-Stelzel?utm_campaign=295d5307-5751-4105-927b-a6e75f4c0890&utm_source=so
The open letter can be read here: https://www.reddit.com/r/ShambhalaBuddhism/comments/btlwvl/katrin_stelzels_letter_of_resignation_and/
Shambhala International fights to survive in face of sex scandal by Carina Julig, 13.5.2019
Open Letter to Acharyas and Interim Board by Aline Thivolle, 11.5.2019
The Open letter to the Acharyas can be signed here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1S60B0zzxCaxD6xReZHTS0KhgqQ156EDOsFHzfXeBTsc/edit
Final Report on the Buddhist Project Sunshine Investigations by Carol Merchasin am 9.4.2019
"I began investigating allegations of sexual misconduct against the Sakyong in April 2018, one year ago. These investigations involved not only sexual assaults and clergy misconduct but also allegations of complicity on the part of Shambhala teachers and other leaders. I am addressing this report directly to the community, because Buddhist Project Sunshine has dissolved and there are several loose ends that I would like to bring to your attention. 1. New information on the allegations of “Ann” from the BPS August 2018 report; 2. The failure to investigate the 2002 sexual assault in Chile; and 3. The failure to investigate complicity of Shambhala teachers and other leaders. [...] Yet, none of these allegations of complicity were investigated. This is not normal, nor right. It is certainly not a way to restore trust to a community. Finally It appears that the Interim Board did not want to know the answers to a number of questions. Certainly, they did not want to know about the sexual assault in Chile and perhaps as importantly, they did not want to know who knew, who covered up, or who was complicit in 2002, 2011 or any other time. I am acutely aware of the Interim Board’s loyalty to the Sakyong and possibly to some of the very people who were complicit. I recommended an independent monitor specifically for this reason -- so that when all was said and done, there would be no concern about manipulation, about true independence, about the scope. What I know is that a portion of the investigation was halted in December and the issue of the complicity of Shambhala leaders was eliminated from the scope. In 25 years of practice, I have never had a client that would dare to do either. I do not understand how an organization whose mission is to create enlightened society can hold itself below the moral and legal minimums of the society it wants to enlighten. This is the end of a long road for me. It has been my privilege to walk this dark path of spiritual and institutional betrayal with so many brave people. Thank you to those who provided support to all survivors, endured the painful process of bringing the truth to light, and encouraged me during this very difficult year. Thank you too for holding onto your own vision of enlightened society." aus: https://www.buddhistprojectsunshine.org/single-post/2019/04/08/Final-Report-on-the-Buddhist-Project-Sunshine-Investigations---Carol-Merchasin?utm_campaign=67f1a8d7-da7d-444d-8a3c-afc6e57605af&utm_source=so
"Heartbroken father wins wrongful death lawsuit against Japanese 'death dance cult leader' who made 32-year-old daughter his 'sex slave and plied her with mind-bending drugs' that drove her to suicide
- Tibor Stern won a wrongful death lawsuit after a six year legal battle against Katsura Kan, who he accused of driving daughter Sharon to suicide in 2012
- Kan is a Japanese citizen who was teaching Butoh, a dance in which students are told to 'wallow in the darkness of their soul' at a college in Colorado
- He was found liable by a Florida circuit court in March after he failed to attend a summary judgment via telephone; Damages have yet to be determined
- Butoh features slow, controlled movements and is traditionally performed in white body makeup, it also portrays grotesque imagery or absurd environments
- Sharon met Kan when she enrolled in the master of fine arts program at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado in 2007
- 'Kan intentionally and/or recklessly inflicted emotional pain and suffering on Sharon from the day he met her until the day she died' according to Tibor's suit
- Tibor claims Kan 'seduced Sharon, abused her physically and mentally, humiliated her, insulted her, and manipulated her'
- He added: 'I'm a very loving father and she was my best friend. I know who she was. I know what she became. The man needed to be found guilty'
[...] Kan, traveling the world, avoided service of the lawsuit for a year. Tibor's attorneys finally hired a top international investigation company, which located Kan and served him in Thailand. Then Kan argued that, because he was a citizen of Japan and had never been to Florida, he could not be sued in Florida courts. But the judge ruled that Kan's email and Skype communications with Sharon, while she was in Florida, made him subject to the state's laws. Kan appealed the decision, and it took almost four years for the issue to be settled — that Kan could be sued in Florida. In the meantime, Tibor Stern hoped to help other families who were trying to save loved ones from controlling individuals and groups. He founded Families Against Cult Teachings (FACT), a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness about destructive, high-control, high-demand groups, and to provide victim services. FACT has shut down 10 cults and provided information to law enforcement that lead to the indictments of five cult leaders, Tibor said. But that doesn't mean the cult leaders quit. 'They get indicted, but they will continue their activities,' Tibor said. 'It's a cancer. They go somewhere else and reopen. They reinvent themselves.' [...] So FACT is changing direction — instead of trying to shut cults down, the organization will focus on prevention. 'We came to the conclusion that it's like fighting cancer with a Band-aid, going after cult leaders,' Tibor said. 'My answer is education, bringing awareness and changing laws.'
While he was building FACT, Tibor's lawsuit dragged on. At one point Kan offered Tibor $1,000 to settle the case. Then Kan filed a counter-claim against Tibor, saying the wrongful death lawsuit was 'a misguided campaign' to damage his life and career. In court documents, Kan said that Sharon showed up at his performances uninvited, and that he advised her to stay home with her family to rest and recover. He denied almost every allegation in Tibor's lawsuit and claimed they were unfounded. But Ben Murphey, Tibor's attorney, sought the testimony of Dr. Eli Levy, Sharon's psychologist. Levy testified that while Kan had some positive effects on Sharon — he got her to believe in herself — mostly the effects were negative. Reviewing Kan's emails, Levy said he believed Kan was a 'pathological narcissist.' Kan was 'extremely controlling and manipulative, threatening to withdraw love and affection and mentoring, unless she's compliant and totally obedient to his dictates,' Levy testified. 'In my opinion,' Levy said, 'he breached a professional relationship between a mentor and teacher and a student. He took advantage of his position. I believe he abused her emotionally, physically, economically and sexually. I believe he misused his power and put her in a position of submissiveness, that she essentially had to surrender who she is and what she is, for the sake of getting his love, approval and recognition.'" in: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6883685/Father-wins-civil-suit-against-dance-cult-leader-drove-daughter-suicide.html 8.4.2019
Verdict for the death of Sharoni Stern at 18th of March 2019
"After six long awaited and emotional years there has finally been some justice in the death of Sharoni Stern, daughter of Tibor Stern, Founder and President of F.A.C.T. (Families Against Cult Teachings and Abuses Inc) [...] The verdict is in! Katsura Kan the ex-Naropa teacher has been found liable for the death of our beloved daughter Sharoni Stern in the 17th Judicial Circuit Court in Broward County, FL on March 18, 2019. This will set a major precedence in all future cases. Let this be a loud and clear message to all predators and cult leaders - you will not get away with your evil, manipulative, predatory ways. Justice will be served! We will further inform the public the connection between Naropa, an accredited University and all Naropa teachers that have been convicted and accused of all kinds of abuses. We will challenge Naropa's accreditation." in:
https://familiesagainstcultteachings.blogspot.com/ date of retrieval: 28.3.2019
Shambhala releases Olive Branch report detailing allegations of abuse in community, Littlefair, S., 20th of March 2019
An Olive Branch Report on 20th of March 2019
Report on the Shambhala Listening Post, An Olive Branch, 20.3.2019
"This document contains a cover letter followed by An Olive Branch’s Report on the Shambhala Listening Post."
"To access other files and information related to An Olive Branch’s work, please visit: http://communitycare.shambhala.org
Shambhala Final Project Report, An Olive Branch, 20.3.2019
"This document contains a cover letter followed by An Olive Branch’s Final Project Report to the Shambhala Interim Board." https://www.dropbox.com/s/111arue9y4gtk73/AOB_ListeningPostReport_March2019_final.pdf?dl=0
Shambhala leaders urge Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche to “step back” amid new abuse allegations
Leader of Boulder-born Buddhist community remains in retreat in India, 21.2.2019, https://www.denverpost.com/2019/02/21/shambhala-sakyong-mipham-abuse-allegations/
Shambhala survivors left to do recovery work for themselves. Their stories “disappeared into a black hole” in investigation, 21.2.2019, https://www.thecoast.ca/halifax/shambhala-survivors-left-to-do-recovery-work-for-themselves/Content?oid=20682142
UPDATED: Buddhist leader allegedly bit, struck, sexually assaulted students The scandal inside Shambhala International continues to grow, 20.2.2019, https://thinkprogress.org/buddhist-leader-allegedly-bit-struck-sexually-assaulted-students-6239326ba9ce/
Acharya Letter to the community, 20.2.2019, https://mailchi.mp/9e8284d38a21/acharya-letter-feb?e=08e912d1b6
Further abuse accusations against Sakyong Mipham, head of Shambhala Buddhism, 17.2.2019, https://www.patheos.com/blogs/americanbuddhist/2019/02/further-abuse-accusations-against-sakyong-mipham-head-of-shambhala-buddhism.html
Open letter by former Ku Sungs, at 18.2.2019, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1W3fN12nEY-l0U2yejz3O4vcqaCMfusIa/view?fbclid=IwAR0Qo3zbWkJ3E5wjPUhLoVwOJnKwZee_AAzA79kvgj9K6DcOfh5uU7p5pM0
Former teacher at Boulder’s Shambhala accused of sexually assaulting student 12.2.2019
Reflections on the Wickwire Holms Report - statement by Carol Merchasin, at 6.2.2019, https://www.buddhistprojectsunshine.org/single-post/2019/02/05/Reflections-on-the-Wickwire-Holms-Report---A-Message-from-Carol-Merchasin
"I regret that more of the women who were harmed did not come forward. But Shambhala’s long history of betrayal, silencing and shunning made it very difficult for survivors to want to devote any time and energy to this. I have learned in this past year that these survivors owe us nothing and they will participate when they feel safe enough to do so. I regret that the leadership of Shambhala and their lawyers did not understand that to be effective, an investigation has to be neutral and independent in perception as well as reality. [...] In the end, the community suffers – it does not get the benefit of hearing from all of the people who had allegations and from whom we could learn, and as a result, the investigation is incomplete."
in: https://www.buddhistprojectsunshine.org/single-post/2019/02/05/Reflections-on-the-Wickwire-Holms-Report---A-Message-from-Carol-Merchasin date of retrieval: 6.2.2019
"The conduct that Ms. Bath validated is in general sexual misconduct but in specific terms, it is a sexual assault. So, let’s call it what it is – a sexual assault, which is a criminal offense with no statute of limitations in Nova Scotia where it took place. [...] issues of misconduct but that “[n]o one reported criminal behavior.” That is not accurate. Claimant #1’s allegations of sexual assault were substantiated, and sexual assault is most definitely criminal conduct."
in: https://www.buddhistprojectsunshine.org/single-post/2019/02/05/Reflections-on-the-Wickwire-Holms-Report---A-Message-from-Carol-Merchasin date of retrieval: 6.2.2019
"Third-party investigation into allegations of sexual abuse at Shambhala International" - retrieval of findings published on 3.2.2019: https://tricycle.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/2-3-19-WH-Report-Final-Package.pdf
"A third-party investigation into allegations of sexual abuse at Shambhala International has found that it was “more than likely” that the organization’s leader, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, committed sexual misconduct in two cases, according to a report released by Shambhala on February 3. The report, which was based on an investigation conducted by the law firm Wickwire Holm, also received “20 reports of sexual misconduct by other leaders”—and was made public shortly after Colorado authorities on February 1 arrested a former teacher at the Shambhala Mountain Center in Boulder on charges of sexually assaulting a child, the local Daily Camera reported." in https://tricycle.org/trikedaily/shambhala-investigation/ date of retrieval: 4.2.2019
Sexual assault of a child:
"Former Shambhala teacher arrested for sexual assault of a child [...] Police in Boulder, Colorado have arrested a former teacher in the Shambhala community, William Lloyd Karelis, on suspicion of sexual assault of a child by a person in a position of trust. Karelis allegedly sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl who he met through his position in Shambhala, according to a release from the Boulder Police Department. The Boulder Daily Camera reports that, according to an affidavit, Karelis met the girl through Shambhala when she was eight years old, and he was assigned to her as a meditation instructor. [...] Boulder police believe there are additional victims and have requested anyone with information to contact Boulder Police Detective Ross Richart at 303-441-1833 or Detective Heather Frey at 303-441-3369. "
in https://www.lionsroar.com/former-shambhala-teacher-arrested-for-sexual-assault-of-a-child/ date of retrieval: 2.2.2019
Wickwire Holm Report, 3.2.2019, https://tricycle.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/2-3-19-WH-Report-Final-Package.pdf
1. Report (27.2.2017-15.2.2018) www.andreamwinn.com/pdfs/Project_Sunshine_Final_Report.pdf
2. Report (28.6.2018) andreamwinn.com/project_sunshine/Buddhist_Project_Sunshine_Phase_2_Final_Report.pdf
3. Report (23.8.2018) andreamwinn.com/project_sunshine/Buddhist_Project_Sunshine_Phase_3_Final_Report.pdf
Ex-Boulder Shambhala teacher accused of sexually assaulting student in early 2000s, 1.2.2019, https://www.denverpost.com/2019/02/01/boulder-shambhala-teacher-sexual-assault/
Larimer County sheriff investigating “possible criminal activity” at Buddhist retreat Shambhala Mountain Cente, 12.12.2018, https://www.denverpost.com/2018/12/12/shambhala-mountain-center-investigation/
Colorado police investigates sexual abuse in the organization Shambala International:
Press release of 9.12.2018: "Colorado police investigating alleged sexual assaults by Buddhist leaders
The investigation follows a string of sex abuse allegations against Shambhala International and its leader. [...] Authorities in Colorado have launched a criminal investigation into allegations of sexual assault against prominent Buddhist leader Sakyong Mipham and members of his organization, Shambhala International, ThinkProgress has learned. The probe by the Larimer County, Colorado, Sheriff’s Office was confirmed by four sources who have spoken to investigators and supported by emails obtained by ThinkProgress. The investigation, which has not been previously reported, comes after a series of reports published by the advocacy group Buddhist Project Sunshine accused Mipham of sexual assault and child sex abuse — allegations Mipham and Shambhala International vehemently deny. Shambhala International denied that it or its staff are the subjects of a criminal probe. “At this time, it is our understanding that there is no open criminal investigation in Larimer County,” the organization told ThinkProgress in a statement."
in: https://thinkprogress.org/colorado-police-investigating-alleged-sexual-assaults-by-buddhist-leaders-d5374c4f702d/ date of retrieval: 10.12.2018