I read with heartbreak the article posted by Rebecca Jamieson this week on Entropy.
I wish to apologize and take responsibility for my part in the ongoing pain Ms. Jamieson has experienced in the aftermath of unwanted sexual contact with Shambhala teacher Lodro Rinzler in 2014. Ms. Jamieson contacted me that year in my volunteer role as Dean of the Teachers’ Academy of Shambhala, a role I held for 8 years. (I left that role in 2016.) One of my responsibilities was to oversee ethical conduct of Shambhala teachers in their official duties, and to serve as a liaison with the Care and Conduct process that addressed their ethical violations.
While I followed the “letter” of my job by immediately suspending Mr. Rinzler from Shambhala teaching for six months (though he continued to teach independently), my response to Ms. Jamieson was personally insensitive and brusque. I have had plenty of time to reflect on the damage such an insensitive initial response must have had on her. Not to be listened to closely, empathetically, by a Shambhala leader when she had not been listened to by Mr. Rinzler had to have been devastating. I was so busy being official that I missed the importance of a personal and kind response.
While at that time I was in the midst of my father’s steep decline and death, that does not excuse my lack of care and empathy for her experience and pain. I am so sorry for Ms. Jamieson’s ongoing anguish, and realize that I failed personally as a woman and in my leadership role to support her in the way that she needed.
We in the Shambhala community have experienced painfully and very publicly the results of not preventing sexual abuse and not addressing its damage. We have not truly listened to or cared for those who have been harmed. In the past, we have placed the integrity of the organization above the care for its members, and this has caused additional immeasurable harm in our community. We are working hard to redress this on every level of our community. We recognize that this harm is a direct contradiction of our most precious teachings about the basic goodness of every human being and the importance of actualizing enlightened society in this very time. As Shambhala community leader, I am deeply sorry.