Dear Community –
The Kalapa Council was aware that these articles would be published, and would like to provide our community members with additional information to address some questions that have arisen.
- Why did the Kalapa Council write its letter to the community? The letter that was written by the Kalapa Council on February 12 was intended to address concerns from the past, many of them from decades ago, some of which are now being voiced as a part of the current #MeToo movement. The Kalapa Council takes responsibility for supporting our current community, and for investigating all claims of past abuse that are brought to our attention.
- Are there any active Care and Conduct cases involving abuse by teachers or leaders in Shambhala? No current Shastri, Acharya or senior leader has an active case with the International Care and Conduct Panel. There are also currently no active cases of child abuse with the International Care and Conduct Panel. The Kalapa Council will ensure that all claims of abuse are investigated and that victims are communicated with and supported. If you have a case to report, instructions for submitting can be found in the Care and Conduct Policy document.
- How is Project Sunshine related to these efforts? Project Sunshine was an independent effort by an individual. This was not a report commissioned by Shambhala. The Kalapa Council’s letter to the community was published directly in response to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, prior to the release of Project Sunshine. As part of our response to these movements, and in an effort to provide further transparency, the Kalapa Council will begin a deeper investigation into these issues under the guidance of a third-party individual or organization (please see below for further information) in order to have an accurate accounting of the facts and provide public recommendations on how to move forward. We feel that this is crucial for the health and strength of our community to determine how well we are responding to instances of sexual harm and other abuse.
- What steps have already been taken to address abuse? Shambhala’s International Care and Conduct Panel was established in 2002. The original Care and Conduct Policy was enacted in 2004 and in 2015 was updated to provide additional structure around reporting issues of harm within the community. The Kalapa Council is committed to further developing these structures, as well as providing additional measures and oversight needed to ensure that anyone who feels they have been harmed or abused at a Shambhala event or by a Shambhala representative has the resources and support they need to take appropriate actions.
We would like to remind the community that the Care and Conduct policy exists as a way for members to formally address claims of misconduct in the Shambhala community. For more information, please visit the Societal Health and Wellbeing webpage.
As promised in our February 12 letter, in the coming weeks the Kalapa Council will release our next steps for moving this discussion forward. We will make this announcement to our community on March 19.
Among other initiatives to be addressed in the March 19 announcement, we are:
- Actively investigating allegations of past abuse and mishandling;
- Creating safe spaces online and in-person for community members to discuss their concerns, suggestions and experiences with leadership and each other; and
- Engaging a training process for our leaders and teachers facilitated by a third-party individual or organization with expertise in areas of power, abuse and harm.
We also acknowledge that there are many people who have not experienced harm in our community, and who have felt inspired and supported by the Shambhala teachings. We are committed to creating room for all voices and experiences in this discussion.
We do not condone harm or discrimination of any kind and we see it as part of our mission to address and prevent it. We are committed to working through these challenges together to build a stronger and more caring community. We invite anyone interested in this work to contribute to creating a process where individuals continue to feel safe submitting complaints and sharing their experiences. Members of our community have already helped us begin this process. Please see this article for more information.
Lastly, you can always reach the Kalapa Council at firstname.lastname@example.org with any additional feedback, comments, concerns or thoughts.
Yours in the Vision,
The Kalapa Council
Josh Silberstein, Chair