Dear Shambhala Community —
The Board would like to offer the following in regard to topics on which we have received many questions and comments since our last update and that are of particular significance to the community.
We have been asked by center/group leadership, the community and the Sakyong Potrang to articulate our view of the role of the Sakyong, the relationship of Shambhala to the Sakyong Potrang, and related matters. We have spent a great deal of time on these issues, sought independent advice, interviewed many, reviewed the results of the survey(s) (see below), had in-depth meetings with the Process Team Government Models Group, and examined in detail what has worked or not worked in the past.
The Shambhala Board recently surveyed our community’s leadership and understands that the majority of leaders believe that we need to have governance changes in order to have decision-making that reflects the best interests of all parts of the sangha. We believe such changes would: assure the continuity of care and healing initiatives; help restore the reputation of Shambhala; and ensure Shambhala’s sustainability in the future. Our policy views as presented in our August Update and at our October webinar for leaders, appear to have wide support among the sangha.
Over this past year, the Shambhala Board has communicated these views through discussions and in writing to the Sakyong Potrang Board. In July, we sent the Sakyong and the Sakyong Potrang a list of legal and charitable status concerns about Shambhala USA, Shambhala Canada, the Sakyong Potrang USA and the Sakyong Potrang Canada. In October, the Shambhala Board sent a comprehensive proposal to Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and the Sakyong Potrang Board with a proposed restructuring for a more independent Shambhala Board, the role of the Sakyong, and resolution of many issues which have divided, and could continue to divide, the sangha in its recovery and revitalization. It remains our intention to continue working with the Sakyong Potrang and the Sakyong on a way forward. We know you will all have many questions, and we will continue to communicate with you about these efforts.
Practice and Education
Recently, the Shambhala Board learned that Acharyas and Shastris will no longer be authorized to give the vows and lungs that they previously could give, and that the Sakyong would be offering teachings that started in November called Foundations of Dharma and Refuge. This course, which is being offered outside of Shambhala, includes refuge vows with the Sakyong, and a subsequent course will offer the bodhisattva vow.
We are getting many questions about the meaning of these decisions. Like many of you, we were not informed in advance of them. We are deeply concerned that these decisions, when combined with the resignation/retirement of many Acharyas and Shastris, have already led to the cancelation of scheduled vow ceremonies, and will result in a contraction of access and opportunity for many in the sangha who do not wish to study with the Sakyong. We seek to ensure that opportunities for study and taking vows are not reduced within the sangha and will explore opportunities for those who are not studying with the Sakyong.
Care and Conduct
We have taken steps recently to try to mitigate the impact of past harm, and avoid recurrence of harm in the future, by initiatives such as the Right Use of Power training, the new Code of Conduct with its training and recruitment of Panel Members, our community grants program , and the recently announced Therapy Offering. We are now considering other initiatives depending on feedback, the continuing impact of COVID-19, and funding.
We have recently learned of reports of harm that apparently were not earlier reported. The Shambhala Board acknowledges issues of members being harmed in the community have not been fully addressed, and we are further exploring a path forward.
The Shambhala Board apologizes if we have contributed in any way to any person’s being badly treated and then ignored. We recognize that this applies to individuals and groups on all views of their relationship with the Sakyong and the organizations. We know that these issues have made it very difficult for some, whether they felt safe to stay in the Shambhala community or whether they felt they had to leave. We recognize that the care and conduct initiatives are only part of an offering to heal. We must continue to work on these issues, which are important for the organization as a whole. We are considering what can and should be done further with a renewed awareness. We are happy to receive your ideas and proposals on future actions.
Recent Shambhala Board Decisions:
- Sent a proposal for governance changes to the Sakyong Potrang and the Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. (As described above.)
- Completed a new employee Handbook for Shambhala USA and Shambhala Canada.
- Issued a comprehensive Annual Report for 2019 with the expectation that Shambhala will continue to publish one annually.
- Continued to fund community and diversity grants. (See Community Grant Recipients below.)
- Began to define “What is a Shambhala Center” and address policies regarding centers or groups wishing to dissolve or suspend operations.
- Went forward with a Therapy Offering for sangha members who have experienced harm and leaders wanting counsel. (See Care and Conduct Update below.)
- Created, distributed and analysed a comprehensive survey of global leaders on the state of their centres’ finances, online offerings, relationship with the Sakyong and other priority issues. We also interviewed 15 centres globally in-person concerning the survey questions. (See Survey to Leaders below.)
- Went forward with selling the parcel of land behind the Windhorse Retreat Center, which had not been used or developed, with the proceeds to benefit other centres. (See Windhorse Retreat Center Land Sale below.)
- Developed and approved priorities and allocations of resources in a 2021 Budget in response to a Shambhala Global Services (SGS) strategic planning model.
Work with Shambhala Leaders
October 11 Shambhala Board Webinar with Leaders
The Shambhala Board had a webinar with global leaders on October 11 to both provide an update on governance, community grants, leadership surveys, advanced programming and care and conduct issues as well as to have breakout rooms to discuss current issues with our centres and groups. Please click here to view the webinar recording that includes the Shambhala Board updates with the breakout rooms summarized at the end of the recording.
Survey to Leaders
The Shambhala Board and Shambhala Global Services (SGS) sent out a 33-question survey to our global leaders in October. We asked each centre or group to make one inclusive response. 110 centres or groups sent in a completed survey. The Shambhala Board and SGS members also conducted in-person interviews with 15 centres globally. We are very grateful for the time and effort all of our leaders spent making considered and thoughtful answers. Please find here a link to our general summary conclusions and the tabulated survey responses.
The Board is working not only on refining the results but also making recommendations on which we will continue to report in future updates.
Process Team’s Sense of Shambhala Survey
The final part of the Process Team’s Sense of Shambhala Survey report is now complete and can be found on the Process Team Website. Part 4 analyzes the open text responses of the 3,093 Shambhalians who answered the survey in early 2020. The range of comments made about practice and study, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, our organization and our community relationships reflect the diversity of our views and experiences and the depth of our common connection to Shambhala.
Care and Conduct Update
We are pleased to announce, as part of the Reparative Process for Shambhala, we will be partnering with Robert Wright, MSW, RSW, Executive Director of the Peoples’ Counseling Clinic (PCC), to pilot an ongoing Therapy Offering and Counseling Program for Shambhala. It is our hope that an offering of counselling and therapy will contribute to a healthy and vibrant Shambhala community, as well as provide individual support for community members in their healing journey. This offering was designed with the valuable input from community members with a trauma and therapy background. Please click here to view the informational e-mail which was sent on December 8.
Recruitment for Code of Conduct Councils and Facilitators
The Code of Conduct Support Group is currently finalizing the Code of Conduct Procedures, as well as related training and position descriptions for Code of Conduct facilitators, councillors and support people. An announcement to begin recruiting for these positions is forthcoming.
Community Grant Recipients
We are pleased to give an update on the first round of community grants. In our June Board update, we announced the first three grants, which were awarded to The Touching the Earth Collective ($22,000 USD), Expansion of the Shambhala Art Heritage Teachings ($7,014 USD), and the Technical Upgrade of the Shambhala Archives Data Management ($12,800 USD). Please click here to read more about these previously funded projects.
Since our last update, from the first round of three grants these additional four have been approved:
- Addressing Bias & Trauma — $8,350 USD. Mindful Connections for Trauma-Sensitive Practices (MCTSP) pilot.
- Awareness Raising Officer Training — $7,500 EUR / $8,500 USD. To create a safe space where participants can explore our Shambhala culture, share personal experiences and discover blind spots.
- Establishing the Path of Inclusivity Warriorship & Social Liberation — $7,800 USD. This initiative develops the Path of Inclusivity Warriorship — life training in how to create brave and caring environments that welcome everyone.
- Shambhala Archives Phase 2 – $13,072 USD. Database entry of the collection into the new database, digitization and data entry of analog audio and video assets.
A total of $79,536 USD was awarded to these seven first round projects.
We are also pleased to announce the results for the second round of community grants focusing on diversity and inclusivity. Please click here to read more about all proposals that have been approved to date.
In this second round, the projects awarded with funds are:
- Examining Whiteness:$3,900 USD – Examining Whiteness with the heart of Warriorship and the Four Dignities of Investigating Whiteness and Racism.
- Workshop on White Identity: $3,500 USD – Exploring Whiteness and how it shapes individual interactions.
- Enhancing Spirituality and Social Justice for Sustainable Change: $1,500 USD – This project provides spiritual & self-preservation resources for BIPOC people and promote more racial diversity and inclusion.
- Mindfulness and Attachment-based parenting: $3,560 USD – Incorporating evidence-based mindfulness, attachment, and trauma-informed parenting principles to serve high-risk, single mothers of very young children and further parenting discussion within the Shambhala Center.
- Lu-Collective Active Peace Circles: $5,500 USD – Configuring an Active Peace Circle – restorative justice framework – and addressing a case of conflict within our Center.
- Letter Writing Campaign to End Violence Against Black People: $3,000 USD – Using contemplative practice, writers are encouraged to identify incidents of violence against Black people and to connect with their feelings about it.
The total amount of funds granted in this second round is $20,960 USD.
We thank all of the individuals and groups who submitted proposals for grant funding and for the amount of energy and work that everybody has put into each project.
Third Quarter Financials
We are pleased to present the Q3 financial report to the community. These results are for Shambhala Global Services (SGS), which represents a portion of our global Mandala. For a refresher on what is included in SGS click here.
The first nine months of 2020 presented many challenges for SGS due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the continued challenges faced by the Shambhala Community, all of which impacted revenues and activities. SGS had Net Income of $33,198 through September 30, which is 51% below the budgeted goal of $65,634. We expect the macro environment to be challenging for the rest of 2020 and into 2021. Based on our results for the third quarter and current trends, we expect to end the year with a loss. While the loss this year can be covered in part by restricted giving and by cash reserves, we will continue to manage with the objective that expenses must be covered by operational revenues so the reserves can be used for strategic projects, long term investments for the community and to avoid falling back into debt.
Click here to view the September 30 Statement of Activities and Q3 Balance Sheet.
Planned Giving To Shambhala
We are pleased to announce that a new planned giving website for Shambhala community members in the U.S. is being launched. This website has helpful information about making bequests, as well as other ways to support Shambhala with planned giving. This project has been in development since 2019 and we hope it will be of benefit to those of you who are interested in planned giving. Please click here to view the new website with further details.
We will be working on further developing planned giving resources and support materials for Shambhalians in Canada, Europe, and other parts of the world, but this is quite complex as the tax laws and planned giving structures vary greatly from country to country. We hope to be able to provide this level of planned giving support to all community members over time.
Windhorse Retreat Center Land Sale
The Shambhala Board will move forward with an offer to buy 33 acres of land in Plymouth WI adjoining the regional Windhorse Retreat Center, which suspended operations this last year. The land will be sold back to the original owners for the same price paid in 2005 and to support their purpose to use the land for educational purposes. We have consulted with the city centers in the midwest region as well as the major donors for the original land purchase, and in conjunction with their wishes, we will use the estimated $100,000 proceeds to support other Shambhala retreat centers, city centers that are struggling, and regional needs.
Shambhala Mountain Center Update
We continue to work with Shambhala Mountain Center on their recovery from the recent wildfires. For the latest information about SMC, please continue to visit their website. We recognize that several structures that were destroyed or damaged were on Shambhala USA land. The Shambhala Board is actively engaged in the process with SMC in deciding how, when and what to rebuild.
Virtual Cushion & Virtual Chöling
Virtual Cushion is a new, online gathering place for completely new meditators through to seasoned practitioners. Hosted by Shambhala Online, Virtual Cushion features information about Shambhala Centres and Groups from around the world who are offering Learn to Meditate courses, open houses, one-off meditation and sadhana sessions (public chanting practices), discussions, and programs that can be accessed virtually, no matter where you live.
For Vajrayana students, be sure to check out Virtual Chöling – a calendar of free, daily virtual Vajrayana practice sessions. Any Vajrayana student or centre is invited to host a practice session. Virtual Choling is a gathering place for all of us around the world to deepen and connect with our practice and each other.
We are looking for more centres, groups, and teachers that want to participate in both Virtual Cushion (for public programs) and Virtual Chöling (for Vajrayana programs). To get involved in either effort (by hosting a session or having your already-occurring sessions and programs published), contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Appointments & Departures
- Veronika Bauer has retired from the Boards of Director of Shambhala USA and Canada; she remains as “Special Advisor” to these boards.
- Konstanze Brockstedt has retired as director of Dechen Chöling after her seven-year term of service.
- Eve Rosenthal has retired as an acharya.
- Nick Kranz has resigned as a shastri.
- Charlotte Linde has resigned as a shastri.
- Tessa Watt has retired as a shastri.
- Felicja Hartman has stepped down as Amsterdam Shambhala Centre Director.
- Lauren Newton has stepped down as Austin Shambhala Center Director.
- Miles Parker has stepped down as Kootenay Shambhala Centre Director.
- Amsterdam Co-Directors: Aart-Jan van de Pol and Ralph Wieske
- Austin Center Director: David Maynard
- Kootenay Shambhala Centre Director: Cameron Wenaus
Veronika Bauer — Retired from Shambhala Board and Director of Europe Positions
With great appreciation, we want to give all our thanks to Veronika Bauer who has worked on the Shambhala Board since 2018 at the same time she was the Director of Europe. Not being able to envision being without her strong financial, consulting, and insightful work, she will continue as a Special Advisor to the Shambhala Board to work on specific projects on a request basis. On the Shambhala Board, Veronika was the co-chair of the Finance Committee and worked on revenue generation issues, technology, and many other areas. Veronika, as the Director of Europe, worked with all European leaders and centers, brought in financial discipline and helped with Dechen Chöling. Veronika has always brought her cheerful, strong and incisive abilities to all she did. We wish Veronika everything good with her having more time to be with her family, her new leadership role on her local school board and her professional work.
We wish you all a Cheerful Children’s Day and nyida time. May we all be safe and well in this time of the pandemic and continue to be of service and help to all.
In the Vision of the Great Eastern Sun,
The Shambhala Board of Directors