Dear Shambhala Community,
Bfore we begin our update, we would like to honor and acknowledge the passing of Lady Konchok, the mother of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. In this sad time, we are reminded of the preciousness of human life and are finding inspiration in her as someone who lived courageously both as a strong practitioner and enduring family member. The members of the Interim Board were fortunate to meet with her on our visit to Boulder this May and were moved by her genuineness and authenticity. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to the Sakyong, the Sakyong Wangmo, Lama Pegyal, Lama Gyurme Dorje and Lady Konchok’s extended family.
June Update to the Community
From the many messages the Interim Board has received, we can see that we are a community of diverse views united by a personal connection to the Shambhala teachings, our commitment to the practice of meditation, and an aspiration to help others. As a board, we feel the responsibility to create time and space for further community reflection and dialogue. We also are working on how to sustain and nurture Shambhala now and in the future. Thanks to your support, both as individuals and as practice centers, we feel better able to go forward with important efforts in the areas of care and conduct, finances and administration.
- Place Marpa House on the market in order to meet our substantial debt obligations.
- Cooperatively create a project plan for Care and Conduct initiatives.
- Begin the effort to fund and recruit a full-time Care and Conduct Officer.
- Begin pilot training of a Revenue Generation Course for Shambhala Centers.
- Continue funding of the Shambhala Times.
Interim Board Meeting in Boulder
We met for the second time in person May 16-19 in Boulder. We held a community meeting at the Boulder Shambhala Center, and an audio recording of that event is available to Shambhala members at this link. We also met with board members of Shambhala Mountain Center, toured and met with the residents of Marpa House, and met with members of the Process Team, local donors and the Dorje Kasung.
Much of our time in Boulder involved discussions around the sale of Marpa House. In the days leading up to the meeting, we received an attractive unsolicited cash offer at our estimated market price from a qualified buyer. We also met with the local group that is working on a community-based purchase and reviewed their proposal for buying Marpa House at a below market price to be obtained by raising funds through a community-based loan campaign. We decided, based upon the price, timing, and terms, to accept the significantly higher outside offer. If we are forced to sell a sangha asset like Marpa House, it is important that the proceeds benefit the entire sangha. For this reason, we feel we cannot let go of Marpa House for less than it is worth at a time of such financial hardship. Since there is no certainty that this contract will close, we will continue to work with and encourage the community-based group to explore ways they could improve their proposal in case the cash offer falls through.
This decision to sell Marpa House, and then to an outside party has been very difficult. We outlined the decision process in the beginning of the year at this link. If this sale goes through, we will work closely with the residents of Marpa House on a move out plan, including Lama Pegyal and family.
Care and Conduct Full-Time Position
Through reflecting on the findings of An Olive Branch, comments from the community and our own analysis of the issues with Care and Conduct procedures in the past, we have come to the conclusion that Shambhala needs a full-time, paid position filled by a qualified individual to lead and manage Care and Conduct initiatives and ongoing activities. This individual will not be responsible alone, but will lead a team devoted to care and conduct. We are in discussion with the Care and Conduct Panel, Dorje Kasung, Process Team, as well as current staff in the Practice and Education and Government Pillars to seek input on the job description. This new position will also be tasked with developing new policy for background checks and vetting of teachers and office holders. We feel strongly that Shambhala needs paid and sufficiently qualified staff to train our community in safer practices. A successful fundraising campaign this summer will help fund this position. In addition to issues of care, this position will also lead initiatives in promoting greater diversity and inclusion within Shambhala.
We continue to work with the Process Team and plan to announce a series of training initiatives in this area this summer.
Building a Culture of Listening and Community Involvement
As part of the Interim Board’s effort to hear from as many of you as possible and use that input in our decision-making processes, we sent our first survey to Shambhala members on the 29th of May. The intent behind this first survey was to “test the pipe” with a simple survey to make sure everything was working before we progressed into more sensitive topics.
This initial survey was a collaboration effort between the Interim Board and the Process Team Survey Working Group. It received a 35% complete rate, with more than 3,000 submissions. This is a large number of completes, which affirms that the Shambhala membership is interested in engaging in this way. The Process Team Survey Working Group is working on a final report, which we will share with the community when it is ready. In the interim, you can find a summary of the preliminary findings here.
The Interim Board would like to express sincere gratitude to the Process Team Surveys Working Group for their support and collaboration throughout this process. In particular, we would like to thank Brian McCorkle, for his grace, stewardship and steadfast leadership of the PT Surveys Working Group. We would also like to thank the translation team for their continued hard work and diligence to support the global community, Bernard Spiegeleer, John David Smith and Pawel Molenda for their persistent technical magic, and Faradee Rudy for keeping us all on track.
Next up will be a survey on the topic of Care and Conduct. Remember to look for emails from ShambhalaSurveys@gmail.com. You may want to add that email address to your contact list now, to make sure it is not delivered to your junk mail folder in the future.
We continue to monitor Shambhala’s financial situation very closely. While we still require borrowing through our line of credit, the projections have been better than expected at the beginning of the year. For the current month, we are within the projected budget reported last March, but still dependent on the sale of Marpa house to meet our overall debt obligations.
In part as a result of an initial review of the survey above, we plan to release a detailed financial report for the first six months of 2019 for Shambhala Global Services in the summer. We are also working on consolidated financial reports for the entire mandala which are anticipated by the end of the summer.
We are pleased to announce that the Shambhala Trust has granted Shambhala Global Services approximately USD $13,000 toward completing the implementation of the Xero accounting system for North American Shambhala centers and groups. Full implementation of Xero will support more timely and complete consolidated financial reporting. We are planning to work with a Xero consultant with experience in Shambhala financial environments who will be reaching out to Shambhala Centers needing Xero assistance this summer.
We also acknowledge with gratitude that we have in recent weeks received significant donations as well as an increase in monthly recurring donations that have strengthened the budget picture and allowed us to contemplate the initiatives referred to above. This generosity, both new and ongoing, is a not only a financial boost but also greatly encouraging to the spirits and morale of the board and the dedicated employees of Shambhala Global Services.
Appointments, Departures, Open Positions
We would like to keep the community updated on office holders’ appointments, departures and positions currently open with our centers and groups. Please use this link to see appointments and departures. As we stated previously, we wish not to gloss over departures with a term like “retirements” when it comes to people who have left for a variety of reasons. We have invited those who have retired or resigned to offer a statement in the comments section of the Shambhala Times article.
For positions currently available, please go to the Shambhala website page, https://shambhala.org/community-positions-available/. Please note that Halifax Shambhala Center and Karmê Chöling are both actively soliciting candidates for their Executive Director position.
Thank you for your many messages. Please continue to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Interim Board