Letter from Atlanta Governing Council on Sexual Misconduct

December 2, 2018

From the Governing Council of the Shambhala Center of Atlanta

To the Community of the Shambhala Center of Atlanta

We write to you with open and broken hearts and deep humility. Our hearts have been broken since the revelation this summer of allegations of sexual misconduct against Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, since his admission of unnamed transgressions, and since the beginning of the investigation into those allegations, along with charges that some members of the leadership surrounding the Sakyong aided his misconduct and covered it up.

We are heartened by the work taken on at the International level of Shambhala: the seating of the Interim board, the Process Team, the new Care & Conduct policy, the investigation itself. We recognize and acknowledge that many people have been hoping for quicker action in some areas, and we recognize too the need for deliberate action that may not meet our own timetables. And so, we, along with you, wait.

Throughout this time, we have tried to listen, to hear the pain, anger, and confusion that you have expressed, while honoring our own. We recognize and acknowledge the need for systemic change in our structures and processes and are working with many of you to explore ways to make those changes on a local level. From the very beginning, even in our shock, we have done our best to put the needs of our sangha first and foremost.

There have been times, however, that our best may not have been quite good enough. One of those times was in the early days of the summer. Having recently (at that time) empowered our own Care & Conduct committee and put out the policy for all to see, it did not occur to us to do so again in light of the allegations. This was a painful omission on our part, and for it, we humbly apologize.

We would like to take this time, belated as it is, to make absolutely clear that sexual misconduct of any kind from any teacher, leader, volunteer, student, or anyone else is not welcome at our center and will not be tolerated.

We encourage any of you who have concerns or encounter any sexual misconduct at the Atlanta center to report it to our Care & Conduct committee (email care&[email protected]), where it will be promptly investigated. Alternatively, you could approach one of the committee members privately. They are Dan Phillips, Norma Harris, Donna Kingsman, and KC Wildmoon.

For some of us, this time has been almost unbearably difficult because of the close relationship we have had with the Sakyong. For others, it has been easier to imagine a Shambhala without him. This has created misunderstanding, anger and confusion, and it has resulted in the loss of many beloved members of the sangha. We deeply regret this, and because of this, we are even more committed to ensuring that the Shambhala Center of Atlanta is an open, welcoming space where all views are respected, appreciated and gladly received as we all strive to move through these groundless times toward a new Shambhala.

In the vision of the Great Eastern sun,

The Atlanta Governing Council
Dan Phillips, center director
KC Wildmoon, rusung
Norma Harris, community health and well  being
Laura McNulty, culture and decorum
Brenda Collins, community relations
Sally Larrick, membership
Shastris Jackie Muse and Sue Gilman, advisors to the governing council