My Teacher Accused of Clergy Sexual Misconduct

I was beyond crushed to hear of so many people who were harmed by my teacher, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, in the Phase 2 [Buddhist Project Sunshine]( report. It left me feeling angry, sad, bewildered, and scared that this collection of teachings I've aligned myself with is corrupted in some way. If all we produce are sexual predators as teachers, what are the rest of us likely to become as practitioners?

The contemplation continues, and I am not making any rash judgments (which is strange for those who know me), but I can say for a fact that I have requested that any contributions I make to my local Shambhala Center may not be used to provide any support for the corrupted leadership in what we call the "Center of the Mandala." Our, for lack of a better word, corporate headquarters. This was not my idea – another sangha member kicked off the movement toward decentralization and I believe it's an excellent way to signal we refuse to support a corrupt leadership model.

The experiment of having an enlightened monarch as both temporal and spiritual leader has been an abject failure. Our community has allowed him and his predecessors to get away with too much due to our misunderstanding of what it means to be a guru. As Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche says so eloquently in his article: "Actions that are rooted in compassion and wisdom—even when they appear odd, eccentric, or even wrathful—do not instill fear or anxiety. They bring about a flowering of compassion and wisdom in the student." In other words, the fact that his actions caused harm to these brave women who came forward mean that necessarily they were not enlightened actions. No crazy wisdom here – just extremely poor judgment.

I echo another of my fellow sangha members in calling for the Sakyong to step down, and for the Kalapa Council to disband immediately. Further, in order for me to be able to continue in any capacity as a Shambhala Citizen, I need to see the organizational structure shift so that no teacher, even the primary holder of the lineage, can cause such harm again without serious consequences. It is time for a Shambhala Constitution, which must at least include provisions for elected leaders that cannot be removed by any monarch, and who may cause said monarch to be removed from power should they abuse their position.

When we are failed by our leaders, we must step up and lead. And, when we are ineffective we must recognize that we are incompatible with our community and depart. But first we must at least try!

It fills me with great sadness and regret to contemplate putting all of the warmth, wisdom, and brilliance I have found in my local Chicago Shambhala community aside because it happened to have been part of this corrupt system. I hope I don't have to.

Tags: humanity