Sometimes when things fall apart, well, that’s the big opportunity to change.
To the Shambhala Board,
We, the Nashville Shambhala Meditation Group, are writing with wholehearted love for the teachings and community of Shambhala. We write from feelings of rage, disappointment, devastation, disillusionment, loss, and deep concern for the future of the teachings, the people, and the organization. We have read the open letters of the several centers writing in opposition to your decision to endorse and go forward with the Sakyong leading Abhisheka at Dechen Choling. We have also read your letter in response to the feedback you’ve received. We are strongly opposed to allowing Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche to return to teaching. To endorse this action not only perpetuates harm, but also fails to tend to the harm that has already been done.
In your response to the community, you claim not to take sides, and to hold both views on the matter. However, your decision clearly represents only a single view within many. To respond and act on behalf of the whole community would look very different. We call upon you to revoke your endorsement of the teaching. Shambhala needs to tend to the reality of the situation at hand. This requires bravery, fearlessness, and genuineness. This requires no longer bypassing the discomfort and challenge of where our community stands. It will require us to acknowledge relativity as it manifests presently in our society. Harm has been done. That is actually not open for argument. When the major action of the organization is to invite SMR back to a teaching role before tending to the harm, then that’s the culture we perpetuate. That is not the Shambhala we know and love. This is not what the teachings guide us toward. The teachings ask us to dive into the golden lake of honesty, and become enriched by accurate thinking. Our practice must be grounded upon the foundation of wisdom and ethics. Ethical behavior of the teacher should lead to the benefit, peace and safety of the student.
We are not alone in asking the Sakyong to speak out with acknowledgment of the harm he has caused, and to engage in a path of reparation. Shambhala is at risk of no longer being a vehicle capable of holding and offering the teachings.
With deep care and tender hearts,
Nashville Shambhala Leadership and Community.
Joe Smith, coordinator
Lisa May Cobham
Andrea Furlong Foti
Mary Ann Fricko