Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, the leader of the Shambhala community, published a letter on Monday apologizing for hurt caused by past relationships with women in his community.
In the letter, addressed to the Shambhala community, Sakyong Mipham writes that “there have been times when I have engaged in relationships with women in the Shambhala community. I have recently learned that some of these women have shared experiences of feeling harmed as a result of these relationships. I am now making a public apology.”
He also says that “over the years I have apologized personally to people who have expressed feeling harmed by my conduct, including some of those who have recently shared their stories.” He says that he is now entering “a period of self-reflection and listening.”
On February 12, the leadership of the Shambhala community issued a statement acknowledging systemic sexual misconduct in the community and said they would develop a plan to “address abuse and discrimination” in the community.
On February 15, Andrea Winn, a leadership coach and member of the Shambhala community, published a report, entitled Project Sunshine, summarizing the findings of a one-year informal analysis of sexual misconduct in Shambhala. It included survivor accounts and made policy proposals to “inspire healing throughout the Shambhala community.”
The statement by the Shambhala leadership and the report by Andrea Winn were covered by the Guardian, Newsweek, and CBC Radio.
Read the full text of Sakyong Mipham’s statement below:
To the Shambhala Community:
I write to you with great sadness, tenderness, and a mind of self-reflection.
It is my wish for you to know that in my past there have been times when I have engaged in relationships with women in the Shambhala community. I have recently learned that some of these women have shared experiences of feeling harmed as a result of these relationships. I am now making a public apology.
In addition, I would like you to know that over the years, I have apologized personally to people who have expressed feeling harmed by my conduct, including some of those who have recently shared their stories. I have also engaged in mediation and healing practices with those who have felt harmed. Thus I have been, and will continue to be, committed to healing these wounds.
As the lineage holder of Shambhala, I want to demonstrate how we can move toward a culture of kindness in line with our legacy of teachings. Kindness can sometimes begin with acknowledging the ways we have harmed others, even if we did not intend to do so. Thus, with the strong support of my wife, the Sakyong Wangmo, I am now entering a period of self-reflection and listening. I have worked with, and at times struggled with, how to be a teacher and a human being. I have found that there is no easy solution to navigating these responsibilities. Like all of you, I am human and on the path. It is important to me that you know I am here, continuing to do my best.
Above all, it is important to me that we continue to create a caring community where harm does not occur. It is my fervent wish that we be a community that relates to each other with compassion and kindness, so I have offered teachings and written practices to support such a culture. I want to encourage our community to completely immerse itself in caring and kindness. This is not easy work, and we cannot give up on each other. For me, it always comes back to feeling my own heart, my own humanity, and my own genuineness. It is with this feeling that I express to all of you my deep love and appreciation. I am committed to engaging in this process with you.
Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche