A new report from Religion News Service details financial troubles facing the Shambhala Buddhist community in the wake of revelations of sexual misconduct by the head of Shambhala, Sakyong Mipham, and several teachers in the community.
Shambhala is one of the largest Buddhist communities in the West, with some 200 centers worldwide. The total revenue of Shambhala International, the community’s central organization, is down 60% since the beginning of 2018, and the organization has a debt of more than $1.3 million, according to the organization. In addition to a drop in program revenue, monthly contributions from local centers to the parent organization have declined from $44,000 to $22,000.
According to Religion News Service, several key centers in Shambhala are also suffering. Karme Choling in Barnet, Vermont, one of the oldest Buddhist retreat centers in the U.S., saw a 50% drop in attendance in the first quarter of 2019, resulting in a loss of more than $150,000. As a result, the center will close during the winter months. Shambhala Mountain Center, a retreat and program center in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado, was forced to cut staff but was able to complete their state-mandated wastewater collection system project by the end of 2018 at a cost of 1.2 million dollars.
To recoup its losses, Shambhala International has announced its intention to sell Marpa House, an intentional living residence it owns in Boulder, Colorado, that is home to 40 people. The property is valued at $5,500,000, and Shambhala International says its sale would offset the organization’s debt and cover operating expenses for up to two years. A group of Shambhala members is organizing to try to purchase the property in order to maintain the community privately.