The ‘King’ of Shambhala Buddhism Is Undone by Abuse Report

The leader of one of the biggest Buddhist organizations in the West steps aside after allegations of sexual abuse, leaving followers reeling.

Comments: 150

  1. As a Shambhala practitioner and student of the Sakyong, and not as a representative of the organization, I want to say a few things here. We have never been taught to “worship” the Sakyong as a god or even as a literal Buddha, and the majority of us are relating with this unexpected and terribly concerning news with the same heart break and desire for change that we would feel if a family member was outed as having committed such horrible acts. The Sakyong is a human who has done stupid, stupid things. We want him to be held accountable, we want victims to be heard and cared for, and we want to see systemic changes that address the deeply rooted problems in our organizational structure. Those of us who are choosing to stay are doing so because, despite the terrible decisions made by our teacher which have just come to light, the teachings we’ve received in this tradition have enriched our worlds beyond explanation, given us access to tools that have changed our lives, and helped us to be more available to our families, friends, and coworkers. There have been periods of my life that I have been very involved, and periods of my life that I’ve been totally absent from the community, the contrast of those experiences is what keeps me connected to these teachings and practices.

  2. Etym I'd choose the "totally absent from the community" curtain. The "totally involved one" won't be available starting today.

  3. I would argue with the characterization of the Sakyong's behavior as "stupid". Let's call it what it is: mean and selfish and a huge disappointment to thousands of Shambhala members who were indeed encouraged to revere this self appointed "king".

  4. I believe that this is going to be a painful but cleansing period of time for us. We must change. This situation teaches us that we men are all complicit in creating a culture of patriarchy, it is an unpleasant reflection of both our own ignorant patterns and cultural habits, as well as the habits we’ve absorbed from the greater society, which must be discarded. I hope that this excruciating process in the long run makes these teachings more accessible and our community more safe for women, POC, and queer folks.

  5. Most men in power are corrupted by it. Why should this supposedly "holy" man be any different? John Lennon wrote a song about one such man back in the 60's...Times have not changed.

  6. Particularly when confined in a organizational system that, while possessing some brilliance, had some convoluted and controlling practices and systemic sexual abuse.

  7. Particularly when he was confined in a organizational system that, while possessing some brilliance, had some convoluted and controlling practices and systemic sexual abuse.

  8. Fairyto - to whom do you refer?

  9. It's the same everywhere you look and when it happens in "spiritual" organizations it seems even more sinister. Followers are often very vulnerable people who put their trust in the so-called "master". The masters tell you that you need them in order to further your spiritual development, but having this level of unchecked authority and power is dangerous. We should never hand our power over to another human being. We are responsible for the choices we make. I've yet to meet an "enlightened" being whatever that means. We should teach young women to not be seduced by men who have power over them. This is a hard earned lesson, but I think we are moving in the right direction by exposing the abusers.

  10. Is it the men who have power over women, or the other way around? If “powerful” men are so powerful then why do they consistently and predictably fall prey to the sexuality of attractive women?

  11. He followed in his father's footsteps by engaging in sex with his students. What he did is completely wrong. I pity him as far as he was part of a dysfunctional organization. He needs some real help, but so do his victims.

  12. Sadly, young women are often coerced, not seduced by men with power over them. It's the highest breach of ethics and morality for a spiritual advisor (or a doctor, therapist, teacher) to use his so-called moral authority over a student to have sex with her. It's a kind of rape. I know from experience. My therapist sexually abused me when I was being treated for postpartum depression. It's wrong in every way, and the young women, even if educated, can still become victims.

  13. A sad day for Tibetan Buddhism, and a reminder that while spiritual practice can reduce negative emotions, like desire, it’s ultimately up to the practitioner to root them out completely (through years of dedicated practice) -- a worthy goal that very few accomplish. As the son of a Buddhist rock star, and as a Buddhist lineage holder, Mipham Rinpoche was under enormous pressure from the start to become something few can attain — a great, wise, savvy leader who is also a completely pure individual. That he ultimately fell under the weight of the expectations of his Shambala followers should be a cause for sympathy and understanding. Few of us could have done any better under the circumstances.

  14. Yes, much good can be done by imperfect people and that would include just about all of us. When people are in powerful positions their fall from grace is more public and more intense. More people are harmed and their collective hurt and anger is a powerful force. The fact that Mipham Rinpoche apologized and took responsibility for his actions makes him stronger and more easy to forgive. The ones who have been harmed must seek healing and justice in their own way with the support of Shambala I hope.

  15. Sorry to disagree, but there are no "negative emotions." Anger, fear, desire--these motivate us to action and keep us alive. The goal is not to eradicate emotions, but rather to experience them--AND to behave in ways that do not harm ourselves or others. This "leader," like so many others, somehow decided that his own gratification was more important to him than was the welfare of others. If everyone spent more effort on noticing their own feelings (rather than trying to eradicate them) and listening to them as the warning systems that they are, perhaps they would not be taken in so often by people in leadership positions. When your warning system says "This feels bad to me; what this person is doing is scaring me or grossing me out," listen to it and choose an appropriate behavior (which I hope would be protecting yourself--not making excuses for the other person)!!!

  16. Long ago I was friends with the American teacher in this lineage - in between Trungpa Rinoche and Mipham Rinpoche. I knew his before he was involved with Tibetan Buddhism. I met "Osel" years later, and spent an afternoon with him. I recalled the comment made by one of the top Tibetan teachers made upon his "inauguration" - that he had given up the "castle of ego." I commented that he seemed pretty darn egoistic to me (and uncomfortable as he gave my body the eye - despite his being married and the lineage holder). He replied to me, "the ego can come back." A common malady it would appear.

  17. I stopped attending Shambhala in Atlanta about 20 years ago because of their strong hierarchal bent and their obvious rationalization for outrageous behavior. For a group who stresses awakening, they seemed to be in some sort of mass denial. I was told by one of my meditation instructors that the Sakyong's father, Chogyam Trungpa, died of cirrhosis of the liver. When I asked her how she dealt with this - the idea that a man who taught meditation (and who started Shambhala) and preached not harming others could drink to the point that he killed himself, her response stunned me. I was told that she thought "he drank for the benefit of others." That he wanted to experience this disease so that he could help others deal with alcoholism. They called his behavior "crazy wisdom." This from a woman who had been on year long retreats - whose 'day job' was meditation instruction, and who had been with the organization for over 20 years. I left the organization shortly after, but it did teach me a valuble lession. Although I still meditate, I realize you can spend your life meditating and still be very much in denial. It's only one of many tools. Unfortunately, there will be many who are unable to walk away. They've invested much of their lives in the community and their entire support system is there, and of course, being taught by Shambhala instructors, they will be adept a rationalizing this away.

  18. I am so glad you listened to your inner voice, followed your moral compass, and walked away. "Buddhism is reason." You saw the irrationality and didn't try to convince yourself this type of behavior is acceptable.

  19. The cliche is that Buddhism is "wise" but in reality it has a lot to learn from Western social progress. I read one or two of Chogyam Trungpa's books years ago and was thoroughly creeped out by them. They were clearly psychologically twisted and required a level of passivity on the part of "followers" that seemed intended to train people to be exploited. You can try to pass "crazy" off as "wisdom" to naïve people but eventually the truth comes out that it was just a manipulation tactic for personal gain and exploitation. I feel sorry for the people still caught up in the mental game of it.

  20. I'm so disturbed by all the harmful stereotyping that comes out at a time like this. It is crazy to me that it is so socially acceptable to be blatantly discriminatory against religious folks. I'm religious and we are neither naive nor are we passive.

  21. Enlightenment is not enlightened, nor is it even aware of the workings of consciousness. It is just a manipulation of the mind... and apparently of others. Sad to see people projecting ideas of idealism onto self-appointed teachers. Why do teachers need such adoration and devotion to the degree being taught? What type of personality traits leads to this? Sad, that after years of teaching about awareness and selflessness he's taking some time to devote to "self-reflection". Yes, he lived a life devoted to erasing his sense of self and all he ends up with is getting himself in trouble with selfish acts.

  22. He really made a mess. People do this, especially when there's power to wield. But, enlightenment is a human birthright, and is no manipulation of the mind. It's the difficult process of letting go of all the obscurations, thoughts, chatter, beliefs, and self-importance, until there is nothing left of that, just a clear, real world. We all get so invested in our ideas, opinions, beliefs. That's where we all go wrong--that investment--and Mipham did this too. Fortunately, his mistakes don't change the process. We can still develop compassion for others, let go of aggression.

  23. Exactly my point. This "letting go" IS the manipulation of the mind. The idea that this is a natural state is an idea in and of itself. No one is without ideas, beliefs, chatter, and self. The idea that one can be without these is just an idealistic myth. Yes, one can do so temporarily, but what one returns to is THE natural state of consciousness which includes all of the above. All of this "letting go" requires effort and learning, because of this it is a form of manipulation of the mind and not some ethereal state void of the processes of consciousness, the vast majority of which are pre-conscious and unconscious processes, beyond conscious awareness and beyond conscious control. I have a background in mindfulness mediation and Buddhism, but I cannot further the claims being made in their name.

  24. Many years ago my dad went to the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, to hear Chogyam Trungpa, then the lead teacher of Shambhala. A couple of minutes into the talk, he turned to the people seated next to him and said "He's drunk". The reaction he received from those around him was glares and disdain. People were there to worship, not learn, and he immediately left. I became involved in the mindfulness meditation community for a while in the 2000s. There are good, common people in that community, but there are also a number of big names who have become corrupted by their own success, absorbed in their rock star status far more than they are committed to the teachings of the ancient practice. While the corruption in the mindfulness community is not the same as the abuse profiled here at Shambhala, or what has been revealed in the Catholic church and many other Christian communities, it nevertheless points to the dangers inherent in people's desire to be "led" into various forms of awakening. The seductive power of admiration and wealth that draws spiritual or meditation teachers into corrupt uses of ostensibly healthy practices is, like a winning lottery ticket, difficult for anyone to resist. The result of such corruption is a form of gaslighting where the very path sought by those seeking insight becomes yet one more commodified scam aimed at fulfilling the interests of the guru or teacher at the expense of the student.

  25. As a student of both Trungpa Rinpoche and Mipham Rinpoche I consider myself a loyal student whose life has been vastly enriched by their teachings and wisdom. Over the years I've had the opportunity to be close to both of these men and I considered Chogyam Trungpa to be a living Buddha, who instructed me - 'to use your discriminating awareness, know what to accept and reject.' I never felt pressure or coercion at his hands. The Sakyong, Mipham Rinpoche is his son and dharma heir. I have known him since he arrived in the US as an adolescent. I know that life is not simple nor particularly easy and, like the rest of us, he has had to find his way into adulthood. I recognize him as a human being, capable of making mistakes. I wonder who among us could have offered to the Shambhala community all that he has given? I wonder who of us has not been guilty of causing harm? Please, let us not forget the teachings. Humility, Decency and Forgiveness.

  26. Because you never experienced "pressure or coercion", you feel comfortable holding him in reverence, even though he pressured and coerced (and potentially abused) others who came to him with the same reverence? Wow.

  27. Yeah. I studied with Chogyam Trungpa RInpoche, as well. I also considered him to be a living Buddha. A lot of people don't get what that means. It's not a god, or someone to worship. It's a person who has cleared out the obscurations we all live with--thoughts, beliefs, mindless actions, aggression--and lives in the state human beings all have as potential. He simply is a person who can point the way down the path. Many people in the West just simply don't understand that Buddhism isn't about beliefs. There's really nothing to sign onto. It's when we try to sign on to something, try to hold onto beliefs, that we solidify it, but there's no inherent solidity there, so of course it falls apart. People, Mipham included, can do incredibly stupid things. This newspaper reports on those things everyday. The teachings provide a possibility to be less stupid, more compassionate, more insightful. But it's up to us to do it.

  28. Genuinely asking - not a loaded question - are you a man or a woman? Genuinely curious as regards when you say you never felt pressure or coercion. Thank you.

  29. I attended classes and meetings at the Shambhala Center in NYC for a few years. I enjoyed the community and many of the lessons of meditation. I found myself better able to appreciate my life moment to moment, which had been especially helpful during recent trying political times. One evening another student said to me, “Whatever you do, don’t google the founder of Shambhala”. Naturally, as soon as I got home, I did. I was distressed to learn of his alcoholism and allegations of abuse. From that point on, the frequent reverential mentions of him in classes confused me because I was truly enjoying the teaching. Often, in between meetings, I agonized over this. Over time, I went less and less often. My heart breaks thinking of the people in that community and what they must be going through, now that the founders’ son had also been shown to be a drinker and abuser. So many of them are kind, smart people with good intentions. However, the truth had to be revealed. Power corrupts.

  30. A thoughtful contribution, Anne.

  31. Readers should know that there are hundreds of meditation centers in the U.S., many of them in Tibetan traditions, where you can practice the path without being subject to predators. You shouldn't have to pay anything for meditation instruction, and the teaching should embody wisdom and compassion.

  32. Actually, I think you should pay reasonably for meditation instructions and support of any center you frequent.

  33. Nobody should profit from the Dharma. Charging for meditation is almost always indication that something is "off."

  34. I'm glad to see this article, because the unhealthy aspect of some of these spiritual organizations badly needs highlighting. Let me tell you what is really spiritual -- it's to be aware of what is being held in your own shadow, or in the collective shadow -- (to use the Jungian terminology), and to work to bring into light what is held in shadow. If you're in a community where it is widely held in disdain to speak the truth, particularly the truth about serious dysfunction like sexual abuse, or criminal behavior, then you are in a community committed to making sure that you do NOT develop spiritually, and you should leave. It can feel very comforting to people when they dont' have to take responsibility for their own lives and decisions, and can become dependent on parent-like spiritual leaders or gurus. But this kind of situation does not make for growth, it makes for staying immature.

  35. Two issues for me. There is always a difference between our public and privates selves. Meditation is primarily self involvement and does little to make the world better.

  36. Have you studied meditation? If anything it is about becoming less self-involved, not more. That said, it’s not a cure-all and does not inoculate the meditator from bad behavior. I think the extreme hierarchy of Shambhala and concentration of power is the source of the problem, not the meditation.

  37. Wrong. Meditation is about self awareness. It is only through awareness of our habitual patterns of mind and action that we can refrain from repeating them. That fact makes the actions of these religious leaders all the more horrific in that we assume that they have that awareness.

  38. There is a bit of inconsistency in being totally absorbed in trying not think one’s own thoughts and being totally uninvolved is one self, isn’t there?

  39. As a young police officer in San Francisco, I used to attend the Zen Center where I learned meditation and tenets of Buddhism. I can say that the both of those practices were helpful to me over the 29 years I served. (I'm sure a sincere and wise embrace of Western religious and philosophical traditions would have helped me do that job as well.) I watched over the years as many renowned "teachers" in some of the Eastern traditions fell away after revelations of sexual abuse towards their students. I'm now 73 and long retired from my police job. Abuse of Trust will always be a possibility--whether its from Eastern teachers, Western priests, or cops. I think each of us has a responsibility to keep our eyes open. And each person who is given trust needs to know at their core, that acting badly with that trust is an awful, awful thing. May we all live with open hearts--and opened eyes.

  40. Beautiful comment, thank you.

  41. hear hear! and to add to your list of Eastern teachers, Western priests, or cops: professors/educators, bosses, mentors, older relatives, anyone who's given even a moment of the privilege of trust....

  42. The problem is not the religion or ideology. The problem is the human.

  43. It's really time we stop putting any leader on a pedestal. They're just people. Even if they're great people, they're still just people. We can have people we look up to, but revere is a bit much. Plus it just sets up people to be abused, in a lot of different ways, taken advantage of. If this story is true, it shouldn't be surprising.

  44. Any religious or spiritual tradition in which individuals surrender a degree of autonomy of thought to a leader - whether a pope, a guru, a"king," a rebbe, an imam, or (in the case of people I have known who've been drawn to Buddhism and parrot endlessly the words of "my teacher") makes me incredibly nervous. How many steps away are they from drinking Kool-Aid in the jungle?

  45. "Any religious or spiritual tradition in which individuals surrender a degree of autonomy of thought to a leader..." This is true but it's not limited to religious or spiritual traditions. It happens in corporations, academia, everywhere. Look at our government. How many GOP 'leaders' are surrendering autonomy of thought to Trump?

  46. The root cause of this abuse is the unwillingness of spiritual leaders to endure a grueling period of true introspection, which must include a stark look at the dark side of their humanity, before they declare themselves "enlightened." You can't attain a high level of functioning without going down into the depths of what humanity is actually capable of under certain circumstances, especially when accorded unbridled power and mindless devotion. When you don't examine your dark side, bring it out into the open and hold it up to relentless and continual scrutiny, you acquire the mistaken impression that you have reached a level of goodness that you have in fact not even approached. This gets more and more dangerous as there are fewer and fewer checks on your power. This will continue to happen over and over again as long as followers of such people do not retain a healthy bit of skepticism about ALL leaders, be they spiritual or political. "Know thyself" remains the gold standard for human development.

  47. This beautifully and concisely makes the key point. This should be required in the education of any leader, spiritual or otherwise. What kind of leader would not embark upon such a journey before accepting a role as a leader?

  48. This should surprise no one. There is no escape from human nature. Whatever distance from the bad of human nature may be gained by meditation is counteracted for those who hold power within that system. The practitioners of these centers are no doubt closer to the tenets than its priests, as is true for all religions. I highly recommend a book called Ambivalent Zen by Lawrence Shainberg, which is a very well written account of his decades-long experience with zen buddhism in particular, and more broadly about eastern spiritual practices undertaken in the West. The book is not a condemnation of meditation or zen, even though sexual scandal is discussed (one mentioned in the article), it is simply a true account of the community and its characters and his own personal ups and downs. It is insightful, funny and poignant, and the best book I ever read about the subject.

  49. It shouldn't surprise anyone? Really? We should expect this?

  50. At last this has come out. Apart from the Sakyong and Sogal there are other lamas needing a whistle blown (a close friend experienced 2 "other" lamas). Having men on thrones and women (& men) prostrating to them sets up a tricky dynamic. Yes, it's supposed to be that the lama is a symbol of our Buddha-nature within, the inner guru (just like priests, and preachers, who are supposed to be God's gate keepers)--but it's a very seductive view, as we've seen. There are troubled men needing to reckon with their ordinary, sexual-addictions, as well as alcoholism, etc. Can #Buddhistsmetoo be far behind? I've been privileged to have teachings from a number of powerful Lamas but the point was to have help training my mind, never for them to control my mind. My male teacher now (I have had teachings from female lamas) grew up in a Tibetan monastery, sites traditional texts fluently in Tibetan and Sanskrit, is considered a rebirth of an earlier high lama, BUT for him there is no prostrating, no standing up when he enters or leaves a room, no pushing of allegiance to x lineage or sect, no khata offering, etc. For this, while some recognize him as a significant Buddhist philosopher of our time, for many he is criticized for not being an "authentic" Vajrayana teacher. There will be gradual changes to Buddhism as it modernizes, is recognized for its positive effects, and grows in Western society.

  51. The Sakyong was intellectually unequipped and temperamentally unsuited to succeed his father. Nevertheless, he initially did a pretty good job of holding together a sangha in crisis. By 2000 or so, however, something had changed. For whatever reasons, he began to jettison traditional Buddhist teachings, in favor of his own undistinguished creations. Disastrously, he also began systematically alienating the holders of other lineages of Tibetan Buddhism and barring them from teaching at his centers. (HIs father had sponsored the teachings of a wide array of important Tibetan masters.) By 2005 or so, Shambhala was in essence a breakaway sect, and the Sakyong had no peers left to confer with or to check his increasingly cultish behavior. The Sakyong is clearly a deeply troubled man. According to the teachings on karma, he is also a man facing grave peril. He has harmed many people and shows little understanding of the ramifications. The kindest thing his students could do would be to relieve him permanently of his duties so that he could begin the work of uprooting the causes of this karma and atoning for its effects, which will likely take the rest of his life. Meanwhile, the Shambhala community could turn again to the holders of the true Tibetan Buddhist lineages for help in restoring a genuine path of dharma. I hope that's what they do, and I wish them the best of luck.

  52. Disappointing but not surprising. Too many people in power exploit it for personal gain and gratification. On another note: It's possible to seek a direct connection with the Divine; no one really needs a guru.

  53. I think we have to be careful about painting with too broad of a brush. There are many spiritual leaders out there who are honest, humble, self-sacrificing and who are capable of putting the development of their students above their own self-gratification. We should not assume that all teachers behave the way the Sakyong did. Also, no one is perfect. Every human being makes mistakes, sometimes big ones, sometimes small ones. If we expect our spiritual leaders to be perfect, NO ONE is qualified for the job. With that said, the system (or structure) of Buddhism in the West clearly needs some revision. We need to stop elevating human beings into God-like positions and worshiping them as such. Buddhism has some growing up to do, and it's on the systemic level. It's not just about getting rid of certain teachers.

  54. Regardless of religious tradition, followers are not the perfect exemplars of their faith's revelatory texts. Looking to followers rather than one's own inner promptings for inspiration misses the mark. Likewise, misdeeds by religious leaders in no way invalidates the sacred writings.

  55. Obscuring emotions.

  56. Here’s a thought: don’t worship people. Anyone who wants to be idolized is a freak and a fraud, without exception.

  57. Shambhala is made up of human beings, and clearly they have their blind spots. I feel terrible for the women who have been harmed and am glad the Sakyong has apologized, accepted blame, stepped back from his role, and invited an independent investigation. I must say that the Times has really juiced up this story though. The author has seasoned it liberally with “cult” and “molestation” innuendoes, along the lines of the Rajneesh and Catholic Church stories. Neither of those are representative and the author and the paper should be ashamed of this clickbait. Shambhala in my experience tries hard - again, clearly with some issues, but it is trying - to treat people like adults and to encourage them to think for themselves.

  58. I'm glad he's exposed. But people who blindly follow these guys are complicit. Religious groupies. Can't think for themselves. I do not feel sorry for them.

  59. I feel sorry for anyone who is sexually abuse, male or female, religious or not. The blame is on the perpetrator for exploiting vulnerable people.

  60. Adults, except for those mentally impaired, have a moral obligation to take responsibility for our own actions. These people cooperated with this jerk.

  61. Who is the Sakyong's mother? Much is known about his father, but what about his mother? Therein lies the answer.

  62. Right, let's blame it on the women.

  63. Almost all leaders would not. I see no contrary evidence.

  64. "The Sakyong is . . . the sole holder of the most sacred teachings in a custody chain that goes back centuries, the only one who can transmit them, according to the traditions of his lineage." How is this supposed to square with the Buddha's directive to "be a lamp unto thyself"?

  65. Another cult/religion comes crumbling down. Scambhala buddhism, zen buddhism - - same old scams, different century... this is the course of history; get on the right side of this wave. And don't pretend your 'religion' is not a cult. All religions are cults; all cults are religions. Try dropping the word religion, and using only the word cult - - it's fun and you'll be more free, and have more free time away from charlatans like this Sakyong character (his name is ripe for ridicule, so feel free to insert a sack of... pun). And keep an eye out for the big 3 abrahamic mono-theistic cults to crumble further. It will be a great thing - - people will be more free from cult leaders such as priests, ministers, rabbis and imams. Always laugh at them on the street and question their authority and piety.

  66. "Crazy wisdom" or unbridled lust?

  67. Hypocrisy and abuse of power is the nature of all organized religions not just this particular Buddhist sect. We have seen Catholic priests molest children and be protected by the church. Currently we see the Christian evangelical community protecting President Trump as he lies constantly, treats the powerless, especially women and children with cruelty, and threatens the lives of millions. His behavior is the very opposite of what they claim to believe. Dear Jesus, Buddha, Allah- protect me from your followers.

  68. I'm glad he's exposed. But people who blindly follow these guys are complicit. Religious groupies. Can't think for themselves. I do not feel sorry for them. Like Trumpistas, they are engaged in cognitive dissonance reduction, in denial in order to protect their chosen belief system.

  69. A religious leader who sexually assaults his followers. How unusual. Who would have guessed such a thing could happen? Aren't all religious leaders perfect examples of morality?

  70. At its heart, Shambhala Buddhism is nothing but toxic masculinity. It's a shame that Pema Chodron does not speak out against this. Her ties to Chogyam Rinpoche taint an otherwise wonderful reputation.

  71. Zen master Seung Sahn, a Zen teacher from Korea who died in 2004 (Providence Zen Center, Cambridge Zen Center) said that Buddhism came to the West to get married to something, and I think he suggested that it get married to feminism. A good marriage requires great effort from its partners.

  72. Zen master Seung Sahn, a Zen teacher from Korea who died in 2004 (Providence Zen Center, Cambridge Zen Center) said that Buddhism came to the West to get married to something, and I think he suggested that it get married to feminism. A good marriage requires great effort from its partners.

  73. Agreed: a comment from Pema Chodron would go far to allay the tensions that must arise in any practitioner upon learning of abuse by the teacher, who has undoubtedly affected his students in very deep ways. You feel so good about your practice and your devotion to your teacher, your sense of goodness must be affected when you find out this teacher has molested people.

  74. from these Buddhist cults to Scientology I will never understand why otherwise intelligent people give up their free will and critical thinking to join a "hyper-concentration of authority" group. I wouldn't last 10 minutes in one of these settings before I got thrown out for calling you know what

  75. This should be no surprise. The lecherous monk has been a stereotype of Chinese literature since back in the days of the Tang dynasty. The lesson: beware of anyone, anywhere, from whatever culture, preaching religion.

  76. At first I thought this was another report on the so-called president - but he claims he just gropes and doesn't drink just like the very best of the evangelical, Catholic, Baptists...oh heck, time is so many True Believers summarizes well. It's pretty obvious that clay feet are everywhere. Why must we keep getting caught off guard?

  77. You guys know, right, that many women in these communities are attracted to the men running them, and they dress and act accordingly, right? I was in one of these cults and it's very easy to play the damsel who is shocked, shocked that the leader wishes to sleep with them. Some do so quite willingly. Think of it as rock stardom without the guitars. AND it's never ok to sexually abuse, co-erce, pester, harrass, grab, rape, and so on to a female member of your congregation, case closed.

  78. Let’s be clear: the #MeToo movement did not “dethrone” The Sayyong; it was his abhorrent conduct alone that dethroned him. It’s important not to conflate the outcome of something with its cause. The #MeToo movement - and sexual abuse survivors as a whole - would not exist were it not for the willful exploitation of (mostly) male perpetrators.

  79. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  80. Time for the FDA to declare testosterone an "uncontrolled substance."

  81. A religion that turns a power hungry man into a human god? How can so called intelligent people be duped into this? Aside from the point that absolute power becomes absolute corruption.

  82. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  83. Buddhism has been around for 2600 years. It teaches people to cultivate awareness while letting go of belief in what we these days call "monkey mind." When the crazy chatter stops, the real world emerges clear, beautiful, and full of all the many aspects of life. Buddhism teaches people how to let go of aggression and let a natural compassion arise. Particularly, Buddhism is a set of practices that train people to take responsibility for themselves. No saviors in Buddhism. It's hard work. Buddhism, like all religions, is full of human beings. Human beings do stupid things. Most Buddhist teachers walk the talk and quietly give of their knowledge and experience to benefit others. Unfortunately, Mipham did some stupid things. His sexual misconduct hurts the women he abused. It also hurts all the people practicing the teachings, which are inherently good. He forgot the teachings aren't about hierarchies and ritual and himself. He has caused suffering. I have practiced Kagyu Lineage Buddhism, and the Shambhala teachings for almost fifty years. The teachings are good. These are the teachings that have laid the ground for the mindfulness movement that benefits many. The organization clearly has some problems, as do some of its members who also have forgotten. So now, we will go in with mop and bucket and clean up the mess a human being made, and continue as we have for hundreds of years, finding in ourselves how to leave aggression behind and care for one another and our world.

  84. Power-grabs by senior disciples of a guru who died with dignity are another threat in spiritual organizations. The dysfunction in this story correlates to inherited family dysfunctions that include denial, abuse, gaslighting, personal profiteering, closed inner networks where members support each other to the rest of the community's population, and tacit permissiveness of bullying, clandestine sexual activity, and private investment profiteering for those who are considered "key" members. The gap left by a good teacher is eagerly appropriated by self-appointed custodians of the "teachings" - such "senior custodians of the teachings" for a while now are inheriting money from their parents, which they use to bolster their position and "rule" over - shove aside-those who took their monastic vows of long-ago for poverty and service to humanity. There are many persons who had no benefits paid to their social security accounts during decades of work indispensable to establishing yoga in the West. There is glaring inequality in the "spiritual yoga community." A "MeToo" moment for that unacknowledged work in the biggest networks of yoga schools worldwide would be helpful for those who with all their heart gave their lives and youth during idealistic times, just to find that the bandwagon of all ongoing yoga businesses has no room for the old workhorses now. "Give, give, give. God will take care of you." It was said.

  85. I hope that those people who are praying for him are also praying for the women whom he hurt.

  86. Just another sect of the One True Faith: Patriarchy.

  87. I have lived in Boulder CO about 35 years and worked in an organization loosely tied to the Shambala movement. We have a term here for the Shambala people who enrich themselves through self-dealing, lies, nepotism and more. They are known as the Buddhist Mafia here, and with good reason.

  88. I'm sending compassion to all the people hurt by this, but that's what happens when we worship anyone/ anything. But there's something I really don't get. I've studied buddhism; no one is supposed to worship the Buddha. Why did they worship their teacher? Honoring the teacher is ok, but calling him King? That's just weird. And it's weird when Christians do it too.

  89. I am so happy I am an atheist and have never needed to idolize anyone.

  90. I've seen this phenomenon over and over during my very long life: when one human being is worshipped like a god, disaster ensues. Giving that much power to one man (usually a man) corrupts the man and then he proceeds to corrupt others. This can happen in any group but when it is a religious group, it's almost inevitable.

  91. Now, there's a tradition worthy of deep reflection, which is best done alone, outside the sphere of true believers. Gurus are nothing more than slick salespeople. Have your own thoughts. Always work to discover what you mean by the word "I." "We" is for politics, which is always corrupting.

  92. Guru worship is dangerous, no matter what religion we are considering. "When you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him," is a quote that points to the Buddhist idea that one should think for oneself, and not blindly follow a leader. My heart goes out to the women who were harmed by this predator. Perhaps once again the answer is to have more women in positions of authority. I have a wonderful woman Buddhist teacher, and am heartened by the fact that fewer women teachers seem susceptible to this kind of abuse, and that these stories are finally coming to light.

  93. the author writes "sole holder of the most sacred teachings in a custody chain that goes back centuries, the only one who can transmit them, according to the traditions of his lineage." Nope, this lineage only goes back as far as the founder, one generation ago. He split from his teachers and Shambhala never acknowledges that lineage nor honors them. Shambhala was made by the founder for consumption by Americans during his 1960 romps, he found a ready audience. This is not a branch of Tibetan Buddhism that is ever heard of in Tibet.

  94. It rankles me when westerners I know make claims that Buddhism is somehow purer and less corrupt than Western religions. This story shows that Buddhism is like any other religion--as does the persecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar, where the folks who give the most gifts to at the Buddhist temples are almost always corrupt military men.

  95. I was a member of the Shambhala community in Minnesota and took Buddhist vows ten years ago. I became very suspicious after two years of paying thousands of dollars to take all ten "warrior" levels of full weekend training and other workshops. When I realized the next training was on the East Coast and would cost another $1,000.00 I quit. I also couldn't trust the secret chants some members were doing in another room that I couldn't participate it because I wasn't "there" yet. The drive to become a spiritual warrior was very inviting but aside from the huge financial expense something just felt really really wrong about the whole organization. All of us heard about and knew of Chogyam Rinpoche's exploits. If this community is to survive and heal a full Western reckoning of truth and justice needs to examine and totally reorganize the spiritual practice, without a male hierarchy and hopefully without a hierarchy at all.

  96. "The ‘King’ of Shambhala Buddhism Is Undone by Abuse Report" What do you mean 'Undone by Abuse Report'? His willful sexual abuse caused his own downfall, not the abuse report. Why are you using the passive tense? Why the male sexual predator enabling, New York Times? Why not: The ‘King’ of Shambhala Buddhism Ousted for Sexual Abuse of Followers'

  97. I agree. The title was insulting to the movement and showed how words are not just thrown about. The reporter should take another look and explain how these words specially "undone" were well thought out. This man's behavior is the point of the story and how others stood aside and allowed it.

  98. Many readers have been unhappy with this headline (and its earlier version, 'Undone by #MeToo'). But think about it for a second: the Sakyong’s actions went unpunished for years. It’s only now that there’s been an outcry that he has been brought down. In other words, the reporting of abuse is what forced him out, not abuse itself. This is not enabling him or relieving him of responsibility for his own actions at all. It is describing the power of people speaking out. Also, because he has (very carefully) not admitted to 'abuse', only to 'relationships' that some women 'felt harmed by,' we have to treat the 'abuse' as allegation, not as confirmed fact, especially in the headline.

  99. This really just goes to show that religions are basically socially approved cults.

  100. I speak as a former member of a Shambhala community. Sakyong Mipham and some of his followers are trying to rationalize his behavior by citing his struggles with living up to his father's legacy and with his own alcoholism. Neither of those things have anything to do with his abuse of young women. This is another example of the deeply rooted sexism that women live with everywhere and in all areas of their lives. Men who feel that women exist for their benefit as opposed to being fully human in their own right are in women's homes, workplaces, doctor's offices and places of worship. Thank the goddess for #MeToo.

  101. Shambhala International has long had a tawdry reputation in Boulder. No surprise then that the current Rinpoche is under investigation. It is too bad as the spiritual aspects of Shambhala are admirable.

  102. I am Tibetan and I am Buddhist , I honestly feel Rinpoche has tarnished Buddhism and Tibetan beyond his imagination. He should be locked up and who ever helped him cover up his crime

  103. Very sad day. Made so much worse by Sakyongs lousy apology. This is how it's done: No need to throw the baby out with the bath water. But along with the board and sakyong, the hierarchy needs to go. And while stepping aside allows for healing...make no mistake: this is not just bad behavior: It is criminal and should be treated as such.

  104. Sakyong should face criminal charges. He can be a wonderful force for good in a jail or prison...

  105. Yes, but how would the guru makes his many millions without convincing his followers that they need him to text God on their behalf and share the answers?

  106. "One is told that one must see the lama as the Buddha and that anything the lama does is perfect and that whatever might seem wrong with it, that is your impure vision." … nothing quite like making the victim the cause … so sad that people would give over their self-reliance to religious leaders and this happens in all faiths … G-d gave us intelligence but when it comes to religion and politics, intelligence too often takes a back seat!

  107. "Welcome to the party, pal!"

  108. Bill! Is not the "world" made up of people, and are people not the ones who start wars, murder each other, get into fights, drive drunk, punch, hit, clobber, shoot and stab? What would it be like if our highways, for example, were populated with mindful meditators who PAID ATTENTION TO THE ROAD, let people merge with traffic, didn't display childish vulgar gestures or lean on their horns the split second the light turns green? Well, you'd probably have tens of thousands of saved lives. People getting where they're going without the blood pressure going through the roof. That's just one example. Do you see where you are saying the exact opposite of what's true, sir?

  109. JMax: I fail to understand how raping and molesting is preventing anyone from paying attention while on the road.

  110. The recent scandals in the western Tibetan Buddhist community are based on very long standing problems that were well known publicly or within their given communities. The sex abuse aspect is a symptom of the bigger picture of corruption that, it would appear, finally needs to be addressed in Buddhist communities. Clearly, underlying the culture of too many Buddhist groups is a psychology that allows for the creation of and sustains such abuse and corruption. Unless this is directly addressed instead of change, what will emerge is a younger hipper form of artifice — new faces in power and authority who talk the talk, but don't change much of anything — masking the same intensity of human materialism, aggression and ignorance that is at the root of these recent scandals, rather than a spiritual community meant to address such poisons and generate true compassion.

  111. God save us all from those who claim to speak for god!

  112. We have read about this in a thousand different ways recently. No, not Buddhism, but Trumpism. In fact, Trump's Supreme Court Justice pick is proclaiming this very concept: That a "special" person is so very "special" that that person is "above the law", that the concept of crimes and betrayals don't apply because the person is just so "special". (Odd that this "special" person is never a woman...) In fact, what these supporters are really saying is not that THESE men are "ABOVE" the law - what they are really saying is: The LAW is "BENEATH" them. These men float somewhere in the ether on puffy clouds and look down on all below. NO laws apply. So, here is when we realize WHY there are laws: Laws exist to control and minimize the impact of sociopaths and psychopaths on normal society. That is why Trump and all the other Holy Men hate the secular laws. That is why they need their universal assertion that Trump, et al, are beyond the constraints of normal ethics and normal mores. You need to ask yourself: At what point do I stop supporting these men? At rape? At murder? At raping a child? At drug use? At embezzlement? At kidnap? Where's the line where you back off? And, realize, that if you have NO LINE for these men, that you think they truly are legitimate in their laughing at normal laws, then you, too, are probably next in line to wind up in jail. I won't give you a pass. Don't put me on that jury. Believe what you want - but this atheist will not stand with you.

  113. Old saying “all power corrupts”. No matter what religion, governments, Hollywood, etc.

  114. Back in the 'Hippie Days' I met and studied with many of these various 'teachers', from Zen and Buddhism, Hindu, Tibetan Tantra (the Dalai Lama's interpreter), Yoga, to even the guy who helped found Scientology. They all had one thing in common - they wanted guys to pay and wanted to have sex with all the girls. With excuses such as 'we are having sex for world peace' to 'it's the way of karma', etc. I warned my friends, but to no avail. They were believers. I didn't get involved. It was just too obvious, plus I wanted all the girls, too.

  115. Same here, I was seriously turned off by Shambala's sect like atmosphere, with military titles and garb. What shocked me also was how influential, and powerful Shambala was (is) in American Tibetan Buddhism. Another way to look at it would be how power hungry the organization was (and raking dollars at the expense of American Buddhists.) Allen Ginsberg must be turning around in his grave.

  116. My visit to Shambala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lakes opened my eyes to the whole militaristic thing that is a remainder of Trungpa's leadership. That, and the exposure of many abuses in the Zen tradition, has led me to be solitary practitioner and meditation.

  117. The sophistication, refinement and depth of the practices that the tiny country of Tibet (a few million people) managed to preserve over more than a thousand years are amazing. this took place in a rigidly hierarchical container where reincarnated "living gods" like Mipham served as transmitters across generations. Within a Tibetan context, Mipham would have been surrounded by his teachers, advisers and a lot of ritual pomp, and his capacity for mischief would be constrained. Not so in the West, where the man's narcissism and power hunger were not checked by anyone. This was simply a matter of time. I blame the Tibetan hierarchy (including HH the Dalai Lama) for sitting on their hands despite ample information about the Sakyong gone off rails. They did nothing with Trungpa and Sogyal either, in my view compounding the damage and tacitly encouraging subsequent abuse. Shambhala is a true cult, i 've lost friends over mocking their starry eyed devotion to this narcissist. The influence he had - just like Trungpa - over overeducated white devotees can not be overstated. Interestingly, Tibetans themselves often seemed to know better but were disinclined to go against one of their own.

  118. I agree. But it's a shame because the centers are in such lovely spots that make great short vacations. And what's wrong with being peaceful, meditating, practicing yoga, and long nature walks. It's a great getaway and usually cheap vacation. The problem is that so many of the people are so weird. I am not a believer in anything except my family, my work, the environment, bees, butterflies, getting rid of Trump, and leaving the world a better place for my kids. But sigh, I just can't buy the weirdos in their robes who all think they are the one true one. Leaves me cold.

  119. Hah! This is also how I happened upon Shambhala...affordable retreats in lovely settings! I would also say that for many years, my local city center was a lovely community, excellent programs and welcoming to all. It really was an oasis. (I say was b/c I become less involved for a lot of reasons, mostly time, but also a shift in the vibe there). Shambhala has a lot to offer, and decentralization is likely the key. The hierarchy feels very much at odds with its own teachings nowadays. For may lay practitioners, Pema Chodron is also their way in, and her feminine energy and leadership is far more impactful. So as someone who has been Shambhala adjacent for many years and not knowing the history deeper, it is really eye opening to realize how many layers of power there are, and just what an enormous INSTITUTION it is.

  120. #MeToo must be applauded for instilling courage in women but #MeToo’s leadership such as Oprah Winfrey has failed to distance it self from one of histories worst sexual predator iMahatma Gandhi. Oprah inspite of knowing about Gandhi always quotes him.

  121. Bj--Also the abusive practices of Mother Teresa, who sold babies, and withheld medical care for unwed mothers, while she, herself, lived in relative luxury, and undeserved acclamation. So goes the Catholic Church, the queen of child, and woman, abusers.

  122. The prominence of #MeToo is very specific and relates to drawing attention upon men in positions of power abusing vulnerable women. In Gandhi's case its even worse, its about a holy man in position power abusing his own children as the above link clearly documents.In Gandhi's case this is just the tip of the iceberg as Bapu meaning father in Indian, clearly surpasses Mother Theresa in many aspects one of which he Gandhi is the father of apartheid

  123. Good grief. Did these sheep grow up in a turnip patch (or yesterday)? This is the reason organized religion turns me off. Anyone who follows anything blindly is asking for trouble. Religious groups, whether Krishna, Buddhist, evangelical, Catholic, Mormon, orthodox Jewish -- you name it that are centered around a patriarchy or men -- are trouble. It attracts people who are lost and searching and easy peasy targets. All basically cults. And in case you haven't heard, the trouble really IS MEN. A man is a man is a man no matter how much he prays or how many robes he wears. I went up to a yoga retreat just to get away in Nevada City, California. Did not realize until I got there most people were cra cra. It was a beautiful (totally vegetarian) community of people who totally without question devoted their lives, their money, their brains to some ridiculous men whose pictures hung everywhere. I was really grossed out and found the average adult to be very immature. To reach a high level, many gave the community everything, even celibacy with their spouses. No different than Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny except so far I don't know of any lawsuits against them for molestation, except maybe the fake ones.

  124. Leonora--The key word, here, is "sheep." The sheep will follow the guy with the whistle, anywhere he goes, even the slaughterhouse. True in politics, AND religion.

  125. Here's a hot news item: Buddhism is not all peace, meditation, and yoga. There are a lot of bad people, who claim to be Buddhists, just as there are a lot of bad people who claim to be Christians. Welcome to the real world.

  126. Sure, look at the civil war in Sri Lanka and what people there did in the name of Buddhism or more recently to Myanmar and the Rohingya people who local Buddhist holy men say are not even human. So, no religion is perfect.

  127. Essentially, Shambala and other organizations centered around gurus are merely cults, dressed up in high-falutin' Buddhist religious names and titles that allow them and their gurus or maters to fly under the radar of the law. While essentiallly the same brain-washing as Scientology or Branch Davidians is their MO, the truth is that it's even worse for followers. If they decide to go public or leave they are subject not only to the usual dire threat and harassment techniques, but told that they are betraying Buddhism and the Buddha. the Buddhist community has known about Sogyal and Sasaki for decades. They were aided, enabled and hidden by senior cult members who sacrificed decency in the hope of being enlighted by a predator. There is no excuse in the world for these miscreants. Leonard Cohen, who was Sasaki's disciple, when asked about his predation, dismissed it as an old man being playful with his students. Denial and enabling of criminal conduct by celebrity cult members evidences the opaque penumbra Sasaki's followers mainained under oblique and open threats of this guru to withhold "enlightenment". As said, serial predation by so-called enlightened masters is well known in the Buddhist community. The ones exposed thusfar are merely the tip of the dharma iceberg. If the Dalai Lama is analagous to the Pope, he must immeditatey address this horror and "defrock" those engaged in predatory conduct.

  128. "If they decide to go public or leave they are subject not only to the usual dire threat and harassment techniques." Please prove this. I've never read or heard of Buddhists receiving dire threats or being harassed when they've left a Buddhist community.

  129. It has always seemed to me that religion developed initially and primarily as a clever way to keep masses of people in line without resorting to military force. Abuses inevitably arose, along with the usual rituals, hierarchy, gods, totems, costumes, diets, prohibitions and donations. The good news is that good works frequently co-exist with the trappings as a sideline.

  130. I studied at the Shambala center in NYC for about five years. I had heard of Shambala wives, but I had no idea what they were, so I asked a teacher during a class. What I didn't know was that the teacher's wife was a Shambala wife, which meant she had sexual relations with Chogyum Trungpa, the founder of Shambala training, and this was a sore point in their relationship. There was a gasp in the class -- which I didn't understand -- and no answer was forthcoming. In a class a few weeks later, led by the Shambala wife who I had inadvertently embarrassed, I was verbally attacked and essentially thrown out of Shambala training for asking pointed questions. At the time I was devastated. This is not to denigrate what I learned at Shambala Training, the teachings were profound and I still meditate, but I learn from many different sources now. People run institutions and power often corrupts. I'm glad I was thrown out.

  131. I meditate on headspace on my laptop and I honestly have learned more from their meditation packs than the years I spent in Shambhala and it's only $95 a year!

  132. I want to separate the institution from the community and teachings. I’ve been attending NY Shambhala for a year and have grown immensely through the Buddhist teachings, the kindness of a community, and the opportunity to meditate and practice. I’m so grateful for the teachers there and the support of fellow student, and I’m a calmer, more content, and more compassionate person as a result. In fact, I have learn more about eradicating racism, sexism and homophobia from the talks there, than any other community I’m part of. And at the same time, I’m a feminist who is appalled by the power structures and abuses, as well as the cover up by those at the top. I didn’t buy into the guru approach, or the worship of a fallible human, and I’m deeply sorry for all those are suffering. I commend the bravery of the women who spoke up and am glad there has been a reckoning. It is right that the council and Sakyong have stepped down - they deserved that and more. But I will not stop attending Shambhala, or learning from the wisdom of teachers like Ethan Nictern or Dr Shanti Smalls. I am a better person for having been a part of the NY community they have built, and believe in their sincere commitment to creating a more equal, compassionate world. I reject the more sinister dysfunctional parts of the institution but that has had little impact on my experience of NY Shambhala to date or my ongoing commitment to Buddhism as a philosophy and a way of living.

  133. In Tibetan Buddhism a teacher is a necessary part of the spiritual path. There are very few lineage holders left who are able to understand the cultural nuances and baggage that both cultures bring to that student/teacher connection. Many Westerners who develop an interest in Tibetan Buddhism would benefit more from studying at the Hinayana and Mahayana level of Buddhism first until they have a deep grounding in those paths, since it is only in the Vajrayana level that a teacher becomes absolutely crucial to the spiritual path. It is tough these days to find an authentic lineage holder interested only in your spiritual development. In the case of the Sakyong, it does not appear that he received the rigorous training nor underwent the necessary long years in retreat that many of the great lineage holders of the twentieth century did (he is not alone in that respect, sadly). The Shambhala teachings in particular are unique to these time and were, from my understanding, discovered as a means to connect people to the spiritual wisdom of Buddhism without all the Tibetan cultural baggage that turns off so many spiritual seekers in the West. That this lineage is now seemingly without a lineage holder is a great loss for the world in general and devastating for the long time followers of it in particular. May those who have connected with that path not turn to nihilism or eternalism but find their way to a genuine lineage holder who is worthy of their devotion.

  134. Once again, we are confronted with the reality that transmitters of the dharma are mere mortals. Buddha taught that we should not accept his teachings as gospel, but question it and test it to determine if the teachings align with our experience: Do not accept any of my words on faith, Believing them just because I said them. Be like an analyst buying gold, who cuts, burns, And critically examines his product for authenticity. Only accept what passes the test By proving useful and beneficial in your life. The Buddha (Jnanasara-samuccaya) Thus, we should never allow ourselves to become so enamored by the personality of the individual teacher, even if they profess to be masters, and especially if they designate themselves as “king.” This ‘revelation’ is just another teaching example where we must always question our belief and remember - it is the dharma - not the teacher - that we aspire to practice. Anytime a teacher uses their leverage of being an expert / all-knowing authority, we should question that person’s truth by looking at how they act in accordance to the Noble 8-Fold Path and the 5 Precepts. It is always a teacher’s actions, not their teachings, that must be observed and tested by the individual and members of the sangha, and hopefully not become blinded by doctrine, cult of personality, proclaimed authority.

  135. Maybe this "holy guy" should have followed Mike Pence's policy of not dining alone with women other than his wife. A little restraint goes a long way.

  136. Was trained in the Shambhala tradition here in New York and was always sort of taken aback at how revered he was. Let's face it, these people are human beings like the rest of us. To pretend otherwise is to play into a dangerous illusion. We are the makers of our own destiny. If you can get something from the teachings and apply them to your life, great. But when you start revering these people to be something they're not, then you tread dangerous waters. Oddly, I wasn't surprise to hear this at all for some reason.

  137. No surprise here either. I had been a very devout Tibetan Buddhism student for 20 years. The practice of assigning super human qualities to higher up teachers is very common and fraught with problems. It is not isolated to this style of Buddhism or Buddhism generally. I have a Christian friend who had a pastor that was known in the community as a molester. Just swept it all under the carpet. I no longer will ever practice any form of organized religion. Kindness is a simple and genuine path.

  138. Maybe men should not be allowed to be in charge of anything, as they seem to be so hormonally driven that they are unable to comport themselves with normal decency.

  139. any group, organization or religion without sharing power with women equally tends to end up in this scenario. Only equality works.

  140. I think a man who is elevated and worshipped by a group experiences a brain change - he becomes the alpha male of a herd. The herd mentality gives its leader access to all females in the herd.

  141. As a life-long Buddhist, let me say any cult or sect that allows this type of egregious behavior is a cult, not a sect. Any cult that denigrates human dignity is not Buddhist. We need a ME NEVER and ME NEVER AGAIN movement to teach people of all backgrounds and genders to spot abuse and report it and never, never tolerate it. We need Lions of Justice of all faiths to say, ME NEVER, and NOT MY COMRADES EITHER. Thank you.

  142. Meet the Harvey Weinstein of Tibetan Buddhism. Like Harvey, Mipham lawyered up last week. Probably also with Brafman.

  143. These are crimes that were reported and hopefully they will be investigated and prosecuted. But there was also massive organizational failure. The problem with these big spiritual institutions that offer a progressive path is that every person involved is in it, at least slightly, for personal gain. There is an industry of professional buddhism in the US and every teacher and student, no matter how pure the motivation, needs to identify and eliminate that urge for success or gain.

  144. I was living in Boulder in the 70s when Chogyam Trungpa and his students spearheaded Naropa University. A division of which was The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. It was a dynamic scene that drew many beat writers like Ginsberg, Burroughs, Corso, Creeley and many other literary rebels. As a young poet myself, I was thrilled to be around my heroes. And yes it was a party. These were the days before Naropa/Shambala became an institution and hierarchies were formed. It was anarchic and vital. As the scene became more established and started to resemble a religious organization I became less interested. What had started out as a spontaneous, loosely formed community of artists and seekers devolved into something corporate and sterile. I blame this on students who were spiritual materialists and Trungpa who allowed it to happen. As is often the case, the teachings became less important than the teachers and power more important than knowledge.

  145. I have gone to Zen and Tibetan Buddhist centers. I find the mindfulness and compassion practices to be life enriching and enlightening (If those are the proper words). But I stopped going to Shambhala because I found the hierarchy and hereditary lineage stuff to be somewhat ego driven and counterproductive. I may go back to a Zen center but I will have many questions to ask before I commit. One thing the Mohinga Situation in Thailand has taught me is that Buddhist can be as horrible- and beautiful, as any religion. The only way to help prevent abuse is to insist on transparency and thoughtfulness in the teaching, in the teachers, and in the structure and hierarchy of the institution.

  146. it just infuriates me to read this. So sad to hear that these confused, weak, and vulnerable young women give their power up to such charlatans.

  147. Jeez!! Gurus sometimes abuse their power!! Who could have guessed?? We probably need a glass of Koop Aide.

  148. It is repulsive repugnant behavior for which there is no excuse. This Monk and also his father trungpa have betrayed the Buddhist tradition, and they were only custodians of that tradition they do not own it. In some senses it is worse than Harvey, because he only ever was about making money and commercial Creativity. The Shambala group has held it self to a much higher moral plane. It also betrays the fundamental flaw in guru traditions which encourage people to accept Authoritycompletely and not to express question skepticism or doubt. It’s unhealthy in any tradition. It is a slippery slope between guru to cult and there is no clear bright line to distinguish them.

  149. Another religious corporation guilty of abuse by its leaders toward those who seek guidance. Religion is based on the leaders being the parent and its followers the children. Children are trusting and gullible. Leaders can use that for control for their personal pleasures of money, planes, homes, sex. Is there an organized religion that can honestly be devoid of abuse against those who have put their trust in the "leaders" to gain peace and tranquilty in the faith of the unknown to ease the realities of living? I cannot think of one. That is reality.

  150. I am shocked to see this in the NYTimes, but not the way you might expect. It's the same feeling when I read a Foxnews or Breitbart: There's such an abundance of misinformation and distorted notions about Shambhala that I hardly know where to start. Nearly 48 years ago my wife and I began practicing meditation under the founder of Shambhala, the father of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. Since that time Shambhala has been the central part of our spiritual practice and family life. Shambhala has provided education for our children, insight into our relationships and the ability to make meditation a living force of good in our lives. Over time under the guidance of these teachers, father and son, the community evolved from a rag-tag band of would-be meditators to a community organized about the inspiration of Shambhala as a template for a decent human. It is unfortunate that our leader has behaved badly. We understand these failing are inconsistent with our own desire to be decent, to be direct, honest and loving. I do not doubt for a moment that Sakyong Mipham shares those aspirations. It is too bad Andy Newman never had the chance to experience our community before making such wacky statements like the Sakyong is the "sole holder of the most sacred teachings in a custody chain that goes back centuries." There are actually many holders of the Shambhala Treasury, which his father started in 1976. So many distortions. Where to begin? Have to begin at the beginning. To meditate.