Buddhist Project Sunshine Update – July 19, 2018



I had a vision yesterday morning of rich, fertile, feminine earth. A place where we can all draw the strength needed to face what is occurring in Shambhala. A place where we can receive good nourishment for our spiritual practices and path. A place where we can grow good things.

I’m seeing with the general MeToo movement, and with what is happening in Shambhala and other Buddhist traditions, there is a strong call for feminine leadership. It clearly doesn’t mean all women. Many women have bought into the male power structures and manipulative dynamics; they benefit from that system and so they perpetuate it.

We all know what it feels like when you encounter an authentically strong woman – someone you can trust and grow with. I have met women like that. I see women like that gathering around the work of Buddhist Project Sunshine. There are some pretty awesome men and gender queer folk gathering around the strong feminine energy of this project too.

We all have our heroes, and for me, Yeshe Tsogyal is the ultimate feminine presence. I have strongly wished her presence here for Shambhala as we go through the steps of cleaning up our lineage. I feel she was the most powerful woman leader ever. Tibetans fervently prayed to her for love and protection because they knew of her great dedication to their welfare. I feel her deep protection for Tibetans and Tibetan Buddhism – and for Padmasmabhava’s terma teachings. The Shambhala teachings are regarded as terma teachings. I believe she wants them protected. And I believe she is outraged at what Mipham has done to this sacred lineage.

I am proud of the Shambhala sanghas who have been writing letters that speak from the true values of Shambhala. One of the first letters to come out was from the Victoria Shambhala Center, and it set a tone of gentle yet fierce bravery, that I see some other centres following suit with.

Here’s another example. I got a lovely email from the director of the London Shambhala Center this week, and I’m sharing it here with permission: 

Dear Andrea,

I’m sure you receive a lot of messages – I just wanted to say thank you for your commitment to justice and healing. Your work is an inspiration to us. As our community gathers in shock and disbelief, a pattern is also emerging in that many of us felt there was something wrong with Shambhala, though some of us didn’t exactly know what or why. We want to help create something better, something that lives up to the principles we have been practicing with. At the same time, I am willing to walk away from Shambhala if it does not look like the deep and fundamental changes that are needed are happening, and I have spoken to others in our community who feel the same way.

We are also making your reports, as well as other resources, available to everyone on our mailing list (not just members) and will be adding them to the London Shambhala website.

With much appreciation,

Lee Howson,

Director of Shambhala London

We have studied and practiced Shambhala warriorship for decades, and I feel we are now witnessing the fruits of these decades of practice. I feel so grateful to and for all of you!

On the train of gratitude now, I have to say I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all the messages people have been sending me of your thanks for what I and the Buddhist Project Sunshine team have done. I love hearing about how it has positively impacted your path.

I am also deeply, deeply grateful for the flood of donations that have come in. I confess that I thought Buddhist Project Sunshine was over in June, as our funding had run out. 

Now, with more donations, we have an opportunity to envision a future for Buddhist Project Sunshine to continue it’s work. I’m hopeful we can raise further funds to provide me with a half-time salary to continue as the project lead, and to hire an administrative person. At least for now, we have money to ensure Buddhist Project Sunshine can pay for it’s basic monthly costs like having a website for the foreseeable future. This has brought some security for things to continue, and I want everyone who has contributed to know how very, very grateful I am for that!

I was asked by one of my mentors to post something about, “This work doesn’t happen in a vacuum”. We have witnessed Buddhist Project Sunshine playing a key role in a new dawn of possibility in the Shambhala community. My mentor felt it is important for the sangha to know about the toll of doing this kind of work.

I worked for 16 months without pay to create the foundation of what we have now (January 2017 – April 2018). I not only donated my time, which has been more than full time since January 2018, but I also donated the use of all of my business systems.

I’m not sure if people realize this, but Buddhist Project Sunshine has been an internet initiative. All of the change we created happened through the communication opportunities of the internet. I have never met any of my collaborators in person, except our Chod practitioners. Everyone else I have only met on zoom and email. These relationships have been built through the Internet. 

I think it is important to realize that the success of Buddhist Project Sunshine was made possible because I used my business internet systems and my computer science training to build these many initiatives.

Beyond my contribution of time and business systems, I have: 

  • Provided strong leadership and project management
  • Did 1 year of research into the sexual abuse problem in Shambhala 
  • Wrote a significant Phase 1 report that opened conversations and the first disclosure from the Kalapa Council about Abhorent sexual behaviours of some Shambhala leaders
  • Hosted a 3 week Facebook discussion forum after the phase 1 report
  • Found staff to facilitate that Facebook discussion
  • De escalated high drama situations in that Facebook discussion
  • Coordinated an intensive  phase 2 fundraising campaign in March/April
  • I have been overseeing the investigation into SMR
  • Doing ALL technology work – setting up web pages, program registration pages, etc.
  • Given all tech support for people having trouble accessing the Buddhist Project Sunshine discussion group
  • Keeping in weekly contact with our community outreach team
  • Fostering ally relationships with women involved with revealing Sogyal Rinpoche 
  • Wrote the phase 2 report and asked for contributions from collaborators
  • Did behind the scene work to foster relationships so we could successfully produce phase 2 report
  • Managed all people involved with the report ensuring we met our publication deadline
  • Asked people to do chod for Shambhala and BPS, gave updates and requests for practice
  • Composing and publishing numerous blog posts
  • Created a safe emotional container for the SMR abuse survivors who have come forward; 
  • Envisioned a cutting edge social media discussion group forum for the Shambhala community to process their shock and grief 
  • Spent many hours implementing the discussion forum technologically
  • Screened, signed up, and oriented discussion facilitators
  • Co-leading the group discussion program
  • In June and July I have spent over 5 hours a week facilitating our  excellent discussion
  • I have led the team of facilitators
  • I have read many hundreds of emails and FB messages, and answered most of them
  • I set up bookkeeping software and have been doing the Buddhist Project Sunshine bookkeeping as I have time
  • I have been doing many media interviews so word can get out to community members who might not otherwise know what is happening in Shambhala
  • I have dealt with the numerous attacks from Shambhala International, including their fake mediation, their fictitious report of allegations against me in Toronto, and their threat of a lawsuit if I published the Phase 2 report
  • I have dealt with personnel issues, including firing people who turned out to be a poor fit for working with Buddhist Project Sunshine 
  • I found a lawyer and have attended meetings and numerous email exchanges with this lawyer to protect us from Shambhala International’s threats
  • I manually thank every person who donates to Buddhist Project Sunshine, and sometimes post thank you videos on my FB page

All of this has taken more time and energy than probably any of us can imagine, and it has been done out of my passion for justice for the victims and my desire for a healthy Shambhala community. 

I am truly tired from all of this, and I am praying to every spiritual energy in the universe to bring more volunteer help so that this burden of over-work can come off of me. I asked for volunteers a couple of months ago and there was no response. I hope that as people get more grounded with the community changes, there will be people who want to join us and be part of Buddhist Project Sunshine. You can help us move forward with exciting and important work ahead!

Now that we are more financially secure and can afford our beautiful Buddhist Project Sunshine website, I can soon post blogs there, as well as a formal call for volunteers. May our new secure home on our website be blessed!


Please share this update through social media, as we have no other way to get our messages out.

Visit our main information page at: http://andreamwinn.com/offerings/project_sunshine/

9 comments


  • stanley

    It’s imponderable to think of all that you have accomplished.

    July 19, 2018
  • Tami Wheelock-Long

    Andrea,
    Thank You for all that you are doing.
    I would like to volunteer. Not sure what
    you need or how I can help.However, I am
    more than willing to help.
    Please let me know what I can do.
    Warmly Yours,
    Tami

    July 19, 2018
  • Andrea, I really appreciate the great work you’ve done and would be happy to support you more — financially, as a volunteer, with social media, internet programming…
    Here’s something you might find useful that describes a “Women of Wisdom” lineage:
    http://laotzu.xyz/lineage/display?id=5

    (BTW, I remember you when you were a little girl and I was staying with your parents on Mapleton Hill during some kind of dharma program during the 70’s or 80’s.)

    July 19, 2018
  • Timaree Bierle-Dodds

    Hi Andrea, Thank you for sharing your connection to Yeshe Tsogyal. Her presence is totally with Shambhala in the manifestation of the Sakyong Wangmo. Dechen Choying Sangmo appears to be holder of many Yeshe Tsogyal teachings and practices. And she may or may not be outraged with what is going on. I have no doubt though that she is the embodiment of wisdom and wrathful compassion . All best, Timaree Bierle-Dodds Portland Oregon Shambhala sangha

    July 19, 2018
  • Lisa Sandoval

    Hi Andrea, I am willing to help… I sent you an email with my resume. Feel free to respond whenever.

    July 20, 2018
  • Jane

    Andrea, a huge thank you for this pioneering work. I know from my own experience of abuse of power how draining it can be to live with the aftermath. And how much energy it takes to transform anger and grief into skillful action. You have laid down a path for others to follow, showing how these online tools can be used to reconnect those of us who have been the targets of ostracizing and disempowering leaders and institutions. Thank you!

    July 20, 2018
  • ilona

    As someone who has done a lot of volunteer work without pinpointing my contributions, either to myself or to others, I appreciate that you spelled out exactly what you did. It’s so easy for people to take such labor (even labors of love) for granted. I am also sorry to learn that your initial call for volunteers did not yield a response. I am not a Shambhalian, just someone who wishes to encourage you. The world needs more people like you, living from integrity and wisdom. I also hope you get the rest you need.

    July 20, 2018
  • Howard Katz

    Andrea, Regarding feminine leadership I want to share with you. Madame Jeanne de Salzmann was Gurdjieff’s most senior student. This 2 minute 42 second video was made in her 100th year.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oexgqnyIqBI
    Warmly, Howard

    July 20, 2018
  • Ahkung

    You have well document your long struggle as suggested by your “mentor”. I applaud your courage and persistence despite internal and external resistance from SI. I well remember your struggles in Toronto (at the local Centre, as an OISE graduate student & setting up a practice on Dupont St).
    Could you please be more specific what work tasks you wish assistance with?

    July 20, 2018


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