Horizon Analysis of the Sakyong’s “apology” letter

 

We all grew up with caregivers, and we looked to them to help us sort things out. Then some of us grew up and engaged spiritual traditions with leaders who we looked to for answers.

At some point, however, it seems to become necessary to learn how to listen to our own inner wisdom. Maybe no one taught you how to listen to your inner wisdom (they don’t teach it in school!) Maybe you have already learned how to listen to your inner wisdom. Maybe you would enjoy refreshing your  ability to listen to you inner wisdom today.

Whatever the case, I am encouraging people affected by the upheaval around Sakyong Mipham to take some quiet time to listen to your inner wisdom. This could be a way to get your feet on the ground and have more meaningful discussions.

The method I proposed in the Phase 2 report is called the “Horizon Analysis,” and it is described in Appendix 1. I used it myself this past week to more fully understand what I felt around the Sakyong’s “apology” letter sent out on Monday.

I’m sharing my Horizon Analysis of it with you today, in the hopes that it may inspire you to do your own Horizon Analysis. We are all individuals and will have different experiences of that letter. It can be helpful to get in between the bones and down to the heart of what that letter meant to you personally.

I offer mine with love:

 

NAME: Andrea Winn                                                           Date: June 26, 2018

 

1. Reading(s) (by Author): Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche’s (SMR) “apology” letter June 25, 2018

 

2.(a) What is my strongest attraction or attractions to the reading/s. Why?

<1>” I write to you with … a mind of self-reflection.”  I have learned from talking with many people personally impacted by SMR’ gross and prolonged transgressions, and deep reflection would be necessary to begin to repair such transgressions.

<2>”I am now making a public apology.” I am ready to hear him make an apology and I acknowledge he has not yet done so, as it is not included in this letter.

<3> “Like all of you, I am human and on the path.” He recognizes he is human and is not putting himself up on a “guru pedestal”.

<4> “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 have heard that he has been offering teachings on kindness, and this is not a result of his being accused of abuse.

<5> ” I am committed to engaging in this process with you.” This is a sign that SMR is willing to go through a true process of reconciliation, which will be very painful for him.

 

(b) What might be the source of my attractions(s) to the reading/s?

<1> In my heart I *hope* that SMR understands how deep his transgressions are and that he will do what is truly necessary to begin the process of repair. I’m hoping his heart will shift towards authentic healing that would clearly begin with an extended time of very deep inner reflection.

<2> I deeply desire repair to this situation, and I am hopeful that he understands it will begin with him making an apology, and I hope it will come soon!

<3> I feel deeply relieved that SMR is not expecting his transgressions to be excused because of misguided understandings of samaya – I’m relieved he is admitting he can and *has* done wrong.

<4> This may be a sign of an authentic wish – it may be something genuine from SMR.

<5> It feels good to hear him say that he is committed to the painful road ahead. It gives me hope, and in fact joy, to hear of his commitment to engage.

 

3. (a) What is my strongest resistance or resistances to the reading/s. Why?

<1> “I write to you with … tenderness” After reading the impact statements of his violence towards vulnerable women, I doubt SMR’s ability to know what tenderness is, and this rings false when I read it.

<2> “I have engaged in relationships with women in the Shambhala community” He is using “relationships” in a way that is commonly known to be between equals. From hearing about his “relationships” with the women who have approached me with their stories, these relationships have involved force, violence, rape, public humiliation, abandonment, spiritual abuse, and other unbearable forms of violence. In our society, we do not call these “relationships”.

<3> “women have shared experiences of feeling harmed as a result of these relationships” He seems to be trying to put the responsibility of his alleged violence onto the women suggesting that they “felt harmed” rather than naming what actually happened, which is in contrast to what the women themselves said that he violated them physically, emotionally, sexually and spiritually.

<4> “I am now making a public apology.” He says he is making an apology, but he does not say what he is apologizing for.

<5> “over the years, I have apologized personally to people who have expressed feeling harmed by my conduct” Again, he is dodging responsibility by suggesting people “felt” harmed rather than actually were harmed by his actions. He seems to be implying that when he has caused gross harm that an apology is all that is needed.

<6> “I have also engaged in mediation and healing practices with those who have felt harmed.” He is again suggesting women “felt” harmed rather than actually were harmed. He seems to be suggesting mediation and healing practices as a form of addressing violence with integrity, and yet what I have learned from the women who I have spoken with and whose stories are documented in this report, his violence towards women has continued for decades, so therefore I don’t understand why he would be suggesting that he has made truly done anything to repair these situations.

<7> “I have been, and will continue to be, committed to healing these wounds.” This is in stark contrast to my learning from women that they have been living in isolated pain and silence for decades due to his reluctance to heal these wounds.

<8> “As the lineage holder of Shambhala” He is implying that he is the sole lineage holder of Shambhala, which is not true. We all are.

<9> “I want to demonstrate how we can move toward a culture of kindness in line with our legacy of teachings. ” This letter is in direct contrast to his suggestion, as he is demonstrating how to cover up truth, avoid responsibility, and abandon both the women who have alleged his sexual misconduct and the Shambhala community entrusted in his care.

<10> “I am now entering a period of self-reflection and listening.” On the surface that sounds good and appropriate, but he does not say what this means. Is he going into retreat? Is he opening up a forum for women to share how they have been harmed by him? Is he going to open a forum to hear how his actions and deceptions are impacting his students around the world?

<11> “It is important to me that you know I am here, continuing to do my best.” I don’t feel he is here.

<12> “it is important to me that we continue to create a caring community where harm does not occur” So far all we have discovered is that this community is falling short of that as more and more people are coming forward who say they have experienced gross harm, so I do not understand what he is suggesting we continue to do.

<13> “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 see no evidence in this letter of him feeling his own heart, his humanity or his genuineness, so it is confusing to hear him say that he has done that. When he suggests that he is expressing deep love from that false place, the love feels false.

 

(B) What might be the source of my resistance(s) to the reading/s?

<1> I am deeply disheartened by lying from the head of my lineage – it brings a great shadow on my feeling of connection with Shambhala, and a great shadow on my hopefulness of living.

<2> This feels to me like he is painting a fake picture to mislead people and possibly to avoid a lawsuit.

<3> I don’t like feeling he is trying to avoid the truth, because I want true healing and reconciliation, which requires him to face the truth himself and to speak it publicly.

<4> I feel I am doubting him. I feel mislead. I want him to apologize, and he is suggesting he is apologizing right here, yet he is not apologizing for anything here. So I feel he is trying to mislead me, and that just feels awful! I want him to be a man who can speak truth and mean it – I want him to be a leader who stands truly behind his words. I *want* to be able to believe in him again, and this takes one step further back from that happening.

<5> I feel angry that he might even consider an apology as a remedy – as a way of making things right – after he has harmed people in the ways that have been expressed to me and are documented in this report. It disrupts my sense of the world making sense – because the leader of my spiritual community is saying something that is so grossly wrong for the context of the situation.

<6> It feels like he is trying to make this sound like enlightened society – it sounds all “ladee-da”, and at the same time women are telling me a very different and dark reality involving sexual predation and gross spiritual harm. I am looking for a return to integrity, truth, and genuine reconciliation which will undoubtedly involve a lot of pain and right-shame for SMR. I want him to turn and face the music so we can begin the healing process. I really want healing.

<7> It is painful to feel SMR is continuing to evade truth and reconciliation.

<8> This bothers me because it implies we need to rely on him to clean up his act. I know that we do not. Each of us has been empowered as a holder of the Shambhala lineage, and I know that it is time that we take responsibility for the care and continuation of this lineage, with or without SMR, independent of his decision of whether or not to do his own rehabilitation and healing.

<9> I feel abandoned by the official holder of my lineage, and that sucks.

<10> I feel further distrust since it sounds good on the surface but he is not being upfront and saying what exactly he has decided to do. I feel left dangling, and I hate that feeling. I am looking for solid security, and for the leader of this community to speak truth now.

<11> I see no sign of SMR being present right now, and that is deeply disturbing in the face of how important the Shambhala lineage is. I deeply desire for him to take responsibility and come now and be truly present and truly accountable to this community.

<12> I feel he is trying to cover something up, and that is disorienting. I am ready for truth to land on the ground, so we can move forward together as a community.

<13> This letter has brought me to an even deeper place of realizing there is nothing to work with in SMR at this time. It hurts. It is disappointing. And at the same time it is a good pain, because I realize I need to move on in the face of his lack of willingness to deal with where we are at.

 

4. How do these attractions and resistances challenge or affirm me as I engage in this reflection process? (Notice where the invitation to transformation is.)

There is a clear movement towards deep disheartenment here, and a facing of the reality of SMR’s heart. The invitation I feel now is to take responsibility as a holder of this lineage, and to care for these sacred teachings with honesty, integrity and true love – the kind of love that flourishes in the light of the sun.

 

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6 Responses to Horizon Analysis of the Sakyong’s “apology” letter

  1. Sherry Caldwell says:

    “Betrayed” is a word that’s swirling in my mind…Your analysis is on the dot, Andrea.

  2. Lila Dlaboha says:

    Thank you for this analysis, Andrea. I did not hear an apology in the Sakyong’s letter either. In all your points, you spoke for me as well.

    May you have the strength and wisdom to see this terrible crisis through to rehabilitation of the Shambhala mandala.

    Please let me know how I can help.

    Yours,

    Lila

  3. Stacie says:

    Andrea,
    Your analysis and ability to document such deep emotion with clarity, respect and objectivity is inspiring. Your heartfelt desire is also clear and I believe that it is reasonable. As always, your leadership has provided a commitment and framework to achieve resolution and healing. No wonder you are physically and emotionally exhausted. Years ago you emphasized to me that you only focused on the present to affect future change but I see now that you’ve harnessed the past with powerful vengeance. Well done!

  4. Veena says:

    Hi Andrea,
    The Sakyong’s letter disappointed, confused and deflated me. It felt false, evasive, without substance. It is interesting to read the Horizon Analysis and get some insights into why I may have had that reaction.
    I want to congratulate you on The Sunshine Project. I admire the framework you developed and used. Courage, compassion, professionalism! Many thanks.
    I too have been part of this community. I gained a lot from it. I had some reservations re SI however. I never imagined there could be such darkness. As a feminist who deeply believes in social justice I hope justice is done and healing follows as well.
    With my best wishes,
    Veena

  5. Adrienne Papermaster says:

    Andrea, thank you for sharing this analysis that so clearly articulates my thoughts and feelings about SMR’S vague non-apology. And thank you for all that you have given to this community in Project Sunshine. You are a fiercely intelligent, compassionate warrior.

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