Today I am retiring from a job that has been the hardest thing I have ever done – cracking open healing light on a deeply suppressed systemic infestation of sexual abuse within the most precious Shambhala community. I would like to take a moment to honour this journey with you, as I pass the baton of social activism on to the community itself to continue this noble work.
First, I would like to thank the many people who have helped along the way. Important elders are thanked within the Phase 1 and Phase 2 reports. Others have helped in other ways, such as community outreach. Because of the nature of this work, people often don’t want to be publicly named, because it puts them at risk of being attacked. My valued collaborators, you know who you are – know that I am deeply grateful for all you have contributed to this noble initiative.
Second, I would like to acknowledge and deeply thank the 147 people who donated $11,424 to Buddhist Project Sunshine, far surpassing our fundraising goal of $8,846. I am truly blown away by the response and support of this initiative! It makes me feel that all this effort was worth it, and that there may be something important here to continue forward with. Please know how much this means to me, and that I will bring care and attention to the planning for a future for this work.
My retirement today is not a full retirement, because I will continue doing things beyond the activism work – more peaceful things.
Here is what I will continue to do for the next while:
1. Co-leading the Buddhist Project Sunshine discussion group through July 31, when it completes
2. Doing the Buddhist Project Sunshine bookkeeping, including posting April – June financial statements on the Buddhist Project Sunshine website by July 31
3. Doing follow up interviews with three journalists who have expressed interest in attending to this story in a deeper, more mindful way
4. Passing on information from Carol Merchasin to the community as her investigation continues
5. Setting up a discussion space for a group of potential leaders who may be able to take Buddhist Project Sunshine forward
6. Posting updates about how we discern a future for Buddhist Project Sunshine
I am formally retiring from my activism role today. I will no longer be:
1. Addressing Shambhala International’s misinformation and cover ups
2. Doing interviews with journalists, beyond the three who I have agreed to meet with
I must say, I chuckled when I read what one donor said on our GoFundMe site, “Thank you so much for everything you have done. I think of you as our very own Ekajati, protector of goodness.” Well, in some ways this is what I have done for this community. And now, with me retiring from this role, it is time for the Ekajati protector of goodness to be invoked in each of you in this community. May the torch of Ekajati now pass to you!
What is ahead for me? First and foremost, I am going to have time to attend to my health and paying down the $37,500 debt I have accumulated. During the course of Buddhist Project Sunshine, I developed a cyst on my left ovary. In the reading I have done, this symbolizes wounding of the feminine and overworking. Perhaps my body has reflected problems in Shambhala, and in greater society. I have an MRI for the cyst next Thursday – please think of me.
I have been approached about two job offers in the past couple of weeks. The first I have already begun: working on a research project to get girls more interested in Computer Science careers. This is my own story, and I am thrilled to contribute to this area! Second, a large research team at the IWK Health Sciences Center in Halifax specializing in distance healing is interested in hiring me. I have an interview next Tuesday. Please think of me.
Going forward, I will attend lovingly to my femininity and reduce my work load – which was extreme and indeed inhuman to produce what has been produced through this project. I ask you to join me in a great sigh of relief as I lay down this burden today.
I love you all. Every ounce of effort I have exerted over the past year and a half has been done with that love for you. May you be surrounded with the peaceful light of awareness! May you be happy! May you be free to practice dharma for the great benefit of all sentient beings!
ANDREA WINN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
By Richard Edelman, Buddhist Project Sunshine Collaborator
I would like to personally praise Andrea Winn for her brave and insightful work in creating Buddhist Project Sunshine. I have witnessed her work first hand and will call it like I see it.
What she has accomplished is something that needs to be recognized not only by the Shambhala community but by Buddhists everywhere.
In a short period of time, Andrea Winn and Buddhist Project Sunshine have:
- Completed a professionally and sensitively conducted forensic investigation into the facts of sexual and spiritual abuse within the Shambhala community. We now know that Shambhala is among the dharma communities worldwide which have been ravaged by sexual and spiritual abuse. This investigation has proven that a serious situation truly exists which demands that Shambhala walk its talk with courage, integrity, and love for those who have been hurt. It is a model of right action for dharma communities everywhere.
- Created a discussion forum for those affected by this daunting psychological and spiritual crisis to share their voices in a secure environment moderated by a professional psychologist who is also a dharma teacher. This has been the first time many have encountered a sacred space for testifying to and having one’s voice heard and acknowledged regarding their suffering and witnessing of such spiritual harms. This is unprecedented and opens a pathway for healing wounded sanghas.
- Informed the world through the media of the challenging situation within Shambhala while modeling how it can be met with compassion and integrity.
- Encouraged those involved to maintain their daily practice and embody it in their efforts.
- Offered heart-felt and wisely considered assistance to Shambhala International in embodying its professed ideals in ways they thus far have not been able to do.
This has been a charnel ground crisis that would challenge the bravest of hearts. She has faced with sensitivity and grace the grievous wounds of a sublime spiritual legacy that has been damaged through its emergence within an embattled world. Andrea has attended to the wounds of those who have suffered within that community with inspiration. Her modeling of how we wounded and imperfect beings can nevertheless rise to the occasion of meeting spiritual challenges is inspiring.
Andrea Winn has accomplished all of this on a shoe string at best. She has more than earned genuine and meaningful support for what she has done and deserves the praise and generosity of us all, especially those within the Shambhala world. I therefore appeal to everybody who recognizes the value of what she has accomplished to make whatever financial contribution they’re inspired to make, great or small, to Andrea Winn.
We will all dedicate the merit.
If you feel moved to make a financial offering to Andrea, there are three ways you can make your offering. You can:
- Donate through our GoFundMe page and say you want the donation to go to Andrea
- e-transfer your offering to email@example.com, or
- send a check to her at:
1083 Queen Street, Suite 257
Halifax, NS B3H 0B2
(Note: This mailing address is active through July 31, 2018)