New BPS Administrative Assistant & BPS Feeding Your Demons event with Lama Tsultrim Allione



Buddhist Project Sunshine is developing into a more stable organization. Financial support is crucial for our stabilizing and continuing to serve as a beacon of sanity. Also, embracing a new level of volunteerism is going to be the way of the future for our continued service both to the Shambhala community and to helping create a new vision for Buddhism in this century.

I am delighted to announce that I will now be assisted by an Administrative Assistant, Vallie Stearns Anderson. She comes with the highest endorsements of those who know her. Please find her bio below. Please note: Vallie will now be responding to Buddhist Project Sunshine emails.

I am also sharing the video of the special talk and Feeding Your Demons event we hosted with Lama Tsultrim Allione. She spoke about the trends happening now in terms of abuses in Buddhist communities, and within Shambhala specifically. She offered words of wisdom and skilful means for relating with these challenges.

 


 

New Buddhist Project Sunshine Administrative Assistant

Vallie-Stearns Anderson, has been meditating and practicing with the Shambhala community since 2001.  She is active with the meditation groups in New Brunswick since 2005 as a Meditation Instructor, and is currently the Coordinator of Practice and Education in Sackville, NB.  She also holds a leadership position in the Dorje Kasung, the protection pillar of the Shambhala community.  She has been active for over six years with the New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity, lobbying for economic justice for women.  In her work life, she has been active in the labour movement as a campaigner, negotiator and public policy researcher.  Prior to that she spent 15 years in the feminist movement working against sexual and other forms of violence against women and children, in public education, crisis counselling and emergency shelter services.  All this experience informs her present commitment to supporting survivors of sexual abuse and to the healing of the Shambhala community.

 


 

Lama Tsultrim Allione leads Feeding Your Demons® with the Buddhist Project Sunshine community

In these times of facing our greatest fears in a Buddhist spiritual community, we are blessed with this special program with Lama Tsultrim Allione. Lama Tsultrim said she appreciates the groundedness and authentic engagement people are having in the Buddhist Project Sunshine discussion group, and she felt moved to reach out and help by offering this special Feeding Your Demons discussion and practice session. Learn more about Lama Tsultrim at: https://taramandala.org . If you are interested in the Buddhist Project Sunshine discussion group, see more details here: Buddhist Project Sunshine Discussion Group

watch video now

In gratitude for the Shambhala dakinis



These are times of startling brilliance. Waves of gratitude have been hitting my email inbox as community members express sincere thanks for the light Buddhist Project Sunshine has brought to abuses happening for decades within Shambhala. Thank you so much for your gratitude – it deeply touches my heart.

This is a community-wide movement at this point, as we tend our grief and betrayal, and as we draw upon the rich resources of our training in warriorship to chart a good way forward for ourselves and our service of all humanity. This is a profound time of recovering the sacred ground of our lineage.

I found myself searching for language for the women who came forward and shared their stories of abuse by Ösel Rangdröl Mukpo (aka Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche). I didn’t want to call them “victims” or “survivors”. I feel these women are far more holy. The women who have come forward and shared the clear testimony of their abuse are strong, brilliant women. They are spiritually devout. They applied their body, speech and mind to their pursuit of their spirituality in relationship to Mr. Mukpo. They walked each step through his mind-bending abuse. They were cast aside. They were shunned by the community. They left, and beyond all odds picked up their pieces and formed better lives for themselves. And then when the opportunity arose for them to share their stories to bring light to a level of abuse more horrific than most of us could imagine, they stood up and shared what happened to them for the benefit of the community.

I feel the best name for these women is, “Shambhala dakinis.” They are a true blessing to us. The gift of their pain and their sanity is truly unsurpassable.

Because of the nature of the BPS Phase 2 report, their stories were anonymous. This means they have received no letters of thanks. I would like to open an opportunity today to give thanks to these courageous women. Please post your gratitudes to them below. And please do share this blog on your Facebook pages and with friends. Let’s spread this far and wide so this community can give abundant thanks to these noble women.

 

NOTE: The purpose of this blog post is to provide a place for community members to express their thanks to the women who came forward and shared their experiences of abuse by Ösel Rangdröl Mukpo. Only those thanks will be approved below. If you have other thoughts, please share them in the Buddhist Project Sunshine discussion group. If you are not currently part of our discussion group, learn more and connect with the BPS Discussion Group.

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: https://andreamwinn.com/offerings/project_sunshine/

Update On The Findings Of Sexual Misconduct Of The Sakyong



Buddhist Project Sunshine’s investigator, Carol Merchasin, has prepared an update on the findings of sexual misconduct of the Sakyong. An excerpt from her update:

“Within 24 hours of the Phase II Report’s June 28thairing on the Buddhist Project Sunshine blog and on Facebook, a woman came forward to tell the story of her 2002 encounter with the Sakyong in Chile. I interviewed her several times and I interviewed a corroborating witness as well.  I also interviewed a kusung who came forward and was able to corroborate certain details.  Once again, I will say, as I did in my prior report, that this can only be considered a preliminary investigation.  A full investigation must give the Sakyong, leaders of SI and others the opportunity to give their version of this incident.”

Read her full update: Update On The Findings Of Sexual Misconduct Of The Sakyong

 

Also, the Buddhist Project Sunshine Discussion and Loving Kindness Program is still open to all people who have a connection with Shambhala. Registration closes this Friday, July 13. Learn more and register

 

Let’s celebrate Andrea’s retirement and all that has been accomplished!




 
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.

Richard Edelman

 


If you feel moved to make a financial offering to Andrea, there are three ways you can make your offering. You can:

  1. Donate through our GoFundMe page and say you want the donation to go to Andrea
  2. e-transfer your offering to andrea@andreamwinn.com, or
  3. send a check to her at:

Andrea Winn

1083 Queen Street, Suite 257

Halifax, NS  B3H 0B2

(Note: This mailing address is active through July 31, 2018)

Andrea’s last words



I’m hanging up my social activist hat tomorrow. My activist retirement has been on the horizon for a week now, and tomorrow will be the official day. I hope you will join me in a little celebration tomorrow of the work accomplished during this journey. I’ll put up my retirement post tomorrow, including what I will continue doing, what I will no longer be doing, and the plan for exploring a future for Buddhist Project Sunshine.

Today I offer my final Buddhist Project Sunshine activist words, and I hope they will be of benefit to some of you.

 

Buddhist Project Sunshine’s ongoing investigation

Another woman alleging she was sexually assaulted by the Sakyong has come forward. Carol Merchasin, the Buddhist Project Sunshine investigator, has continued investigating. She will have an update that I will post possibly as soon as next week.

 

Kalapa Council’s conflict of interest

Apparently rather than focusing efforts on hiring a neutral third-party investigator this past week, the Kalapa Council hired a PR firm led by Matthew Hiltzik, who got his start with Harvey Weinstein at Miramax in the 1990s. He has represented an infamous band of clients that includes Glenn Beck, Don Imus, and Donald Trump’s aide Hope Hicks.

I am disappointed to learn this.

I understand that three senior members of the Kalapa Council are implicated in the allegations of the Sakyong’s sexual misconduct. I see a clear conflict of interest.

 

Allegations of the Sakyong’s financial abuse of the Shambhala community

There are some common aspects to wife abuse. One common aspect is the husband isolates the wife so she has no support and is focused on him for everything. Another aspect is he controls her financially.

I have seen these dynamics at play in the Sakyong’s relationship with the Shambhala community. A number of people have told me insider stories about this. One person emailed me this past week. He gave me permission to share what he said:

Having a financial background, I explored Shambhala’s budgets and financial reports. When I saw the money being spent to keep the Sakyong’s family living a life of comfort (e.g., servants, cooks, nannies, personal secretaries, etc.), I was totally turned off. Very non-Buddhist in my view. To this day, Shambhala uses its various media vehicles to promote the Sakyong’s books, without any benefit of book sale proceeds. Free advertising, how nice! I engaged in a long dialogue with Richard Reoch about all this, but it became quite clear to me that nobody within Shambhala was going to challenge the status quo. They were too enthralled with worshiping the king!

 

Steps for cleaning up the misconduct at the core

For this community to heal, Shambhala International must appoint a neutral third party investigator to investigate the Sakyong, the Kalapa Council, and some members of the Kusung.

If by their silence the Sakyong and the Kalapa Council are denying that any of these allegations are true, then they must appoint a third party investigator.  Of course, if on the other had, they know that these are true, they need to say that.

In an investigation of sexual misconduct in any organization, it is standard practice for those implicated in the investigation to step down from all official duties pending the investigation. The Sakyong and the Kalapa Council should step down while a proper investigation is carried out.

 

Shrine rooms and Shambhala liturgies

There is a conversation thread happening in the Buddhist Project Sunshine discussion group about how centers are relating with pictures of the Sakyong in their shrine rooms, and references in liturgies.

I would like to strongly encourage centers to cover pictures of the Sakyong for an interim period. In my view, the covering should be done with the utmost gentleness and respect for all the Sakyong has contributed to our community and lineage.

I would further suggest that individual centers can reflect on the unique culture of your local center and choose a cloth covering that reflects the best of your culture and your deepest intentions for healing for everyone affected by this situation. You could begin by using a white cloth covering, and then meet and discern a suitable healing covering.

Similarly, you could cover sections of chants that speak of the Mukpos with a kind covering.

I am emphasizing taking small steps and doing them with the deepest of kindness, because the changes we want can only come from a place of the best intention.

 

The financial welfare of the community

I encourage the community to consider carefully what parts of Shambhala are vital services. For instance, Shambhala Online provides teachings to people in rural areas who have no access to local teachings. Please consider supporting vulnerable parts of Shambhala who need help during this time of community transition.

I encourage centers to open their doors to inviting Buddhist teachers who can be of most help to come and offer teachings for where your community is at this time. There are important Buddhist teachers who have long-term relationships with our community who can be invited to teach.

Please be open minded and consider who can be invited to teach and/or lead programs that will benefit your local community. There is no reason why cancelling the Sakyong’s teaching schedule needs to mean the downfall of centers. Let us take this as an opportunity for a revival of true Dharma. Please open your hearts to asking for the teachings that will be of most benefit for your communities, including secular teachings on abuse, trauma and community healing.

I will also remind you of the useful tool I promoted early in Buddhist Project Sunshine Phase 2: The Miq Maw anti-violence community toolkit: http://awrcsasa.ca/community-development-social-advocacy/responding-preventing-sexual-violence-paqtnkek-project/

 

My offer to Mipham

Once I finish my service of the Buddhist Project Sunshine discussion group July 31, if I can be of help to Mipham in his journey of healing, I will bring my heart to that.

 

Sangha member words

Dear Andrea,

I was able to successfully navigate GoFundMe to make a donation.
Thank you for your concern about my Weekthun plans. There will always be other opportunities in the future. What is important NOW is supporting the Project Sunshine and it’s dedicated team.
I have a good feeling that because of BPS the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sanghas will once again flourish and be a safe place for all. The truth will prevail and positive changes will happen thanks to you and the people who helped you on this journey.
Namaste and take care.
Elisabeth : )

 

If you are not on our email list, you can sign up here:

https://andreamwinn.com/offerings/project_sunshine_2/

If you would like to be part of the Buddhist Project Sunshine discussion group, you can register here:

https://andreamwinn.com/offerings/project_sunshine_discussion_group/

 

Web Credits
Project Manager and Developer Joseph Rodrigues
Graphic Design Angel Ling
Usability Andrea Winn
Photography Christina Asante

 

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