A community member speaks: Richard’s heartfelt post



I know that many are feeling despair as we witness each further step of Shambhala leaders covering up the sexual violence that has happened. It feels important to reflect back that Yes, there are good reasons why you might feel despair. It is also important to know that you are not alone. I’d love to see people sharing stories about how they are forming good lives beyond Shambhala. I know people are creating new strategies as they work with what they know in their heart and what is happening in Shambhala, and they are exploring new ways of forming a good life. It would be truly wonderful to see people sharing their creativity and novel ideas!

It is my deepest hope that Jane Ross and Justin Rezzonico will be able to get their peer-run discussion group going soon. Having a place to connect with others is important, and it is wonderful that the two of them stepped forward with the inspiration to start this up. Running a discussion group that is a safe place to talk about painful topics is no small thing to do – it is a lot of work and requires a lot of courage. I hope there will be LOTS of community support for Jane and Justin’s work as they explore how to get the new discussion group going.

In the mean time, I am sharing Richard’s recent response to my “Wrap up” blog a week ago, with the hope that people will know they are not alone, and that it is possible to kindle a small flame of goodness, knowing and truth within your heart – Always.

Thank you for allowing me to share your words here, Richard:

Andrea:

As you may know some acharya’s are currently doing their annual visitation/training visits around the USA and the globe. They apparently haven’t skipped a beat in their service to this deeply flawed organization. (Have any of them resigned in protest?) I mention this only to make public the fact that some are downplaying the reality of the BPS work in said Shambhala forums, work that has been painstakingly accumulated and bravely published by yourself and others. What an incredible courageous effort it has been too. Thank you so much!

The acharya I witnessed plainly states that BPS is a questionable effort fueled only by the energy of fanatical ex-devotees set upon destroying SMR and (of course) sustained by a muck-raking press and cash-starved lawyers. Yes sadly, this person is in deep denial and obviously flawed in his own devotion to SMR. I have witnessed this personally but in this forum hesitate to name the culprit.

In addition, some city centers are also still teaching from SMR’s books and consider his legacy valuable enough to ignore the many contributions from other grander more valid and genuine Tibetan Buddhist sources. Indeed, how callous and insensitive can they be? (I left a Weekthun in December 2018 in protest just after two days due to this example.)

On a personal note, I’ve since relinquished all affiliation to Shambhala, it’s leaders and the teachings. Can a rusty faulty spigot with a polluted source deliver the pure teachings of such a rich and valuable tradition? What Would Buddha Do? I’ve asked myself these questions many times over during the past few months. Some, of course, may disagree with my conclusions but I tend to rest in the fact that Shambhala is and maybe always has been a terrible distortion of the Buddha’s teachings and his pure Dharma. Can Shambhala be an elaborately constructed scheme merely designed and developed to attract attention and contributions from unknowing and deluded westerners in support of a personal lavish reputation and lifestyle. Indeed a lifestyle that far exceeded in wealth and luxury what the founders may have enjoyed in their original homeland or in a more humble setting. (For example: Thich Nhat Hanh) Such wealth and luxury can only generate corruption and by its very ‘hierarchical’ nature become a self-serving organ generating continued wealth and fame for its creators at the top. (Please reference World Systems Theory for more information on social/political/economic systems.)

Again, thank you for your noble efforts and may life be generous and kind toward you and yours in the future.

RLA

I am closing my Buddhist social justice campaign February 4th



Without doubt, it can be said that the mission of Buddhist Project Sunshine has been accomplished at this point, and far more. The original mission was to bring healing light to the sexualized violence in Shambhala. That has happened beyond what I could ever have imagined two years ago, and investigations now continue in the capable and neutral hands of law enforcement.

It feels important to acknowledge that our mission is complete. I am therefore closing my involvement in the project and all that has been running through my business computer systems on February 4th, the end of this Tibetan year of the Earth Dog. I launched BPS two years ago on the Tibetan new year’s day 2017, and it seems fitting to acknowledge the completion of my work at the end of this Tibetan year, after two years of “dogged” service. On February 4th I will shut down the GoFundMe page and delete the BPS contact database from my business systems. I will be posting a last message before closing my part in BPS on February 4th.

I am pleased to share that a small group of exceptionally good-hearted volunteers will be offering an “add on” to the project. Volunteers will be offering a BPS news service this winter! The news service will be completely in their hands, and I will have nothing to do with it. I will formally pass the reins to the volunteers’ news service through my existing communication channels on February 4th. So stay tuned for more information coming shortly!

I am leaving the GofundMe campaign open until February 4th for anyone who would like to contribute to help me pay the debt I accumulated as I devoted my time and energy to BPS. My debt is $20,200. I made decisions along the way to continue to focus on BPS rather than shift my focus back to my coaching service because I personally needed the sexualized violence to be brought out into the light. I do not regret this. And now I am turning my attention to my own healing, paying my debt, and moving forward with a good life. I welcome financial help from those who feel they benefitted from my efforts. If you feel moved, you can contribute here.

As always, thank you to everyone who is contributing to the healing light. Every small effort you make makes a different – so thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Happy New Year from BPS!



Buddhist Project Sunshine wishes everyone a healing, growing and inspiring year in 2019. After a volatile 2018, it is important to set strong and firm intentions for charting pathways of authentic peace in the new year. There will undoubtedly be further challenges in 2019, and we can face them firmly connected with our loving heart and expecting a healthy and healing outcome.

BPS would like to offer a basic News Service for the winter while the staff and volunteers take time off to heal from 2018.

Why is news important?

Shambhala’s leadership seems to, unfortunately, still be covering things up. They are not sharing news that is important for the community to know.

We feel it is important for all people impacted by abuse in Shambhala to know about the three police investigations of Shambhala leaders, including Osel Mukpo, that are now open. We also feel it is important for you to have access to media articles, such as the series of articles in the Denver Post about the police investigation into Osel Mukpo.

Many Shambhalians are waiting for Shambhala’s Wickwire Holm investigation results. In the BPS Phase 3 report we detailed core problems with this investigation. The biggest problem being that according to Wickwire Holm, they will give the results of their investigation to the man who hired them: Alex Halpern. Mr. Halpern works closely for Osel Mukpo and has a conflict of interest for sharing the investigation report fully with the Interim Board. Furthermore, the Interim Board has sworn an oath of loyalty to Osel Mukpo, so this will be second layer of filtering of the investigation results before they will be shared with the community.

Carol Merchasin has some ideas for how these problems could be addressed with the Wickwire Holm investigation, and we hope to share her thoughts through the BPS communication channels.

We see BPS’s established communication channels as something of value. We hope you do too. Provided we can raise funds to run a news service, we will offer this news service over the winter. We need to raise $2,500 to offer this service January through April.

You can help ensure BPS can offer this news service by donating on our GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/project-sunshine-phase-2

Wishing you every joy in 2019,

PS: If you haven’t see the newsy BPS 2018 Wrap Up message, be sure to check it out.

BPS Wraps Up 2018



With February just around the corner, it’s time to wrap up the activities of last year. Here are some highlights, right off the bat:

Three police investigations of Shambhala leaders

The most important wrap up news is that there are now three police investigations open, two are directly resulting from the BPS Phase 3 report and the third is of a related Shambhala teacher in Boulder. Our perseverance in bringing healing light to the sexualized violence in Shambhala was successful, and we now have police continuing the work. It is likely that these three initial investigations will lead to the opening of more investigations. This is a critical step in the community’s healing process.

BPS 6-week therapy group for SMR abuse survivors

I’m pleased to share that BPS arranged for a 6-week group led by an experienced trauma therapist for the SMR survivors who contributed to the BPS reports. That group finished last week, and I understand it was a really good experience for everyone who participated, including the therapist.

BPS Phase 1 – 3 reports delivered to the Dalai Lama

I am also pleased to share that the three 2018 Buddhist Project Sunshine reports have been delivered to the Dalai Lama’s lama abuse office requesting the Sakyong Mipham be investigated.

Buddhist Project Sunshine Financials for 2018

Please find reporting on how the donations were used in 2018 in our Year End report: BPS 2018 Financial Report

Academic interest in Buddhist Project Sunshine

In December I was approached by two students from universities in the United States, each of whom was doing their final term project on BPS. They interviewed me for their projects, and will be forwarding them to share through the BPS website. Stay tuned!
Here in Canada, I have been approached by Dalhousie to give a presentation to students of the Faculty of Computer Science about the role my computer science education played in creating a successful social justice movement in BPS. The hope is that it will be of particular inspiration to women computer science students.

The Buddhist Project Sunshine On-line Discussion Group Model

Participants in the BPS Phase 2 Discussion Group filled in before and after surveys, and the preliminary data show significant improvement in their scores from their participation in the group. As promised, I will be documenting the cutting edge therapeutic model I designed for our online community in a published report by mid-2019. For all those who gave permission to use their survey data, rest assured that your survey data is being kept securely and confidentially.

An on-going BPS Online Discussion Group

In October I put forward a proposal for a self-sustaining long-term BPS online discussion group. In response, Jane Ross and Justin Rezzonico felt the community is ready for a peer run group, as an off shoot of the three formally moderated BPS discussion groups held in 2018. The discussion group community was in strong support of the peer-run proposal. We look forward to Jane and Justin announcing the opening of the new peer-support online group.

Some 2018 closing gratitudes for BPS (Thank you!)

As we wrap up this year, I’d like to share two messages that came in just before we shut our email down; both speak to the benefit of Buddhist Project Sunshine’s work:

From a Phase 3 discussion group participant: “Andrea Winn Having a community to share within is tremendously helpful. I have struggled with the questions in this open discussion for at least ten years, [without] reading and talking to anyone who was involved enough to understand the dilemma I faced. You have helped many others with your passion and dedication. Community sharing lets people out of the loneliness that imprisons victims of abuse.”

And from a community member who benefitted from our investigation: “The work you’ve done with BPS has benefited me in a deep way- showing me I don’t owe anything to Shambhala. Up til recently I still imagined I had a chain around my ankle which isn’t there at all. “

What’s next?

The BPS staff and volunteers are taking time during the winter to digest the amazing journey we had in 2018; we also have a lot of pain and grief to process. The project shifted into scaled-down mode on November 30th to give us space for this.

Our plan is to simply operate a news service January – April, to keep the community informed about the ongoing investigations of Osel Mukpo and the police investigations of both Mr. Mukpo and other Shambhala leaders. We will do this as long as we can raise funds to for this scaled down service. (See details in the BPS New Year’s message.) We will evaluate in May to see if there is funding and energy for BPS to continue in the Spring.

As I complete two years of work on BPS, I am looking forward to some downtime and returning my attention to my normal career as a retirement vision coach. I see retirees as an important source of wisdom and guidance in our current social climate; they have years of experience and much to offer in mentoring younger people struggling today. It feels important to empower them to bring their gifts into this world. I am doing my part by offering a workbook for planning a deeply fulfilling retirement, The Golden Years Legacy Play Workbook, which I’m learning how to promote on Amazon.

A big THANK YOU to the BPS volunteers!

In closing, I’d like to thank all the volunteers who’ve helped BPS bring light and healing to abusive behavior that up until now has been accepted and hidden in Shambhala. I invite you most heartily to celebrate what we have achieved in a truly unforgettable year of Buddhist social activism!

I am sending my personal wish for authentic healing for all those impacted by the harm within Shambhala, and that the good-hearted community people have experienced within BPS will inspire them to seek out more connection and community as they continue to grow and find healing.

Wishing peace for all beings,

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

 

COPYRIGHT © 2011