Werma Vigil Day 21



Wow! Here we are at the 21st day of this vigil, and I am amazed at what a journey this has been! 

Today I felt moved to dedicate my practice in one clear focus: May the raining wisdom create space for those impacted by the Shambhala tragedy to heal. Healing spaces, that is the topic for this final day.

Healing from something as profound as spiritual betrayal is a deep journey. It can be hard to find ground for healing when we are bombarded by continual craziness. I’m a firm believer in carving out spaces that are sane – little islands of sanity. 

During Buddhist Project Sunshine, I hosted three community online discussion groups. These were safe spaces where people could connect and talk about what was happening after each of the three BPS reports were published. Looking back, these were holy grounds, where people extended trust and healed together in the midst of massive community revelations. 

There is true wisdom to the abuse healing adage, “The best revenge is living well.” Creating lives where we are taking good care of ourselves and where we can experience some measure of joy, I feel this is important. And if that means leaving the Shambhala community to create that, then it is important to leave. 

In my own case, I had a nervous breakdown at the end of Buddhist Project Sunshine, and I had no choice but to disconnect from what was happening in Shambhala. Over the past year I have been exploring delicate steps to find myself again. 

One of those delicate steps was creating a program to help me reclaim my meditation practice, the Heal Your Heart Through Meditation program. I went off-road in creating what I needed to heal, bringing in Western trauma healing strategies, energy psychology, and some non-traditional fun techniques. The program has helped me and I feel very grateful that it has helped other Shambhala survivors. The Heal Your Heart Through Meditation program is about creating safe space to get grounded, reconnect and heal. I know that not everyone is looking for that kind of place right now, but if you are, I hope you will take a look at the program and consider if you’d like participate in the next group starting up soon. It’s a lovely program, and I’d love for you to join us!

Here’s a link to the program description: Heal Your Heart Through Meditation

As I close this vigil, I would like to say some thank yous. First, thank you to Maria for formally joining me in this 21-day vigil, doing mette practice. Thank you also to those who paid attention and reacted to my FB posts. A very big thank you to Tenzin for his amazingly supportive comments on my blog posts! And last, but certainly not least, I thank the Shambhala lineage mothers and fathers, those spiritual forces who are guarding the longevity of this lineage, for their rain of blessings. 

I dedicate the merit of this vigil to the continued healing in Shambhala. May it happen in ways that will bring the greatest benefit to all beings, past, present and future. Amen!

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This vigil is for quelling suffering and invoking authentic healing for the hearts of those impacted by: (1)  the Shambhala community tragedy, (2) the situation between Iran and the US, and (3) the bush fires in Australia.

Everyone is welcome to join. If you do werma practice, great! If you don’t, feel free to do any form of meditation or prayer. I welcome you joining me in this 21-day vigil!

Werma Vigil Day 20



I pray for the powerful presence of the Mother Lineage, to turn the tide of darkness in Shambhala.

On the penultimate day of this werma vigil I dedicated my practice to Ösel Mukpo, aka Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, and this was very emotional for me. 

In my service as head of Buddhist Project Sunshine, people came to me with many stories of Ösel’s early years. I heard about how as a young child he was violently beaten by the man whose care he was left in in Scotland until his father could bring him to America. I heard stories of how once he finally came to America, he was rejected by his step mother and told he could not live with his father. I was told how in later years his male personal attendant taught him to objectify women, and would ask him if he wanted a blond or a brunette brought in that night. If even half the stories are true, it is hard to imagine how Ösel could have developed a healthy sense of identity.

Later, as we brought the stories of his hidden behaviours out into the open, I learned of his heavy drinking binges in adulthood. I can imagine the kind of suffering he was trying to push away and escape through such violent self-abuse.

What we are witnessing in Shambhala is a true tragedy. Ösel Mukpo didn’t stand much of a chance of succeeding. I believe in my heart that he is a good person at heart, that he tried his best, and that he is spiritually gifted. But without a healthy sense of identity, he has financially abused his community of students, been physically violent towards his attendants, been a sexual predator preying on his female students, and spiritually betrayed this sacred lineage.

I feel a close kinship with Ösel Mukpo because we are of the same generation, my being five years younger than him. I understand we both grew up in a very chaotic community. And I know he faced pressures I cannot imagine.

So as fiercely as I fought for the dignity and justice of the women he assaulted, I will fight that fiercely for his soul. I pray that he will forcibly remove those people around him who are milking him for power and convincing him to continue the charade. I pray that he will stand up, be a man, and publicly admit what he has done. He may well go to prison, and this will be a better life for him. It is a chance to purify karma. It is a chance to be a better example to his daughters. It is a chance to make right the harms he has committed. It is also an opportunity to get the therapy and healing that I imagine his inner psyche has been crying out for for decades.

I have a friend who counsels men with sexual addictions. She told me that she once asked a group of men what turned things around for them to begin healing, and every one of them said that it took being criminally charged before they woke up and started their process of healing.

Ösel Mukpo, may you receive the blessing of my practice and connect with the confidence to take steps towards making things right and engaging your own healing. And with every step you take towards the light, know that I am fully committed to supporting you. You have my word.

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This vigil is for quelling suffering and invoking authentic healing for the hearts of those impacted by: (1)  the Shambhala community tragedy, (2) the situation between Iran and the US, and (3) the bush fires in Australia.

Everyone is welcome to join. If you do werma practice, great! If you don’t, feel free to do any form of meditation or prayer. I welcome you joining me in this 21-day vigil!

Werma Vigil Day 19



I pray for union of the sacred feminine and divine masculine, to bring the blessings now needed.

Today I made a special dedication of my werma practice to the children of Shambhala – all of those who grew up in the community. It sure was a mixed blessing for many of us!

I can speak to my own experience. As part of the first wave of the second generation, it was really amazing to receive blessings from the old masters – the 16th Karmapa, Kalu Rinpoche, Tenzin Rinpoche, Thrangu Rinpoche, and of course Khentse Rinpoche, who blessed the Manjushri necklace I have worn for many years. And honestly, being immersed in the teachings of Shambhala and literally embodying them has been an unsurpassable gift!

I remember when I did the Women Recovering From Abuse program at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, I clearly saw that I was healing more quickly than other women in the 6-week program. I knew it was because I had access to the Shambhala practices – they really helped. They connected me with courage and wisdom and dignity. This kind of healing work can be *so* heavy. Having access to these sources of confidence made a big difference!

One specific thing I’ll share is the visualization of Shiwa Ökar, with his ocean of werma warriors, all galloping toward me on their white horses in the sky – well, for me, this feels like an army of knights in shining armour coming to save the day! That *feeling* is pretty amazing for a trauma survivor. It opens doors. It certainly empowered me to stay the course through the hard times during Buddhist Project Sunshine.

So today, I’ve wished for a special blessing for the children of Shambhala. May they heal. And even more, I send this wish to those who grew up in the Mukpo household. I’m sure none of us can imagine what those children went through, in the center of both the madness and the blessing. May we all receive the healing that we need at this time, and as a community may we move forward toward the light and resist hiding in the familiar darkness of the past.

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This vigil is for quelling suffering and invoking authentic healing for the hearts of those impacted by: (1)  the Shambhala community tragedy, (2) the situation between Iran and the US, and (3) the bush fires in Australia.

Everyone is welcome to join. If you do werma practice, great! If you don’t, feel free to do any form of meditation or prayer. I welcome you joining me in this 21-day vigil!

Werma Vigil Day 18



I call to the wisdom dakini and ask for her blessing. May there be auspicious benefit in right timing, right pacing.

Today is one week since I injured my back. This has become a big part of my experience of doing this vigil; this injury has greatly impacted my physical activity. It has slowed me down, because there has been so much tending necessary to facilitate healing. The pain from the injury, and on top of the original injury, falling on the street the next day, all of this pain has brought me more into my body, which is also helpful for the deep work of this vigil.

I would like to revisit the theme I first brought forward last Friday, about accessing support. Last Friday I went to see my chiropractor to get help for the original back injury. Dr. Anne, my chiropractor, helped a lot, giving me advice for applying heat and ice, frequently moving my back, and she suggested I purchase an inexpensive back belt.

This back belt has made a huge difference, and I want to write about this. First there was the support of Dr. Anne, my chiropractor. Then there was the support of this back belt. First of all, it feels good to have it on. But more importantly, since it protects me from further injury, it helps me feel safe. My back muscles have been able to relax because they don’t need to be in defensive/protective mode against further injury. And since my muscles have been able to relax, my back has been able to heal very quickly.

I believe there is a lesson here and that emotional healing can happen in a similar way. If someone is trying to heal after a significant trauma, and they are on their own, they may be deeply distressed, feel very defended, and the healing could take a very, very long time. In contrast, if someone has a grounded, safe, compassionate and wise person who they can connect with for their healing journey, then the safety of that connection can be protective, like the back belt experience I described earlier. In the safety of that connection, a person can relax and experience warmth, and the tender work of healing from emotional trauma is far more possible.

So I am in favour of our seeking out strong, wise people – people with a strong back bone – people who we can viscerally *feel* their integrity and compassion. I think relationships like that can make a huge difference for our healing trajectory, enabling a shorter, kinder and less painful recovery. And actually, I don’t even like using the word, “recovery,” because after a relational trauma we will not go back to the way that we were before the trauma. Really, I see it more as an opportunity to grow through the healing process – to become a wiser and kinder person. That has been my experience over all these years.

So these are the fruits of my 18th day of this vigil. I am praying for the strength to make it to day 21. This has surely been an immersive and exhausting experience. At the same time, I feel closer to Padmasmbhava and to the wisdom dakini, and for that I am grateful. I sincerely hope that my werma practice will bring some small benefit to the Shambhala community. May the werma rain their blessings upon this community and inspire a movement towards the light, to honestly find a good way forward in which the teachings and the community may flourish.

This vigil experience has been very much like my early Buddhist Project Sunshine experience – feeling like I’m putting a whole lot of energy into something, and it seeming to be going into a dark void out there. Yesterday Tenzin’s short message in the comment section below was a welcome touch of human contact, as I continue my steps of this vigil. Thank you, Tenzin.

Sending my love out to all of you this evening.

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This vigil is for quelling suffering and invoking authentic healing for the hearts of those impacted by: (1)  the Shambhala community tragedy, (2) the situation between Iran and the US, and (3) the bush fires in Australia.

Everyone is welcome to join. If you do werma practice, great! If you don’t, feel free to do any form of meditation or prayer. I welcome you joining me in this 21-day vigil!

Werma Vigil Day 17



I open my heart to the wisdom of the Mother Lineage, and I pray for your tender guidance in this vigil.

The Shambhala teachings that I received during my time in the community focused on the masculine. I suspect little changed after I left the community in around the year 2000. I have appreciated what the masculine teachings did for my developing my masculine side. However, there was a great imbalance in me.

I remember when I came upon the book, Women Who Run With the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes around the year 2002, I felt like the great imbalance from my Shambhala upbringing was finally addressed through the teachings of deep feminine wisdom in this book. In fact, I called this book my “bible” because it felt so important to me.

I feel we are witnessing a time of strengthening of the wise feminine. Perhaps this is crucial for the true birthing of the Shambhala teachings in the West, and even Tibetan Buddhism in general. I can’t help but think that these horrible mistakes, these incomprehensible harms, are somehow opening the door for these teachings to enter the West more fully to take authentic root.

It seems that the pervasive multi-generational experience of relational trauma in the West was ripe ground for the arrival of these teachings. Many people were vulnerable and seeking healing. They were not only willing to surrender to the guru, but they *wanted* to surrender their will, their intelligence, their money, etc.

This hasn’t just happened in Tibetan Buddhism. When I watched the Netflix series, Wild Wild Country, about the Rajneeshpuram community, I saw a familiar mentality in those students. It reminded me of what I saw my parents’ generation doing in the Shambhala community. I don’t mean the specific behaviours. What I mean is the approach, the desire, the surrender, the spiritual escape, the rampant sexual exploration, and I suspect the neglect of children in the midst of their spiritual fervour. The vibe in that series really reminded me of what was happening in the 70’s and 80’s in Shambhala.

There was a lack of being grounded and having common sense in the midst of the spiritual exploration. It was unbalanced. And I believe if there were women present who were grounded and in touch with wisdom of their ovaries, this insanity would not have spun out the way it has in many spiritual communities.

I would like to touch again on Pema’s recent resignation and how much I appreciate the grounded statement she is making. I wish we’d had this kind of female leadership all along! It seems Pema is in a process of awakening from the dissociated space so many have been operating in within Shambhala. I appreciate that she seems willing to open to being more in her body and her knowing, willing to look at the gross harm, and willing to find her voice to speak out about the violence. She seems to have gotten in touch with her “No”, and that is a powerful thing. We need more of this, and I hope other women will follow in Pema’s footsteps in this regard.

May we all grow stronger to face what has happened in our community so that we can take steps to repair, heal and ensure our community grows in healthy ways moving forward. May we allow the teachings to help us chart a good way forward with clarity and integrity.

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This vigil is for quelling suffering and invoking authentic healing for the hearts of those impacted by: (1)  the Shambhala community tragedy, (2) the situation between Iran and the US, and (3) the bush fires in Australia.

Everyone is welcome to join. If you do werma practice, great! If you don’t, feel free to do any form of meditation or prayer. I welcome you joining me in this 21-day vigil!

Werma Vigil Day 16



I call to the wisdom dakini and request her blessing.

I’d first like to acknowledge the beginning of Trump’s impeachment trial. May the outcome of this trial serve to honour and protect our home, Mother Earth, and all of life living within our sacred home.

I am appreciating the experience of doing werma practice consistently every day. As I have written before, I was advised to visualize Padmasambhava as the Sakyong in the practice. I find it powerful to be in his presence every day in this way. After feeling depressed by what I see happening in much of the world’s leadership, it is powerful to connect with a historical person who lived such powerful and compassionate leadership. It feels like balm on a long aching wound – a reprieve from long-standing pain. It’s a blessing.

In today’s world there aren’t many ways to connect with that kind of powerful sanity and leadership. That is why I see the Shambhala teachings as so valuable and worth preserving. Access to this personal experience of wisdom, bravery and leadership is exceedingly precious – for facing everything from the every day challenges of life to greater systemic and cultural darknesses.

The people who have clouded our community with harm and confusion are not living the light of these teachings, and they cannot put out the light of these teachings.

The message I would like to put out there today is to trust what you know is good, tender and wholesome. Allow that light of goodness to live in your heart. And know that it is far, far more powerful than any of the corrupt doings of those who have been operating from confusion in the Shambhala community.

In fact, I would propose that this light of gentleness will ultimately melt away the corruption. The corruption will not be able to survive in the presence of such authentic goodness. So please, live your goodness, and know you are contributing to creating a better world. This can happen bit by bit, day by day. This will absolutely overcome the corruption. I remember a slogan taught in the anti-violence movement: The best revenge is to live well. I think there is a lot of wisdom in that. Let us live well!

Sending my very best to you this day.

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This vigil is for quelling suffering and invoking authentic healing for the hearts of those impacted by: (1)  the Shambhala community tragedy, (2) the situation between Iran and the US, and (3) the bush fires in Australia.

Everyone is welcome to join. If you do werma practice, great! If you don’t, feel free to do any form of meditation or prayer. I welcome you joining me in this 21-day vigil!

Werma Vigil Day 15



I pray to the Wisdom Dakini to bless the final week of this Werma Vigil. To make a fuller, more celebratory offering for this final week, my intention is to write short daily blog posts. May love and healing spread through this!

The werma practice is a core Shambhala practice about enlightened leadership, which surely our world could use. Although the Shambhala teachings open the doorway to connect with manifest enlightened leadership, the Shambhala community was founded in emotional disconnection, boundary violations, violence, and for many, gross personal harm. This is a striking contradiction! I hope that once community members ground themselves, they will work to resolve this contradiction in a deeply beneficial way.

At this point, the community seems a long way from such a resolution. I understand that 130+ members requested abhisheka with Osel Mukpo, a man about whom numerous criminal allegations have been carefully documented. In my time with Buddhist Project Sunshine I received a basic “Cult 101” education from Richard Edelman, who played a key role in Phase 2 of the project. Richard explained what is called, “the double down.” In the double down, cult members see behaviour in their leader that they don’t feel comfortable with, and instead of staying with that and resolving it, they “double down”, which means they double their devotion to the leader to block out the uncomfortable information. I suspect this is the case with these 130+ students who requested this abhisheka. I have no idea why the leadership decided to approve this abhisheka, other than to guess that they are (1) incompetent, (2) hand picked by those who are truly controlling the leadership, and (3) are operating under the loyalty oath they swore to Osel Mukpo upon being placed in this leadership role.

I have witnessed the profound darkness of those who have truly been directing this community – those who have worked hard to cover up crimes… those who with Kasung/Art-Of-War strategies maintain the old, dysfunctional order… those who created a pseudo-leadership structure to appear as if it was a “fresh start”.

I’m not sure what it will take to pierce this darkness. I tried to do it with the third BPS report, “The Nail.” Things were clearly spelled out in that report, and there is no turning back from what was presented there. And yet the cloud of dark, confusion-generating energy remains.

This type of corruption and cover up continued in the Catholic Church until class action lawsuits threatened to bankrupt the church. That is literally what it took to turn things around for the Catholics. I think of this when I chant the Invocation for Raising Windhorse as part of the werma liturgy, specifically when I chant the line that reads, “Strife, enmity, scandal, warfare, lawsuits, recurrent calamity, and so on — Pacify all such obstructing discord.” Perhaps if we follow in the footsteps of the Catholics, “obstructing discord” is necessary to pierce darkness such as this.

But I will tell you that I felt moved to offer this 21-Day Werma Vigil in the hope that there could be another way. That we could call down the blessings of the Rigden, the enlightened leadership principle. That through the power of love and a more sacred devotion than we could ever muster in a cult, that this could bring about a change in the hearts of community members, both those that stayed and those who have left. And that it could open a crack for the light of grounded integrity in Shambhala leadership.

So I offer to you today my request that you open your heart, in whatever way feels possible, to a better outcome for our community. An outcome that includes genuine healing and repair. An outcome that includes leaders stepping forward from unexpected places and bringing clarity and sanity to this situation. An outcome that manifests these teachings in such a brilliantly true way, that the cloud of darkness enveloping this community shrinks and disappears.

Love can melt the brittle shell. We can stop playing games to avoid the inevitable, and we can begin to clean up this mess. Those who have caused harm can find ways to be accountable for what they have done and make whatever repair is possible. And in the process of this cleaning up, we can discover new meaning in the teachings and open our hearts to being sacred vessels living the Shambhala teachings.

Let us be willing to be with the uncomfortable truths. Let us be genuine courageous compassionate warriors. It is time to plant the banner of sanity.

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This vigil is for quelling suffering and invoking authentic healing for the hearts of those impacted by: (1) the Shambhala community tragedy, (2) the situation between Iran and the US, and (3) the bush fires in Australia.

Everyone is welcome to join. If you do werma practice, great! If you don’t, feel free to do any form of meditation or prayer. I welcome you joining me in this 21-day vigil!

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