Life seems to come in waves, and the past two weeks I have found myself in conversation over tea with two of Trungpa Rinpoche’s long-term Kusung here in Halifax. These conversations have happened with care and mutual respect. I have appreciated hearing their views of our situation, and I’m grateful for their open-heartedness to hearing mine. I feel solid communication is happening with these deeply loyal and caring men.
I also received a letter from a third Kusung, and he gave me permission to share it here in a blog. Please see this letter below, as I feel Robert is writing from a deep place of care for the Shambhala sangha.
Today I am formally announcing a Question & Answer Teleconference Call I’m hosting this Sunday at 7:30 pm ADT. Learn more and register for the call.
If you can’t make the call, don’t worry; I will record the call and make it available through the Project Sunshine community email list. If you are not already on our list, you can sign up here.
If you are able to make the call, I’d love to connect with you directly and respond to questions.
A letter from a loving Kusung
April 25, 2018
I’m writing to express my concerns about allegations of sexual and other mis-conduct within the Shambhala mandala; about the Sakyong’s recent indirect, tepid response; and about allegations that reports of mis-conduct have been criticized, ignored or silenced by Shambhala International leadership. I was an early student of the Vidyadhara, whom I served as both a craftsman and a Kusung; I also served the Sakyong in the 1980’s. During those years, by the way, I was friends with your mother and dad.
It is troubling for us to hear allegations of wrongdoing that place us in conflict with people we love and to whom we are deeply devoted. We also hesitate to bring public shame to an organization we want to protect. However, there is no escape from our karma, as individuals or as an organization. Human life is marked by sharp ethical dilemmas; love and loyalty must be disciplined by right speech, right action and right livelihood.
How to proceed? Ken McLeod, a well-regarded Kaygu Buddhist teacher, recently gave a talk entitled “Vajrayana in Modern Times” [http://unfetteredmind.org/vajrayana-in-modern-times/]. A substantial portion of the talk is devoted to the mutual obligations between Vajrayana teacher and student. He provides a useful framework for evaluating painful obstacles of the kind we face.
Next, from the earliest pre-Shambhala days, the Vajradhatu motto, imprinted on our banner, was “The Proclamation of the Truth is Fearless.” In the presence of alleged harm and insufficient responsive action, the truth is the only safe harbor. A modern, ethical organization employs an independent investigation to get to the truth.
Finally, Shambhala aspires to establish an enlightened society. How can we ignore or hold ourselves above sensible legal and social standards set by the society we propose to uplift? If we ignore reports of wrong-doing; if we do not correct wrong-doing when we find it; if we protect certain people at the expense of others, what claim do we have to teach?
I applaud the careful way you have pressed a demand for the truth. As I understand it, so far your efforts have not met with cooperation. Pressing for that cooperation is a job for all of us.
With kind regards,
your dharma brother Robert Merchasin