Buddhist Project Sunshine
Buddhist Project Sunshine (BPS) was a remarkably successful grass roots independent healing initiative started by second-generation Shambhalian, Andrea Michelle Winn. In February 2017 she launched BPS for the Shambhala Buddhist community and people who were forced to leave this community. She wrote the Phase 1 Final Report (available below) at the end of the first year of the project, and this caused the Shambhala leadership to publicly acknowledge the widespread sexualized violence in the community.
The Phase 2 report exposed serious allegations of sexual misconduct and sexual assault by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, the head of the community, and led to him stepping down from all duties. In addition, the leading governing body, the Kalapa Council, resigned en masse.
Our focus was on bringing healing light to the violence in the community through professionally investigated allegations against the top leaders. We understand sexualized violence occurs within other patterns of violence, including emotional and spiritual bullying, racism, homophobia, and other oppressions. We also worked with people from other Buddhist communities who have experienced similar issues.
Our biggest contributions were through (1) professional investigative work, and (2) offering moderated social media discussion forums for people to discuss these issues and how they are experiencing them on a personal level. Our investigations directly led to the police opening investigations of Osel Mukpo and John Weber. The project completed after two years. At the time of completion the first Shambhala leader, Bill Karelis, was incarcerated in Boulder, Colorado.
The project completed in 2018. This page is an archive of the work of the project.
Andrea is someone of immense courage. She has dared to speak out about the destructive behaviours of a group of powerful people, bringing light and healing into the darkness. We praise and honour her.Jo-Anne Raynes
Since completing Buddhist Project Sunshine, Andrea Winn has devoted herself to developing healing programming for people who have experienced relational trauma and/or spiritual betrayal in religious and spiritual communities.
To see Andrea Winn’s current work, visit:
Columbia Journalism Review Article
The Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) is an American magazine for professional journalists that has been published by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism since 1961. Its contents include news and media industry trends, analysis, professional ethics, and stories behind news. (From Wikipedia)
CJR published the following article about Buddhist Project Sunshine and Andrea Winn's role as a catalyst in opening the path of healing in the Shambhala Buddhist community:
The survivor who broke the Shambhala sexual assault story
An overview of BPS
Academic students in the United States did term projects on Buddhist Project Sunshine in 2018. Here is a nice synopsis of the work of BPS done by Marina Sturla, Fordham University
Buddhist Project Sunshine Resources
Buddhist Project Sunshine Phase 1 report – This is the groundbreaking report that caused Shambhala Leadership to publicly admit the widespread sexualized violence in the Shambhala community
Buddhist Project Sunshine Phase 2 report – This is report led to the Kalapa Council resigning en masse and the Sakyong stepped down from all duties pending an investigation into his alleged sexual assaults.
Buddhist Project Sunshine Phase 3 report – This report detailed more serious allegations against Osel Mukpo (aka Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche), including sex with underage girls.
Buddhist Project Sunshine Facebook Group
Blog posts by Andrea Winn
What You May Not Know: Critical information that the Shambhala community needs to know
How do we trust, in this time of the abuse coming out?
How did Project Sunshine come to have a patron saint, St. Joseph?
Advice for how to relate with this controversial time
Words from a Seattle, WA citizen of Shambhala who “wants to do what is right”
Shambhala citizens expanding the borders of this conversation
What could an abuse-free Shambhala look like?
Project Sunshine has evoked a flow of goodness – Let’s celebrate!
Aboriginal Toolkit Information – A process we would like to adapt for Shambhala’s community healing
Articles published as a result of Buddhist Project Sunshine
Healing sexualized violence in the Shambhala Buddhist community, Justin Whitaker
Healing a Heart and a Community: Andrea Winn and Project Sunshine, Justin Whitaker, Buddhist Door Global
BUDDHIST GROUP ADMITS ‘ABHORRENT SEXUAL BEHAVIOR’ BY TEACHERS, Tim Porter, Newsweek, US Edition
Shambhala International Owns Up to Past Abuse, But What Comes Next Remains Unclear, Wendy Joan Biddlecombe, Tricycle
Beerput van seksueel wangedrag open bij Shambhala, Joop Ha Hoek
How Did It Happen? Understanding and Healing Abuse in Buddhist Communities, Sandra Pawula
Shambhala, The Largest Western Tibetan Buddhist Organization, admits abuse by its leaders, Justin Whitaker
Buddhist group admits sexual abuse by teachers, Sarah Marsh, The Guardian
Note: These are the first articles published as a result of BPS. There have been many, many more published over the past few months. Simply do a Google search to see more!
Shambhala International Communications
Background: Facebook Post about Mitchell Levy made by Andrea Winn in the Shambhala Facebook group – February 9
Letter from Lady Diana – February 12
Kalapa Council Shambhala Community Letter Addressing Harm – February 12
Mitchell Levy’s statement of recrusal – February 16
Kalapa Council community update – March 9
Kalapa Council Letter – March 19
Letter from Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche – March 22
Shambhala's leadership has reorganized and created another government dedicated to protecting Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and returning him to power. You can read updates on their continued efforts to cover up sexualized violence here: Shambhala News Service
Andrea M. Winn, MEd, MCS, founded Buddhist Project Sunshine in February 2017. She was brought up in the Shambhala Buddhist community and has been meditating for over 40 years. She has Masters degree level training in trauma healing. Andrea brings her foundation of meditative discipline, healing gifts and her skill as a Coach to founding and leading Buddhist Project Sunshine, a project to bring healing light to the wound of sexualized violence in the Shambhala Buddhist community, and in Buddhist communities in the West. Get your copy of the ground breaking Project Sunshine Report that has rocked the community into a new age of awakening and healing. Also, see client testimonials about Andrea’s leadership coaching.
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