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.
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!