Care and Conduct Policy

Shambhala is committed to a practice, study, and work environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. It is each person’s right to be free from harassment, mistreatment, and discrimination. In addition to being bound individually and as a community to basic Shambhala and Buddhist standards of conduct, we are also citizens of the larger communities in which our centres are located worldwide and, therefore, must abide by public laws. These include but are not limited to laws pertaining to alcohol, drugs, and sexual conduct. Each individual has the right to practice, study, and work in an atmosphere that is free from discrimination.

 

If any individual is concerned that the behavior of a member of the Shambhala community, including any of its office-holders, may not have been in accordance with this statement of principle, please contact us. Any such communications will be handled in accordance with the procedures set down in Shambhala Care and Conduct, a copy of which is available at our centre. Please contact either our Societal Health and Well-Being, or our Membership Coordinator to initiate a complaint or to discuss this policy.  You can find their contact information on our Department Contacts page.

 

The Vancouver Shambhala Centre strives to be a community that fosters inclusiveness and accessibility, free from harm of any type. We recognize that harm occurs in our world, that it isn’t always understood or acknowledged, and that harm has occurred in our own community.

 

Controversy around Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

In June 2018 reports appeared online accusing Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche of sexual misconduct and other forms of harm. In response to these allegations, Shambhala initiated a formal, independent investigation  conducted by two neutral third-party investigators, Wickwire Holm and The Olive Branch. You can view their reports on the Shambhala Archive server.  Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche issued a number of responses to these allegations, which are on the same Archive server.

In addition to the Sakyong stepping away from his role as leader of Shambhala, the Kalapa Council, the governing body of Shambhala collectively resigned to make space for a new and independent Shambhala Board in October 2018.

The Shambhala Board reached an agreement in October 2019 that the Sakyong to step aside from teaching and administrative duties for two years, at which point the relationship will be reassessed.

 

Shambhala Care and Conduct Initiatives

The Shambala Board has as one of their primary focuses the ongoing care of the community. In order to fulfill this responsibility, the board has taken several steps to address gaps in the previous Care and Conduct Policy, as well as directly work to repair misconduct and findings of misuse and abuse of power that have occured in the community. The Board, working closely with the Process Team – Code of Conduct Support Group and the Director of Community Care and Conduct, has taken many actions intended to restore trust through inclusivity, transparency, accountability, and care. These actions are detailed at https://communitycare.shambhala.org

  • Spring 2021: A “Gender Dynamics” and “Right Use of Power” training course will be offered to the Shambhala Community.
  • Shambhala Day February 2021, the new Code of Conduct policy and process are in effect.
  • January – December 2021: The community invited to give feedback on the new Code of Conduct process; a community engagement process will begin.
  • December 2020: Announcement of Diversity and Inclusivity Community Grant Projects.
  • December 2020: Child Protection Policy working group launches resource: “Implementing the Shambhala CPP with a View Toward Preventing Abuse.”
  • December 2020: Therapy and Counselling offering to support community members through the Peoples’ Counselling Clinic.
  • September 2020: Creation of Heart of Recovery Coordinator Group and HoR webpage.
  • August 2020: The new Code of Conduct Policies were released to the community and a Code of Conduct Hub website was launched. Translated policies released in November 2020.
  • August 2020: Three community grants awarded in the area of Care and Conduct.
  • July 2020: Announced the Right Use of Power Training and invited Shambhala leaders to be early adopters of Right Use of Power skills.
  • May 2020: Shambhala Board announces the beginning of a Reparative Process for Shambhala and design work begins with Robert Wright and team.
  • March – June 2020: Offered 30 Code of Conduct Preparing the Ground presentations across the community.
  • March 2020: Offered a webinar on the Child Protection Policy;  created a Child Protection WG.
  • February 2020: Released the Child Protection Policy (CPP). Began Background checks for people responsible for activities with children.
  • January 2020: Hired a Director of Community Care and Conduct.
  • August 2019: Offered the course “Sexual Harm, Trauma and the Healing Journey” to the Shambhala community.
  • May 2019: Tasked the Process Team with drafting a new Conduct Policy.

 

Vancouver Community

In Vancouver, we aspire to learn from this whole situation and its causes, and to make this exploration part of our path of cultivating awareness.

Locally, as elsewhere in the Shambhala community, individuals have a wide range of views on Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. We are attempting to maintain an open situation where there is room, and an invitation, for all members, friends and the greater community to practice, study and meet together, respecting each other’s divergent views, appreciating the teachings we have received, appreciating each other beyond (in including) our differences, and having open and heartfelt discussions about what matters to us as a community.

We invite members, friends as well as former members and friends to join us in local discussions of the new Code of Conduct and policies, as we aspire to learn from our past mistakes and to make this exploration part of our path of cultivating awareness.