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Response To The Acharya's Letter

Response To The Acharya's Letter

This was a powerful comment by a reddit user in response to the acharya’s letter. The user maintained the format of their letter, but with the language they wished it had featured.

To the Noble Sangha,

By now every member of Shambhala should have received the email from the Interim Board that links to the Wickwire Holm report as well as a recent letter from the Sakyong. Most of you have also seen the open letter from six long-serving kusung.

Reading these reports of harm has been devastating for all of us, notwithstanding the fact that we have known about these behaviors for years, enabled them with our silence and victim-shaming, and in many cases engaged in similar misuse of sex, alcohol and power ourselves.

It is imperative that we examine our blind spots and confront the aspects of culture and hierarchy that have led us to where we are. Our founder, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, is the root cause of the systemic alcoholism and sexual abuse that have pervaded our sangha for over four decades, and we can no longer use his many brilliant and helpful teachings as a defense for those failings. These harmful behaviors have been passed on to each subsequent lineage holder in our tradition and are of course also endemic among ourselves and other senior students in the community. Such conduct is a violation of foundational Buddhist ethics and has ensured that our urban centers and retreat lands, far from being safe spaces for people to heal, have been the scene of countless instances of debauchery and harm.

Our community was born in the 1970s during a time when there were radical movements of liberation and positive social change. In the past we have used this freewheeling atmosphere as an excuse for the loose sex and widespread abuse of drugs and alcohol in our communities, but that ends now. An infinite number of great Buddhist practitioners, then, now, and over the past 2600 years - including many visiting lamas at our centers going back to the early 1970’s - have meticulously practiced the precepts forbidding false speech, theft, killing, sexual misconduct and use of intoxicants; the choice not to engage with these foundational practices has been ours, and we must fully own the disastrous consequences of our failure to do so.

We apologize collectively for the harm we ourselves have caused, for our silence about harm committed by lineage holders, for our hypocrisy and above all for our utter lack of courage and complete betrayal of our Hinayana and Mahayana vows in favor of a perverted version of Vajrayana ideas of pure view and samaya.

We have instructed the Sakyong to resign from all roles within Shambhala and hereby repudiate him as our teacher and as a lineage holder. We are urging him to liquidate all assets of the Sakyong Potrang and will be exploring legal options to facilitate this process.

In the interim, we hereby resign our Acharya titles and roles. We will hope to be of service to the actual leaders of our community - the sincere practitioners and, especially, victims of misconduct, who have so bravely embodied the core Shambhala values of courage, altruism and truth despite rather than because of our leadership.

We have no doubt that the many beneficial teachings and practices of the Kagyü and Nyingma lineages will flourish as never before as part of the democratic, peer-led sangha that will emerge from the ashes of the cult we have allowed Shambhala to become.