News

1. Shambhala

Sakyong Mipham

In a letter published Friday, the entire Kalapa Council, the highest leadership body in the Shambhala Buddhist community, resigned their positions. The letter reads:

Dear Shambhalians,

In the interest of beginning a healing process for our community, the Kalapa Councillors will step down from our posts. 

In this time of groundlessness, there is a wish for more clarity and answers, but the truth is that much is unknown. We recognize that parts of our system are broken, and need to dissolve in order to make room for real change.  

It is our desire to exit responsibly. There will be a phased departure so that there is a board in place to uphold the legal and financial responsibilities of the organization. Advisors in transitioning leadership groups are assisting Shambhala in planning how to structure and communicate this progression. We are also reading and listening to all of the feedback that you are sharing.  We will share more details soon as we integrate advice and learn more.

Additionally, we want to formally announce several developments that have been confirmed in the last few days.
 

  • The agreement with An Olive Branch has been signed. They will bring their expertise to serve as a neutral party for receiving stories of harm, survivor advocacy and consulting on our policies going forward. An Olive Branch will also personally introduce themselves to you, the Shambhala community, shortly.
     
  • We have engaged Wickwire Holm, a law firm based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to act as the third-party investigator to look into stories of abuse or misconduct involving any teacher or leader in the Shambhala community.

We will offer more details on both of these processes very soon. We are committed to communicating regularly and transparently with the community as new information or updates develop.  

Despite this groundless situation, we believe that this community has a path forward from which Shambhala can emerge as a healthier, more supportive, and more inclusive sangha. 

Sending heartfelt appreciation to the noble sangha,

The Kalapa Council

Josh Silberstein, Chair
Jane Arthur
David Brown
Wendy Friedman
Jesse Grimes
Mitchell Levy
Adam Lobel
Robert Reichner
Christoph Schönherr

With the exception of Reichner and Schönherr, the signees are also directors of the Shambhala Canada Society, the registered society that runs Shambhala affairs in Canada. The letter does not say if the signees also resigned from the Society.

Josh Silberstein uses a Boulder, Colorado address. Jane Arthur, who is described in corporate papers as the “Minister of Shambhala Governance,” uses a Danville, Vermont address. Mitchell Levy is from Providence, Rhode Island. Adam Lobel is from Pittsburgh. The other signees are in Halifax. The best known is probably Wendy Friedman, owner of Biscuit General Store.

“Meanwhile, Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, has announced that its board of directors has asked Sakyong Mipham to step down from his positions as Naropa Lineage Holder and non-voting board member, and that he has submitted his resignations,” reports the Buddhist publication The Lion’s Roar:

The joint announcement by the university’s board chair and president states, “We have reviewed the accounts presented by several women who, at the time of the encounters, were members of Shambhala International, relating abuse that occurred as recently as 2011. We find these stories credible and believable.”

When I look at the allegations against Sakyong Mipham I see abuses of power that are couched in a culture that cultivated and excused it. And I suspect that abuse of power is probably not limited to sexual abuse. I’m particularly interested in the financial side of Shambhala.

The income flow of the Shambhala community was explained in this chart, published by Barbara Blouin in the renegade Radio Free Shambhala in 2009:

Parallel to that complex money flow is the Skayong Ladrang Canada, which has recently changed its name to the Skayong Potrang Canada. The directors of the Landrang (and now the Potrang) are Jeff Rosen, Joshua Silberstein, Tseyang Mukpo, Mipham Mukpo, and Landon Mallery. With the exception of Siberstein, all are Halifax-area residents.

 “Formally, the Sakyong Ladrang is a non-profit organization, a 501-C3, and its primary purpose is to protect and support the Sakyong lineage,” Suter Dubose, “councilor” of the Sakyong Ladrang, told an interviewer in 2009. “The reason is fairly obvious; without the Sakyong lineage, there is not a Shambhala lineage extending into the future past a generation or two. In addition, the Ladrang protects the relics and the assets of the Sakyong lineage.”

In practice, I’m told by people with knowledge of the organization, the Landrang/Potrang is funded by gifts from the Shambhala community, and the funds are entirely unaccounted for.

Many people are now trying to untangle the financial relationships of the various Shambhala organizations with Sakyong Mipham. As well, there’s an attempt to better understand who owns what property — some of the Colorado property appears to be owned by Sakyong Mipham outright, and I am searching property records in Nova Scotia.

You’ll see from the chart above that some of the revenue for the central Shambhala organization comes from the many Shambhala Centers around the world, and particularly in the United States. At least one of those centers is now in open revolt; the San Diego Shambhala Center announced last week:

– On Sunday, July 1, the following announcement was made and posted at the center: “Effective immediately, all donations made to the San Diego Shambhala Meditation Center will remain at the local center. Transfers of monetary support to Shambhala International are suspended until further notice. Donations made to the San Diego Center go towards our operating expenses of rent, utilities, Internet access, and insurance.”

– As of Sunday, July 1, at the request of members, the opening chants at public sitting will not contain the Supplication to the Shambhala Lineage or the Homage.

– On Saturday, July 7 we will host a community meeting at the main Center with Shastri Ruth Wallen and Shastri Marcy Fink at 7:30 p.m. More details will be available in the weekly announcements and the website, sandiego.shambhala.org

– The Encinitas Wednesday book discussion will replace the current selection by Sakyong Mipham with “The Road Home,” by Ethan Nichtern.

– Printed copies of both Project Sunshine Reports as well as the most relevant email communications are available at the center for anyone who wants to read them there.

– There has been a request to remove the photos of the Sakyong and possibly also of Chogyam Trungpa from the main meditation hall and the community room. We are continuing to receive community feedback on this. Please let us know if you have a comment or opinion to share.

Of particular interest to me is whether the various Shambhala organizations have been violating tax laws. The Ladrang, for example, says on its provincial registry that it is a “church,” and yet the money raised appears to benefit only one person —  Sakyong Mipham, and I suppose his family. And the Shambhala Canada Society was previously registered as the Vajradhatu Buddhist Church; I don’t know why the name was changed. It appears that licensing or other fees collected from the Shambhala centers are run through Shambhala International, but I don’t know if that income is declared as business income or of a charitable nature.

2. Peace Boat

The Peace Boat

In the “On the Harbour” section below, you’ll see that the Ocean Dream is calling in Halifax today. The Ocean Dream is billed as “The Peace Boat“:

Peace Boat’s first voyage was organized in 1983 by a group of Japanese university students as a creative response to government censorship regarding Japan’s past military aggression in the Asia-Pacific. They chartered a ship to visit neighboring countries with the aim of learning first-hand about the war from those who experienced it and initiating people-to-people exchange.

Since then, The Peace Boat has become a sort of ambassador for peace, and it is now on its 98th “Global Voyage for Peace,” an around-the-world cruise that left Yokohama, Japan on May 8 and will return on August 22:

The Voyage will be host to the 2018 “Global Voyage for a Nuclear-Free World: Peace Boat Hibakusha Project”, in which a delegation of Hibakusha (survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) travel onboard Peace Boat to give personal testimony and call for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Passengers on The Peace Boat are generally retired people from Japan, and Japanese is the ship language, but the organization is making an effort to broaden its reach. Guest speakers “deliver lectures and workshops on topics such as global and peace related issues, journalism, the environment, art, economics, NGOs, volunteerism and much more.”

This is a good time to renew the effort to declare Halifax Harbour a nuclear-free zone and ban any ships that may be carrying nuclear weapons from calling here.

3. Body discovered

A police release from yesterday:

At approximately 9:50 a.m. [Monday] police responded to a report of a body in the water below the McKay Bridge in the area of Africville Road.

A man’s body was recovered from the water with the assistance of Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency, and turned over to the Medical Examiner Service.

Due to the circumstances, the investigation has been turned over to the Department of Labour to determine if this resulted from a work place incident.

At this time, there are no further details available.

4. Parking

The city this morning issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) from vendors who could provide the technology needed for the long-promised upgrade in parking meter technology.

The RFP lists three scenarios for determining the costs to the city of the various technologies, and notes that “the quantities and costs provided are for evaluation purposes only and are in no way intended to reflect actual adoption or target state transaction volumes.” Still, the scenarios give a sense for the scale of the proposed operation and, to a degree, what our future parking lives will look like:

See the entire RFP here.

5. The Apocalypse has been cancelled

Now what am I going to do with all these storm chips?

6. Water woes

Two downtown water mains have burst in recent days — the first at Hollis and Sackville Streets, the second at Pizza Corner.

Could just be a coincidence, but I’ll just note that there’s a gigantic new development in the ‘hood that may be overwhelming the water system.


Government

City

Tuesday

No public meetings.

Wednesday

Regional Watersheds Advisory Board (Wednesday, 5pm, HEMDCC Large Meeting Space, Alderney Gate) — the board will discuss the Green Network Plan.

Cancelled – Community Design Advisory Committee

Province

No public meetings this week.


On campus

No public events.


In the harbour

5am: Acadian, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Saint John
8am: Ice Angel, yacht, arrives at Tall Ships Quay from Boston
8:30am: Ocean Dream, cruise ship with up to 1,422 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Reykjavik, Iceland
9:15am: Grandeur of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 2,446 passengers, arrives at Pier 31 from Bar Harbor
1pm: Horizon Star, offshore supply ship, moves from Pier 9 to Wilson’s Supply Dock
4pm: AS Felicia, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Miami
6:30pm: Grandeur of the Seas, cruise ship, sails from Pier 31 for Baltimore
8pm: Ocean Dream, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for New York


Footnotes

I don’t have a copy editor this morning; please be kind.

Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. Regarding nuclear weapons, although the stockpiles possessed by the United States and Russia should be reduced to match China’s more modest stockpile (or even the modester stockpiles possessed by India, Israel and Pakistan), er, has anyone else noticed that it has been 73 years since the last major war?

    If the 270 nuclear weapons China has isn’t enough to stop us from engaging in total warfare again, then we might as well limit the fallout so that we don’t risk extinction from the nuclear winter and fallout.

    1. Yes. I question the need for a military. There I said it. If Russia can take over the US with Twitter a twit and blackmail why do we need a navy? Does anyone think a torpedo will be fired in anger in the next 100 years?

  2. Parking – one of the things that amazed me when moving to Halifax from Toronto, was just how much free parking is still available in the city core during any time of day. Great examples are Ahern Avenue next to Citadel High, and Novalea between Young and Duffus (and maybe even beyong but I’d have to check). This is a horrible use of public space which is basically just a gigantic subsidy to people who drive into the peninsula to work and can leave their cars in space that could be otherwise put to better public use than free parking for cars. The war on cars rhetoric is hust laughable in the face of this. Halifax needs to get some intestinal fortitude and start charging big rates for every square inch of public parking space on the peninsula for all hours between 0600 and ?1900, 2000, 2100?? This revenue could then be used to prioritise transit funding, bicycle infrastructure, pedestrian friendliness and safety, and then we could really enjoin this so-called war on cars that I keep hearing about but see zero evidence of in this city to date.

  3. Will we see a ‘new user pay principle’ when it comes to paying for major infrastructure renewal [to be] made essential by high capacity developments on peninsula Halifax?

    Surely old city of Halifax taxpayers have already paid for sewers. roads, etc. should not have to foot the new infrastructure bills for mega-density new land-uses which exceed the agreed plans of Council?

  4. Hmmm. Wonder how the Shambhala School (reportedly founded by members of the Shambhala community) is rolling with this “new” development.

  5. I wonder how long it will take to separate the storm and sewage pipes in all areas of the Halifax peninsula?.City homeowners saved for this infrastructure well before the HRM was amalgamated by the Province.

    My understanding is that storm and sewage renewal by Halifax Water depends on whether HRM approves another non conforming high rise in a peninsular city area, where the sewerage infrastructure is outdated. Or, when as you see on Blowers St it becomes necessary.

    Halifax homeowners and residential taxpayers are just ignored, yet have to pay the increasing municipal services costs associated with these density ‘visions’..

    1. That’s not it yet! That’s just a dumb google map. Really great mapping is coming soon… I’m still learning how to use the program.