Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche presents the Living Peace Award to the Dalai Lama at the Shambhala Mountain Retreat in Larimer County in 2006.: photo by Cliff Grasmick / Daily Camera, 2006

Boulder's Naropa University removes Shambhala International leader from its board: Additionally, all members of the Kalapa Council, the sect's governing body, will step down: Carina Julig, Boulder Daily Camera, 8 July 2018

Boulder's Naropa University this week removed Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche from its Board of Trustees, saying it found the allegations iof sexual misconduct  against the leader of Shambhala International to be "credible and believable."
Additionally, the members of Boulder-born Shambhala's governing body, the Kalapa Council, announced Friday that they will all step down from their posts.
A report published last week by Project Sunshine contained anonymous accounts from multiple women accusing Mipham of sexual assault. So far, neither Mipham nor the Kalapa Council have confirmed or denied the allegations, though Mipham sent out a letter in advance of the report's publication apologizing for "harm" in past relationships with women.
Responses from other Shambhala leaders have been slow to arrive, but a changedotorg petition calling for Mipham to step down has gathered more than 600 signatures.

Naropa, the Buddhist-inspired university created by Shambhala's late founder Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, announced Thursday that its Board of Trustees met July 1 to discuss the allegations against Mipham, and found the women's accounts to be "credible and believable." The board subsequently requested that Mipham resign from his roles as ex officio board member and Naropa Lineage Holder, which he agreed to do immediately.
Mipham did not have a vote on the board, and the two roles were largely ceremonial and based on Shambhala's importance to Naropa's history. Naropa University has been independent from Shambhala International since 1987, and the statement clarified that none of Mipham's alleged sexual misconduct took place at Naropa or in his role as a board member.
"However, that does not make the need for these Board actions any less important for the integrity of our Naropa community," the statement said.
Charles Lief, president of Naropa University and co-signer of the statement, said that he was "saddened" by the situation at Shambhala, as he and a number of faculty and staff have personal connections to the organization. He said that it is possible Mipham or another representative from Shambhala could regain the board seat in the future, but for now the board believes the allegations are serious enough to warrant his removal.
The director of the Boulder Shambhala Center — the first of the now more than 200 meditation centers under the umbrella of Halifax, Nova Scotia-based Shambhala International — has said there have been no reported cases of sexual misconduct at the Boulder center since she began her term in 2015.
Mipham owns a home in unincorporated Boulder County, according to property records.
The Kalapa Council, Shambhala's governing body, announced Friday that all of its members will step down from their posts "in the interest of beginning a healing process for our community."
It also said that the council has engaged Wickwire Holm, a law firm based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to conduct an independent investigation into allegations of abuse or misconduct by Shambhala teachers and leaders.
It was not specified whether the council members will be stepping down permanently or only for the duration of the independent investigation. The statement said there will be a phased departure in order to create a smooth transition, and did not give a specific timeline.
The Office of the Sakyong also released a statement Friday in which Mipham announced that he is "stepping back" from his administrative and teaching responsibilities within Shambhala, and that he fully supports a third-party investigation into the allegations against him. The statement said he is entering "a period of self-reflection."
Andrea Winn, the creator of the first and second Project Sunshine reports, said that after working on the projects for more than a year, she is stepping back from her role as an activist.
She expressed disappointment in the Kalapa Council's reactions to the allegations so far, especially its hiring of public relations firm Hiltzik Strategies. The New York City firm is run by Matthew Hiltzik, who has represented high-profile clients including Glenn Beck, Harvey Weinstein and Katie Couric.

A very rare lineage of the Severed-Head Vajra Yogini thangka. She has severed her head and holding it in her own skull cup. Top left is Indra Kacho Vajra Varahi, centre is Flying Vajra Yogini and top right is Maitri Kacho Vajra Yogini. #Tsemtulku #Rinpoche #dharma #Mandsaur: image via Albert Ratchaga @albertlwr, 11 July 2018

Buddhist leader locked his victim in a bathroom to sexually assault her, report claims: The group's senior leadership reportedly knew about the incident and did nothing.: Joshua Eaton, ThinkProgress, 11 July 2018

Mipham heads a global network of more than 200 Buddhist centers called Shambhala International. The report alleges members of its board of directors knew about the incident in Chile as early as 2002.

“I found this woman very credible,” the report’s author, retired employment lawyer Carol Merchasin, wrote. “She reached out immediately after the incident to others, telling them the same story; her contemporaneous account to the Corroborating Witness further strengthens her credibility.”

Shambhala International referred ThinkProgress’ requests for comment to the public relations firm Hiltzik Stategies, which referred them to Mipham’s personal lawyer, Michael Scott, of the Halifax, Canada, firm Patterson Law.

Shambhala has hired Halifax law firm Wickwire Holm to investigate other allegations of sexual assault against Mipham published last month.  

“Out of respect for the integrity of the independent investigation, my client will, for the moment, be offering no comment,” Scott told ThinkProgress in response to questions about those other allegations.

The new allegation is harrowing: During a party, Mipham allegedly pulled the woman into a bathroom, then locked the door and stood in front of it, barring her escape. Then he proceeded to grope her, put her hand on his genitals, and try to undress her, all while she said “no” and “I don’t want to do this.” When she told him she had a boyfriend, he responded, simply, “That doesn’t matter.” After about 15 minutes in the bathroom, the woman said she managed to push him away from the door and escape. By that time, all the other guests had left the party.

The next morning, the woman told a cook who was traveling with Mipham about the incident. That cook confirmed the woman’s account to Merchasin, the report says. That cook also told Merchasin that David Brown, a member of Shambhala’s board of directors and Mipham’s personal secretary, interviewed her about the incident later that year and told her two other board members, Mitchell Levy and Jesse Grimes, were trying to get Mipham to “clean up his act.”

A third woman told Merchasin that she overheard a senior Shambhala leader talking about the incident on the phone in 2002.

Brown, Levy, and Grimes did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

ThinkProgress did not interview any of these women and has not independently confirmed their stories. But parts of the account square with statements Shambhala board members made during a private video call with the group's meditation teachers  last week.

Early in 2002 some close to [Mipham] became concerned with his drinking,” Grimes said during the call, according to notes obtained by ThinkProgress. “Mitchell Levy and I sat with [Mipham] for an intervention.”

On that same call, another board member and Mipham’s chief of staff, Josh Silberstein, addressed the incident in Chile directly: “We have first-hand witnesses who indicate it isn’t true.”

Scott and Hiltzik Stategies declined multiple requests to put ThinkProgress in touch with those witnesses or provide further details.

Wednesday’s report comes after another report by Buddhist Project Sunshine, published last month, detailed several other allegations of sexual assault, sexual misconduct, and heavy drinking by the Mipham.  That report briefly mentioned the incident in Chile as a second- or third-hand rape allegation. The new report corrects and clarifies those allegations.

Three days before the last report came out, Mipham apologized for having “relationships” with women in Shambhala. He did not admit any sexual misconduct.

“I have recently learned that some of these women have shared experiences of feeling harmed as a result of these relationships,” Mipham wrote. “I am now making a public apology.”

In 2003, the reports says Mipham met with the woman whom he reportedly assaulted in Chile and apologized to her. He sent her an apology letter later, though the report doesn’t make clear whether he ever admitted to sexual assault.

Shambhala’s governing body, called the Kalapa Council, announced its “phased” resignation in the wake of last week’s allegations. Mipham has stepped down from teaching and administrative duties pending the outcome of that investigation. Naropa University, in Boulder, Colo., also forced Mipham to resign from two honorary positions.

 Scott nor Hiltzik Stategies would comment on whether Mipham and the Kalapa Council members will continue in their legal roles as directors of the half-dozen or so legal entities affiliated with Shambhala. They also declined to comment on whether Mipham will continue to receive a salary, attendants, cooks, travel and housing expenses, and other benefits.

“The organization is assessing the situation and taking necessary steps towards healing and rebuilding the community,” a source close to Shambhala said in a statement.

Dhaka | 2018 | by Sohail Bin Mohammad

Dhaka | 2018: photo by Sohail Bin Mohamad, 6 July 2018

Untitled | by Sun Lerdrakmongkol

Untitled: photo by Artyt Lerdraknmongkol, 10 July 2018