Ethan brings back guests Aarti Tejuja, Dr. Shanté Paradigm Smalls and David Perrin to follow up on where they are at nearly two years after the Shambhala community was transformed by scandal and an opportunity for growth.
This is the continuation of a conversation held in November of 2018 around the impact that allegations against Shambhala leader Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche had on themselves and their community.
Aarti Tejuja (she/her/they) is a mind/body healer, spiritual activist and coach, meditation and embodiment teacher, contemplative art instructor, student of the Buddhadharma, and a sacred space holder/facilitator. Aarti has also been a community organizer, youth mentor and advocate for those impacted by the justice system. Aarti worked for the Shambhala organization from 2007-2019, her last role being the Director of Social Engagement for Shambhala International. She currently co-owns a business, Joyful Ground which helps organizations develop a culture of authenticity by healing dynamics of race, gender, sexual orientation, classism, casteism, ableism, power dynamics, and hierarchy.
Dr. Shanté Paradigm Smalls is a student, practitioner, and teacher in the Tantric (Vajrayana) Buddhist tradition. Shanté began studying and practicing Buddhism at age 17 and has practiced in Zen, Sokka Gakkai International, Shambhala, and Bhumisparsha communities. Shanté trained from 2009 to 2015 as a teacher and was authorized to teach meditation and buddhadharma in 2015. Shanté is focused on the healing impact of meditation in Black & Indigenous communities, People of Color communities, LGBTQ+ communities, and incarcerated and recovery communities. Shanté is a Teacher on the Liberate App and teaches regularly on Weekly Dharma Gathering Online which they co-founded and curate. Shanté’s root guru is The Kongma Sakyong, Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche*. Shanté is currently studying with Lama Rod Owens and Lama Justin von Budjoss co-founders of Bhumisparsha. *NB: In 2018, credible allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse were revealed against Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche (More Details). Learn more about Shanté at shanteparadigm.com
David Perrin (he/him) is a meditation teacher, mentor, and creative arts therapist. For over two decades he has practiced and studied in the Shambhala tradition. In addition to teaching in Shambhala, David has served as MNDFL Head Teacher and Director of MNDFL Teacher Training collaborating with Senior Advisor Reverend angel Kyodo williams, as well as cofounder of MNDFL ED schools-based program. He is a member of the Presence Collective, a group dedicated to personal transformation, social justice, and collective liberation. He co-teaches Radical.Roots, a deep practitioner training with Megan Mook, and has taught with Weekly Dharma Gathering, an online meditation community. David has taught throughout New York City at schools, corporations, and nonprofits. Learn more at davidbperrin.com
Sitting With A Lot
What has been the process of healing and some of the challenges that the group has faced since the public revelation of abuse and misconduct by Shambhala’s former, leader Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche? We get an update from each person on their path forward since we last heard from them on the matter.
“I feel like in many areas of my life I have been called to hold a lot of questions, which can be very difficult. So I have been sitting with a lot of open-ended questions, which sometimes can read both internally and from the outside as not committing to something – but for me, it is the truth of my situation. The truth that there are things that do not have immediate answers and take a lot of feeling into and holding.” – Dr. Shanté Paradigm Smalls
What Comes After Shambhala? (14:45)
Our group shares where they are at in relation to Shambhala as an organization. They look at what they have taken away from their experiences with Shambhala and what they have had to let go of as they grow.
“What I am taking with me is a renewed commitment to the heart of why I got brought into Shambhala and trying to leave behind the idea that everything points in one direction. To leave behind the idea that the experience of liberation is going to be the same for everybody, that it is going to look the same.” – David Perrin
In & Out (38:30)
The group speaks about how their change in relationship with the Shambhala organization has affected their approach to practice and the direction that they wish to move forward.
“I grew up in this Indian culture and then I was in Shambhala for twelve years. I am not going to take what I learned from twelve years and just put it aside now because crazy stuff is happening – now that is part of me. All that I learned, all I got from my teacher, all that I went through is all now part of me. It lives now in this body. It lives in this heart.” – Aarti Tejuja
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Statement from Sakyong Mipham, Nov 2018:
To the Shambhala Community,
In a state of complete heartbreak, I write to you, humble, embarrassed, and thoroughly apologetic for disappointing you. I feel a tremendous amount of sorrow for the pain, confusion, and anger that our sangha is experiencing. I accept accountability for this pain, and want to express my commitment to personal growth…
…Personal development and learning is a lifelong process and I know that I must continuously apply myself and hear the feedback that I am getting. I feel tremendous regret and sadness, and I commit myself to continuing this healing. Our teachings advise that we do not give up on ourselves or on each other. I am realizing that I have much to learn and am committed to that process. I hope that by my doing this, our Shambhala community and organization can evolve, and become a true place of kindness, respect, and dignity. I am here for you, and am thinking of you always.