Kalapa Council Report

August 3, 2009

A Look at the New Kalapa Council

by Andrew Safer

In July, 2009, Shambhala International released the first Report of the Kalapa Council.   The Governance page has a link to it:


The Kalapa Council makes decisions and acts on behalf of Kalapa, a non-profit corporation described in its articles of incorporation (in Colorado, in 2007) as a “church of the Sakyong lineage of Shambhala”.  Originally registered under the name of “Kalapa Court”, the name was changed to “Kalapa” in early 2008. Kalapa has been described in several articles (KalapaLabyrinth) published by Radio Free Shambhala. This article updates those.

In the Sakyong’s 2008 Shambhala Day address, he said

In thinking about the notion of lineage–who we are–I have created a new format, a new structure that I’m calling Kalapa. Kalapa will be the storehouse and protector of the Shambhala lineage, and in particular, the Lineage of Sakyongs.

What follows are selected sections of the first Kalapa Council Report, with  a few comments and questions listed after each section.

Creation of the Kalapa Council

The Sakyong appointed the Kalapa Council to assist him and the Sakyong Wangmo in the integration and governance of the mandala. The Kalapa Council is the Lha body of Shambhala Governance. It’s role, described by the Sakyong, is “to disseminate and govern” and is “the structure for the Sakyong to express his direct command and wishes.” (1)

…The Kalapa Council now has nine members.(2) The Sakyong holds the position of director of the first class in Kalapa, as he does in Shambhala International. The other members of the council include:

The Sakyong Wangmo, Khandro Tseyang (3)

The President of Shambhala, Mr Richard Reoch (chair of the council) (4)

The Lamen Kyi Khyap, Dr Mitchell Levy (5)

The Kalapa Acharya, Mr Adam Lobel (6)

The Makpön, Mr Jesse Grimes (7)

The Chagdzö Kyi Khyap, Ms Connie Brock (8)

The Chief of Staff of the Sakyong Ladrang, Mr Josh Silberstein (9)

The Head of the Office of the Kalapa Court and Secretary to the Sakyong, Mr David Brown, has a standing invitation to attend the meetings of the Kalapa Council, as does its Chief Legal Counsel, Mr Alex Halpern. Mr Brown also serves as the Secretary to the Kalapa Council. (10)

(1) The Council exists to communicate the Sakyong’s ‘direct command and wishes’.

(2) This document says there are nine members including the Sakyong; the Kalapa Council page says there are eight. Only eight are listed (in total). 

(3) Khandro Tseyang, the Sakyong’s wife, is the second member of the Sakyong’s family on the Council (the Sakyong being the first).

(4) President Reoch is also Chair of the Sakyong’s Council.

(5) Dr. Mitchell Levy, the husband of Diana Mukpo, the Sakyong’s stepmother, is the third family member on the Council. He represents the Kalapa Council on the Sakyong’s Council. Dr. Levy is the only senior student of Chögyam Trungpa on the Council.

(6) Mr. Adam Lobel is Kalapa Acharya and also the Acharya representative on the Sakyong’s Council.

(7) Mr. Jesse Grimes also serves on the Sakyong’s Council, and is Commander of the Dorje Kasung.

(8) Chagdzö Kyi Khyap means Bursar General. Ms. Brock is also Treasurer of the Sakyong’s Council, a board member of the Sakyong Foundation, a core member of the Shambhala Trust, and Finance Director of the Minneapolis Shambhala Centre.

(9) Mr. Josh Silberstein is Secretary to the Kalapa Council and also President of The Kalapa Group, a company that “represents high profile ventures of the Sakyong including publishing, media and speaking engagements that help to support the Sakyong’s charitable activities”.

(10) What mechanism is in place to ensure that views and communication from other than the mandala center will reach the Sakyong?

The Role of the Kalapa Council

The role of the Kalapa Council as described by the Sakyong is “to disseminate and govern” and is “the structure for the Sakyong to express his direct command and wishes.”

The Council fulfils these functions by:

1. Receiving. The members of the council, individually and collectively, receive the direct expression of the Sakyong’s evolving aspirations, often before they take specific shape. (11)

…4. Advising and Assisting the Sakyong and Sakyong Wangmo. The Council acts in an advisory capacity to the Sakyong and the Sakyong Wangmo. Both may refer matters to the Council on which they are seeking advice. The Council itself may wish to offer advice to their Majesties on any matter that it deems appropriate. The Council has also been asked by the Sakyong to assist in the governance of the mandala in areas such as manifesting mandala principle, protecting and sustaining the lineage (12), ensuring financial coherence, monitoring the global impact of the lineage (13), directing international relations and advising on court appointments in the mandala.

The members of the Kalapa Council serve as the board of Kalapa, the entity that gives legal form to the Kalapa Court. (14)

(11) “Receiving” does not reference receiving input or feedback from the Council members, or from members of the worldwide Shambhala community.

(12) What is meant by “the lineage”? Who does it include?

(13) What is meant by “monitoring the global impact of the lineage”?

(14) What is the legal relationship between the corporate entities Kalapa, Sakyong Ladrang, and Vajradhatu (Shambhala International)? How do Kalapa Council and Sakyong Foundation relate to those? Who owns, or intends to own, what?  What are the legal responsibilities of the Boards of Kalapa, The Kalapa Group, Sakyong Ladrang, and Vajradhatu/Shambhala International?

Reporting and accountability

The members of the Kalapa Council are appointed by the Sakyong and serve at his pleasure. They report directly to him and are accountable to him. (15) The Kalapa Council will report periodically to the mandala as a whole on its activities. This report is the first such periodic report.

(15) It appears that the Sakyong, alone, appoints and retires the Council members. The sole accountability is of them to him.

The work of the Kalapa Council, August 2008 – July 2009

Among the various topics to which the Kalapa Council devoted its energy after its inception were the following:


Kingdom of Shambhala responsibility. The Sakyong made clear to the Kalapa Council and to the Warrior General (16) that with the establishment of Kalapa and the creation of the Kalapa Council that primary responsibility for the protection and manifestation of the vision of the Kingdom of Shambhala was now to be held by the Kalapa Council. (17) The implications of this for the role of the Council of Warriors, together with the wish of the Sakyong and Sakyong Wangmo to establish a Shambhala Office of Culture and Decorum, have been a regular feature of the discussions of the Kalapa Council since its inception and are continuing. (18)

(16) The Warrior General role is now subsumed under the Shambhala Office of Culture and Decorum?

(17) Noteworthy: primary responsibility for the protection and manifestation of the vision of the Kingdom of Shambhala was now to be held by the Kalapa Council.

(18) Council of Warrors: Does this mean the Council of Warriors will no longer have a role in relation to the “protection and manifestation” of Shambhala vision?

Establishment of the Office of the Sakyong Wangmo. The Sakyong requested that an Office of the Sakyong Wangmo be established. (19) The council recommended to him that he and the Sakyong Wangmo appoint a Secretary to the Sakyong Wangmo and that this (voluntary) position be integrated into the Office of the Kalapa Court. On this basis, Ms. Basia Solarz was appointed to the position of Secretary to the Sakyong Wangmo.

(19) What activities will this Office undertake?

Establishment of the Sakyong Ladrang. (20) The council devoted considerable time to discussion with the Sakyong of the importance of establishing the Sakyong Ladrang and how this could best be supported within the framework of the unfolding Kalapa Court. The Ladrang has now been established and legally registered. (21)

(20) What does “ladrang” mean? What is its role in the traditional Tibetan hierarchical structure, and how is it being adapted to the Western context? Is it a family trust?

(21) The Sakyong Ladrang is registered as a tax-deductible Buddhist religious organization. Its articles of incorporation are identical to those of Kalapa. The Web site: www.sakyongladrang.org was live for a short time but has since been taken down.

What is the purpose of the Sakyong Ladrang? 

International relations. The Sakyong requested that responsibility for international relations be located within the Kalapa Court under the direct supervision of the Chair of the Kalapa Council. (22) The separate role of the Office of International Affairs came to a formal end on Shambhala Day 2009, and its work was subsumed into the work of the Office of the Kalapa Court. (23)

The Sakyong established a new position, Head of Protocol in the Office of the Kalapa Court. He appointed Michael Gayner, former attaché to the Sakyong, to this position to assist the Chair of the Kalapa Council with relations not only with major teachers, but also the increasing number of public figures making contact with Shambhala. Lodro Gyatso, a monastic in the Shambhala Community formerly residing at Gampo Abbey, will be the point-person in the Office of the Kalapa Court for receiving and responding to most of the incoming emails from centres and then forwarding them to others who need to be consulted. Peter Volz will serve for a period of time as an adviser on international relations in view of his long experience. Frank Stetzl will continue to be the principal link for Shambhala Europe. The Chair of the Kalapa Council is now working to establish a group of acharyas who will be available to act as high-level emissaries to build and strengthen our relations with lineage holders and teachers on behalf of the Shambhala Mandala.

(22) Since the late 1970s, the Vajradhatu Office of External Affairs has facilitated the establishment of contacts with lineage teachers and cultivated these relationships, as well as managed many aspects of relations within the broader Buddhist context, and beyond. Under the leadership of Chögyam Trungpa, this office had as many as four people working full time, reflecting its high priority. In recent years, the staffing commitment has been reduced to two part-time positions. The Office of External Affairs has been closed and Peter Volz, a senior student of Chögyam Trungpa with considerable experience in lineage relations, has been retired.

(23) The Office of External Affairs of Shambhala International has been removed. Relations with lineage teachers are now under the purview of the Office of the Kalapa Court.

The Kalapa Executive. The Sakyong indicated to the Kalapa Council the importance of identifying and empowering an executive body for the mandala as a whole. This is different to the policy-making and governing bodies – the Kalapa Council and the Sakyong’s Council. The Kalapa Executive would coordinate the highest level executive officers of the Three Pillars. The Kalapa Executive will include the officers who are currently responsible for major operations in all areas of the mandala. Further work will be needed to formalize the roles and authority of the members of the Kalapa Executive. This will be a further step in providing coherence (24) to the central governance of the mandala under the overall leadership of the Sakyong. (25)

(24) “Coherence” means “the quality or state of cohereing, especially a logical, orderly and aesthetically connected relationship of parts.” What parts are being included, and how?

(25) What value will this new level of bureaucracy add?

Chögyam Trungpa Legacy Project. The Sakyong had previously given his blessing to the initiative to explore the creation of a Chögyam Trungpa Legacy Project. On receiving a report on the ground laid by this exploration, he made it clear that he wished the project to come under the protection and blessings of Kalapa (26), since it had long-term implications for the propagation of the lineage (27) teachings. well ino the future and because the form it would take could be the model for the preservation and propagation of the teachings of successive Sakyongs of Shambhala. The Chair of the Kalapa Council was asked to work with the project director, the Sakyong and Lady Diana Mukpo to establish how best this could be done. Broad agreement was reached on this and work is now underway to discuss a two- year work plan for the project.

(26)  “he made it clear that he wished the project to come under the protection and blessings of Kalapa” 

(27) Which “lineage” is being referred to here? (see note (12)

Relations within the mandala.  The council sees as part of its responsibility to help ensure coherence and a spirit of mutuality throughout the mandala. This is, of course, a major responsibility of the Sakyong’s Council, on which all of the members of the Kalapa Council sit as well. Nonetheless, particularly since the Kalapa Council has the function of bringing together the most senior officers of the three pillars of Shambhala, it can also pay attention to collaboration between these strands of the Shambhala brocade. It also monitors the impact and implications of the new curriculum and other ways in which Shambhala is unfolding on the community as a whole. Part of those discussions have related to expressions of concern by longer-term members of the community (28) and the council sees as part of its role to discuss how those can best be addressed (29) so that the community as a whole can embrace diversity and change with mutual respect and support for as many practitioners as possible. (30)

(28) These “longer-term members of the community”, of whom there are many, are not represented on the Council.

(29) Are the harmony meetings part of this “how”?

(30) The Council has responsibility for providing “support” for these “longer-term” individuals. Specifically, what “support” is being referred to here?

Financial responsibilities.  The council received regular reports and proposals from the Chagdzu Kyi Kyap on how best to structure the different financial responsibilities of the Ladrang, Kalapa and Shambhala. An interim division of responsibilities was discussed by the Sakyong’s Council, which has formed the basis for the budget being used by Kalapa in the course of this past year. The council is now considering fresh proposals for the future so that there can be maximum clarity established for annual and long-term budgeting. (31)

(31) Will there be transparency in the financial reporting of the various interlocking organizations (Kalapa Council, Kalapa, Sakyong Ladrang, Sakyong Foundation, Shambhala International)?

Does, or will, the authority of Kalapa, exercised through the decisions and actions of the Kalapa Council, supersede the authority of Shambhala International?