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What is “Our Future Fund”?

Investigation by Barbara Blouin

Version 2 of this article, based on corrections sent by Connie Brock (April 7, 2009).

President Reoch sent an e-mail to vajrayana students shortly before Shambhala Day,  announcing a new fundraising vehicle called Our Future.

Dear

Shambhala Day will be different this year. I am writing to all Vajrayana practitioners, including you, so that you know what is happening and how you can support it. … The annual fund-raising will be for a new, unified fund known as Our Future. Our Future will not only support Shambhala’s core services that all of our centres benefit from, but also the Sakyong’s year of retreat. For more information about this integrated fund please click here.

I will be launching the fund on the Shambhala Day broadcast, and I would love to announce that our Vajrayana students around the world have already paved the way with their donations. That would definitely inspire others to follow your example when they gather on Shambhala Day.

Please consider making your annual Shambhala Day offering today so that we can boost the energy on the broadcast. It would be a tremendous gesture of support for our beloved Sakyong and his mandala.

If this captures your imagination, and you want to help me get this message of generosity across to the whole mandala on Shambhala Day, please click here.

In the radiant vision of Shambhala,

Richard Reoch

Here is the Our Future Fund [1] web page which was linked to the President’s letter. I have put certain parts of this document in bold because I  have questions about them. As you are reading this, if you too have questions, please post them at the end of this article.

Our Future: Building Strength in the Year of Retreat

Financial Overview

The “Our Future” appeal aims to strengthen the ground for the future of our lineage and also for the central services of our mandala as a whole.

The goal is to raise sufficient funds to meet the following targets in the course of the Sakyong’s year of retreat:

1. Direct support to the Sakyong for his expenses during the year of retreat, and to provide monthly income since he will not be receiving the same level of teaching gifts in this year when he is not teaching widely. This includes the cost of travel, housing, communications and the offerings he will make at the monasteries where he will do his retreat and the pujas he will perform.

Estimated: $263,000 (expenses); $144,000 (annual income, distributed monthly)

2. Strengthening the ground for the lineage manifestation during and beyond the year of retreat. This involves improving the salary level for the Tibetan attendant to Khandro Tseyang, raising funds that will help to maintain the lineage residences in Boulder and Cologne, and generating a significant sum that can help to stabilize the financial strength of the lineage at this time of change.

Estimated: $ 9000. (attendant support); $77,000 (Boulder and Cologne Courts); $100,000 (financial stabilization)

3. Support for teachings and program development. The Sakyong has been teaching on  multiple levels and the fruits of the teachings that he is offering need to be gathered and presented so that they can be much more widely and systematically offered. This includes transcribing the commentary that he is almost continuously dictating on the Shambhala Terma of the Druk Sakyong, continuing work on the development of the Way of Shambhala program which he is working on with Acharya Adam Lobel, and maintaining the current level of staffing in the Shambhala Office of Practice and Education.

Estimated: $26,000 (transcriber); $54,000 (salaries for acharya and part-time staff member)

4. Putting Shambhala on a firmer financial foothold and use this year to experiment with taking a step towards a more integrated approach to fund-raising for the mandala as a whole. Thus, Shambhala will not conduct a separate fund-raising appeal at the end of the year, nor on Shambhala Day. Both these occasions will be rolled into the integrated campaign for “Our Future”. The funds to be raised to stabilize the Mandala Services at the centre of the mandala in the course of this campaign will be used in three ways. First, we aim to meet the target previously set for the end of year campaign for 2009 ($85,000). Second, we aim to meet the target previously set for Shambhala Day 2010 ($130,000). Third, we are seeking to raise sufficient funds to restore the shortfall in previously planned donations for 2008 and 2009 ($170,000).

Speaking tour in North America: explaining and promoting Our Future

After Shambhala Day, Lodro  Rinzler, Development Officer, and Joshua Silberstein [2] Chief of Staff of the Sakyong Ladrang, have been traveling around North American centers to speak and answer questions about the new approach to fundraising. They came to Halifax on March 13. Around sixty sangha, young and old (though more old ones than young ones) attended the Halifax meeting. Several people expressed deep confusion about the new fundraising approach, and about the Ladrang. For example, one person said, “I don’t understand the relationship between the Ladrang and Shambhala International. Why isn’t it more fully explained at the nitty-gritty level?” I do not think Mr. Silberstein answered the question directly, but readers can decide for themselves. (You can hear the whole Q & A for yourself on the Chronicles web site [3].

Someone else asked, “Why is there another name? Why another legal entity?

Mr. Silberstein explained by saying that in the West we lack a cultural entity that would correspond to ladrangs in Tibet, and that it would be good to follow the Tibetan model.  This was his only response to the question. The same person asked, “Is Our Future an entity within the Ladrang?” Once again, Mr. Silberstein did not answer directly. He said, “Our Future [and the Ladrang] are joining together to support each other in raising funds…. As entities, they’re both nonprofit organizations.”

This answer only deepened the confusion because, I think, he was referring to the Ladrang and Shambhala International, but not to Our Future, which has no separate legal status. (There is more on this matter later in the article.) At this point Lodro Rinzler jumped in and said, “The account itself is a joint account.”

The next questioner asked about existing unrestricted automatic withdrawals, which  for many years have been directed to Shambhala International. Where, she wanted to know, would they go now? Mr. Rinzler replied, “If you are already giving to Shambhala [International], it continues to go to the same Shambhala account. … It continues to support the Our Future campaign. It just is not in the same bank account.”

Finally, a very senior student asked what was essentially the same question about unrestricted donations. “Is there another fund? I know what the Ladrang is, and I know it is being handled separately. So there’s a lot of confusion that started on Shambhala Day. I myself am confused as well.” Mr. Silberstein replied, “We may not be able to resolve the confusion, [ed: !] but let me take another stab. … Every gift that has been given to the Ladrang or to Shambhala since October 1, 2009 is part of Our Future.”

Then Mr. Rinzler spoke up: “It [the Future Fund/Ladrang] supports both. Sorry. What I mean by that is: Normally, when you support Shambhala, you’re supporting the Sakyong and his activities and the core staff that carries out his vision. So nothing’s changed there. Only, if you’re giving to Our Future, it’s going into a separate account.”

Other Halifax sangha members also expressed their confusion and asked for clarification. But most of the explanations seemed only to create further confusion. What it comes down to in the final analysis is that all donations to Shambhala International, other than restricted donations (for example, to local centres and practice centres) go to the Sakyong Ladrang, which is now called Our Future Fund. And there is no oversight of the Ladrang because the only directors are the Sakyong and the Sakyong Wangmo. (This statement will be clarified in the section called “More about the Ladrang.”)

Back to the text of the Our Future appeal.

Although I have been able to learn a few things about Our Future, much remains either unclear or completely opaque. The best place to begin is with what I have learned.

When the various dollar amounts spelled out in the text are added together, it looks like this:

°In the first three categories—for the Sakyong’s year of retreat, which also include amounts earmarked to support  the Sakyong Wangmo, and donations to monasteries, which presumably include monasteries founded by Namkha Drimed—the total fundraising goal is $673,000 ( $56,083 a month, or $1,844 a day).

° The fourth category is called “Putting Shambhala on a firmer financial foothold” and refers to “the mandala as a whole.” The total goal for this category is $385,000 ($32,083 a month, or $1,054.79 a day).

In other words, of the total fundraising goal, the amount earmarked to support the Sakyong and his projects is 57%, compared to 43% for the rest of the mandala.

[4]

“The Our Future appeal aims to strengthen the ground for the future of our lineage…”  It isn’t hard to read behind the lines here: the primary goal of this fundraising is for the Sakyong Ladrang, but the Ladrang itself is not named. “United States donors can make checques [sic] out to ‘Our Future’ and send them to Historic Highland Building [4], 885 Arapahoe, Boulder, CO 80302.”

¿ Was there no space to accommodate the Ladrang at the Shambhala Centre in Boulder?

More questions

¿ When a sangha member makes a donation of, say, $500 to Our Future, or an unrestricted donation to Shambhala International,  how is the money allocated? Is 57 % given to the Sakyong and his projects, and 43% for staff and related expenses? Who makes decisions affecting exactly how this donation is allocated? Are certain expenses prioritized above others?

¿ A portion of the Sakyong’s expenses in his year of retreat is for “offerings he will make at the monasteries where he will do his retreat and the pujas he will perform.”

What, exactly, does this refer to? Which monasteries will the Sakyong visit? Do they include any or all of the monasteries that form part of the Sakyong Wangmo’s father Namkha Drimed’s organization: Rigon Thupten Mindrolling in Orissa, India; Rigon Tashi Choeling Monastry in Pharping, Nepal; and (I think) another monastery in Tibet.

How much money does the Sakyong plan to offer? No information is provided on this possibly very large expense.

¿ In the second category the goal is $186,000. This money will be used for “generating a significant sum that can stabilize the financial strength of the lineage at this time of change.” What does this actually mean? Of this total, $9,000 will be used to top up the salary for the Sakyong Wangmo’s Tibetan attendant. A large amount, $77,000, is for two of the Sakyong’s residences—in Boulder and Cologne. $100,000, a nice round figure, is intended for “financial stabilization.” Other than the salary, how will these monies be used? For mortgage, taxes, heat, etc. for the Sakyong’s residences? Or for renovations and furnishings and so on? Or for both? How will  a large amount to “stabilize the financial strength of the lineage” be used? $100,000 earmarked for “financial stabilization” offers no information whatsoever. What is the distinction between these two categories, one of  which includes the other, which are described in almost identical terms? What does “stabilization” mean in this context?

¿ $26,000 is earmarked for the salary of a transcriber for the commentary that the Sakyong “is almost continually dictating.” Compared with the very low salaries for most core staff of Shambhala International, $26,000 is a large amount of money. (In the “real world,” $26,000 isn’t much, but it is a question of scale, and I find myself wondering just how much the services of core staff are valued.)

The fourth and last category is described as “putting Shambhala on a firmer financial foothold and us[ing] this year to experiment with taking a step towards a more integrated approach to fund-raising for the mandala as a whole. … The funds to be raised to stabilize the Mandala Services at the centre of the mandala in the course of this campaign will be used in three ways. First, we aim to meet the target previously set for the end of year campaign for 2009 ($85,000). Second, we aim to meet the target previously set for Shambhala Day 2010 ($130,000). Third, we are seeking to raise sufficient funds to restore the shortfall in previously planned donations for 2008 and 2009 ($170,000).”

This is a big subject, one that deserves a much fuller exploration than I am able to give here. First, I want to say that I find this quite alarming, especially since so much more money is being asked for the Sakyong and his projects when compared with funding for administration. My guess is that by now, everyone who pays dues and  is wired (most of us) knows that core services (called “mandala services”) are suffering from severe underfunding, and that this has been going on for many years.

¿ What is the amount of the shortfalls? $85,000 for 2009? $170,000 for 2008 and 2009? The way this is worded, it looks as though 2009 has been listed twice. Is that correct? Does $170,000 represent $85,000 each for these two years? What about the “target ($130,000) previously set for Shambhala Day 2010”? What does “previously set” mean here? What has been changed, and what has not been changed?

¿ Finally, the meaning of the following words is confusing: “The funds to be raised to stabilize the Mandala Services at the centre of the mandala in the course of this campaign will be used in three ways.” It seems as though the ways in which the money will be used are essentially the same—to attempt to make up for shortfalls in donations in previous years. Why, then, is this goal described as “three different ways”?

This seems as good a place as any to comment on the poverty-level salaries given to Shambhala International staff. According to the 2008 return submitted [5] to the Canada Revenue Agency, 26 full-time and 15 part-time staff were working for Shambhala International during the fiscal year. The total amount paid to these 41 staff was $247,242, or an average of about $6,000 per staff member.

These figures speak for themselves. They raise the question:

¿ How do staff manage to support themselves, let alone save anything for retirement, at these levels? To be fair, I need to say that “It has ever been thus.” During the lifetimes of the Vidyadhara and the Regent, salaries were also far too low.

More about the Ladrang

The Ladrang was incorporated in Colorado in January, 2009. Portions of the Articles of Incorporation [6] state

The corporation is organized as a church of the Sakyong lineage of Shambhala and a charitable organization as defined in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. The supervision and control of the corporation shall be vested in a Board of Directors which shall include at least one (1) director. No part of the net earnings of the corporation shall inure to the benefit of or be distributable to its directors, officers, or other private persons; except that the corporation is authorized to pay reasonable compensation for services rendered and to make payments and distributions in furtherance of the corporation’s charitable purposes. …

To put this in plain language: the Ladrang is set up as a “charity” whose control is in the hands of two directors—the Sakyong and Sakyong Wangmo. There are no other directors; in other words, there is no board of directors. Connie Brock, bursar, and Sol Halpern, who does strategic development for the Ladrang, manage this account. Although the Sakyong and the Sakyong Wangmo are not supposed to receive the net earnings of the organization, there is an exception: “Except that the corporation is authorized to pay reasonable compensation for services rendered and to make payments and distributions in furtherance of the corporation’s charitable purposes …” In other words, although it may be in keeping with IRS rules for a significant portion of the net proceeds to go directly to the Sakyong, it seems to me to be a stretch to call the Ladrang a charity. [Posted April 7:] I have overstated the degree of opacity. I have learned from Connie Brock that “the 2009 year-end financial report and the 2010 Shambhala central budget are in final review and will be posted to the Shambhala web site in the next two weeks.” (Connie Brock in an e-mail, April 6)

The heart of the matter

Historically, Shambhala International/Vajradhatu has been accountable to its board, now called the Sakyong’s Council. However, there is no equivalent board for the Ladrang. The Sakyong’s Council has a lesser authority than the Kalapa Council, and the Kalapa Council has a lesser authority than the Ladrang.

The Kalapa Council, created by the Sakyong in 2008, appears to have a much diminished role and no direct relation to the Ladrang. Minutes of the Kalapa Council  are not accessible to the sangha.

Therefore, knowledge of the activities and finances of the Ladrang are entirely limited to what the Sakyong (and his wife) choose to release to the sangha and the public at large. So far, if we are to judge from the “financial overview” of the Our Future campaign discussed in this article, that knowledge may be hard to come by because the goals described are so  vague. In other words, there is so little accountability that we do not really know what is going on, and we do not know how our donations will be used. [ed: Eventually we may learn more, once the budget for 2010 is posted in 22011.]

This raises the matter of what I see as a danger for the Sakyong, as well as for the administration. If sangha are unable to understand—and, therefore, trust—Our Future (the Ladrang) and how it is related to Shambhala International, there is likely to be a decrease in donations altogether, and possibly a shift in the proportion of unrestricted and restricted donations.

¿ Has this danger been considered and prepared for?

The next step

Radio Free Shambhala is sending this article to President Reoch, Joshua Silberstein, and Lodro Rinzler. We will be asking them to answer the questions raised in the article. If we get a response, we will post it.[Update: On April 2 I received a brief e-mail from Lodro Rinzler: “Dear Barbara,I’m sorry to hear you felt disturbed after the Halifax community meeting. I wish we had a chance to touch base after so I could have heard your feedback in person. Perhaps it might be helpful for people on Radio Free Shambhala to listen to the audio recording of the community meeting. That audio has been placed on the Chronicles Project should you wish to link to it. I believe President Reoch and Josh Silberstein are in a Kalapa Council retreat at this time. I will get in touch with them when they are back about responding to your suggestion. Best, Lodro Rinzler”

This response makes it clear that Mr. Rinzler did not take the time to read this article. I am still waiting for responses from President Reoch and Joshua Silberstein.

Comments Disabled (Open | Close)

Comments Disabled To "What is “Our Future Fund”?"

#1 Comment By Zerme Drimed On May 11, 2010 @ 12:44 pm

Just from the journalistic work that Barbara has done on Shambhala’s finances in the last year, and especially considering the actions so far of the Sakyong Ladrang, I would not hold my breath waiting for any kind of democratic process in Shambhala. And, to be fair, that has always been the case.

In my connections with Buddhist institutions, my main requirement is transparency, or maybe just translucency, in the financial realm. Before anybody gets my money, I am going to have to see where it goes and what it does. Money is the only voice anyone has in Shambhala. (To be fair, again, that is also true in every other Buddhist organization I know about.) I think Barbara has grabbed the right end of the stick in trying to sort out how the money talks and where it walks.

#2 Comment By John Tischer On May 18, 2010 @ 11:30 am

Paper Tyrant

The Emperor has no clothes
no power
no authority
just a myth of Kingdom
with lots of money
to put on a good show.
How absurd and pathetic…
what a tragedy that in my
lifetime I would see such a thing.

#3 Comment By Chris On May 20, 2010 @ 11:22 am

I know longer think of this as a tragedy John.
Although sometimes it has been overwhelmingly depressing, it is starting to feel like a great blessing.

What an amazing teaching on spiritual materialism! It wouldn’t have had the impact if it hadn’t been so close to home. Because it has been so vivid, it is not something we will forget, maybe not for lifetimes.

It has incorporated the spiritual materialism of both East and West and shows that neither has a monopoly on it.

I believe that SI and the Paper Emperor will have brought down the corruption of it all . That will be the real legacy of SI. So they have performed a great service, just not the one they think they are performing.

So this is cause for cheering up. If it hadn’t gotten so absurd, we might have ignored it for more generations. And then it would have dug in more deeply.

It is our cosmic joke; If we are lucky , everyone gets one in their lifetime. I think this one is ours.

#4 Comment By Rita Ashworth On May 20, 2010 @ 1:25 pm

Dear Chris

Yes sadly to some degree I think I follow your thinking too.

I think we have not explored our own culture for the richness of the shambhalian teachings too well. For example I read on the Project that the Foreign Dralas were calling CTR -so if they were callng him -why are these dralas not expressed in the Art that should be coming out of SI. To a certain extent the forms that SI are developing are still entwined with the East and I believe we should be cluing into our own forms -not because they are any better but just because they are there!

We have not given ourselves too much time to get the whole thing together and zooooommmmm we are off to the East yet again…..I dont know may be its a question of not trusting what we have really experienced. Me going back to my roots….that would be a way of reconnecting -know its dicey but think it could work to a certain extent.

Cosmic joke-myself dont think anything is sacred -everything up for grabs now -the things is one should just launch oneself into new things that could be a way forward.

Well best

Rita Ashworth

#5 Comment By John Tischer On May 21, 2010 @ 11:33 am

Chris

I agree that there is a silver lining to the cloud, and I can only thank the protectors for that, that there are enough students out there that haven’t
lost their minds and critical intelligence to be seduced by a pot of gold at the end of the illusory rainbow…..which is the only result of ANY teacher
promising ANYTHING to their students ….even if it sounds as good as SS seems to. In Shambhala Training, the end is presented at the beginning….
basic goodness….that’s it folks! Which, as the Vidyadhara might have said, says a little but means a lot. That IS the magic of Shambhala Training, and there is no other. What’s going on is just marketing.

#6 Comment By Barbara Blouin On June 15, 2010 @ 11:09 am

Today an e-mail came from a Halifax realtor, urging sangha to spend $1.5 million to buy land adjacent to the Kalapa Court. I don’t think this needs any comment, but it appears to be a new development in the overall fundraising strategy.

A question: How did a realtor gain access to sangha-announce?

Here is the text:

From: Mike Smith
Date: June 14, 2010 5:37:39 PM ADT
To: [7]
Subject: Sakyong’s Neighbors House is for Sale on the Peninsula

Hello,

I wanted to bring to everyone’s attention that the house, or should we say estate, right next door the Sakyong’s is for sale! Some of his other neighbors, who are Sangha members, have expressed concern that we find a Sangha member to own the property. The estate is listed for $1,599,000 CDN dollars, but I’m sure we could negotiate the price somewhat.

If you are interested in placing an offer on this property please call me immediately, My contact information is below.

Here is a link for the details of the property as posted by Waylon:
[8]

Yours In the Vision,
Mike

Mike Smith, REALTOR®: | T: 902.209.6745 | F: 866.472.0614 | E: [9]|W: [10]

Oh by the way, I am never too busy for your referrals!
Follow Me LinkedinFacebookTwitterBlog RSS
Halifax, Nova Scotia Real Estate Blog Oh, the Nova Scotia Cottage Lifestyle!

#7 Comment By Barbara Blouin On June 15, 2010 @ 11:10 am

correction: This was sent to nova-scotia-announce, not sangha announce.

Barbara

#8 Comment By Barbara Blouin On June 15, 2010 @ 11:15 am

correction # 2

I just looked at the member list for the Halifax Shambhala Centre. Mike Smith is a member.

Sorry for my haste.

However, there is an issue here: Although he has a right to post his information, Mr. Smith stands to make a big commission from handling the sale of this property, IF it happens.

#9 Comment By Rob Graffis On June 19, 2010 @ 11:01 pm

I don’t want to cause a riot, but for those of whogot the following messageon sangha announce, it did make me scratch my head.

Does anyone know where to purchase clothing from the Sakyong Wangmo’s family clothing line?

Many thanks.

In the vision of the Great Eastern Sun,

Sarah

Sarah Anderson

Staffing Coordinator, Human Resources

Shambhala Mountain Center

4921 County Rd. 68C

Red Feather Lakes, CO 80545

phone: (970) 881-2184 ext. 237

fax: (970) 881-2909

[11]

___

I did actually did see at one time on sakyong.com about this. The money was to go to Surmong. I think it was dated in 2004.
I certainly never saw the clothing advertised or sold in our sangha’s book stores.

#10 Comment By Rob Graffis On September 8, 2010 @ 12:27 pm

Is Neal still part of the “Our Future Fund”?
__________

Boulder Daily Camera: SEC files fraud charges against Boulder investment adviser

From:
“longchen@rocketmail.com” [Chat now]

View Contact
To: [12]
This article link was mailed to you by: [13] *
The sender included the following message:

Hey Rob,The Feds are after Neal Greenberg. Just think, if you had invested with him, you’d still be filthy rich!Richard

SEC files fraud charges against Boulder investment adviser – By Alicia Wallace, Camera Business Writer

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed fraud charges Tuesday against Neal R. Greenberg, a Boulder-based investment adviser whose Agile Group shuttered last year in the wake of Ponzi scheme allegations. View Full Story

Most E-Mailed

#11 Comment By Chris On September 8, 2010 @ 1:52 pm

Neal is now “teaching Shambhala Levels” in SI , as though nothing happened. Since the whole administration is about money, that shouldn’t surprise people. SI always rewards the liars, and cheats, and punishes those that speak out about it.

The worst part of it is, that the Cult of Shambhala added to people mistakenly believing this was a “safe fund” , many were SI members who were directly and indirectly influenced to invest with Neal Greenberg because Shambhala had invested with him. Another example of how being in an abusive cult can harm you.

When I saw that he was “back in the fold” as though nothing had happened I knew this CULT would have to implode from within.

#12 Comment By Chris On September 8, 2010 @ 3:24 pm

Here is Neal: Describing a ”
Cheerful Shambhala Household in May 2010 His byline describes him as a senior student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, a senior teacher, Kusung Officer, and attaché for the Druk Sakyong, involved with the Sangha since 1973.

[14]

Here is Neal “offering an Insightful Discussion on the Earthquake ” in April of 2010

[15]

Here is Neal’s letter in March of 2010 on the Ellen Mains thread on Chronicles endorsing the Sakyong and mentioning how he had taught a Shambhala level :

Neal Greenberg
“I love that question, especially given what I said about Shambhala and Buddhism. It seems that a Christian, HIndu, Shinto or Taoist can all be Shambhalian. I think it boils down to this: can a Christian experience open heartedness, compassion, kindness, bravery, basic goodness and wisdom, traits uncovered by the practice of meditation? It’s hard to think that a Chistian could not practice those traits. YESTERDAY, I TAUGHT SHAMBHALA TRAINING and it included several Christians who were every bit as engaged as any Buddhist. If we practice caring about others as our main motivation, I think great things will happen. We are, after all, human beings.

As Vajra Dog said, it’s nice to see positive comments about the Sakyong. Thanks Nick for a sentiment so many of us share who love the Sakyong. He is a great and virtuous leader. As his father said, “who wouldn’t follow him?”. It’s hard to imagine anyone better to lead the lineage of Shambhala. Thanks for that post”.
Neal Greenberg post
March 14, 2010

Having Neal Greenberg endorse you as a “Great and Virtuous Leader” would make anyone pause, except, of course, those still in a cult.

Greenberg is still listed as an Associate Member of the Shambhala Trust as of today.

[16]

#13 Comment By Barbara Blouin On September 8, 2010 @ 5:54 pm

Re Neal Greenberg,

Rob, to answer (really, not to answer …) your question: “Is Neal still part of the “Our Future Fund”?” I have no idea. I have not been following the Future Fund saga since I wrote the article back on March 31. The financial activities of Shambhala International are, as far as I know, immensely complicated and confusing to the uninformed, such as me, and you, and many others.

IMHO, Neal has been playing tricky games for many years. Aside from the charges against him, he could be on the level in terms of Our Future Fund, but I don’t know how you or I or anyone else, except maybe a few deep in the inside, could find out. If someone reading this knows more, please tell us what you have learned.

Barbara

#14 Comment By Zerme Drimed On September 9, 2010 @ 5:01 pm

>Neal is now “teaching Shambhala Levels” in SI , as though nothing happened.<

Sounds like he'll need to connect with Prison Dharma if he wants to keep doing this. I wonder, have they ever had any teachers from inside?

#15 Comment By Barbara Blouin On September 27, 2010 @ 12:10 pm

Kalapa Court Royal Nursery Fundraiser in Halifax. $1,000 a plate.
This headline was sent to Nova Scotia listserv sangha. There is a formal invitation, in the traditional style, with fancy script and the Sakyong Ladrang Crest. I will try to post it here, but my guess is that it is too big. Anyway, it is happening. This royal baby has major requirements for furnishings, publicity, etc. etc.

(As I expected, the formal invitation didn’t make it. Maybe Mark S can add it, if he has time.

Dear Friends,

On behalf of the Sakyong Ladrang, it is my pleasure to send you this invitation to a fundraising dinner for the Kalapa Court Royal Nursery. You will be receiving this invitation in the mail shortly.

We hope you can make it!

Please RSVP to [17]

#16 Comment By Zer-me Dri’med On September 27, 2010 @ 12:56 pm

Note the RSVP address: [18].

Honestly, how many people spend even a single thousand dollars furnishing a nursery? What planet is all this happening on?

#17 Comment By John Tischer On September 27, 2010 @ 4:39 pm

Now, had it been a boy, and this was for his bris, I could see kicking in 5 bucks.

#18 Comment By Barbara Blouin On September 27, 2010 @ 4:45 pm

Could this be a joke?

The Kalapa Court Royal Nursery Fundraiser in Halifax for $1,000 a plate is starting to seem to absurd to me, on the level of Monty Python, that I just sent an e-mail to Will Perkins, who sent the invitation, asking if it could be a joke. I will let everyone know if/when I receive a reply.

#19 Comment By Rob Graffis On September 27, 2010 @ 6:52 pm

“Sakyong Wangmo’s Tibetan attendant. A large amount, $77,000”.

I doubt even Mrs. Obama’s Secretary gets that much.

Realistically, if the President and The First Lady were to have another child, I’m pretty sure they would not ask nor receive that kind of money for a nursery. If they had a $1000 a plate dinner to raise money for a nursery, it would cause a National uproar.
If Prince William was married, and his wife had a baby, and he had such a fund raising event, that would make him look not very good world wide.
Queen Elizabeth once requested assistance for her heating bills from the Government, which is something usually reserved for those in need in Britain. She was turned down.

#20 Comment By John On September 27, 2010 @ 7:23 pm

This stuff is so great to hear about SMR and his conduct.

Wait, wait just a minute.

It’s just as whacky as CTR telling us to cut our hair, get out of our hippie clothes , wear suits and dress and “oh my GOD”, get JOBS.

What a control freak SMR is but not our beloved CTR.

Wait, wait just a minute.

How about when CTR told us to all move to Halifax.

Are we talking about apples vs oranges or SMR vs CTR.

Their both control freaks in their own ways.

Both ordered their followers to do whacky things but we CTR followers think he was perfect and without sin. Not like his son SMR.

Shall we all rewrite CTR’s history.

Lets discuss his alcohol expenses in the good old days as a starting point .

I remember back in the good old days in Boulder being told of some of the stranger and very large expenses that CTR ran up .

Lets all talk about the good old days of CTR and how he spent OUR money then we can have an open discussion about SMR and how he spends THEIR money.

Lets open up with the same singled point energy against CTR as we do against his son.

What next, will we allege one day that SMR is cheating on his wife with a sense of moral outrage and forget our beloved CTR track record.

How can we hold the moral high ground unless we first admit CTR’s failings first.

Then and only then can we question the conduct of SMR.

Right speech against SMR but Not CTR.

Sorry NO!

When we can show the same sense of moral outrage against “OUR” CTR as we do against “THEIR” SMR then we have a moral leg to stand on, but not until then.

#21 Comment By Damema On September 27, 2010 @ 7:39 pm

But, of course, only a solid gold teething ring and silk blankeys will do for this so very special, precious being. Could there be a more urgent and worthy thing to fund to help our planet and all sentient beings?

#22 Comment By Zer-me Dri’med On September 27, 2010 @ 7:41 pm

>Shall we all rewrite CTR’s history. <

We don't need to do that, John. Shambhala has spent the last ten years doing a very good job of re-writing that history, and of missing the point at everty turn.. If you know anything about these things you know there is a difference between Trungpa Rinpche's activity and this $1000-a-plate baby shower. The difference is that Trungpa Rinpoche was always demonstrating the emptiness of forms and the forms of emptiness. The people around the Sakyong think this stuff is *real*. It has all become so ponderous and pious. Where is the joy?

By the way, what's your last name, John?

#23 Comment By John On September 27, 2010 @ 7:55 pm

Hello Zer-me Dri’med

“Trungpa Rinpoche was always demonstrating the emptiness of forms and the forms of emptiness”.

Yes, Yes I see and remember back in Boulder in the good old days.

Was that two or three young female forms with CTR in his bedroom or was that all just emptiness.

“Where is the joy?” On those nights in Boulder that was the joy as was booze, and smoke. Thats when smoke wasn’t smoke.

By the way what’s your REAL name ?

Come on lets talk about Boulder and the Tantric teachings CTR would give us at 3 AM.

THAT WAS JOY!!!!!!

#24 Comment By Francis On September 27, 2010 @ 8:14 pm

I don’t believe for a minute this John was a CTR student – it is probably Ashoka or one of his cronies .
Knows the repeated history, but nothing else. The difference John was that CTR was a “REAL TEACHER” a mahasiddha, whose teachings will live on for lifetimes, not a made up , dressed up, pumped up son, who without CTR wouldn’t have a mandala, wouldn’t have had any students of his own. But , of course, if you had really been a CTR student , you would know this, wouldn’t you?

Do you think you can say anything that will take away from his teachings, or compare them to his “pumped up” son who is using the media to inflate himself and his made up Royalty, made up lineage , made up credentials?

This thing is going to crash down around them.

#25 Comment By Zer-me Dri’med On September 27, 2010 @ 8:31 pm

I never lived in Boulder, never met Trungpa Rinpoche, took my first Shambhala Training in 1986, the year before he died. His teachings, and the joy of them, were transmitted to me by his students. So many of them have since been forced out by the re-writing of history and the loss of the vajrayana values for which Trungpa Rinpoche literally gave his life.

There are no good old days–only the time we have now. Everyone is human. If you think Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is somehow above all of the activities you enumerate, you need to do more investigation of your Lama, something strongly encouraged in vajrayana.

I have taken ordination, and Zer-me Dri’med is my real name. My face is on my posts for anyone to see. Where is yours?

#26 Comment By John On September 27, 2010 @ 8:35 pm

HELLO FRANCIS

“CTR WAS A REAL TEACHER AND not made up … like his son”

Who made SMR a Rinpoche?

Who made him the head of Shambhala?

Such hatred , such hatred.

Is this right speech, right thought?

This is not what my CTR thought me how about you.

Was what I wrote a lie Francis or is that an issue you would rather forget???

CTR was a REAL TEACHER to me but he was also human with human faults.

Sorry to burst your bubble but I’m not Ashoka or one of his buddies.

#27 Comment By John On September 27, 2010 @ 8:44 pm

Hello Zer-me

Sorry I am no student of SMR and never will be.

I just don’t like the line of thought that SMR is evil and CTR is perfect.

The son is the father and the father is the son.

Both HUMAN

CTR did not give up his life for the teaching but the bottle and for that I will always regret.

#28 Comment By Francis On September 27, 2010 @ 8:45 pm

“Was what I wrote a lie Francis… ”

CTR never pretended to be other than a human being. That was why he could transmit coemergent wisdom.

SMR is pretending to be a GOD and a King.

#29 Comment By John On September 27, 2010 @ 8:53 pm

Hello Francis

“SMR is pretending to be a god and King”.

That’s the CTR I also knew since 1972.

Enlightened being, God, King, drunk , whore and human being.

#30 Comment By Edward On September 28, 2010 @ 12:20 am

John writes:
drunk

Does it offend you that CTR drank alcoholic beverages? It seems clear that it does. Can you say why it bothers you? It might benefit others if you would be willing to share this. It’s a difficult subject for many people.

John writes:
whore

Do you feel that CTR sold himself or compromised his integrity for the sake of money? Can you say more about this? I see him completely the opposite way, but I’m curious to hear why you feel the way you do, as I’m sure you must have good reasons for your strong feelings.

#31 Comment By Petra Mudie On September 28, 2010 @ 12:33 am

Dear Zer-me Dri’med,

You ask “Where is the joy?”

I answer ” The joy is in your heart and mind – your view is entirely of your own making – and it seems to be quite unhappy.

May all sentient being enjoy happiness and the root of happiness, – and please drive all blames into one…

All the best,
petra

#32 Comment By Edward On September 28, 2010 @ 11:39 am

Petra writes:
please drive all blames into one…

Just for the sake of clarification, are you asking the other woman to blame herself for everything? So that she would stop talking?

That’s an interesting twist.

I remember one girlfriend that I was with. I was trying to get her to adhere to certain spiritual teachings, primarily so that she would treat me better, so I could have a more comfortable life. lol. It didn’t really work but for a while I was sure I could achieve more personal comfort that way.

The whole thing is kind of amusing isn’t it?

#33 Comment By John Tischer On September 28, 2010 @ 2:07 pm

VCTR was not an ordinary person. Many people realized this. He was a crazy wisdom teacher…(look it up). SMR is not…got in trouble when he tried to be…had to be reined in. The differences are not superficial. It’s not that there’s something wrong with SMR because he’s not his father. It’s the decisions he makes and the way his organization works…which is plain to see for everyone…that is and has been the source of the criticism here. Valid criticisms, many of them. You really can’t compare the two of them….it’s like comparing apples and eggs. But one can compare what actions each of them did or are doing.

#34 Comment By damchö On September 28, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

Hi Petra,

Like Edward, I was struck by this phrase in your post: “and please drive all blames into one…” I know you meant it with good intention, but I find it problematic in general and wanted to say a few things.

Phrases like these, I feel, are for us to say to ourselves. Or for a lama–if we are in a lama-student relationship with one–to say to us. There are occasions when we can say them to another, but I would say these are pretty specific.

When I hear this said as a general injunction to someone, let alone someone not known well to the other person, I cringe. I want to say right back–either on my own behalf or the other person’s: “great, and you too!”

As Edward rightly pointed out, it’s very easy to find ourselves using such a teaching ultimately for our own benefit. We might think it’s for the benefit of the other person, but if they have been critical in some way of the institution we are a part of, then really I think we need to look closely at our own possible attachment to that institution before saying such a thing. There have been times, and not a few, when I would have wished figures with power in Shambhala might remember this phrase.

These kinds of things are problematic if used inappropriately because they so easily feed into a power dynamic. And also risk falling into an extreme–that of thinking that it’s all about us. Spiritual communities and spiritual leadership also have responsibilities–very weighty ones. They need to contemplate and work with this phrase every bit as much as anyone else.

#35 Comment By Petra Mudie On September 28, 2010 @ 7:05 pm

Dear Damcho,

Sorry I upset you.
I am happy to take the blame for quoting Atisha.
Cheers and all the best,
Petra

#36 Comment By John On September 28, 2010 @ 7:32 pm

To Edward

“Does it offend you that CTR drank…”

It only offended me when he became and alcoholic drunk and died from it leaving all of us behind.

How ENLIGHTENED of CTR what a lesson he gave us all.

Such a CRAZY WISDOM teaching.

“Whore” was about him screwing as many attractive woman as he could.

Many of us followed in CTR’s footsteps and many of us old timers remember the tragic results from booze and sex.

His “Crazy Wisdom” when he told his Regent (I chose not to use his name here out of disgust) that it was OK for him to have sex with others when CTR KNEW he had AIDS.

Just use MANTRAS and the little problem you have with AIDS will disappear.

CRAZY, CRAZY WISDOM.

I vowed to myself never to tell of what I saw first hand about CTR but somedays, somedays its really hard not to.

You can LOVE CTR and at the same time HATE him .

No one is perfect least of all me.

Be careful when you point your fingers at SMR because others will point them at CTR.

Our beloved CTR’s early death and the Regent’s death are the real causes of all our problems today with SMR and SI.

Had he not drunk himself to death he may well still been alive today.
Teaching all of us his sublime and beautiful wisdom.

Time for me to CRY again.

#37 Comment By damchö On September 28, 2010 @ 8:01 pm

You didn’t upset me Petra. But you did entirely miss my point.

#38 Comment By Edward On September 28, 2010 @ 8:53 pm

John,

My own teacher drank enormous amounts of alcohol at times, but then stopped for longer periods, partly for health reasons.

He put a teaching by CTR onto a recommended reading list. The one about how if the ordinary drinker imitates the yogi, his alcohol will turn into poison.

Of course I can understand the temptation if the guru just drinks all the time. Definitely. Don’t misunderstand me. I’ve been there and many of my friends as well.

And yes, some of my teacher’s students have had a hard time keeping quiet about offensive and unconventional and forceful things that he did. Actually, some of them did NOT keep quiet, and I think they only caused harm by doing that, because they did not understand what they were talking about. They felt superior to the whole thing, did not take enough time to digest it, and then vomited up half-digested opinions and stories as a way to relieve their own discomfort.

I’ve felt tempted to do that myself.

But in the end, by seeing how powerful and strong and stubborn the ego is, I’ve come to realize that forceful methods are almost required, if a qualified teacher is willing to use them.

If you feel a need to discuss this in more detail, you can email me at bp-at-msbx-dot-net. Or maybe it would be better for you to talk to another one of CTR’s students about it so you don’t break any vows or whatever. Yes, that’s a much better idea.

As far as AIDS goes, I’m old enough to remember that when AIDS first became a popularized label, the letter “S” in AIDS stood for syndrome.

That’s because it was not referring to a disease but to a body of symptoms. It was not something that could be transmitted from one person to another. Look up the word “syndrome”. It means they don’t know the cause.

Then along came the pharmaceutical industry, which proposed a theory that AIDS was caused by a virus which they had a lucrative treatment for.

But I don’t remember hearing that the HIV-AIDS hypothesis was ever proven?

Uh oh, I think I lost everyone. And I’m venturing into dangerous territory here.

It’s funny. We’re so intellectual and “highly educated” and sometimes we think about people in past centuries who used to believe that the earth was flat and all that, and we laugh ourselves silly at how stupid and superstitious they were.

But what if we ourselves were every bit as stuperstitious, maybe even more gullible?

What if we buy into all kinds of beliefs, just because those beliefs are popular and are communicated to us by the “high priests” of our society, gents in white lab coats, and teachers with tenured professorships? Our real gods and idols.

If you truly want to explore the AIDS issue more, I highly recommend you google “Peter Duesberg” and then let me know what you think. I don’t know if this Duesberg guy is right or wrong, whether he’s good, or working for the devil. But if AIDS weighs heavily on your mind, take a look at what he says. It’s at least an interesting viewpoint.

#39 Comment By John On September 29, 2010 @ 2:16 pm

Hello Edward

The teaching by CTR “The one about how if the ordinary drinker imitates the yogi, his alcohol will turn into poison”.

Well CTR was no yogi then. He died a horrible death as a chronic drunk.

His alcohol WAS his POISON. He was a drunk and we his followers did not have the courage to confront him (thank includes me).

We just stood their and did nothing and let him turn into a drunk. We let him die because we believed he was a living GOD and not a man.

He had no MANTRAS to turn his GIN into water but some followers did believe he did.

I totally disagree with you about students NOT speaking out about their teacher’s misconduct.

The Dalai Lama teaches “SPY ON ME” let his actions and deeds show what he really is.

This nonsense about the teacher is on a higher plain and we just don’t get that.

Pure B.S.

I’ve seen this B.S. so many times by eastern and western LAMAS and it sickens me.

One western tulku the late Namgyal Rinpoche had sex with numerous of his male students will still under monastic vows.

Some of his blindly devoted followers claimed it was a teaching and that he did nothing wrong.

The very same people who would then point fingers at Catholic priests who did the same thing.

I know Tibetan woman who tell me that they don’t believe any of this B.S. about their very own tulkus who have sex with their female or male followers.

We westerners as sometimes too silly in our conduct with their Lamas.

Conduct that we would never accept about a priest some blindly accept about our lamas .

Also Edward thank you for your understanding about my pain.

#40 Comment By Edward On September 29, 2010 @ 2:58 pm

My teacher had an interesting relationship with alcohol (and tobacco). There were times when he would have discussions about practice, question and answer sessions if you will, in which alcohol was consumed. And participation was not optional. There was also dancing and all sorts of stuff.

Some people resisted the drinking, because alcohol makes it harder for us to keep our feelings and opinions hidden. Harder to give the appearance of a polished exterior. All the crap gets cut through.

This might go on for months. Then suddenly my teacher would stop drinking, on a dime, and everyone else had to stop as well. Which often lasted for years.

That was very difficult for some people.

Some people enjoyed the drinking, and sort of indulged in it the wrong way. Other people resisted it. It was an opportunity to learn a lot about oneself one way or another.

Truly, some of us found that if we only drank with the proper attitude, and under the proper circumstances, then it was never addicting. At all.

Anyway, for the last many years of his life, my teacher did not drink at all.

As far as CTR goes, perhaps he had other health problems which would have shortened his life in any case? Some people die young, some people even die in infancy. Astrologers believe that not all of this is completely under our control.

Based on the stories I’ve heard about CTR, he seemed to feel compelled to drink all the time, yes. But in other ways he does not seem anything like an addict to me, at all. And I’ve known some addicts in my time.

Actually my teacher said we are all addicts of egoity.

There are a whole bunch of psychological patterns and behavioral patterns that go with addiction. Including shame, hiding one’s behavior, feelings of invulnerability and distraction that come from the addiction, aggressive defensiveness of the addiction, and so on.

Did CTR hide his drinking? Feel ashamed of it? Aggressively defend it? Become invulnerable or emotionally unavailable?

In a way, I love the fact that people such as my teacher (or perhaps CTR) were willing to drink alcohol. I come from a long line of Irish alcholics, and it is healing to see someone drink alcohol in a mindful way, rather than using it as an escape.

I never met CTR personally, but having seen my teacher drink, I can tell you that it was nothing like the way people commonly use alcohol in the world. Although some of us didn’t get that.

#41 Comment By Phyllis Murray On September 29, 2010 @ 3:48 pm

How did we get from the original thread about Shambhala finances to the relative merits (or demerits, depending on the point of view) of SMR and CTR?
I would like to know if the $1000.00 a plate dinner is for real.
Perhaps those interested in discussing teacher behavior could request a cafe table?

#42 Comment By Barbara Blouin On September 29, 2010 @ 4:42 pm

Phyllis, Thanks for mentioning that the original thread got waylaid by all kinds of irrelevant comments. Methinks there is a pattern here of part of the majority of commenters on RFS.

Your question about whether the dinner is for real? Yes, it is for “real”. Incredible but true.

#43 Comment By Zer-me Dri’med On September 29, 2010 @ 4:45 pm

I second Phyllis’s suggestion about a cafe table for discussing specifically Trungpa Rinpoche’s alcohol consumption and other behavior. It is obviously an issue with strong emotional charge for a lot of people, and maybe a full exchange of views would help promote some understanding. Meanwhile, this thread could stay focussed on Shambhala finances, which are a concern for many of us here.

#44 Comment By Edward On September 29, 2010 @ 5:49 pm

waylaid by all kinds of irrelevant comments
For a long time I tried to stick to comments about the original articles, but finally I gave up. Please forgive me.

I hereby request (if anyone is listening?) a new cafe table about the greatest 2-3 controversies that Shambhala faced prior to SMR… namely regents, aids & drinks. or something like that. “teacher behavior”? “historical controversies”?

i do wonder sometimes if some of today’s problems with SI stem from unresolved karmas left over from the 80s.

… perhaps the same people who refused to question the regent back then are now doing the exact same thing with a younger head honcho, who they hope will be different.

#45 Comment By John On September 29, 2010 @ 6:15 pm

Hello Edward

Your comment, “perhaps the same people who refused to question the regent back then are now doing the exact same thing with a younger head honcho, who they hope will be different”.

As long as you believe that SMR is a GOD you will never question him.

If you try to discuss your concerns with other followers they will politely or not so politely tell you to SHUT UP!!!

It was the same with CTR and it is the same with SMR and SI.

#46 Comment By rita ashworth On September 29, 2010 @ 6:27 pm

Dear All

If its for real ummmmmmm – if I was Halifax now and had that dough I would be giving it to many good causes and charities in the province.

Edward re a cafe table for controversies with teachers I wish you luck with that one-I tried very hard to investigate the Regent crisis way back in the early nineties. I concluded that there was not just one answer to the whole thing but several one of which was people not stepping up to counteract the misuse of power but keeping mum.

Keeping mum is also very prevalent in Nova Scotia aswell -so its like mirrors and mirrors of mumness and thats very difficult to unravel. Must be some way devised tho and soon for the good of us all and thats why I am interested in governance.
Best Rita Ashworth

#47 Comment By Rob Graffis On September 29, 2010 @ 6:30 pm

“John”.
I could say I’m Joe Smith, express my pain and anguish, do some name calling and accusations, then hide behind a facade. That is not going to help anybody, nor get anyone anywhere. I also noticed (I’m sure many of us have) that fundamentally five people dminate RFK repeating the same thing over and over and over like a broken record.
Maybe there should be a Radio Free Neurosis website where the Sakyong / Tulku / Monarchy / Fundraising thing can be over looked.
I think we know by now Shambhala International will do what is on their mandate by now.
It’s somewhat a waste of one’s tinme to make a religion of hating Shambhala International.
As I said, it won’t get you anywhere. I will be critical still of some of it’s activities (and perhaps make humor out of it) , but I fell in that trap too, and it really got me no where.
Rob Graffis

#48 Comment By Francis On September 29, 2010 @ 6:52 pm

I think its time to bring the two streams of “kleptocracy” together, i.e. Shambhala International, and Tibetan Lamaism in general- The former wouldn’t have happened without the latter. Now that would be a really helpful discussion, instead of getting waylaid with all these digressions. Be brave enough to go to the root cause. It’s what CTR was always warning us about, the corruption of Tibetan lamaism.. They have colonized most of us, when we were most vulnerable, i.e. after CTR and the Regent’s deaths, using the Mahayana teachings to keep us compliant and quiet, “enthralling” us with their magic shows of abishekas, empowerments, credit card “prayers”, etc. primarily to get our money.

Until we get the “BIGGER PICTURE” here we will be simply going back and forth from one frying pan into another fire .This is the root problem, Tibetan lama kleptrocracy, of which SI is just one really gross example .

#49 Comment By John On September 29, 2010 @ 7:16 pm

Thank you Francis thank you.

You are a true warrior.