Addressing Harm

The Ottawa Shambhala Meditation Centre is part of a global community that aspires to awaken kindness, goodness and wisdom within society. This vision is rooted in the principle that every human being has a fundamental nature of basic goodness. Yet to honestly hold this vision and aspiration means we cannot ignore the pain, confusion and harm that are also part of our experience. We need to look directly at the ways we maintain traditions, habits, power structures, language patterns, and other forms that perpetuate harm – individually or collectively, whether consciously or unconsciously.

Currently our community is experiencing uncertainty and upheaval from initial reports and the subsequent finding of a third-party investigator of sexual misconduct by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Shambhala’s lineage holder. The Sakyong has stepped back from his teaching and administrative responsibilities to focus on self-reflection and to facilitate healing. A number of initiatives have been put in place by the international organization to address issues of past harm in our community, as well as put in place safeguards to prevent and deal with future harm. The international governing body called the Kalapa Council resigned and has been replaced by an interim board.

Here in Ottawa we remain committed to teaching and practising meditation, and working together as a community towards collective liberation. At the same time, we are clear that meditation is not a replacement for therapeutic healing of trauma. We aspire to create a supportive and healing environment for those who come seeking to ease their suffering. We recognize that we will continue to make mistakes, that not intending harm does not mean no harm was caused, and we will never give up. We are working on getting better at having challenging conversations. We are working to offer a more welcoming environment for the practice and support of vulnerable groups and individuals. We are working on training our community to better recognize and undo the causes of all kinds of suffering.

Our community is more engaged than ever in acknowledging our history and seeing where we are caught. We are committed to transforming our culture to prevent harm as much as possible, acknowledge and stop it whenever it occurs, and bring about justice. We know much more work is also needed to examine how all of these things show up in our own hearts and minds.

We welcome you to join us in this practice.