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April 2, 2019

Dear Friends of Karmê Chöling,

I read with a sad heart the An Olive Branch and Listening Post reports. Both of these reports elaborated on serious systemic issues of sexual improprieties and patriarchal power dynamics stated in the Wickwire Home report and additional stories of those who have experienced harm at Shambhala. I sincerely hope that those who shared their experiences feel that our community has genuinely heard them and that we all deeply respect the courage it takes to speak up. The fifteen recommendations of the An Olive Branch Report require serious community-wide discussion as we shape an environment that is safe, brave, enriching, collaborative, harmonious, and responsive.

We are starting to listen to each other in a new way.  In community gatherings happening at local centers throughout Shambhala we are listening to a wider range of feelings, beliefs, experiences, and views about how we got here and how to move forward. It is both very difficult and profoundly moving. Each individual and center has or will come into clarity whether to remain in Shambhala, roll up our sleeves and work towards its transformation, or to leave.

Karmê Chöling is both a regional and an international retreat center of Shambhala. As such, it has a responsibility to participate in the mandala-wide process underway to bring about cultural transformation. Karmê Chöling has already taken a public stand against all abuse and misconduct, sexual and otherwise, particularly by those in positions of power. It also is clear that a number of structures and processes for manifesting the Shambhala Buddhist vision need to change. We believe that the recommendations of An Olive Branch’s report must be explored in depth, including implementing the new Code of Ethics.

Profound, lasting change takes time. There is much to be taken into consideration and I am deeply appreciative for all the Interim Board is doing. While it is frustrating during these times of uncertainty and confusion to experience the seemingly slow progress of the Process Team, its recent letter to the sangha has pointed to being ready to start its plan to listen to the community to create the ground for societal transformation in Shambhala. It is needed!

Spring is arriving at Karmê Chöling and we are now planning new, broader programs and tackling serious financial challenges. Recently, a group of new students from Indiana University of Pennsylvania arrived for their annual visit to volunteer their services to Karmê Chöling for a week during their Spring Break. On leaving the jewel in the Green Mountains that is Karmê Chöling, one participant shared these comments:

“Being here has opened my eyes to the childlike wonder of the world – something I haven’t felt in years. With your care, I feel awake, hopeful. I feel like myself.”

Through both our speech and actions, may we who are now part of this remarkable living and changing community ensure that the vision of Shambhala Buddhism thrives for our children and coming generations. Please keep coming back to Karmê Chöling and share this gentle home with your loved ones; I so look forward to seeing you here on the land!

With gratitude,

Myra Woodruff
Executive Director
Karmê Chöling Shambhala Meditation Center



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