A Letter to the Shambhala Community

Dear Shambhala Community:

We regret that our previous letter regarding the Listening Post has caused some confusion. First, and most unfortunately, there was a typographical error in the email address for the Listening Post.  We sincerely apologize for the frustration we caused for those who want to participate in the Listening Post. The correct email address is ListeningPost@An-Olive-Branch.org.

Second, with various groups involved in different tasks to facilitate the transition to new leadership and to address concerns about sexual harm, it is difficult to be entirely accurate in pinpointing when specific milestones will occur. Accordingly, in this revised letter, we have removed references to “September 1” and a new Code of Conduct. Separate information about a new ethics policy and complaint procedure will be forthcoming at a later date.

Starting on September 4, 2018, An Olive Branch began offering a Listening Post for current or past Shambhala members to report harm suffered because of sexual misconduct by Shambhala teachers and office holders. The purpose of the Listening Post is to enable any current or past Shambhala member who would like to confidentially report sexual abuse to do so in a safe and supportive context. Because experiencing and reporting harm is typically traumatic, we understand that reporters may be at different points in processing their experience. If you choose to report, we will respond to your individual needs and try to ensure that you always feel in control of the process.

After the Listening Post closes, An Olive Branch will prepare an anonymous summary of the reports of harm we received. This report will be given to the Interim Board of Directors and shared with the Shambhala community.    
An Olive Branch is a neutral third party organization, independent from Shambhala, that assists reporters of harm by: 1) listening to reports of harm in an affirming and non-judgmental way; 2) offering support and encouragement to reporters; 3) helping reporters decide what, if any, actions they would like to take or any requests they would like to make of Shambhala; 4) identifying options available to reporters (such as filing a grievance or speaking to the independent investigator); and 5) serving, on request, as an advocate for reporters if they choose to take their complaint forward.

Reporters of harm have several options for action:

  • First, you may speak to the Listening Post for support or you may submit a written report of harm if you prefer. Unless it is extended, we expect the Listening Post to continue until December 31, 2018.
     
  • Second, regardless of whether you speak to the Listening Post, you may speak to the independent law firm (Wickwire Holm) investigating misconduct within Shambhala. Unless it is extended, the investigation will be open until October 31, 2018.
     
  • Third, you may also file a grievance under the Care and Conduct Policy adopted by Shambhala in 2002. If you would like an advocate from An Olive Branch to work with you during this process, one will be provided.
     
  •  Fourth, you may report violations of the law to the appropriate law enforcement authorities in your locale. 

For reporters who wish to converse in a language other than English, special arrangements for you to do so will be made. Please indicate your language preference in parentheses, e.g. (German), when you first contact us.

If you would like to report harm, please contact us at:  ListeningPost@an-olive-branch.org. Please provide your name, email address and/or telephone number, and country or time zone.  All information shared with the Listening Post will be kept strictly confidential unless you, as the reporter, direct us to share it with others. 

We are aware that some people who have been harmed have already left Shambhala. If you know of someone like this, will you please forward our letter to them?

While we deeply regret that it is necessary to create a Listening Post at all, we are committed to offering a safe space for anyone who has experienced harm to be heard, pursue redress, if desired, and take another step in their healing journey.

Sincerely,


Dr. Barbara Gray
An Olive Branch