Head of Boulder-born Shambhala, accused of sexual misconduct, will continue leave from leadership role for “foreseeable future”

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, in letter to Buddhist community, says he is “deeply sorry” for pain he has caused

The Denver Post/February 21, 2019

By Jackson Barnett

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche announced Wednesday that he will “continue to step back” from his role with Shambhala International after dozens of leaders and teachers in the Boulder-born Buddhist community said they no longer could condone his “abusive behavior.”

More than 40 Acharyas, or high-ranking spiritual teachers, signed an open letter issued Tuesday that asked Mipham to step back from his teaching role in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct that first were made public last summer.

“I have decided to honor these requests and will continue to step back from my teaching and administrative duties in Shambhala for the foreseeable future,” Mipham wrote in an email to the Shambhala community on Wednesday.

The request from the Shambhala leaders followed the release earlier this month of a third-party investigation into the allegations that had been commissioned by Shambhala International. Weeks after that report was published, new allegations from six of Mipham’s former bodyguards were aired in a 35-page open letter that claimed the Buddhist leader’s behavior was worse than what was described in Shambhala’s report.

The third-party report released by Shambhala and the open letter from Mipham’s bodyguards detail behavior that included sexual, emotional and physical abuse.

Mipham originally stepped aside in July after the allegations of sexual misconduct first surfaced in the Buddhist Project Sunshine’s three-part report. He previously has acknowledged causing “harm” in his relationships, and on Wednesday offered a fuller public apology. He remains at his wife’s family’s monastery in India.

“I want to express wholeheartedly how sorry I feel about all that has happened. I understand that I am the main source of that suffering and confusion and want to again apologize for this. I am deeply sorry,” he wrote.

It is unclear how long Mipham will remain in India and away from his role as the spiritual and hereditary leader of Shambhala. The organization, now based in Nova Scotia, was founded in Boulder in the early 1970s by Mipham’s father, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

“Even though I will not be engaged in the activities of Shambhala, I will be sending my love and support,” Mipham wrote. “For those students who want to maintain a relationship with me, I will be available for contact and will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. I plan to stay connected by writing occasional messages and will be in touch with my Vajrayana students in the coming days.”

Mipham’s spokeswoman could not be reached for comment to clarify who is in charge of Shambhala International and how long Mipham will remain away.

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