An Unhappy Shambhala Day (but a Cheerful Year of the Pig!)
What we have here is, as a Dharma Brat friend said, a “collective failure.” I love that, because it pacifies any notion of righteous aggression setting right what’s “evil” out there.
Theism is a two-way street. To truly heal and “fix” any of this shit, or rather turn it to fertilizer for a more enlightened society, we have to take responsibility, and he has to get to a place of humbleness and loss and openness that a formerly alcoholic dear friend of mine just talked about in Facebook forum.
Otherwise as anotttther friend said, it’s going to be hard to have any kind of community in either the personal or organizational sense. We’ll just fall into a purgatory or bardo of aggression.
My mom sent me a song mashup
by Walter, a senior Shambhala Buddhist student of Trungpa Rinpoche, of the Shambhala Anthem and a Shaker song…it really made my morning, brought me back to that not-having-to-figure-it-sad heart and cheerful warriorship.
Yesterday, Shambhala Day, was hard for most of us. All of us. It was hard for me—I wanted to attend, I lovvvve Shambhala Day…
…the bad coffee and plastic trays of crappy food and dressing up sharp and awkward phone hookups that never go right but are always funny, biking to Trident for an espresso in my suit, biking to brunches with old and young around town…
…but I didn’t have faith we wouldn’t just get fundraised at without an honesty that wasn’t just trying to ameliorate or please, but was genuine and raw. I heard today that much of that honesty happened, and am sorry I had too little faith left to show up.
What I did instead was to work, and think, and feel, and vacillate, and then meet with a friend and discuss all this with sadness.
I love and appreciate the “Dharma Brat” nickname for my and our younger generations, ’cause it directly implies that we’ve been given a lot, and if we don’t give back, if we sit on this privilege of having been brought up in the teachings and sangha, we’re brats.
I’ve been largely silent and inactive in this community that has meant everything to me for 8 years now, but I still love it. I still show up on occasion and mostly just meditate briefly twice a day and read a little Dharma, work to try to be of benefit in my work.
I haven’t been present for 8 years because I’ve been accused of emotional abuse, but sometimes leaving the “emotional” off. I know many of us say “believe her,” and I agree we should “listen openly to her,” but sometimes accusations are false and men, even a big white man with freckles, are the victims.
I’ve written the story a dozen times but have no wish to engage in rancorous Social Media war because you can’t win a war, everyone loses, and because ironically I don’t want to fight. Rather I come back to the wish that she’s sane and happy.
But, too, I don’t want to smother myself from Shambhala for the rest of my life, and I do have texts, emails, proof, witnesses. I did push her out of my house, one night, and grabbed her by the collar and yelled at her to leave me alone. She was not welcome in my house, though she came over repeatedly again and again to the point that I had my windows screwed down into the sills. They’re still screwed down. She threatened to call the authorities about abuse if I didn’t get brunch with her the next morning. She threatened suicide. She created a fake Facebook profile, and tried to get into my messages, and threatened girls I was with. And it went on, actively, for a year and a half. I hadn’t hit her, and wouldn’t have. She’d hit and kicked me. Alternately, she jumped on my sexually. All this well after we were broken up, after I saw her…lack of stability, and retreated out of our brief happy time together.
And yet I couldn’t tell any of this, or she’d threaten to destroy me. I went to see a Buddhist meditation instructor and therapist, still do, about this. I was perhaps moving on, and then she posted about it a few months ago. Some of you called me around that time to tell me (I blocked her 8 years ago).
I assume that some folks out there assume allegations are true, knowing no different, despite them coming from someone who has done similar to many of her relationships (I have witnesses there, too, she has a track record in many areas). My community showed up for me a little, around that time, mostly listening, but what could folks do, really?
It was and sometimes still is isolating and depressing and I don’t expect sympathy or trust, as a big white man, so I’ve just continued on quietly on some level. I’m scared of friends and sangha thinking I’ve done something awful, and of losing my ability to be of some benefit in this life.
And aren’t we all scared of losing our reason for getting up in the morning?
I’m scared, and have been for years, and I don’t know how to move through it without opening up to a society that understandably, right now, has almost no openness to stories like mine. One of you tried to make mediation happen a few months back, and I was up for it, but another one of you just flat assumed I’d done it. When basically the opposite is true.
But abuse of anyone isn’t a meaningless thing, and false accusations don’t help the cause of Time’s Up.
I am scared of losing my life and ability to be of benefit, but I’m not scared of the truth. I wish everyone could see everything, and know the truth. I do feel awful for how crazy it was, and I own my mistakes, but I never tried to hurt her, and I’ve read her story, and it’s straight-up lying, and I have emails and texts with dates to back that up.
I can’t show up until I open up. I don’t know how to open up without starting a copy and paste facebook twitter reddit degraded social media war. But I’m tired of being frozen.
My mom sent this to me this morning without explanation, just with xoxo, and it’s just what I needed. Tender heart, brave warriors all.
It doesn’t feel like a happy year—it’s the first Shambhala Day celebration I’ve ever missed, seeing as how my community is roiling in the waves of #metoo—a mix of healthy exposing of harmful actions…and a kind of social media and yellow journalism-fed mob mentality that gleefully throws around accusations like unverified pitchforks.
Here’s what I wrote my community, who I love dearly:
Understandably, the Shambhala community is reeling right now. It feels sickening, the news of late, but it’s actually good that these awful, sad things are coming to light.
As a dharma brat friend said to me during the holiday parade outside the Boulder Shambhala Center, we used to think we were special. We’re not. We’re not immune to the karma that pervades society, and we have to face it head on and learn and then maybe begin to heal and improve for our next generation.
It’s painful to see some of the ramifications of the various allegations and social media discussions: an amazing community in so many ways—retreat centers, communal living homes, urban centers, teachings, meditation, such dear friends—falling apart in real time.
What seems vital is that meditation and the teachings are available for future generations, that we learn not to fall into theism, and perhaps that we find new governance structures that better reflect community, instead of clique, and establish trainings and guardrails around abuse of power.
Then, we might truly be able to celebrate a cheerful New Year.
For cheerful is a fundamental thing, not about conditional happiness but about basic goodness.
And we must return to that ground of basic goodness in our interactions with one another.
Read about what this year has in store for you.
Or, for more history, here.