Nothing is permanent, so everything is precious. Here’s a selection of some happenings—fleeting or otherwise—in the Buddhist world this week.
List of Shambhala Abuse Allegations Grows in New Report
Shambhala International released a new report this week containing dozens of claims of sexual misconduct and abuses of power within the organization, demonstrating just how widespread this behavior may have been. The document contains allegations of harm from 55 people who spoke to An Olive Branch, a Zen Center of Pittsburgh initiative, which wrote the report after Shambhala hired them to set up a “listening post” to gather statements from community members. An Olive Branch did not substantiate the claims, which accused Shambhala leaders, teachers, and staff in 67 different incidents of harmful behavior and included allegations of child abuse, racial harm, physical and emotional abuse, inappropriate relationships, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape.
The report was made public by Shambhala’s Interim Board, which took over following the July 2018 resignation of the group’s governing body, the Kalapa Council, after the advocacy group Buddhist Project Sunshine released the second of three reports revealing sexual misconduct allegations against senior teachers, including Shambhala head Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. In a statement that accompanied An Olive Branch’s report, the board said, “The Shambhala community can no longer deny or ignore sexual violence, harassment, and other forms of structural violence . . . These reports are shining light on longstanding systems of harm and abuse within Shambhala. We have an opportunity to demonstrate how a community can see itself clearly, learn from its mistakes and act decisively to better itself.”
The new report comes after Wickwire Holm, a law firm that Shambhala hired to investigate abuse claims, released in February 2019 the findings of its investigation, which determined it was “more than likely” that Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche engaged in sexual misconduct in two cases.
US Urges Nepal to Let Tibetan Refugees Stay
In a message to Nepal Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli congratulating him after his first year in office, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lauded the country’s foreign minister for saying that they would protect the rights of Tibetan refugees. Pompeo wrote to Oli, “I welcomed Foreign Minister Gyawali’s reassurance that Nepal would continue to protect the rights of Tibetans in Nepal, particularly the principle of non-refoulement, which ensures that individuals will not be returned to a country where they face serious threats.” The Kathmandu Post notes that 11,000 Tibetan refugees are living in 12 camps in Nepal.
Garage Sale Bodhisattva Statue Sells for $2.1 Million
A wish-fulfilling bronze bodhisattva seems to be working for one woman after the statue that she bought for $100 sold for $2.1 million at Sotheby’s auction house on March 20, according to a press release. The woman, who was not identified, bought the figurine at a Midwest garage sale around 20 years ago. In 2017, she took it to be appraised on “Antiques Roadshow,” where she was shocked to find out it was a rare Chinese antique depicting Cintamanicakra Avalokiteshvara, the wish-fulfilling manifestation of the bodhisattva of compassion. At the time, appraiser Robert Waterhouse identified it as likely being from the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) and said it could be worth as much as $125,000, but it was later determined to have been created around the 10th century in either the late Tang Dynasty or early Five Dynasties period. Still, the statue was expected to go for only $60,000–$80,000 at the Sotheby’s auction before a seven-minute bidding war led to its seven-figure sale price. Waterhouse told MarketWatch that he was not surprised that it exceeded expectations because the demand for Buddhist antiques has increased recently, mostly among the Chinese upper class. “Very good Buddhist works of art have achieved strong prices in galleries and in auctions,” he said.