Shambhala hypocrisy harms validity of communal spiritual practice

Anteceding the arrest of a ex-Shambhala USA teacher William Karelis for suspicion of sexual assault on a child and the concurrent opening of a criminal investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations against the lineage holder/leader of the Shambhala USA, Mipham Rinpoche, it is relevant to remember that sexual assault and sex/clergy misconduct are not behaviors that are permitted as meritorious by the foundational noncrazy wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism — the law of the five precepts (pañcasila) specifically.

The founding patriarch of Shambhala USA, Chögyam Trungpa, hailed from the Kagyü lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. He founded Shambhala USA and Naropa University. He was accused by his first wife, Diana Mukpo, and past members of the Shambhala USA community of having committed, perpetuated and condoned sexual assault and sex/clergy misconduct as acceptable practices for himself, some of the Shambhala leadership/teachers, the holder of the spiritual lineage Ösel Tendzin (Thomas F. Rich) and his son Mipham Rinpoche. The history of misconduct within the Shambhala USA community is unable to be honestly and ethically ignored or mislabelled as being inaccurate as representative of an ethos of spiritual narcissism and spiritual bypassing which is endemic to Shambhala USA.

In the cases found within Shambhala USA, the symptoms of their spiritual narcissism and bypassing contradict the Tibetan Buddhist moral system of the five precepts. The five precepts act as minimal ethical requirements for the Tibetan Buddhist lay and monastic practitioner. The specific precept which has been blatantly disregarded is the third, Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami (to refrain from sexual misconduct).

The Shambhala hypocrisy not only misrepresents the dharma path, it leads to suffering of oneself and others and ultimately serves to minimize the validity of communal spiritual practice and the existence of a safe, equitable and unexploitable space to practice Buddhist esotericism.

Anthony Gallucci, Boulder

Health and PE is a win for students

I am committed to empowering all children to lead healthy and active lives through effective health and physical education programs. Do the education leaders in our state feel the same way? In December 2015, President Barack Obama signed the new bipartisan federal education legislation Every Student Succeeds Act into law. For the first time, health and physical education were recognized as a critical component of a student’s well-rounded education. These subjects should play an integral role in the educational experience of all students.

Thanks to the inclusion and elevation of health and physical education within ESSA, we have the opportunity to get all students healthy and active. As our education leaders begin to develop an ESSA implementation plan, I urge them to ensure that health and physical education are made a priority for students. As part of a well-rounded education, health and physical education programs can now be supported by funding allocated for Title I (low socio-economic status schools), Title II (professional development) and Title IV (safe and healthy students). This funding could provide the boost that these programs need to impact the health of students in the long term.

After the passage of No Child Left Behind 15 years ago, we witnessed two alarming and most likely related trends. Health and physical education were too often considered ancillary subjects and therefore the first to be cut in state education budget shortfalls. In addition, child obesity rates reached epidemic proportions, with 1 in 3 children ages 10 to 17 either overweight or obese.

Research has shown that participating in physical activity and physical education improves student attendance, test scores, participation and enthusiasm for other academic subjects, and motivation to learn, and it reduces discipline referrals. Evidence also shows that effective school health education reduces student participation in behaviors such as smoking, heavy drinking, school misbehavior and violence.

Now that health and physical education have been prioritized in ESSA as part of a student’s well-rounded education and are allowable uses of federal education funding, I believe it’s vital that health and physical education become a priority for all students as we work to take a new approach to educating our students. I look forward to the future of health and physical education for our students.

Clayton Ellis, Aurora, Colo.