And lots of people had opinions about what had happened and why. We have to have the groundedness to be able to hold all of that. We also held several sangha meetings at which An Olive Branch was present and had a sangha weekend that was probably the most important thing for us. This is why I think so much focus needs to be on preventing these situations from arising in the first place. Eido Roshi had to end his tenure as abbot; he needed to make a full public apology acknowledging his misconduct and regret for harm done; those students who wanted to continue studying with him had to do it on their own, not under the auspices of The Zen Studies Society; we had to conduct a formal financial audit; and we needed to consult with colleagues who had gone through similar misconduct issues.
I feel the antidote to misconduct has been ethical training. So the first thing we had to do was ask him to submit a letter of resignation. But really, he still had all the power. David, knowing what you know now, is there something the Shambhala community could have done differently when Osel Tendzin was head of the organization? Eido Roshi had to end his tenure as abbot; he needed to make a full public apology acknowledging his misconduct and regret for harm done; those students who wanted to continue studying with him had to do it on their own, not under the auspices of The Zen Studies Society; we had to conduct a formal financial audit; and we needed to consult with colleagues who had gone through similar misconduct issues. They felt that his greatness as a teacher superseded his flaws. They believed what he had to offer as a teacher was far beyond what anyone else could give them, so they wanted to stay with him. They had the respect of everyone in the community and were extremely helpful in navigating the divisions within the group about what had happened and how to move forward. We have to make some changes here. In order for people to feel safe and protected in their sangha, at what point do you say the conversation is over and stricter measures are needed, perhaps involving the judicial system? He told me he cried the whole time. He wants to work inside the system for change. Sometimes with therapy and abstaining from teaching for a year or two, they can come back into the role of a teacher, but sometimes the problems run too deep. Compassion is so important, in the sense of seeing what the person can really do and who they really are. But some people were so angry that they left and will never come back. The board basically rubber-stamped whatever Eido Roshi said. In the West, we have a shared ethical dimension that should not be discarded when we enter the practice but should instead harmonize with it. There needs to be a lot more education about the nature of student—teacher relations, that sexuality is something that the student has a full and complete right to not engage in with a teacher. It was wonderful to have that spontaneous, genuine response. Examining which groups are included and which are excluded in teaching, governance, and wealth can also tell us where to expect challenges. I think it was very courageous of Rinpoche to bring the misconduct to light. The first thing is to really listen. And we need community. If there were, what would there be to defend? Our sangha did split years ago when Osel Tendzin left; a separate organization was created. People came up and posted comments, asked further questions, and shared what they knew.
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