Canadian Yoga Teacher Accuses Shambhala of Seeking to Evict Him for Speaking Out Against its Leader
Sean Drohan, a yoga teacher and caretaker of a Nova Scotia farmhouse owned by the Buddhist community Shambhala Global (previously known as Shambhala International) is appealing a court decision that he should vacate the property by September. Drohan has stated that efforts to evict him are coming from followers of Shambhala spiritual leader Sakyong Mipham.
According to a report by the Candian newspaper The Globe and Mail, Drohan has alleged that Shambhala Nova Scotia is trying to remove him because of his vocal opposition to Sakyong Mipham resuming the administrative and teaching duties that he relinquished in 2018, following a highly publicized sexual misconduct scandal.*
“They took a vow to defend him, and they’re not letting go of him,” said Drohan, who has been a Shambhala member for 15 years. “That’s what this is about. They’re loyalists and I’m not, so they want me out.” (The Globe and Mail)
The case is currently in the hands of Nova Scotia’s Supreme Court.
The Shambhala community is an international network of more than 200 meditation centers and groups with over 12,000 members spanning some 50 countries and six continents. A branch of Tibetan Buddhism, Shambhala was founded by Chögyam Trungpa (1939–1987) in the US state of Colorado. Following Trungpa’s death, his son Ösel Rangdröl Mukpo, also known as Mipham J. Mukpo or Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, eventually became the spiritual director of the not-for-profit organization, which is now headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
A controversial character in Western Buddhism, it is known that Trungpa slept with numerous female students. While many in the community had believed that the problems of sexual misconduct were behind them, in 2018 and 2019 Shambhala was rocked by a new series of public accusations of sexual assault and misconduct by senior teachers and community members, including spiritual director Sakyong Mipham. Sakyong conceded publicly that he had engaged in relationships with women in the Shambhala community and apologized for the harm that was caused. Sakyong announced in 2018 that he was entering a period of self-reflection and relinquished his duties, moving to Nepal.** However, he has since resumed many of his former responsibilities.
Drohan, who has been the caretaker of the farmhouse, known as MacKay House, since 2018, has been outspoken about his disagreement with Sakyong Mipham’s return. He has stated that members of the Shambhala community who disagree with his stance are deliberately trying to force him out, pointing to the fact that Shambhala has doubled his rent and has failed to make necessary repairs to the property.
“The primary reason for all this is unspoken. I don’t believe the Sakyong is fit to teach. They only want people in positions they can control who want the Sakyong to return soon,” Drohan said. “I’m taking them to task for how they’re treating people.” (The Globe and Mail)
The Globe and Mail reported that retired employment lawyer Carol Merchasin, who investigated sexual assault complaints within Shambhala, agreed that there was a rift in the community between those who remained loyal to Sakyong Mipham and those who did not want him to return. Merchasin expressed concern that Sakyong was not being taken to task for his misdeeds, and that the measures taken by Shambhala to prevent further misconduct were difficult to enforce.
Shambhala Global has dismissed Drohan’s claims that it is trying to evict him and has argued that it has other plans for the property and as such is simply not renewing the lease. Spokesperson Rose Keyes highlighted that it was within Shambhala’s right to do so, ever since Drohan’s former partner and co-tenant moved out more than a year ago. According to Keyes, the group has been openly communicating its plans to Drohan.
“The organization wants to regain use of the property, and Mr. Drohan’s opinions about the Sakyong . . . have not been of any consideration by Shambhala Canada in our decision not to continue his lease,” Keyes said. (The Globe and Mail)
In April, a Small Claims Court adjudicator ordered Drohan to vacate the premises by September on the basis that his lease had expired. Drohan, who has said he is publicizing this story to remove Sakyong as Shambhala’s leader, responded by filing an appeal to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court on 28 May.
“[Sakyong Mipham]’s just carried on, but there’s mountains of bad karma for what he’s done,” Drohan said. “I had hope the lineage could recover . . . I just feel we’ll fail if he comes back. He’s unfit to teach and to guide us anymore because of the harm he has done to people.” (The Globe and Mail)
** Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche Steps Down from Shambhala Leadership Amid Probe into Conduct (Buddhistdoor Global)
Related news reports from Buddhistdoor Global
Ani Pema Chödrön Retires as Senior Teacher at Shambhala Buddhist Community
Police Arrest a Second Former Shambhala Member Accused of Sexually Assaulting Children
Former Shambhala Teacher Arrested in Colorado; Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche Implicated in Sexual Misconduct
Andrea Winn Exits Buddhist Project Sunshine
Shambhala Transition Task Force Announces its Dissolution
Police Launch Investigation into “Possible Criminal Activity” at Shambhala Mountain Center
Report on Probe into Shambhala Abuse Allegations Due in January
Buddhist Project Sunshine Airs New Allegations in Unfolding Shambhala Abuse Scandal
Ripples of Shambhala Sexual Abuse Scandal Continue to Spread amid New Allegations
Shambhala International Announces Steps to Address Sexual Abuse
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