Written by Ziji Collective on May 18, 2017
Background to the Conversation
Sophie Maclaren grew up in the Shambhala lineage, a child of senior Shambhala practitioners. During the time covered in this discussion (about 2000 to 2012), Sophie was deeply committed both to Shambhala practice, including on the Shambhala Vajrayana path, and to working within and for Shambhala International.
From about 2006 to 2012, Sophie worked, primarily within Europe, to magnetize young people into the Shambhala mandala. Around 2012, a number of very painful conflicts, both interpersonal and organizational, precipitated an end to Sophie’s work within Shambhala and caused her to leave the Shambhala lineage. This conversation records both her work, and the circumstances of her departure from Shambhala.
How this Conversation Came About
Rumors and stories about Sophie’s work and her abrupt and painful departure from Shambhala began circulating among young leaders in the nascent Ziji Collective as early as 2012. After many conversations and much group contemplation, we came to understand Sophie’s work as integral to Ziji Collective’s history and karmic inheritance, despite missing many key details about it, even after the Kalapa Council’s public acknowledgment of her work in November 2013. During this time, Llew Watkins made contact with Sophie and later introduced her to Alex Rodriguez, who had an initial video conversation with her in November 2016. In that call, they agreed that this video recording would be a good way for her story to be heard in the interest of transparency and in order for us to learn more about the work she accomplished.
Our Intent in Sharing this Story
Because Sophie’s story is painful and involves many people, including a number of people with whom we are in close working relationship, we think it’s very important that our motivations in sharing her story be made clear.
First, we believed that giving Sophie a space to tell her story would prove a healing experience—both for Sophie and for the young meditators (especially in Europe and Colorado) who were closely connected to her for many years.
The Ziji Collective is a manifestation of Shambhala, and of Shambhala vision, and we offer this conversation in the spirit of that fundamental connection.
Second, we wish for the knowledge that Sophie’s story may uncover—including of painful interpersonal and organizational dynamics—to be a vehicle for the improvement and enrichment of the Shambhala mandala. We believe it may be possible to learn a number of extremely practical and helpful lessons both from Sophie’s work itself and from her experience within Shambhala, without falling into blame or taking sides. The Ziji Collective is a manifestation of Shambhala, and of Shambhala vision, and we offer this conversation in the spirit of that fundamental connection.
What Our Intent is Not
We do not intend to present Sophie’s story as a final, objective account of what happened during her work within Shambhala. We are actively reaching out to other individuals involved in her story; more broadly, we understand Sophie’s story as her own, and not as a conclusive account of the intentions and actions of the other people involved.
We do not feel, or wish to encourage, a spirit of attacking or accusing anyone named in Sophie’s story.
We do not hold, or wish to encourage, a distant or negative attitude to Shambhala itself. Again, Ziji is a manifestation of Shambhala. Rather, our work with Sophie is intended to allow for a painful story to be told—for healing, for transparency, and for the opportunity to draw lessons from the experience.
On Transparency, and Freedom from Blame
We ask for a chance to show that we see clearly the basic goodness of all involved in this call.
We are quite aware of the painful and sensitive nature of this conversation, and the fact that numerous specific individuals are named in Sophie’s story.
We wish to be clear that the spirit of this conversation—before, during, and after—has never been one of seeking to assign blame or judgment for any individual’s mistakes.
We ask for a chance to show that we see clearly the basic goodness of all involved in this call, and that our understanding of that goodness is not so simplistic as to turn against people who make mistakes.
And we ask for a chance to show that transparency, including about painful mistakes made, is ultimately a healing force.
We are happy to work with and to continue to build strong relationships with anyone named in this call.
Notes and video from the call are available at the links below.
Please do not circulate the video link or call notes separately from this blog post. Simply share the link to this post, which contains important context.