Shambhala Mountain Center

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Shambhala Mountain Center
The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya Which Liberates Upon Seeing
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

The Shambhala Mountain Center was founded by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1971 at Red Feather Lakes, Colorado.[1] Shambhala Mountain Center is located on 600 acres in a valley in the northern Colorado Rockies.

Shambhala Mountain Center was previously known as Rocky Mountain Dharma Center (RMDC) and Rocky Mountain Shambhala Center. The center is one of several retreat centers affiliated with Shambhala International, a global new religious movement that has been in crisis in recent years due to multiple credible allegations of sexual misconduct against its leader, and public revelations of an institutional history of ongoing abuse.[2][3]


Trungpa arrived in Boulder, Colorado, in 1970 with a number of students from Tail of the Tiger in Barnet, Vermont, now known as Karmê Chöling. Students from neighboring towns and across the country became part of the Karma Dzong Meditation Center in Boulder.[citation needed] Trungpa's growing umbrella organization was called Vajradhatu. The land for what was then called Rocky Mountain Dharma center was purchased for Trungpa with money from a donor.[4] A band of hippies who called themselves the Pygmies built the first rough structures and inhabited the land as a commune, and the first dathun (intensive meditation instruction) was held there in the summer of 1974. Improvements were made over the next decades and more structures built, to create the capacity for year-round programs.[5]

In 1987, Trungpa died, and a series of leadership changes impacted the Rocky Mountain Dharma Center. After Trungpa's death, Vajra Regent Ösel Tendzin became spiritual head of Vajradhatu until around 1989. Citing an AIDS-related infection, allegations arose that Tendzin had passed HIV to a male partner in the Colorado congregation, who in turn unknowingly infected his female partner. Tendzin, who was HIV-positive, knowingly had sex with students for three years without disclosing his infection.[6] He had a delusion that his enlightened status protected himself and others from AIDS. It eventually came out that the Vajradhatu board of directors had known of the problem for more than two years and had done nothing about it.[7]

After the death of Ösel Tendzin in 1990, Trungpa's son, Ösel Rangdröl Mukpo became head of the organization. In 1995, Ösel Rangdröl Mukpo was enthroned as Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, a chögyal, or "dharma king," who holds and propagates the teachings of Shambhala. The name of Rocky Mountain Dharma center was changed to Rocky Mountain Shambhala Center sometime in the 1990s.

In the 2000s, after Sakyong Mipham started the process of enclosing the previously secular teachings of Shambhala within the container of a new buddhist lineage, Shambhala Buddhism, the name of the center was changed again, to Shambhala Mountain Center.

In 2018, Sakyong Mipham was accused of multiple counts of sexual misconduct and abuse of power and temporarily stepped back from teaching (see Controversy section).

In September 2020, several structures at the Shambhala Mountain Center were lost in the Cameron Peak fire.[8]

In February 2022, the center changed its name to Drala Mountain Center, after the Tibetan Buddhist term drala which roughly translates to "war deity."

On February 28, 2022 Drala Mountain Center filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing the 2018 sex scandal, the Cameron Peak Fire and COVID-19 as contributing factors.[9]


The property is located in the Red Feather Lakes area on 600 acres (2.4 km2) in the foothills west of Fort Collins. The center has 35,000 square feet (3,300 m2) of building space for meditation, dharma talks, programs, and lodging. The geographic coordinates are 40°44′N 105°32.5′W / 40.733°N 105.5417°W / 40.733; -105.5417.


The center hosts Shambhala Training meditation programs as well as yoga instruction, leadership training, children's programs, and various longer term retreats.

The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya[edit]

After the death of Trungpa in 1987, his followers began a fourteen-year process of building a stupa at the Shambhala Mountain Center. Consecrated in August 2001, The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya is 108 feet (33 m) tall. It is noted on the Stupa and is common knowledge among Shambhala practitioners who have visited center that Trungpa's relics are permanently entombed in the stupa following Tibetan Buddhist tradition.[10]


Since 2018, multiple reports of clergy sexual misconduct and power abuse by the head of Shambhala, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, as well as other current and former Shambhala teachers, have led to an institutional crisis for the global Shambhala organization and its land centers, including Shambhala Mountain Center.[11][12][13] Some of the abuse was alleged to have taken place at the Shambhala Mountain Center, where leadership was alleged to have suppressed prior allegations of abuse.[14] Third party reports have verified the credibility of the allegations.[15][16] The Larimer County Sheriff's Office opened up an investigation of allegations of sexual abuse involving minors.[17] Sakyong Mipham temporarily suspended teaching and temporarily stepped back from the leadership activity of Shambhala, while retaining his title, position, and authority. He subsequently resumed teaching, both within and outside of the Shambhala organization. In 2019, the Shambhala Mountain Center released a statement, in response to an article in the Denver Post, acknowledging a desire to more properly address sexual misconduct and abuse.[18] The following year, fresh reports of inappropriate sexual behavior towards female college students by a teacher at Shambhala Mountain Center during a course which took place that winter caused Chapman University to suspend its usual courses there.[19] In September 2020, an investigative report detailed a culture of abuse dating back to early days of the Shambhala Buddhist organization.[20]


  1. ^ Wilson, Jeff (Fall 2004). "Shambala Mountain Center". Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  2. ^ "Survivors of an International Buddhist Cult Share Their Stories | The Walrus". 2020-09-28. Retrieved 2022-01-10.
  3. ^ Brandie, Weikle (March 26, 2021). "Spiritual Awakening". CBCRadioOne. Retrieved January 10, 2022.
  4. ^ "RMSC History". 1999-02-03. Archived from the original on 3 February 1999. Retrieved 2022-01-11.
  5. ^ "RMSC History". 1999-02-03. Archived from the original on 3 February 1999. Retrieved 2022-01-11.
  6. ^ Zaslowsky, Dyan (1989-02-21). "Buddhists in U.S. Agonize on AIDS Issue". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-01-11.
  7. ^ "Osel Tendzin; 1st Westerner to Head Tibet Buddhist Sect". Los Angeles Times. 1990-08-27. Retrieved 2022-01-11.
  8. ^ "Cameron Peak Fire Reaches Beloved Shambhala Mountain Center". CBS Denver. Retrieved 29 September 2020.
  9. ^ Ferrier, Pat (March 2, 2022). "Shambhala Center files for bankruptcy reorganization after COVID, Cameron Peak Fire". Coloradoan. Red Feather Lakes, Co. Retrieved April 19, 2022.
  10. ^ Cookson, Rick (10 August 2014). "Shambhala Mountain Center home of peace, study and the largest stupa in North America". The Gazette. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  11. ^ Newman, Andy (2018-07-11). "The 'King' of Shambhala Buddhism Is Undone by Abuse Report". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-01-10.
  12. ^ "Buddhist Project Sunshine welcome page". Buddhist Project Sunshine. Retrieved 2022-01-10.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ "Report alleges sexual misconduct by leader of Shambhala community - Lion's Roar". Retrieved 2022-01-10.
  14. ^ "Shambhala, the Boulder-born Buddhist organization, suppressed allegations of abuse, ex-members say". The Denver Post. 2019-07-07. Retrieved 2022-01-10.
  15. ^ "Shambhala discloses allegations of sexual assault, child abuse within Boulder-born Buddhist organization's ranks". The Denver Post. 2019-03-20. Retrieved 2022-01-11.
  16. ^ Barnett, Jackson (February 3, 2019). "Shambhala Report Details Findings of Sexual Misconduct Against Buddhist Spiritual Leader with Strong Ties to Colorado". AP News. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  17. ^ "Larimer County sheriff investigating "possible criminal activity" at Buddhist retreat Shambhala Mountain Center". The Denver Post. 2018-12-12. Retrieved 2022-01-10.
  18. ^ Julig, Carina (July 10, 2019). "Shambhala Mountain Center apologizes following Denver Post report". Denver Post. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  19. ^ Greenblatt, Lilly. "Chapman University suspends travel course to Shambhala Mountain Center - Lion's Roar". Retrieved 2022-01-11.
  20. ^ "Survivors of an International Buddhist Cult Share Their Stories | The Walrus". 2020-09-28. Retrieved 2022-01-10.

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