Vajradhatu was Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche's umbrella organization in North America. It served as a vehicle for promulgating and facilitating his teachings of Tibetan Buddhism in the West. Eventually, it was transformed into Shambhala International, which emphasizes a secular expression of Trungpa's teachings.
When Vajradhatu was incorporated in Colorado in 1973, it consolidated Tail of the Tiger, a rural meditation retreat facility near Barnet, Vermont (later renamed Karmê Chöling); and Karma Dzong, an urban meditation center in Boulder, Colorado. The organization grew to include the Rocky Mountain Dharma Center, a retreat facility in the Colorado Rockies; Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia; and many smaller meditation centers called "Dharmadhatus" in cities around the US and Canada. Trungpa was the sole "Director of the First Class" of the corporation, and there was a group of "Directors of the Second Class". What exactly the class distinction meant, was not specified in the articles of incorporation.
In 1977, in "Garuda V", Trungpa appointed Thomas F. Rich (an American with Buddhist name Ösel Tendzin) as Dorje Gyaltsap, Vajra Regent, and Director of the First Class of Vajradhatu. In laymen's terms, Tendzin was to lead Vajradhatu after this (the eleventh) Trungpa's death, until the twelfth Trungpa (the eleventh's reincarnation) was ready to assume the responsibility. "Gyaltsap" is the Tibetan title for a regent abbot. (The Trungpas were traditionally "Trindzin", or supreme abbot, of Surmang Monastery in Tibet.)
Trungpa, however, remained the sole Director of the First Class on the legally filed documents of incorporation until 2000, thirteen years after his 1987 death.
In 1986, the international headquarters of Vajradhatus moved from Boulder, Colorado to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
In 1990, Ösel Tendzin died of AIDS after passing the virus on to at least one student (who died therefrom, along with his girlfriend). Shortly after this event, official publications from Vajradhatu began to refer to the organization as Shambhala International instead of Vajradhatu.
In February 2000, new restated articles of incorporation were signed, officially changing the name from Vajradhatu to Shambhala International. These articles were filed a year later. They specify that all coporate actions require the consent of the Sole Director of the First Class, who is, however, not named. It is widely presumed that the new Sole Director of the First Class is the Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.
- Karmê Chöling: http://www.karmecholing.org/
- Karma Dzong: http://www.boulder.shambhala.org/
- RMDC: http://www.shambhalamountain.org/
- Gampo Abbey: http://www.gampoabbey.org/
- detailed history and analysis of the transition from Vajradhatu to Shambhala: http://www.american-buddha.com/borntibetagain.htm