Dear Sangha,

We write to you with gratitude and excitement for the future of Refuge Recovery. We are aware and honor that the continued conflict between Refuge Recovery and Noah Levine has created stress and grief for many. (For more information about this issue within the sangha, click here). We extend our deepest compassion to all who have been affected.

THANK YOU for the integrity, compassion, and support you’ve demonstrated throughout this time of hardship and transition. You’ve built a strong foundation and an even stronger community, and it’s our continued intention to serve you with transparency, integrity, and wisdom, while providing you with a platform to be seen, heard, and supported as you safely seek refuge. We want you to know that we hear you, and see you, and are committed to supporting you as we continue to move forward together on this shared path to freedom from suffering.

Today, our intention is to share the momentum and solutions we’ve implemented to address the situation at hand and the ways we’re supporting you, our valued sangha. We’ve accomplished big things in the last five months!

  1. Instituted a policy on teachers. This policy establishes that as a peer-led organization, Refuge Recovery does not endorse or recognize the authority of any empowered Dharma teacher to speak for or direct the activities of Refuge Recovery. Empowered teachers may contribute to the mission of the organization by serving on the Board of Directors or in some other capacity as peers, but they may not use their position as teachers to assert authority over the direction of Refuge Recovery or their local community. Here’s the policy.
  2. Instituted a policy on community input. To encourage involvement and input by the broad Refuge Recovery community in the development of policy, action, and literature, the Board adopted a policy designed to solicit submissions of proposals or requests for action from the members of the Refuge Recovery community and to outline a method to ensure that such input is communicated to and acted upon by the Board. While the bylaws provide a method for the Board to adopt a policy, position, committee, or action, they do not provide a procedure for the submission of proposals or requests for action from members of the Refuge Recovery community. This policy is designed to define such a procedure. Here’s the policy.
  3. Removal of Noah Levine from the Board. In March of 2018, our Executive Committee (Jean Tuller, Chris Kavanaugh, and Don Westervelt) asked Noah Levine to step aside as a director and he agreed. Because Mr. Levine’s departure from the Board was done under the presumption that it might be temporary, it left his status as a director unclear. To resolve this ambiguity, during our May 4, 2019 Board of Directors meeting, the Refuge Recovery Board of Directors unanimously voted to remove Noah Levine from the Board.  Motion for removal lists cause as a) Mr. Levine is an adverse party in litigation with the Refuge Recovery organization b) Mr. Levine has violated his fiduciary duties as director and c) Mr. Levine’s rejection of the recommendations of the larger Buddhist community has caused harm to the standing and reputation of Refuge Recovery and violates our own ethical requirement of “causing no harm.” Read the motion in its entirety, as adopted by the Board.
  4. Field testing new works of the Literature Committee. A Beginners Guide and Inventories Guide are being field tested now and the next step is to finalize the drafts and submit them to a panel of critical readers. Our plan is to make these available to RefCon5 participants, with full distribution to the Refuge Recovery community shortly thereafter.
  5. Providing support to groups to make their own wise decisions about use or non-use of the Refuge Recovery text. We trust in the wisdom of each group to decide what is best for its own sangha and how best to support the recovery of its individuals. A great deal of helpful literature is published by others, and Refuge Recovery does not try to tell any individual sangha what they may or may not read or use in meetings. Refuge Recovery is based on the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path and in order to ensure fidelity to the Refuge Recovery program, we ask that only Buddhist or Buddhist-inspired literature is used at meetings. Refuge Recovery does not rely on 12-Step material and we ask that Refuge meetings not use such material (e.g., One Breath at a Time, by Kevin Griffin).
  6. Addition of two new Board members and resignation of another. Madalyn Baker, from Los Angeles, and Amy Reed, from Asheville, have been added to the Board of Directors. Both are leaders in their home Refuge communities and bring a depth of practice and experience to our Board. John Tydlaska, one of our original Board members, has stepped down after two years of service.
  7. Planning for our annual international conference, RefCon5. Our theme this year is Wings to Awakening. The Planning Committee, comprised of Regional Representatives, is developing peer-led workshops including an entire strand devoted to process addictions. The agenda will be published on June 1st on our website.

We will also have time at RefCon5 to discuss next steps that we as a community will take to move towards a membership-elected organization. All of the Board members will be at RefCon5 and we look forward to starting the planning process with you.

Join Us For A Conversation – Live Video Calls

We are hosting two LIVE video calls, during which we’ll address Noah Levine’s role in Refuge Recovery and our process in supporting the community through this time of transition.

On this video call (via the platform Zoom), we’d love to hear from you! How can we support you in continuing to grow your local sanghas? How can we support you during this time of transition?

We’ll also discuss:

  1. The update on litigation, including our receipt of Noah’s counter-claims, and the work we’ll be doing to address that.
  2. Official removal of Noah from RR Board (and what this means for Refuge Recovery and the community)
  3. The potential impact on our community as these issues get resolved.  

To prepare for the Zoom call, please go to the bottom of the Board of Directors page to review material related to the lawsuit.

  1. Topic: Refuge Community Meeting
    Time: May 22, 2019 7:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)Join Zoom Meeting tap mobile
    +16699006833,,473329921# US (San Jose)
    +16465588656,,473329921# US (New York)Dial by your location
    +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
    +1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
    Meeting ID: 473 329 921
    Find your local number:
  2. Topic: Refuge Community Meeting
    Time: May 23, 2019 7:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)Join Zoom Meeting tap mobile
    +16699006833,,318039171# US (San Jose)
    +16465588656,,318039171# US (New York)Dial by your location
    +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
    +1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
    Meeting ID: 318 039 171
    Find your local number:

We are looking forward to this upcoming Zoom call, where we can come together as a community, discuss the important issues, decisions, and action steps at hand, and field your feedback and questions.

Together, we have built a worldwide community of over 700 meetings, and it is the passion, dedication, and service of our members that will help us continue to grow and offer a path of healing and recovery to all who seek it. Our organization is made strong by the compassion, resilience, accountability, and forgiveness each member of our community demonstrates in their personal recovery, and we will continue to uphold our singular vision and unity of purpose to support and empower all who hope to relieve the suffering of addiction.  

We understand that this is a lot of information, and that you may have questions or feedback. Please contact us and let us know. Also, please join us on one of the upcoming Zoom calls! We’re here for you.