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 Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates

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Anne

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PostSubject: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Wed Nov 24, 2010 8:08 am

I would like to see the spiritual potential of laypeople and non-celibates, as such, publicly acknowledged: that is, their potential for self-awakening not only to the level of first kensho but also to the level of cessation (uprooting) of all subtle (as well as gross) illusoryself-grasping, and beyond (I am not referring to samyaksambuddhahood, which includes a special role in a particular circumstance).

At risk of boring the socks off people who have seen some of my other posts, I reproduce below some explanation of “subtle” and “gross” illusoryself-view, a.k.a “innate” and “intellectually-formed” illusoryself-view respectively, on which illusoryself-grasping is based. Not having a Zen source available for this, I quote from Ocean of Nectar (1995) by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso:

“We develop the intellectually-formed view of the transitory collection (i.e the skandhas plus the I imputed upon them) when we speculate about the nature of our I and conclude that it is inherently existent. If anyone as a result of relying upon mistaken reasoning or misguided advice holds their I to be inherently existent, then they possess this view. Human beings who do not investigate the nature of their I, and other beings such as animals and insects, never generate it. The innate view of the transitory collection is a mind conceiving ones own I to be inherently existent that arises naturally, without any intellectual investigation, from imprints accumulated in the mind over countless lives. Unlike the intellectually-formed view, it functions continuously in the minds of all ordinary beings, including animals and insects.” Geshe Kelsang’s writing on these matters seems to accord with other Tibetan scholars.

And:

“The innate view of the transitory collection is the root of samsara. It is not [fully] abandoned by Hinayanists until they become Foe Destroyers (i.e arhats), or by Mahayanists until they become eighth-ground bodhisattvas. The intellectually-formed view of the transitory collection, however, is abandoned by Hinayanists on the path of seeing (i.e stream-entry) and by Mahayanists on the first ground.”

Reverend Master Jiyu appeared to be denying this potential when she said (without ill intent) that laypeople and non-celibates, as such, could not reach the third kensho. IT is the TRUTH of everyone: it is a matter of realising IT, at a deep level of mind-and-energy, though I won’t pretend that one won’t find the process long-term challenging, and at times even like facing death or losing every ray of hope. I remain puzzled as to the reason for her denial: perhaps it was based on Theravadin teaching (which differs from Mahayana) or perhaps inferred from personal experience.

I think that some kind of public statement(s) affirming this potential would remedy former denials; I realise that a “representative statement” from the Order would pre-require actual consensus within the OBC on the issue. If such a public statement has been made already, I regret that I have been unaware of it. Or perhaps individual affirmations are made publicly by teachers during talks and discussions; but again I do not recall seeing anything of this in print.

Silence on the issue may not indicate affirmation but rather be due to tact. The aerodynamics of bumblebee flight (:-) I have not gone off my trolley: please bear with me!) are probably understood these days but were evidently a mystery a few decades ago: I recall reading that, according to engineering theory, bumblebees cannot fly, “but”, it was wryly observed, “fortunately no one has told the bumblebees”. Susceptibility to self-doubt for the misinformed, inexperienced or suggestible bee aside, tact at least means that people can learn and proceed without the demoralising and undermining effect of negative belief: they may “fly” through the first, second and third kenshos and beyond, for many years beneficially unaware of the limiting (and actually incorrect) view on this matter held by their teacher. However, this view may at some point emerge explicitly and/or become strongly influential, affecting interaction between priest and layperson, monk and monk. Unfortunately I can suggest no remedy for the limiting view itself.

If any of our readers have heard or seen definitely, in the last twenty years, what view or views are held on this matter within the OBC, I would be grateful to learn of it. Perhaps my suggestion is already taken care of.
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Wed Nov 24, 2010 10:59 am

Edited to delete my prior post /

Re-edited to restore the post, after Polly's encouragement. Ta.


Anne, I hope those who can speak more directly to your question will do so -

In the years I was around the OBC, I didn't actually ever hear someone talk about kenshos either in a dharma talk or privately. I read about them in Kennett's material, but the idea wasn't real to me on a personal level nor is it now. I wouldn't know a kensho experience if it hopped up and bit me on the hindquarters.

Re: the spiritual potential of lay people and non-celibates, I heard quite a mixed message. I could count on all of the monks saying publicly that the four classes of Buddhists are equal. (Though I don't know what "equal" meant to them. I never heard that articulated to say,"yes, even spiritually we are equal.") Privately or in much smaller groups, with some monks (not all) the conversation might turn to desire and worldly attachments, and how it was possible to get beyond the delusion of finding happiness in those things. Not that everyone had to, the monk would say, but some people could do it and had the clarity and wisdom to recognize the benefits. And they had the firmness of intent to take the next step, through renunciation. I remember walking to the kitchen with a lay friend after we'd both listened to such comments during a rest break from working meditation. She said, "I don't know how to break this to him, but I'm afraid I'll always be an also-ran in the Enlightenment Derby". That became a catchphrase for us and a few other lay folks in our circle. "Also-ran" seemed to sum up what we were being told. Yes, we're all in this derby, doing our best and trying hard, but some have that inside track to victory. As for those who don't run in that track, well, good job, but you know, you can't really win this. That is what I remember.

Awhile back we had a thread going where these issues were touched on just briefly. Not specifically to kenshos, but more generally related to whether lay and non-celibate training is up to snuff. A part of that exchange:

Lise wrote:
Re: "becoming a monk is a commitment to achieving the apex of training and realizations". Is the route to the apex the same for everyone? Is a lay person's apex less than the one that a monk can get to? If so, then the four classes of buddhists aren't equal, are they? There might be an apex of training for me in this lifetime, but trying to become a monk would send me in the opposite direction from finding it. I don't think I would reach my own pinnacle by avoiding the love of a partner relationship and all that follows. Celibacy would be denial and repression . . . the creation of more karmic jangles.

http://obcconnect.forumotion.net/in-theory-and-practice-f8/opinion-of-the-day-desire-isn-t-all-bad-t30.htm

This was my experience only; I know it may differ for others. But I think some OBC monks have a very different idea of the spiritual potential of non-monks, one that doesn't match what they say in public about the four classes being equal.


Last edited by Lise on Wed Nov 24, 2010 1:10 pm; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : preserving category's intent / second edit: restoring post)
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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Wed Nov 24, 2010 12:46 pm

Dear Anne,

Thanks for this thread (and lots of thanks for the bumblebee analogy.) flower Your post was about a point that I always reared back from when I read it in RMJK literature, along with the more plebian statement that OBC was a religion for spiritual adults. The very audacity and arrogance of saying such things made me question her viability as my teacher. Which isn't to say she didn't have a lot to give. But when someone (can't remember the name, sorry, was it Dan?) hit upon questioning Dogen on another thread and Lise said something to the effect that bad behavior would automatically eliminate that person from the Enlightened Teacher position in her book, I recognized that position. I've thought like that for as long as I can remember, clear back when I was hanging out (briefly) with the Love Family in Seattle in the late '60's. (I was asked to leave due to my doubts, but I had already packed anyway.) But the question still bothers me. If someone acts like a turkey, how do I know what to trust in their message? If I could differentiate would I need them as a teacher anyway? I'm genuinely asking. I know many people learned a lot from Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche but I wouldn't go there on a bet. Too much upheaval, too much fuss, why bother?

It interested me when someone a couple of days ago (forgive me for forgetting your name, was it Jack?) posted that RMJK was enamored of Orwell's "1984". I've often thought that Orwell's "Animal Farm" would have been to her liking. "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others" pretty much seems to peg her position on this topic. All I have to go on are her writings however, and the on-line talks by RM Koshin who states categorically that if you want to go all the way you have to be a monk. He was really nice about it, regretful almost, but firm. You had to choose. Just as you had to choose between spiritual progress and psychiatric treatment. He didn't condemn the latter (quite) but he seems to say you can't have it both ways. I don't think I'm misrepresenting him but if someone knows better please just set me straight.

What I would like to see, though it may be impossible, is for there to be a more uniform position by the OBC on these and other major doctrinal issues. It's confusing to listen to one Abbott teach one position on something that other Abbotts do not concur with. Okay for a few minor issues (like the colors of the vestments) but on the big stuff, it seems to me that if you are going to stand as a church, as a religion, that continuity of thinking, and a certain clarity of doctrine would be pretty much mandatory. Or is this just me being a spiritual infant? Anyway, like I say, it could be impossible at this stage for the OBC to do this.

And can anybody tell me who came up with the "Five Laws of the Universe"?

Thanks, Polly

PS I thought your post was great Lise. I wish you would reinstate it.
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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Wed Nov 24, 2010 1:49 pm

polly wrote:
All I have to go on are her writings however, and the on-line talks by RM Koshin who states categorically that if you want to go all the way you have to be a monk.

Since I used to participate in this thinking I understand it, but now I ask all the way to where? What compelled us to chose this life and now that we are here what do we find compelling to do? And if we don't do the things we find compelling what can we actually learn about ourselves? I became a monk because at the time I felt shipwrecked. I embraced the package of monkhood to find my footing and become strong enough to resume the journey. And for quite a few years being a monk was my journey, but near the end that changed. I continued for a time out of fear - fear of loss and reprisals - but my heart wasn't in it.

My point is the journey must be self-defined and self-correcting at every moment to be authentic. Buying into the OBC paradigm that to go all the way you have to be a celibate monk is just a way of disenfranchising yourself if you don't actually feel it's true for you. People sometimes renounce the world not because they're really done with it but because they don't have the interpersonal skills to be successful in their chosen endeavors. If that's the case they will likely be drawn back to it eventually (as I was) and that's a good thing.
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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Wed Nov 24, 2010 2:06 pm

"All the way to where" fits with Zen teaching anyway, and also with my experience. Where exactly do you want to go?
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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Wed Nov 24, 2010 5:18 pm

I couldn't find the exact quote but I know it's here somewhere in one of Dharmavidya's posts. I like what he said, to the effect of "If being a lay person interferes with your practice, ordain. If being a monk interferes with your practice, disrobe."

No assertion that either path is better.
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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Thu Nov 25, 2010 4:41 pm

Re: "All the way" comment, I thought I was quoting RMJK. But I spent some time looking for the place where she said something about how anyone could have a first kensho, but you probably had to be a monk to have a second one etc., anyway, I couldn't find it. But I thought that was an OBC term...maybe I'm hallucinating. And I'm glad you all pointed out the issue because the question "All the way to where?" is good, thanks to all who brought it up. Happy Thanksgiving.
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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Thu Nov 25, 2010 9:44 pm

Is there some magical difference between a lay person and a monk? I think not, and anything else would be mumbo-jumbo. It is the commitment and the practice/training that counts. Being ordained may make that easier but there is no esoteric alchemy that changes the potential a lay person when they are ordained. The potential lies with us all already - Jiyu's first book was originally called 'Selling Water by the River', the nonsense started later.
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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Fri Nov 26, 2010 12:49 am





Hello Mstathern

This is what Shasta used to teach. You can hear it echoing sometimes but it is usually smothered by the magic monk routine which is so much more seductive for developing the devotion in the laity. That's the Monks are special teaching. This magic show is mostly for creating and maintaining of the base of the lay support with the remainder servicing the monks fragile egos. The original Shasta package may speak of there being potentially no spiritual difference between the lay and the ordained but a lot of the Monks behaviour (in public & in private) says they don't believe it.

We all fall into patterns of behaviour that feels safe and comforting and the Shasta conditioning that we invited into our lives brought undeniable benefits. Most of the time, the only difference I see between the folks inside Shasta and those on the "outs" is what side of the conditioning cocoon we are looking at.

The other difference is that most of us have been smacked up the side of the head by the world (once free of the cocoon) and that world keeps telling us to "Wake Up". I suspect that it is all but impossible to actually wake up while still inside some cocoons.

I guess that means that in some places, the ordained may find themselves at a great spiritual disadvantage over the laity.

When the conditioning of a teaching, training or practise dictates ones responses then one becomes little more than a formula that has little to do with freedom, truth or the letting go of ego.

Not quite the same as what you were talking about, but the mood just caught me.

I also heard tell that the nonsense started between "Selling Coal in Newcastle" and "Selling Water by the River".

Cheers


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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Fri Nov 26, 2010 9:39 am

Howard
Cocoon! what an excellent simile; that is exactly why I left. The cocoon of 'previous lives', visions and 'kenshos' that was being woven at the time meant that I would have been hypocritical to stay. It was also, from what I could see blocking others training particulaly the inner clique, which is why I spoke out. We are never free from a some nonsense but when it gets taken for the truth it gets in the way, and that gets woven into a cocoon it is time to move on. We all have our own nonsense I know I did and still do, but surely that is what training is about, learning to see your own nonsense for what it is; then you can lead a normal everyday life, nonsense and all - as Buddha. Anyway that's what I'm aiming for and always was. I only hope that I did more good than harm when I was a monk, especially as prior of Throssel. And on that note I must away to another thread to apologise to Jimyo for some of my nonsense back then.
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PostSubject: 'Selling Water by the River', the nonsense started later.   Fri Nov 26, 2010 10:04 am

mstrathern wrote:
Jiyu's first book was originally called 'Selling Water by the River', the nonsense started later.

I believe that the manuscript for the first book was originally titled Zen is Eternal Life. Prior to its publication as Selling Water by the River, the photocopied manuscript circulated around Shasta Abbey in 1971 with the title, Zen is Eternal Life.

As I recall, the issue of the title for the forthcoming book was 'discussed' jokingly, at least once, with the tiny gathering of monks and lay people that crammed into RMJK's little cottage of an evening, possibly as an alternative to observing the lava-lamps, or watching Colombo on TV. I think everyone had gulped at the original title envisioned by Roshi and one of the monks had suggested Selling Water by the River, perhaps as sounding more zenny, fly-off-the-shelfable or less scary.
I haven't had a chance to read through all the posts here but, for the sake of historical accuracy, and if it hasn't already been stated by someone else, the original, intended title was (at least in 1971) Zen is Eternal Life.
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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Fri Nov 26, 2010 10:25 am

basho wrote:

I believe that the manuscript for the first book was originally titled Zen is Eternal Life. Prior to its publication as Selling Water by the River, the photocopied manuscript circulated around Shasta Abbey in 1971 with the title, Zen is Eternal Life.

You are quite right that the original title was Zen Is Eternal Life. What I remember is the publisher objected to the title and a discussion ensued at Shasta Abbey which resulted in Selling Water By The River. RMJK was never really happy with it though, and when it came time to republish the book herself the original title was used.
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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Fri Nov 26, 2010 4:10 pm

As I recall, Mokurai proposed the title, Selling Water by the River, and RMJK liked it enough to use it as a teaching moment; and to implicitly suggest the irony of the title--given the nature of the contents!
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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Fri Nov 26, 2010 7:10 pm

Quote :
by Howard This magic show is mostly for creating and maintaining of the base of the lay support with the remainder servicing the monks fragile egos. The original Shasta package may speak of there being potentially no spiritual difference between the lay and the ordained but a lot of the Monks behaviour (in public & in private) says they don't believe it.

I don't know about the magic show from the inside view. It was clear from the outside that the principal and primary importance of the lay practitioners was to support and provide funding for the monks and the temple. There was presumed to be a special depth and "holiness" to being a monk. Those presumptions are widely spread throughout religion -- including Christianity. Every priest promises that if you give your wealth to them or the church, you will be blessed by some divine benefactor or in some unusual way - now or in a hereafter..

The actual teaching of the Buddha was generosity -- not support of either temples or monks beyond the bare necessities (4 requisites) to sustain life.

I have gradually become increasingly generous. But none of it flows to the OBC or ordained monks. If I find an ordained monk worthy of support, I wouldn't have difficulty helping sustain his/her life, particularly if he/she worked actively and diligently to teach reliable Buddhist truth in a helpful way. I've not found any to date, though I've not gone to much trouble to seek any out.

Giving wisely requires due diligence; it's worth the trouble when you have the time to do it.

I've found Buddhism a ship built for open waters -- storms and all. Ships may best be constructed in safe harbors or dry docks, but staying there is not the purpose of ships.The lay life -- earning a right living within the framework of the precepts and the Eightfold path -- is far more challenging than staying in a protected cove, where you have cover, protection, and a support system to reinforce your beliefs. Mindfulness in the the daily cacophony of confusing ethical choices is far more difficult than settling the mind in the quiet of a meditation hall. I have deliberately chosen to associate myself with others who do not believe as I do. That diversity is healthy. It is challenging. It test the tenets of Buddhist truth and practice far more severely than any group recitation of a common dogma. The "iffy" stuff falls away like the chaff it is. What remains is reliable.


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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Fri Nov 26, 2010 9:44 pm

Hey Jack
Your idea of deliberately surrounding yourself with people whose ideas conflict with your own is intriguing.

I've read about some historical political figures doing this to maintain political objectivity but I have not considered it for the spiritual realm. Kind of a joke when you consider how fundamental it is as a Tibetan Buddhist practise.

I look at my friends and they are all vegetarians because a personal demonstration of ones intent to minimize harm is fundamentally important to me. They also share some meditative understanding because that is what I find supportive in an increasingly self orientated world. Now you come up with this social work out plan that confronts your personal comfort zones and I gotta say your messin with my boundaries..

I am hoping (& most of your posts demonstrate this) that you are much more cerebral than myself and so dancing with opposing ideas is just an intrinsic part of your path towards truth. The only truth that I trust is the truth that is left standing when I've left the dance floor. Some of this is Zen, maybe some of it is tag ends of "don't rock the boat" Shasta mentality but either way you've definitely left me with something to sit with.
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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Sat Nov 27, 2010 6:50 am

:-) Many thanks, everyone

Polly, I’m glad you enjoyed the bumblebees. You mentioned trying to find the RMJK quote re "All the way". It may have come from my infamous Correlations between Supramundane Paths thread, as follows:

For example, in Meetings With Remarkable Women (1987) she responded to a question from author Lenore Friedman on lay practice versus monastic life: “It all depends on how far you want to go. If you want to go the whole way, you must become a monk. You must be willing not to be married, you’ve literally got to give up everything. You cannot go the whole way unless you completely control, and no longer need or want, sex and anger. Those are the two things you really have to give up completely. To go the whole way. It’s very clear if you read the Theravada books on the subject. There are four kenshos, the four stages of understanding. A married person can very easily reach the first, and probably can’t reach the second, definitely not the third or fourth. This does not mean that marriage is wrong, it merely means you have to decide how far you want to go. And anyone can get a first kensho. It would seem to take between seven and ten years of celibacy before you can really go further…If you get a first kensho and you then decide to get married, you won’t go further. If you’re married already, and then decide to give yourself to the Eternal…”

The author interrupted at this point with the question, “Then sex is the important thing, and not the relationship?” to which Master Jiyu responded: “That’s what I said but the relationship does enter into it, because once you’ve had a kensho you can’t even marry for the sake of the relationship – because then you’ve taken something away from the Eternal, as it were, and given it to someone else."


I did see a few similar statements re "all the way" from RMJK elsewhere: I think it must have been in the OBC Journal.

Thank you for the information about Koshin ~ I guess this also might be why Amalia’s account suggests some attempt to persuade her towards monasticism.

I’ve rushed this reply a bit, being on a public computer: I hope to get a better look at what you all have written sometime soon when my home broadband is up and running.
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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Sat Nov 27, 2010 8:08 am

This makes interesting reading in relationship to Eko's leaving. Are his kenshos, after the first, going to be revoked?
I think that this whole area of sexual relations is one which the OBC has to tackle head on, but with compassion and understanding. I think that they can learn a lot from Eko's case. Once he and his friend had found that they were attracted to each other there was no way within the OBC that they could go forward unless they just broke the whole thing off. Many within the OBC seem to think that this is what should have happened. Then the longer they kept quiet about it the worse it would seem, even if they were still unsure of how they wanted to act.
If the OBC is to remain an organisation where both sexes train together, which to my mind is one of the better practices adopted, then they must face the inevitable prospect of relationships and will need to develop better and more compassionate ways than they appear to have at the moment. On the other hand it may be a case of Eko being hoist by his own petard.
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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Sat Nov 27, 2010 8:54 am

By extension, RMJK's own words could also be seen to negate and invalidate her own kenshos. She never gave up anger.
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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Sat Nov 27, 2010 11:07 am

Howard wrote:
Hey Jack
Your idea of deliberately surrounding yourself with people whose ideas conflict with your own is intriguing.

I've read about some historical political figures doing this to maintain political objectivity but I have not considered it for the spiritual realm. Kind of a joke when you consider how fundamental it is as a Tibetan Buddhist practise.

I first ran across the idea several years ago by means of a book, The Diamond Cutter, by Geshe Roach (Tibetan). I found the book mediocre, but part of the his practice for a while was to live making a living in the diamond industry without disclosing to anyone he was a Buddhist.

As a beginning Buddhist I found myself taking on a Buddhist persona (which included an OBC persona.) I found it to be just another identity, another self I was trying to create and maintain. All the ceremonial at the Priory seemed geared to reinforcing and maintaining this new "identity." For all the talk of anatta, everything seemed geared toward only creating a different version of self -- at least as I was experiencing it.

When I left the Priory, I did so with a couple of uncertainties. One was how to constructively disengage with those I had come to disagree with. It took deliberate effort to leave those who were finding some degree of happiness in their OBC experience to their own happiness without attempting to influence them differently. This has proved to be a wise choice. The second was whether or not my Buddhism would wither in choosing an association which. while not hostile to Buddhism, was disinterested and quite indifferent to it.

I have found this for me to be a far richer path than reinforcing my Buddhist persona. I don't deny I am Buddhist. I am truthful about it. But I don't proclaim it, advertise it, wear it on my shoulder, make opportunistic points of it. My own father doesn't know it, though he knows for certain I am not Christian. There is no need to add further anxiety or grief to his failing mind, nor will any truth identified as "Buddhist" truth help him.

In the diversity I experience, the authority of the Buddha has no contextual meaning or significance. In a way it is helpful that people do not generally know me to be Buddhist, because they nearly always have some vague confused notions that they tend to project when they hear that word. If they've read a Dalai Lama book, they project that. If they are afraid of "idol" worship, they project that fear onto Buddhist iconography. And so on. And helpfully, there is no place in our interactions to wander into any "iffy" discussions of nagas, devas, yaksas, asuras, etc. What they can relate to instantly is Buddhist truth in their experience -- as long as it doesn't come at them in Buddhist clothes.

It has somewhat surprising to me to find that, in several years of this diverse experience, the gems of Buddhist truth shine more brightly from having the cruft of institutional doctrine and beliefs worn away. And it has been convincing to me to find the Buddhist truth scattered widely throughout the experience of others who would run naked into the night if they thought they were having a Buddhist thought. It has been comforting to find that the Buddhist viewpoint can stand robustly as helpful truth in the rough and tumble of life without the protective over-mothering of a smothering sangha.

To quote the EPA, "Your mileage may vary."

P.S.

An example of what I find in the diverse world I have chosen to live in is this video I stumbled onto from a neuro-scientist yesterday in a completely serendipitous fashion. Buddhist truth: yes. Buddhist doctrine: probably not.

http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html


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Diana



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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Sat Nov 27, 2010 12:26 pm

Anne,

I read that passage from RMJK some time back regarding kenshos and relationships. Eko taught this verbatim. This quote says so much. I think that for someone just going to the Abbey to learn to meditate, like I did, that it is very dangerous to just be open to the whole experience without knowing that there are "rules" to this practice that will ask you to give up your whole life including all your relationships. Eko always seemed dissapointed with me and my tendancy to fight him over relationships. He taught me that I needed to be like Jiyu and be strong and give up sexual relationships. He said women in particular have a hard time becoming enlightened because of our tendancies at relying on men and "the world" to satisfy us (RMJK said this too). He said that the pure love that he found as a monk was much greater and more fullfilling than any relationship or anything outside of training as a monk. He likened the "buzz" he got from being a monk was like a hundred orgasims all going at the same time, 24-7. Sounds pretty good to me! But if it was so great, why did he leave, and leave to have a relationship?! I felt so duped after he left. What a blow. I can't even explain how I felt after learning about the circumstances of his leaving the Abbey. Except I can say that it answered all of my previous questions and gave me some closure regarding our relationship.

Eko "dismissed" me as his disciple when I announced my engagement. I think he finally gave up on me at that point. Maybe he had some fantasy that I would become a monk and be his disciple forever. He layed on the charm so heavy at first. Man, it was really intense. I was a total groupie. And there were many of us women who were.

I have no clue what "level' I got to and it doesn't matter to me now, but I feel that I could have been very happy and got much further along in my training if I was supported instead of manipulated, accepted instead of rejected, and taught instead of being left in the dark. The experience of kensho is so big that one needs to be well supported during and after. The last thing I wanted to know was I would go on retreat and afterwards find myself initiated into a cult that would turn my world upside down for 10 years. The experience itself was and is pure, but I felt like I had to battle the devil in order to keep it pure. This may sound funny, but the first time I saw Voldemort in the Harry Potter movies I freaked out. I had so many nightmares about Eko and he looked so similar to Voldemort in my dreams. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. There is a very dark force surrounding Eko. I'm sure that his karma is coming about now. I hope he doesn't ruin anyone else's lives. To take something pure and manipulate it to serve your own desires and delusions is serious business.

Peace,
Diana
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Sat Nov 27, 2010 1:11 pm

Well done Diana,good for you speak out loud. I am afraid what I feel like saying would be deleted.
You say dark force, well I agree. These prvious lives, or attachments to them, or placing importance to them is a load of **** I censor my own. What involvment did Eko have in the previous lives? who indeed was he in his previous life ? was he anyone important? I wonder indeed.
The trouble with wrong practice, is that it festers, it may take a time to come out , but you can,t pretend it was not there.The rules get tighter, the discrediting deeper, the control greater. Mark Strathern has said on a couple of his entries about making mistakes and learning , I agree, I also think that a lot of people who have written here have fer greater understanding of zazen, than perhaps they give themselves credit for, because under tough circumstances,they said no, this practice is not for me. But please do not say the way is not for me,as they are 2 very different things
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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Sat Nov 27, 2010 2:01 pm

Diana,
I cannot affirm or deny the veracity of what you say. However, what you describe is unconsciousable. The image that comes to mind is the devil dancing with fire. This situation is way beyond 'celibate' or 'non-celibate'--it is pure delusion.
When I was a novice time was set aside to read the precepts everyday. Meditation and the Precepts are inseparable. What is stillness without practice? It used to be taught that one acts reflexively, when one has the eye to see, one responds.
What happened here?
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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Sat Nov 27, 2010 3:04 pm

Hey Diana
Blindness and manipulation is synonymous with attachment. We all experience this.

The most seductive and devious attachment I've seen senior monks trying to deal with has centred around the acquiring of disciples.

Maybe its because so many other attachments have been squashed instead of faced, maybe its because it looks like what the master did or maybe its just the most acceptable replacement for the worldly relationships that you long for, but it always comes swaddled in dharmic excuses.

Some of Shasta's most fundamental guideline conditions for restricting the admission of disciples have been ignored in the face of this attachment. It is not surprising that it has also resulted in some of the widest spread of suffering.

I also don't think the Shasta brass was about letting go of all relationships or attachments, just the ones that didn't fit its own dharmic storyline.
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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Sat Nov 27, 2010 3:20 pm

Diana
Daisetz Suzuki who was a great champion of Zen and introduced it to the west said that he had met more people that had gained enlightenment through Pure Land Buddhism than Zen, and most of them were married women.
The central practice of all the Buddhist sects that I have come across is mindfulness in one form or another, that with compassion and the precepts make up the whole of practice, the rest is 'skilful means' and sometimes just mumbo jumbo. The Catholic Thomas Aquinas said it very well: 'If you want to know the Truth seek for what is.'
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Diana



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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Sat Nov 27, 2010 5:17 pm

Chisan,
"The trouble with wrong practice, is that it festers, it may take a time to come out , but you can,t pretend it was not there.The rules get tighter, the discrediting deeper, the control greater." This is very accurate in the case of Eko. I noticed a big change in him over the time I knew him. He seemed to deteriorate and become more and more concerned with things of a more "magical" or dark path. There was a wider and wider divide between his own longing for power and control and the Dharma. He projected his own repressed life and delusions on those around him. He was very skillfull at manipulation and the powers of influence. He grew more and more pathological over time- obsessive, compulsive, narcissitic. He was the ultimate "cult leader." He was charming, charismatic, paradoxical, extremely intelligent. He was also cruel and cunning. As far as karma goes, that's a big subject that I don't care to go into much as that was one of the tools that was used to seduce me into submission. These things fed the idea that practice was mystical and fantastic, which may be true, BUT, when used as teaching by someone like Eko, can be destructive.

Sophia,
"This situation is way beyond 'celibate' or 'non-celibate'--it is pure delusion." You got that right! What happened? Well, it is very complex. Many people over the years complained about Eko. Why didn't the Head of the Order do something about this. My concern is, what stop-gaps are there for people who have serious complaints? There must be a better way to keep the Roshi's from going off the deep end. Precept #1 should be Goal #1: DO NO HARM.

Howard,
Looking back, Eko's attachments were so bleeping obvious! I can't believe something wasn't done earlier. Especially after he had aquired his 10th or so female disciple. I believe he also had a deep attachment to MY experiences and kept me around for other purposes. I was able to see some things and I trusted him to help me with the meaning. Now I wish I hadn't. I should have waited for meaning to reveal itself over time. Some of it now has; some things have been clarified that were once there, but in a sort of fog. The facination with them is gone, but I feel that they are absolutely true.

Mark,
"The central practice of all the Buddhist sects that I have come across is mindfulness in one form or another, that with compassion and the precepts make up the whole of practice, the rest is 'skilful means' and sometimes just mumbo jumbo. The Catholic Thomas Aquinas said it very well: 'If you want to know the Truth seek for what is.' So true! There was no "regular" practice of precepts, mindfulness, compassion, with Eko; it was all "mumbo-jumbo." It was such a delusion. And so not helpful in the "real world." I originally just wanted to know how to meditate. The more I hung around, I got more curious about compassion and how to live a good life. I didn't even meet Eko until after I had my kensho. It was in that vulnerable state that I became a disciple. I just wanted some help and insight into what was going on with me. A little kindness and compassion would have done the job, I think. I was/am a Truth seeker, still. Maybe that is why I am still here on this forum. Still seeking the Truth.

Thanks so much everyone (and to those who have contacted me privately), for your support and kind words.

Peace,
Diana
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Sat Nov 27, 2010 6:25 pm

Again Diana good for you, You speak very clearly of the way seeking mind that you know you have,and nobody has stopped you so far,that is for me is very inspiring. I have been inspired my many things and people, not always in the circumstances one expects. When we take refuge in a spiritual place, or a place we feel is spiritual. I think there are special responsibilities, we have one to ourselves, not to fooled or taken in, whilst being prepared to leap in the dark occassionally. A good teacher wants you to be self reliant, is not interested in you spending a life time as a spiritual slave. The teacher has a greater responsibility to lead from the front, not so much what he says but what he does. I stayed in a japanese temple, and actually was the only westerner, the first to go there Before I met him the Abbot was called back to Eiheji to do aspell of being the Godo roshi, which is the teaching roshi, he was there for a few years, when he left to return to his own temple, also a teaching temple, he left formally in the robes of a travelling monk,a monk with no title or status. He left formally and bowed at the main gate the whole temple bowed back, his simple action and humility, inspired everyone there. Inspired them to find the true way within themselves. I think when you..me have a problem with a teacher we have to look for the positive, wrong actions do show right actions,and we take this with us and practice strong,together or on our own whichever it does not matter. So my friend your strength and story inspire me my love to you and thanks
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Diana



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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Sat Nov 27, 2010 7:25 pm

Thanks again, Chisan. I hope with time I can bow at all this. I think I'm getting closer to that point. You are right: "wrong actions do show right actions." I would not however, use this as a teacher to justify "wrong actions" unless they were able to take the trainee aside later, after the "lesson" has been learned, and apologize for causing pain and suffering and explain the need for the hurt and praise the trainee for their strength and perserverance. And, if the teaching went awry, and the student didn't "get it," there should be the same apology. Things must be set right even if they are wronged if one wishes to not create bad karma or harm. In order for a teacher to this, they must have humility and wisdom. They would need to really understand karma and what the Buddha was trying to teach. They must be willing to look at themselves too and accept responsibility for their actions. Show me a teacher who can do this, and I might be willing to say I might give them a try. Peace and love to you. ~Diana
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Ilo Sunim



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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Sat Nov 27, 2010 7:33 pm

Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates. A good suggestion. The Shasta I remember put a major emphasis on the special blessings inherent in taking ordination and the robes and bowls. Perhaps this was due to traditional views handed down since Dogen if not before. In Buddhism you see a lot of such insights: for example anyone who had a monk in their family got special karmic outcomes, or that inherent blessings resided in the kesa beyond anything achievable by the laity. Shasta perhaps reflected those traditional themes.

Today I enter the 63rd year of my life; 39 years since joyously committing to Buddhism and if I am sure of anything, the true meritocracy extending through lay and ordained is that of how well one treats one fellows, how much practical wisdom/compassion and love are able to make the hands move and the voice speak. Robes and insights-- they come and are detached from, then picked up again in the natural cycle of satisfaction and yearning love/inquiry-at the top of the mountain, another mountain; but it is kindness that is paramount. That is the flower of infinite worth. Kindness gets the transmission.
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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Sat Nov 27, 2010 8:02 pm

Diana, my friend, I am not giving up yet ! I will do soon for today as it is midnight where I am, and I have to be up early. You feel you have been wronged , abused, and you have, this takes time to sort out, let go of, whatever. I would be cruel to say drop it, because that is not right either.
I feel the problem is not you, I believe you have been asked to look for the wrong thing in the wrong place. Again my love
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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Sat Nov 27, 2010 9:30 pm

Ilo Sunim wrote:

... Today I enter the 63rd year of my life; 39 years since joyously committing to Buddhism and if I am sure of anything, the true meritocracy extending through lay and ordained is that of how well one treats one fellows, how much practical wisdom/compassion and love are able to make the hands move and the voice speak. Robes and insights-- they come and are detached from, then picked up again in the natural cycle of satisfaction and yearning love/inquiry-at the top of the mountain, another mountain; but it is kindness that is paramount. That is the flower of infinite worth. Kindness gets the transmission.
Happy birthday, Ilo sunny Beautiful post. Thank you I love you

Lise
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Ilo Sunim



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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Sat Nov 27, 2010 10:07 pm

"Ah, this old monk finally has a descendant!"

On Spring Wind Mountain
even the rocks grow fragrant flowers...

sunny

Ilo
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Tue Nov 30, 2010 8:35 am

:-) Thank you, all

I shall PM Seikai to ask if RMJK's above-quoted teaching is the sole representative teaching on this matter in the OBC (and, if so, what the sources are for this view, what would change it, and whether Eko's third kensho has been "revoked" by the OBC in some way - Mark, thank you for this point); or whether some seniors hold, and are allowed to teach, the alternative view. I will post details of his reply.

This summer, shortly before reading of Eko's romance and departure, I had been thinking that such an event (perhaps more than one of them) might be necessary to prompt a paradigm-shift in the OBC. In the After the Conclave: First Steps thread, Laura's post dated Nov 28 shows that Eko was acknowledged as having had a third kensho, which might encourage revision of this paradigm. As to the OBC "revoking" part of his second kensho and his third, in the pre-Mahayana days of the Mahasanghikas, some held that an arhat 's actions could result in his/her loss of arhat status: I have wondered if this included arhats who disrobed, and perhaps married, as these actions would have been inexplicable, to some, in terms of the accepted hinayana paradigm.

Once Eko has digested the matter, he may have something very valuable to say about it.
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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Tue Nov 30, 2010 11:51 am

Hi Anne,

Eko's third kensho was never publicly discussed with the Shasta Abbey community. It was secret information known only to a very few of the most senior monks. I'm not sure they can revoke something that was never officially acknowledged. The only reason I heard about it was from RM Meian as a means to excuse any behavior of Eko's that I found fault with, such as this relationship with his female disciple.

~ Laura
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Tue Nov 30, 2010 12:57 pm

Thanks, Laura
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Thu Dec 02, 2010 6:35 pm

I am very pleased to post, with Seikai's permission, his response to questions I asked him, which appear in red text below:

Dear Anne,

I will do my best to answer your three questions, based on my own personal experience in these matters, as opposed to what Rev. Master Jiyu herself taught, which isn't always totally clear to me; please understand that what she taught has only served as a springboard for me to have my own understanding of these matters. What I understand is truth for me, in the same way that I came to the conclusion that what Rev. Master Jiyu taught, especially with regard to kensho experience, was her own personal truth.

Before attempting to answer your specific questions, I would like to clarify something in the area of kensho experience and the four stages of sainthood according to the Theravada tradition. RMJK equated stream entry, Sotapanna, with the first kensho in Zen. What must be let go of for stream entry are three fetters: a) belief in an unchanging entity, a permanent soul, which is an enduring self, as opposed to the teaching of anatta, no-soul or egolessness; b) doubts regarding the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and also sometimes are included doubts regarding the past, the future, both together, and Dependent Origination; and c) adherence to wrongful rites and ceremonies. She equated the second Zen kensho, which she called the on-going Fugen kensho, or second kensho, to the second stage, Sakadagami, translated as Once-returner. What are let go of or purified in this stage are coarser forms of clinging to: d) anger, and e) attachment to sense objects, which includes desire of the lustful sort. The third stage of sainthood, Non-returner or Anagami, she equated with the third Zen kensho, and in this stage what is let go of or purified are the subtler attachments to anger and objects of sense desire. Because those cravings are assumed to remain intact so long as one is married, RMJK said in no uncertain terms that it was not possible for lay practicioners and non-celibates of whatever stripe to pass beyond this stage. Beyond this level is where things get murky. At one time it was my understanding that she thought there was a fourth Zen kensho that equated with the final rank of sainthood, that of the Arahant; later it seemed that she adjusted that view to accommodate the third and fourth levels of sainthood into the third Zen kensho. In her later years she stopped talking about these things altogether, except perhaps in private conversations, so it was hard to get an exact read on what she was thinking. The Arahant level requires the relinquishing of the last five of the ten fetters; they are: f) attachment to realms of form; g) attachment to formless realms; h) pride; i) restlessness, and j) ignorance. A through J are the ten fetters.

Anne writes:


My questions are as follows:

Does Reverend Master Jiyu’s view of who may or cannot reach the third Zen kensho (i.e celibate monastics may but laypeople and non-celibate monastics cannot) represent the sole “official view” of the matter in the OBC?
No, it does not. In fact, there is no such thing as an “official view” in the OBC since the death of Rev. Master Jiyu in 1996. Those of us in a position to teach Buddhism may teach, as I do, from our own understanding. There have been reports of individuals such as Eko and Koshin teaching this but, to your knowledge, do some seniors hold the view that, in principle, laypeople and non-celibate monastics also can reach the third kensho, and are these seniors allowed to express and teach this view? I know of one other senior monk in our order who would openly agree with me that laypeople and non-celibate monks of whatever stripe may reach the third stage of sainthood. In my own understanding, I do not necessarily equate kensho experience with the stages of sainthood, because in my experience I know and understand the four stages, but exactly what does or does not constitute a kensho is a somewhat nebulous business. It is simply too subjective to be of very much use to me in teaching Zen or Buddhism, and so I just stay clear of the whole topic as a general rule. But with regard to who can and cannot reach the third level of sainthood, Anagami, it is a matter of how much you are willing to give up. The universe does not impose limits on our spiritual development just because we happen to have a spouse or partner in life; but having said that, one does have to go a very long way in the realm of purification of anger and sense desire in order to reach this level. Hence, it is generally assumed that not having a spouse or partner, being a less complicated place to occupy in life, is beneficial and wise in this regard. I have just expressed this view, openly and in writing for the first time, and I would imagine that no one in the OBC will object to my having done so.

2. If the view expressed by Master Jiyu represents the official view within the OBC:
a) Do you know the sources for this view? It seems similar to that found in the Theravada and some pre-Mahayana schools. Exact references would be very helpful, if you can provide them.
Since her view as official ended with her life, not much more need be said. However, what I use as a reference is The Buddha and His Teachings, by Narada Maha Thera, pp. 543-550.

b) If someone wishes to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the OBC that this view is incorrect, what evidence would be required? There is no person who can or wishes to pose as “the OBC”, so it is a moot point. Further, the use of the word “incorrect” is too rigid for me and most other monks; in other words, there must be some sort of absolute “correct” in order to have “incorrect.”

c) What is the situation for someone who has had a “third kensho” as a monk but who later disrobes, perhaps marries: how is that kensho viewed? For example, is the return to lay life, and marriage, regarded as proof that it was not a third kensho? Or is the person’s training believed to have regressed in some way? Or is there another view? There is no way for me to prove or disprove anyone having had a kensho, or their having not had a kensho. I don't even want to use the word at all. In the same way that migratory geese will fly a straight line south for the winter, and then stop for a while at a suitable wetland area before continuing their journey, we humans do the same thing in our very long, sometimes meandering journey home to re-union with the Buddha Mind. That journey takes place over the course of several lifetimes, and this fact makes it doubly hard to nail such concepts down into tidy categories. The four stages of sainthood characterize stages along the way, but I for one cannot define them in quite so rigid a fashion as is typically done in the Theravada literature. They make much more sense to me than my Master's teaching on kensho experience, but even so, one is trying to apply a fairly rigid system of classification on a realm of human experience that is just about as fluid as water.


3. If some OBC seniors hold, express and teach the view that, in principle, laypeople and non-celibate monastics also can reach the third kensho, are would-be students informed of the two opposing views and who teaches them, so that on this basis they can choose with whom they study? I personally have never been in the situation of having to inform a would-be student of the two views—whether or not they are opposing being a matter of opinion—so I can't answer your question. I simply don't know what any other senior monk of our order would and would not do in this regard.
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: Affirming the spiritual potential of laity and non-celibates   Fri Dec 03, 2010 6:47 am

Seikai's explanation has corrected my surmise that RMJK: a) included the second and third Theravada stages of sainthood in the "second [Zen] kensho" (a.k.a "ongoing Fugen kensho"); and b) equated the "third [Zen] kensho" solely with entering the fourth Theravada stage of sainthood.

This information on errata may not contribute much to the reader's edification but I include it lest its absence later rears up and undetectedly bites someone reading some of my other posts! It may need to be factored in.

If you see my name flash up in "Last Posts" on the HGLB or (dare I say the name...?!) Correlations between Supramundane Paths threads, it's just my tying up this loose end...or perhaps creating another one... Hmmm... I live in hope but not very much expectation...
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