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 Changing places

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Lise
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PostSubject: Changing places    Wed Nov 24, 2010 7:28 pm

I went out with sangha friends for lunch today and learned that one has a brother who is leaving after seven years as a monk. Some in his family are happy about the change, some are not, but all are concerned about his transition back into the world. I have to admit I'm curious about this, the process of coming back, mostly in regard to the etiquette or protocol for what friends and family can do to help, or stay out of the way if that's better. But how to know which is appropriate, and when?

L.


Last edited by Watson on Fri Dec 03, 2010 12:58 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : changing thread title for better description)
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ddolmar

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PostSubject: Re: Changing places    Fri Dec 03, 2010 12:43 pm

By the way (somewhat off-topic), but Reverend Sheridan Running, one of Rev. Master Eko's disciples, has left Shasta Abbey and the OBC as of Nov. 26th, after five years of practice there. The story is posted at least temporarily at http://www.shastaabbey.org/news.html, where he is given a kind, very brief send-off. This is apparently a significant improvement to the way that other leave-taking monks have been treated in the past, according to the OBC Connect's collection of stories, although I have not seen any of the previous "action" first-hand except Eko's resignation which also was pretty well-handled in my opinion despite the difficult circ's.

BUT Rev. Sheridan is evidently remaining in monastic life, moving to the Mid-America Buddhist Association in Augusta, Missouri. MABA appears to be a relatively small temple. Looks like it was started by some Chinese monks. Their website is here: http://www.maba-usa.org/Home.html.

I always thought Rev. Sheridan was one of those who kept Buddhism completely down to earth. Must have been a rough year for Eko's disciples generally.
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Changing places    Fri Dec 03, 2010 5:03 pm

Ha. Watson had me remove his last post, says his meaning wasn't clear, so, poof it's gone. Dan, I think he meant your post IS on topic now that the thread title is changed so no worries.

It would be interesting to hear from Eko's disciples (if they posted) how they feel about things now compared to last May.

I'm not familiar with MABA but I have friends who've been there and have met the abbot, Ven. Ji Ru. Much positive buzz about him. I hope Rev. Sheridan finds it to be a good move -
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Changing places    Fri Dec 03, 2010 6:27 pm

Lise wrote:
I have to admit I'm curious about this, the process of coming back, mostly in regard to the etiquette or protocol for what friends and family can do to help, or stay out of the way if that's better. But how to know which is appropriate, and when?

L.

If you're asking for yourself I'd say making your friend's brother aware that you've been "in" and now your "out" could mean a lot. I very much wanted to be able to process my departure from Shasta Abbey, but it took me a long time to find others who I felt could understand. I didn't only want people to talk with who would listen and be empathetic (though that is certainly helpful) - I wanted someone capable of giving me reality checks. That requires having gone through a sufficiently similar experience. If such a person is not available then a real willingness to listen without judgement is a good place to start. Having spent years practicing meditation and doing pastoral counseling at Shasta it was very painful to discover how poor most people's listening skills are in the general culture. It seems like learning how to listen is reserved for therapists and psychologists to whom you then have to pay exorbitant amounts of money for the privilege (sorry Kaizan... )
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Changing places    Sat Dec 04, 2010 9:48 am

Isan,
My lawyer will be getting in touch with your lawyer.
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PostSubject: Re: Changing places    Sat Dec 04, 2010 5:08 pm

Kaizan,

Don't forget, you'll need a court reporter.


Smile
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Changing places    Sat Dec 04, 2010 6:55 pm

Are you a court reporter? Because I want a record.
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Changing places    Thu Dec 09, 2010 9:51 pm

Isan wrote:


If you're asking for yourself I'd say making your friend's brother aware that you've been "in" and now your "out" could mean a lot. I very much wanted to be able to process my departure from Shasta Abbey, but it took me a long time to find others who I felt could understand. I didn't only want people to talk with who would listen and be empathetic (though that is certainly helpful) - I wanted someone capable of giving me reality checks. That requires having gone through a sufficiently similar experience. ...

Finally catching up to this thread. Thanks Isan, for your thoughts. I haven't met my friend's brother yet so I don't have the proximity that a close friend or relative might. The topic is interesting though. If someone said to me, "I've just left a religious order after X number of years", I wouldn't know how to respond -- would probably muddle through a polite reply. No way to know if the person is quite glad to have left, or if wasn't their choice, or any combination of circumstances. Probably best just to focus on those listening skills you alluded to and keep one's lip zipped. I have not been conditioned to see "giving back the vows" as a failure in any way, so I'm not worried about communicating a negative message. Part of me would want to say "welcome back, is there anything I can do for you" but even that seems presumptuous.

I know this is a very personal topic, and I don't want to press anyone for disclosures. But I am interested, if anyone wants to talk about it, in the process of how a monk returns to lay life when it's their choice and they have time to plan it. I'm also interested in the thought processes that happen once you start to know that monastic life isn't your path anymore. Do monks talk about this to other monks, or do they keep it close to the vest until they've passed the decision point? What is it like, to be in the community after you've made the decision public but before you've left? Are they still nice to you?

Lot of questions. Sorry, I'm a curious rat.

L.
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PostSubject: Re: Changing places    Fri Dec 10, 2010 1:19 am

Lise, just to make the question more complex--I am going to throw out yet another option. This is based entirely on my own experience and conviction.

I would propose the possibility that many of us who "leave" an institutional setting--whether as monastics or laity--have not left our original purpose, intention, or practice at all. What we have left, is the way that an institution came to define it for us.

For many of us, this process of leaving can be rather confusing. I think Lise, that your sensitivity is well founded. Religious institutions implicitly "frame" the process of leaving a vocation as a form of set-back or failure, simply because "success", by institutional definition, is to remain a member of the institution!

But, the spiritual quest itself both precedes and transcends all religious institutions.

I would therefore propose the principle(s) that responding to a lay person or monk who has left an institution might simultaneously involve:

Full acceptance of the event--and support for their decision and their innate spiritual integrity and insight;

A trust that the purpose and intention of the original spiritual quest has not changed despite the events, and whatever roller coaster spectrum of feelings, the person might now be experiencing;

Support for their process of broadening and deepening their own understanding and definition of what a spiritual quest is--and the way in which it can be lived--beyond the limitations imposed by the institution that they were involved with;

So that they--and, indeed, all of us--can take back our own spiritual quest, for ourselves.
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PostSubject: Re: Changing places    Fri Dec 10, 2010 1:55 am

Not sure I underatand fully what you say Kozan but if you are saying ones practice or ones spirituality is not dependant on a religious institution ( I think that is what you are saying) then I completely agree with you.I think(again) one of teh problems surfacing on the forum, is people have found it difficult to be atomonous in this particular institution. There seemed to have been a requirment of Kennett for students to be dependant on her,which of course makes it a bit difficult to find ones own spirituality which is not dependant on anything,If I have misunderstood,please advise.
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PostSubject: Re: Changing places    Fri Dec 10, 2010 2:52 am

Chisan--I fully agree with your understanding of what I tried to express--and I fully agree with your additional observations on the matter!

It seems to me that, one way or another, we all rely on those who have preceded us in experience (I am touched by your account of your experience and time with Bill Picard). For many of us (for you and me both), this teaching connection may also be with an institution.

And yet as you say, and as I believe, our own spiritual autonomy is always the essential basis of spiritual practice itself!
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