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 My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern

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mstrathern
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PostSubject: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:12 pm

I left Shasta in 1976, I had been, like Josh Baran and some others on the forum, one of the first group of those ordained in the States. I am English and had followed Jiyu back from England when she had come over very shortly after she come to the States. At this point in time she had been a Soto Zen monk for only seven years. What Jiyu taught at that time was a very orthodox Soto with some minor adaptations to western needs. She was a powerful and authoritarian figure but had a few personal foibles, a minor paranoia about English and Japanese authorities persecution amongst them. But nothing that got too much in the way of our training which followed the lines of her own training in Sojiji.
I stayed with her in Oakland and then Shasta for about eighteen months at which time I could no longer get any further extensions on my visitors visa. I returned to England with Jiyu urging me to find somewhere to set up a centre there. I found Throssel Hole farm, a hippy commune, for sale and bought it with money I had inherited. Then Jiyu came over for three months and I went back with her to States where after some time I received transmission and was declared a dharma heir being given her original Sojiji bowls in recognition of this. After about 18 months was sent back to Throssel as prior with full rights to bestow ordination and transmission. During my stay Jiyu health was not always good and her in retrospect I can see that her behaviour was becoming more erratic and autocratic.
After running Throssel for a few years very much in line with the outline of practice in 'Selling Water by the River' which Jiyu had written in conjunction with one of her teachers Suigan Yogo Roshi and a South African disciple Myozen Miyagawa, I was asked to come back to Shasta for a period. When I arrived at Shasta I found it superficially the same, however at the centre there was a clique around Jiyu that had started to practice with her a kind of massage called Jin Shin (I believe also referred to at Shasta as mudras and flows) that she had started and said that had been instrumental in her having a third kensho, though I don't exactly recall her second. The result of Jin Shin was that Jiyu and a number of others had visions and experienced former lives. I did not see the relevance of this to Soto Zen, or any Zen for that matter, I had sat with Sochu Suzuki Roshi's group for a number of years before joining Jiyu. But, whatever, who was I to know so I threw myself back into things and took the advice I had given to others on a number of occasions - that is to set a time limit at some point in the future and to suspend disbelief and judgement till then and see how I felt at that later time. However as time went on the experiences became more and more outlandish. I believe it was Eko who had been Jesus, others including Jiyu had been, Bhodidharma, St John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and any number of inmates and guards from German WWII concentration camps. My touchstone at the time was'Does this lead to the truth?' and this sure wasn't leading me on the path to the truth, it was blocking it. There came a point when I felt that it would be quite hypocritical if I stayed so I arranged a meeting with Jiyu where I explained my misgivings and that I thought that the visions and previous life experiences that were so prevalent were makyo (delusions) and antagonistic to true training. I left within a few days after a number of monks, I think at Jiyu's behest, came to try and dissuade me.
When I returned to England I was in some quandary as to what to do. In my absence a senior Shasta monk had been installed, but I felt that I owed a duty of care to those at Throssel who I had taught and ordained to explain my actions. I went to Throssel, still deeply confused and troubled, and explained. I said that it was of course up to them to make their own minds up. Now looking back on this period I feel that I could have handled this better, especially as I had a duty of care, indeed did care deeply, for those at Throssel. I also told Chisan/Hofuku Hughes and his wife, Kyosei, and Bill Picard who had received transmission from Jiyu and ran a meditation group in Cornwall. Some believed and split with Shasta and some did not. Unfortunately Hofuku went one way and Kyosei another and I feel badly about the part I may have played in the break up of their marriage.
A few months later I received a letter from one of the monks who had decided to go over to Shasta saying that she repudiated me because I had lied to her about what was happening at Shasta. I later learnt that the inner clique at Shasta had decided to say that I had lied because whilst I had said that those at Shasta believed that they had experiences of previous lives as Jesus, Bhodidharma, etc. this was not true because they had had previous lives as Jesus, Bhodidharma, etc.This level of casuistry confirmed my belief that Shasta had gone down a wrong path, which it looked as if it would be difficult to turn back and sadly that seems to true. A further confirmation saddened me and told of how badly things had gone wrong even at my beloved Throssel when I read a published history of Throssel and its founding in which I was not mentioned at all. If you go to Germany you will find Hitler and all his lesser cronies mentioned in the history books despite the difficulty and guilt this causes, but if you had gone to Hitler's Germany you would have found many people who written out of the history books. This is standard practice where they fear and cannot face the truth.
I have on occasion over the intervening years pondered why this all happened. At one time when I was at Shasta we were visited on a number of occasions by the father confessor and spiritual director of a group of Augustinian nuns. We all got on well with him, I particularly like discussions I had with him on the dutch mystic Jan van Ruysbroek. One time we were all sat in Jiyu's cottage and he said 'It is o good to come to a monastery where so much training is going on. Everyone seems to be in training, except of course you Jiyu.' Jiyu, clearly outraged, explained to him that he did not understand the training of an Abbess (despite the fact that he was spiritual director to one!). He never came back. I realised at the time that he was right, Jiyu was a teacher but no longer a trainee. In the pressure cooker atmosphere of a training monastery without the backbone of training, or the insight and honesty to admit that she had stopped, makyo stepped in as the outcome of falsified training and took the place of authentic experience, as she herself had taught that under those circumstances it would. Outside scrutiny might have helped but Jiyu was never one to brook outside interference or even any real criticism.
The real tragedy is the number of people that have been damaged by this. Those who where there at the time and followed down the path that she led seem to have been caught ion the same trap believing that whatever they are doing is true training and brooking no criticism to the contrary. There are those who have managed to slip through the holes in the net of Mara that was woven and hopefully in the long run they will prevail and true training become the norm again.
Gasho to all of our little sangha here.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:54 am

well done Mark
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Tue Nov 30, 2010 3:01 am

Wow, Mark. That's a HECK of a story, a Shakespearean tragedy played out in real life. King Lear didn't retire, he wasn't deposed, he just went mad on the throne and caused, or enabled, his royal court to go over the cliff after him.

What a shame that you are not given due credit for buying the Throssel land, and even leading the place for a time.

Thanks very much for banging all that out for us.
--Dan
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Tue Nov 30, 2010 3:06 am

I wonder if they know about this in Japan
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Tue Nov 30, 2010 6:09 am

So it is out the story of Jesus, funny that it is out now, and Eko eh.
I have been disturbed by some of the posts here about how some of the girls found their 'relationship with Eko. he sounds preditory to me.
I hope Mark's story throws insight and allows a moving on. I was very touched by Dianas story, and Diana if you read this,my days here are numbered,I have oked it with the contact button at the bottom to allow you to contact me direct. I can not offer anything, other than friend ship, and you can write whenever you want, Josh Baran is easy to find on google, he would always pass an email on too.
It is a sick story all this, and a story of control, control of peoples minds and movements.
Mark was incredibly discredited because he did not go along with all this.i mean kennett was Bodidarma and Eko Jesus,you are having a laugh. And also being preditors on new innocent people who know nothing,rewriting the record book to block out bits and pieces.
Mark took a responsibility of leadership, and did his best with faults and and human failings, but was genuine and tried his best. I am delighted that he has told the whole story because it gives me the chance to say
'Well done Mark'
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Tue Nov 30, 2010 7:38 am

Thank you Mark for telling us all that . I'm so sorry you were treated like that , well still are being as far as throssel goes . What ' history' of throssel is it that you refer to ? not that i want to read it , but i cant imagine what it could be , or who could write it .
It too explains a lot of my own unease and mistrust ,and confirms things i , half ,dont want confirmed .At least though now there is an explanation as to how it all began.
I'm still though very shocked , stunned , i went for a walk after reading your huge in every way posting .Snow on the ground, 1 blackbird in the thick hedge , geese flying overhead squawking a little - alerting , comforting perhaps , but i still feel a terrible sadness about the whole blooming OBC set up .OOOOOOHHH disillusion .NO more illusions ............ but not sure i know what true training is anymore . Nicky
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Tue Nov 30, 2010 8:03 am

True training is in our own Heart.Awareness of right hear and now.
Just this. Perseverance is key.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Tue Nov 30, 2010 10:31 am

Nicky, i am sure Mark will comment for you later. now is the time to trust your own meditation, trust your own heart, it will lead you where you want to go. Leave the concepts behind, trust yourself
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Tue Nov 30, 2010 12:19 pm

Hi Mark,

I wish to heck I had known about the Jesus/Bodhidharma thing before. It would have steered me clear of the OBC and saved me a lot of grief. I can certainly understand why you decided to depart! Thanks very much for sharing your story.

~ Laura
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Tue Nov 30, 2010 4:33 pm

I remember materials from the guesthouse bookcase at Shasta that mentioned Throssel's origins. I'm sure they said Kennett purchased the property and started the priory. I remember thinking that odd when I read it. It didn't make sense that she could afford the Shasta location and buy a farm in Northumberland not long after with no English sangha built up yet. Nothing about a Daiji Strathern, his efforts, his funding.

The pieces fall into place, don't they, as the "disappeareds" come back. Thanks Mark.

Lise
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mstrathern
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Tue Nov 30, 2010 10:05 pm

Nicky
I am sorry to have brought you confusion.
The salt marshes will never lie to you they only tell you what is here and now, sometimes achingly alone, sometimes great love.
Thanks for the pictures.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Tue Feb 15, 2011 6:17 pm

Mark

I just reread your story about Throssel, all that, had only skimmed over it earlier, but now actually read it and it got to me. and I was again sort of overwhelmed by all that coldness, that flippant disregard for the feelings of others, the lack of gratitude, of love, and I feel as Nicky says in her post above about her feelings of mistrust confirmed yet half not wanting to be confirmed, and that rings very familiar. How very sad is all of that, how very sad really.!
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Tue Feb 15, 2011 7:23 pm

Very sad maybe,but Mark did not sell himself out.

Look at the TV show of Gempo how can someone be claiming to give people enlightenment experiences, and acting in a dispicable way, by having sex with his Vice abboy and a string of other women,and hundreds of thousand people voted for the show.
Mark saw something he did not like at Shasta and made a stand for what he felt was right.That brigitte is good zazen that is the way of someone who has really seen something to treasure,at any cost,the cost was high,he was the abott full of buddhism since school,but said no to what he felt he had to.We must not be fooled into thinking that zazen only happens in easy situations, in a life punctuated by gongs and chants the real test is in our daily lives. From the point Mark left and the discredting and cover up started,the basis of zen practice at Shatsa had changed
The same with gempo the free life style of what I saw encouraged by alcohol and sex encouraged self assurance and will power the basis of the practice was no longer zazen.
We must not think it is all bad, and that there are no serious practicioners, or people who quietly believe and get on with their practice, there are many people all over the world who are moved by their own hearts and their own meditation. I remeber an interview with a rabbi,someeone asked him about his practice,saying whenever I think of jewish people I think of noise and chatter,does not your faith have a deep silence. the Rabbi said we do but we don't talk about it
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breljo

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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:43 pm

What you're saying in essence Chisan is that you must go withthat gut feeling, or listen with your heart, however you want to put it, and if you go against that it will be false and it will not be Zazen. Mark did sacrifice a lot I realize, though, but life goes on and the beauty of Zazen is that it gives the ability to see clearly, whether in a sad situation or a happy one. Like the busdriver the other day, who against all rules and regulations went out of his way the other day to wait and actually get out of the bus and look for one of his regular passengers, that had a disability, and whom he knew would not be able to catch aother bus after this last one, and everyone waiting until he finally located the guy. What a bodhisattva that was. So life teaches you real lessons and when you see kindness like that you recognize it and it teaches and it matters.

As for someone like Genpo, or Gempo, he seems to be a result of Media Marketing or something like that, and I am very afraid that so many people fall for someone like that so easily. And as your last sentence illustrates a little dose of humor is always welcome.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Tue Feb 15, 2011 9:30 pm

Thanks for telling your story, Mark. I see they've moved it over to this section. I was on a short retreat in 1971 at the Abbey and I believe you were there, and notably one of the "main guys" with high visibility. (At the same retreat I roomed with Keitetsu Norton who went on to found Norton Symantec where many folks get their security software.) I think you were also present at a retreat I attended near Eugene on the MacKenzie River. In later visits when you weren't there, no one would speak about you or what had happened exactly. That should always be a red flag in any community, when people disappear and no longer have an identity or story in the community, as if they never existed.

You have quoted Van Ruysbroek, Eckhart, and mentioned the Augustinian monk/confessor as friend. Have you found other connections and common ground in the world of the Christian mystics, or Christian contemplative communities?
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Wed Feb 16, 2011 2:05 am

I think Brigette that the truth is the truth,the reality of our lives is where we train, the reality may not be what we like sometimes,but is is reality. The message Genpo gives out seems veiled in his self,what he can help you achieve,but the reality of what he teaches is to me very flawed,by the way he perceives,and treats other people. What I think Genpo teaches from listening to his TV show is that Reality is here and now,so what ever you do in the here and now is the way,jusy accept it and be at one with it. This is an excuse for any type of behaviour,devoid of compassion,and responsibility.I believe the main difference between Hinayana and mahayana,is the former use the precepts to live correctly and as a consequence learn to find the good ness within. Mahayana I feel,works the other way round,we meditate find our hearts are moved by our hearts and tend to naturally live the precepts as they are the true way. So the big clue with genpo teaching is is he breaking the precepts. Now for him he claims to be a zen master and to help people be enlightened on his show,If so as a Buddhist he should be full of the Buddhas teaching ie the precepts,and he is not so his reality is not based on his heart itis based on his egotistical desires.Back to Mark ...Mark said no to a way that felt wrong, people are now only jusy starting to do that
the bus driver yes (I think Mahayana) there's a good teacher,great guy
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Wed Feb 16, 2011 11:31 am

Genpo reminds me of Aleister Crowley (sp?).

Mark, I am truly grateful that you told us your story. What a ride that must have been. I know you expressed some regrets but oh you must remember that you did the right thing, and be very grateful that you took those final steps. It must have been unspeakably hard to walk away from something you helped to build, and from a place where you held so much status. You would be the antithesis of Genpo. You accomplished so much by doing that and are doing more by telling us the truth about the beginnings.
Proud to know you.
Polly
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Wed Feb 16, 2011 1:00 pm

mstrathern wrote:

When I returned to England I was in some quandary as to what to do. In my absence a senior Shasta monk had been installed, but I felt that I owed a duty of care to those at Throssel who I had taught and ordained to explain my actions. I went to Throssel, still deeply confused and troubled, and explained. I said that it was of course up to them to make their own minds up.

That's not quite what happened, Mark. You didn't explain...at least not to all those you'd ordained. Certainly not to me. I remember it well, like it were yesterday. I very specifically asked to see you, wanting to know what had happened at Shasta. I told you I didn't know what to do. You refused to tell me, and said I'd have to make up my own mind.

I have no problem with this, and never did, so don't even think about apologising. I would probably have gone to Shasta to make up my own mind anyway; I don't take things on hearsay from anyone. But it does make me wonder what else you've mis-remembered from 35 years ago.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:55 pm

Jimyo you may be right I may not have fully explained. The precise sequence of events is not now clear to me. However I am clear that when I came to Throssel I said that I had left Shasta because I felt the practice there had gone awry. I am not certain that at that time I spelled out exactly how it had gone wrong. As I've said in previos posts I don't think I handled it very well. However I am certain that within a couple of weeks I had told Hofuku (Mike/Chisan) and Kyosei, those at the London Temple fully and discussed it with Bill Picard. I have a definate memory of being told by one the trainees in London that she did not believe me. It was her who later wrote to me from America saying that I had lied about Eko claiming to have had a previous life as Jesus. As I said in a previous post Josh told me at a later date she had been told by Shasta that I had lied because I had said that Eko claimed to have been Jesus, whereas according to Shasta he had actually been Jesus. A form of casuistry that confirmed my worst conclusions about Shasta.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Wed Feb 16, 2011 10:50 pm

Bill I have just posted on the legacy forum some comments that are relevant. But yes I see a great many correspondences between different faiths, particularly when it came to experiences of the religious life. As Daiji, before I left Throssel, I used to take an annual retreat at a Catholic retreat house, Spode House, attached to a Dominican priory. Afterwards I would go back with a Cistercian monk to his Trappist Abbey for a short 'holiday'. I can only say that the core of what was going on there, and at Spode, seemed to me to be same as that at Throssel, and the Cistercian said the same when he came up to Throssel to visit. My own personal view is that all religion at its heart expresses the same inexpressible truths but that this then gets dressed up in the forms and religious clothes of the local culture and religious background. However I have always felt that there was a major difference between the expressed form of Buddhism and the theistic western traditions. In the western theistic traditions the word of God is revealed to man through some form of intermediary, the prophets, Jesus, the saints, etc. There is a definite downward feel. The word of God has been handed down through the intermediary to us, and as it is the word of God it can't be questioned since it must be the absolute truth. This can lead to difficulties at a later date when the world and knowledge move on. The founding myth of Buddhism on the other hand has a definite upward feel. Gautama went out in search for the truth and found it. He then taught the way that he found the truth rather than just the truth itself. This has allowed for a more adaptable appraoch. You might say in modern parlance that Buddhism has bottom up approach whilst the theistic religions have a top down one. In either case in fact there is a mixture of both. The truth is only found through what feels like revelation from without, the top down, but the necessary condition for this is a lot of hard work done by the individual, the bottom up. Whatever, that is just my view, but it certainly leads to a distinct difference in style between the theistic non theistic religions. As D. T. Suzuki reportedly said when someone accused Buddhism of being pantheistic (a common accusation hurled at people like Eckhart) 'Oh yes Buddhism is pantheistic, just without God (theos)'. I have always felt that the heart of true religion is the relationship between oneself with the absolute, except of course there is no self and there is no absolute!
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Wed Feb 16, 2011 11:41 pm

@ Mark

Thanks for the explanation and your understanding of it. In my journey I have leaned toward the theistic and Christian mystic paradigm, yet always grateful for the training I had in the Buddhist mystic paradigm. I expect my spiritual "genes" seem to have disposed me in that direction from the beginning. I have practiced with those of the Zen/Contemplative Christian persuasion in later years and been a mentor to the same. I do find that generally as Bede Griffiths has stated, that the mystics in each of the great spiritual traditions more often than not can communicate more readily with the mystics of other traditions than with the "believers" in their own tradition.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Thu Feb 17, 2011 12:08 am

Yes Bill I agree. I always think that it is an impertinece of us to believe that we could fully understand the world. If we see an ant crawling across the floor we don't think that it could fully comprehend the world, so intrinsicaly why should we be any different. No wonder there are so many differing views, and even then I think the composite whole of all the views would still be very inadequate. Warm regards from an atheist to a theist.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Thu Feb 17, 2011 2:51 am

Quote :
What you're saying in essence Chisan is that you must go with that gut feeling, or listen with your heart, however you want to put it, and if you go against that it will be false and it will not be Zazen. Mark did sacrifice a lot I realize, though, but life goes on and the beauty of Zazen is that it gives the ability to see clearly, whether in a sad situation or a happy one. Like the busdriver the other day, who against all rules and regulations went out of his way the other day to wait and actually get out of the bus and look for one of his regular passengers, that had a disability, and whom he knew would not be able to catch another bus after this last one, and everyone waiting until he finally located the guy. What a bodhisattva that was. So life teaches you real lessons and when you see kindness like that you recognize it and it teaches and it matters.
Just a perhaps-unnecessary note of caution: extrapolating the gamut of someones character on the basis of a single laudable act may mislead.

Genpo Merzel may have performed many such helpful acts with genuine benevolence, that others may have met with similar appreciation.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Thu Feb 17, 2011 3:05 am

Anne I quite agree with you , I certainly have done things perhaps I should not have,but never under pretence, or from a position af claiming to be anything I am not. I am sure Genpo has helped people, I have met him. That is not my point, I do not feel his sexual endevours with students is a one off,it is stated that there have been many and over aa few years,he is taking councelling so it is serious. When the husband tells genpo that if he touches his wife again in the sanzen room he will kill him, it is very serious. Personally there is sanctity in a temple , whilst not clinging to holiness, a zendo and shrine rooms are places of religious practice, they are special places,zen monks should and teschers should be special people, who lead themslves and others to their hearts. I may be rather old fashioned now but that is how I feel, I practiced Zazen and sought refuge because I felt the need to,I was someone that was far more a sinner than a saint,and the I believed and believe that Buddhism will help me on my journey. Teachers that abuse their pupils, only points out to me that I do not want that way,I could have that on any street corner on any night I do not want to go there.
But genpo you are right he may well during his life have acted well with good intentions
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Thu Feb 17, 2011 10:21 am

@ Chisan " Personally there is sanctity in a temple , whilst not clinging to
holiness, a zendo and shrine rooms are places of religious practice,
they are special places,zen monks should and teschers should be special
people, who lead themslves and others to their hearts. I may be rather
old fashioned now but that is how I feel, I practiced Zazen and sought
refuge because I felt the need to,I was someone that was far more a
sinner than a saint,and the I believed and believe that Buddhism will
help me on my journey."
*****************************

Thank you for your eloquence, Chisan. A training temple should be a sanctuary of utmost respect for the heart and humanity of each trainee. Sex abuse is an utter desecration of both with profound, often tragic and life-long consequences for the survivor. Although some don't survive. In this case one woman committed suicide after multiple experiences of the trauma of abuse, a mother with a history of childhood sex abuse who left behind children of her own. The responsibility for her death and the loss her children and family experienced can be laid directly at the feet of Genpo. I understand it entirely having come close to suicide early in my life from the trauma of the betrayal of sex abuse from trusted religious authorities. And we must be reminded that Genpo did this over a period of 30 years after being warned and reprimanded by teacher peers and by members of his own sangha. What is appropriate for someone like Genpo, who should know better, and who willfully and intentionally desecrates the personhood of another under the deception of spiritual practice, while perpetrating the fraud that he is a trusted spiritual teacher who somehow possesses a path to the Sacred are the most severe consequences and public rejection. It is unfortunate that he can't be put in jail so that future victims might be spared.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Thu Feb 17, 2011 6:00 pm

Hi Bill,thanks for sharing our view on sanctity of place. I am sure you agree also, that for us undertaking a spiritual practicing , that we of course try to view all places as equal holiness,and this as well as difficult, is a cornerstone of our practice.
I did not realise that the lady sexually abused by genpo committed suicide, which is a very serious outcome, genpo should be banged up if this was the case,a simple wrap on the knuckles is not enough.
It is very difficult to understand truama unless one has experienced it, many years of a life can be taken up with its comprehension. I think society is opening up to all sorts of truama issues, the old view of get over it, is gradually given over to expertise coming from people who have had the truama experience, and can help from the knowledge gained from it.For you to speak out and guide will help a lot of people.
My girlfriend's daughter who is 10 recently went with her mum on a bereavement councelling day organised by a local council body. the young girl was sad about her gran dying.
I was a bit unsure of it as I thought it may be full of patronising dogooders. However I was wrong again with my view of life, there were 2 sesshions adult and kids,who did talking ,painting discussing,and at the end they all released their own balloon. The important thing for the young girl,is it helped her talk about her feelings,and come to an understanding of them,and the balloon helped her say goodbye in her own way,It was a beautiful day for her and her mum.
Normal everyday people sometimes come up with far better solutions to lifes problems than the religious leaders. In this sad case with genpo, the harm done is immense,as it is perperated( as often is) by some one , that one knows and trusts
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Thu Feb 17, 2011 6:45 pm

@ Chisan "we of course try to view all places as equal holiness,and this as well
as difficult, is a cornerstone of our practice."
***************
Well stated, Chisan. I would say that the point of having a sacred place for practice and devotion is to cultivate the same awareness and disposition toward our own heart and the heart of the world in all places and all times, in all beings.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Thu Feb 17, 2011 6:48 pm

This is from Zen teacher Brad Warner who has been a very outspoken critic of Genpo for some years. It is an open letter he posted on facebook. I am re-posting here just as part of the discussion. This does not mean that I agree with everything Brad says per se. Brad has strong opinions which he shares widely:

LES KAYE’S LETTER IS UNBELIEVABLY IRRESPONSIBLE

by Brad Warner on Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 10:48am


No one commits suicide for a single reason. No one. Never.

In my book Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate I wrote about my friend Robert “Iggy” Morningstar committing suicide.
Iggy’s girlfriend had just broken up with him. She did it as much for
Iggy’s good as for her own. I was sharing a place with them at the time
and she was absolutely justified in what she did. Iggy was making a mess
of his life and hers as well.

When Iggy killed himself he did the deed in such a way as to ensure that his girlfriend would be the one
who found him and that it would appear as though he killed himself
because she broke up with him. In the weeks that followed those of us
who were around Iggy’s girlfriend had to constantly assure her that she
bore no guilt in the matter. Perhaps the break up was a factor in Iggy’s
suicide. But it was not the only factor or even the decisive one.

On February 14th, 2011, Dosho Port put a letter written by Les Kaye of the
American Zen Teachers Association (AZTA) to the board of directors at
Kanzeon, Genpo Roshi’s temple, on his blog. You can find that post here.

This same letter from Les Kaye also appears here on the Sweeping Zen website.

Les Kaye’s letter was written in response to accusations by some people at
Kanzeon that AZTA had failed to respond when they knew that Genpo Roshi
was having sex with his students and misappropriating funds. Les Kaye
points out in the letter that AZTA had been trying to get Genpo’s
authorization to teach Zen revoked at least since 1992.

I understand Les Kaye’s desire to clear AZTA’s good name. But one section
of his letter strikes me as perhaps the most irresponsible thing I’ve
seen come out of this whole mess. It makes me very angry to see this.

In his letter, Les Kaye reveals the story of a woman who was allegedly
seduced by Genpo Roshi. Kaye says that she “had been abused by her
father as a child, which left her extremely vulnerable and confused.”
She attended a meeting organized by AZTA about Genpo’s transgressions in
which “she described how she had been seduced by Genpo numerous times
and the pain of betrayal that she felt.” Kaye directly follows this with
a sentence that reads in full, “Several months after the meeting, she
took her own life.”

Although he uses the proper somber, sepia colored tones of heartrending melodrama approved by contemporary
American Buddhists, Mr. Kaye appears to me to be accusing Genpo Roshi of
causing this poor woman to kill herself. Please see the opening two
paragraphs of this article for my opinion on that. I know that the
effect of what Mr. Kaye wrote is to make people think that Genpo’s
sexual behavior caused a suicide because that is precisely how it was
defined to me by two people who emailed me about these articles.

I don’t like Genpo Roshi. I’ve made no attempt to hide that fact. But
accusing him of causing someone to commit suicide is taking things much
too far. We do not know what really transpired between Genpo and that
unfortunate woman. I’m going to say that again and I’m going to be a
little firmer this time. You -- and I mean you dear reader, whoever you
are -- do not know what happened between Genpo and that unfortunate
woman. If Genpo is reading this (which I doubt) maybe he has some clue.
But even he doesn’t know all of it. The rest of us only know what we’ve
read about it. And that is not very much.*

Am I trying to say that it’s fine that Genpo seduced some poor woman who’d been abused by
her father? No. No, I am not saying that. No. OK? Not at all. No.

I’m saying that we do not even know that’s what really happened. Maybe it
did. Maybe it didn’t. We don’t even know what that woman actually said
at the meeting. All we have is someone’s paraphrase of what he thought
he heard her say 18 years ago.

Which is also not to say it did not happen or that I don’t believe what she said. I don’t know what she
said. So I cannot either believe or disbelieve it. But I do know what
Les Kaye said because it’s there on the Internets for all to see.

There is no reason to add this to the piles of accusations that have already
been hurled at Genpo. Believe me, I am not someone who would easily
stand up in Genpo Roshi’s defense. But this is too much to ignore.

Why is it all about sex? Why do we have to wait until Genpo is caught with
his pants down and his [admin delete] where it shouldn’t be before we can say
anything about the much more serious and far-reaching abuses he was
involved in?

As far as I’m concerned, nearly all of this current stuff about Genpo is entirely missing the point. All of these AZTA
people are getting upset about absolutely the wrong things. They should
have been publicly stating that Big Mind® was not Zen Buddhism years
ago. The hidden details of Genpo’s sex life had nothing at all to do
with any of that.

The things that Genpo was doing that made me so [banned term] off were not concealed in any way. They were right out in the
open. He explicitly advertised that he was selling enlightenment
experiences for $50,000**. He clearly said in his promotion material for
Big Mind® that it could give you a glimpse of Buddha’s realization in a
couple of hours with no prior experience. This was no shocking
revelation discovered by someone finding secret messages on Genpo’s
Blackberry. This was stuff you could see for yourself by looking at
Genpo’s own website. Where was everyone’s righteous indignation three
years ago?

The AZTA has written a letter to Kanzeon, Genpo's group, recommending what they think Genpo ought to do to cure his sex
problem. You can see that here just under Les Kaye’s letter, at the bottom of the page. My friend
Zuiko, one of the signees, told me the letter is "simply a
recommendation to Kanzeon and a sign of support for whatever they do.
Their sangha is free to do whatever they wish, but some of us felt that
we needed to let them know that we are out here and we agree that this
is not good behavior.” OK. I accept that Zuiko contributed to the letter
in this spirit. To me it all sounds a bit sanctimonious.

Hey Genpo, here are my recommendations, which stand just as much chance of
being read and followed by you as AZTA’s. I have a lot of trouble with
phrases like “sex addiction.” Though there may be a few cases that could
qualify as true addiction, I believe that for the most part it’s just
that some people are simply hornier than others. When an individual has a
different sexual orientation from mainstream society, there are two
main ways to deal with it. The individual can adjust to mainstream
society, usually with unhappy results for the individual. Or the
individual can seek out others who share their orientation and they can
play together. (There is, of course, also the traditional religious
response of learning to deny your sexual desires entirely. But few
people are able to accomplish this. And sometimes when they fail at
denying their desires the outcome is even worse than if they had not
tried at all.)

Luckily for you, you live in the Western world in
the early 21st century where the option of seeking like-minded play
friends is available to you. It is far easier than it ever has been for
so-called “sex addicts” to find each other. You don’t need to do your
students. Just sign up for a membership in one of the many sex-oriented
dating sites, particularly the ones with a fetishist bent. Those women
will fall all over themselves to bed a kind-hearted dominant man with a
lot of money and a position of institutional power, particularly one
with a religious aspect. Fortunately for you that particular kink is
very widespread and common.

(You learn a few things when researching a book about sex!)

*It was subsequently revealed by a friend of the woman in question that her
suicide occurred quite a long time after the meeting and was probably
completely unrelated to what transpired with Genpo.

**The fee for Genpo's Big Heart Circle retreats subsequently dropped to $25,000 and
these days it’s hard to find any of the material he originally posted
about these high priced retreats. Here
is a blog which quotes most of Genpo’s now-vanished sales pitch for the
Big Heart Circle retreats. The standard price for Big Mind® appears to
range between $150 and $1000.


(I’m still taking a break
from reading the comments section of this blog. If you have something
you feel you must say to me in response to this, write me an email at spoozilla@gmail.com. If you just post something in the comments section, I will not see it.)


Last edited by Watson on Sun Feb 20, 2011 9:11 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : forum rules violation / coarse language)
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Thu Feb 17, 2011 7:01 pm

I completely agree with you Bill very well said
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Thu Feb 17, 2011 7:12 pm

I wanted to reply to Bill separately as I am enjoying our discussion.
regards Genpo I feel he is way off the mark with everything he does,selling enlightenment experiences just does not do it for me,it shows the basis of his practice is off ,an does not reflect well on maezumi Roshi .
Personally I do not like to see spiritual teachers acting in this way,prisons are full of people with desires that are not mainstream. One of the guys that I sit with was a psyciatric nurse. He told me that paedophiles think they are normal. They tend to think that young children who innocently smile are asking for sex,wheras the paedophiles,are sick people.
It always pays to be cautious when personal behaviour is viewed as being not mainstream,there is a guy who lives 2 miles away who keeps being sent to prison for having sex with horses ,and rolling around in manure. that is not mainstream, it is the behaviour of a sick mind
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Thu Feb 17, 2011 9:22 pm

It always pays to be cautious when personal behaviour is viewed as being not mainstream

Hey Chisan

I don't think mainstream is a viable measure of anything but man's commonality..

In todays world of conformity, most wolfs do their best work wearing sheep's clothing, whereas sheep living their own truth often find themselves standing apart from the mainstream. Mainstream is mostly packed with those who group for comfort against those who don't.
I am not sure of why you would impart superior morals on those cleaving to mainstream over those that don't..

Sexual predation is an opportunistic depravity and I think one requires a much broader field of common sense to use against it than just whether the seen behaviour is mainstream or not.

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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Fri Feb 18, 2011 2:04 am

I quite agree agree with you Howard I think I meant to say that if ones behaviour is really out side of what normal people think is OK then there should be a degree of personal reflection.
If in this case Genpo is touching woman in a sexual way behind the cover of a respectable priest, then most normal people who are unconnected to any religious practice whould actually feel it was wrong. I do too.
I think society has quite a wide band of view of sexual or other behaviour, but by putting oneself in a position of spiritual authority, that band of acceptable behaviour narrows considerable for most people, me too. To me genpo has abused the position of trust other people gave him.
Sexual abusers have the most difficult of times,in terms of forgiveness by society over here,they are completely segregated from other prisoners in prison, even murders are not segregated. They are segregated for their own saftey. I had a very pleasant guy apply for a job,and when I enquired about a gap in his employment record he told me he had been inside , for sex with a minor. It was impossible for me to give him a job,as a lot of the guys who work for me are ex convicts, they would have at some point attacked him .
Actually I see very few people who act ouside societies broad view of acceptable behaviour,it is quite a wide band of acceptability over here.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Fri Feb 18, 2011 7:47 am

:-) Hi Chisan

Quote :
But genpo you are right he may well during his life have acted well with good intentions
My thought was more that we do not know a lot about the bus-driver: how he did or did not conduct himself at other times.

It was a good act and inspired Brigette. However, as you acknowledge, precepts are not only what one does but also what one doesn't. My cautionary note was just about rapturously extrapolating further on the basis of that one good act ("The man is a saint, I want to marry him, etc"). People may have extrapolated too far in similar directions with Genpo, on the basis of good he did. It can leave one very disappointed in the end but maybe the wised-up alternative is being mainly disappointed from the beginning! (Sigh...) (-:
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Fri Feb 18, 2011 11:57 am

@ Chisan " Genpo I feel he is way off the mark with everything he does,selling
enlightenment experiences just does not do it for me,it shows the basis
of his practice is off ,an does not reflect well on maezumi Roshi ."
******************************************

Thanks for your comments, Chisan. I worked as a mental health counselor in a public agency for over 30 years. During some of that time I worked closely with the corrections system with clients that were referred to me for evaluation, including clients in jail. Among the unschooled corrections staff, including jailors, one of their important questions was whether someone was mentally ill or simply criminal. They posed the question in more street terms " is he a 'looney tune' or a 'crim'? Presumably they did want someone whose primary problem was mental or emotional disturbance to get treatment. (Here in the U.S. because of the defunding of public mental health programs, jails and prisons have now become the primary holding facility for the mentally ill.) Anyway.. it was an important question. Sociopathy is not a mental illness per se, it is a moral disease, involving the absence of conscience, and it is not uncharacteristic for many sociopaths to seek out roles where they can find protection and opportunities to prey on others, for sexual domination and for money.

This topic reminds me of a conversation I had with Daizui once when we were both mental health professional colleagues working in the same agency. He said that it was dangerous for persons to undertake meditation practice who did not have a serious commitment to ethical training at the same time. The dynamic he referred to was one in which meditator arrives at a point in their training that they began to free themselves from the identification with socially accepted norms, and see and shed them as simply an artifact of conditioning and social convention. Without having fully integrated unitive consciousness as the basis for a commitment to keeping the precepts, and the deeper reason to be morally responsible, compassionate, to regard and treat all beings with respect and goodness, such a person can become evil, grandiose, and narcissistic. I suspect that dynamic has happened with more than one so-called "spiritual teacher."

It also reminds me of the teaching of one of the important mystics and contemplative teachers from the early desert Christian of Eastern Christianity, one of the "Desert Fathers" or "Abbas" named Evagrius Ponticus (3rd century). He wrote extensively of the spiritual journey as one of a progressive freedom from the "eight kinds of thoughts" or "demons." They were wrongly translated by the Roman Church into the "seven deadly sins" at a later point. Anyway in his system of thought he saw a developmental process occurring in which the progressive liberation started with the more instinctually based levels of attachment of consciousness to things like gluttony, greed, concupiscence(sex), to the more egoic based attachments like "vainglory" leading ultimately to "pride". Pride or the attachment of consciousness to the delusion of a separate independent self was seen as the last to go and the most difficult to release from. For the Christian mystic this last freedom must of necessity involve a surrender to the Absolute (God) and a relinquishment of self. The warning from Evagrius is that for every practitioner the critical moment of surrender can come when everything is released and when God alone is to be placed on the altar of worship in our consciousness, there is a slelght of hand substitution and the egoic self disguises itself as God and and the person becomes totally possessed by a the delusion of a divinized self, becoming a god unto himself, and therefore demanding of worship and tribute from the universe, and all morality is seen from the viewpoint of that illusion of an elevated super-human self. I think this is what can happen to spiritual systems where regular human beings get invested with an authority that allows them to set aside the rules and boundaries that the rest of us are properly expected to follow. In the authentically transformed trainee one follows the same rules, except the Golden Rule, is more than metaphor, it is reality.

Incidentally, in my professional work, nearly all of the sexual criminals I came across were sociopathic and and totally absent of any conscience. For them all other beings are just cardboard. Can anyone be trained to have a conscience? I don't know if it's been done.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Fri Feb 18, 2011 3:38 pm

Anne I have to admit I have not met the bus driver, It is only second hand info, however I certainly understand Brigitte as this is a superb example , of how in everyday life,one is shown all sorts of things by all sorts of people. I often find that I am surpised by the good things and good acts that, I do see. The silent many , who drive people to and from hospital, help out at charity shops, even develop their own project. There was a great shop in a place called Worlds End just off Kings Road Chelsea. In the 60s there was a little shop there called Gandalfs garden.
It seemed to be a place for long hairs , it sold books on spirituality, and in the basement there was a shrine room, or meditation room. Most nights there would be a different guru, I remember my favorite was a Dr Mishra, who had 100 or so long hairs canting mantras. It was very beautiful. They had their own magazine.It was sort of run by 2 or 3 people,one being Muz Murrey.Muz retired from the shop, and moved out to the country and grew some vegatables.He frequented India ,and now wears a saffron robe.
He has had a colourful life,What impresses me about this gentle man is he provided water to a village in India. I doubt if he has lived a harmful life,I am sure someone could dig up a bit a dirt, but a good achievment. I think there are lots of Muzes around who in there own way, have made a bit of a difference.
I don't think many of us are perfect, Brigitte saw something in the bus driver at that time she admired, and from a long distance I did too
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:00 pm

Bill interesting comments, over here too the old mental hospitals,have been emptied, and the patients or inmates have been shipped out to home like situations, where 6 patients live together. The system seems to work weel, as the leval of care I believe is more intimate and personal.
The sexual criminals you found seemed to have no conscience, yes I have been told that. They feel their behaviour is normal,I think when there is a clash of conscience,this is where a victim mat be murdered.
I can feel a lot of sympathy for someone who steals food,when they have no money,and I have to admit I struggle with sexual criminals. Incidently the guys that work for me not all but some of thelads have been in trouble for street crimes, violence, stealing cars etc. I get on well with them,very tough with them too. But once we are through the what is expected stuff we get on fine. This week due to time pressure I explained my circumstances to the guys and said I could not do the same input,and they wouod have to organise the whole of the manufacturing .So they did ,end result to Friday,production was up 15%So they did it much better than me. So I think certain crimes can be dropped from ones lifestyle. The sexual crimes Iwhilst knowing nothing about them,I do not think can.
The part you say about the precepts and your talk with Daizui,I do agree with you. It seems to be where Genpo is stuck,dropping away a little bit of the ego,allows one to be more efficient,and more focused. I believe that the true way though goes on to develop greater wisdom. When I hear the stories of sexual exploitation I personally feel that their path has been fooled and they have developed,greater ego and self assurance.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Fri Feb 18, 2011 8:27 pm

Anne

You are basically right, caution is always advised when looking at anything anyone does, but to believe it wiser to be disappointed in the beginning would be also a sad way to live. In the case of the bus driver I wouldn't deny that there exists the possibility that he may be capable of going home and kicking the dog, because I know for myself that I have done both good acts and despicable ones in the same day, but I would hope that the good acts (and they do not have to be big grand deeds) do have value in the way that they inspire those around us in everyday life to pass them on and make the world just a little bit better from our little corner of the world, whereever we may be.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Fri Feb 18, 2011 10:07 pm

Mike my friend you say: 'I am sure someone could dig up a bit a dirt,'. That is true of all of us isn't it? Just most of us don't try and charge $50,000 for letting someone use our paltry piece of soap when we havn't even used it ourselves!
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sat Feb 19, 2011 2:36 am

Well of course Mark,
I think Genpo is teaching 'I am free enlightened so I can am free to do exactly what I want.' 'I can even be at one with the consequences'
Brigitte in her own innocent way is admitting faults and wrong doings and is naturally seeing the Buddhas teaching manifesting in her daily life.
Brigitte you have lived your life with great spirit, you beat your self up sometimes but this great spirit will lead you to somewhere good
and my saturday question Mark for you are..
Do we have religion if we have nothing to repent?
What is the point of repenting if we don't repent?
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sat Feb 19, 2011 1:45 pm

Quote :
To believe it wiser to be disappointed in the beginning would be also a sad way to live.
:-) Yes, Brigette, I was making too free with the jokes! I was thinking that, when one trains well, one can forget (or not consider) how very hard one trained to have the benign and harmless intent one has today. Before, one may have seemed pretty "normal" and even "very nice" at times; but what was going on underneath?... In serious vein, through experience I found that real problems can arise from generally imagining that liberative insight is more imminent than it is for someone and that people are far closer to seeking Truth in preference to ego than they actually are. I wrote as someone having done this, and for whom this pleasant mistake, as part of a cluster of "benign" errors, contributed to actions done with benevolent intent that adversely affected others.

On another note, once I lost the key to my flat and did not know when the neighbour who held a spare would be back, or even if he would (maybe he'd gone visiting relatives). The rough-and-ready proprietor of the garage next-door was really so kind, letting me use his phone to contact an emergency locksmith, and keeping the garage open out of concern for my safety till the locksmith arrived ~ he had been about to lock up and go home when I discovered my loss. No Dharma-talk could have substituted! (-:
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sat Feb 19, 2011 5:49 pm

I think I understand what you are saying Anne and I wholeheartedly agree. Imaging one is far closer than one is. I think it is easy to think one would practice better in a different situation, or circumstance. There is a latin name for this from the Christian tradition,it extends to having thoughts and ideas of Kensho and actual practice. in fact one can imagine what it is like to be living in the present moment.Where we are is the only place. Thoughts of achievment or superiority,are a long way from zazen. one must remember too compassion and empathy are born within our own humanity. If it is not too personal what do you do jobwise Anne,you have a great grasp of analysis and reading unlike me, I would be facinated to know what you do
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sat Feb 19, 2011 7:28 pm


Anne, if I am understanding this right, it seems that what you are saying might have come from perhaps the experience of formerly having been a monastic or training to become one at least, and at that time having imagined you already had more liberative insight than you actually had and then acting, with benevolent intent of course, and making errors and hurting others from within that delusion? As Chisan says above, thoughts of achievement and superiority are a long way from Zazen and he and you are saying the same thing that compassion and empathy are born withing our own humanity, as in your words that people are often far closer to seeking truth in preference to ego. Where else but right here within this very life of ours can we find the Truth if we only look deeply and honestly enough.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sun Feb 20, 2011 3:22 am

Brigitte and you have been telling me you have been a rebel along,
Lets go find the rebellion
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sun Feb 20, 2011 12:09 pm

:-) Hi Brigette and Chisan!

My apologies for not having explained well what I meant.

I was referring to problems arising from imagining, as an ongoing belief, that people one meets in the world-at-large generally are a) far closer to liberative insight than they actually are, and/or b) far closer to seeking Truth in preference to ego than they actually are in any sustained fashion. One would like this “closeness” to be true for them, and for freedom from degrees of illusoryself-based suffering to be so much more actionable for them, in the immediate present, than their habits and conscious intentions would actually allow. I am writing only from my experience, including people I have worked with, acquaintances, people I have had contact with since secondary (high) school, relatives, and so on.

I think this glad belief came about when, in the process of awakening to what was there all along, over time I forgot or did not consider the implications of the fact that this process, and my commitment to it, were not always thus. So I seriously underestimated or did not consider what might be necessary for someone else to reach the point where they even wanted to train. I had this springlike-looking-forward-to-the-blossoms optimism about others awakening and wanting to train, not realising that various hindering roots might go very deep for them, or be held very tightly, and that interest and commitment would not happen any time soon. While the “mother and child reunion” may, in one sense, be only a motion away, that motion can be a “long and winding road”! (Please excuse the old songs!)

This foible might tend to arise in lay life, rather than monastic ~ some of the tendency we have heard expressed from the OBC has been that laypeople cannot go the distance ~ but I guess it could crop up anywhere. It was a very nice belief ~ it truly felt lovely, all that spontaneous optimism ~ and I could not say it was based in ill-will, harmful intent or egoism, but it contributed to false expectations. While in itself I don’t see that much harm to others came from it, I have known it play a subtle role with other errors in four instances in which my clumsy and unsuitable methods did cause distress (though causing distress was not the object of the method).

Most of my practitioner-time has been as a layperson, and one who has not been under 24/7/365 pressure to come up with the “teaching goods”. In fact, for about eight years after a particular breakthrough in summer 1972, I deeply and sometimes painfully longed to be in a position where I could “benefit others”, wanting them to find the same peace and ease that I had through training. That I have not more than these four “erroneous method” errors to recall may well be due to lack of opportunity!

In these four instances, the problem was not (I think) overestimating my degree of liberative insight but overestimating my insight into what would help others. Three of these four instances occurred outside my postulancy: one before (1973) and two after (1976 and, I think, 1978). In addition to these ~ and perhaps more related to what you wrote, Brigette, about overestimating ones liberative insight ~ there certainly must have been many things that came out of my mouth, pen or typewriter, on 1970s occasions beside the above four, that were inaccurate or should have been better explained, and so on, as a result over overestimating what I knew or underestimating what I did not. Ah, me ~ how to fix that one??! Extreme caution may mitigate but may not cure. Oddly, I recall just about nothing of what these words may have been, though I am sure that they would not have been without effect. Again, lack of opportunity may have limited this! (Phew!)

I think this high optimism, about the ease and readiness with which people in general would leap to the opportunity to free themselves from self-inflicted misery, probably on-ran at a peak (with several other behind-the-scenes “benign” errors) for those eight years after summer 1972. It may have somewhat waned in importance to me, after that. But also I had an inkling that something was not quite right with it, as much as I might have wished otherwise for everyone’s sake: years passed and the breakthroughs and attraction to training, that I so anticipated for others I knew, did not happen, but people continued to hang onto egotism like it was underwear. Something was wrong with my theory, somewhere. I think I understood a bit better after I wrote out my this-life spiritual autobiography in 1992 and reflected on the parts before I committed to training or even wanted to do any such thing. As someone who believes in, and believes I have seen into some bits of, past lives, I reckon the long and winding road may take some while…

Chisan, you asked about what I do ~ I guess you mean employment? I am early-retired (aged 60 this March). My employment has varied over the years: mainly clerical/clerk-typist/admin-secretarial (all of that detail!) with a bit of cleaning, nursing auxiliary work, laundering (this is not a roundabout way of saying “housewife”!) and computer software programming-designing thrown in (in this latter case, I had a terrible penchant for wanting to neaten up messy code ~ very time-consuming!) (-:
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sun Feb 20, 2011 12:41 pm

Anne wrote:

people continued to hang onto egotism like it was underwear.

This must be added to the list of "Greatest Training Metaphors"

More seriously, you would think people would embrace the path readily, but I think it's common that people don't feel deserving. It was shocking and overwhelming at first to realize not only that I was loved unconditionally but needed to extend that love to my "self".
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sun Feb 20, 2011 2:45 pm

thanks for the personal info Anne.
Your posts always leave me smiling ( especially the you tube ones )
I tend to get letters a little jumbled and I do not always understand what you say, or find it a bit hard to read, so if I say I do not fully understand you that is why,I do not mean to be rude
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sun Feb 20, 2011 2:58 pm

If I am interpreting you correctly, Anne, you seem to be feeling some regret for occasionally proselytizing a bit, and for holding expectations for others. Am I getting it? Forgive me if I mistake you, for what comes next is based on that understanding.

I think that most people react with some degree of repugnance or at least resentment toward anyone who tries to "convert" or inspire them with their spiritual insights or beliefs. Certainly my "born-again" in-laws made me turn away from Christianity with much greater emphasis than I would have otherwise done. So perhaps we who are involved and delighted with our spiritual life and with the best of intentions offer to spread the wealth around a bit are encountering less of a negative reaction to religion than a negative reaction to our efforts to introduce them to it. Anybody who asks me if I've made my peace with Jesus yet today is likely to hear something more profane than I really feel on the subject. Still, wanting to offer the best one has is hardly a criminal offense, and maturity generally mutes the offering into a more acceptable and helpful form.

Me, I am more and more amazed at how wonderfully vast a majority of beings are searching earnestly and honestly for truth, meaning, and God in whatever form they wish to perceive him/she/it. To speculate on the depth of another's understanding or commitment is to venture into realms which are, if I may say it, none of our business. In the end, (in my way of thinking) the magnet pulls us all home. No one gets left out, they can't be, they are interwoven, like it or not, with everything else. Of course our ego's are howling away for a long time, insisting on our unique and special attributes, and of course, this is right. We all do have unique and special attributes, we can count on them just as we can count on the necessity of their contribution to the integrity of the whole. Nothing is lost, we just add, and add to the whole. So now, I have done my bit of proselytizing. And if I've completely missed your point, Anne, please do set me straight.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sun Feb 20, 2011 10:19 pm

Chisan,

Well, it certainly isn't hard to find a rebellion or two lately. whether its of a religious or political kind, although sometimes I feel much more like a great big sheep than a rebel, to be honest. May be it's just aging,

I'm noticing the posts stack up quick if you don't keep up, and it really is a great conversation that is going on here, and whatever sort of comes into my corner that with my little understanding I am able to "add my cents worth" to , I'd like to do it as thoughtfully and thoroughly as possible. I have learned so much from everyone that has posted here, about peoples feelings, experiences, and also of the history of the Abbey, etc. and the various "styles" of individual posters, too. Some are the "hard hitters", some are more of the peacemaker, conciliatory kind, and all speaking from their personal perspective. Again, I had to think of something in Dogens Uji, something about "continually arranging bits and pieces of what we experience into a whole universe and to look upon this"welter' of living beings and physical objects as sometime things," and yes, it is all just for such a short time, all so transitory and "empty", and yet we have to live it out, joyful or painful as it may be for the time being. I know I am not saying much here, just sort of ruminating, but I sort of have this very simplistic kind of a vision of everyone sitting around a great big round table and ironing things out to everyones satisfaction, and this vision may be far fetched but the possibility, unlikely as it may be, is sort of enticing.
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Sun Feb 20, 2011 10:43 pm

Anne

Thanks again for clarifying a bit more, I really appreciate it very much.

Greetings

Brigitte
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PostSubject: Re: My experience and leaving, Mark (Daiji) Strathern   Mon Feb 21, 2011 12:51 am

Brigitte wrote:

"...it really is a great conversation that is going on here...and yes, it is all just for such a short time, all so transitory and "empty", and yet we have to live it out, joyful or painful as it may be for the time being. I know I am not saying much here, just sort of ruminating, but I sort of have this very simplistic kind of a vision of everyone sitting around a great big round table and ironing things out to everyones satisfaction, and this vision may be far fetched but the possibility, unlikely as it may be, is sort of enticing."

Brigitte, beautifully expressed! I share your vision.

I think that this is what spiritual practice is all about. One aspect is individual, grounded in our own meditation. Another aspect is collective. The collective aspect manifests itself in many ways. One such way is when someone says, with insight, integrity, and heartfelt sincerity that, 'something is not right here'. It becomes increasingly confirmed as more of us say the same thing, each from our own perspective. And I think that it is only this kind of feedback that can keep us, both individually and collectively, on course.

However, I also think that this feedback can only actually effect change if, and when, it can be offered, with respect for all concerned, through a dialogue that takes place around (as you say) "a great big round table"!
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