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 From Rev. Meian

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Rev. Meian



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PostSubject: From Rev. Meian   Sat Jan 22, 2011 7:41 pm

Greetings. My name is Meian, and I am the abbess of Shasta Abbey. I have been reading postings on this forum for some time, and have found some of them to be helpful, in the way that criticism, whether warranted or not, often is: it shows one where one is making mistakes, what to look out for, what to take care not to do, and so on.

I registered on this forum in December, mainly for the purpose of writing privately to a few people to whom I wished to apologise or clear up misunderstandings. Knowing nothing about how forums work, I naively asked if there was a list of users so that I could contact people and they could contact me; I didn't know you could do it via the forum without knowing the person's email address. Because of this, some people thought I was intending to dissuade others from posting on the forum, which is not at all what I was trying to do. It is not for me to tell anyone else whether they may post, or what they may post, on OBC Connect.

It seems to me that communication works best when it is done personally, directly, in a human way, rather than on the internet with statements. To this end I invite anyone who would like to write to me about matters concerning Shasta Abbey to do so privately, either via this forum or to my email address [revmeian at gmail dot com], and I will try to respond in a timely way as best I can; sometimes it takes me a few days. You are also welcome to come and visit Shasta Abbey and talk to us, and see for yourself what we are like. I don't think we are at all like the picture that is painted of us on this forum.

I hope this may be helpful. With best wishes to all,

Meian.
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: From Rev. Meian   Sat Jan 22, 2011 8:50 pm

Welcome Rev Meian!

It's really good to see you here and I hope you will post from time to time in addition to accepting private communications.
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: From Rev. Meian   Sat Jan 22, 2011 9:11 pm

Hello Rev. Meian
What took you so long?
Just saying that you've been reading the OBC connect and have entered your own posting here will in itself change they way some people will be viewing Shasta. Your invite for private emails and visits to Shasta is welcome but I agree with Isan about how valuable your continued presence & postings could be here.
Cheers
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: From Rev. Meian   Sat Jan 22, 2011 11:09 pm

Rev. Meian, welcome. Thank you for coming here. I think you might find that talking here is not unlike talking with a group gathered in someone's living room, or sitting around a table in the pub. The humanity is here, and the personal interest we have in each other and in helping each other, especially.

Thank you for clarifying why you asked for the list. I appreciate that you have confirmed you wouldn't ask anyone to avoid participating here. If you can share your position on that with other monks in the Order as well, you'll be helping us in a very significant way.

I too hope you'll continue to come here and talk with us.

Kind regards,
Lise
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: From Rev. Meian   Sun Jan 23, 2011 5:17 am

Yes Welcome
I am pleased that you wish to clear up any difficulties experienced. Sometimes trauma experiences can effect one for a life time,if so what a waste of a life time. If I can help in any way resolve personel issues such as Amalia or any one else I would willingly offer a helping hand. My hand would be private and personal,and if you like Lise will give you my private email.
Also we have all thrashed around the reasons alot of us left Shasta, There are always 2 points of view,it may be helpful if you posted what your view of Zen practice actually is
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: From Rev. Meian   Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:51 am

Meian,
Thanks for posting here. I agree with you that people should see Shasta for themselves. It is something I and many others on this site have recommended. Most people here post their views as just that: their views. Also many of us have expressed concern with this being a one sided view of Shasta and so have invited anyone from the OBC to post here to round out that view. But because our view is one sided does not make it incorrect, only incomplete. That it is incomplete can only be laid at the door of the OBC.

I agree that private conversation is helpful, even essential to clear up wrongs and misunderstandings between individuals. However, there is also a place for public discourse, especially in a situation such as this, were so many have experienced the darker side of the OBC. We all have darker sides; if we didn't, we could all pack up our bags, go to the Bahamas, and peace out until we die.

But the fact of the matter is that many who come to OBC Connect find that the mistakes they saw at the OBC were mistakes that others saw as well, and the hurt they experienced had a very similar tone and pattern to others who post here. So these problems are not just what happened to me or Joe or Frank. These problems are what I perceive to be blind spots in the world and spiritual view of many monks of the OBC. I don't doubt that I and others on the OBC have our own blind spots and misperceptions. It is for these larger issues that I believe public discourse is the more effective and revealing means to communicate.

There is only so much that can be done one on one. My profession is family therapy. While I work with individuals in the family, the real work is done when people sit together and secrets become open for discourse between all. I have done both individual and family and group work and I see the individual work as preparation for the family work.

For newer people who've left the OBC, there is still an unresolved power differential. Going to Shasta to speak one on one with people one once held as more "advanced" than they are, will likely play out in subtle and unsubtle ways, regardless of the intention of either party. Being part of a group discussion, with all on an equal plane will much more quickly and powerfully bring issues to the surface.

So that is my view. I hope you do not do what others before you have done: come to OBC Connect, make a proclamation, and depart. That is not respectful. It assumes an ill intent and unfairness that I do not believe exists. You have been invited to negotiate terms of fair public discourse in a forum with its rules apart from this one with a group of people that are willing to be respectful and fair. If you decline this for your own unilateral terms, it is disengenuous to condemn any here for carrying on this discussion with our own unilateral terms.

In the residential facility in which I work, we sometimes have meetings that all are required to be in. Sometimes to deal with issues between individuals or own staff group dynamics that go awry. We have to be sane with each other to help the at risk youth in the facility, or else they see us act out the same dysfunctional dynamics with them and ourselves that they see at home. A clear message is given: If you don't come to the meeting and someone has an issue with how you work with staff or residents, your name will be brought up and you and your actions will be discussed with no concern that you are not there to give your point of view. That was your choice.

I see the same here: don't come, then don't complain about what is said about you. I believe most here give their honest and heartfelt understanding about what monks of the OBC have done. I don't see fabrication or maliciousness, though I do see anger and frustration at times. If you can present things that mitigate or cancel the conclusions I and others have come to, I welcome your perspective. I have no interest in holding my view as the TRUTH. My view is open to modification. But the issues I have with the OBC are not personal. They are the larger issues: the blind spots and habitual, dysfunctional ways of dealing with things that, as far as I can see, continue to cause harm to others, as they did to me. They continue to concern others, as they concerned me. I see a much, much smaller good that could come out of a private conversation between you and I, than a public one.

I am open to looking like a fool that has had things wrong all along, so I have nothing to lose. I hope that self preservation, organizational preservation, does not blind you to the fact that in the greater sense, you have nothing to lose either.
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mokuan



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PostSubject: Re: From Rev. Meian   Sun Jan 23, 2011 2:10 pm

Dear Rev. Meian,

Welcome to our cyber sangha! As Lise said, think of this place like sitting around the livingroom. I know it's been thirty-some years since you've probably sat casually in a living room chitting and chatting, but it's like this: There is no seniority, no deference to the color of someone's robes, and everyone's voice is welcome.

I agree with Henry in regards to having an open dialogue. As many of us are former members of the OBC sangha in one form or another, it may be too easy to slip back into hierarchical roles and not feel we are being listened to if you only accept private conversations. And one conversation does not enlighten all.

I do hope you will take time to read all the posts. I'll warn you, though, it will be daunting and disturbing. But as the new abbess of a monastery that seems to be slowly dying, perhaps there are lessons to be learned here.

Thank you for the invitation to come visit, but we already know who you are. Remember? We once lived beside you. We trained with you; we worked with you; we were your brothers and sisters in the dharma.

For me, Meian, it doesn't matter if Shasta lives or dies, but I know it matters to you. So be brave, gather friends around you, and learn from us here.

In gassho,
mokuan
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: From Rev. Meian   Sun Jan 23, 2011 4:20 pm

Mokuan and anyone,
I'm wondering why you say that the OBC seems to be slowly dying. My understanding is that there is a fair few new people, some of the not ancient variety, and also a healthy lay congregation. Is this not correct?
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mokuan



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PostSubject: Re: From Rev. Meian   Sun Jan 23, 2011 4:49 pm

Hi Henry,

There are 22 monks in residence at Shasta according to their website. From their photos, the majority would appear to be in their 50's and above --mostly 60ish -- as with the lay congregation.
Twenty years ago, when we were there, the meditation hall was full with approximately 50 to 55 monks in residence. That's quite a drop.
Whether Zen, or Buddhism in general, is not attracting the younger generation, I'm not sure, though other centers seem to be attracting the 30-somethings. Also, it would appear that eko's reign did have a significant impact on the decline in monks.

But needless to say, in the next ten years without an influx of younger monks or even more monks, it's going to be pretty tough on the 70-somethings just to care for the Abbey property and gardens and possibly themselves. Perhaps they will have the funds to hire cooks, grounds keepers and maybe even jishas!
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PostSubject: Re: From Rev. Meian   Mon Jan 24, 2011 10:58 am

Welcome Rev. Meian!
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mstrathern
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PostSubject: Re: From Rev. Meian   Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:24 pm

Yes Shasta itself does seem to be a bit moribund. I have a photo from 1971 with 22 monks, at least 14 of whom I reckon have left. Take away Jiyu and that leaves a possible 7 stayers.

However it is certainly true that there are a number of other OBC institutions which may be growing. Throssel for instance seems definately to have grown since I was there.

But if there is a rapidly aging ordained Sangha it will be posing considerable problems for the future and may be one of the problems that they have with us upsetting the apple cart. I dont suppose they want to be reduced to the size of the monastery in Yong-Kung Bae's wonderful, lyrical, 1983 film 'Why Did Bodhi-Dharma Leave for the East?'. Mind you that was a dying monastery but still with with real life and training going on.
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PostSubject: Re: From Rev. Meian   Mon Jan 24, 2011 4:07 pm

Rev. Meian, welcome to the public side of the forum; it is wonderful to see you posting!

As you wade in, you might find that the water is not nearly as cold as it looks! Somehow, I think that the willingness to swim makes a big difference.

I look forward to ongoing conversation!
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PostSubject: Re: From Rev. Meian   Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:25 am

Henry: " I hope you do not do what others before you have done: come to OBC Connect, make a proclamation, and depart. That is not respectful. It assumes an ill intent and unfairness that I do not believe exists. You have been invited to negotiate terms of fair public discourse in a forum with its rules apart from this one with a group of people that are willing to be respectful and fair. If you decline this for your own unilateral terms, it is disengenuous to condemn any here for carrying on this discussion with our own unilateral terms."

It is ironic to carry on about someone ELSE's unilateral actions while declaring that either they do as you say, or you shall (unilaterally) declare them to be disrespectful. Is it not?

If RM Meian is going to be accused of having ill- intent merely for explaining that she isn't trying to limit other people's speech here, then what are the chances that EVERY SINGLE THING she posts will get turned into a negative?

Henry, I think you are really trying to get RM Meian to come be a regular here, suggesting that there is a moral obligation to explain and discuss not just with individuals who have been wronged, but also in this group, and maybe also to serve the multi-sided truth. But if this is the bait you got, bud, I wouldn't be surprised if the fish don't bite.

I mean, the harshest thing she said here is "I don't think we are at all like the picture that is painted of us on this forum."

I personally think several of you who were former devoted monks should go to Shasta Abbey and have tea with the Abbess, and talk about things, maybe try to get involved with the Interim Board or giving testimony and documentation, or find some other way of contributing to their path forward that doesn't involve plink-plinking your stream of consciousness to the aether. It's your moral obligation, seeing as how you care so much about SA/OBC improving and moving on from the darker aspects of its past. You say you don't care what they do, whether they improve, but wa-hey! here you are reading OBC Connect once again. And if you don't go I shall unilaterally get out the thesaurus, and call you whatever really, really mean adjectives that I can find. Twisted Evil
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: From Rev. Meian   Tue Jan 25, 2011 1:03 pm

(Dan, don't make me put on that Church Lady outfit again . . . the orthopaedic shoes really pinch, and purple is not my color . . .)

[Edited to clarify, I'm talking about Dana Carvey's character from Saturday Night Live, back in the 80s, when it was still funny.]
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PostSubject: Re: From Rev. Meian   Tue Jan 25, 2011 3:57 pm

I just realized that I completely misunderstood Henry on one point: he was not accusing Rev. Master Meian of ill intent. My apologies.

So much for my reading skills.

********************

Oh Lise but you'd look soooo special!
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PostSubject: Re: From Rev. Meian   Tue Jan 25, 2011 7:20 pm

Dan
I definitely don't think Meian has ill intent. I just think she is mistaken for not accepting any of the offers made to her to negotiate some form of public discourse. As for going out to Shasta, it ain't gonna happen. I haven't gotten on a plane in 20 years and have no plans to inflict that experience on myself. I'd love to have tea with Meian at my house though. By the way, why are you so biased towards our making a pilgrimage to Shasta for one on ones behind closed doors instead of mutually agreeable terms of public discourse?

Also, now that you don't see me accusing Meian of ill intent, is there some other error I made in my last post you'd still like to skewer me for? As the old Chinese saying goes, "a day without skewering is a day without sunshine."
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PostSubject: Re: From Rev. Meian   Tue Jan 25, 2011 8:34 pm

Henry--re skewering, Yes I think you misspelled a couple of words, too. So you better get on that ASAP.

I know from previous posts that you're not likely to get on a plane, and no I didn't mean to actually set up impossible (physical, financial, schedule, etc.) tasks for anyone. But several of the folks reading this live closer than you, and/or are more able to make the journey or make whatever enormously constructive contribution that I wouldn't think of.

I suppose I should just concede that this is an unfair charge to burden others with, to visit SA or find another outlet for the pent-up SA/OBC storm and stress. But I intended to compare this supposed duty to what you're insisting (yes, or nearly so) of Rev. Meian.

I'm also very glad to see her post here. I would enjoy reading more about which criticisms she finds constructive and which others not so much. But...how do I say this properly?...in the same way that I think you and other former monks are under no real obligation to do more for SA/OBC, even on your own terms, so I also think that Rev. Meian doesn't actually owe this web conversation her time and her thoughts, even though I think some good would come of it.

In other words, the still-practicing monks' effort spent contributing here would almost assuredly make OBC Connect a better forum, and make it easier for newbies to see a balanced view before visiting. But, I'm not so sure that it will automatically benefit SA/OBC MORE than if the monks lurk, read, and understand the criticisms, accept what seems fair, act on it, and put the rest on the backburner (which is apparently what Rev. Meian has been doing).

If Rev. Meian thinks her time is better spent elsewhere, it's difficult for me to second-guess that judgment. If you think your time is better spent doing something other than helping SA/OBC outside of this forum as I suggested, I hit the same wall. Do you think that is a false equivalence?


Last edited by ddolmar on Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:41 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : spilling, spalling, spooling)
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: From Rev. Meian   Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:02 pm

that seems very fair. Meian has no obligations outside those she deems best to fulfill. My prodding to get active monks to participate stems from my concern that they have blind spots that I think those who spent much time there and have since left and see things from a different perspective can more readily see. The posts on OBCConnect attest to the seriousness of some of those blind spots. So I do what I do and Meian can choose the course she sees as best. Obviously I have no compulsion to stop commenting and she has no compulsion to join the fray. I can simultaneously comment and not begrudge her her right to choose and respect that she is doing what she believes is best.
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PostSubject: Re: From Rev. Meian   Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:16 am

I agree Rev Mein has no obligation t all.
There is a powerful koan to solve though, In one way we all do, I think a lot of us have met here had a bit of a shout (as you do) and maybe feel there is somethin unresolved. I do not want to visit or go back to Shasta but maybe something is unresolved. Rev Mein is handed on her plate a backlog of division what she says is very important, it can bring friendship and peace,or it can continue division. When you return or leave a temple,in Japan,there is a simple ceremony of bowing to everyone,it is respect and love.
We all know this koan is solvable and we wait for maybe a moment of wisdom
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PostSubject: Re: From Rev. Meian   Wed Jan 26, 2011 6:18 pm

Rev Meian, good to hear from you!
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PostSubject: Re: From Rev. Meian   Fri Feb 04, 2011 11:43 pm

Welcome Meian. I hope to see you again at a conference or other gathering. You have a lot to deal with as change comes to the OBC. I hope things open up in a deep and healthy way.

With palms joined,

Kyogen
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Ilo



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PostSubject: Re: From Rev. Meian   Fri Feb 11, 2011 7:14 pm

Gassho Venerable Meian,

Though I am a very flawed and failed ex-monastic, with what little merit I have I wish:

That you enlighten all beings as a high sun in the summer sky,
That you liberate all beings as a great wind that sweeps the grasses
That you extend the Dharma to all beings as an everflowing spring
That you uphold the triple treasure as a high mountain towering...

Ilo
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PostSubject: Re: From Rev. Meian   Fri Feb 11, 2011 11:35 pm

Ilo wrote:


Though I am a very flawed and failed ex-monastic, with what little merit I have I wish:

Ilo

Now, now, being flawed only makes you human and here ex-monastics are the norm. You are invited to create your own introductory thread and share your story (when the spirit moves you of course).
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Ilo



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PostSubject: Re: From Rev. Meian   Sat Feb 12, 2011 12:56 am

Gassho Isan,

Thanks for the kind words. Smile I already did an introduction under the name of Ilo Sunim, but had been away from the site for a while and forgot my password. So I registered again under "Ilo" with a new password that I hope my aging brain can remember! If you are Isan Sacco, I remember you from around 1973 or so, when I read and re-read your letters of advice. Isn't
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PostSubject: Re: From Rev. Meian   Sat Feb 12, 2011 11:10 am

Ilo wrote:
Gassho Isan,

Thanks for the kind words. Smile I already did an introduction under the name of Ilo Sunim, but had been away from the site for a while and forgot my password. So I registered again under "Ilo" with a new password that I hope my aging brain can remember! If you are Isan Sacco, I remember you from around 1973 or so, when I read and re-read your letters of advice. Isn't

Yes, I am and it' scary that you read and re-read something I wrote in 1973. Since I had only been a monk for a year at that point I can't imagine what could I have possibly said? sunny At least it doesn't seem to have caused you any irreparable harm.


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Ilo



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PostSubject: Re: From Rev. Meian   Sat Feb 12, 2011 9:12 pm

Gassho Isan,

It could have been as late as 1974 but no later. Yes, I actually did pore over all the correspondence I got from the Abbey in those days. Smile Colorado Springs in the early 1970s didn't have any Buddhist sanghas (at least that I knew of) and I tried to get answers to all my practice questions from the Abbey. Why the Abbey? Because you all were listed in a kind of counter-culture directory (like Co-evolution Qrtrly) of the time and I chose the ZMS for some reason that now I can't remember. I do remember learning about the same time of Philip Kapleau Roshi's group in Rochester having a Denver sitting group of laymen, and I eventually got in contact with them and would drive up I-25 to Inglewood to sit with Alan (I have forgotten his last name) and his small sangha. Three letters names stuck in my memory from this era, Isan Sacco, Jitsudo Baran, and Mokurai Cherlin as people who I got answers from (in addition to one from Jiyu-Kennett) and who presumably were tasked to respond to correspondents like myself who lived in areas where there were no ZMS groups.

After reading your response I went and searched through all my old rubber-banded Dharma letters and I failed to turn up anything earlier than 1982, so perhaps the earliest letters are gone and I can't quote to you any advice you gave almost forty years ago! But apparently it did me no lasting harm, except you could have warned me that this path (which eventually led me from going to law school) would lead me to driving Corollas all my life and not Beemers.....

It's a good thing I didn't know you were a one-year monk! But then, we were all just about at the same start-time, so full of faith and dreams of replicating the experience of Shakyamuni; now in our sixties and still dreaming and still being held by that wonderful faith, so precious.......
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