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 recognizing the OBC tools for side stepping doubt & criticism

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Howard

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PostSubject: recognizing the OBC tools for side stepping doubt & criticism   Mon Feb 07, 2011 6:12 pm

A common behavioural warning with the OBC was "Don't disturb the teacher/ roshi/ master/ superior"/. This was presented as a basic Buddhist teaching with numerous sutras to back it up.

It was a refrain not to challenge one's Superior, not to openly question a teaching, not to splash one's koan around, not to smear another with ones doubt, how to condense ones criticism into a spiritual affirmation, and on & on.
A typical example of this would be the telling of a story about a spiritual friend with a medical background, who told a sick Jiyu that her wrong teachings were the cause of many of her troubles. This caused Jiyu incredible angst & doubt until she refound her own strength and rejected the diagnosis. (There are people here with better memories of this who can fill in the blanks)

The purpose of the telling of the story was "If you criticize or cause doubt, then you're just like the person who spiritually attacked Jiyu", just like Devadetta attacking the Buddha.

Another tool in this behaviour was the presentation that the monks intensive training made them very vulnerable and sensitive to others. That the sacrifices that the monks made to spiritually open themselves should be respected by not disturbing them in any way. Many monks seemed to work tirelessly to model themselves after this aspect of monkdom. If a monk became sick or run down, it was often expressed as them picking up other peoples stuff. (eg. the doubts of those who were spiritually junior to them).
Even keeping the doubt or criticism to yourself was not enough to prevent the hurting those sensitive, loving monks.


Another tool to deal with criticism and doubt was the teaching about not creating a schism in the Sangha. This was the ultimate boogie man tool that was usually reserved for any one who expressed doubts that anyone else might listen to. Lots of traditional teaching here about the deepest pits in Hell being reserved for anyone doing that.

It's not that there wasn't some truth to what was being said. The problem was that these teachings seemed to be presented out of the monks inability to face doubt or criticism and so the real transmission in these teachings was the the justification of selfishness and manipulation.

I guess the tool I'm talking about in this post is the tool of guilt, applied under the guise of selective Buddhist teachings and welded by the OBC monks fear of looking beyond the OBC conditioning.


Last edited by Lise on Wed Feb 09, 2011 2:15 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : fixed typo in thread title per Howard's request / giving in to American spelling)
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PostSubject: Re: recognizing the OBC tools for side stepping doubt & criticism   Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:19 pm

Couldn't agree with you more. Our Prior didn't like going into town because "peoples' jangles made him feel ill."
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George
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PostSubject: Re: recognizing the OBC tools for side stepping doubt & criticism   Mon Feb 07, 2011 10:22 pm

Exactly so, Howard! I was charged with deliberately creating disharmony within the Sangha (which is, as I remember, the only "unforgivable sin" in Mahayana Buddhism not involving murder). I kept quiet for a long time after, while I sorted things out.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: recognizing the OBC tools for side stepping doubt & criticism   Tue Feb 08, 2011 2:20 am

I agree too a heirarchy puts people in stupid positions when they think they know all the answers to everything, someone after a few years becomes a teacher of meditation,is different from someone helping someone else to sit when requested.
There is a lot of pressure on an establishment to perform and be right,people follow because they are told it is right. Querying which is healthy for everyone is as George says seen as creating disharmony. A lot of the problems we see here and at many other religious establishments is because we were not allowed to query.
I think Kennett Roshi would have been greater if she had not been so rigid in assuming she was right, she would then have left behind alot of free thinking spirited people,with a great wish to practice Zen Buddhism
I think it is so vital , to be able to say, sorry guys I got it wrong,
George good luck to you it is almost like a curse been thrown at you I hope you sorted it out and did not pick it up
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mstrathern
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PostSubject: Re: recognizing the OBC tools for side stepping doubt & criticism   Tue Feb 08, 2011 2:33 pm

Howard as you so rightly imply this is nonsense. There are a myriad sects in Buddhism all with variants of the same teaching; are they all teaching disharmony and schism with the original, more Theravadin teachings? No, the Buddha taught us the general principles of the fact that there was more enlightened state and the way, as he saw it, to move there. He also made the proviso that we question all that we practice and are taught.

As to illness and spirituality this is a common hangover from pre-enlightenment, mediaeval times. Yes body and mind are inseparable, and have great influence on each other. But, and it is a big but, most physical illness has a more direct physical cause, often viral or bacterial, sometimes genetic, sometimes environmental, etc., etc. If all illness was spiritual at root penicillin wouldn't work.

I think the better example of how to deal with matters that get laid at your door was shown be the master (I forget exactly whom) who when he was a priest in a village and a local unwed girl said that he was the father of her new born child, replied 'Is that so?'. He then looked after the child, and reportedly brought it up well. His congregation shocked, deserted him, until a year or so later when the girl confessed that he was not the father but that the real father was now prepared to marry her. Whereupon he replied 'Is that so?' and promptly married them and handed the child over. Not the behaviour of an OBC monk I think!
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: recognizing the OBC tools for side stepping doubt & criticism   Tue Feb 08, 2011 5:05 pm

I believe our friend was Hakuin
The Emperer of the time,had heard about Hakuin, and was seeking him out. He had heard that Hakuin was a very wise monk and he lived with beggers,the emperer stumbled across a very distinguished looking begger and offered him some water melon,asking him if he could eat it without using his hands. The begger replied 'Can you offer it to me without using your hands'

In response the Emperer built Daitoko-ji Temple and installed the begger as Abbot
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: recognizing the OBC tools for side stepping doubt & criticism   Tue Feb 08, 2011 10:16 pm

From Howard's post:

"It was a refrain not to challenge one's Superior, not to openly question a
teaching......A typical example of this would be the telling of a
story about a spiritual friend with a medical background, who told a
sick Jiyu that her wrong teachings were the cause of many of her
troubles. This caused Jiyu incredible angst & doubt until she
refound her own strength and rejected the diagnosis. (There are people
here with better memories of this who can fill in the blanks)

The
purpose of the telling of the story was "If you criticize or cause
doubt, then you're just like the person who spiritually attacked Jiyu",
just like Devadetta attacking the Buddha."


Another example of Kennett's confused mental state becoming elevated to some grand spiritual drama. She is "spiritually attacked" and the person who makes this comment - becomes Devadatta, Judas, a demon "attacking" Kennett - who makes her doubt. It's all his fault. This is also a pure expression of the Enneagram 8 personality style - this psychological style cannot ever accept responsibility for their own feelings or reactions. If an 8 feels bad, it's someone else's fault, and in this case, this minor incident becomes glorified.

"Spiritually attacked." What is that? Kennett had created a world where no one ever questioned or challenged her or criticized -- ever - so when someone came into this enclosed realm -- and didn't follow the playbook, did not know the rules -- and then out of the blue just shared his thought or feelings or even slightly questioned Kennett - well, that was so completely unacceptable, it becomes a huge attack, rather than simply a question or an honest discussion.

Wacky. So dysfunctional.
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: recognizing the OBC tools for side stepping doubt & criticism   Wed Feb 09, 2011 8:08 am

I believe this stems directly from Rev. Kennett's expectation of silence and/or acquiescence after she made a proclamation.
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: recognizing the OBC tools for side stepping doubt & criticism   Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:45 pm

Hey Mark
the master (I forget exactly whom) who when he was a priest in a village and a local unwed girl said that he was the father of her new born child, replied 'Is that so?'. He then looked after the child, and reportedly brought it up well. His congregation shocked, deserted him, until a year or so later when the girl confessed that he was not the father but that the real father was now prepared to marry her. Whereupon he replied 'Is that so?' and promptly married them and handed the child over. Not the behaviour of an OBC monk I think!

I've long found the story of "Is that so" as a wonderful example of minimizing wake and demonstrating selflessness in action to the world.

In light of Hakuins example I have never understood the importance that most Shasta teachers paid to upkeep of their reputations at all cost. The appearance of propriety for these teachers would always take precedence over reality. The problem was that they seemed to relate to their monkhood as more of a personal treasure that could be lost, than as a vehicle that they've chosen to ride this path with.

Their defence of this behaviour, when questioned about it, often centred on wishing not to blemish Rev. Jiyu' s reputation as one of her monks and yet their actions always seemed to be more of an imitation of Hakuins villagers than of Hakuin himself. It seemed like the real blemish was all about image. What these teachers also seemed to be demonstrating was "If you can cover an attachment with a robe and it can be ignored.

I never understood how such a obvious worldly attachment could be so easily nurtured by Shasta teachers as it stood in such stark contrast to standard meditative understanding and basic Buddhist teachings.

This OBC connect forum has now given me a much more sympathetic view of their predicament. I had once thought that these teachers were unsui whereas in reality these are just folks with difficulties, employed as monks, raised in a religious family that imparted conflicting doses of security & abuse, have been conditioned to steadfastly avoid doubt & criticism, and have all witnessed the consequence that Shasta provides to anyone who doesn't keep waving the OBC colours.

I'm not sure that I would of been any better if I had to carry that load.

Cheers
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mstrathern
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PostSubject: Re: recognizing the OBC tools for side stepping doubt & criticism   Wed Feb 09, 2011 9:18 pm

Yes Howard I quite agree. However the problem with image is that it is imaginary, delusional, whether it is in the mind of the beholder or the beheld, and normally self reinforcing when it is both minds. I became a monk because I thought I was imperfect not because I was perfect; no better than anyone else really (though I must admit I sometimes think I am, ah delusion, delusion!) As far as I can see the sangha is just a group, a kind of club, of ordinary people helping each other on the way. Some may have a little more experience but not much more, and certainly all are equal in their frail humanity, surely that's part of the reason why we band together. Some directly dedicate their whole lives to it and become monks, others follow a slightly more indirect path. All the ceremonial, robes and rituals are really just a form of encouragement along the way. All the sacramental stuff, transmission, kensho, initiation, etc. is just a delusional trap if you can't let go of it and move on. As they says in the Pali Cannon: 'neti, neti'; not this, not this.
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Kyogen

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PostSubject: Re: recognizing the OBC tools for side stepping doubt & criticism   Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:23 pm

Good observations on the trap of image. One little detail regarding the Hakuin story is that Hakuin told the tale, but it was about his teacher. It has been attributed to him at least since it was published that way in Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, maybe even before that. It's a great story. This was cleared up for me by someone in that lineage.

With palms joined,

Kyogen
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