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 Why is this a searchable, open forum?

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Lise
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PostSubject: Why is this a searchable, open forum?   Thu Jun 10, 2010 7:35 pm

First topic message reminder :

I've been asked recently if I would change this to a private, non-searchable forum viewable only by members who have gone through some type of verification. My answer to this was no, and I thought it might be helpful to share the reasons why.

-- People in early stages with the OBC need to be able to find this forum so they can know what problems to look out for. Our experience can help them the most if they see the info before dismantling their lives. Some move, quit jobs, end relationships, abdicate the raising of their children, etc., to be near a priory or Abbey or go live there. They may do this based on no more than the Disney version of OBC life that they see as retreat guests or drop-in visitors. For some, their decisions might have been different if their research found a forum like this where people come together and say, "No, it wasn't just me, there really are serious problems." So -- there's the public service aspect that I think is extremely important.

-- An open forum is more fair to everyone who is or might be named as a problem in connection to the OBC. I've always had trouble with people who want to tell their side of a story but don't want the other side to have the same right. In a non-therapeutic forum setting, like this one is, people have the right to know what's being said about them and present a response/defense if they want to. If the forum is private and non-searchable, they have no chance of doing that. Misinformation can be passed off as the truth, no one would know, and even more harm might follow. My feeling is that if someone is willing to accuse another of harm, then he or she should stand behind their words, own them and be willing to be questioned or challenged about it. If their facts are true and can be substantiated, they should have nothing to fear from open discussion and review.

So, kind of a long-winded speech but I wanted to share my thoughts with you. I hope this helps explain my position and why I think we need to keep the forum as it is.

L.
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Jimyo



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PostSubject: Re: Why is this a searchable, open forum?   Fri Sep 24, 2010 1:17 pm

I've only been on this site a few hours. I was delighted to find it, as there seemed to be many old friends here. How, reading more, I'm wondering.....

I'm deeply sorry and sympathetic that so many people have had such bad experiences with the OBC. But I'm seriously wondering if those experiences aren't clouding people's judgement. Being an intuitive person - and I worked that way long before I ever became a monk or even heard of Throssel and Shasta - I know that if your mind gets tied up in knots with logic, you need to look at what your heart, guts, Buddha Nature, soul, or whatever you want to call it is telling you. I can't tell you how that works for you , but I can tell you for me.....

I was at Throssel and Shasta for 11 years. I left under a cloud, and had quite a hard time sorting out my life. But....I KNOW being a monk did me far more good than harm. I KNOW the OBC is not a cult. I KNOW that, while very far from perfect, just about everyone there did their best. And I KNOW that I'm thinking clearly now in saying this, perhaps more clearly than I've ever thought in my life before.

I'm not asking you to believe me, or accept what I say, or trust me. Why should you? Most of you probably don't even know me. And of course things may have changed after I left in 1985. But I'd be wrong not to say anything when I think maybe, just maybe, things are getting a little out of proportion here.

Love to you all...and I mean it. Now I'll go away for a bit...and decide if I really want to be on this site. It seems that, as has almost always been the case in my life, I still stand and walk alone.....
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Sophia



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PostSubject: Re: Why is this a searchable, open forum?   Fri Sep 24, 2010 2:01 pm

Dear Jimyo,
Great to see you here! I entered the postulency (and was ordained) in 1981--and you left in 85. I remember you well, but since you had returned to Throssel during most of our overlap, not sure you remember me!

I understand what you are saying in the above post. I myself had a difficult experience that resulted in my deciding the best thing was to leave. Since Kaizan's post on illness, I've sitting with posting my story for about a week. I keep asking what the route of least harm is (and most good). I'm still not sure which way to go.

In my experience, things changed alot in the last year or so of Rev. Master's life. From the posts here, I gather some of the roots of that change began earlier, maybe even around the time you left. From posts concerning the Rev. Eko years, I gather that what I saw developing in 1996, continued and increased. For me, this site has confirmed my decision.

However, I agree with you that while it was difficult to sort things out, ultimately, I draw much from my years at Shasta. I understand my Transmission as opening up something that I continue to see unfolding. This is bigger than the institution or its members, and yet, it also intimately connected to that time and place. It makes me happy to have found all of thee people I once trained with here at this site, and I care deeply about the directions the monastery is deciding to take, now that there is a new Abbess.

To participate in this forum can be bittersweet: there is often a sense that the institution is unable to respond to some of the problems cited because it cannot step outside of itself to comprehend what is being said here. And, I am not sure "former" members of the OBC will ever be recognized as having a voice (although I see signs...). But also, the forum, by its amazing power to provide a way for us all to find each other and speak with each other, is doing something totally new and unanticipated. It is obvious, from the member posts, that former members are being heard to some extent.

I know it is part of the human condition to "carry our burdens" longer than we should. But to address your concern, I think that there is cleansing happening through this space. Your point is precisely why I haven't posted my own response (publically) to Kaizan's story. I haven't decided whether doing so is adding a cloud. I do know that reading some of these stories has lifted some clouds for me.

I don't if that helps, but there it is. I'd certainly enjoy keeping in touch.
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Why is this a searchable, open forum?   Fri Sep 24, 2010 3:19 pm

Sophia wrote:

To participate in this forum can be bittersweet: there is often a sense that the institution is unable to respond to some of the problems cited because it cannot step outside of itself to comprehend what is being said here. And, I am not sure "former" members of the OBC will ever be recognized as having a voice (although I see signs...). But also, the forum, by its amazing power to provide a way for us all to find each other and speak with each other, is doing something totally new and unanticipated. It is obvious, from the member posts, that former members are being heard to some extent.

I think initially for many of us it has been a place where we could express the thoughts and feelings we felt obliged to suppress during our time in the OBC. With that initial need met other things become possible. Paradoxically, carrying a burden of unexpressed feelings often makes it impossible to appreciate the good we have taken away from the training we did. After unburdening oneself a more balanced view is possible and sometimes gratitude arises in the midst of the contradictions.



Last edited by Isan on Fri Sep 24, 2010 3:20 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : grammar)
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Jimyo



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PostSubject: Re: Why is this a searchable, open forum?   Fri Sep 24, 2010 3:58 pm

Sophia, I remember your name, but I just can't place you. I returned to Throssel in '82, so I suppose that's not surprising. Maybe some day you'll post a photo and see if that jogs my horribly bad memory, even after all these years.

I do realise that things may have changed a lot after I left. I've had a bit of contact with Throssel; visited once, and I see Rev Myoho at her place in Wales from time to time; we're good friends since we're both dotty cat lovers! But I don't really know what's been going on at Shasta, and of course I've always been on the outside, so to speak.

I too would enjoy keeping in touch. Those of us on here have a past and a history that those who've never been monks can never understand, however it's affected us. At least, that's how I see it.

Isan, what you say makes an awful of sense. I need to try to see some of the stuff on here on that basis, rather than thinking (as perhaps I was), what on earth have I got myself into! Perhaps the fact that I tended to express my feelings too much for my own good - and certainly too much for everyone else's peace of mind - was a good thing. At any rate, I don't remember suffering as some seem to have done. Or maybe it's that time has given me a selective memory.
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Sophia



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PostSubject: Re: Why is this a searchable, open forum?   Fri Sep 24, 2010 4:27 pm

I've been asked to supply a photo to a flyer for a class I'm teaching, so coming soon on a forum near you...
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Why is this a searchable, open forum?   Sat Sep 25, 2010 11:35 am

To Jimyo,
First of all welcome the strange world of the OBC Forum. Who’da thunk? There are certainly many viewpoints here. My theory is that whoever has the most “views” on their introductory thread has the correct answer. So far Seikai has the correct answer, but I’m hoping over time my number of views will surpass his and then I will be able lay claim to havingy the truth. Which brings me to my next point. Before you make up your mind whether things are blown out of proportion, may I suggest you visit (repeatedly) my post in the introduction section along with the replies. You might find there is reason many of us have concerns. Hopefully we’ll be crossing paths along the way.

To Sophia
I feel for your dilemma. I too was uncertain for quite a while deliberating which way caused the most good and least harm. And then there is the personal pressure: we know and like people in the OBC who might not be pleased with us for posting stories perceived as being negative about their home and friends, not to mention it being threatening to the institution to which they hold great allegiance and from which they gain support for the basics of existence.

What Jimyo said a couple of posts up encapsulates for me the reason I eventually decided to tell my story on this public forum. She said: “But I'd be wrong not to say anything when I think maybe, just maybe, things are getting a little out of proportion here.” As long as those of us with stories to tell avoid the details and speak in general terms, the view expressed by Jimyo will be the prevalent one. As long as that view remains prevalent, those who are still confused by their own experiences similar to mine will continue to blame themselves. Also, those who decide to enter the OBC will be deprived of a more complete picture of the organization they are about to give up everything to be a part of, since the OBC, like most organizations and people, don’t allow their less perfect side to be seen fully until you’re already deeply involved. And finally, the OBC, again like most people and organizations, do not change, or even see, deeply entrenched ways of operation until massive amounts of evidence, and often consequences, can no longer be avoided.

Your decision though, is much harder than mine. I believe you feel more of an allegiance to the OBC than I, and it sounds like you have maintained much closer contacts with people at the OBC than I have. Yours is not an enviable position to be in. I wrote this post so you (and others contemplating the same thing) could see what helped me decide, in case that might be of some assistance to others, though I know we each must weigh things differently.
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Jimyo

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PostSubject: My Final Post.   Sun Sep 26, 2010 7:23 am

Kaizan, thank you for writing. I have read your post. It was one of the first ones I read before joining this forum. I went back and read it again after you requested that I did so. It is, indeed, deeply disturbing. What happened to you, and Amalia, and maybe others whose stories I haven't heard, was horrendous and should never have occurred. Nothing I am about to say alters that fact, and I fully understand why you feel as you do, and you are right to share that story.

However, I feel I must repeat here what I've written on other threads - no-one is perfect, everyone is human, and we all make mistakes, including monks. I think that is the case however far you go along the path, whatever that really means. Knowledge of and understanding of the Buddha Nature doesn't immediately solve one's emotional problems, and teachers can still make dreadful mistakes. And when those teachers have people around them who don't understand that, or don't feel that they can do anything about it, those things can become compounded.

I know this because I've been there. I didn't ask to be named as a Roshi, or expect to be put on a pedestal because of it. But that happened, and I know the way I behaved afterwards at times really hurt people. Perhaps I can use this thread for an apology to all of them. There are one or two I remember...maybe they're reading this. MPJ, I'm so sorry for that time I screamed at you in the cloister. I know it hurt you, and I realised afterwards I was doing it because a Roshi had done the same thing to me earlier in my training, and in some bizarre way I thought it was an appropriate teaching technique - weird or what? RMDM, I'm sorry I fell out with you, and for the difficulty I had trusting you, all because of a personality clash that had been going on, on my side at least, for years. Various lay people, I can't remember your names, but I remember similar instances, and I really do feel sorry about it.

In another thread, people have expressed amazement and concern about some of the ways monks behaved. I hope maybe the above helps you understand, at least a little. We were, and are, no different from any of you. Perhaps we were worse! But all of us were working in the best way we knew how, albeit imperfectly. Of course that doesn't mean anything is acceptable, and some people have to be stopped, like Hitler, the usual example given in such a case. But perhaps it makes such behaviour more comprehensible. And let's get some sense of proportion here - was anyone killed, tortured etc? No!

Remember, all that has been talked about usually refers to individuals, not the OBC as a whole. I realise you, Kaizan, may not think that is the case, but I can see how it could have been - especially as it sounds like Daizui never deserted you, and Rev Master Jiyu invited you back later on. That doesn't make what happened any better, but perhaps more understandable.

That's why I don't in any way believe the OBC is a cult. I haven't been to Shasta Abbey or the American priories for years, and things may have changed of course. But I visited Throssel not that long ago, and was impressed by the friendliness, calm, and openness I saw. Rev Myoho is a good friend, and was a constant listener when my favourite cat was ill and nearly died. Rev Mokugen I first met when she was the kid sister of a monk who's long since left; I haven't seen her for ages, but would find it impossible to believe anything bad of her. Ditto for several others. Call me naive if you want, but that's the way it is. But I digress a bit here...

I was hurt at Shasta and Throssel too, you know. And in life, before going to the monastery, and after leaving. The monastery is a microcosm of the world; don't any of you remember being told that? I had a flying instructor early on (for those who haven't read my introductory post, I'm a helicopter pilot/instructor) who destroyed my confidence to the extent that I could barely drive to the airfield, let alone fly. Long afterwards, I tried to tell the flying school about him, and the CAA even, but no-one seemed to want to listen. When I became an instructor myself, I discovered just how hard it was, and I had a bit more sympathy for him (though only a teeny weeny bit!) I'm still working in aviation; he's now a plumber - karma or what? And the monastery is no different from the world; it just hopefully provides a better environment to learn for some of us, and if it doesn't, then we leave. Those who said the monastic life was better than the lay life hadn't read Dogen - they were making a mistake.

I realise there are some people on here who've been badly hurt and I in no way whatsoever want to criticise them or make things worse. However, there are posts on here that make me feel quite ill. For that reason, I'm leaving. I'll check any replies to this, and read any private messages. The person who directed me here in the first place seemed to think I had things to contribute and could help others - I don't think that's the case, but if anyone disagrees, please let me know, and I may reconsider. And to that person, please don't blame yourself for directing me to this site; you did what you thought best, and thank you. But I see no point in making myself unhappy for no good reason by coming here. I may change my mind of course, but until then.....farewell, friends.
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Why is this a searchable, open forum?   Sun Sep 26, 2010 9:51 am

Jimyo

Thank you for writing such a considered and thoughtful response to reading my introduction. I have so little time I will try my best to be as thoughtful as you have been.

You said in the previous post: “Remember, all that has been talked about usually refers to individuals, not the OBC as a whole. I realise you, Kaizan, may not think that is the case, but I can see how it could have been - especially as it sounds like Daizui never deserted you, and Rev Master Jiyu invited you back later on. That doesn't make what happened any better, but perhaps more understandable.”

My response to that is best exemplified by something else you said: I didn't ask to be named as a Roshi, or expect to be put on a pedestal because of it. But that happened, and I know the way I behaved afterwards at times really hurt people. Perhaps I can use this thread for an apology to all of them. There are one or two I remember...maybe they're reading this. MPJ, I'm so sorry for that time I screamed at you in the cloister. I know it hurt you, and I realised afterwards I was doing it because a Roshi had done the same thing to me earlier in my training, and in some bizarre way I thought it was an appropriate teaching technique - weird or what? (Bold is mine)

I think what many of us are saying is that perhaps we all learned some ways of teaching that has a greater potential for harm than other ways. Perhaps we can look at some of the human flaws that Rev. Kennett had and see how they may have been (as Kozan would say) institutionalized into the OBC itself and lives on in the way some of the monks teach. By the accounts on this site and private messages I have received, to many people continue to be hurt in ways similar to how I was hurt 20 plus years ago. I don’t feel like I am anti-OBC. I feel quite the opposite. I am very fond of many of the monks there. I just saw a video of Mugo “Walking Lightly” on her website and wished I could have given her a hug. I just received an email from another monk and was grateful for their understanding. These are good people trying very hard to do good things. Sometimes friends try to point out to friends things they see that could be done better. That is the spirit in which I am on this site. I am not and don’t wish to appear anti-OBC. If you can point out where I have failed in this, I am open to look at myself and what I’ve done.

If you’ve read some of my previous posts you will find I am with you: I don’t see the OBC as a cult. Like you, I see things on this website that are theoretically “on my side” that I don’t agree with. There are many views on this website, which is why there is an ongoing discussion. I cannot agree or disagree if you should continue to be on this site. That is solely your decision. I have sufficient difficulty discerning for myself what is the best path for me, much less pretending to be certain what someone else should do. Whatever you choose, I’ve enjoyed your presence for the time you’ve been here.
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albertfuller

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PostSubject: Re: Why is this a searchable, open forum?   Thu Jan 06, 2011 5:44 pm

To seriously ask the question as to if the OBC is a cult: you need to
1 – be clear as to what is a cult
2 – accepted books on and about cults are not necessarily without serious flaws
3 – you need to be able to grasp the sociological dimensions of the issue

The great problem with religion in the modern world, in my opinion, is that the modern world is slowly changing/evolving from absolute rulers to democratic institutions and religious institutions are, sadly, at the back of this procession. We have seen the democratization of political culture and its influence on the general culture. In the founding of America only land owners could vote: The society created the institution of slavery where people were domesticated animals, capable of labor. There were two types of human beings: humans as citizens in political community with their dependants and humans as property. Now today, nearly every group is a minority struggling for (their share of) rights.

Jiyu-Kenneth was a Zen Master trained and certified in Japan. She was charged with the task of bringing the Dharma to barbarians. Have you noticed how appallingly "abusive" things can get in Japan: and yet Zen grows and flourishes in that soil.

I put it to you, given the above citations, the nation of Japan is a cult.

I would also say that China is a cult trying to be a nation.

But the point is, because you have bad experiences or because people create harm or even because people try to control you …. that does not mean you are in a cult: otherwise, the family is a cult, every institution is a cult, including universities, and I have to include every species in regards to the violence of its existence is a cult.

Anybody want to take on advertisizing?

I put it to you simply:
1 – a religion is a movement oriented to eternity (deity (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), deities (Hinduism and Roman Catholicism – as per some specific theoretical interpretations), or the recognition that personality is not ultimate (Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta)) and Taoism (ok, this is one exotic puppy and I don't want to be distracted right now from my main point(s).)
2 – a cult is a communal modality of thought (because all thought is communal since language is social artifact) that posits the complete temporalization of the non-temporal. By this definition, Jesus Christ escapes being a cult leader. He was not as lucky the first time round and I don't even like the guy.

If you want it with a literary sting then, society is cult, a consensual hallucination (William Gibson). But this would be a half-truth as religion is very much part of society.

In conclusion, as long as Zen and by extension the Zen teacher/monk/lay minister/layman is the finger pointing at the moon (the temporal pointing towards the non-temporal) then that community is not a cult.

If the OBC is a cult then it is not a religion. If the OBC is a religion then it is not a cult. If the OBC has capitulated to society then it is a cult. I hope you can see the flow here.

Huiko cut off his hand to gain the nectar of release from Bodhidharma.

You must appreciate the enormous difficulty when representing the divine (for pedagogical purposes only) whilst trying to remain free of the stink of holiness. Like raising a child, the parent cannot become a child nor can the parent be alienated from the child.

Jiyu-Kenneth was very concerned about the OBC being branded a cult and she was intent on sharing a path of liberation that would be available to all who would chose to enter upon it.

The size of her task was so huge! She went about the business of starting a monastery but needed to create a society for it to exist in (the Zen Mission Society).

Building a society, single handedly, in educated circles, would be considered to be impossible. A society is first and foremost a coherent collective and not an accomplishment of a single individual. But when you are building something from nothing, you don't play it safe.

But here are the very real problems:
1 – religious exposition soon gets diverted into a lot of armchair social theory (just read Dogen … oh! you already have)
2 – leaders can be too easily forced into being amateurish policy planners

Now let me tackle my favorite: the anti-intellectual stance, as a posture, simply cannot be sustained because language/thinking is not optional to the human condition, when society is our mode of existence. And of course, as a teacher, this insensitivity to thinking can have dire consequences.

We decry others at our peril.

Now let me briefly deal with the "problem" of psychology and Buddhism: There is none! The self of Buddhism is ego. The self of modern psychology refers to being as the horizon of the mind. The same word with two completely different uses! Have a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychology_of_self.

As an aside, Advaita Vedanta has sent some considerable time pondering the self in various dimensions (ego being only one of those dimensions). But hey! I recommend you don't play with philosophy because you can really hurt a lot of people. On the other hand philosophical mastery (academics) is no guarantee of an answer either:because philosophy is the love of wisdom not the possession of wisdom. Like Dogen says: the journey is hindered by arrival, but not hindered whilst on the way.

…and when you give up everything, the bag is still not empty.

I had a lot of personal experiences in and out of Shasta Abbey: but the truth of the matter is that not all experience is personal. And I doubt I will get a psychologist to agree with that statement. Ok! Except Daizui. The real issue between Buddhism and psychology is that although psychology never claimed to be a religion it is, nonetheless, sometimes used as an effective substitute for religion. But psychology is also much more than a substitute for religion. Nothing is all good or all bad: that is true for psychology as well as religion (although some would disagree).

3 – the OBC today, and I do not have the slightest clue about it, can only be on course if it accepts Jiyu's burden – and not accomplishments (this is the offering that goes to all beings) -- of building something from nothing for the benefit of living beings.

As an aside, when I was assigned to work with Haryo, the very first thing he said to me was, "when you are ready to work, come." He showed me that within the rule was the path (the path is also outside the rule) and that the rule was not a shackle. I have a deep admiration for Haryo and it's because of how he treated me.

Of course there are biases and prejudices! I was the only black guy in a white community, in America. When I walked the streets of Mt. Shasta, I was at times cheerily greeted to the sounds of "Hey niggar!"

Pain and loss; tell me about it: I have cried so much, I thought I had forgotten my umbrella and got caught in a downpour.

But, truthfully, I can say I studied and practiced Zen in America, your America.
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Mia



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PostSubject: Re: Why is this a searchable, open forum?   Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:56 pm

Hi Albert,

I really enjoyed your viewpoint, thank you.
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Why is this a searchable, open forum?   Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:39 pm

Hi Maya,

We are going to start a thread for you under "Keeping in Touch" so that it's a little easier for people to find your updates. We will move your posts and those related to it, from this thread to that new one. Hopefully this won't cause any confusion, but please let me know if does.

cheers,
Lise
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