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 introduction, part one

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PostSubject: introduction, part one   Fri Mar 11, 2011 5:48 am

Greetings one and all.
I've been a lay Buddhist for a long time now, 24yrs., but I have to say I'm still wet behind the ears. I've read pretty much every post on this site and I'm impressed by the wisdom expressed here. I'm 58 yrs. of age with 2 children and a husband, none of which are Buddhist. One of my children became mentally ill when only 11 yrs. old so it was as if my life was hyjacked into a direction I never dreamed I'd be going. It's been a journey fraught with difficulty, suffering, fear, etc. Yet here we are, all still alive after 12 yrs. of sailing through some rough seas with our ill child. One child is still at home and in school, not the one with a mental illness. At any rate this is supposed to be an introduction to me and not to my family! Us women folk sometimes get confused where we begin and our family ends. Such is the fortunes of all womankind, (accompanying folk music here.) I`m sure it`s this way for some men folk too.

I've never been to Shasta Abbey. For some reason, I could never put my finger on, I never felt drawn to visit there. I had a feeling it wouldn't be good for me. I know it's been good for many people but not as much for others. Maybe I would have fallen into the others category.

I never wanted to become a lay minister. I watched while those around me became lay ministers and our sitting group began to resemble a choir, robed and all. I think it wasn't the best direction to go with creating a visual difference between lay people and lay ministers. I wondered what new people thought of our meditation group with the majority wearing robes along with our priest. ( I don't know if they use the word "priest" anymore but when I joined 24 yrs. ago, I was told the monk we had was a Buddhist priest.)

It`s been a shock to learn about some people's bad experiences at the Abbey and at N.C.Priory. I feel badly about being part of an organization which turns a blind eye to some of the things which happened. The O.B.C. at Shasta Abbey and partipating priories have turned out to be another corruptable organization like every other one I've known of. Just goes to show where our focus needs to be, not on one another. This occurred to me after reading through all the old, sad news from the past. I hope the future is better & such mistakes aren`t repeated!

I've always had a problem with looking back, looking into the past, and feeling regrets and sorrow for the loss of close relatives and friends. Often my focus is not on the present, where it needs to be! I'm needed in the here and now and I need to be here, awake and learning to walk with purpose instead of wandering about looking backwards. No wonder I'm always walking into obstructions along my way. I admire the discipline shown to be practised here by many posters. Not having discipline imposed by life in a monastary has left me to my own devices. Life has been a kind, but at times, harsh teacher. I've had a few surgeries in the last couple yrs. and it's been an emotionally and physically raw time for me. My last hospital stay was quite the harsh teacher! Nothing like facing oneself without anything to enhance the view, no pleasant distractions or ability to run away.

Not all is bad these days though. For eg., I discovered the O.B.C. connect and am encouraged to learn there are others who are training so well and able to give words of wisdom & encouragement here. I'm grateful for you taking the time to express what you're learning along the way. I read some posts numerous times over again; there`s some solid ground here.

I don't know what else to say about myself. I have interests; I'm rarely bored. I had an excellant O.B.C. teacher but I'm not in contact with him now. This has been my decision. I'm having a time on my own for awhile. He has monks to teach now and I hope all goes well in his corner of the woods. I don't imagine it's easy being responsible for teaching; there are so many pitfalls in that line of work, rather steep pitfalls at that. Personally, I haven't been harmed by my teacher in any way. He has been a support during difficult times and has been patient with me, listening attentively and offering teaching. Still, at our meditation group I began to feel oppressed by an atmosphere not conducive to questioning. The group dynamics in the mediation group I attended did not seem to invite questioning; I'm not placing blame on the teacher alone. I played along by learning to be quieter and quieter and then not to be there at all.

But here I am on a public forum. It's a bit scary. I prefer to hide away but my conscience told me, I`d better pipe up and admit I`m here. I have more to learn than to teach so being quiet might be not such a bad idea. Well, for now anyway. ( Actually I enjoy talking for hours on end when I think there are interesting people present which was the case at the meditation group I attended. I'm sure there have been times when others have wished I'd be quiet. I don't want to give the false impression that I'm overly quiet.)

I'm happy to learn of this site. (gracefully bowing, exit stage left.) Sandra
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: introduction, part one   Fri Mar 11, 2011 6:35 am

That is a lovely post sandra. I have often wondered about being a parent with a mentally ill child,how it must be and the difficulties the whole family has. What happened at the age of eleven to your child?
You seem to have coped with the associated difficulties rather well as they do not crop up again.
And very honestly you lay your self bare with your hospitalisation, but wonderfully say that life can be a harsh teacher.
I strongly believe that that if we trust in our hearts the harsh lessons become good lessons,in that they do actually teach us something both relevant and positive.

Sandra , great intro , great love to you from over the ocean, i am sure you will
have some wonderful replies from some wonderful people
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cmpnwtr

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PostSubject: Re: introduction, part one   Fri Mar 11, 2011 12:13 pm

Dear Sandra,
Thank you for sharing your story. Many of your comments resonate with me. I was a lay minister at one time and the robe thing, and the creation of hierarchies with roles and privileges attached didn't sit right with me. I also resonate with the concern about being in the bubble of unquestioning spirituality. It seems to me that the question is the journey. I believe it was the poet, Rielke, who spoke of the spiritual quest as "living the question" and that fits well for me. I'm at 62 now and after 40 years of devoted meditation practice, dropping roles and uniforms is the natural unfolding of life development, and admittedly a great liberation at this stage of life. In my group practice experiences those roles and uniforms created unnecessary tensions. If anything I've learned to be fed up with "being somebody" and find peace with resting and abiding in being itself.

My journey with mental illness has been on the professional end. As a mental health therapist working mostly in the public sector there was a period where I worked closely with the chronically mentally ill and with education and support for family members, and helped write some articles for the family education manual that was produced by the Ore. State Mental Health Division back in the 80s. Having heard so many stories close up, and been a support person for parents whose adult children are suffering from the impairment of brain disorders, I have been a witness to the suffering of grief, loss, and impermanence that so many family members experience.

In the end for me, it was not the loyalty to a sangha or to a master that has been salvific, but rather just the faithfulness of keeping my practice, day in, day out, moment to moment. All the pathology that occurred in my experience with the OBC was a good teacher to stand on my own two feet and trust that the true teacher, and the true teaching, is within, just being present to the Presence.

Blessings,
Bill
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Watson
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PostSubject: Re: introduction, part one   Fri Mar 11, 2011 1:04 pm

Sandra, welcome, it is good to have you here.

Kind regards,
Watson
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john

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PostSubject: Re: introduction, part one   Fri Mar 11, 2011 2:34 pm

Hello Sandra.
I have not posted for a while but thought I would say hello and wish you well.
You have been training about the same lenght of time as I have.
My own spiritual bubble burst here on this forum, some of the stuff Josh and others pointed to really felt, for a while like I was a child without my father, which was how I grew up as he died when I was five,I am now 61. So the boat was really rocked when all the painfull issues came on to the forum about cruelty neglegect and repression.From my perspective I do feel the movement of change is in the air within the obc but others may see it as papering over the cracks. I still enjoy sitting with old friends and feel drawn and connected to example and resonance with others. Also I love blasting out the scriptures during ceremony, if the old voice doesnt crack up.
For me now everything is up for investigation, its not trust I lack but getting at root cause internal or external seem to be my daily comtemplation/pondering.

I do feel a bit naked when I come here, as you say, public and on show, and do get lost with some of the disscusions under way, but I dont wressel with it to much.
I tend to think the maturity of what I have been doing all these years (sitting) has its own life which in turn has its effect leading ever onward through the living of this daily life.
Good Wishes to you.
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Kyogen

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PostSubject: Re: introduction, part one   Fri Mar 11, 2011 5:26 pm

Hello Sandra, and welcome,

john wrote:
I tend to think the maturity of what I have been doing all these years (sitting) has its own life which in turn has its effect leading ever onward through the living of this daily life.

I agree with John on this point. I've seen communities go off in odd directions, but if basic Dharma teachings are offered, and if there is grounding in sound basic practice like zazen, there is a strong tendency to come back sanity. This is even more true for individuals. What it comes down to is that you can't avoid the truth for very long! The Dharma is really about that, so it has a way of prevailing. I see the necessity of balancing a trust in our own instincts with willingness to challenge our illusions through input from others, which means having some trust in sangha and teachers. The only way to find that balance is by slipping off on one side, making a correction, then slipping off on the other and correcting again. The "middle way."

I wish you well, Sandra. Please do pipe up on this forum.

With palms joined,

Kyogen
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