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 Sex and the Spiritual Teacher

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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sat Mar 12, 2011 12:40 am

[Admin] This has been split from 'OBC Experiences / Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......'

The Boot and the Door: Preventing Future Scandals


By Scott Edelstein

In 1974, as a 19-year-old student at Oberlin College, I took a class
called Zen Meditation. In an informal discussion with the instructor of
this course, I learned that a prominent Zen teacher named Eido Shimano
had been having sex with his students—as it turned out, for some years. I
figured that if a college sophomore in rural Ohio knew about this
problem, then surely folks in the Zen establishment also knew, and—being
wise and influential—would quickly take the necessary steps to correct
it.

Now, over 36 years later, the Zen establishment—i.e., other Zen
teachers and we Zen students—are still wrestling with the same teacher
and the same problem. Eido himself continues to publicly declare his
innocence. And we are still dealing with the problem in largely the same
way: with admonitions and recommendations and demands, all of them
focused on Eido Shimano.

Folks who have been to Twelve Step meetings can legitimately
characterize our collective behavior as codependence, a spiritual and
mental illness in which we compulsively try to fix someone else instead
of standing up for ourselves and our own best interests.

Paradoxically, codependents’ attempts to fix a person enable addicts
(including sex addicts and power addicts) to stay addicted. Together, an
addict and codependents can keep an addictive system in place for
years, decades, or generations. Codependence also has another essential
feature: the compulsive rejection of reality and the equally compulsive
clinging to hopes and thoughts.

For 40 years, Zen teachers tried to fix Eido. We students tried to
fix Eido. We lectured him, pleaded with him, condemned him, and scolded
him. We obsessively focused on him.

We need to do things differently.

Roko Sherry Chayat and the folks in her (formerly Eido’s) sangha
appear to understand this. They have begun the very difficult but
necessary work of collective examination, dissolution, reinvention, and
healing. Chayat and her community have wisely chosen to bring in a
consultant from FaithTrust Institute to help guide this process. It will
likely take years, but it can be done. Two such cases of successful
reinvention in the wake of scandal include San Francisco Zen Center and
Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. (A detailed account of SFZC’s
dissolution and rehabilitation appears in Michael Downing’s book, The Shoes Outside the Door;
an account of Kripalu’s scandals, implosion, and reinvention appears at
kripalu.org/about_us/491. Briefer accounts of both organizations’
reinvention appear in my forthcoming book Sex and the Spiritual Teacher.)

But what about the rest of us Zen students and teachers? What can we do?
We can begin by changing our focus, from Eido to ourselves and our communities.
We can, of course, continue to read Eido’s books, articles,
transcribed talks, etc. and accept the genuine and significant wisdom
many of them offer. Why shouldn’t we? Wisdom isn’t about the mouth, or
pen, or keyboard it comes out of. But for our own sanity, we can stop
throwing our attention and energy in Eido’s direction.

We can also stop imagining that Eido is the rare bad apple in the
Dharma barrel—and that by removing him from the barrel, we’ll have
nothing but pristine, healthy fruit. We can let go of the delusion that
we can reach into the barrel and, without exercising our powers of
observation or discernment, bite safely into anything we pull out.

Since Zen (and Buddhism in general) first sunk roots into American
soil, we students have trusted our teachers to consistently look out for
our best interests and our safety. Most have done so, but many haven’t.
Some still don’t. We need to stop imagining that this state of affairs has changed—or will change someday.
When we suspect that a teacher has not acted in our best
interests, we need to question them, challenge them, and speak publicly
about them. When we see that they’ve not acted in our best
interests, we may need to separate from them.

Instead of trying to fix them, we can put on our shoes, walk away, and find another teacher. (We
should also report instances of a teacher’s injustice or exploitation to
people in positions of authority, of course.)

All spiritual teachers teach at our discretion. Without us, they
would have nobody to teach. At every moment, we have the power to
abandon any teacher, simply by turning away. If enough of us do this, we
put a teacher out of business—unless and until they change their ways.

The history of Zen is replete with examples of folks who did just
this. Many of these folks went on to become some of Zen’s greatest
teachers. Your own history is equally replete with instances in which
you did just this. Think of the relationships with lovers, doctors,
mechanics, teachers, shops, and restaurants that you ended because they
failed to look out for your best interests.

We also need to look closely at ourselves as communities. As Jack Kornfield notes in his book A Path With Heart,
“The problems of teachers cannot be easily separated from the
communities around them. A spiritual community will reflect the values
and behavior of its teachers and will participate in the problems as
well. Because spiritual community is so important, only when our
community life is made a conscious part of our practice can our own
heart and spiritual life become integrated and whole.”

The converse is also true: a spiritual teacher needs to reflect the
values and behavior of his or her spiritual community. If our teacher
fails to act according to our values, then we need to meet as a
community to collectively examine and reflect on those values. If we
agree to reaffirm those values, then it is in our best interests to boot
the teacher out. In such cases, this is usually the wisest and most
compassionate thing we can do.

Scott Edelstein has practiced Zen since 1974. He is the author of 15 books and has served as editor for two spiritual teachers. This
article is partly adapted from the book
Sex and the Spiritual Teacher: Why It Happens, When It’s a Problem, and What We All Can Do, to be published in March 2011 by Wisdom Publications. His website is sexandthespiritualteacher.com.
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Kozan
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sat Mar 12, 2011 1:14 am

Josh--a very insightful article. Thanks for posting this!
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sat Mar 12, 2011 2:47 am

I just bought Scott Edelstein's new book, SEX and the SPIRITUAL TEACHER from Amazon. He is coming to New York City in May and I will host a dinner party for him and his wife and invite some local Buddhist wise friends - will see who is in town then.

Although Shasta and Kennett's sexual dysfunction was focused on repression, lack of all intimacy, and celibacy, it did not include much sexual aggression from the leadership. Nonetheless, the issues that Edelstein addresses in his book apply to Shasta / OBC as they do to Maezumi's or Shimanon's communities. Shadow side of authoritarian absolutist leaders, denial of reality and human nature, self-blindness, blind obedience, lack of honest communication in spiritual communities, and so on.

I am just beginning to read the book, but so far I would recommend that many people who are posting here might find the book very useful and insightful. In fact, if people are interested, we could create a casual book / reading group. Read various chapters and discuss points that we find relevant.

If anyone is interested in doing this, let's discuss.

josh
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sat Mar 12, 2011 9:13 am

Hi, Josh,

I am quite interested in joining a book discussion group on this topic. I will purchase Edelstein's book asap. I am glad to read the quote from A Path With Heart from Kornfield's book in Edelstein's passage which you selected. I mistakenly mentioned on an earlier post on this forum that A Path With Heart was by Joseph Goldstein when actually Jack Kornfield is the author. Now the correct author of this great book appears for those on this site who might want to read it.

Thanks so much for this posting and for your input on this forum.

Machik
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sat Mar 12, 2011 11:59 am

Josh - great post, great idea. I'll see if I can get a copy in the UK.

If no one objects I'll move the last 3 posts and any subsequent ones to a new thread tomorrow dedicated to discussing the book and its implications.
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sat Mar 12, 2011 12:59 pm

mark, happy to send you a copy. no problem. re-email me your mailing address
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sat Mar 12, 2011 1:00 pm

actually, anyone in the UK who would like a copy, happy to send. amazon has good discounts on books here. just send me your mailing address
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sat Mar 12, 2011 2:31 pm

Hello Josh and all,

I like what Edelstein says, but in the passage quoted here, there's a factor not taken into account. We as individuals can see when our best interests are not adequately considered and sufficiently met by a teacher and leave. Once we are outside the organization/group, then we have little influence inside the group. It rarely happens that people leave in great numbers, all at once. Instead, it's one or two at a time, so just walking away doesn't have much of an effect on the problem. Many of these teachers are not just charismatic; they are also quite effective and have a positive influence at the beginning of a student's practice. Uninformed and naive, they get sucked into the group, and then become invested. Many don't have the personal strength and discernment to extract themselves. Some don't suffer personal injury the way others do, so they can continue to ignore the signs.

What I'm getting at here is that the efforts many of us have made over the years was not to "fix" the teacher, but to stop him (occasionally her): in effect, to fix the community. That has been difficult to do in the past for the reasons I've listed elsewhere on this forum. Things have changed, largely through the internet, so that we are much more connected, and it's easier to make information available. It's a game changer. Perhaps Edelstein understands that, but from this passage it didn't sound like it. Of course, I'm looking at it from a different perspective than most people have. I feel a responsibility for the larger "system," for Buddhism, and specifically for Soto Zen.

With palms joined,

Kyogen
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sat Mar 12, 2011 4:09 pm

What I posted was just a small excerpt from Scott's book, so need to read the book itself. So will see how he addresses this. Also, you could probably dialogue with him on his website.

After you've left a dysfunctional group, you rarely have any influence to make any changes. But as we have seen with Shasta, there was no way to have any influence inside the group either. At least not when i was there. Not when the leader can't handle even the slightest suggestion or criticism, seeing such things as "spiritual attacks". Yikes!!!

I totally agree. The internet has changed all this. Now people can and should speak out, go on the record, connect with one another, and those who question can find this information through googling. Very important now. Of course, the more cultic a group is, the more they will shut themselves off from these dialogues, but frankly, by doing that, it only increases their isolation and group psychopathology.

My hope is that these on-line discussions and blogs will help current practitioners question more deeply, look at many of the unquestioned assumptions and narratives that form the undercurrent in many spiritual groups and traditions -- and many will question from a perspective of genuine wonder and inquiry. wouldn't that be wonder-full.

More dis-enchantment, bring it on.

If we don't question more deeply, then there is no way that all these same scandals and problems and dysfunctions will not just keep coming back - over and over again. How can they not?

I would hope that the whole Maezumi story will eventually all come out -- for the good and healing of all concerned and for the end of fantasies. What can't his disciples say? What are they afraid of? What can't be openly addressed? What story are they protecting? And why is this story important?

but that's up to them.
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sat Mar 12, 2011 7:03 pm

I think anything that helps see through these teachers can not just help the desciples make informed choices,it also helps them not feel so alone, and indeed it helps them realize that sexual abuse means sexual abuse. I think that many people have not only been abused but wasted large parts of their lives following someone elses mental version of religion and spiritual practice.
I have a little bit of word blindness and this hinders my absorbsion of what I am reading, so I read as little as possible so I will not take a great part in this, I am happy that Mark is and I feel he will make good points.
I feel it essential that the Maezumi story comes out. Why isn't it?
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Kyogen

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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sat Mar 12, 2011 7:09 pm

I'm not sure very much has been untold. There was a film about it, much public revelations, etc., at least with regard to Maezumi himself. I'm sure lots of details could be related, but so far as I know, the bulk of it has been aired.

Josh, is there something further you know about?

Kyogen
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sat Mar 12, 2011 7:23 pm

What I was thinking was not so much more details of who he had sex with - not that sort of thing. Although the fact that he had sex with an underage girl - i guess i had heard that but no specifics.

What could be useful would be for his students to fully share and discuss not only Maezumi's behavior but the kind of community that was created by this behavior, what people went through, and so on. Not unlike this website, I suppose. Also, he has many "dharma heirs" and they now have successors - how are they all dealing with this now that so much of the truth has come out? I would think that the fact that it is now public knowledge that Maezumi was a [admin delete] would have some impact on how they think about their lineage? Or maybe not? And if not, that would be interesting.

I remember many years back, Shambhala Sun did a cover story on the great legacy of Maezumi, how wonderful he was, and celebrated all his successors. Good PR, but in retrospect, a complete "snow job" as we say. Not the full story and certainly not the true story.

I fully admit that I am a great fan of myth busting and getting to the truth - odd I suppose since I am in the PR biz.

But I think a good and deep postmortem on Maezumi, his legacy, what really happened, how it was allowed and enabled, what were the effects, and so on -- that is of value. It is up to his community to do that - or the media. But maybe they already have or are in the process?


Last edited by Lise on Sun Mar 13, 2011 11:40 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : edited for violation of forum rule #6 / namecalling)
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sat Mar 12, 2011 7:34 pm

Having sex with an underage girl makes him a [admin delete].
They are called noncers over here which is prison slang for not on communal exersice.
I am sure it would be the same in the States, thay have a segretated life in prison, for their own safety. They have to sign a sex register for life , and are frequently hounded out of local areas.
Maezumi Roshi if this is true, would not have aliked the puhishment he would have received.
For me I do not believe some one can make out to be a teacher and also perform sick immoral acts. What they have passed on and transmitted is incredibly suspect


Last edited by Lise on Sun Mar 13, 2011 11:41 pm; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : edited for violation of forum rule #6 / name-calling)
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sat Mar 12, 2011 7:45 pm

Perhaps Kyogen knows the details of what happened. Legally, there is no excuse, no mitigation. It is a criminal act and the perpetrator go to prison. And, you are right, you become labeled as a sex offender for life.

But the police have to notified and the girl has to testify. Apparently that didn't happen. I heard the girl was the daughter of one of Maezumi's dharma heirs. All in the family. The right of the lord to have his way with his followers? Medieval times.....

Obviously, how enlightened could Maezumi be - if he was a slave to these kind of desires and behavior? That of course is the question. What did he "transmit"? He was recognized in three different Zen lineages as a "master." What was he a master of? Koans, giving great lectures, ceremonies? Is that Zen?

As we know, there is no Zen outside of daily life, outside of the present moment. Our behavior is our Zen.
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sat Mar 12, 2011 7:54 pm

I completely agree that how one lives one life is really what one teaches, otherwise it is exercise book zen.
The girl was a Dharma heirs daughter, I apologise in advance for my behaviour, but I would have kicked his [banned term]
Answering your question if he does one thing and says another then he is the master of deceit
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sat Mar 12, 2011 8:39 pm

As I understand it, the underage girl was [Admin delete] daughter, which explains the rift between her and Maezumi. I don't recall her age, but she was in her teens. I believe she was seeing him as a sanzen student when this occurred. With regard to processing this within the lineage, I do know that some people in White Plum have been willing to look at what happened and call it what it is, including Chozen and Hogen Bays, plus Daido Loori when he was alive. There are others, but I don't have all the details. According to Chozen, Maezumi's sexual misconduct ended when he stopped drinking. I can believe that for a number of reasons.

Chozen has called the situation in their lineage deeply dysfunctional and incestuous, with a pattern of teachers transmitting students they have had sexual relationships with. As with any large group, some are more willing to look at it than others. Some, like Genpo, were highly resistant. My impression is that there has been great improvement in the overall disposition of the lineage as the worst offenders have migrated out of active involvement with White Plum. But some of those have continued to teach on their own, just as Genpo is doing with Big Mind.

This is the big problem. Because of a very generous tradition of religious freedom in the US, people can set up on their own, with no oversight. Something similar happens in the world of therapy because just about anyone can call himself a therapist. There is an example of that in the Portland area. One of his victims was a member here for a while. She found out that he was taking advantage of her and her sister as well as others. She managed to sue him, but he was able to go through bankruptcy, then reestablish a practice under some other heading. She wanted to go after him again, but it was just too wearing on her. I think there has to be some shift in how these kinds of violations are understood legally.

With palms joined,

Kyogen


Last edited by Watson on Sun Mar 13, 2011 8:00 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : invasion of privacy / against forum policy to identify victims of sexual offense)
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sat Mar 12, 2011 9:00 pm

Last week, there was a new scandal in the Catholic Church out of Philadelphia. Surprise, surprise!!!

"The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced Tuesday that it had suspended 21 priests from active ministry in connection with accusations that involved sexual abuse or otherwise inappropriate behavior with minors.The suspension of 21 priests comes after Cardinal Justin Francis Rigali said there were no priests in active ministry with established allegations against them.

"The mass suspension was the single-most sweeping in the history of the sexual-abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, said Terence McKiernan, president of BishopAccountability.org, which archives documents from the abuse scandal in dioceses across the country.

"The archdiocese’s action follows a [banned term] grand jury report issued Feb. 10 that accused the archdiocese of a widespread cover-up of predatory priests, stretching over decades, and said that as many as 37 priests remained active in the ministry despite credible accusations against them."

No surprise here, really. A clear example of denial, cover-up, and the total lack of respect for people. The CHURCH is all important and the followers are expendable. Dolls in the huge Catholic Church doll house. The feelings of the molested boys do not matter to this organization. Protecting their turf, their reputation is the only value.

The Cardinal is a [admin delete] in this case and should be indicted and jailed. In the modern world, the Church is not above the law. The Cardinal has no special rights or privileges. In this case, the church is behaving in a criminal fashion.

The grand jury noted that the cover-up stretched over decades. Reminds me of Shimano and frankly a few other Zen "masters" who are still [admin delete]- whose behavior is still being covered-up over decades. Human nature.......

Now, with Maezumi, he had sex with a 15-year old girl. Apparently, many people in his community knew about it. (But it only become public knowledge a few decades later - so it seems there was a cover-up of sorts?) The girl was the daughter of one of his Dharma Heirs.

Now some questions. Did Maezumi's successors know about the statutory rape as well as many other members of his community? Did the board of directors of his organization know about it? (Aren't they legally responsible?) What did ZCLA do? What did the leadership and board of directors do? Did anyone confront Maezumi? How did he respond? Was there a community meeting? Did anyone call the police? If not, why not? Were lawyers involved? Was there a lawsuit? What happened? What was everyone thinking? How did people react? How did the mother of the girl react? What happened to the girl? Did people in the ZCLA community feel Maezumi had some special right to have sex even with the daughters of his students, with minors? Did they think that because of his Zen stature, that this behavior was someone OK? Did they feel he was above the law and beyond karma and following the precepts? Did this event cause a crisis in this community? How many people left the community, resigned from the board of directors, gave back their "dharma heir" status? Did Maezumi continue to give the precepts to new Buddhists while not following them himself?

I actually want to hear the whole uncensored story about this. I am interested in what happened here. The sordid details are the least of it. I want to know how individuals, leaders, the community, Maezumi responded.

It might make a good case study in group dynamics.
If the Zen world does not learn from this situation as well as the Genpo affair, then they are just following in the footsteps of the Catholic Church.... and do we really want that? Of course, I am no longer part of any Zen organization - for good reason.

But then again, what does Zen have to do with most of these organizations? But I make it my business to address these kind of abuse issues and speak out about them. Part of my job.

And by the way, there are NO mitigating circumstances when an adult man sleeps with an underage girl. NONE. It is criminal. It is statutory rape. There are no excuses. Being drunk or an alcoholic doesn't give you a free pass to break the law. Being a "Zen Master" does not mean anything to the Los Angeles police or a grand jury.

And, ZCLA is a non-profit organization. Their board is responsible and culpable. If their leader / president engages in illegal activity and the board is aware of it. Guess what? They are responsible. They have the ability to respond, fire him. Call the police. Act as responsible adults. or not.

But I really don't know the whole story. Am i jumping to conclusions? Am i asking the wrong questions? Am I off base? I would love to be enlightened about what happened here. Time to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Oddly, when i was at Shasta, part of my job was teaching meditation at various prisons in California. One of them was at Atascadero - which was a prison for sexual criminals. If Maezumi had been reported and convicted, he would have been sent there. He could have been part of our little Zen meditation group.
end of my babble.


Last edited by Lise on Sun Mar 13, 2011 11:42 pm; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : edited for violation of forum rule #6 / name-calling)
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sun Mar 13, 2011 3:36 am

I find this deeply disturbing,
1 that this sexual abuse hides behind not only the Buddhas robe , but equally the the seeming impotance for desciples to speak out and do anything.

I agree with you Josh that being alcoholic, and drunk or 'a zen master' would cut for nothing before a judge.

The basic problem isthe dependency that teachers like this, make the desiciple feel. you konw, 'you have to get the answer from the koan from me' 'Join my order and you join an institution that has a heirarchy that you will grow in importance with' 'You will get rank and colored raksus'

I think these groups take away ones intuition,and ability to think for oneself.

I remember ZCLA how during zazen, when the bell for zanzen goes,everyone runs to the interview room, they literally charge. I asked Ikko roshi 1 question and got thrown out,I have to say though it was the right answer!

Personally I find it very hard to believe that these activities and sexual abuses come from anyone who has experienced deep zazen,so I do question the transmission line, what has been passed on. It sounds like the ability to behave badly, under the excuse,that either everything is one, so our actions are all pure... If you have a problem with what I do it is only your ego.

I clearly do have an problem with it and an ego, as it makes me mad
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sun Mar 13, 2011 3:37 am

A priest in my Catholic home parish, David Hazen, when I was in my early teens,targeted me as a young devout Catholic boy with an absent father and single mother, after a period of "grooming," sexually abused me and several boys of my age.( Fitting the vulnerability profile, I was later targeted in a Benedictine monastic seminary.) In the discovery phase of a lawsuit it was uncovered from church records that the pastor of our church, George Murphy, and the venerated Irish monsignor, Timothy Casey, of the neighboring parish, who had been ostensibly a good friend of my grandfather (responsible for supervision and oversight of our pastor and his perpetrator assistant), and the bishop of the diocese of Eastern Oregon, Francis Leipzeig, all knew of this abuse pattern, threatened parents to secrecy, allowed it go on, covered it up, and transferred the offender to another parish.

The phenomenon here of enabling by religious community lay members is widespread in the human condition and across traditions. Do you see any revolt among the parents who sit in the pews? The money keeps coming in, and the offenses are rationalized away. No one is held accountable. Only the courts have really brought to light the full extent of these crimes. The diocese of Eastern Oregon admitted to responsibility for these crimes and financially settled out of court. The documentation was brought to light in the discovery phase of the investigation and the facts published in the papers and is now a matter of public record. I chose not to be a litigant in the lawsuit.

If I tell family members, relatives, or friends the facts of this case, who are active in the church these days, they get angry with me and don't want to hear about it. Too often Catholic members will turn on the survivors and attack them, attack their credibility, and accuse them of motivations of trying to tear down the church. The cognitive dissonance just gets too great for these people to come to terms with the evil and hypocrisy of people they identify as the channels of God and grace in their lives. I fear a similar dynamic, with a slightly different theology happens in toxic Buddhist or Hindu communities.

I have concluded that it is the price that is paid when human beings refuse to become spiritual adults, and decline to take full responsibility for the realization and growth of their own spiritual life, and choose instead to hitch their wagon to some charismatic spiritual leader, annointed priest, or "enlightened master."

Blessings,
Bill
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sun Mar 13, 2011 11:32 am

cmpnwtr wrote:

I have concluded that it is the price that is paid when human beings refuse to become spiritual adults, and decline to take full responsibility for the realization and growth of their own spiritual life, and choose instead to hitch their wagon to some charismatic spiritual leader, anointed priest, or "enlightened master."

Blessings,
Bill

That's quite a story. I was raised Roman Catholic and although I fortunately was not targeted as you were I did experience the profound brain washing that is standard in the RC Church. Being raised from childhood to believe that your church is not just a path to God but THE path to God (and you will be going to hell if you don't stay with the program) puts a profound taboo in place against questioning and holding priests accountable for criminal behavior. You essentially have to destroy the whole belief system in the process of acknowledging these crimes and I imagine it is devastating for many people. The guilt is hard enough to deal with when you are attempting to follow the rules, so I understand why people who have not been personally attacked would prefer to remain in denial.
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sun Mar 13, 2011 12:40 pm

@ Isan " The guilt is hard enough to deal with when you
are attempting to follow the rules, so I understand why people who have
not been personally attacked would prefer to remain in denial."
*****************************

Here's where Dogen's teaching about "no external refuge," or the teaching of Yeshua bin Yosef that the "Kingdom is within" are critical to resolve this dilemma. When an entire religious organization is built on loyalty to it, loyalty to its representatives, and submission to its directives, then only utter pathology can result. There is a mystic tradition in the RCC history but it has been largely relegated co-opted, marginalized, or persecuted. When people are taught that the gift of Divine Union has already been given and their journey is to realize it, to actualize it and bring it forth, then external belief and authority systems will lose their power over people.

You may not remember it, Isan, but you were present at my son's funeral. We were all standing at the graveside in the cemetery for the closing ceremonial. My father was present, and sadly drunk. Being a loyal RCC, there was an awkward moment where he shouted out, "Blessed be the name of Jesus." I recall vividly and blessedly that you said, "Jesus is here too." You turned a hurtful and damaging moment into a redemptive and healing moment.

Blessings,
Bill
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sun Mar 13, 2011 1:01 pm

Bill - good point on how the demand for absolute loyalty creates a systemic pathology in any organization. In that regard, Kennett / OBC / Shasta was no different than the Catholic Church. Even though at Shasta there wasn't any sexual abuse, the same mind-set was created by Kennett's behavior and psychology. and there was certainly emotional and psychological abuse which can create longterm trauma.
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sun Mar 13, 2011 5:36 pm

My experience with Shasta Abbey was as a sometime retreatant, a non-resident, so it would have been different than some others here who were monks. I should say that because of my history of abuse from religious authority, and because of my then PTSD symptoms( which I only recognized later when I became a clinician....) I was hypervigilant about maintaining a low profile and not getting close to, or submitting to any dominating figure at the Abbey. I was most interested in receiving a body of teaching and practice that would address my particular spiritual hunger and wounds. I didn't want anything to do with superhuman authorities,institutional, or individual, who wanted to possess my soul. So I suppose in that sense I was inoculated to be wary of abuse.

What I found most helpful in the early days at Shasta was the teaching with the emphasis on the "Koan of Inadequacy," and the uncovering and recovery of inner authority and wholeness,leading to an autonomy from, a liberation from religious authority. That was the teaching I was interested in. (even if not the reality of the internal dynamics of residing there). That was just the ticket for me. I didn't want any monk/priests in my face, or any other part of my person, for that matter. Later on as I got more involved in that actual structure of Shasta and the OBC, and made the error of becoming a lay minister, then all that changed. And I had to leave. When I left, however, I was ready. I know that one of the problems about the Abbey and the OBC is that you couldn't graduate. You couldn't leave in good standing. Well, I did graduate, and, in a seeming paradoxical way, having to do it alone, and stand alone, in a state of disgrace, was a growthful experience. Being stripped of my rahksu was a liberation and I felt free. I had learned to stand alone and it was good. I had learned to sit and allow the treasure house to open naturally. I had accomplished in my 16 year journey with Shasta Abbey what I had set out to do, heal and solve the "Koan of Inadequacy."

There are healthy egalitarian communities, and there are addictive hierarchical group systems. In the addictive communities the finger pointing at the moon gets substituted for the moon. And those twisted fingers forget they are just the finger. The unhealed souls who create those structures, whether they are based on the illusion of divinized institutions, as in the case of the Roman Catholic Church, or as divinized enlightened masters, as has happened in Eastern Religion too often, the result is poison. The adherents are socialized into a permanent state of inadequacy, a closed system with no graduation. The enculturation is one of utter dependency because the divinized institution or the divinized enlightened master are the ones who channel God for you. Adherents find it very difficult to break free unless they have themselves have learned to heal and resolve the "Koan of Inadequacy."

As I look back on it, I am amazed that I was able to enter into intensive meditation retreats as a young man at Shasta. I was not particularly disciplined, although I did have a daily practice. I was addicted to caffeine and nicotine, so I had painful withdrawal symptoms, headaches, cravings etc. In addition I would have acute PTSD anxiety symptoms, related to prior religious and sexual abuse in a monastic setting, with nightmares that I was trapped back at Mt. Angel Abbey (two and a half years) in an abusive situation. (The first visit to Shasta it was so bad I slipped out and went into town for a beer and a cigarette just to relieve anxiety. I got a tongue lashing from Josh when I got back. But it was expected and deserved.) It was an incredible challenge to practice with with all that vulnerability. I did learn to enter into and submit to the discipline of the practice without submitting to the personal authority of, and loyalty to, a "master." The fact I could sit for days and hours with all of that, in the end was enormously rich, growthful, and maturing. I am grateful for what I received at Shasta, and also grateful that I did not have some of the more damaging experiences that some others have reported. (Although there were a few.)

I never really had a "proper" disciple/teacher relationship. The way that I was best nurtured was through spiritual friendship, what the Celtic Christians call Anam Cara, (Soul Friend, or literally, "Dear Soul."). For a few years, before I left the OBC Daizui was a good soul friend, a spiritual friendship that allowed for a degree of intimate and safe exchange of experience, questions, insights. Later I had a ten year, precious experience with a Trappist Abbot, who I simply knew as Bernard, who just naturally became a valuable spiritual friend who also mentored me, as I asked for it. I think the Anam Cara model of spiritual companioning is a good one, at least it was for me. Many other teachers along the way gave teaching to me in a formal sense, but I had no personal relationship with them, even though their teaching and their leadership in practice settings was of great benefit.

Peace and blessings,
Bill
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:09 pm

Loyalty is always two edged, but absolute and unquestioning loyalty is without doubt always a grave mistake. I like the Jewish Rabbinical tradition that allows for the questioning of God. This is exemplified by the much rumoured Rabbinical court trial of god in Auschwitz for failing his people. This was powerfully portrayed in fiction in a masterful drama which unflinchingly explores all the issues in the extraordinary 'God on Trial' ( http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/godontrial/index.html ) I cannot recommend it highly enough if you want to explore the religious significance of suffering or the existence and nature of the universe and God. If you can borrow the DVD it will repay you with a wonderful if harrowing evening.
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sun Mar 13, 2011 11:37 pm

I regret this interruption in the discussion flow but need to remind our members of the rule against name-calling on this forum. It doesn't matter whether an issue is common knowledge in some circles, to the extent that you feel justified in calling someone a predator or paedophile; especially in the absence of clearly substantiated facts or adjudication, this crosses the line of what is acceptable for this discussion space and I am asking you to stop. Please use private messaging if you feel that name-calling is essential to expressing your thoughts.

Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:59 am

Yes of course Lise,I understand that. These are very emotive issues for people writing here.

I misunderstood, I thought we were talking facts.

I would not like my banned words to detract from my view, that any teacher of any tradition who has sex with a minor is a peadophile,and as a consequence they are taeching by their actions that it is OK to do that. If unchallenged funny views can become accepted into the lineages practices

My view is that it is not acceptable for teachers to have sex with minors or students

I will refarain from name calling
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Mon Mar 14, 2011 6:10 am

http://www.tricycle.com/community/sex-and-spiritual-teacher

This is a long thread / exchange from Tricycle magazine around Scott's book that some people might find of interest.
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:18 pm

I find this information very difficult to read about. I can now understand why many people I meet these days are so skeptical about the teacher/student relationship. .

I denied my own intuition for years and cut myself off from my own awareness of what was helpful/harmful as a result of not trusting my own intuition. There seems to be such a need to have or develop healthy boundaries before you can engage in any sucessful relationship. .

I am appalled that the police were not involved with this case. That this abusive behavior was ignored by a Buddhist community is as deeply distrubing as the behavior of the so-called teacher.
Machik
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:59 pm

Machik I find it equally disturbing, I wish I could find the poem Not yet Zen,The poem wrote of subtelties, where as here these goings on hit one in the face.
I am pleased you wrote what you did as it gives me confidence that by following such feelings , of 'this is not for me' we will naturally be led towards the true way of our heart
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:07 pm

I mentioned Scott Edelstein's new book, SEX and the SPIRITUAL TEACHER. I am just beginning to read it. I think he will be addressing many of the deeper issues that lay the groundwork for sexual / emotional dysfunction and abuse. The sexual behavior is the tip of the iceberg in many ways.

How can a Buddhist community ignore such issues and problems? Clear evidence that many Zen and other spiritual communities do ignore the behavior of their guru / master and evidence that it is still going on in some communities. No surprise.

Right now, there is a similar situation to what happened with Maezumi and Shimano taking place on in a significant Zen community and no one has stopped it. Many people know about it, but the victims and the members of this community have not come forward. They have not spoken out. It has also been going on for at least 40 years so not unlike other situations. Many disciples have left, but still not told their stories.

Silence. Why?

What are they afraid to say? What would happen if they spoke out and told the truth? What is the worst thing that could happen? (note: the worst thing has been happening already for decades.) What story are they protecting? What are the underlying assumptions / narratives / beliefs that allow and condone this kind of predatory behavior? How does this behavior affect this Zen community? How does it affect the women members of this group? What kind of Zen is this? When you allow this to go for decades, who are you?
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:55 pm

@ Machik "I denied my own intuition for years and cut myself off from my own
awareness of what was helpful/harmful as a result of not trusting my own
intuition. There seems to be such a need to have or develop healthy
boundaries before you can engage in any sucessful relationship
."
*********************************

A crucial point, Machik. The whole point of meditation practice is become a spiritual adult, autonomous, and not dependent on other human beings to experience connection to the All, the Absolute, the higher nature. And among the fruits of meditation are a growing sensitivity to intuition and awareness and trust in the voice of our own heart. Any community that defines spiritual maturation as loyalty and unquestioning trust in the "master" has gone off the rails and should be viewed with great distrust. My wife, who is a meditator, and person of profound spiritual maturity, speaks of the utter importance of keeping one's boundary antennae, or "manure" detector", totally on alert status. Dysfunctional or toxic spiritual communities do not have a healthy definition of spiritual maturation defined in terms of spiritual autonomy, and being able to stand on one's own two feet, based on a firm and grounded, discipline practice and clear personal boundaries. That disciplined daily practice is the precious quality, not the human teacher, least of all one who claims to be "enlightened master."

Blessings,
Bill
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:47 pm

While I do not disagree with the prior posts of several members, can I just say that some of this seems cultural. The Hindu religions I knew of put loyalty and absolute trust in the master or guru at the highest level of spiritual attributes. I do not think for a second that every Hindu teacher is a charlatan because of this. Some were, we all know about the Bhagwan. But there are others who have been magnificent spiritual leaders, like Ram Dass for instance. Trust and loyalty were considered great virtues in Christian values as well. In all fairness I would have to add that clearly radical Islamists take loyalty to extremes I would not be prepared to advocate. It's the flip side of the coin.

I think a good manure meter is an invaluable asset in life, be it in spiritual, business, or social realms. But I would not want to denounce trust and loyalty. Maybe some are automatically assuming that the word "blind" belongs in front of those words/concepts. I hope so. I've been burned by blind faith myself. We don't need that. But I think there can be great spiritual value in the process of the sangha, the church, the spiritual community at its best, and that there are spiritual leaders out there worthy of trust and loyalty. I find I am not ready to say that all organized religion is suspect and that therefore as a mature spiritual being I must proceed alone. I can proceed alone, but I would like to be able to learn to love and trust, and to see that trustworthiness becomes more valued than it has been. It seems to have gone out of style.
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:03 am

Why, why, why.... Yes Josh, I hear what you are saying and yet, after all this this time I don't know what to say. I guess all I have to say is: listen, listen, listen. The stories are out there- they come across subtly and gently though, not like a big tsunami revolution. (Another good book to mention here is "Cartwheels in a Sari"- story of an awesome young woman I did have a chance to meet once).

Even for me, years after and a masters in psychology (almost!), I am still trying to figure out what happened. From what I have learned, I can tell you all this: as men and women, there IS a power differential no matter what society you are from/live in. As a woman, in the master/disciple relationship, women are in constant danger (read: "Shoes Outside the Door" and all the other awesome books Josh has referred to). I hear all the men on this forum and their viewpoint is so male-centered. It is very difficult to talk to you men and be heard- especially when you are coming from a male dominated spiritual world.

For me, I was a total slave to what ever it was that yes, I helped to set up as a spiritual "devotion" to my master. It destroyed what little bit of strength that was left in me at the time. Spiritual abuse is one of the least understood forms of abuse there is. Yes, a lot has been written about it, but it hasn't been REALLY looked at and researched like it should be. It is so common. And yet, it all happens right under our noses- children are being raped and abused by EVERY sect and religion in the US and throughout the world. Why do we turn away and stay so ignorant?

I wish I was strong at the time I was involved at Shasta Abbey, but I wasn't- I was in transition and very vulnerable. Eko knew my history. He blew it off and even said that people like me- with my history- were "common" within the Sangha. Meaning, people who had a history of abuse. As a child, I was molested by two family members and molested, raped, and terrorized, by another family member for years. My life, and my families life was threatened, so I moved away; I was relocated. But some weird loophole in the system sent me back home and under stress, I tried to committ suicide at age 12. Why do I say all this? For one thing, this is what brought me to training! This is what I was hoping to finally confront. I was completely open to looking at my whole broken life, and the first thing I did was end up with an abusive master! This is consistent with the research on abused people, btw; we do tend to move like magnets towards the very things that have harmed us in the past as a way of dealing with them. So for people like me, we are set up and we tend to react in a more extreme manner when it comes to domination or abuse.

Thankfully, I never had sex with Eko. But in many ways, that relationship was even more harmful than just having an affair. The way he would hold me against my own natural and normal movement towards cleansing my own karma was harmful and even violent. I fought him every step. It was a major battle. I feel like I won. And yes, I'm stronger now for it, but I hate it when people minimize such a profound thing and say thing like "you need to learn to maintain better boundaries," etc... No offense anyone, I'm just saying that some of us are coming from a completly different place. For me, I came from a life of terror and literally had to learn how to deal with that first before anything else. I have had a gun to my head on several occasions and I can tell you I know what it is like to face death. My life has flashed before my eyes and know what that is like. Maybe that's why I was able to get out from under Eko. It wasn't pretty, but I did it. And I finally get it, believe me. For the first time in my life I am totally cool and happy. No one is oppressing me. I have good boundaries. I am able to speak my truth. And I get to help others. I don't need anything else, especially not another "master." And after 41 years of living on this earth, I finally know what love is.

I hear what you all are saying when you too are totally disgusted at hearing the facts about abuse. I am especially horrified to hear of child sexual abuse by Buddhist's and really, I'm shocked. Especially since I know what that feels like- from the victim side of things. Those memories can never go away and those poor people will be dealing with the confusing and debilitating after-effects for the rest of their lives. And yet, the male-dominated, silent, oppressive, and dysfunctional system still chugs away. Who is repsonsible? Who can advocate? Who gives voice, especially LEGAL voice, to the victims? How is it even possible to prosecute spiritual abuse? A lot to think about..... I guess age does bring wisdom, but I just want to make sure not to leave the young ones out and make sure that we listen to them and do not minimize their experience. They need a voice too. As we all do. Healing is possible.

~Diana
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:43 am

Polly - you make some good points.

When i was conducting research for my article on Zen at War, I interviewed a leading Rinzai Zen teacher in Kyoto. He was the had of the Rinzai institute. When I asked him if the Rinzai sect would be having a wider discussion about their complicity in the war effort, he said absolutely not. The reason was that it was totally inconceivable for them to voice any criticism of their elderly masters - some were still alive - and some had supported the war machine. He then said that loyalty was everything. And that loyalty to these masters was above the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. This is certainly cultural - Japanese culture - where one never criticizes one's parents, teachers, employers, etc. But this is not Buddhism.

This would be absolute or blind loyalty. No matter what, you suppress your own personal feelings or insight and go along with the leader or the group. This might feel very noble as you lose yourself in this feeling, but the shadow side of this is quite harmful. At Shasta with Kennett, absolute and unquestioned loyalty became the ultimate value - and that was one reason so many of us left. This demand for loyalty overwhelmed everything and became a seriously destructive force in the community. Unacceptable, at least to me.

What does it mean to have trust in someone? What does it mean to be loyal? And especially with regard to a spiritual teacher or a tradition?

I have Tibetan teachers who I love very deeply. I see them as very wise, even brilliant. But oddly, i don't think about trusting them or being loyal to them. Those words seem like concepts. I interact with them as a spiritual adult. I am inspired by them, follow their advice for the most part. If they asked me to do something I felt was somehow "wrong" I would speak up and not do it. I have learned a very valuable lesson from Kennett / Shasta -- NEVER to give away my inner integrity and my direct connection to what is true or compassionate which is sourced in my own mind -- not outside.

Loyalty is not above truth. Loyalty is not above kindness or compassion. Blind anything is blind. Ignoring is ignorance in action. What good is that? Why is that of value? I can't imagine.

Now, i know that many spiritual teachers and traditions value loyalty above everything - and there are all those old stories about doing whatever the master says, no matter what. If the guru says jump off a cliff, jump without thinking. Cut off your arm as an offering to Bodhidharma. I am frankly over those stories. They don't interest me. There are fables and myths with very deep shadows -- and those stories have been used over and over again to get disciples to blind themselves and follow along with harm. These narratives have been used to allow the gurus to take advantage of students and to remain unaccountable. No thanks.

Polly, you mention Ram Dass. He is an old friend of mine. He is a lovely fellow - and he has made his share of mistakes which he readily admits. After his first guru died, he found another guru who was frankly a charlatan. Hundreds of people trusted Ram Dass and followed him into a very toxic and ridiculous situation. Trust and loyalty in that case was not helpful or smart. It took people years to recover from this chapter of folly. I counseled a bunch of former members of that group.

I think you can work with a spiritual teacher and have respect and love and not worry too much about being loyal or trusting them. From my experience, the key is to be open,, loving and honest. Not to forget the honest part..... and always stay awake. always be able to respond -- to be responsible. And the key question is always, "Is it true?"

time for sleep.

josh
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Wed Mar 16, 2011 2:02 am

Thanks for that link Josh It sort of took me on to an article by Katy Butler.
The article,is very well written,not for the faint hearted,and tells about alcoholism trading sex for insight and how Maezumi died. Although factual it gives hope that normal people are definitly standing up and saying NO

http://ghwelker.posterous.com/common-boundary-encountering-the-shadow-in-bu
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:17 pm

Dear Josh,

Thanks for your response. Your last paragraph was especially eloquent and compelling and I cannot fault it.

I was a member of a guru-lead Raja Yoga church for 25 years. Many of you have probably read the Autobiography of a Yogi? That was my church. I was a deeply devoted member even though I didn't seem to be getting anywhere with my studies and meditation techniques. They placed a huge premium on loyalty to the guru. Huge. Paramount. When I began studying with the local monk from OBC I got a migraine headache that started as soon as I left home on the 75 mile drive to the temple and continued until I returned. One time it got so bad some sangha members had to drive me home. This went on for a year. Weekly, for a year. The migraines stopped instantly when I obtained loving permission from the Yoga church to go ahead and study with the OBC monk as long as it was helpful. That I was not banned from the church because of it. That I was not being disloyal.

So you can see that trust and loyalty has been very important to me. It may mean that I have been spiritually and emotionally immature. So be it.

Trust and loyalty are more than concepts when you put them into context. Trust and loyalty are actions. If someone you love steals from you, do you feel like trust is just a concept then? If someone you have trusted breaks a promise that causes you financial disaster, does the loyalty you expected and the trust you gave seem immature? If a friend is accused of something you know they are innocent of and you stand by them in the face of social scorn, does that loyalty mean nothing? It means something to your friend.

Does the fact that we are all flawed to one degree or another mean that trust and loyalty are for fools? That the mature person just loves and accepts others as they are and turns away when they fail in some way? Tell you what, my gut tells me that this is wrong. The precepts tell us how to live in accordance with the dharma. Similarly the commandments have been given to keep us homunculus from total disarray. If you say that trust and loyalty are only concepts, what does that make the precepts?
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:26 am

Ok, this is a bit of a koan for me and I am painting it with a pretty wide brush but it just seems to keep popping up in different ways over and over again. I am not even sure that anyone would agree with these observations but I bring them up in the hope of learning something new about an old story I've been carrying for a while.

People tend to walk on one of two paths in Buddhism. Meditation or faith/devotional. Those who claim to walk both paths seem to always maintain a dominance of one path over the other. This may seem a bit of an arbitrary observation but life so far seems pretty resolute in only presenting me with examples supporting this view.

Those who are meditation oriented are more self reliant which is their path's strength and weakness. Those on the faith/devotional path openly offer trust and loyalty to their teachers which has it's own strengths and weaknesses.

The difficulties that people have experienced at Shasta does not seem to have shifted anyone from one path to another. Even those who no longer meditate or follow a teacher still talk as if they are are on one path or the other.

Meditators easily connect with other meditators and faith/devotionals easily connect with other faith/ devotionals. Meditaters often display a lack of understanding of the faith/devotionals and vise versa.

I suspect that any spiritual group that walks on just one path is dangerous even though I still sometimes pine for a spiritual group on the same path as me.

This might be just another example of having a firm grasp of the obvious but everyone here also probably knows how annoying a koan can be. I seem to see it everywhere. Now I quess I'm asking why?

Anybody else see this as well? Is it just about personality types? Is it really hard wired? Is it like being right or left handed?

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Thu Mar 17, 2011 5:14 am

Howard , I was glad to read your post ,yes ,i sense this too. The wide brush Koan , i like that - i can nearly see it .

i dont feel its hard wired , but fluid and helpful, and exciting to watch , so long as i can keep a trust in my own path - thats the vital bit - thats the point , the discovering . I dont know about personality types , and like to think i'm ambidextrous - I'm not ! Isn't it just very different people approaching a rich religion , and then needing to have some labels to understand it - and then Oh dear.... the arguing begins ?

I used to feel i was both , and was worried by the pull between them , there was a distressing ( then ) difference based on those 2 ways, between Throssel and my little jJyu orientated temple.
Since my disillusion with the master disciple relationship , I'm far far less faith/devotional , but only in a fashion , and making an absolute distinction ,is ,for me like talking about meditating ....Sort of deadly . Though, yes, i too sometimes pine for a spiritual group on the same path as me .
Answering you, i see I'm not as clear as i imagined ,a lot there ,and i dont think ive said much but i wanted to respond , so,thanks, and on i go , and Cheers .
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Thu Mar 17, 2011 1:27 pm

That's an interesting take, Howard, and I believe a true one. How many people have asked me in censurious (is that a word?) tones, "Why do you think you have to have a teacher or a religion?" They may be regular meditators but they see no need for sangha or teachers. They think it's weak. But I know other meditators who are devotional and I can link right in with them. But devotion is really out of fashion right now. We connect in sneaky ways, sort of like we're subversive. Little tentative comments that either fall flat or take off.

I've been devotional for as long as I can remember. There was a point, when I was about 7 when I reasoned out what would make me really happy that would last, and I came up with only God. Not "white-beard -in-a-nightie" God, just an open-ended sort of thing I called "God". Kind of hard-wired into me, I think.

But back to loyalty, which I described as action, you can see it in action in Japan where 180 men and women are working on nuke reactor #4 with no hope of survival. That's the value of trust and loyalty. Right there. So it gets under my skin a bit when people talk like loyalty is for children. That's like saying honor is for fools. Yep, I will argue those things, though I'll spare the forum further comment.
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Thu Mar 17, 2011 3:27 pm

We can have a very lively discussion about loyalty and trust. Will jump in here briefly now - in the midst of a busy day.

My random thoughts. Loyalty to me is a thought / concept that does of course lead to beliefs and then actions. We can exalt loyalty, we can denigrate it -- loyalty can have positive, neutral or negative consequences. All depends on what loyalty means and what we are loyal to.

Yes, the workers who are sacrificing their lives at the Japanese nuclear plant are admirable. The way Japan has handled the tsunami crisis, amazing. No looting, such cooperation and kindness and patience. Would happen in America? Not a chance? So this is a beneficial side to loyalty and group belonging.

But like anything in the dualistic realm, loyalty is not one-sided. Loyalty needs an object. What are you loyal to? And what are the rules and beliefs of this loyalty? Objects can be conceptual or physical. Are you loyal to your husband, family, school, nation, political party, guru, religion, church, king, commander? Are you loyal to beliefs and mental concepts like equality, justice, kindness or anger, prejudice, discrimination, vengeance or holiness?

The bright side of loyalty can create kind and effective organizations, communities. The dark side -- well, we all know about that -- from cults too kamikaze pilots crashing into battleships to mass slaughter to the Crusades. Total loyalty to the guru - no matter what -- to the Emperor -- no matter what -- to your religion -- no matter what. Living out vows and beliefs that are harmful, is that of value? It all depends on what story you are living and why, I guess.

Now with spiritual groups / gurus, what does loyalty mean? Everyone who is posting on this site has experience with this issue. It can vary widely. The more loyalty demanded, the more cultic and fundamentalist the organization. The more a group / guru tells you what you can and can't do and the more you go along with it, the more the followers become infantalized, lose their autonomy and ability to think and respond. That's when you give you your right to say NO, to challenge or question, to be independent. Shasta is a perfect example of this - where loyalty became the great value.

So what are the rules of any loyalty situation.? A guru / group says you must be committed and totally loyal. So what does that mean? They say you cannot read other teaching and books. You cannot visit other groups or teachers. (Why?) You must do this and you must not do that. Those are their rules of their particular game / church. If you want too be part of this group, you go along with rules. You must believe these things - absolutely. And you can't question or doubt. Doubt is bad.

Some groups allow for more independent thoughts and responses, others do not. Shasta did not. Some groups you can even argue with the minister / teacher and say No. Other groups, you would instantly be expelled. We all know about that. Questioning is being disloyal.

Loyalty even in a negative situation can produce a certain feeling of calm or warmth or acceptance. You follow the rules, give up your adulthood, go along with the program, and there is a warm feeling of dedication and connection. As long as you do it right, play the game, all is well. However, the minute you make a mistake or challenge the authority or start being even slightly independent, see what happens. What shadows suddenly come out of the corners.

I love the show BIG LOVE on HBO. So sad that it will soon end. The Mormon Church has created an amazing system of support and caring for its members. When you are a member in good standing, you are totally accepted by the extended church / family and they take care of you. It does not matter your age or appearance or financial situation, they take care of you. But you must totally believe, go along with the theology and program, be totally loyal. Question, be gay, think for yourself -- out you go - banned, shunned.

end of my babbling for the day.....
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Diana



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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Fri Mar 18, 2011 10:59 am

In response to a PM:

"I guess I wrote what I did as a way to relate to those people who have told their stories of abuse on the forum. Another motivation for me was to show that some people who come to training have serious issues and that the spiritual path for some, can be an almost life-or-death thing. Another thing that comes across on the forum is that some people, like me, went to training not only to learn how to cope, but also to find peace, kindness, and forgiveness. Oddly though, at the Abbey, I didn't find any of that and instead only found further abuse. It is sad, but I got through it. And, I actually did find forgiveness for those that have abused me in the past and that overwhelming rush of love and forgiveness was what opened me up to a "kensho." I wish I could have left my training at that and went from there. At that point I should have left the Abbey, but I stayed and became Eko's lay disciple and he layed all kinds of weird stuff on me that sent me back the other way in my healing process. I didn't need to revisit the past anymore, but he always reminded me that I had my "serious karma" to deal with. Of course I ended up transferring all my stuff on him and he then became the abuser which brought back all the pain and suffering that I had spent years healing. His coldness became frightening to me. Over time I felt infected just being around him. Part of my going back after being away was to "face my abuser." I needed to do that for myself, I needed to confront him and prove to myself that he actually could no longer harm me and that his stuff, was his stuff, not mine. I'm so glad I went back because I was then able to move on.

I hope that everyone that has been abused can heal. Part of healing is telling our stories. I know it's hard to hear these stories. When I hear them, I send Metta out and know that everyone, including me, is at their own place of healing and that every place needs to be respected and accepted. For me, my biggest hurdle this last year has been anger. I have never been so angry in my life. That anger has come from my past at the Abbey and has nothing to do with my past history as a child; I know this to my core because that was literally wiped out and healed at the time of kensho. For that, I am very grateful."

I didn't mean to highjack the thread, but for me the title, "Sex and the Spiritual Teacher" is a very complex subject. Thinking about all this and thinking about my experience with a male "master" brings up A LOT of stuff. Thanks to those that have PM'd me. Thank you for your kindness and compassion. I see this thread is not really headed towards the way I took it, so I'll ask to stop my part here for now. I send love out to all of you have been abused.

Peace,
Diana

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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Fri Mar 18, 2011 12:40 pm

Diana, just my own opinion but I don't think you highjacked the thread. The description of your experience weaves right into the issues of trust/loyalty/devotion that are being explored here.

Polly's and Josh's posts got me examining my own outlook on trust and loyalty, again, and it seems to be holding steady in this way -- I extend it where I feel it's deserved, and I also try to be aware of what those things may cost me if they are misplaced. Maybe this is coldblooded but it's how I see things. I don't feel too much at risk by trusting friends, mostly because it takes a long time for me to really see someone as a true friend. I only get to that state by deciding, over time, that our connection together is positive and something I want to support/nurture. Trust and loyalty arise naturally in those circumstances because they've been earned. I don't expose myself to harm in the early stages of a friendship by trusting too soon, or falling into a false loyalty because it's expected socially, for some reason.

I don't seek out teachers at this point in my life, but if I did it would work the same way; earned over time, or not. No presumption of loyalty to a person, faith/trust in his/her teachings, automatic devotion -- none of that. If I even sensed they expected or required it, we'd go no further. I can imagine a growing respect for their wisdom and integrity, if those things are proved out by their behaviour, but I don't think "devotion" will ever happen -- I am hard-wired the other way. I'm thankful for that even if it means I will miss out on the good points of a devotional connection. To me there's too much potential harm, as Diana's and other stories on the forum have shown.
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Machik



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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:56 pm

Diana,

I don't think you hijacked this thread at all either. It's my experience that what you shared is relevant and important to me in sorting out my own answers to these questions. I appreciate your courage and insight and your willingness to share these insights with those of us on this forum.

In fact, your point about how harmful a relationship can be even if its not sexual is crucial. The psychological harm in abusive relationships is real and is perhaps as damaging as the physical part of it in some cases. Thanks for making that distinction. It distracts us from an important question that students need to ask themselves when they are observing the behavior a potential or actual teacher. And the question to ask, as the book Sex and the Spiritual Teacher points out, is the teacher setting aside his or her own interests/needs to benefit his/her students or is he/she not able to do this. If you ask yourself this question and the answer is NO, then leave the relationship as soon as you can. The way you described asking this question of yourself, determining the answer, confronting the person about it, and leaving the relationship, I find to be one of the many inspiring stories to be read on this forum.

In addition, Lise, your comments above about friendship and trust are a really good read. This is a great description of friendship, how it is built gradually over time, the trust that evolves over time, and how this is a template one might use if one chooses to develop a relationship with a spiritual friend. A great read...Thanks!

Machik
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Fri Mar 25, 2011 4:22 pm

Hi Howard,

in our school (Tendai) we try to maintain a devotional attitude to meditation (relying on the Buddha-nature in seated meditation) and a meditative approach to devotional practice (mindfulness...). This may seem smart-alecky but it's an aspect of how we train. fwiw. usually one side of practice does predominate in terms of the form of practice, but you can't pull a one-wheeled cart...

Jikan
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sat Mar 26, 2011 1:01 am

I just ran across this website and this book that is posted free -- on the nature of cults. Could be useful: THE CULT TEST

http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-cult_q0.html

Shasta / Kennett fits many of these criteria - not all of them. Shasta didn't do deceptive recruiting and they didn't engage in financial plundering of people's bank accounts and trust funds. And no sexual abuse. Most of the other behavior fits.
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sun Mar 27, 2011 8:56 am

I also just bumped into this blog from last year. I have not had a chance to read it, so my posting it here does not mean I agree with everything in this articles - but from a quick glance, it seemed worth sharing:

http://enlightenmentward.wordpress.com/2010/06/02/sex-and-the-sanghaforgiveness-retribution-or-justice/
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sun Mar 27, 2011 9:19 am

Another blog on power abuse in spiritual communities:

http://dangerousharvests.blogspot.com/2010/04/power-abuse-in-spiritual-communities.html
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Tue Mar 29, 2011 7:41 am

Here is another post on line about cultures of spiritual abuse:

http://integral-options.blogspot.com/2010/04/be-scofield-integral-abuse-andrew-cohen.html
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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Fri Apr 08, 2011 11:08 pm

This is a very funny spoof on the whole Genpo situation. And as far as I'm concerned, ridicule is in order. Any reverence would be entirely misplaced.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BotpeCr38Ss

There are so many hysterical pieces in this commentary......

enjoy
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Machik



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PostSubject: Re: Sex and the Spiritual Teacher   Sat Apr 09, 2011 5:33 pm

Hi, Josh,

Thanks for your most recent posting. I followed that the link to the youtube video. It was hilarious!!! I really enjoyed cracking up over this video.

Machik
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