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 public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP

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Isan
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PostSubject: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Tue Apr 05, 2011 3:29 pm

Here is a recent announcement posted publicly on the OBC website regarding North Cascades Buddhist Priory:

Announcement of the resignations from the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives of three senior monks from the North Cascades Buddhist Priory:


It is with sadness that we have to announce the resignations from the Orderof Buddhist Contemplatives of three senior monks from the North Cascades Buddhist Priory: the Prior, Rev. Master Koshin Schomberg, and Rev.
Master Teijo Stimac and Rev. Master Mokushin Hart. We very much regret their decisions to train outside of the framework and jurisdiction of our Order. The North Cascades Buddhist Priory is therefore no longer a temple of the
Order, and the Order bears no responsibility for its activities. We are beginning to work on resolving the many questions that are now before us having to do with the status of the other monastic members of the NCBP
community and other Order members who have a formal relationship with any of the three monks who have resigned.
Anyone having questions or concerns about this matter should feel free to contact any temple or senior monk of the Order.


Rev Master Haryo Young

Head of the Order of Buddhist
Contemplatives



The link on the website is here:

http://obcon.org/talks.html


Last edited by Isan on Sat Apr 09, 2011 10:52 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Fixed formatting)
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Tue Apr 05, 2011 7:49 pm

It would be interesting to hear why the NCBP monks have parted ways with the Order. I wonder how much information will be released about this eventually --
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Tue Apr 05, 2011 8:10 pm

Lise wrote:
It would be interesting to hear why the NCBP monks have parted ways with the Order. I wonder how much information will be released about this eventually --

Yes, it would be good to learn more. I have to believe that to some degree this was precipitated by Amalia's bad experience and subsequent complaint to the order. I wouldn't expect a public announcement to speak to that directly, but I hope there will be some movement there as well.
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Tue Apr 05, 2011 8:35 pm

I hope and trust your right Isan. Without transparency there can be no reconciliation or reform. What has been reported about the NCBP by Amelia and others was truly terrible. If it is true, and this development indicates that it may have had a sound basis, there must be some form of open condemnation, or what is the OBC for? Merely a cover for irresponsibility and abuse.
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Tue Apr 05, 2011 10:26 pm

It might have something to do with Amalia's story, or perhaps NCBP won't participate in the "assessment" that FaithTrust has been hired to do, if in fact Koshin's group was in-scope for that assessment? Or did Haryo and others ask Koshin to open the financial books for a review -- that could have been a big problem, based on forum members' comments. Although, these priories have a lot of autonomy and don't really answer to anyone about how they spend lay peoples' money.

It might work out best for everyone if the North Cascades lot can carry on in their own way and the OBC is no longer tied to them in name. Timothy Schomberg (Koshin) hasn't been playing by the same rulebook for some time.
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Wed Apr 06, 2011 1:04 am

OBC hired FaithTrust to do what exactly? Am curious......
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Wed Apr 06, 2011 2:49 am

I'm stunned by the north cascades news - makes me feel sick - It's sad and frightening - Koshin had a wide network of influence , my x teacher among them . The sense of the whole blooming lot collapsing , even though, now , a good thing , is disturbing .
I agree with Mark about some form of open condemnation .
Are Koshin and his lot continuing to be monks ? OOOH religion !
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Wed Apr 06, 2011 8:54 am

Given the nature of Shasta / OBC -- independent priories, isolated and inward looking culture cut off from any external feedback, few checks and balances - and add into the mix religious grandiosity, no surprise that there would be break-ups of this sort. Also, with this emphasis on kennett's lotus blossom stuff, i would imagine that some "masters" are getting messages from "the cosmic buddha" and are being anointed.

OBC has an opportunity for some honest self-reflection. When things start falling apart,there is a learning moment -- when you can really ask yourself - individually and as a community: who are we, what are we doing, where are we going, is this working, what is real and what isn't, have we make mistakes, how can we be more compassionate, has anyone been harmed.

Great time to look in the mirror AND get some outside input, some independent feedback.

Now most groups don't go very deep in this questioning and self-reflective process - especially those organizations that have a long history of suppressing doubt, questioning, dissent, communication.

But there is always hope.

Nicky, i liked your ending exclamation, "Oh, religion" - yes, exactly.... this is religion in action.
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Wed Apr 06, 2011 10:09 am

Jcbaran wrote:
OBC hired FaithTrust to do what exactly? Am curious......
Josh, I haven't seen anything informative, just this from the OBC Interim Board's site (paragraph 3 of the 11th March update):
"...The proposed inquiry at Shasta Abbey has been renamed as an assessment rather than an
inquiry as this better describes what it is that we would be asking an outside
organization to help us with. Rev. Master Meian, the abbess of Shasta Abbey,
has written a letter to the Order indicating that the community wishes the
Order to go ahead and engage FaithTrust Institute to carry out the assessment.
Rev. Master Haryo and the interim board support this wish and are now moving to
implement it. ..."

Am thinking about Nicky's comment -- will they still continue to be monks. I wonder if being a monk has anything to do with someone else agreeing that you are one, or letting you wear their gang colours. I lean toward thinking that it is a such a personal and individual state of mind that no one else can really get in-between someone and her/his genuine desire to follow that way of life. I'm not speaking here about the NCBP group, mind you, just in general terms. I think one could be a monk without any affiliation although I guess that goes against tradition and "rules".

I wonder if this change will have much impact at all on Koshin and his group. They may not notice much difference after severing the connection, as they seemed fairly isolated before (Koshin didn't go to the Conclave, I think?) And it's not as if they need to maintain ties for financial reasons -- Koshin is reputed to have a lot of assets under his control. Chances are they will manage on their own and even less will be heard about them over time -
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Wed Apr 06, 2011 10:16 am

Based on that statement about hiring FaithTrust to do "an assessment" -- that could mean almost anything. As I posted elsewhere, often this kind of process is limited to a narrow set of questions and concerns, it is an internal process, and there is a report issued to the board that recommends various procedures and changes. These assessments do not go very deep and are mostly administrative and legal.
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Wed Apr 06, 2011 5:55 pm

I wonder how much autonomy FaithTrust has in deciding what to investigate and how deep to dig. If they keep to a narrow set of concerns (whether OBC-generated or not), I would think you'd get a lightweight assessment of very little value either administratively or legally. Or do they go wider and dig in on other issues that they feel their client should know and care about?

It would be interesting to hear from someone who's worked for an organisation of this kind and could speak to how this works.
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Wed Apr 06, 2011 8:18 pm

Having been a participant in the dialogue with OBC members, I see this event with North Cascades as a positive development. I may be wrong but I see it as a manifestation of some professional accountability within the network, and the resignations and withdrawal of NCBP as the resistance to that.
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:32 am

Lise,
Koshin didn't go to conclave but another monk, or maybe two went from North Cascades. Rev. Basil, (whom I love dearly,) was one that went. I didn't like the tone of or some of the stuff I heard about NC but it had some really fine monks. I hope this works to their good.
Polly
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George
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:59 pm

Why? Enquiring minds want to know!
This seems a major development. No telling how the Order will respond publicly, of course, but previously the upheavals could be minimized--the resignation of the abbot could be explained away as just the aberration of a single person, for instance, and the revelations of OBC history that have appeared on this forum could be dismissed as old news which the Order has moved beyond, etc. The secession or expulsion (which?) of North Cascades is something quite different--important, current, and involving many powerful participants who actually define what the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives is. What the interested public comes to know or not know (either way) about this event will give tremendous insight into the current state of the Order and, by extension, into the future of the Order. The Order is on my personal Dedication of Merit list. North Cascades Buddhist Priory, too. (I practice Equal Opportunity Mahayanism.)
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Thu Apr 07, 2011 2:10 pm

cmpnwtr wrote:
Having been a participant in the dialogue with OBC members, I see this event with North Cascades as a positive development. I may be wrong but I see it as a manifestation of some professional accountability within the network, and the resignations and withdrawal of NCBP as the resistance to that.

Hi Bill,
Nice to see you here. I had a chat with Seikai recently and he agrees with you. He sees the departure of Koshin and NCBP as a step toward implementing standards of accountability and transparency for all groups and members under the OBC umbrella. He also confirmed that the FaithTrust assessment is moving forward for Shasta Abbey. It sounded like the process will take a few months. Hopefully some of this will be shared publicly.
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Thu Apr 07, 2011 6:20 pm

Do not believe everything you hear or see. Just as impossible as it is for the Vatican (or the Holy See) to control all that goes on within its vast Empire, its subsidiaries, so it is virtually impossible to know all that really goes on within the larger confines of organizations such as the OBC. Within all organizations, whether governmental or religious, there will always be powerstructures that will often be controlled by those that are very adept at manipulation and persuasion and that can only be detected after a long time of close observation, not just by a few mere visit here and there. This process may take years or perhaps possibly even one or more existences to be worked out karmically, but it wil be worked out eventually.

It is my hope that all the good monks of the OBC that have the TRUE HEART of the Mahayana, ( whether they be Masters(so called) or not) will be able to keep flourishing, and that the others, Masters or not, that still need to learn a few things, whether they admit to it or not, also will eventually get there.

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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Thu Apr 07, 2011 7:18 pm

breljo wrote:
Do not believe everything you hear or see. Just as impossible as it is for the Vatican (or the Holy See) to control all that goes on within its vast Empire, its subsidiaries, so it is virtually impossible to know all that really goes on within the larger confines of organizations such as the OBC. Within all organizations, whether governmental or religious, there will always be powerstructures that will often be controlled by those that are very adept at manipulation and persuasion and that can only be detected after a long time of close observation, not just by a few mere visit here and there. This process may take years or perhaps possibly even one or more existences to be worked out karmically, but it wil be worked out eventually.

I understand what you're saying in general terms, but can you be more specific with regard to the OBC and these current events?
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Thu Apr 07, 2011 11:59 pm

Isan

I have given this much thought, since my long standing involvement with one of its Priories, temples, is a lifelong issue that I had a very hard time to come to terms with. We all see with different eyes, hear with different ears, and have a eightyfour thousand different views. In my view it is utterly impossible for anyone on the "outside" to finally have to determine (as perhaps in the North Cascades case) what exactly went on there just by an occasional visit here and there, when of course everyone is on their best behavior. It is impossible for the Head of the Order to understand the inner workings, personalities and how they all function together and then make a determination as to what happened just by an occasional visit. All will tell a different story, all will have a different view. I would think that that goes for all the temples, Priories, and in order to REALLY understand, what goes on, one would have to live there for some time and be part of that particular group and how its structure functions, to understand the players involved, those that have and use power and those that have no use for such etc. etc. I myself have visited the N.C. Priory and had a very positive experience, but was only there a day and a half, and it was still in my very early innocently in love with Buddhism days. (I am still in love with Buddhism) will always be so!!!!

Since the Temples and Priories of the OBC are very much autonomous already and there is not much oversight, it would make sense if they would just function on their own merit, without having to look for approval or disapproval to anyone else, and that that would eventually determine their future outcome and success or failure. Throssel or The Abbey could perhaps be training temples for those wishing to be future monks and also serve as somewhat of a historical connection somehow and eventual reunions, etc.

I am no longer a member of this organization, but still hold many of their monks in high regard and esteem and since I have for more than a decade supported and given my love to this order I think I still have the right for an occasional "opinion"

With bows

Brigitte

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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Fri Apr 08, 2011 1:29 am

@ Isan

Thanks for the validating comment. I've been otherwise occupied in my initiation into the "Grandfathering Path to Enlightenment." My new grand-daughter, Matilda "the Magnificent", is a tremendous joy.

I did check in on this forum and noted with interest this new announcement. I'm glad the Faith Trust Assessment is progressing.
Blessings,
Bill
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Fri Apr 08, 2011 1:50 am

Congratulations on your new granddaughter Bill. Three cheers!
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Fri Apr 08, 2011 10:59 am

breljo wrote:
Isan

We all see with different eyes, hear with different ears, and have eighty-four thousand different views. In my view it is utterly impossible for anyone on the "outside" to finally have to determine (as perhaps in the North Cascades case) what exactly went on there just by an occasional visit here and there, when of course everyone is on their best behavior. It is impossible for the Head of the Order to understand the inner workings, personalities and how they all function together and then make a determination as to what happened just by an occasional visit.

Since the Temples and Priories of the OBC are very much autonomous already and there is not much oversight, it would make sense if they would just function on their own merit, without having to look for approval or disapproval to anyone else, and that that would eventually determine their future outcome and success or failure. Throssel or The Abbey could perhaps be training temples for those wishing to be future monks and also serve as somewhat of a historical connection somehow and eventual reunions, etc.

I am no longer a member of this organization, but still hold many of their monks in high regard and esteem and since I have for more than a decade supported and given my love to this order I think I still have the right for an occasional "opinion"

With bows

Brigitte

Brigitte,

Thanks for the additional thoughts. I agree that the order can only provide oversight to affiliated temples in very general terms. What goes on between people when they are not "on good behavior" is hard to assess by others. I believe that oversight has value though. It can prevent problems from growing beyond a certain point and also provide alternate mechanisms for handling problems. I believe the same is true for the FaithTrust assessment at Shasta Abbey - they can only evaluate structural issues and suggest mechanisms to put in place as safeguards for the future.

Although the temples are very much autonomous the OBC of course still exists - they are trying to figure out to what extent they wish to remain part of an order Vs going their separate ways. They may eventually agree with you though and choose to "just function on their own merit".
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Fri Apr 08, 2011 5:15 pm

NCBP

I find the inertia of the teaching that promotes a "them or us" mentality continues to manifest as one of the OBC's most persistent problems.

All religions have a plethora of teachings, history and examples that humans can pick and choose from. The wide range of sects in Buddhism also demonstrates this truth. Fostering a "them or us" mentality is a useful tool for justifying devotion, a questionable aid in steering the ego but is most commonly used for simply maintaining Sangha control.

When looking at Shasta's early 70's birthing pains, presiding over a group of young, unruly, hormone packed, hopelessly idealistic seekers of truth, makes the choice of utilizing the controls that a "them or us" teaching can offer as completely reasonable. The mantra of using greed positively comes to mind. BUT... the long term spiritual costs that we see today requires a serious re appraisal of of it all.

I could write all day about the folly that follows in the wake of a "them or us" teaching but first and foremost ..It contradicts the experience of meditation. Just try to meditatively source out the origins of a "them or us" mentality to see what hoops we need to jump through just to maintain it's justification.

It is the spiritual and moral rot at the center of a practise for all who continue to promote such a teaching. It also requires such a deliberate mental concealment of the suffering it causes to say that such a practitioners meditation would be better described as a trance of convenience than as Zen meditation.

The shunning, the casting out, the peer bullying, the in & the out's clubs, the brook no criticism, the automatic reversals of blame, the lack of accountability, the siege view and the directional shift from meditation to devotional practise are all the natural consequences of adopting a" them or us" mentality.

Koshin is only choosing and enacting some of the many teachings he's been schooled in. He is the source & birthing of yet another Buddhist sect.

Rev Jiyu used to say don't be fooled by the scent or flowers of a school but judge them by the fruit they produce. I hope that somewhere at Shasta, this Koshin fruit can be seen as just the natural consequences of that "them or us" teaching that is long overdue for change. I think for Shasta, only a leap of faith (like meditation) that manifests as real openness will slow the production of more Koshin like fruit.

Cheers
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Fri Apr 08, 2011 5:55 pm

It's not a few "bad apples."' It's the tree.
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Fri Apr 08, 2011 8:36 pm

Hello Josh
It's not a few "bad apples."' It's the tree

Well here's an uncomfortable consideration of whimsy.

Perhaps we are all still part of that tree. Perhaps we all share some of that inflexibility that I would call the tree's disease. Is it reasonable to think that we've changed but the tree can not? I quess I think that compassion, love, sympathy, tenderness, benevolence or just the attempt at tree healing is what makes live worth getting up for.

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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Fri Apr 08, 2011 9:31 pm

Absolutely, the tree is always changing, it could potentially experience healing, It is not incurable.
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Sat Apr 09, 2011 12:34 am

Howard,

Really appreciated your post above on the "us vs them" conundrum. Your point about it contradicting meditation is spot-on as were your examples of the natural consequences of adopting an "us vs them" mentality. Thanks.

Polly
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Sat Apr 09, 2011 1:53 am

Howard wrote:

When looking at Shasta's early 70's birthing pains, presiding over a
group of young, unruly, hormone packed, hopelessly idealistic seekers
of truth, makes the choice of utilizing the controls that a "them or us"
teaching can offer as completely reasonable.


In my recollection, there was no particular problem arising from us being young; we certainly were not unruly; and the hormones were for the most part very much in check.

The problem was much much deeper than that. The 'teaching' given us was generally anti-life and bogus (even though there were naturally some nuggets of truth which kept us going; but the core of it was not truth). Our youth possibly contributed to our problem only in the sense that we were inexperienced and so did not diagnose the disease - did not even know there was disease. But the truth in us eventually forced us out.

The mentality of 'them and us'? There is such a thing as health - and then there is sickness. One does not have to be antagonistic towards those whose actions are sick (e.g. the monks that treated Amalia so abominably). The reponsible thing to do, however, is to recognize, ,face the enormity of it - and I'm using the word 'enormity' correctly (as 'depravity', 'outrage').

In my view it is the mystique of Zen that allows these kinds of things to go on. It is assumed that the enlightened teacher is in the possession of truth not accessable to ordinary mortals; and that the teacher, of necessity, must resort to unusual, even bizarre and outrageous, ways and means to help the student attain the same. And so the student is in such uncharted territory that s/he is completely at the mercy of any arbitrary, even tyrannical, action on the part of the teacher.

It is impossible to know what mystical experience another person may have had. If that person's ACTIONS are not allowed to be an indication of their maturity, integrity, truthfulness, 'attainment' (what an odd word to use in the context of search for truth which is ALREADY here!), then how can one know whom one is dealing with? The teacher behaved monstrously, and we took it, because, after all, this was Zen, man! I, personally, was brainwashed by all those Zen books: how Truth is beyond words (not really true); and how all those monks throughout the ages were so dedicated to their search, and trained with fierceness as though their hair was on fire, and so would undergo any hardship to 'attain'.
I remember how, during those first months I spent at Shasta, when I could do nothing right, when I was miserable and did not understand what was wrong, where I was wrong - well then, I remember how a thought occured to me: "Am I trying hard enough? Am I trying so hard that I might die? Well, no. So what am I complaining about? I am obviously NOT trying hard enough!" (I felt relieved to have found this whip to whip myself with - at last I was one with Roshi, one with the Party line).

Finding truth is not really by trying, you know, with clenched teeth and fists, set jaw, and all that. Finding truth, I think, is about growing into it; being intelligent about learning from life; and, if possible, having a good teacher.

Is the 'tree' salvageable? I really don't know. I am only glad that I am free of it. I wish everyone still entangled in its branches all the best, truly, the 'perpetrators', and the victims. But ultimately, their life is their life. They, as you and me, are adult, and presumably, have a brain in their skull.

Ol'ga
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Sat Apr 09, 2011 10:38 am

These are some passages from a terrific recent book, BEING WRONG: Adventures in the margin of Error by Kathryn Schulz. The insights below relate clearly to all kinds of communities, religious and political organizations, from the most mild to the most cultic. This is human nature in action and so obviously applies to how Kennett / Shasta treated anyone who disagreed or challenged Kennett's views. Case in point - when Mark left and dared criticize what he saw going on, Kennett reacted as if was war, went into full attack mode. Dissent must be demolished, the dissenter, vilified, ostracized. Heresy!!!!!! In earlier times, the questioner would have been imprisoned or executed. Kennett's behavior was as cultic as it gets - and a clear expression of human nature - obvious evidence that she was acting entirely out of her personality, not out of any enlightened mind.

Sorry about the formatting. Whenever I cut and paste anything into this forum, the formatting gets screwed up and I can't seem to fix it. Any suggestions? There are all sorts of odd line breaks and spacing errors that seem to come out of nowhere. But this is worth reading. If you want to understand Shasta or any group, this kind of analysis is important because these psychological aspects are always functioning in one way or another - in offices, corporations, nations, churches. Groupthink... groupmind in action.

"Groupthink arises from the parts of our disagreement deficits…
: disproportionate exposure to support for our beliefs, underexposure to the
opposition, and the tendency to discount the opposition, even if we do encounter
it. But it also hints at the fourth and final parts: the suppression of doubt or
differences of opinion within a community. Sometimes, this suppression is
subtle or even self-imposed – just an instinctive shying away from anything that
could disturb a group to which we are loyal, or disrupt the material and
psychological infrastructures of our lives. This kind of self-censorship,
almost certainly played a role in the widespread opposition to women's suffrage
in the Appenzells in Switzerland. Not only did 95% of male citizens in the village there vote against the initial
suffrage referendum, they did so publicly, by the show of hands. Think about
trying to raise your own hand when 95% of your neighbors aren't raising their
own.

Sometimes, though, the suppression of dissent within the community is deliberate and overt. As Joseph Jastrow observed in The Story of Human Error, group
conformity has long been enforced through ostracism, exile, and violence. “The laboratory is a latecomer on the human scene, " he wrote. “The scepter, the battlefield, the arena, the
mob, tribunals for heresy, the state, are far older as molding instruments of
belief, and more direct and effective."

His point was the old familiar one: might makes right. In
countless communities, historically as well as today, the accuracy of a belief
is essentially established by fiat, and community members are dissuaded from
dissent by the threat of force.

Being criticized, ostracized and threatened, suffering the
loss of family, friends, property and opportunity – these are all too common
consequences of breaking with the prevailing beliefs of our communities. Given
that each of our beliefs represent a kind of membership card to a group of
believers, it's not surprising that relinquishing the belief often involves
relinquishing access to the group – or, at the very least, severely diminishing
our status and welcome event.

What really gets you into trouble with the community isn't holding a belief in scorns; it is abandoning a belief it cherishes.
Given everything we've seen so far about how communities work, this makes sense. While insular groups are relatively immune to outside opinions, they are highly dependent on
reinforcement of their belief systems from within. As result, internal dissent,
unlike outside opposition, can be deeply destabilizing… studies suggest that a lone dissent can destroy the
cohesiveness of an entire community. Doubt
and dissent represent a kind of contagion, capable of spreading and destroying
the health of the communal body. Accordingly, many communities act quickly to
cure or, quarantine, or expel (for, in extreme cases, eliminate) any
nonconformists among them.

If a single person breaking ranks on a single belief in
threatening the cohesion of an entire community it can also – and perhaps even
more alarmingly – threaten the entire nature of believing. If our beliefs can
change when we cross the border, or meet a Catholic aid worker, then truth
comes to seem like nothing more than a local perspective. That's disturbing, because the whole point of
truth is that is supposed to be universal.

Our mistakes disturb us in part because they call into
question not just our confidence in a single belief but our confidence in the
entire act of believing. When we come to see one of our own past believes is
false, we also glimpse, for a moment, the persistent structural possibility of
error: our minds, the world, the gap
between them – the whole unsettling shebang. As important and life altering (and
even gratifying) as this revelation can be, it runs contrary to what I
described here as the chief functions of the community: to buttress our sense
that we are right, and protect us from constantly contending with the
possibility that we are wrong.
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Sat Apr 09, 2011 11:01 am

Jcbaran wrote:
Based on that statement about hiring FaithTrust to do "an assessment" -- that could mean almost anything. As I posted elsewhere, often this kind of process is limited to a narrow set of questions and concerns, it is an internal process, and there is a report issued to the board that recommends various procedures and changes. These assessments do not go very deep and are mostly administrative and legal.

Josh, since you have experience along these lines can you give us a description, and ideally a real example of how an organization can bring in a third party to assess them that results in a real change for the better?

Regarding the formatting problems that occur when you copy & paste, the way to deal with it is to first copy into a word processor (I use MS Word) and save as "pure text". That strips out all the formatting. Then when you copy it into the OBC Connect web form it will format normally.
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Sat Apr 09, 2011 12:13 pm

I am not sure I am an organizational change expert, but a few thoughts:

Before you can institute any kind of change, you first have to define what the problem is. What is the issue / problem / dysfunction? What happened? What isn't working? What would the solution look like? How can we prevent this problem in the future? And so on.

So, in the case, of OBC, what is the problem? How would they define it? I am sure it is not the same way I might define it or how Daiji or Gensho o you would define. Probably the folks who posts on this website would each have a different list of issues and concerns.

I have no idea what's going on inside the OBC. Have no connection to them and am not interest in being connected in the future. If i was going to reconnect with Soto Zen, it would certainly not be with this organization.

FaithTrust mostly focuses on issues related to sexual abuse by clergy. That's their lens. They probably also look at general abuse of authority and issues of accountability. They would do some general group analysis, talk to a handful of leaders and maybe a few former members who felt abused - and then issue a report to the organization about how to prevent any kind of inappropriate sexual behavior in the future - and this might include how complaints are handled, recommending some kind of internal review committee that acts quickly, set up some new standards, bring in an attorney, and so on. These are real changes - i don't want to belittle them - but they are limited and shallow. But, since this organization has probably never brought in outsiders in this way, it would be a fine first step in taking advice and in some form of self-reflection, even if wasn't very deep.

The client is the OBC and the client often sets the ground rules or the scope of the assessment. They define the problem and ask the third party to do some analysis. Now, the third party may have a lot of leeway or no leeway. They may or may not go further afield and present more wide reaching insights or suggestions. There is a budget which limits how much time they can put in. Also, honestly, how much can you really see from one site visit and doing 5-10 interviews?

If the OBC sees their problem as some version of "a few bad apples" - and the need for faster response when a problem is brought up - that's a relatively easy fix with simple solutions that work if they allow them to.

A deeper exploration would only happen if the OBC admitted they have some much more serious systemic issues that go the heart of their teachings, practices, beliefs, Kennett-worship, how they treat dissent, lack of honest communication in daily life, the whole master system, their isolation, and so on. A firm like FaithTrust probably could not help them with this kind of inquiry - way beyond their experience. OBC would probably need to bring in a team of people who would have total access for months - and see what would come out of it. I doubt if this would happen. Too scary, too uncontrollable, too vulnerable. Never seen that happen.

OBC is dealing with three crises - that i can see. Eko's departure / expulsion and the ramifications of sexual contact (which sounds like it didn't actually happen, but almost), the North Cascade departure / expulsion and the ramifications of abuse of authority and lack of accountabilty, and frankly, this website.

This website presents a narrative that theses "masters" can't control and where anyone can share anything and the OBC can't suppress it. Suddenly there is freedom of thought that is not in sync with OBC's group think / their group mind / their myths, their stories, where nothing is off limits including criticism of Kennett, her behavior and mental state, the past ..... and this uncontrollable chorus of many voices is new to this organization.

I don't think this group will look at the roots of the tree, re-examine Kennett's legacy. Most organizations won't go anywhere near the shrine of the founder. That is just off limits - except in the most superficial way. As the piece I posted for BEING WRONG pointed out, if even one brick in this facade starts to crumble, the whole thing can come crashing down. Suddenly, everything they believe is up for grabs, is open to questioning -- and that is often just too painful. Of course, when everything falls apart, a whole new world can open up... but that's another story.

But i could be totally wrong about what may or may not happen at Shasta and with this bunch, after all, I am not in contact with this group. As I have said before, i could be completely surprised. I love surprises. And every so often, a reformer arises - someone like Gorbachev, an insider, who changes everything. It can happen. Anything is possible.
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Sat Apr 09, 2011 1:05 pm

Here is a video from Kathryn Schulz:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7p6365AVsIA

Some additional material from BEING WRONG that i think i quite relevant to the discussions at hand.

"It makes sense that we are inclined to keep faith with those around us, to insist on the accuracy of our shared convictions, and to condemn those who reject or betray them. Left unchecked, however, this kind of rigid community loyalty is not benign as the examples in this chapter and the course of history both show, blind adherence to our communities can produce results so appalling that it's easy to respond with undiluted moral revulsion. And yet, I don't want to discourage anyone from being appalled by injustice, moral revulsion takes us only so far.

No one plans to wind up on the wrong side of history, after all – yet very few of us ever paused to ask ourselves whether, this time, we might not be the good guys. So the question, for my purposes, isn't whether the communities in these examples perpetrate moral wrongs. They did. The question is how they manage, while doing so, to feel so unshakably right. And it is also this: can you and I be certain that we would've acted differently?"

Just as disturbing, and more important, we also can't be sure that some of the beliefs we hold today won't appear grievously unjust in the future. This is error- blindness as a moral problem: we can't always know, today, which of our current beliefs will someday come to seem ethically indefensible – to us, or to history. As we've seen, the bonds of community are just too powerful, and the aperture of its lens too narrow, for any of us to know with certainty that we are acting more freely and see more clearly than those whom history has now condemned as wrong.

That isn't to say that a certain stubborn liberty of mind is beyond us. None of us are automatons, after all, and outside of science fiction, not even the strictest community can fully brainwash us. Granted, our friends, families, churches, neighbors, and nations have a powerful – indeed an incomparable – influence on us. But beliefs, like mules and centaurs, are fundamentally hybrid creatures: we experience them half in public society, half in the private heart. In the best outcome, these two domains keep each other in check. The people around us prevent us from believing things that are nuts, while our inner voice keeps rising up and breaking the the surface tension that could otherwise turn a community into a bubble.

Keep that balance intact, and all of us can experience the pleasures of communal life without fear of sacrificing autonomy, to say nothing of our soul. Throw all the weight to one side or the other, though, and you unleash either the danger of an individual unrestrained by society, or the far greater danger of a society unrestrained by its individuals. To keep this balance, we must understand what can foil it.

This is where I want to turn now: to the attractions of uncertainty, and the temptations that can convert a group of like-minded individuals into a community of zealots.

end of quote for now. GREAT BOOK. highly recommended.
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Sat Apr 09, 2011 1:06 pm

Jcbaran wrote:

FaithTrust mostly focuses on issues related to sexual abuse by clergy. That's their lens. They probably also look at general abuse of authority and issues of accountability. They would do some general group analysis, talk to a handful of leaders and maybe a few former members who felt abused - and then issue a report to the organization about how to prevent any kind of inappropriate sexual behavior in the future - and this might include how complaints are handled, recommending some kind of internal review committee that acts quickly, set up some new standards, bring in an attorney, and so on. These are real changes - i don't want to belittle them - but they are limited and shallow. But, since this organization has probably never brought in outsiders in this way, it would be a fine first step in taking advice and in some form of self-reflection, even if wasn't very deep.

Josh,

Very thoughtful, thanks. I think you're correct that it is a "fine first step".
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Sat Apr 09, 2011 1:10 pm

Jcbaran wrote:

That isn't to say that a certain stubborn liberty of mind is beyond us. None of us are automatons, after all, and outside of science fiction, not even the strictest community can fully brainwash us. Granted, our friends, families, churches, neighbors, and nations have a powerful – indeed an incomparable – influence on us. But beliefs, like mules and centaurs, are fundamentally hybrid creatures: we experience them half in public society, half in the private heart. In the best outcome, these two domains keep each other in check. The people around us prevent us from believing things that are nuts, while our inner voice keeps rising up and breaking the the surface tension that could otherwise turn a community into a bubble.

Keep that balance intact, and all of us can experience the pleasures of communal life without fear of sacrificing autonomy, to say nothing of our soul. Throw all the weight to one side or the other, though, and you unleash either the danger of an individual unrestrained by society, or the far greater danger of a society unrestrained by its individuals. To keep this balance, we must understand what can foil it.

This is particularly excellent - thank you!
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Sat Apr 09, 2011 3:10 pm

With their primary focus on sexual abuse of the laity by clergy, I'm also wondering if FaithTrust is the right organization to steer the OBC. I recently went to an excellent presentation by Jan Chosan Bays and Hogen Bays in which they synthesized what they'd learned from participating in a training given by Faith Trust. The issues addressed didn't seem to be issues the OBC is facing, and I can just imagine the OBC bringing in Faith Trust and then jumping for joy saying "Yea!!! We're doing great. Our monks don't sexually abuse the laity. We're okay. Yea!!!"

Without meaning to sound derogatory and with no real polite way to say it: I'm just wondering how "grown up" the monks at Shasta are? Who there really has experience using critical thinking to make a decision? Any ability to think for yourself had to be sacrificed under RMJK, and Eko Little exacted the same. And although the most senior monks at Shasta may be in their late 50's and early 60s, their adult lifetimes have been ones of acquiescence. The ability to see things clearly and to think objectively is a learned skill that individually and collectively I don't know they have -- otherwise, wouldn't the abuse of power by Koshin and Eko have been recognized? And wouldn't they see that the power structure set in place by RMJK is destructive?

After I left Shasta, I remember being astonished at how immature I'd become while living there. Thankfully, it didn't take long to rejoin my adulthood and to treasure making my own decisions and deciding my own fate.

To the monks at Shasta: It's time to grow up. And guess what? You're gonna love it!

mokuan
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Sat Apr 09, 2011 4:12 pm

You could be right about FaithTrust not being the right organization, but I am not sure there is a right organization out there for what ails OBC? There are many consultancy firms that advise non-profit organizations, but usually the focus is about administrative issues, marketing, fundraising, leadership development, mission focus, and so on. FaithTrust could advise OBC on authoritarian issues, but it could turn out as you imagine - easy clean bill of health - since sexual abuse is that Shasta's key issue. And OBC could then check that off their list and feel good that they did it.

If you practice daily suppressing critical thinking and independent insight, bowing down no matter what, that whole side of your brain goes mostly dormant. It is like a muscle that atrophies over time. It is still there, but you need to use it - or lose it. Mostly, it only comes back when you leave and take back your adulthood and personal integrity. Many of the monks no doubt are suffering from habitual error blindness.
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Sat Apr 09, 2011 4:48 pm

I remember RMJK being quoted many times: "Buddhism is a religion for spiritual adults." In the most horrible irony, the unquestioning acquiescence demanded by the OBC has resulted in the of infantalizing monks and lay members.
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PostSubject: Re: public announcement from the OBC regarding NCBP   Sat Apr 09, 2011 6:50 pm

Here i thought that Mahayana Buddhism was about liberating ALL sentient beings. Silly me. and we see that the "Church of Kennett" was about turning adults into blindly obedient children..... not much of a great vehicle there...
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