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 Assessment by FaithTrust

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Lise
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PostSubject: Assessment by FaithTrust    Sat May 07, 2011 1:08 pm

First topic message reminder :

This was received this morning:

"From: [deleted
Subject: Fw: For the etree please
To: [deleted
Received: Saturday, 8 May, 2011, 17:16 p.m.

--- On Fri, 5/6/11, Reverend Helen Cummings <revhelencummings@gmail.com> wrote:
From: Reverend Helen Cummings <revhelencummings@gmail.com>
Subject: For the etree please
To: [deleted]
Date: Friday, May 6, 2011, 5:07 PM

Dear friends, we have posted a Special Announcement from the OBC Steering Group for the Faith Trust Institute (FTI) assessment at Shasta Abbey on our website http://www.shastaabbey.org. You may get the full text through the News and Announcements on the Opening Page or on the News Page.

In gassho. The Prior"
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Ol'ga



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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Aug 31, 2011 8:22 pm

I would think that OBC is under no obligation to release the report in unedited form. I would be rather surprised if it is ever done in comparable situation.
Ol'ga
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ddolmar



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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Aug 31, 2011 8:57 pm

Whenever a public agency or private company has a contamination problem and wants the public to trust that they're doing the right thing, they release the results of their investigations (usually prepared by a consultant) for public review. Of course, that may be most often done because they are obliged by law.

If OBC/SA don't release an essentially un-redacted version of the report, then they miss an opportunity to show the rest of us that they are unafraid of facing the facts, or of having their future conduct judged in the light of FTI's findings.

How could they possibly benefit more by hiding things, at this late a date, than by being honest and open about what occurred (again, details within reason)? How can we ever evaluate whether they've subsequently done the right thing? Do they want us "filling in the blanks" with the most lurid details that we can imagine?

Again, I point to the scandals in the Catholic Church, or rather, the scandal that the Catholic Church has become ("No child's behind left," someone quipped). The hiding, the protecting, the secrecy, and the insistence that the clergy will always do the right thing without prompting from outside, has brought them scorn, lawsuits, and dwindling attendance and contributions.

Only by continuing to be open about the abuse can SA/OBC really expect those paying attention to move beyond it. I have faith that they will do so.

**********************

Oh yeah, in Mark's post above he quotes the Assessment Steering Group as follows: "The findings and recommendations will be seriously considered and made good use of, and we expect to share these with you soon after the Conclave. "

So there's our timing, and our promise that the "findings and recommendations" at least from the report will be shared with those who participated in the investigation. I hope that means that the whole report will be shared with all who are interested, whether lightly edited to protect identities or no. Maybe that's for the Conclave to discuss. But it feels right to me that the monks should get to review it first and talk about it as a group, prior to a more general release.


Last edited by ddolmar on Wed Aug 31, 2011 9:41 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : reading above)
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Aug 31, 2011 9:48 pm

ddolmar wrote:
How can we ever evaluate whether they've subsequently done the right thing?
You've nailed it. If the report isn't fully disclosed, no one can.
ddolmar wrote:
Do they want us "filling in the blanks" with the most lurid details that we can imagine?
They may be banking on the assumption that the faithful won't do this, and truly don't care. (The rest of us aren't on their radar.) The "everything is wonderful" fiction takes monks and laity both to keep that facade from crumbling, and releasing the report would put an end to the "wonderful" bit, for sure. That they might create something better and more honest, in place of "the wonderful", well, it would take a lot of humility. And guts.

I wish them lots of both.
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chisanmichaelhughes



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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:44 pm

Humility and guts Lise. The essential cornerstones of of Zen Buddhism. We like to discuss and experience emptiness, oneness, wisdom, enlightenment,love,compassion. However I think humility and guts is the driving strength behind all spiritual practice.

I have to go back to the first big break up problem of when Mark, me Bill. Alan, Josh left . It was not a simple walk out by new recruits, we we all senior monks, we walked out under a cloud of allegations, that needed looking at, discussing , and sorting out.This needed humility and guts. With humility and guts there could have been resolve, peace, truth and a moving on.

What one has now, is a situation 36 years later when the transmission line has been contaminated by the behavior of Eko the ex Abbot the descendant. his behavior was not checked and stopped.

For anyone with serious intentions,or who has involvement, or a simple wish in wanting to see the growth and natural development of Soto Zen.It simply is not good enough. These actions and non actions have let the whole sect down.

I agree with you Lise I wish they have both humility and guts, I do not feel it healthy if the report is not revealed,and I feel it will be very harmful if the 'everything is wonderful' is allowed to be fictionally told ,and allowed to permeate to people and new people far away from the epicenter .

I personally believe the root cause is the incredible lack of humility and guts,and at this particular time they, along with some simple truth are needed

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Ol'ga



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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Thu Sep 01, 2011 12:27 am

If the investigation concerns only Eko's behaviour, then there is not much point in it. Eko's gone.
The only meaningful approach is - how this situation was allowed to arise, who shares the blame, what in the general basis of the institution needs to be looked at and corrected. This is not such a simple thing, obviously. I don't know if it is possible to take the world-wide public into their confidence. The public, including us, don't really have voting rights here.
There are actual 'flesh-and-blood' individuals concerned here: e.g. Haryo who, I imagine, has been the head of OBC for some time; Meian, who had been Eko's vice-abbess; and others, obviously. If memory serves, it would appear from Diana's and Laura's testimonies that they had an opportunity to act when problems with Eko arose, and they swept them under the rug.
If they genuinely want to 'search their soul' and change, it is not so easy. Having the public breathing down their neck might not be all helpful. Public includes well-meaning people and malicious ones, too; and a lot of people who know b-all about monastery life but think they know it all.
It seems to me like washing their dirty laundry in public. Sometimes it must be done, but I can't help feeling that it is not quite so simple.
If the OBC intend to give only lip-service to any kind of mea culpa, then sure, it's easy. But in that case the only result of the whole exercise will be, that they will cover their buts better in future.
But I may be wrong on this. I have no experience in this kind of process at all.
Perhaps I am just more cynical than you guys. Or something, I don't know...
O.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Thu Sep 01, 2011 12:52 am

I think a big question for me Olga is why was a situation or culture was allowed to be developed, that checking and being critical of the established monastery and heirarchy including kennett roshi was not allowed.
Josh has said a lot about not being allowed to challenge kennett Roshi,It was reasonable when mark left in 76 with allegations that Eko was thinking he was once Jesus, and kennett Roshi was saying she was once Bodhidarma, it seems reasonable for me to assume that the zazen has been interrupted and rather than letting go ,not getting involved in erroneous thoughts, the basic practice was allowed to change and self importance and illusion be allowed in. It seems reasonable that I am allowed to query and check. But my letters were opened by other people I was not allowed to query or check,nor was Mark or Bill Picard.It becomes more difficult to challenge when a culture is allowed to develop, of not rocking the boat, saying the garden is rosy,and here you are have another title. I agree Eko has left, but why when we had good descriptions from Diane and Laura was a challenge not allowed,or did not happen
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mokuan



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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Thu Sep 01, 2011 10:08 am

Dear Ol'ga,

It doesn't sound to me like you are being cynical. In fact, you are affording the OBC more kindness than I know I can muster at the moment. Humility and guts have long been overshadowd by the complacency of the status quo. The very foundations of their house seems to have been built on quicksand and the timbers were full of cracks. Perhaps some primal human fear of change will not allow them, in the long run, to rebuild their institution on solid ground. Like Chisan, I think they are not really Zen Buddhist monks. They are monks of the church of Kennett.

***********

By the way, I've been thinking of David. How is he doing? How are you holding up?



mokuan
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Laura

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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:04 pm

Good morning all,

I wanted to let you know that I have heard from several sources whom I consider to be very reliable that the Faith Trust assessment has been extremely critical of Shasta Abbey. I am told that the monks are pretty well reeling from the results. One of the most senior monks there has been quoted as saying that their assessment was "very judgmental", which makes me wonder if they will dismiss the findings as coming from a "non-Buddhist" perspective. It will be interesting to see what, if any, information from that assessment is released to the public given that the report appears to be quite unfavorable.

I believe that their imminent Conclave is going to be interesting. I am hopeful that the Throssel community will not allow Shasta to ignore the results of this assessment.

I wish I had more information to share, but right now the details are being held tightly within the bosom of the OBC.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:26 pm

Thank you for the update, Laura. It will be interesting to see what happens.



Peace,

Diana
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:30 pm

Thanks Laura, the info should be made public.


Last edited by chisanmichaelhughes on Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:32 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:31 pm

...And a heart-felt thank you to all who continue to post and share here on the forum. I'm always amazed to see and hear what you all have to share. What a bunch of remarkable people!



:-)

Diana
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:32 pm

thanks Laura -

Will the Throssel monks get to see an unedited copy, I wonder.

Re: the senior monk who was quoted, I think this highlights a core flaw in SA's system and ways of thinking. For that monk to not understand that an "assessment" will result in statements that look and feel like judgments (because that is their purpose -- that's what they are!) does boggle the mind.

Giving them the benefit of doubt, presumably the Abbey monks spent laity's dana on this exercise in order to get genuine help, and not just to create a window-dressing document to pacify the rest of OBC.

Judgment is not a bad thing. We all have to submit to it, even a senior monk.


Last edited by Lise on Sat Sep 03, 2011 1:10 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo)
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:58 pm

It is difficult to comment too much without hearing everything. There is a tendancy to think the worse if we are not told. If what has been said about Eko is all True then there should be incredible criticism, as it is appalling behavior. What we have basically discussed over the last year or I have is there have been issues for a long time We have talked about the Walshes, the Jesus time, the controlling.There have been defenders of the OBC with each aspect. There is a need to take stock ..a reality check. Isan you said very honestly what Jk reaction was re the time of the letter I can not quote you I think it was along the lines of best not reveal everything for the sake of the OBC.I am sorry if I have misunderstood that. I do not know where to find what you said, I would like to read what you said again. My view personally is to bring it all out onto the table.If things are not quite right or very much not right, lay people and new people should be protected


Last edited by chisanmichaelhughes on Sat Sep 03, 2011 1:01 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : adding commas!)
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Sat Sep 03, 2011 1:09 pm

hi Michael, sorry, I should have left a pointer to the new thread -- it's under "In Theory and Practice" and the title starts with "Mirroring".

L.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Sat Sep 03, 2011 1:13 pm

Thanks Lise I have posted on it a reply to Glorfindel ( Lise if there is a bit of mud on the floor I have sure had it on my foot)
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Sat Sep 03, 2011 4:10 pm

Thanks Laura!

Diana, it's good to see you "checking in".

I agree with Chisan...the whole FTI report should be made public without deletions save to protect victims' identities.

Even if the OBC has to annotate the criticism point by point with their own views, they should do so with all speed and release the full annotated report to the public. Certainly I think they should be entitled to a full-throated rebuttal of anything FTI has said that they think is too harsh, but only when FTI's full statement is known.

Do they fear lawsuits? Why should they be feared more than birth-and-death? Anyway, studies have shown that doctors who admit making mistakes and express their inadequacy to their patients are much LESS likely to be sued. Making that human connection transcendent over the title of "Doctor" and the fear/respect given to the medical profession brings understanding and healing. And forgiveness.

http://cleveland.injuryboard.com/medical-malpractice/apologies-from-doctors-for-medical-errors-reduce-lawsuits.aspx?googleid=240042

Further, how long do they think it will remain secret? If their decision is to bury the report, I think that a copy will probably be leaked, and then scanned onto the internet within a few months. And then how will they look?

Let SA/OBC show all the courage to face the future, the non-fear of birth-and-death, that they have achieved in their training. Now is an ideal time to see SA/OBC be reborn as transparent as the "clear light of Zen."

Time to shake off the fear. Guts and humility! (h/t Lise)
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Sat Sep 03, 2011 4:42 pm

Thank you Laura for this information--and well said Dan!
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Sat Sep 03, 2011 8:26 pm

I think that we must wait to see if the report is published, with or without major or unnecessary redactions, before any real judgement can be made. But if it is as critical as some have indicated then perhaps they could start with a public and corporate sange ceremony. Along with counselling undertaken by the organisation as a whole, and a blanket offering of help and counselling to ALL those who over the years have been harmed or abused.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Sat Sep 03, 2011 8:43 pm

@ Laura

Thanks for sharing your perspective. It sounds as if the desires of many that the historical culture of SA should come under scrutiny has actually been realized. How that feedback will be received is now a test of the training of the SA monks, and a test of the OBC sangha network and whether responsibility and accountability are truly wished for.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Sat Sep 03, 2011 11:12 pm

In my experience one learns fairly limited skills in a temple.After all one one wants to learn zazen. the skills of dealing with people, what do do in a jam,how to deal with turbulent times are invariably learnt outside a temple. To me this explains a lot of my queries that things were not dealt with properly nor in the right way.The way of dealing seemed to be by the use of authority...Do what I say and believe this...just my view
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Sun Sep 04, 2011 1:15 am

As a therapist I can say that individuals (and the same applies to groups) do not change unless there is a crisis, and a recognition that the prevailing patterns of perceiving, behaving, and responding are neither working nor sustainable. It is a good thing if this investigation and report provoke a crisis and, if the community is truly mature enough to look at itself in the light of the information and perceptions that are given in the report, real, fruitful, and growth inducing change can happen. That is my hope.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Sun Sep 04, 2011 2:28 am

It is your expertese so I can't really disagree Bill
I feel the important thing is the direction of change. i think Jk has experienced a few crisis (especially Mark standing up and saying I do not feel this is right for me I feel it is Gedo Zen)

It depends on how one personally view the whole thing as to whether the direction taken , is positive. I think that the direction taken then one way or another has led them to this place,they may feel the right direction is somewhere along the lines they were leading.They may feel a lttle trimming around the edges is OK for them.I do not know. If they are brave they may seek a bit of spiritual help from outside the Abbey , that though may be a little difficult as I am not sure who connect with.It is a time for rejoining a larger Sanga perhaps even temporarily.
I am not experienced at all in these matters. My only experience is some stories I was told in Japan,and 1 group did go there wanting to link up but do things there own way,that did not happen.
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mokuan



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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Sun Sep 04, 2011 4:11 am

Laura,
Thanks for letting us know. You mentioned you hoped the monks at Throssel will encourage the Shasta monks not to ignore the assessement, but isn't Throssel run much like Shasta with the same power structure? And if that's the case, they may also be inclined to lay the blame solely at eko little's feet and ignore the "judgmental" assessement.
Well, only time will tell. Thanks again.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Sun Sep 04, 2011 6:54 am

Did I read somewhere that Faith Trust is a Christian organisation? In my view Christian dogma tends toward judgementalism. Both history and my personal experience attests to this. (I'm not suggesting that all Christians are Judgemental btw).

Does anyone have a link to their website? I'd need to know more about who they are before I could accept their views.

I would have hoped that the assessment was done by a non-religious organization and that it was impartial and useful.

Oh dear. They got Christians to do it! Sad I better not tell my Devil Worshipping friends about that!

Or am I mistaken? link anyone?


EDIT: just found this on their website:

"FaithTrust Institute is an organization of women and men from many faith traditions, cultures, and racial groups committed to the equality of women and men and the empowerment of women, youth and children."

Which is reassuring.

It seems that their founder is a "Reverend" in the United Church of Christ which certainly seems to be less [admin deleteI] than other Christian groups.




EDIT 2: "from many faith traditions." Are they all religious people? I hope there are some agnostics/atheists contributing to the analysis.


All in all I would give the assessment some credence (while maintaining a critical eye).


Last edited by Lise on Sun Sep 04, 2011 3:24 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : rules violation / #14)
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Sun Sep 04, 2011 7:41 am

It is very difficult without reading the report, If the report is unfavorable to OBC then there is a tendency to say the reporters are biased or judgmental or inexperienced. If on the other hand the report says the OBC is in good shape has never had a problem seems to be filled with unusually enlightened beings,and they have been unfairly criticised by ex members with chips on their shoulders. I am sure the ex members will say they are biased and judgmental.

Personally I have made mistakes in my life, I accept this, I practice zazen and the direction of my life has not been altered by any of my or anybody elses goings on.In fact by seeing the errors made has helped me see and find direction.
The issue I think for the OBC is what next. They each have a responsibility to themselves to follow the right path, the problems are slightly intensified because some of us, who were members felt, that the path taught to be followed was not right for us, and we left. This is fair enough. I have not thought of the OBC for 30 odd years it was only when the news of Eko broke,that my nose twitched again. I may be wrong but I have always felt his practice was not right, and if one does not practice in the right way,one ends up in the wrong place.

There is life after problems but they have to be sorted out carefully. San Francisco Zen Centre certainly had problems after Suzuki Roshi died, I can not comment on how they sorted them as I do not know, from what I know they seem to have come through. I only know a little bit from the Japanese side of it as I think Suzuki roshi was at Eheiji I met a monk in Japan who had some connection after the problems,I believe the centre went back to Japan for advice,from my brief discussions, the Japanese were cool about the situation, I do not think they were judgmental, if they were asked to help I am sure they did everything they could, maybe behind the scenes in some way to help.

I feel the basis of Zen Buddhism is love and compassion for every living being if we do not feel it we are in some way blocking it from manifesting,as a Zen Buddhist I hope we all find and walk the right path
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Laura

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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Sun Sep 04, 2011 12:01 pm

Hi Mokuan,

I don't know very much about what things are like at Throssel. What I had heard, however, that prompted my comment, is that at the last conclave that was held at Shasta Abbey, the one shortly after Eko left and many of the problems with him were coming to light, it was actually the Throssel monks who asked Shasta Abbey to have an evaluation done by an external agency. They were shocked by Eko's behavior, alarmed that the information was going public at places like this website and the impact that this was having on their reputation, and insistent that the problems be addressed with help from an outside organization that had experience in these matters.

Honestly, this information is hearsay, but somehow it has always felt true to me. If it is true, it clearly shows that things are at least a bit different at Throssel. Even if it is not true, Shasta Abbey is still answerable to the OBC as a whole. The FaithTrust folks obtained responses from a wide range of both current and former laity and monastics who practiced at Shasta, and I'm sure they discovered that the problem did not lie just with Eko. At the very least, the seniors at the monastery aided and abetted his behavior by refusing to listen to the many, many people who came to them for years with concerns about Eko's abusiveness and inappropriate romantic behavior. I consider several of those seniors to have been abusive in their own right. Those same seniors are going to have a lot of explaining to do to their peers in the OBC who had no idea that this stuff was going on at Shasta Abbey.

At any rate, as one of the monks who complained about this for many years to a deaf audience who treated me as deluded and spiritually inferior because I told them the truth, it is my fond hope that the OBC will not sweep this report under the carpet, even if Shasta tries to. It's that comment by the Shasta monk about FTI being "judgmental" that got me going. It is the same thing that was said to me whenever I pointed out something to the Shasta seniors that they didn't want to hear. I was told that the problem was not with Eko's behavior, it was my judgmental and deluded thinking that was the problem. Shasta has been using this tactic to avoid facing the truth for so long that I have to hope someone outside of Shasta Abbey will forbid them to keep on doing the same thing.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Sun Sep 04, 2011 2:22 pm

That brings back memories Laura I was told that in 74/76 when mark left


it was my judgmental and deluded thinking that was the problem. Shasta has been using this tactic to avoid facing the truth for so long that I have to hope someone outside of Shasta Abbey will forbid them to keep on doing the same thing.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Sun Sep 04, 2011 2:27 pm

:-) Hi Laura!

I am just wanting to check. I know the words "aid" and "abet" are often found in each other's company, and one might say them together without thinking of a distinction, but I think "abet" implies knowledge of what is being abetted. Was this what you meant in using the phrase "aid and abet"?

I am sorry you had such a sad time in your efforts to tell the truth. (-:
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Sun Sep 04, 2011 4:18 pm

Hi Laura,
Thank you for that clarification.
Although I'm not Catholic or Christian, I have to say I'm partial to the Confiteor:

"I confess to almighty God,
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned through my own fault,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do;
and I ask Blessed Mary, ever virgin,
all the angels and saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me
to the Lord our God."


It's the part about what I have done and what I have failed to do that always catches my attention. We can create as much harm by failing do to what should be done as by doing an act that breaks the precepts. We so often forget that.

In this case, SA failed to even consider the allegations let alone do what needed to be done; and I know, Laura, you paid a hefty price for their willful ignorance. I also believe, because you do, that Meian is genuinely sorry for not listening to you. I just hope her sincerity will rub off on the other monks at the conclave who may have some leadership roles and decision-making power. I really feel they are at a crucial fork in the road and if they dismiss the assessement, then they "have failed to do" again.

~Isan, wouldn't this be a good time to sing Dan Fogelberg's Netherlands?
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:51 am

I feel that discussion of the validity of Faith Trust as assessors is valid to discussion of their assessment.

When looking at a scientific or historical work the FIRST thing one should do is look at the source of the information, whether the source is contentious, whether it has been peer reviewed, etc.

However, since I've given Faith Trust my wary approval I will let it go cheers

Concerning Shasta's (supposed) reaction to the assessment: I would have thought they would WANT it to be very critical! That's the whole point of an assessment. They are still free to bring up questions concerning specific points. It's the same as the Scientific Process.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:28 am

glorfindel wrote:

Concerning Shasta's (supposed) reaction to the assessment: I would have thought they would WANT it to be very critical! That's the whole point of an assessment. They are still free to bring up questions concerning specific points. It's the same as the Scientific Process.

Well, criticism can be difficult to accept even when invited. Having done some family therapy in the past I know it can take some time to come to terms with new ideas, and that was in an environment that didn't allow for public viewing.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Mon Sep 05, 2011 12:56 pm

I agree with you glorfindel about the validity of discussing Faith Trust as assessors. But I'm not sure that I agree with holding them up to 'scientific' standards of peer review, etc. How many independent assessors are there for religious organisations? From their website they seem to be independent, a bit biased towards sexual transgressions, but then this was all apparently triggered by one, and mildly on the judeo/christian/islamic side of things, but they appear to have been asked to look into behaviour, not faith. So as far as I can see they seem to be well suited to the job. This does not mean that I think that they are competent to do it, I have no way of knowing, though from their website they do seem so. We will only be able to judge after the event. But looking around I don't see any obvious alternative candidates.

I think an important way for us to assess the assessors, apart from the competence of their report, will be to see, if it's at all possible, how well they navigate the minefield of getting the OBC to seriously accept any negative findings and take on board any recommendations that they make. Where there are problems going back for a number of years as there seem to have been at Shasta, the absolute scientific purity of the assessment does not seem as important as the overall truth of the general picture and in my view both are really secondary to correcting the faults in the system and helping if possible those hurt and harmed by it.What allowed the problems to happen in the first place, and then apparently continue, ignored, hidden or papered over, for a number of years is really secondary to correcting this and helping those harmed. In the end it is the overall outcomes that matter. This is a about matters of unacceptable behaviour, not matters of faith (despite the trust's name). It won't address, nor should it, the main reasons why I left what was then the ZMS. They were matters of faith, though I now realise exacerbated by problems of behaviour.

Anne I'm not sure I agree with you about abet. When used pejoratively, as it nearly always is, I think that it carries a implication of willfulness but not always knowledge. So in this case an implication that justified complaints that were made over a period of time and by a number of people were willfully disparaged or ignored and this abetted the wrongful, but unknown, behaviour. A bit of a semantic distinction I know but I still think an important one.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Mon Sep 05, 2011 1:56 pm

:-) Hi Mark!

I must admit that until fairly recently, I supposed that "abet" meant pretty much the same as "aid" but was some obscure olde Englishe worde that of yore had been paired with "aid", perhaps by way of emphasis. Fairly recently it dawned on me that "aiding and abetting" is a legal charge, and I thought it unlikely that such superfluity would find its way into legal language, so I looked "abet" up in my OED (ye gods, published in 1968!) which gave pretty much the same info as the following copied from the internet.

From http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/abet
Quote :
To encourage or incite another to commit a crime. This word is usually applied to aiding in the commission of a crime. To abet another to commit a murder is to command, procure, counsel, encourage, induce, or assist. To facilitate the commission of a crime, promote its accomplishment, or help in advancing or bringing it about.

In relation to charge of aiding and abetting, term includes knowledge of the perpetrator's wrongful purpose, and encouragement, promotion or counsel of another in the commission of the criminal offense.

A French word, abeter—to bait or excite an animal.

For example, the manager of a jewelry store fails to turn on the store's silent alarm on the night she knows her cousin plans to rob the store. Her conduct is that of abetting the Robbery. If, however, she merely forgot to turn on the alarm, she would not have abetted the crime.

The word abet is most commonly used as part of the comprehensive phrase aid and abet.
Since discovering this, I have been careful to avoid adding the semi-automatic (not robbery this time!) "and abet", lest I give the impression that whoever did the "aiding" knew more than I supposed they did, which would unfairly pile on the accusations. As you say, it is important to be clear on it. (-:
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Mon Sep 05, 2011 4:08 pm

Yes Anne, but I think you can be charged with aiding and abetting a crime if it was your duty to investigate behaviour and you willfully didn't. In this sense I think that you are held to have assisted, if only passively, because you willfully did not carrying out your duty to deter and so made yourself party to the crime. The cry 'honest guv I didn't know what he was doing!' does not free you from blame under these circumstances.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Tue Sep 06, 2011 12:05 am

I am with Mark: an offence can occur by commission as well as omission.

It seems to me, though, that the term 'aid and abet' is apt also in view of the fact that the seniors that Laura approached did not only passively fail to act (i.e. investigate, and take steps based on that investigation) but were in fact active in trying to shut her up:
Laura:
...as one of the monks who complained about this for many years to a deaf
audience who treated me as deluded and spiritually inferior because I
told them the truth,...


There are ways of silencing someone in an environment such as a monastery.

Anne, re the word 'abet': you could query the use of the word 'aid' on the same grounds.
Ol'ga
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Tue Sep 06, 2011 5:08 am

:-) You may be right, Mark. The impression I had of the meaning of "abet" was that one has "knowledge of the perpetrator's wrongful purpose", and that failing to do ones duty might come under some other heading (?negligence). "Abetting" also seems to include egging someone on: "Go on...rob that jewellery store...you know we need the dosh. Here, I'll give you a carrier bag..." I wasn't quibbling over Laura's use of the term, just trying to clarify for myself whether there was more to the goings-on than I had realised. Certainly one can effectively "aid" misbehaviour inadvertently in the ways identified.

In the example the online dictionary gave of "abetting", in which "the manager of a jewelry store fails to turn on the store's silent alarm on the night she knows her cousin plans to rob the store", the word "aid" would seem interchangeable/ superfluous.
scratch However, this is by-the-by. (-:
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:53 am

Thanks to Mark and Olga for answering Anne's question better than I could have myself. And as an addendum to Olga's comment, I was literally forbidden by my monastic spiritual advisor and the former abbot to speak of my concerns to anyone else in the community. My spiritual advisor (kyojushi) at that time is now the current abbess.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:02 am

How can you be forbidden Laura,how can anyone be forbidden. It is an incredible assumption that they are right and you are wrong
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:11 am

Indeed it is Michael. You hit the nail right on the head.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:45 am

Laura I have not spoken or communicated personally with you for a while for a while. So I hope you are well and enjoying your life. I am on call to look after grandaughter no1 whilst my daughter has grandaughter no2 (any day now) I am starting my usual and rather boring pacing round the room mode and chanting a very old and spiritual mantra

Geronwitit

Take care
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:05 pm

Laura, to use Mark's words, I'm just so glad you're shot of them! To treat you like that, a gem of a person, aarrhhh! I am not allowed to swear here, but an exception should be made in this case. Banned word, banned word, banned word!

I had not thought of Shasta for years. Now, corresponding on the forum, it all came back. I needed to look at it again, as there were wounds, long burried, which prevented me from trusting people in certain situations.

Mokuan and I were trying to sort out, if my views of the Shasta shebang are cynical or, in fact, kind. Well, I must admit, I have little faith in their revival. It would recquire a frame of mind which is simply very unlikely to be there. Humility? Guts? Those qualities don't grow on trees. After years of systematic stifling of these (natural) qualities, of suppressing their natural instinct for truth - as they must have, just to survive there ... I can't but doubt the success is likely.

I wish them all the best, as I do not wish any of my fellow humans pain....except, definitely in this case, a kick in the pants, richly deserved and fitting, for what they've done to Laura, and other good people!

Bshksrdaaadfmrh! Can't find the right emoticon for this.
O.


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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 12:22 am

Hiya Michael, I love your mantra, lol. I am doing very well, thank you. I have 3 grandchildren now, the newest of whom is just 4 months old. I am now working 4 days a week instead of 5, and spend my Wednesday mornings babysitting the youngest while my daughter goes to her favorite Zumba class with the 3-yr-old in tow. Then I spend some of the afternoon playing with the 3 year old. It's a great day for all of us. Congratulations on your new arrival, whenever he/she gets here!

Hi Olga, thank you so much for your kind sympathy. Don't worry about me, though, because I have landed on my feet and am extraordinarily well and happy. I am really sad about all the good people who have been harmed, including your good self, and Mokuan who has become a friend of mine. She and I go to the movies and have a meal together every couple of months as we don't live far from each other.

I honestly am not expecting much of a recovery at Shasta Abbey, because I think most of the folks who are still there have been too badly damaged by the system there to ever really recover, just as you say. It's a sad situation all the way around. I'm not sure that's being cynical; I think it's a pretty realistic view. Still, I think they've been so shocked by Eko's departure and the disclosures following it that they will sincerely try to improve things, and any progress they can make will be helpful.

I hope you are able to find healing for those long-buried wounds. And I've come to the conclusion that, actually, it is okay not to trust everyone. After all, not everyone is really trustworthy. No matter how much I wanted to trust Eko, and no matter how often all the seniors there told me too, he just was not trustworthy and proved that to everyone in the end. Yet, in the midst of all the despair I experienced while I was there, I learned how to trust my own heart. I will keep that treasure to the end of my days. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 12:32 am

It seems so easy a life in a Soto Zen temple should be influenced by Fukenzazenji how to practice meditation. Zazen though although simplistic, is quite difficult,because rather than refining or allowing our practice to refine,our approach of zazen, is often how we have approached our whole lives, from the the viewpoint and position of self.
When there is awareness the sitting is being done, when I am aware then sure enough I am sitting,The saying when the first step is false we immediately stumble is always so true for me, and it quite a good well known friend of mine. When temples are set up and heirarchies built, it is always good thing to remember our basic first innocent steps into zen,and be aware of of how if we are not careful we bring with us on our filters and refinements of a self now being spiritual.Not so easy this task of running spiritual organisations,and not so easy simply sitting


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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 12:36 am

Laura thanks for your reply,and of course the first sign of good practice is

I learned how to trust my own heart. I will keep that treasure to the end of my days.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:44 am

Ol'ga wrote:
Laura, to use Mark's words, I'm just so glad you're shot of them! To treat you like that, a gem of a person, aarrhhh! ...

Mokuan and I were trying to sort out, if my views of the Shasta shebang are cynical or, in fact, kind. Well, I must admit, I have little faith in their revival. It would recquire a frame of mind which is simply very unlikely to be there. Humility? Guts? Those qualities don't grow on trees. After years of systematic stifling of these (natural) qualities, of suppressing their natural instinct for truth - as they must have, just to survive there ... I can't but doubt the success is likely.

I wish them all the best, as I do not wish any of my fellow humans pain....except, definitely in this case, a kick in the pants, richly deserved and fitting, for what they've done to Laura, and other good people!

O.

So well said Ol'ga--and so important, Laura, to keep speaking out!

When we are living within the OBC dynamic that the three of us know so well, it can seem overwhelming. As we know, this power is an illusion. Once we step outside its context--and see it for what it is--it's power evaporates.

I think that with the FTI assessment report, the OBC shadow-dynamic has become even more vulnerable to exposure.

I think that it requires significant effort on the part of those within the Order, who are in denial, to continue maintaining denial.

And I know with certainty that there are monks and lay members of the Order who see much if not all of this with great clarity--and who feel just as helpless as many OBC Connect Forum members seem to feel about the prospect of effecting change.

This feeling of helplessness is an inherent aspect of the collective institutional shadow-dynamic itself. Fortunately, it is an illusion.

All of this is why I feel certain that our collective, steady, and even gentle perserverence (especially our gentle perserverence), will eventually make continued denial impossible.

The currently available evidence, which you have provided Laura, suggests that members of Shasta Abbey, and the OBC, are quite distressed by the FTI report. I think this is a very hopeful sign.

Most members of the OBC, no matter how tangled up in the shadow-dynamic and its denial they may have become, have the same innate integrity that compells those of us who speak out.

When denial collapses, the truth remains: the undeniable consequences of whatever choices we have made, and actions we have taken. Less obvious is the fact that it is our innate integrity itself that makes the recognition of all of this possible.

I hope that active members of the OBC, many of whom I count as dear friends, will let go of denial quickly, trust innate integrity, and recognize, heal, and transform the cultural dynamic that has caused so much suffering--no matter how subtle it may have been some of the time.

I think the profound paradox here is that the OBC shadow-dynamic so often seems, and is, overwhelming--while being nothing more at root than a little misunderstanding-based illusion. All we have to do is call it out for what it is.

P.S. Laura and Michael, so good to see your new comments posted while I was writing mine.





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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 8:39 am

Laura I disagree with you about trust. I think you can trust everyone, that is being open hearted, BUT you can only trust them to be themselves, and also maybe to be capable of change. The con man who says 'you do trust me don't you?' wants you to trust him as something he isn't, but you can still trust him as con man, just not with your money! Trusting in yourself and others, and opening your heart allows you to see more clearly what the person is in truth, non-judgmentally and with compassion. By non-judgmental I mean with truth, and an open heart and mind. In this case to see the truth of what happened, and to know that it was wrong; to see the truth of the seniors reaction to your story and know that it was wrong but still keep an open heart and mind. A counsel of perfection I know. Sometimes I must admit it just feels as if it would be so much easier to buy a sharp instrument and chop soft bits off the offenders anatomy - but I'm told this isn't the Zen way!

Being ordered to be silent was terrible and almost amounts to abuse in its own right. The very people who you were supposed to be able to open up to and talk to about anything, expected to shut up and go away. They expected you to trust them but you were not to be trusted. If they did not believe you then they should have offered counselling, which also would have helped uncovere the truth. If they did suspect you were right then clearly they should have acted. But what they did was close their hearts and minds to you, at a time when you most needed compassion and understanding. And they averted their gaze and swept it all under the carpet. I am so happy that you have managed to grow on from this, leaving it behind, and live a fulfilling life. Whilst what they suppressed and silenced has erupted and might end up destroying the very institution that, at best, they were trying to protect.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:10 am

:-) Hi Mark!
Laura's seniors seem to have been so trusting of their seniors, or whoever was in charge, that they could not believe that Laura's understanding or description of events could be accurate. In a situation like that, can you suggest/describe more about the counselling that should be offered, and who by? Though lessons may be learned by individual monks at Shasta from the FTI report and so forth, I can imagine a similar situation arising in future, where those approached wonder who to believe, or doubt what they are hearing. Perhaps FTI will make suggestions, or perhaps the OBC already has some ideas, but I wondered if you have further thoughts on this? (-:
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 10:03 am

One thing we need to remember here is that one of the things that holds this all together- the glue, so to speak- is the social "rules" and agreed-upon precepts such as "do no harm" and other rules such as "not speaking against the sangha." Because these rules are intergrated into everyone's practice and are socially reinforced, it makes it impossible to explore opinions, the "truth", misgivings, or be in any way critical of any sangha member, teaching, and especially, if you're a monk, your seniors!



And to complicate this all, is the master-disciple relationship, which is a concept that is very difficult to grasp unless you have experienced it yourself. Some may think, "how is it possible to be to be forbidden by anyone to speak about something?" First of all, there is a huge double-bind and conflict going on in ones own mind about having feelings that something bad is going on and wanting to say something, but then your "precept filter" in your mind says, "you can't say that because you might be speaking against someone." It's a double-bind because you are supposed to be "transparent" and living the truth with clarity and open-mindnessness. And this is complicated even more by the power dynamic in the master-disciple relationship and in the hierarchical construction within the monk "system." This power-dynamic reinforces by the use of punishment; it might not look like punishment to an outsider, but as we all know, these forms of punishment can be extremly subtle even though they result in things like shunning.



I too, like Laura, went through this process of things not being right, but not allowed/forbidden to say something which was reinforced by the threat of punishment. My punishment was dire: the premise was that since I had found some sort of purity and had cleansed my karma, that all bad karma would now come at me with such a force that I might even die! So it was put out there for me: step out of line (in the monastery or in the world), and the consequences are severe. I was scared to step out of line. I was forbidden to speak to anyone about anything. I was not allowed to speak to anyone except Eko. This isolated me, made me more dependent and vulnerable, and when things started to go badly, made the conflict in my mind start to emerge and act on my health until finally, I began to self-destruct from the inside and then out.



I'm saying all this because although I think change can occur, I do not believe it is possible to change the precepts, rules, or culture within the OBC enough to create a healthy environment for spiritual practice. I'm sure the folks at the Abbey are going through hard times, but personally, I don't see a way out for them. The changes that would have to be made are too radical. They are a "closed" group and I don't see them opening up to other Zen groups or putting themselves out there enough to be critiqued by the larger Buddhist sangha. I do wish them the best. For me, I know that I never want any part of any group that looks anything like the OBC/SA. In my opinion, a closed, hierarchical, and oppressive system, kills spiritual practice.



Peace,

Diana
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:47 am

What a brave and honest account of how you felt and how it was. Something hits me though Diane, is what you convey as the teaching or the practice is all concepts , mind made I mean who is supposed to be transparent, and why? This is how things were, how it was taught but it is a dualistic approach which leads to dualism and I believe you are totally right it kills spiritual practice, you knew it was not for you, and good for you.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:54 am

Diana wrote:
I was forbidden to speak to anyone about anything. I was not allowed to speak to anyone except Eko.

That is scary stuff.

How was the taboo on communication enforced? What would have happened if you'd wandered up to a random monk and just said what you thought?


I think I can kind of see why the OBC have such practices: to get people to engage more deeply with focussing inward, etc. But it is too reliant on everyone in the chain of command being of sound mind.

Thanks for your personal descriptions Diana and Laura. It is these personal experiences, more than conceptual debates, that strike into the heart.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 12:19 pm

Hey all

Much of the darker side of Jiyu's Shasta is now being seen in the light of day. Many sad behaviours that most have seen and experienced to different degrees but were minimized by Shasta doctrine and habit are now coming to light and print. The speed and depth of the disclosures are not what most of us would have predicted 2 years ago.

Many folks are saying that there is little chance of a fundamental change for Shasta monks who have such negatively ingrained habit patterns within their day to day practise. That as soon as the uncomfortableness of these present disclosures begin to fade it will be back to business as usual.

So taking into consideration all of this....Does anyone have the oommph to suggest what changes they'd like to see occur at Shasta and how they could be practically introduced to push back against the inevitable return to business as usual.



.H
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 12:37 pm

Yes it is scary stuff
Personally I feel Diane has highlighted the issue of:

Training the ego to be religious,or dropping the ego to be spiritual

Not such an obvious nor easy choice
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:03 pm

glorfindel wrote:


How was the taboo on communication enforced? What would have happened if you'd wandered up to a random monk and just said what you thought?

During my years at Shasta Abbey the taboo was enforced through public humiliation, and if that was insufficient then expulsion and shunning. The threat of expulsion always lay in the background to discourage dissent. I observed this over fourteen years. If you need an example of the paranoia that drove this have a look at the second post by Segodon who characterized the group of senior monks who got together briefly in 1984 to discuss the discomfort they felt about Jiyu Kennett's policies as the:

"anti-RMJK conspiracy," which luckily failed, & the decent people retained control of the Abbey, thank goodness.

http://obcconnect.forumotion.net/t336-impressions-of-this-forum

In other words giving voice to our misgivings was seen as an attempt to actually takeover the monastery. Sometimes life is stranger than fiction.


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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:06 pm

Yes but it ain't Zen
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:24 pm

Hi Chisan and Glorfindel,



The "transparency" issue mostly came from the master-disciple relationship that was created between me and Eko, but I'm sure it's expected in general (within the OBC). It was an explicit expectation that was enforced. In sanzen, if he thought I was withholding or not being transparent he would basically punish me by not giving me his attention and dismissing me or berating me saying my training and/or meditation was sub-par and that I had better get it together. He would also demand that I be more transparent. What does this do? I think it breaks down a person's boundaries as it implies you are to share everything and completly let down your guard, completely let the other person in, which is really hard to do if you don't trust somebody. I didn't trust him, trust had to be built over time, but he demanded it up front.



There are many examples of what was taboo or forbidden. The deeper I got into the relationship, the more weird it became. At first, I was explicitly told not to talk to anyone about my so-called kensho. To remind you in case you haven't read my accounts, for me, the "kensho" was a beautiful yes, but completly conciousness-altering experience. I prefer to look at it like a "spiritual emergency." This lasted a good 3 months in time and I could not function in the world. I would go back to Eko for help and reassurance and when I wasn't getting it I sought out a therapist. I wanted to talk to others about it because I was scared and thought I needed help. When Eko found out that I had talked about it he was visibly upset. He said that he would not confirm it being a kensho because I was a lay person, so I basically was not allowed to even say it was a kensho. This discreditted me and put me in my place. He said that if I continued to talk about it it would just prove that it wasn't a kensho because people who had kenshos understood that there was no-self and clearly, if I wanted to talk about it, then I must be proud and clearly, if I felt "pride" then it certainly wasn't a kensho. He also said that I would be breaking the precepts by creating disharmony within the sangha because others would be jealous of me. He said that most of the senior monks (and he did name names to me; he frequently talked about sangha members disparagingly) had not had kenshos and they would treat me differently and be jealous of me. All this was overwhelming as I didn't care about defining the experience as kensho, I just wanted to know what the heck I was supposed to do and how to get help.



All this set me up to be isolated- away from the sangha and other people. According to Eko, the "relationship" we had was sacred and that no other relationship in my life could ever be as important or sacred. This was difficult to explain to my boyfriend at the time! As my relationship with Eko deepened, the gap widened in my other relationships with loved-ones and friends. How could they all compete with what was supposed to be the "only true love" that I would ever know? When things became difficult between me and boyfriend I tried to explain where I was coming from and I had to tell him about my experience. He thought maybe I needed help and that I was getting into trouble. When I went to Eko and told him I had tried to explain to my boyfriend what was going on he became irritated and angry. He told me that no one would ever be able to understand and that I shouldn't talk about it. He made me feel ashamed, like I didn't trust him to handle my situation. He told me that "wordly" relationships did not compare to spiritual ones and that sex was basically like "masturbation" compared to what was possible in a true spiritual relationship. This set me up again to not talk about what I thought was becoming a troubling relationship and spiritual practice. I didn't trust him, but at the same time he was the only one I was allowed to talk to. I had a huge internal struggle here and found living in the world had become impossible. I broke up with my boyfriend and told him I needed to become a monk.



After I broke up with my boyfriend things changed with Eko and acted differently toward me- I felt like I was being romanced by him at this time. We would have tea alone in his house and sit and talk for hours. He would share "secrets" with me which made me feel special, but at the same time, it increased my stress to keep our "relationship" together and also made me feel like since he had disclosed to me, that I was now expected to disclose to him while at the same time keep his secrets private. Of course the secrets he revealed would be forbidden or taboo to share with others. Our whole relationship became a secret. If I was to reveal anything about him, me, or whatever, it was clear that I was risk losing the relationship which now had become the ONLY relationship in my life since I had to "let go" of all my worldly relationships.



So everything became "forbidden" in a sense. My personal life and my very being/soul/spirit now relied on one person and if I blew it, not only would I have nothing, but I would also get hit with karma that was 10 times stronger than it was before.



Years later, when I started to pull away from Eko our exchanges became a little scary. When I fell in love with another monk, I was threatened: I was to be dismissed as a disciple, kicked out of the sangha forever, and my very soul was threatened to hell because, I was told, that to be held responsible for a monks disrobing is the worst sin I could possibly committ. I was ordered to never speak to him or see him again. It was like being in a cage with a tiger. Eko was livid. He told me I should be ashamed of myself. He looked at me with disgust. The monk was soon after made a roshi and sent of to Europe and I never saw him again.



The consequences of just "wandering up to a random monk" and saying something like "Eko told me ____" would result in that monk going to Eko and telling him that I had said "____." Then Eko would later say to me, "why did you tell monk X ___." I couldn't have a conversation with anyone without it getting back to him. This destroyed my trust in talking to others and made me more dependent and afraid of him. This is the way cult-leaders break you- they break all the boundaries until you have nothing but fear keeping you in your place. I was isolated. Everything was forbidden/taboo. I couldn't talk to anybody and nobody could talk to me.



I'm sorry this was long. I hope this clarifies where I'm coming from.



Peace,

Diana
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