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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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Howard



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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.


Last edited by Isan on Thu Sep 08, 2011 5:32 am; edited 1 time in total
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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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Diana



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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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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:42 pm

"During my years at Shasta Abbey the taboo was enforced through public condemnation and humiliation, and if that was insufficient then immediate expulsion followed by shunning and character assassination. The threat of expulsion always lay in the background to discourage even the slightest dissent. I observed this over fourteen years and it was "policy" without a doubt."



Isan, this was still going on a the Abbey when I was there, only it was more subtle. Eko had a way of delivering blame, contempt, or criticism, either publicly or privately, that was amazingly clever, devious, and sometimes not so subtle. Since Eko displayed this behavior, I am assuming it was learned from Jiyu. And because it came from the top down, it is ingrained into the culture. I hope the OBC/Abbey can see this is dysfunctional behavior and find some way to clean it up.



Peace,

Diana
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:51 pm

Oh wow, Isan- I just read that link and thread from Segodon. I'm at a loss for words. I'm sorry you were attacked in such a way. And I'm glad Segodon was banned. It is proof that the level of dysfunction is still pervasive. Geez. (Who is he? I must have known him.).



-Diana
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:06 pm

Oh I love the way you write Diane, you certainly are 100% Diane, 100% you I always feel like answering in 7 different ways!

I think it is great that you are full of live , still with us and nothing has stopped you being Diane,this shows great strength and character,which is why I like you.
I want to say again Yeah but it ain't zen, but actually we know that dominance and manipulation are acts of our rampant bull like self that has has left loads of traces of footsteps ,which have actually been ignored. whilst charging continually after pastures new.

I was lucky when I went to Japan, I was the first westerner to go to Zuoiji the first to be given a robe, and after asking Ikko Roshi if I could be a desciple the first and only one to be thrown out,and also the first to be alowwed back in after sorting things out a bit. Is that Zen I would not dream of asking, but it did help me find a depth and direction in my life. The moment you are not allowed to think for yourself, the moment someone wants you to give up part or all of yourself..then this ain't zen
I am pleased you are back from Australia,I am pleased you are joining in at this time,and your real stories do help us disentangle the strange opinions and concepts which for sure will never be zen...You take care and please be 100% Diane
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Diana



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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:35 pm

Thanks, Chisan.



I agree- it ain't Zen (not that I would know what Zen really was!)- it's a group of folks that have been led by some others who very obviously, have a lot of personal problems that have made it impossible to teach a spiritual tradition without causing some serious harm and suffering.



I still consider myself to be in the "recovery" process here, but I must say that I do feel like the worst is over and I have never been happier in my life.



Just about everything that I disclosed here was also disclosed to the FTI, just so you all know. I can't say how grateful I am to Amalia, Carol, and Lise for first setting out to get all this online. For me, I am so grateful to now be validated by others and feel like we all are on the path to putting into the light so that it can be healed. I think the FTI's assessment is a great step and yet another validation. On the spiritual level, it had to be done and Michael Little and Tim Shomberg had to be stopped. As far as any other actions, who knows? I hope for reform of some kind, but only if it's "good for all" and not just a way for the OBC to survive. Maybe they should just all hang up their robes and walk away (staple it together and call it bad weather)? I wonder what that would be like.... Many of you here could answer that!



Cheers,

Diana
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:58 pm

Back around 1979, when titles such as "Reverend", "Reverend Teacher", and "Reverend Roshi" (now "Reverend Master") became the required prefix in addressing monks, I remember hearing a snippet from which I got the impression that RMJ may have felt some relief that (?as a bonus) the change to this formal style (perhaps among other measures) would deter would-be visitors who wanted to get up to mischief...the reference I recall hearing was to a man who had climbed in through the window of a women's dormitory at Shasta, or something similar. Can anyone correct or inform me on this?

In connection with this, I wonder if a concern within the OBC has been that, without strong rules in place, some people will take liberties...and so the rules were seen as protective of everyone who is sincere about training. Accompanying this may have been the reasoning that, if one is not intending to take liberties, one will put up with the rules.

...However, RMJ used to remark about the appropriateness of breaking certain precepts, e.g that of not speaking against others, in order to prevent harm. In the world at large, a practitioner will weigh up a situation and, if it seems appropriate, may be free to inform about someone...obviously not speaking to be harmful, and certainly taking responsibility for her/his action...without expecting adverse practical consequences. If the practitioner has a concern about self-image in this (e.g that they will not look 'perfect'), hopefully they will take care of this, and take responsibility for their action; but opposition is unlikely to come from outside in the form of reproach for "breaking the Precepts". From what I have read above, it seems that in Shasta people (perhaps including some senior personnel) felt held in place by fear of being judged as having broken the form of the Precept, and derived an impression that being seen to fit the required form was important above all else, or certainly necessary for remaining... How very sad that this should become 'institutionalised'.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:22 pm

Are we talking here of religious instituations or realizing ones original nature, if instutions try to change one by rules and regulations it is like taking the lion like nature out of a lion and saying it is tame however we have talked about really breaking precepts by sneeky selfish acts hidden by institutional power,the precepts guide one to right living; the eightfold path, guide one to our hearts,I would not say that we do not need the precepts or their guildance but there does come a point when one knows what is not the right path,when one knows waht is not the right actions
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 5:55 pm

Yes to the many comments above--Diana, Chisan Michael, Anne, Isan, Howard, Glorfindel, Mark!

Diana, I think that one of your earlier comments touches on a particularly crucial point:

"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!"

I think that you are exactly right. It seems to me that one of the most important mechanisms by which the OBC's shadow-dynamic is imposed, made invisible, and perpetuated--is through the misunderstanding and misuse of the Precepts to repress questioning. The 6th and 10th Precepts are, of course, used in this way in particular. The 6th Precept: Do not speak against others, and the 10th Precept: Do not defame the Three Treasures, can, at first glance, appear to prohibit any questioning of teaching, of a teacher's behavior, or of an entire community.

I believe that Keizan, in the Kyojukaimon, attempted to correct these misunderstandings by providing commentary. After the 6th Precept: Do not speak against others, he adds: "Do not allow anyone to speak of another's faults. Do not allow anyone to make a mistake in Buddhism." (Note that he did not say, do not allow anyone to make a mistake in Buddhism except for your teacher or your sangha!)

I would say therefore that keeping the 6th Precept actually requires that we be willing to question anything presented as Buddhist teaching that appears, to us, to be a mistake! It also suggests doing so without speaking against others. How is this possible? I would say, by focusing on, and appropriately questioning, the person's words or actions--rather than engaging in a personal attack or implied criticism of the person's integrity.

Both Josh and I have written previously about Non-Violent Communication, a system of principles and practical strategies that actually facilitates the keeping of the 6th Precept while questioning a person's words or behavior, by focusing on how we are affected, rather than criticising or defaming the other person.

All of this then applies directly, I think, to the 10th Precept: Do not defame the Three Treasures. This precept does not say, do not question the Three Treasures, it says, do not defame the Three Treasures. I would suggest that allowing the continuation of mistakes to be made by teachers, teaching, or a community--by not questioning what may be mistakes--can actually become one of the most serious forms of defaming the Three Treasures that we can engage in!


Last edited by Kozan on Wed Sep 07, 2011 6:42 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : To quote a previous comment posted by Diana, which I could not access once I had started to write my comment.)
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 7:26 pm

Howard,
Perhaps I over simplify the problem but I wonder if the Precepts (yep, the sacred precepts) would not have to be re-defined. They double-bind the students and make them easy to manipulate. Blasphemy, I know. Next, the whole hierarchy/rules of behavior given by Dogen for monks would have to be dispensed with. I never did like them, thought they were nuts. Obedience to one's superiors is a given in many group dynamics: the military, the monastery, what's the difference? Who should be in charge then? I don't know. Certainly a large group, a democracy that within it's by-laws is responsible to and takes the whole into account. Maybe that group should include the whole. Do it the way AA does. Clearly one can fall off the spiritual wagon just as easily and unexpectedly as the alcoholic one.

I read this forum and realize that I see things really simply, especially after being slung out of the OBC with "I guess you don't have as much in place spiritually as I had thought." ringing in my ears. I used to think such deep thoughts (I thought) and now I don't bother. I am reduced to childhood prayers. Diana mentioned being made special by Eko. I was special to my monk too. It did me no good at all. There may have to be teachers, but make that plural; and "teacher's pets" should be guarded against and corrected immediately by the group in charge. It may be lonely at the top, so probably it's best that there be no top.

P.S. It looks like Kozan sent his thoughts in just before I did. We are in some accord regarding the precepts I think? Perhaps I should have said the precepts should be re-clarified rather than re-defined.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 7:48 pm

Anne wrote:
In connection with this [Laura's experience], I wonder if a concern within the OBC has been
that, without strong rules in place, some people will take
liberties...and so the rules were seen as protective of everyone who is
sincere about training. Accompanying this may have been the reasoning
that, if one is not intending to take liberties, one will put up with
the rules.

...However, RMJ used to remark about the appropriateness of breaking
certain precepts, e.g that of not speaking against others, in order to
prevent harm. In the world at large, a practitioner will weigh up a
situation and, if it seems appropriate, may be free to inform about
someone...obviously not speaking to be harmful, and certainly taking
responsibility for her/his action...without expecting adverse practical
consequences. If the practitioner has a concern about self-image in
this (e.g that they will not look 'perfect'), hopefully they will take
care of this, and take responsibility for their action; but opposition
is unlikely to come from outside in the form of reproach for "breaking
the Precepts". From what I have read above, it seems that in Shasta
people (perhaps including some senior personnel) felt held in place by
fear of being judged as having broken the form of the Precept, and
derived an impression that being seen to fit the required form was
important above all else, or certainly necessary for remaining...

Anne, if I understand you correctly, I think you are giving the seniors too much benefit of the doubt. You surely jest when you say the rules were seen as protective of everyone who is sincere about training. How were Diana and Laura, and no doubt many others, who are/were serious about training, protected from Little? That's precisely what the seniors failed to do - and NOT in the name of rules or precepts.
People normally have a mixture of motives when they act/fail to act. So it is possible that the seniors were, among other things, concerned about not breaking the particular precept regarding not speaking ill of others. Theoretically possible, I guess; not likely.
My educated guess is that they did not want to rock their precious boat; that they would not challenge someone higher in rank. I'm sure they were aware of at least some of the matters of which Laura spoke, but chose to see no evil....Very comfortable, and clearly an offence by omission.
Am I too harsh? No, my heart goes out to those who were hurt by the seniors' behaviour, and so my imperative is to be truthful, see things in full colour, and not try to whitewash.
Laura:
I am very happy that you recovered so well. It probably helped that by the time you actually left you knew your mind well, were clear about your reasons. It helps also that, in the first place, you are blessed with a clear and strong, honest, mind. Not everyone is so lucky.
Kozan:
I find Keizan's commentary on the 6th precept, "Do not allow anyone to speak of another's faults. Do
not allow anyone to make a mistake in Buddhism." rath
er obscure. How can one speak of someone's wrong acts, repeated, persistent, and not speak of their fault in any way? If someone told a lie, what is one to say, if not that they lied? 'Do not allow anyone to make a mistake in Buddhism', in this context - what does it mean? I want to tear my hair out. Maybe that text is not perfect - why should it be?
You then say, 'while questioning a person's words or behavior, by focusing on how we are affected, rather than criticising or defaming the other person.' Well, suppose someone threw a stone at me, but missed. I was, then, not affected. Is it OK then? I should not talk about their throwing the stone, and pretend that nothing happened?
On the other hand, if I am hurt by someone's actions, and the emphasis is on my hurt, rather than their actions, danger arises that my hurt will be questioned (as we have seen here on the forum in the discussion of Little's phonecalls). Questions will be raised, "Why am I so hurt? Why do I not view the situation positively, take it as an opportunity to train?" (My stomach heaves, friends. Yeah, H, I AM passionate - this is where it shows, and I am not ashamed for it. It's a friendly nudge, H, please keep your four hairs on.)

What Diana wrote now, sheds more light on Little's actions - how grave they were! There is, to my lay mind, clear indication of sexual deviance there. I think Henry is vindicated, friends. It is im-poss-ible that the senior, Laura's spiritual advisor, would be entirely unaware of how seriously warped Little's behaviour was. If she were unaware, then the blindness was willed. It means that she exposed people in the Abbey's care (and her personal care) to harm and even danger. How can FTI not be scathing in their report?

You're lucky, dear reader, I must away, Hubby wants his supper.

Ol'ga......I'm retreating into my simple bear nature. I've had it with humans.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 8:57 pm

Diana of course your right just lke everything else the precepts should be open to questioning , and if necessary updated. They started of in a completly different culture and time, why should they apply in the same way to here and now. It is the spirit of the precepts that counts, the exact formulation and meaning has changed over time. Pedantic exactitde to them is the death of real religioun not the foundation of it; just like any other fundamentalism. As Dostoevsky put it 'Gentlemen, two times two equals four is not the beginning of life, but the beginning of death. '
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 9:10 pm

Olga, thanks for your response to my comment. Please don't tear your hair out! I think the problem lies in the challenges I have with communication.

You wrote:

"Kozan:
I find Keizan's commentary on the 6th precept, "Do not allow anyone to speak of another's faults. Do
not allow anyone to make a mistake in Buddhism." rather obscure. How can one speak of someone's wrong acts, repeated, persistent, and not speak of their fault in any way?" If someone told a lie, what is one to say, if not that they lied? 'Do not allow anyone to make a mistake in Buddhism', in this context - what does it mean? I want to tear my hair out. Maybe that text is not perfect - why should it be?"


Ol'ga, some behavior is extreme enough that its wrongness cannot be doubted by most of us--as is the case (in my opinion) with what you, Laura, Diana, Henry, Amalia, Sophia, and all too many others have experienced, and then reported on this Forum. In these cases, the person perpetrating harmful behavior is at fault for perpetrating harmful behavior. If someone tells a lie--then they lied.

But, what happens when the behavior, and its consequences, are not so extreme, or the mistake is not so easily recognized? What happens when the other person genuinely cannot see how what they did could be so traumatizing for us? How do we engage another person in discussion when we think they made a mistake--and they don't?

"You then say, 'while questioning a person's words or behavior, by focusing on how we are affected, rather than criticising or defaming the other person.' Well, suppose someone threw a stone at me, but missed. I was, then, not affected. Is it OK then? I should not talk about their throwing the stone, and pretend that nothing happened?"

If someone threw a stone at you and missed, you were affected! The whole point here, the whole point of my previously posted comment, is that with an accurate understanding of the precepts, there is nothing off limits for discussion! The whole point of Non-Violent Communication, and its use of feelings as the starting point, is that an issue is valid for discussion whenever your feelings are affected by someone else's behavior! It is not necessary to try to first "prove" to the other person that they harmed you, in some objectively verifiable sense, before engaging them in discussion! That is one of the reasons that NVC emphasizes discussion without judgement. This does not mean that the judgement is not warranted!!

"On the other hand, if I am hurt by someone's actions, and the emphasis is on my hurt, rather than their actions, danger arises that my hurt will be questioned (as we have seen here on the forum in the discussion of Little's phonecalls). Questions will be raised, "Why am I so hurt? Why do I not view the situation positively, take it as an opportunity to train?" (My stomach heaves, friends. Yeah, H, I AM passionate - this is where it shows, and I am not ashamed for it. It's a friendly nudge, H, please keep your four hairs on.)"

NVC is an actual strategy. As Josh pointed out previously, it takes a while to learn. Part of this strategy is to use the fact that someone else's behavior triggers feelings for us, as a way to talk about how and why we find their behavior harmful. The comments that many of us have heard within the OBC, which suggest that if we cannot let go of any and all harmfull behavior done to us, then we must be clinging to self--is (IMO) part of the OBC shadow-dynamic party line. (We have also had a fairly extensive previous discussion that the concept that there is "no one" to be harmed by harmful behavior is entirely false. That which is awareness itself cannot be harmed. And, as long as we are alive as human beings, no matter how "enlightened", our mind-body-self can still be traumatized by harmful behavior. The trauma does not reside within a "self". It is absorbed by mind and body.)

If we want to challenge this OBC dynamic (and I am as passionate about this, as you are passionate about what you are passionate about!), then I think that we, or at least I, have to be able to engage members of the OBC in the discussion. I think that it is a virtual certainty that an actual discussion about all of this can only happen if it is engaged by focusing on behaviors and consequences rather than seeking people to blame (even though, again, there may be people to blame).

P.S.: Mark, I've just seen your post. Well said!



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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 10:33 pm

Hi Kozan,
No, I won't tear my hair out, now that I don't shave it. You surely know that hair is a symbol of ego in some religions, so I keep a lot of it, contrary as I am. It's long and almost entirely white. People think it's blond, and that I'm very Swedish. But I am just a Slovak bear.
I like your last post. You're worth reading, young man. I say, being passionate is the way to be! I think that you're right that starting from recriminations is not a good idea, if one wants to achieve reconciliation.
I am so feisty on this topic, though, because there has been a lot of hypocracy in this area, and what I can't abide is hypocracy.
So long as the participating parties do not aim to cover, whitewash the uncomfortable facts, so long as they are acting in good faith, then fine, keep your dagger in the scabbard (?: I don't know my weaponry). But if the process is just a continuation of the old bullscat, then I would insist on calling a spade a fuddle-duddle shovel. (My fellow Canadians will understand.)
Now my hubby wants his uisque beatha, so I gotta go. Wife's day is never done!
Luv,
Ol'ga
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:01 pm

Ol'ga wrote:
Wife's day is never done!
Amen, sista-friend, can you gimme a hallelujah
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:39 pm

Ol'ga wrote:

"I am so feisty on this topic, though, because there has been a lot of hypocracy in this area, and what I can't abide is hypocracy.
So long as the participating parties do not aim to cover, whitewash the uncomfortable facts, so long as they are acting in good faith, then fine, keep your dagger in the scabbard (?: I don't know my weaponry). But if the process is just a continuation of the old bullscat, then I would insist on calling a spade a fuddle-duddle shovel."


I am right with you my friend!

P.S.: As a conscientious objector and former Buddhist monk, I can say that your knowledge of weaponry is basically accurate. A scabbard is rigid, and traditionally made from wood or metal. A sheath is flexible, and traditionally made from leather. Swords were often carried in scabbards, and most daggers were probably carried in sheaths--but not necessarily. OMG--or OMB--maybe there is something to karmic inheritance after all!! ;-)

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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Thu Sep 08, 2011 12:32 am

Polly, I love your previous post.

As I tend to put it: I think that the old Empire-based paradigm of competitive struggle, and its hierarchy-based domination, and exploitation, has no valid place on our planet today--and even less so within Buddhist communities--however subtle the manifestation and dynamic may be!

You wrote:

"I used to think such deep thoughts (I thought) and now I don't bother."

Please don't allow the nonsense that you report having been told, by someone within the OBC, to stifle the obvious insight--and genius--that you so clearly manifest! Let your thoughts run deep!!

You also wrote:

"P.S. It looks like Kozan sent his thoughts in just before I did. We are in some accord regarding the precepts I think?"

Indeed, I would say we are in full accord (or at least, from my point of view!).
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Thu Sep 08, 2011 4:31 am

:-) Hi Ol'ga!

You wrote:
Anne wrote:
In connection with this [Laura's experience], I wonder if a concern within the OBC has been that, without strong rules in place, some people will take liberties...and so the rules were seen as protective of everyone who is sincere about training. Accompanying this may have been the reasoning that, if one is not intending to take liberties, one will put up with the rules.

...Anne, if I understand you correctly, I think you are giving the seniors too much benefit of the doubt. You surely jest when you say the rules were seen as protective of everyone who is sincere about training. How were Diana and Laura, and no doubt many others, who are/were serious about training, protected from Little?...
The "this" referred to was not actually Laura's experience but referred back to the previous paragraph in my post. "In connection" meant that I wondered if there was a general perception 'way back of strong rules being a safeguard, before the downside emerged. Ills in a society can sometimes be traced to problems arising from earlier efforts to address previous problems...the 'solution' throws up another problem: something overshoots, or lacks necessary checks and balances (a matter that may only become apparent later)...so I was thinking of earlier times in the process. I hope that helps to clarify. (-:
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Thu Sep 08, 2011 10:52 am

When someone trains deeply, developing insight into their self-afflicted suffering, it is natural that at some point deep compassion and sympathy for the plight of others arises with perhaps aspiration to share ones understanding that it might help them relieve their suffering.

I think that easily engaged with this may be a separate long-term aspiration (which may or not be recognised), namely for sharing with someone a close, meaningful communication of mind and energy, including devotional. Such a relationship too would need to be "transparent"; with a partner with whom there are no veils but just, as equals, 'sitting comfortably in the same room'. Circumstances or life may or not be kind enough to fulfil this aspiration but I think that one needs carefully to check that it does not press, unrecognised or surreptitiously, for fulfilment in ones activities as a teacher. For one thing, a predominantly parent-child relationship is unfulfilling in partnership; for another, it would affect the qualities of ones teaching approach, with perhaps serious consequence...

During the midsummer sesshin at Throssel in 1973, I heard RMJ in conversation with some monks refer to Eko having had a kensho. Perhaps incorrectly I have assumed that this referred to an awakening to the emptiness of the 'self' imputed upon the skandhas, and not some insight prior to this. With no wish to offend anyone, I express here my surprise that someone who has had that level of awakening and had excellent training tools (e.g information on the Noble Eightfold Path, mindfulness, zazen, investigation, etc) would take so long to reach the "third kensho" (i.e ?c.35 years; ref. After the Conclave: First Steps, Laura's post dd 29 Nov); if the latter be arhat stage, such people are not infallible in word or action. People may doubt that Eko reached said stage but he was certainly doing something after his first kensho...and the yen to clear things up would push and push... I don't expect answers to any of these questions but... What happened? When he got stuck, consciously or unconsciously, was he unable to receive a suitable pointer? Did he spend a long time examining a side-road? Are others similarly being hampered in ways that could be alleviated through some changes in the OBC system?

I think that teaching could perhaps be described as a job that, if understood, no one should want to have to do...one should hope for redundancy because (like dentristy and medicine) it depends on someone suffering. For now, redundancy is unlikely...so I certainly hope good teachers will continue to appear to benefit beings.
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PostSubject: Perfection   Thu Sep 08, 2011 3:51 pm

During the midsummer sesshin at Throssel in 1973, I heard RMJ in conversation with some monks refer to Eko having had a kensho. Perhaps incorrectly I have assumed that this referred to an awakening to the emptiness of the 'self' imputed upon the skandhas, and not some insight prior to this. With no wish to offend anyone, I express here my surprise that someone who has had that level of awakening and had excellent training tools (e.g information on the Noble Eightfold Path, mindfulness, zazen, investigation, etc) would take so long to reach the "third kensho" (i.e ?c.35 years; ref. After the Conclave: First Steps, Laura's post dd 29 Nov); if the latter be arhat stage, such people are not infallible in word or action. People may doubt that Eko reached said stage but he was certainly doing something after his first kensho...and the yen to clear things up would push and push... I don't expect answers to any of these questions but... What happened? When he got stuck, consciously or unconsciously, was he unable to receive a suitable pointer? Did he spend a long time examining a side-road? Are others similarly being hampered in ways that could be alleviated through some changes in the OBC system?

rmjk used to say that monks need to go back, especially after kensho, and examine everything in detail, turn over every rock and see all the yucky stuff. Presumabley, Eko was doing that and got caught up when he should have been using a longer spoon. Does this experience negate his kensho, proving that he was harboring secret desires throughout his monastic career? Or does it point out that the notion of reaching a point of infallibility is itself a fallacy? If we give up the idea of perfection, will we still want to train? I think the answer is yes because honesty and patience for the self are rewards enough. When we train we need to be willing to change. It may not be the wisest thing to insist that we can always control how we change.


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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Thu Sep 08, 2011 5:27 pm

:-) Thank you, Fudoshin. (I like the metaphor of "a longer spoon"!) Apart from literary appeal, what you wrote makes good sense to me. (-:
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Thu Sep 08, 2011 6:09 pm

Oh boy. What can I say? How about: kensho-shmensho. I agree with Polly: something to the effect of "I used to deep thoughts...but not so much anymore." Anne, are you seriously bringing up a debate over how enlightened Eko was or is and why he hadn't achieved a "third kensho?" Who cares what "level" he was at? Action, it's all about action, all about behavior. Your argument brings it in to a scary level of "well, maybe he did do some harmful things, but he couldn't have been that bad because, well, afterall, he did have a kensho."



I remember when I was all "hopped up on the Mahayana" as my old teacher Noah Levine would say. All the saints and boddhisatvas, all the scriptures (poetry), all the visions and HTGLB, oh, and don't forget kenshos. I felt so much better when I let all that stuff go. At least Theravada taught me just how to meditate, breathe, and be. What a relief it was to not have to worry about things that just did not spiritually matter.



Sorry, Anne. I hope it doesn't sound like I'm getting on your case. I respect your knowledge and presence here, but I don't even want to start a debate over Eko's so-called kenshos. I believe that part of the problem with the OBC/SA is this foundation of RMJK's teachings and the whole HTGLB thing. I think they should let all that go and get back to basics.



Peace,

Diana
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Thu Sep 08, 2011 6:28 pm

Hello Fudoshin

Long time no hear.

When we train we need to be willing to change. It may not be the wisest thing to insist that we can always control how we change.

Either everything changes or it doesn't. Insisting on anything seems fraught with trouble. Contrary to much of Shasta's direction, the quantifying, qualifying or dissembling of the religious experience seem contrary to the root truths that such experiences illuminate. To me the motivations for such examinations and judgements usually smell more of desire, control and fear than of anything else. Much of Shasta's more disturbing wake has arisen from the mastication, regurgitation and dependence of it's adherents spiritual accomplishments. These have often been held up as proof of the efficacy of the church of Jiyu.

The bizarreness of all of this is that one of the most fundamental measurements that a teacher has for assessing anothers spiritual experience depends on how much or little the recipient holds it out as a personal possession.



Eko's spiritual highs or lows are no more proof of the other than any of ours.

It's understandable to hold out a hope that if a being reaches a certain level of spiritual attainment, that laws of spiritual entropy no longer apply but I submit that the evidence of anyones meditative experience will demonstrate otherwise. If anyone can demonstrate themselves to be an exception to this, as opposed to reciting a paint by number kensho lesson, then I'm all ears.

H


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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Thu Sep 08, 2011 6:31 pm

Thanks, Howard. You said that way better than I could have.



~Diana
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Thu Sep 08, 2011 6:55 pm

Hey Diana

At the risk of sounding sucky and with no jibes directed at Anne, nothing tops "(kensho-shmensho)".



H
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Thu Sep 08, 2011 7:23 pm

Yeah Howard 'Kensho-smensho' is wonderful; but spritual entropy is pretty great too. Now what about a full formulation of the Three Laws of Spiritual Thermodynamics. Mmm... great title for a book could make us a fortune. Second in series 'Chaos and Complexity in Spiritual Systems'... [banned term] aready been done by Shasta!
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:05 pm

Hey Mark
"Chaos & Complexity in spiritual systems" is a good book title but perhaps just a wordless shot of prison soap lying on a shower floor would be more truthful.

Harsh, unfunny & uncomfortable it may be but what better image to warn everyone for how mindfully it should be approached .

Yeah, I know, I'm never going to be rich..

H
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Fri Sep 09, 2011 12:12 am

From Anne:
However, RMJ used to remark about the appropriateness of breaking certain precepts, e.g that of not speaking against others, in order to prevent harm. In the world at large, a practitioner will weigh up a situation and, if it seems appropriate, may be free to inform about someone...obviously not speaking to be harmful, and certainly taking responsibility for her/his action...without expecting adverse practical consequences. If the practitioner has a concern about self-image in this (e.g that they will not look 'perfect'), hopefully they will take care of this, and take responsibility for their action; but opposition is unlikely to come from outside in the form of reproach for "breaking the Precepts". From what I have read above, it seems that in Shasta people (perhaps including some senior personnel) felt held in place by fear of being judged as having broken the form of the Precept, and derived an impression that being seen to fit the required form was important above all else, or certainly necessary for remaining... How very sad that this should become 'institutionalised'.


I think that for some monks the outward form of the precept had become institutionalized. For others I suspect that the primary concern was the knowledge, based on experience, that once we start speaking against others it is hard to stop, especially if we obtain some form of self-validation (as evidenced by anger or self-rightiousness). The line between preventing harm on one side, and on the other acting from self in some subtle (or not so subtle) way can become blurry. I certainly found this to be true looking back at my own behavior.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Fri Sep 09, 2011 12:56 am

When Laura wrote

My spiritual advisor (kyojushi) at that time is now the current abbess.

I assume that means Rev Mein, I feel I have missed the plot here a bit. Can Laura and or Diana or anyone else tell me.

Did all the heirarchy back Eko and know of complaints and what was going on

Thanks
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Fri Sep 09, 2011 6:37 am

:-) Hi Diana!

If you have time, please check in your Theravadin books on what a person who has had the Theravadin equivalent of a first kensho (i.e has entered stream-winner stage) naturally feels moved to do (I'm a bit pressed for time at present, else I'd be writing it out for you). You'll see it has something to do with "addiction/devotion to sense-desire" (kamacchanda/kamaraga; NB the "addiction/devotion" bit is where emphasis should be placed) and "enmity/wrath" (patigha) and "harmful intent" (vyapada), including toward oneself; translations may be a bit different. In moving to the second stage, the person is said to weaken or lessen these, which means that they are no longer attached to these formations as mental objects. In the third stage they have eradicated subtle illusoryself-grasping in respect of these formations at the subtler level of activity or inner movement, (the books don't explain it like that but this is my understanding of what happens). This doesn't read like much in words but it certainly has an outworking effect in terms of behaviour (NB the Mahayana concludes differently to the Theravada on what is integral outcome)...but a person can still make dire mistakes. However (and this is just my guess as an outsider), I think Eko got stitched up somewhere between one and three. (Re "third kensho", RMJK seems first to have equated this with entering the third Theravadin stage but her later meaning of "third kensho" referred to entering arhat stage (fourth Theravadin stage for bemused readers) and I am not exactly sure if entering the third Theravadin stage was dropped from that equation; so the two systems are not entirely numerically parallel.)

In his post dd 21st August 2010, in the thread, Keeping in Touch/Rev. Master Eko's Resignation, Seikai wrote:
Quote :
I think it would be helpful to readers of this forum to know that the root problems of Eko's departure predated his romantic involvement, and had nothing to do with sexuality. Those root problems derived from his idealism, about which I spoke during a Dharma talk given at Shasta Abbey on August 15 [2010]. The audio file of this Dharma talk is easily accessed via the Abbey's website. If nothing else, I think that his story illustrates how unchecked idealism leads to disharmony, disharmony can create isolation, if no steps are taken to reintegrate into a community or institution once the isolation has has taken root, and ultimately how isolation defeats people in the context of monastic training.
Recently I got around to listening to the part of Seikai's talk that referred to this. Gleaning from his remarks, and from those made by Fudoshin and other sources, and from personal experiences, (and even history!), this seems realistic to me. I have been an outsider for decades and so rely on report: the fact that a fellow monk (Seikai) has been able to identify the internal sore spot is evidence to me that it is not ubiquitous in the OBC; but because Eko did receive such a prominent role in the organisation, I am concerned lest whatever bug bit him might thrive above average (for seasoned practitioners) in OBC climes. At any rate, I would hope that the OBC can provide a good example of pest control. I regret that rush has limited the time I can put into this post; so, sorry if I've not answered...gotta go! (-:


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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Fri Sep 09, 2011 6:57 am

I got a bit lost there Anne I am not sure now of the allegations nor the kensho numbers

Did he self stimulate whilst on the phone to lady desciples before the second or after the third
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:03 am

:-) I think it was somewhere after the first... hmm Now I really gotta go! Drat that I should even think of editing while you were on the forum! (-:
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:10 am

Thanks for clearing that up Anne, if it was before the first we would be in trouble
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:41 am

chisanmichaelhughes wrote:
Thanks for clearing that up Anne, if it was before the first we would be in trouble

I think the level of trouble escalates proportionately to the number of kenshos.

If it was before the first kensho then he'd be just like the billions of other primates who like mayonnaise on their frankenfurters.

I've seen teachers in other traditions whose practice had ulocked alot of charismatic power over other people.


I think Anne is pointing out that people who are well on their way "There" can still get lost. So teachers and pupils should always be careful, wary, etc.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:56 am

Thanks for that I agree but part of me feels a mathamatican could work out that the distance between here and there that they are well on their way to is certainly related to the leval of trouble they cause for themselves and others
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:56 am

Good way to break it down, Glorfindel.



Anne, I have no desire to look anything up. I don't do "doctrine" or anything like it anymore. My old Buddhist books are in boxes. All I care about is my breath, feelings, thoughts, and body sensations. If I can keep that together, then I'm good.



Cheers,

Diana
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Fri Sep 09, 2011 12:25 pm

I want to add this to my list of changes that OBC (and maybe others) would have to change in order to become useful and viable spiritual organizations.

Any emphasis on kenshos, spiritual experiences, hearing voices or seeing the writing on the wall needs to be demystified and declassified like, yesterday. As my holy roller hairdresser said, when she was in a snit about her church feeling special, "God talks to EVERYBODY!!" She's right, too. Do the folks who have those marvelous mystical experiences on the zafu think that others may not have the same voltage hit them on their way to Walmart? Think again. Everyone's experiences will be different (that's such a cool aspect of it) but I'll bet the majority of people on this planet have had some experience that they would call "spiritual". Does it change them? Maybe some. Mostly not, I would suspect. And I don't care how many times you've received the Holy Ghost or however you want to put it. You may still fall off the wagon, jump off the cliff or even pull out your parts when you're talking on the phone. This qualifying of spiritual status by the types and number of mystical experiences and so getting a corner on God or Reality or The Universe is... (In my opinion...)
Shmensho! (Thanks, Diana, for that perfect term.)


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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Fri Sep 09, 2011 12:32 pm

I have no desire to look anything up. I don't do "doctrine" or anything like it anymore. My old Buddhist books are in boxes. All I care about is my breath, feelings, thoughts, and body sensations. If I can keep that together, then I'm good.
The only hope that I have seen for Shasta's possible turn around, is the same that I have for myself and It's pretty much identical to Diana's quote above.

Polly...Nice detailing by the way.

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Fri Sep 09, 2011 12:46 pm

Phew , could not agree with you more Polly.

Maezumi Roshi had a very nice way of putting it

'Where are you now?'
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Fri Sep 09, 2011 5:09 pm

Thank you girls Diana, Polly and Lise (for Enlightenment Derby) for putting shmensho in its place.

I am so happy, almost giddy with spiritual joy, thank you! Might even get a kensho, 'ha-choo!

The only kensho I do recognize is when I get an answer to a clue in my crossword puzzle. As, when David had his surgery for aneurysm, while I was waiting in the roomfull of terrified relatives of surgery patients, and the first clue I got was, 'It beats to death' (5). It scared the shish out of me. Then, one or two clues later, the answer to a clue was 'undertaking', and soon after, 'stiff'. I then realized that God, a joker that she is, was just pulling my leg.

O the Bear
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:01 pm

Lise 'Kensho Smensho' teashirts another lucrative sideline for OBC connect.

Reality is always a simple choice, but difficult and a bit boring to maintain. Especially difficult if you haven't recognised it yet and are floundering around. There are no privileged methods, this is just a story put about by monks and other religious to bolster their self-importance. This true of Zen, my chosen way, and all the others. I remember reading a quote of D.T. Suzuki's to the effect that he had met many more people who had found enlightenment though Shin and the recitation of Amitabha's name than ever he had those who came to it through Zen koan study.

I had a long discussion once with a Catholic monk and we came to the conclusion that in a pact with God he constantly reminds you that you have choice and can end the pact any time. Whereas with a pact with the Devil he tries to hide the fact that you have made a choice at all. Mind you I don't believe in either God or the Devil! I also remember reading a discussion between two modern Zen masters who said that after going through the whole of the koan book they both knew that they were just at the start of their training. Eko seems, if all that has been reported is true, to have turned his back on the mundane everyday world of enlightenment and training in favour of the rather greater excitement of delusion and power, but ultimately also suffering. All I'm trying to say in this rather rambling post is that we always have the choice it's just more difficult to see early on. Kensho's can help illuminate the way but if they are held onto, especially if they are held as important they transmute into another even worse form of dellusion. And if we turn our back on the choice deliberately then it becomes even more difficult whatever our accomplishments have been.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Sat Sep 10, 2011 12:23 am

Just to add to that Mark.
I think a slight difference,is seen between Rinzai and Soto approach is in the early stages. In Rinzai a koan may be accepted by immediately being given another one, this can help in reducing the tendency to think in terms of accomplicement , as another answer is demanded, NOW!
In Soto an experience of deeper awareness of the present moment brings with it a greater understanding of the actual practice of awareness (training) and an intuition not that one has achieved or gained anything, but actually that ones practice is more than capable of being included to all areas of life that one tried perhaps not to include as our slothful bull hid in the long grass of reasons and areas of hopeful exclusion, from the awareness practice being done.
Times of greater awareness in both schools are treated with caution, [as shown in the cases of numbering and labelling,] our friend the bull always wants to join the party, and after all what is being labelled and what is being numbered ?
The present moment?
OK then.... Three hundred and twenty four
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Sat Sep 10, 2011 12:31 pm

:-) Re "numbering and labelling" of stages of the supramundane path, I think it's just people writing from knowledge about typical stages that develop, perhaps partly 'in the interests of science' but also, if there are known "typical stages" (?like embyronic development) this has a potential for teachers to know what areas a student may need assistance with next or in due course (of course, this latter rather depends on having dealt with these oneself and knowing ones student rather well...) If well written, descriptive commentary on these stages could in theory be of direct help to a practitioner wanting to know more about special areas in their own training that may need addressing and how.

In my understanding, ordinary pride that seeks to put others down is dependent on judgementalism. I think that pride of this nature exists precisely because a person fears (a perhaps internalised) judgement against themselves. Therefore, training the mind in goodwill and compassion toward oneself is part of the way for eradicating the perceived 'need' for that kind of pride. Theravadin stage three (which I think corresponds to Mahayana grounds five and six) refers to having awakened stably to a deeply compassionate level of mind, through releasing knots that bound one to judgementalism. I think this may also be the stage of "bull forgotten, person remains" in the bull-herding pictures, because subtle illusoryself-grasping remains in regard to a couple of skandhas. For example, a known potential hazard remaining at this stage is dualistic attachment to pleasant and peaceful meditative states; so that's something for a person at this stage to watch out. However, what I mean to say is that there is nothing inherently prideful about the system of describing and sequencing. Obviously, if it is used to clobber all dissent, no wonder people spit on it... (-:
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Tue Sep 20, 2011 2:41 pm

[The following is a compilation of information rec'd from several forum members, none claiming to speak for the OBC or represent them. I thought this would be helpful in clarifying some points - L.]

The cost of the FTI Assessment was evenly shared between Shasta Abbey and the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives (the umbrella organization over all the temples).

The FTI report has come out in two forms: the full report that is not expected to be made public, and a summary report that may eventually be shared with laity. The summary report presumably also shows FTI’s suggestions for improvement.

At present the OBC has distributed the full report only to those senior monks and lay ministers that are attending this year’s Conclave.

After the Conclave, and after the results have been discussed with all of the monastic community, SA will have meetings with the laity to review the FTI results, discuss what came out of the Conclave and hear from the laity about their views and suggestions.

About certain Conclave processes and information generally:

Conclave discussions are supposed to be recorded. Only senior monks and selected Lay Ministers may attend Conclave meetings or listen to the recordings. The OBC’s general position is that novices are supposed to trust the seniors to make the decisions for the Order without hearing the reasoning behind the decisions. The seniors will tell the others what they need to know and the subordinate monks are expected to trust their judgment. At the discretion of the head of a temple, however, novices may be given information about the decisions made at Conclaves, but this is not required. Novices at different temples may therefore have different levels of information about a given topic.

Novices are excluded from nearly all decision-making with some exceptions: during their term as Head Novice they attend Officers’ Meetings, and they vote in elections for a new Abbot/Abbess. On occasion a senior monk may choose to ask the novices what they think, or tell the novices they have made a particular decision and why, but that is the exception, not the norm. Once they become seniors they attain voting status and the ability to otherwise participate in decision-making processes. The irony in keeping them out of the information loop is that novices often have more experience with a particular problem (such as Michael Little’s situation) because they haven’t spent their lives in a monastery as many of the Masters have. Novices can often see things that aren’t right even though the Masters can’t. If they aren’t allowed to speak or are not taken seriously when they do speak, a critical source of help to the community is lost.
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Tue Sep 20, 2011 2:45 pm

my thoughts - it's a mistake to withhold information from any member of the community. The full report and all discussion tapes recorded during the 2011 Conclave, or any, should be available to everyone in the Order. Without personally knowing anything about the novices, I would think that due to their shorter tenure with the group, they are likely the least indoctrinated and perhaps the most adaptable to the major changes that are needed. Shasta Abbey needs their flexibility and support -- needs them to keep believing in this system and its potential to mend. If I were a novice I would insist on full information at this point. I think they should hold seniors accountable for full disclosure of what took place and what they are all facing.


Several members have mentioned the risk that Shasta Abbey will disregard the FTI findings as being a product of "worldly" views and misunderstanding. I've long thought about this in a related context -- it seems to me that if SA was fully and permanently secluded as some orders are, with extremely limited contact with the outside world, they might have some justification for believing that certain worldly norms, expectations and judgments don't apply to their model of living (and this is dangerous, depending on which norms get tossed). But when they advertise themselves to the secular world as teachers and "masters", and solicit worldly lay people to come into contact with them and pay the monks’ bills, and go out of their way to reach out into the public realm in other ways to disseminate their views, they have no right to think their actions should not be evaluated by worldly norms. No religious order gets a free pass to do as it sees fit with the public, according to its own rules, whilst ignoring society's expectations for ethical behaviour. If the OBC’s interaction with the “world” can’t meet the standard of worldly ethics, and if they cannot understand why they should, as a matter of morality, submit to such scrutiny, monitoring and judgment, then it is their duty to withdraw from the outside world. Becoming fully-cloistered is always an option and perhaps one they should consider.
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ddolmar

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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Tue Sep 20, 2011 3:55 pm

Generally I agree with your commentary here, Lise, but I think that the senior monks and lay ministers attending the conclave should be allowed to speak as they see fit, without any concern for what others not involved in the discussion might think. Some things are very difficult to say correctly in any case, and a free and frank conversation is precluded by having it recorded. You can't help but edit yourself. I take that as simple fact.

We all know that our rights to privacy are being trampled when Big Brother says "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear," as his minions climb into our bedrooms or other private spaces to record our most sensitive conversations. This isn't a move that we should want to make against other people. I think we'll learn what we need of the results of the conclave by the participants' subsequent actions and policy changes.

I wish very much that they would reconsider releasing the whole report. I bet that it gets out one way or another, sooner or later, and since they're not releasing it, the impact will only be that much worse.

In other news, victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests have submitted charges against the Pope and three other senior Vatican officials at the ICC in The Hague. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/13/pope-crimes-humanity-victims-abuse. One hopes that the senior OBC monks are paying close attention to how much it costs the Holy See to fight against these charges.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Tue Sep 20, 2011 4:24 pm

In this case, litigation is not out of the question by individuals who may have suffered harm. In such a case the discovery phase of litigation will reveal all, including documentation and personal reports. Best to get the dirty laundry out in the open with SA's own interpretation and contrition, to the extent possible, rather than have everyone reading about it in the newspaper at a later point.

This is what happened in the Roman Catholic Church in the discovery phase of their scores of lawsuits. The secret files of chancery offices and the letters written between priests and bishops, all the complicity and attempts at cover-up were revealed, and published in the newspaper. Public ownership and public accountability will be the more cleansing salve for this wound. The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church used to believe they could never be held accountable to public ethical and legal standards. They are beginning to learn otherwise.
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Tue Sep 20, 2011 5:07 pm

Last I heard from FTI was that they were assuming the report (I don't know which "version" of it) was going to be made public. It will be really interesting if they do not release it. Just hearing Lise's account of the hierarchical structure of the OBC's communication and processes is an oppressive reminder of their politics and power structure. I can't believe people can stand it! I'm so very absolutely grateful to be free from that oppression!
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Tue Sep 20, 2011 6:35 pm

Well there is a surprise,I think it was Daishin from Throssel who said in support of JK that she could spot an ego from 100 yards or some distance, I think I can not only spot one at closer distance but can smell a rat too
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 21, 2011 12:13 am

If there have been allegations of a sexual nature then the lay people and innocent vulnerable people must know about it
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:56 am

Lise wrote:
my thoughts - it's a mistake to withhold information from any member of the community.

Lise, I think that you are exactly right, and that this is, in fact, the crux of the matter. (I think that many others have expressed this perception, in various ways, on the Forum as well).

In my perception, RMJK condemned virtually all critiques of her behavior, and any recognition or acknowledgement of her mistakes or shortcomings--out of her personal fear of betrayal, and her fear that she and the OBC might be found lacking in integrity.

In essence: critique = betrayal = a perceived loss of integrity = the worst case scenario-nightmare.

These fears are very understandable--as unhealed existential trauma. I think it likely that we have all experienced them in some form!

The problem arises when we enter into denial. RMJK's denial led to repression, a loss of awareness and, therefore, the inability to heal her own existential trauma back into Awareness itself. Denial sets the fear in concrete. The dynamic became part of her own shadow. And therefore, part of the OBC's shadow as well.

Not surprisingly--denial never works! The denial of shortcomings and mistakes, and an unwillingness to discuss, recognize, acknowledge, or learn from mistakes, inevitably leads to the very conditions of failure that RMJK most feared.

If the OBC chooses to, in effect, suppress the FTI report by withholding it, they will be acting true to form out of fear, and reinforcing the very causal dynamic that creates the problem in the first place.

My conviction is that this trajectory leads to the inevitable demise of the OBC as a credible vehicle for spiritual practice--as a result of preserving a fear-based institutional dynamic that undermines awareness.

The alternative (again, in my opinion), would be for the OBC to accept everything--and relax back into Awareness itself--by fully acknowledging everything that has occurred. This alternative would require the OBC to embody the principles of spiritual practice that it espouses.

This will be scary. It will also be an enormous relief for all currently active members of the OBC. Beyond the occasional drama of her own fear--this is, in fact, what RMJK taught us to do. For the OBC to choose unconditional openness, will exhibit the greatest possible respect and gratitude for RMJK's teaching--and confirm its innate integrity.

It seems to me that the OBC is at a crossroads. I think that the choices made this month, at the Conclave, will likely prove to be critical. I hope that sanity prevails.


Last edited by Kozan on Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:56 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : correcting two misspelled words)
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PostSubject: Re: Assessment by FaithTrust    Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:28 am

Me too, Kozan, and very well said. I worry also for the future of the OBC if the leadership fails to do something very brave here. "We did this. We were blind, and cruel, and we sucked at our vocations in some significant ways, and we're very sorry." Heck RM Meian has already said nearly as much. Why do they think any additional apologies and/or restitution will be worse than everyone wondering what was hidden from view?



The senior folks of any organization have to make some decisions that have a broad impact to the whole organization behind closed doors, without having their every word second-guessed. But afterward there should be an opportunity for all of the junior folks to understand the basis of those decisions. In this case, that basis is the report.



Y'know, it occurred to me that the report might contain libelous statements against Mike Little. In that case, releasing the report could subject the OBC to the incredible situation of being sued by its former abbott. Maybe I shouldn't open that can of worms...



Also, it might be that the report summary may contain sufficient detail that even a fairly interested person doesn't feel the need to read the full report. Executive summaries are supposed to contain all of the major points of fact, reasoning, and conclusion of a main document.



But if the senior monks think that there is a good reason to withhold the full report, then at the very least I hope that they give a very thorough public explanation, and provide time for questions.



But (but but but) even that's not going to prevent the report eventually leaking, either at their end or at FTI's. That seems nearly inevitable.
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