OBC Connect

A site for those with an interest in the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives, past or present, and related subjects.
 
HomeHome  CalendarCalendar  GalleryGallery  FAQFAQ  SearchSearch  RegisterRegister  Log in  

Share | 
 

 Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
Go to page : Previous  1, 2, 3, 4  Next
AuthorMessage
Diana



Posts : 206
Join date : 2010-06-11
Location : New Mexico

PostSubject: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Sat Jun 19, 2010 9:57 pm

First topic message reminder :

Note: this was previously posted under another topic sometime last week:

Is the OBC/Shasta Abbey a cult? In my personal and professional opinion the answer to that question is “yes”. Let’s start by giving the most often quoted and accepted useful definition of the word cult:

“A cult is a group or movement that, to a significant degree, (a) exhibits great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing, (b) uses a thought-reform program to persuade, control, and socialize members(i.e., to integrate them into the group’s unique pattern of relationships, beliefs, values, and practices), (c) systematically induces states of psychological dependency in members, (d) exploits members to advance the leadership’s goals, and (e) causes psychological harm to members, their families, and the community” (Langone, 1993, p.5)

Now let’s break it down:
(a) Devotion to person, idea, or thing.
In general: It is obvious that in the early days, devotion to Jiyu was absolutely necessary. She is the central figure as founder of the organization. After her death, it could be stated that any of her disciples, abbots, abbesses, or priors who were in a position of power and authority, would also demand devotion. Apart from people, devotion to ideas or things is also central when one looks at the goal of training being enlightenment or becoming one with the Buddha himself. It is obvious that devotion is central to this organization to anyone who has ever attended a ceremony or morning service.
In my experience: I was taught early on at the Abbey to devote myself to the masters and later on that intensified as I became a lay disciple. Through many means and circumstances such as meditation and thought-reform, I did submit and take on the learned-behavior of bowing, devotion, contrition, etc… The Buddha, the Abbey, and my master became central to my life and I became dependent upon them.

(b) Thought-reform as a means to persuade, control, and social members.
In general: The term “thought-reform” must be defined here. There are certain conditions that a thought-reform program can practice and they are:
“-Keeping the person unaware of what is going on and how she is being changed one step at a time.
-Controlling the person’s social and/or physical environment, especially the person’s time.
-Systematically creating a sense of powerlessness.
-Manipulating a system of rewards, punishments, and experiences in order to inhibit behavior that reflects the person’s former identity.
-Manipulating a system of rewards, punishments, and experiences in order to promote the group’s ideology, belief systems, and group-approved behaviors.
-Putting forward a closed system of logic and an authoritarian structure that permits no feedback and cannot be modified except by leadership approval or executive order” (Lalich and Tobias, 2006, p. 40-41).

The methods used to ensure the success of the process are as follows:
“-Induced dissociation and other altered states (speaking in tongues, chanting, trance induction via repeated affirmations, extended periods of meditation, lengthy denunciation sessions, public trials, “hot seat” criticisms focusing on the individual, sexual abuse, torture, etc.)
-Control of information going in and out of the group environment.
-Isolation from family and friends.
-Control of member’s financial resources.
-Sleep and food deprivation.
-Peer and leadership pressure.
-Extensive indoctrination sessions.
-Rigid security regulations and daily rules” (Lalich and Tobias, 2006, p. 41).
In general, many, if not all, of these conditions are met by the OBC. Personally, I have been exposed to too many of them to mention.

(c) Inducing states of dependency.
In general: It is obvious that the monks are dependent on the laity, the abbot/ess or prior, and to the order. These people give up their lives; their identity, careers, partners, family, money… They have the most at stake and the most to lose. The power differential is set up to use, abuse, and exploit them.
In my experience: I was literally told to never speak of my experiences or training to anyone, monk or lay, except for my master and two other monks. I was in a state of psychological emergency when I was told this. I was immediately dependent on a few select monks for my survival. I gave up my relationship, my friends, and other things not associated with the Abbey. I barely functioned in the world. When I was “let go” by my master I was totally lost. It took me 5 years to regain the autonomy and independence I had before beginning “training”.

(d) Exploits members to advance the organizations goals.
In general: This is both a simple and complex issue. First one has to look at “what are the goals of the OBC?” It could be stated that any financial support given to the OBC and its affiliates is a form of exploitation. One example of this could be the decision of Shasta Abbey to discontinue its “Buddhist Supply Shop” with the goal that the monks had better thing to do than run a business. The local congregation took the business over and of course, continued to support the Abbey. The Abbey found other resources to support their livelihood and could therefore spend more time on their own training. At this time, the Abbey also started shutting down access to the Abbey to the laity and public for more time for their own training. So not only did they successfully get rid of having to work, they also raised more money than ever before and reduced their religious services by closing the facilities.
In my experience: Did I feel exploited? That’s a tough one. The only form of exploitation that I could have possibly been exposed to was psychological and spiritual. I do feel that I was manipulated, but it is too personal a recollection to share.

(e) Causing psychological harm.
In general: There have been too many to mention, hundreds of people, that have left the OBC that have claimed psychological harm. One person in particular comes to mind in this. If you have not heard of the physical and psychological abuse that happened at North Cascades priory, I urge you to seek out this information. Rev. Koshin is implicated as being responsible for the almost-death of a novice monk. It is also well known that some monks have become mentally ill and others have even committed suicide. I know many congregation members that are mentally ill and damaged from training with the OBC.
In my experience: I was psychologically harmed in many different ways. Many of my issues should have been addressed by a trained therapist or psychologist. At the time, I was told to take “refuge in the three treasures” and that would help me, but it was insufficient and I suffered for years.
I hope this helps everybody, and I hope to continue this discussion and hear of other’s experiences.

Peace,
Diana
Back to top Go down

AuthorMessage
IanPatton



Posts : 110
Join date : 2010-11-05

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Fri Nov 05, 2010 8:07 pm

No.
Back to top Go down
http://www.youtube.com/boogpatton
Josh



Posts : 1
Join date : 2011-07-12

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Jul 12, 2011 4:44 am

When I arrived there, I could immediately feel something was off. The campus was extremely different than what the website "showed" it to be. Before I even opened the gate, I was considering leaving. I stalled and made several trips back to my car pretending to get more stuff, while I was actually trying to collect myself to go in. Several women greeted me with smiles inviting me to come inside. They were very polite and I could not understand these feelings I had. After about 10 minutes I finally decided to step through the gate... but I hit an invisible wall and could not continue. By all means I wanted to have a budhist experience... But my body could not continue. (If anyone knows what i'm talking about it is a strong feeling that can't be confused by any other.) I hurried back to my car almost crying. I wanted to leave very badly. Even now I get shaky and my eyes tear up.

One thing is certain, I know nothing about what happens behind that fence, nor do I want to.

I will seek to crave my knowledge elsewhere, and i'm glad to have found this forum. It will forever give me closure.

(By the way, this was Shasta Abbey 3724 California.)
Back to top Go down
bellclaire



Posts : 32
Join date : 2011-05-07

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Jul 12, 2011 12:18 pm

Hay there Howard!

I know what you mean about humour being useful at giving us a true perspective of ourselves amidst this vast world and universe around us. I sometimes imagine animals doing what humans do, such as in placing importance on the finer details of grooming. Jealousy looks pretty funny when viewed as one cat feeling superior to another because she has a softer, longer, full mane. For me, imagining animals thinking their breed is superior to other breeds, makes human prejudice based on race, intelligence, looks, appear truly ridiculous!

I don't know if I'm making myself clear here about this animal analogy business but, for me, it's helpful and makes me laugh.

Humour has a way of de-fanging the beasts of greed, hate and delusion which we deal with on a daily basis in one form or another. In my experience, there is definitely a time and place for humour & this is quite often! Thanks Howard for your insight on humour. bow, claire
Back to top Go down
bellclaire



Posts : 32
Join date : 2011-05-07

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Jul 12, 2011 12:39 pm

Hi Josh,
I had a similar feeling about visiting Shasta Abbey. Most everyone I knew at our local Buddhist Priory had been to Shasta Abbey on retreats yet I could not bring myself to go.
I was content to attend my local Priory but, for me, there was also a gut instinct telling me to not physically visit Shasta Abbey. I read the newsletters and went to the site on the net to browse their shop of Buddhist supplies. It all looked good. Thought I'd let you know there's someone elso, who over the course of 23 yrs., could not bring myself to go to Shasta Abbey.

I know people who've attended retreats there and felt good about going there. I'm not saying it was wrong for people to go to Shasta Abbey; many came away with positive experiences. I'm only sharing my reaction, that which kept me from visiting Shasta Abbey. For me, maybe it was best to stay away.

I think listening to one's gut is usually a good idea. There have been too many times, re. other matters, where I have not listened to my gut instincts and I've ended up in a tangled mess!

Thought I'd let you know I also balked at the prospect of entering those gates. Bowing, claire
Back to top Go down
ddolmar



Posts : 190
Join date : 2010-08-26

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Jul 12, 2011 1:23 pm

Hi Josh--I've said this before, but as a lay guest I have never found Shasta Abbey to be anything less than welcoming. I'm speaking as one who has visited only a few times: they've hardly had much opportunity to "brainwash" me, and I am obviously not a spiritual dependent of theirs because I rarely visit. I say this so you know a bit about where I'm coming from.

It is good to trust one's intuition. Sometimes that feeling that something is off can be spot on. However, I have also on occasion spooked myself when it turned out that there was nothing wrong. Our emotional states color what we see, sometimes to the point of unreason. Have you ever taken an instant dislike to someone (because of their clothes, manner, etc.) who turned out be a person of depth and wisdom?

From the many posts I've read, and discussions I've been involved in, I'm guessing that very few--maybe none--of the people on this forum can report being harmed from visiting Shasta Abbey once, or even a few times, as a layperson. The monks there can teach you about basic Zen doctrine and how they do serene reflection meditation. I think it's very unlikely that anyone's going to demand that you become a disciple and shave your head on the spot.

No one at Shasta has ever even tried a hard-sell on me (i.e., tried to convince me to hand over my spiritual life to them). But of course you can feel that come-on if you're sensitive to it, and then run away as needed.
Back to top Go down
chisanmichaelhughes

avatar

Posts : 1638
Join date : 2010-11-17

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Jul 12, 2011 1:34 pm

How do they teach serene reflection meditation Dan? I have never heard of it , what is it?
Back to top Go down
ddolmar

avatar

Posts : 190
Join date : 2010-08-26
Location : Redding, CA

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Jul 12, 2011 3:38 pm

Hi Chisan--I'm slightly unsure how to take your question. Do they not call it serene reflection over in the UK?

So, I'll play it straight:

The way that they (Rev. Shiko was my first-day instructor, by the way) taught me was to sit with hands one over the other, thumbs touching, back straight but comfortably so, a slight smile, etc....the posture stuff. You have eyes open but eyelids relaxed, looking either at a screen or wall at a downward angle, or at the floor three to six feet in front of you. Then you focus on your breathing, and try to become detached from your thoughts as they flow through your mind (rather than holding on to them, or pushing them away as if they are supposed to stop). Maybe you count breaths at the beginning of your practice in order to illustrate how your attention is pulled against your will to other matters, and you gently return to counting once you realize that you've stopped. Practice each day for at least a few minutes, up to 45 minutes per sit, and interesting and useful states of mind may be attained.

But I'm not the right person to tell others how to do meditation (especially folks like you who've been at this much longer than me). So I'm curious how you meditate, and whether the above is consistent with how you were taught during your involvement w/ OBC?

Hope any newbies out there don't rely on my description to get them started. They'd be far better off finding an expert in Buddhist meditation (in or out of the Zen tradition) than relying on some internet post. I'm just relaying what I was taught.


Last edited by ddolmar on Tue Jul 12, 2011 4:32 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top Go down
chisanmichaelhughes

avatar

Posts : 1638
Join date : 2010-11-17

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Jul 12, 2011 4:03 pm

That sounds quite normal to me Dan
I am not sure about the interesting and useful states of mind might be attained bit can you elaborate that Dan.
I think that is my only question and it would give me some idea of the teaching of meditation, at Shasta. And it may highlight different approaches at the heart of zazen. I liked Harada Roshi telling Gensho that that basically anything other than pure zazen was extraneous mind-moments. I believe these are sometimes in Japan called Makyo. In plain speak, does one hang on to remnants of our own duality or does one drop ones body and mind. Interesting topic.
Do not feel you have to answer,it could stir up a hornets nest
Take care
Back to top Go down
ddolmar

avatar

Posts : 190
Join date : 2010-08-26
Location : Redding, CA

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Jul 12, 2011 4:41 pm

"Interesting and useful states of mind" = "deeper, longer-lasting awareness" (roughly), not an acid trip or otherworldly experience. Maybe the effect on the mind is somewhat analogous to what stretching does to muscles, increasing elasticity and making them better able to handle strain and roll with events.

There's much more to it in my subjective experience, or rather many consequences of better awareness (and all seem beneficial), but it's all subtle stuff about how compassion opens up when you pay better attention to people, more possibilities open up when you pay attention to the objects you're working with, etc.


Last edited by ddolmar on Tue Jul 12, 2011 5:31 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top Go down
chisanmichaelhughes

avatar

Posts : 1638
Join date : 2010-11-17

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Jul 12, 2011 4:45 pm

That is nicely said Dan
Back to top Go down
ddolmar

avatar

Posts : 190
Join date : 2010-08-26
Location : Redding, CA

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Jul 12, 2011 5:54 pm

Thanks for your thoughts, Chisan.

I am glad to hear an outsider call Shasta's meditation approach (or at least my recollection of it) "quite normal." I say this only because it is obvious from Josh's posts that he, at least, has been scared off from even visiting for a day.

I completely respect Josh's right to stay away.

--But--

I don't think that the monks and laity who are "regulars" at Shasta Abbey deserve this horribly scary reputation, as if once you're in the temple the claws and fangs come out and you're never heard from again.

And I hope there's no need to re-hash all that has gone wrong there over the past 40 years once again due to my defending them. I'm not attempting to discredit anyone's stories. I'm just saying that if someone wants to learn a way to sit zazen and learn a bit about Zen Buddhism, then Shasta Abbey is at least a viable place for the basics.

You have it from Chisan (if I may): it sounds fairly normal.

You take care as well.
Back to top Go down
Lise
Admin
avatar

Posts : 1416
Join date : 2009-11-08
Age : 43

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Jul 12, 2011 10:02 pm

my tuppence, just quickly - I think a visitor is more likely to get Jiyu-Kennett's buddhism when visiting Shasta, and guests may want to keep in mind that this is not what a trainee might see elsewhere, Zen or otherwise. So long as they don't imprint on Kennett's version thinking it is the only one that is "true teaching" -- that's my caveat. This is a wide world, with many expressions of Buddhism.

I would suggest that someone visit several other Buddhist centres before going to Shasta, to have the broader frame of reference and comparison. Sometimes people get smitten by the first thing they see, if it's brand-new, somewhat exotic, etc., and they latch onto it and sort of quickly "pledge allegiance" to it, you could say. It can be hard for them later if they try to experience other teaching that isn't just like the first thing they saw & heard, esp. if the emotional, "loyalty" stuff gets in the way.

I also feel there is reason to steer clear of establishing a master/disciple relationship within the OBC until their current efforts to fix problems have had some time to reach fruition.

L.


Last edited by Lise on Wed Jul 13, 2011 1:39 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : tried to tone down the harshness)
Back to top Go down
http://obcconnect.forumotion.net
chisanmichaelhughes

avatar

Posts : 1638
Join date : 2010-11-17

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Wed Jul 13, 2011 1:42 am

It is a bit confusing with 2 joshes The Josh that wrote yesterday , must be respected for doing what he felt was right for him.
It was quite a hard hitting post of Josh.
I left in 1970,at that time there was not an oportunity for open discussion,the internet has blown that apart.I remember I wrote over to Shatsa with a completly open mind to discuss, and find out from kennett Roshi her view of why Mark left.
The reply was extreemly critical of me for daring to ask questions, for daring to even think for a minute that Kennett Roshi might deviate from traditional Soto Zen Buddhism, and traditional Soto Zen Practice,not only did I get a letter but one was sent to a guy who was living in the Priory I ran telling him about how I had not finished my training, etc etc. These replies, actually made everyone who read them feel that things had really changed at Shasta, a hard heartedness had crept in, kennett was right we were all wrong, we had to believe her.I felt that was very cultish, I would have been like new Josh and not walked through the gates.
Interesting enough. Shasta is not now known as Soto zen sect it is the OBC,Kennett Roshi wrote a peculiar book the lotus blossom on basically dualistic experiences, which she wrapped up as the third kensho, which appears to me to be creating more extraneous mind than dropping it . So it appears that my query as to are there changes was pretty well founded.
One has to remember, meditation, never takes one anywhere else,here now this present moment is where we are.
Rev Mein has an hard job to do, brave to dismiss north Cascades and helpful to bring in faith trust,they have alot to recover from they are most probably very sincere people and the way forward is to practice meditation as Dan said sit with awareness, not creating delusion or duality,they must have been off track and hurt or they would not have dismissed Eko and North Cascades. Dan is right , sitting.... not this not that ... sitting..... don,t grasp don,t push away.....sitting........f you do these things for some time your treasure house will appear and you will enjoy it fully
Back to top Go down
chisanmichaelhughes

avatar

Posts : 1638
Join date : 2010-11-17

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Wed Jul 13, 2011 8:07 am

Sorry I left in 1976 ish
Back to top Go down
ddolmar

avatar

Posts : 190
Join date : 2010-08-26
Location : Redding, CA

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Thu Jul 14, 2011 5:41 pm

Chisan--"...Kennett Roshi wrote a peculiar book the lotus blossom on basically dualistic experiences, which she wrapped up as the third kensho, which appears to me to be creating more extraneous mind than dropping it ."

Maybe this is why SA no longer promotes HTGLB as a core text...it's too easily read to mean that mystical experiences are far more important than just sitting.

Lise--I would suggest that if you're in this area (Northern CA) then you could easily swing by the City of 10,000 Buddhas and Shasta Abbey on successive weekends to make a comparison. There may be other places around here that I don't know about. Of course, there's some likelihood that the first place you visit--SA or elsewhere--is going to be the basis by which you compare the rest. But how do you know that they're teaching it right at that first temple, regardless of which one that is?

I mean, if you're primed to be creeped out--as some folks reading this forum surely are about SA-- then anything unfamiliar (no matter how benign or indifferent in fact) will scare the daylights out of you. Is that a welcoming smile, or the manic rictus of a brainwashed recruit who is just dying to harm you as they have been harmed? You have to realize that people cannot win when your "intuition" is against them. Your mind FIRST experiences fear, and THEN finds ways to rationalize. Let us please not call that process discretion.

It's very difficult to tell the difference between your intuition and your imagination running amok, although folks will insist that of course they can tell. And having the brain of a H. sapiens, I will do it too. It's rather like how you never meet anyone who thinks they are a poor judge of character, or who thinks that they lack wisdom, or that they are below average in intelligence.


Last edited by ddolmar on Thu Jul 14, 2011 5:51 pm; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : h o m o is a banned term? It's the Latin for "man".)
Back to top Go down
Lise
Admin
avatar

Posts : 1416
Join date : 2009-11-08
Age : 43

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:04 pm

ddolmar wrote:
. . . Of course, there's some likelihood that the first place you visit--SA or elsewhere--is going to be the basis by which you compare the rest. But how do you know that they're teaching it right at that first temple, regardless of which one that is?

Good question, Dan, and I knew I was leaving out some thoughts from my earlier post. There isn't, of course, an objective standard to use in deciding if any place is teaching Buddhism "right" -- I don't know of a way for anybody to say what "right" is. But we can receive new information with an informed head and open ears. For me, I didn't know enough, at the time I ran across the Abbey to spot some things that would have given me pause if I had had more exposure to other groups and ways of teaching. To do over again, I would have read a lot more about Buddhism generally, and the different schools of thought, before setting foot in a retreat centre/temple. And even then, I would have kept checking out different places and not so quickly zeroed in on just one. Even now, I spend a lot of time with one Tibetan sangha but I absolutely keep visiting other places. I love the variety and it keeps me from slipping into a passive attachment (of convenience, mostly) to one way of doing things.

I feel it makes sense to be informed and somewhat knowledgeable about basic theories and commonly accepted tenets before deciding "this is the place for me, all right!" People need not be experts on the comparative literature of Zen studies before visiting Zen temples, of course, I just mean it's good to have exposure to the basic theoretical framework in order to have a context in which to place a new group's comments. Actually I think it's good, too, to listen to online materials from a particular group before going to visit, if this possible. An hour-long dharma talk can tell you a lot about a monk's mindset and it's a low-risk way to learn quite a bit about them, esp. if you listen over time and certain themes keep surfacing.

ddolmar wrote:
I mean, if you're primed to be creeped out--as some folks reading this forum surely are about SA-- then anything unfamiliar (no matter how benign or indifferent in fact) will scare the daylights out of you. Is that a welcoming smile, or the manic rictus of a brainwashed recruit who is just dying to harm you as they have been harmed? You have to realize that people cannot win when your "intuition" is against them. Your mind FIRST experiences fear, and THEN finds ways to rationalize. Let us please not call that process discretion.

I take your point. I don't call it discretion, I think of it as being intellectually lazy, and gullible. No grown-up is required to behave that way. No one needs to be afraid of Shasta Abbey before they go there; if they take everything they read on the Internet as gospel, or quickly fixate on someone they've just met who they want to take as a "master", then they've got a different set of problems, for which OBC Connect is not responsible. But they do need to be cautious, as they would visiting any place, whether for the 1st time or the 50th. People need to think with their heads, use their eyes and ears, and decide for themselves. And they should keep being cautious -- familiarity and coziness with the status quo (which sometimes spirals downward) is where things seem to go wrong for a lot of folks. I'm talking about any religious group, not just SA.

I have a bit more but am rushed & will have to come back to this -




Back to top Go down
http://obcconnect.forumotion.net
ddolmar

avatar

Posts : 190
Join date : 2010-08-26
Location : Redding, CA

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:00 pm

Thanks Lise. That's all very well said.
Back to top Go down
Being346



Posts : 2
Join date : 2012-10-26

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:12 am

"A cult is a group or movement that, to a significant degree, (a) exhibits great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing, (b) uses a thought-reform program to persuade, control, and socialize members(i.e., to integrate them into the group’s unique pattern of relationships, beliefs, values, and practices), (c) systematically induces states of psychological dependency in members, (d) exploits members to advance the leadership’s goals, and (e) causes psychological harm to members, their families, and the community” (Langone, 1993, p.5)"

It could be argued that society itself is a cult, couldn't it?
A) Money / material things / whatever
B) Adverts, an education system, mass-media
C) Don't even get me started
D) We call them "jobs"
E) Responsible for various goods and harms, dished out in fairly unequal measure depending on race/class/wealth etc

Such a definition could also render the social-construction of 'the family unit' as a micro-cult!

Perhaps one way of approaching this topic is comparing one CULTure (that of the society in which an individual is raised) to another CULTure (in this case, the OBC)?


I have been to Throssel Hole a couple of times and have always been deeply impressed by the community there.

Monks are not perfect, nor do they set themselves up to be at Throssel Hole. It is so easy to focus on the imperfections and problems in a community whilst losing picture of the good that is done there, the virtues of most its residents, and the good intentions behind it.

The monks live simple lives that lack luxury, they practice hard and work hard. It's not like there's a laughing man in a top-hat driving a sports-car around the place! These days, from what I can tell, whilst the monks hold the Abbot with utmost respect, the administration is highly egalitarian and democratic (between the monks).

I was never asked for money at Throssel, not once. It was always completely clear to me that I could stay for as long as I wanted (within reason), and leave whenever I pleased.

We have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. At the heart of their practice is meditation, and it is a form of meditation which seems to have an obvious benefit to many people. There will be some people who are not benefited, but no one is forcing them to practice further. Their motto of "There's the right way, the wrong way, and the way that works" is crucial here: Zen doesn't work for every one, living an a monastery doesn't work for every one.

Most Buddhist traditions start from a position of telling people they are 'unenlightened', other religions may tell people they have an 'original sin' or are at the mercy of Thetans (Scientology) - what I love about the teaching of Throssel is that they do not employ such psychological tricks: I went there to realise that I didn't need to go there (I hope to return though!), I still train - so that I can realise why I don't need to train.

What Throssel provides is a culture in which regulated meditation is encouraged and supported.


I see the primary function of a Zen Buddhist order to spread the practice of meditation, and to provide support for its practice. The OBC seems to to a great job of this.
Back to top Go down
Jcbaran

avatar

Posts : 1614
Join date : 2010-11-13
Age : 67
Location : New York, NY

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Fri Oct 26, 2012 11:17 am

"The OBC does a great job" - you say.

Is that true? Based on your going to two retreats at Throssel?

No one on this website has ever suggested the distortions and problems with Kennett / Shasta / OBC were financially-related, by the way. Basic Buddhist meditation is a fine practice for many people, but there is always far more to this organization / these kinds of groups than just the practice of meditation. Reality is not that simple and this organization has a long, complex past - that is not just about the practice of meditation -- and many people feel that much harm was done by Kennett and her successors.

You say don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. Some feel that Kennett threw out the baby by 1976 and made her own bathwater holy. That happened a long time ago, true, but often the shadows of the founder continue to live on for generations unless those shadows are honestly faced and acknowledged -- which this group has absolutely not done. With the relatively recent scandal at Shasta with Eko, the investigation into the culture which acknowledged their issues and heavy handedness, there is actually much more that goes on in any religious organization then meets the eye or that can be seen by a few casual visits.

You find going there helpful, fine. Not my business. I meet people all the time who love being Catholics, Methodists, Scientologists, fundamentalist Christian, orthodox Jews, Mormons, followers of various gurus. They all see benefit in their practice and membership. That I see things differently, well that's my business and my responsibility.

But in terms of the OBC / Shasta / Kennett, because I was there for many years, I have a certain responsibility -- literally ability to respond - about my experiences and insights. This website and these discussions are enormously valuable to many people.

And by the way, sometimes you do throw out the baby and the bathwater and start over. Why not? Put that baby up for adoption and move on.
Back to top Go down
Being346



Posts : 2
Join date : 2012-10-26

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Oct 30, 2012 7:21 am

To be clear, these weren't weekend retreats they were a couple of months each time- which I know doesn't compare to your many years of experience.

What this discussion suggests is that OBC might be helpful to those who >use it< in certain ways (i.e. to go there, to learn meditation, and leave) and less helpful to those who go there to live for the long-term?

But is focusing on past scandals a fair way to evaluate the present situation?

We have to be clear about what exactly we're talking about here: experiences. Some people have had negative ones, some positive, the organisation seems to make best efforts to deal with the scandals that come to light and change the organisational structure to reduce the chance of negative experiences happening again.

In my few months there, aside from a portrait of Kennet and some very occasional quotes from her- the teachings really focus on teaching meditation as a way of engaging the present moment.
Back to top Go down
Lise
Admin
avatar

Posts : 1416
Join date : 2009-11-08
Age : 43

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Oct 30, 2012 2:05 pm

hello, 346 - welcome to the forum.

To answer your question, based only on my own view - once you've become aware of an organisation's history, I don't know if it's possible to evaluate its present condition without considering what went before, when the current members have not acknowledged the extent of harm done to other people, nor tried to make amends. Even if things look good on the surface, there will always be shadows below, undercurrents of things hidden, denied, discarded. But not gone.

I wouldn't know how to look at these OBC teachers and listen to them, and not wonder, how can I trust what they say?

I realise that some people can have positive experiences there, but if I wanted to learn meditation, I'd find somewhere else to go.
Back to top Go down
http://obcconnect.forumotion.net
Lise
Admin
avatar

Posts : 1416
Join date : 2009-11-08
Age : 43

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:01 pm

A followup note - I know my recent posts clearly show that I'm not trying to promote "balance" on the forum, anymore, in regard to OBC pros and cons. Time and exposure to information have had an effect.

I am glad current OBC sangha have Bright Moon as a place to meet and support their practice, even so, they are always welcome to be here and contribute although they may not get much joy out of it.

What a long, strange trip it has been, and continues to be Wink
Back to top Go down
http://obcconnect.forumotion.net
Isan
Admin
avatar

Posts : 918
Join date : 2010-07-27
Location : California

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:19 pm

Being346 wrote:

We have to be clear about what exactly we're talking about here: experiences. Some people have had negative ones, some positive, the organisation seems to make best efforts to deal with the scandals that come to light and change the organisational structure to reduce the chance of negative experiences happening again.

I would be interested to hear you say more about this. How has the organizational structure been changed to reduce the chance of negative experiences happening again?
Back to top Go down
gnorwell



Posts : 48
Join date : 2010-09-26
Location : Boston, Lincolnshire UK

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Wed Oct 31, 2012 10:05 am

Hi Lise, how are you?

There's more discussion going on at the 'Sangha of the OBC@ facebook page than on Brightmoon at the moment. You or anyone can find it at http://www.facebook.com/groups/contemplatives/. It is a so-called closed group but it's actually open to anyone with an interest in the OBC Sangha. You have to apply to join and be accepted by one of the admins which include Mia, Steve, RM Seikai and me amongst others.

There's currently some discussion of OBC Connect at the moment.

Take care,
George
Back to top Go down
gnorwell



Posts : 48
Join date : 2010-09-26
Location : Boston, Lincolnshire UK

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Wed Oct 31, 2012 10:10 am

Hi Being346,

Nice to see someone here having recent experience of Throssel.

Are you a member of the OBC Facebook group?

If not you might be interested in the discussion of OBC Connect that's going on there at the moment. You can find it at http://www.facebook.com/groups/contemplatives/.

Best wishes,
George
Back to top Go down
Lise
Admin
avatar

Posts : 1416
Join date : 2009-11-08
Age : 43

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:58 pm

Hi George, I'm doing okay. Nice to see you here, hope you're well too.

I have never joined Facebook unfortunately so I'm not able to see the conversation there, but thank you for letting me know. If someone should be thanked for their expression of kind regards, please pass along my gratitude, and if they're not happy with OBCC, will you tell them I said "yo momma"? Ha, just kidding. I hope we aren't creating more ripples in the ether than is necessary.

I may get on Facebook eventually. Right now I'm active on three forums and cannot imagine what would happen if I got into another online diversion. I've seen peoples' Facebook pages and it looks fun, but I'm letting it pass me by for now - I don't have enough time in the day.

Thank you for telling us about it.
Back to top Go down
http://obcconnect.forumotion.net
Carol

avatar

Posts : 364
Join date : 2009-11-10

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Fri Nov 02, 2012 12:08 am

I would like to see us be more respectful of Beign346's observations and comments. His positive experience is as valid for him as the negative experiences are for others. We don't need to jump on people quite so quickly when they first join. This is a rowdy group, but our forum will be more lively if we're tolerant of those who have benefited from their time with the OBC as well as those of us who are still grinding our axes.
Back to top Go down
Jimyo

avatar

Posts : 172
Join date : 2010-09-24
Age : 69
Location : Peak District, England

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Fri Nov 02, 2012 1:56 pm

Well said, Carol!!!!

Quote :
I was there for many years

Josh, I thought you left before I started in 1974. Were you really involved for "many years"? How many? Or am I confused about when the OBC started?
Back to top Go down
Jcbaran

avatar

Posts : 1614
Join date : 2010-11-13
Age : 67
Location : New York, NY

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Fri Nov 02, 2012 2:23 pm

I met and started with Kennett in 1969 when she was living in SF with Myozen and Mokurai - just a few of us. Left I think in mid-1977. Actually, I should have more accurately said i was there "too many years" - it took me a few years to figure out my exit strategy.
Back to top Go down
Jimyo

avatar

Posts : 172
Join date : 2010-09-24
Age : 69
Location : Peak District, England

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Fri Nov 02, 2012 4:17 pm

I'm pretty sure you weren't at Shasta by the time I came over from the UK in 1976. Actually, I seem to remember Mark talking as though you'd left even earlier than that, but I can't be sure. But never mind; it's hardly surprising if one of us is getting things wrong after close to 40 years. Memories simply aren't accurate after that length of time; my memories of Shasta are decidedly hazy in some respects.
Back to top Go down
Jcbaran

avatar

Posts : 1614
Join date : 2010-11-13
Age : 67
Location : New York, NY

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Fri Nov 02, 2012 4:27 pm

I am pretty sure I left in mid-1977. I was officially President of Shasta in June 76 - http://www.shastaabbey.org/pdf/legalArticles.pdf
and I remember leaving Shasta in the Spring around April - getting to Los Angeles for the death of my grandfather who passed away in 1977.
Back to top Go down
Henry

avatar

Posts : 398
Join date : 2010-08-28
Location : Palm Beach Gardens, FL

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Sat Nov 03, 2012 3:49 pm

Being 346 wrote:
But is focusing on past scandals a fair way to evaluate the present situation?

We have to be clear about what exactly we're talking about here: experiences. Some people have had negative ones, some positive, the organisation seems to make best efforts to deal with the scandals that come to light and change the organisational structure to reduce the chance of negative experiences happening again.

In my few months there, aside from a portrait of Kennet and some very occasional quotes from her- the teachings really focus on teaching meditation as a way of engaging the present mome
nt.

Like Isan, I'm interested in further thoughts on this subject. Are past scandals a fair way to evaluate the present situation? Let me tell you what got me focused on this question specifically. Interestingly enough it wasn't my experience at Shasta. My wife's sister several years ago got involved with Osho. She's gone to India twice to their center and has started a small center of her own. I by chance read that Osho is actually Rajneesh reinvented. Interesting. I was at Shasta, not far from the small town in Oregon upon which Rajneesh reeked havoc. I looked into more detail of Rahneesh's rein in that town in a series of articles done by the main portland OR paper, that were a retrospective on that parade of horrors that was Rajneesh and his followers. A true pack of psychopaths. But now years later there is Osho, and I understand that Rajneesh was a perfect master. Their centers are thoroughly sanitized of all scandals, murders, terrorist acts, and thefts these people wrought on their neighbors. Cyndi, my wife, was saying she wanted to talk to her sister, who she loves deeply, about all this. I suggested she should not. I said that I'm sure that they have a stock answer that they provide to all their centers and followers so that they can give it to the curious when asked about the horrors Rajneesh and his followers perpetrated. Cyndi looked on their website, and indeed there was a stock answer. Rajneesh/Osho was totally innocent and the problem was mostly those who just had grudges to bear. Something like that.

Cyndi's sister's experience of Osho was very positive. From what she's related it really has been quite sanitized, repackaged, and apparently very helpful and peace and love instilling in the present adherents. While Osho is definitely something I have no interest in joining, it does present an intriguing question: Is focusing on past scandals a fair way to evaluate the present situation?

I'm quite interested on your and anyone else's thoughts on this.
Back to top Go down
Jcbaran

avatar

Posts : 1614
Join date : 2010-11-13
Age : 67
Location : New York, NY

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Sat Nov 03, 2012 5:23 pm

I guess it all depends what you are looking for, how you interact with a particular group, church, tradition and so on. I am one of those guys who thinks you should do your homework, research and ask lots of questions - but everyone here knows that i have that perspective. But many people want a casual relationship with a religious groups or teacher or tradition and absolutely do not want to read up on the past or know too much negative or complicated information. They just want some positive communion or community, some simple beliefs or practices that can benefit their everyday lives.

No, in terms of the past, we are not talking about what went on in feudal Japan or the middle ages. An example, if someone was interested in joining the Catholic Church and sought out my opinion, i don't think reading up on the history of the Church is "unfair." It is their past, their doctrines and beliefs, their hierarchy - that is all their church and it includes so much that most members do not even know about. Too much information? For some, yes it is. Some people mostly want community and connection, some ritual, and some feeling of connection to the "divine" or a great "power" and really don't want to get into all the past stuff and especially not the shadows. Some people don't even care if they don't fully believe the organization's doctrines. I know many people who love going to Catholic mass, but have no intention of following that churches teachings on sexuality or women. A majority of Catholics, at least in the U.S., use contraceptives, think gay marriage is fine, etc. They do not care about many of the Popes declarations, but they still like going to mass and the feeling of being in the church and the big story that is their religion. They love the story and that takes the place of reality. (Key point -- take for example, the scandals in the Catholic Church involving the sexual abuse of boys - hundreds of thousands of boys - over decades or probably centuries. These are not some isolated incidents of a few bad apples, but an expression of many practice and beliefs of this church, how they deal with sexuality and dogma, authority, hierarchy, criticism, women, secular authority, and so on.)

Now in terms of Shasta or Osho, it is not like we are talking about problems and issues that took place in the distant past, are we? First, with Rajneesh -- I know quite a lot about that organization. I exposed them in the media, sent 60 Minutes up to Oregon to do an expose piece, and got the New York Times to write about the group and their secret agendas.

By the way, Rajneesh said many times that he knew everything that was going on all the time - being an omniscient fully enlightened Buddha and all - and was one hundred percent responsible for everything. It was all his will and lila - divine play. By his own proclamations, he was responsible for it all, so he doesn't get off any hooks. What they did up in Oregon was the first act of bio-terrorism on American soil, by the way - when they deliberately tried to poison and murder some of their critics. All in the name of his divine / godly activity. What stories we spin!!!!! I counseled many former members of Rajneesh and heard all kinds of stories.....NOT making any of this up.

That being said, yes, of course, the Rajneesh group re-invented itself after all the scandals and craziness. In India, they dropped much of the sunnyasin / religious order system and became a kind of spiritual / psychological Disneyland where they offer hundreds of different workshops, meditation programs, kundalini dancing, encounter groups, gestalt workshops, massage training, and so on. Do people benefit, I am sure many find it wonderful, life changing and so on. Some of these practices Rajneesh invented or borrowed and revised, others he just adapted from zen and yoga and the sufis and various schools of psychology. And yes, of course, his followers revised the official history and story of their guru and tradition, and mostly do not talk about what happened in the early days. And most people who visit, do not care. It would be like visiting the vatican asking about the inquisition - when all you want to do is have a fun time looking at the art and being inspired by the grandeur of the story.

On one level, what's the harm? What's the problem? For many people, they have a positive experience, so good. But for those people who go deeper, who want to become part of the organization, there could be all kinds of problems. What we know, for centuries of experience with religious organizations and authoritarian systems, shadows often do not just vanish with the death of the guru / founder, but are alive and well under the surface, in the inner circles, and these shadows become activated and empowered in all sorts of situations - from the interpersonal to the political. Beliefs have real power as we know, they lead to actions and reactions. Beliefs can lead to discrimination, repression of women, persecution of minorities, the crusades, the kamikaze pilots, imperial zen, jihad. Oh Josh, you are being so dramatic. Well, that's true, but in a case like Rajneesh, I am sure that their spiritual Disneyland is a benefit to many, but we should not naively assume that Rajneesh is completely dead... his shadows, his grandiosity, is alive and well in that organization. And many of his top followers became gurus on their own, modeling their behavior after Osho. But for the casual visitor, who comes for a few weeks or months every so often, they may not encounter this shadow at all or not notice it. Often, they don't want to see it, even if it shows up loudly.

Now in terms of the OBC and Shasta and Throssel, should a new person take into account the past issues -- let's not say "scandals" -- the only official "scandal" I guess was Eko's conduct and dismissal. Should a new person do any homework, read up on what the group says about itself and what those who left say about it. I think that's a fair thing to do. When I buy a laptop, I read the reviews and specifically want to hear about any problems anyone had, I don't just read the glowing reviews - i want to know if there are some potential problems with the laptop, customer service, are there any technical issues after the first six months. Seems like a reasonable thing to do. I love Amazon.com for this reason -- and you never believe any one review - either positive or negative, but if you see lots of people complaining about a particular problem, you then pretty much know that it could be true - or at least something to watch out for. but a lot people don't study up before they buy. They quickly look at a laptop, scan the tech specs, talk to a salesperson, look at the price and just buy it. Maybe they buy it solely based on the name brand. They do not want to spend the time looking into very deeply. No guarantee either way. So someone hear the word "Hewlett Packard" and accept the marketing and name brand and buy it. Someone might hear "Zen" and think, wonderful, must be grand.

Throssel is part of the Church of Kennett -- it may have changed and evolved a great deal since the earlier days and be much less Kennett-like than Shasta. I haven't been there in a very long time and it is not on my list of places to visit. That people go there for retreats and learn basic meditation, find it useful, glad to hear that. But honestly, don't most western Buddhist centers offer basic meditation retreats and classes? I think they all do.

Should visitors look more deeply into the past of this organization and ask lots of questions, up to them. Again, if all you want to do is go there, learn some basic Soto practice - and the people there are nice enough, no harm. If you want to go much deeper, not doing your homework, bad idea - at least from my point of view. I have no idea if the people at Throssel have in a serious way confronted many of Kennett's shadows, abuses, and subtle and not so subtle beliefs and doctrines. Remember, she had stained glass windows made of her lotus experiences, so the OBC/Shasta/Throssel was the Church of Kennett. She was the center of it all. So what she taught and what was taught in her name was far different than just simple Soto meditation or Dogen. Have the folks at Throssel rejected Kennett's teachings and approach, or let it fade away slowly? Or when you get more involved, does it show up as "higher" teachings? For those who might study there, it might be worthwhile to find out.

But should you judge the current organization on what happened years ago? I don't know about judging, but it seems reasonable to ask questions, openly address and talk about these things. Why not? Open and honest communication is a good thing.

enough babble. Dealing with the aftermath of the hurricane in NYC, finally power is back on in my apt -- a week without light, water, and heat made things somewhat complicated.



Back to top Go down
gnorwell



Posts : 48
Join date : 2010-09-26
Location : Boston, Lincolnshire UK

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Sun Nov 04, 2012 12:26 am

Josh, What is happening? I've found something that we agree on.

You wrote "... should you judge the current organization on what happened years ago? I don't know about judging, but it seems reasonable to ask questions, openly address and talk about these things. Why not? Open and honest communication is a good thing".

I agree totally.

Kind regards,
George


Back to top Go down
Jimyo

avatar

Posts : 172
Join date : 2010-09-24
Age : 69
Location : Peak District, England

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:51 am

I personally read reviews on Amazon, feedback on Ebay, look up what people say on Trip Finder on holidays etc. Or rather, I used to. More and more, I'm finding that other people's opinions are of little use to me. People complain about what I consider to be the weirdest things! Some are professional fault-finders. Others are plain weirdos. I so, so often disagree - when actually I try it for myself.

Maybe it's because I start out not expecting perfection. I'm a glass half-full person, and if something more or less works, that'll do fine for me.

So now, I look, and I remember, but I take it all with a pinch of salt, unless ONE HUNDRED PER CENT of people are complaining ABOUT SOMETHING CENTRAL AND IMPORTANT. I find I have to decide for myself, from my own experience. Mine is a harder way, perhaps, and sometimes likely to fail. But for me, it's the only way that works. And doing it this way, I got a great garden rotavator (which admittedly doesn't like very hard ground), a fantastic holiday (OK, the hotel didn't have perfect service), and...you all know how I feel about the OBC.

After lots and lots of experiementing, I've found direct experience to be the only thing that works for me - and other people's opinions be (oops, is that a banned word?)...but you know what I was thinking!
Back to top Go down
Jcbaran

avatar

Posts : 1614
Join date : 2010-11-13
Age : 67
Location : New York, NY

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Sun Nov 04, 2012 12:08 pm

A younger gay friend of mine came to see me last month and said he wanted to felt he needed to start meditating. He had been going to therapy but felt meditation could help him find more peace in his life -- and he was interested in Buddhism. I did not push this on him at all.

So, I basically gave him a list and websites of the most accessible groups in NYC - the Village Zendo (run by a disciple of Bernie Glassman) - very gay friendly, two gay Buddhist groups, the Shambhala Center, the main vipasanna / mindfulness center that has lots of introductory programs, the Open Center - which is a new age center that has many workshops on all kinds of meditation, Omega Institute - which is a few hours north of NYC but a good place for weekend workshops, the Interdependence Project - which is an off-shoot of Shambhala but more secular - and for younger people -- and the websites of Tricycle and Shambhala Sun. My friend doesn't have much money, so I showed him that many of the introductory events at these centers are donation only - and maybe go to those first rather than the programs that cost.

I think I recommended a few Jon Kabat Zin books, but my main suggestion was for him to check out these groups by going to introductory evenings or day-long programs, see how the various practices felt to him, what the people were like, ask basic questions, find out completely for himself. What is the best practice for you - and one that you can do every day? I did not recommend any one group or practice and I did not say one negative word about any of them. The main thing I pushed was to find a group where he could go and sit together -- not to try and do this alone by himself at the beginning. Group support I believe is very important and sitting together is a wonderful thing.

And over the last month, I keep forwarding various emails about Buddhist meditation events in NYC.

So this is line with Jimyo's approach. Find out for yourself directly.

Back to top Go down
Henry

avatar

Posts : 398
Join date : 2010-08-28
Location : Palm Beach Gardens, FL

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Sun Nov 04, 2012 12:29 pm

Jimyo,
What I've found on Amazon is that for those products with a substantial amount of reviews, that the ratings are reasonably accurate. 500 reviews at an average of 1 star. I ain't buyin it. 500 reviews at 5 stars: I'm very interested. 500 reviews at 3 stars: I'm sure to see whether there is there's a pattern of defects that are deal breakers for me. To me it's a guideline, not a bible. As a therapist I work with patterns. While I don't particularly believe one person's perception, my interested is piqued when patterns of behavior appear to emerge. Occupational hazard. I'm sure that as a pilot you've learned to take quite seriously bits and pieces of weather or wind that might signal trouble ahead that ignorant folk like me wouldn't even notice.
Back to top Go down
Guest
Guest



PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Mon Nov 19, 2012 1:51 am

In reply to the OP:
No, the OBC is not a cult.

They've shown nothing but transparency, and a willingness to be open and talk with people who've had issues.

they've also taken great positive steps on their own to address certain things to prevent certain issues from cropping up again, and to make it easier for people to address concerns.

They have taken openness and complaints very seriously, including bringing in the Faith Trust organization to do an independent analysis of them, and make recommendations, as well implement the recommendations that were made.

They have also created a dual Laity/Monastic Ethics committee that anybody can bring ethics concerns to, that is easily accessed with a clear link on their website, including contact info of the person's involved.

Rev. Haryo, is available by phone, for anyone who wants to call, and he is the Head of the Order.

None of these things are actions that a controlling, abusive cult would do.

The OBC has had organizational problems to work out like any other organization.
But a cult it is anything but.

In Gasshō,

Sara H
Back to top Go down
Lise
Admin
avatar

Posts : 1416
Join date : 2009-11-08
Age : 43

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Mon Nov 19, 2012 2:45 pm

hi Sara, I know you're new here and it takes time to catch up on all the material that's been posted. I appreciate that you are joining these conversations, and I hope you won't take my comments here as an attempt to silence your voice.

You should know that Shasta Abbey did not seek out nor invite the Faith Trust Institute to do an assessment. It was not their idea but Daishin Morgan's. They didn't want to be evaluated by an outside group and tried to resist, but were not in a position to refuse.

As Isan has said on another thread, they were not transparent about releasing the full Report, which many believe they should have done. Information from several sources has said that a number of the Shasta seniors were shocked and reeling from the results, which they felt were too judgmental, and some monks simply didn't accept the study as valid or applicable to themselves.

The overt environment and culture at SA have begun to see some change, because external monitoring has left them no choice.

I have some thoughts on how and why my own opinion of the SA cult question has changed over the years, but I need to reflect a bit longer before going into it.

Thank you for your comments and please keep posting.


Last edited by Lise on Mon Nov 19, 2012 4:16 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : removed a bad idea)
Back to top Go down
http://obcconnect.forumotion.net
Guest
Guest



PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:37 am

Lise wrote:
hi Sara, I know you're new here and it takes time to catch up on all the material that's been posted. I appreciate that you are joining these conversations, and I hope you won't take my comments here as an attempt to silence your voice.

You should know that Shasta Abbey did not seek out nor invite the Faith Trust Institute to do an assessment. It was not their idea but Daishin Morgan's. They didn't want to be evaluated by an outside group and tried to resist, but were not in a position to refuse.

As Isan has said on another thread, they were not transparent about releasing the full Report, which many believe they should have done. Information from several sources has said that a number of the Shasta seniors were shocked and reeling from the results, which they felt were too judgmental, and some monks simply didn't accept the study as valid or applicable to themselves.

The overt environment and culture at SA have begun to see some change, because external monitoring has left them no choice.

I have some thoughts on how and why my own opinion of the SA cult question has changed over the years, but I need to reflect a bit longer before going into it.

Thank you for your comments and please keep posting.
Why should they?

This is not the People's Republic of Buddhism here, they are still a private organization and have a right to some privacy.

They don't need to disclose everything that they do to non-members.

When I was a board member on a non-profit, we certainly didn't disclose every single document from a board meeting or other organization we worked with.

We disclosed our financial reports and other things that one should.

If you're not a member of the OBC, you don't really have a reason to have access to internal documents.

No offense, but it's just the truth.

You're asking for an invasion of their privacy that you have no right to ask for.

You forget, that those Monasteries, and Priory's are people's homes. They live there. They have a right to some privacy.

In Gassho,

Sara H
Back to top Go down
Stan Giko

avatar

Posts : 354
Join date : 2011-06-08
Location : Lincolnshire. U.K.

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:42 pm

Lise,

I`d like to say that I agree with Sara on this point of privacy.

Nothing to do with the `rights and wrongs` of the issues involved.
Would you want to work out your family issues on the internet ? I don`t think
anyone here would want to air their grievances between man and wife, family
or close friends on the most public of platforms, the internet.
May as well have it all out on Facebook. What would be the difference ?

If I were to ask any of the members here to justify their moral standing and
proof of blameless lives, I would be given very short shrift......rightly so !

If both sides feel they are being treated with respect, it would help things to
move forward towards clarity and openness. If every comment is made with
an agenda to `nail` the other side at all costs, there will surely be little
incentive for the OBC to communicate.

I just think that even with the best of goodwill, the internet is not the best
place for sorting out highly personal problems. I don`t think there`s a
precedent for it...human nature being what it is.

To be clear, I don`t have a problem with the Forum and the things it has
exposed. I think some of the attitudes have been counterproductive from
both sides. It reminds me of the Israel/Palestine problem sometimes. Nothing
seems to ever get resolved. I really think that part of the problem is just the
public nature of the internet.

Do I think I have the answers ?..Nope, just too many unknown factors.
My cup is always half full though.
Back to top Go down
Lise
Admin
avatar

Posts : 1416
Join date : 2009-11-08
Age : 43

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:03 pm

[hi Stan, I didn't see your reply till just now - will be back later to respond. The below is in reply to Sara.]

If Shasta Abbey were a fully-cloistered community and did not solicit contact with the public, I could better appreciate the argument for keeping the report contents confidential.

Because they choose to hold themselves out to the public as teachers and spiritual counselors, and actively seek to bring the public into contact with them, they have a much more limited right to privacy regarding what goes on their centre. It is not only their home; they also use it to interact with the world, as a business. They access the public in order to receive financial support and they enjoy tax-exempt status from the govt. At the very least, in return for those benefits, they are answerable to the outer world for what they do.

If religious groups were covered by an appropriate regulatory scheme for monitoring ethical and legal operations, the FaithTrust report would have become public record as it should be. Especially when conditions like Michael Little's behaviour went unchecked for years, the public has a right to know all of what the Assessment found, rather than a sanitised Summary.

To release a small portion of material only makes people wonder, what else was there that couldn't be revealed?
Back to top Go down
http://obcconnect.forumotion.net
Guest
Guest



PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:30 pm

Lise wrote:
Because they choose to hold themselves out to the public as teachers and spiritual counselors, and actively seek to bring the public into contact with them, they have a much more limited right to privacy regarding what goes on their centre.
Lise, I'm sorry, but that's simply not true.

Being a non-profit that interacts with the public in no way voids or causes them to forfeit their legal privacy rights.

Maybe in China what you are saying would be true, but in the United States, or other western countries,
What you are saying is simply false, perhaps you are ignorant of western laws?

The law in the US, the UK and other western countries simply doesn't work that way.

They are under no legal obligation to divulge any such thing to you.

So what that leaves, is if they choose to do so, they are doing so of their own free will as an act of generosity.
They don't have to give you anything.

You're not a "customer" and they're not a "company".
And they're not a government organization funded by your tax dollars.
They are a private, non-profit organization, that offers the Dharma for free.

And they have every legal right to their privacy.

Quote :
the public has a right to know

That statement is simply false.

What you said is an ideal of how you personally think things "should" be, and not what is actually true.

And, in addition, they are human beings, and those places are their homes.

So if they're not legally obligated to give up their privacy, why should they?

I'm sure you like your privacy as well, Lise.
And even if you don't, they have a legal right to theirs.

In Gassho,

Sara H
Back to top Go down
Lise
Admin
avatar

Posts : 1416
Join date : 2009-11-08
Age : 43

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:52 pm

I should have been more clear - Shasta Abbey have a moral and ethical responsibility, and duty, of full disclosure regarding harm caused in their centre to lay people and monks. The public have a moral right to know what happened there.

Some day I hope all tax-exempt religious centres will be required as a matter of law to fully disclose audits of this kind.

I don't think generosity or free will, either one, were in play in regard to SA's publication of the FTI Summary, but I'll leave it at that. Eventually the emails may come out that will tell you more about this.

We disagree on this, Sara, but that's okay, in fact it's rule #7 in the Forum Rules (a fine piece of reading, if I can say so). We all have a right to disagree with each other, and as long we stay civil, it's all good.

cheers,

Lise


Last edited by Lise on Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:54 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo)
Back to top Go down
http://obcconnect.forumotion.net
Guest
Guest



PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:00 pm

We can stay civil Lise.

I hope you'll stay honest.

You're entitled to your opinion.

That doesn't make it the law of the land.

And quite frankly, I disagree than an organization made up of hundreds of individual monks and Laypeople, all have to give up their individual privacy, because you or someone else may have been hurt by the actions of one or more individual people.

Some of those people in the OBC may have never even met the individuls you have a beef with, nor are those people you take issue with even necessarily still involved or members of the OBC.

When you refer to the "OBC" remember that you are referring to the sum of every individual member of the organization.

99% of whom may have nothing to do with your personal issue.

I don't believe that they should all have to sacrifice their privacy, to make you feel better or to give you personal satisfaction.

You are perfectly capable of sitting through your own feelings in your own mediation.

In Gassho,

Sara H
Back to top Go down
Lise
Admin
avatar

Posts : 1416
Join date : 2009-11-08
Age : 43

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Nov 27, 2012 7:40 pm

Stan Giko wrote:
Lise,

I`d like to say that I agree with Sara on this point of privacy.

Nothing to do with the `rights and wrongs` of the issues involved.
Would you want to work out your family issues on the internet ? I don`t think
anyone here would want to air their grievances between man and wife, family
or close friends on the most public of platforms, the internet.
May as well have it all out on Facebook. What would be the difference ?

If I were to ask any of the members here to justify their moral standing and
proof of blameless lives, I would be given very short shrift......rightly so !

. . .


Hi Stan, I meant to come back sooner than this and respond to your post properly.

I agree with your points about people needing privacy to work out family issues, and how the internet is not necessarily the place to air certain kinds of grievances. If the FTI report was related to the Shasta's internal doings only (like deciding who to accept for postulancy, how to handle monks whose in-fighting has become toxic, how much to pay for medical benefits, how to manage assets, etc.), I don't see that the public has a right to know. Although, when Daishin Yalon spent all of their money one year, early in his Bursar career, then sent out a fundraising/apology letter, probably some of the donating sangha would have liked visibility to what he was doing beforehand as he seemed to have no oversight or training. Anyway, I agree that many areas of operation are not generally the public's concern.

I see the FTI Report differently because it was done for the express purpose of finding out how conditions at Shasta fostered Michael Little's behaviour with people, including many members of the public who came to SA and became his targets. It wasn't done as a general pulse-check, process-mapping or audit of the Abbey's organisational mission and growth potential -- it was done specifically in response to a crisis situation that had a direct impact on the public, and for this reason I think the public has a right to know all of what was found. It could make a real difference to their decision about getting involved there, esp. if the passage of time indicates Shasta's leadership are not correcting the problems.

I would like to say, I do understand and agree with everything else you expressed. I can't morally justify many things in my life and would not withstand a second under anyone's microscrope, that much I know for sure -
Back to top Go down
http://obcconnect.forumotion.net
Stan Giko

avatar

Posts : 354
Join date : 2011-06-08
Location : Lincolnshire. U.K.

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:41 pm

Hi Lise.

No probs,...I wasn`t particularly looking for a reply. Just making a point.

I also agree with you about the FTI report. Transparency is essential in all
situations and all times. Let alone in times of crisis. It`s like justice. It not
only has to be done, but seen to be done.

I just felt that the privacy issue was just an aspect of mutual respect. I don`t
think you would want to have public records of otherwise private sanzens for
example. You have to draw the line somewhere.

I just think it`s bad psychology to indulge in one sided blame, as a tactic to
berate a quite large group of individuals. Most of whom are not even close to
the problems. If the shadow dynamic goes back to RM Jiyu, then presumably
some of the ex monks here were part of it and played their part in it. Have
they made apologies for their actions ? If they say they are blameless
because the fault lies with Jiyu, it was their conditioning, then Jiyu cannot
be blamed also. She had her own conditioning.

We wouldn`t be like we were if we could help ourselves. It`s not an Us and
them situation, it`s an Us situation. He who is without sin....

Apart from that, yes, openness is key. Everyone`s story will hopefully be part
of the solution....I hope . So, let no stone be left unturned !

Thanks for your kind reply Lise. I do personally find that atmosphere on the
Forum to be warmer and laid back. It`s worth sticking around. :-)
Back to top Go down
Isan
Admin
avatar

Posts : 918
Join date : 2010-07-27
Location : California

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:04 pm

Stan Giko wrote:
I also agree with you about the FTI report. Transparency is essential in all situations and all times. Let alone in times of crisis. It`s like justice. It not only has to be done, but seen to be done.

Stan, all good points. With regard to the FTI report Lise also makes a good point:

"It wasn't done as a general pulse-check, process-mapping or audit of the Abbey's organisational mission and growth potential -- it was done specifically in response to a crisis situation"

Still we don't know if making the report public would be an invasion of privacy because, of course, we can't read it. I'm glad you mentioned justice, because that's what this is about. Who should be allowed to read the report? Many people suffered as a result of Eko's behavior, not just the people at Shasta Abbey during the immediate crisis preceding his departure. Should they be given access? What about members of the current lay congregation? How about junior monks who were also not shown the report? When the report is withheld even from other monks is the protection of privacy a plausible reason?

The withholding of the report is an issue because it is an example of how the organization denies and obfuscates instead of practicing the fundamental Buddhist tenet of admitting error and making amends. That is what Jiyu Kennett taught us.
Back to top Go down
Diana



Posts : 206
Join date : 2010-06-11
Location : New Mexico

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:42 pm

Just a quick 2 cents here- even the folks that were interviewed in the report were not privy to the results. There was apology given to me by Meian, and that does show her good faith. I'm not naive enough to believe that an apology would ever come from Eko himself especially that he is no longer in the order.
Back to top Go down
Lise
Admin
avatar

Posts : 1416
Join date : 2009-11-08
Age : 43

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Wed Nov 28, 2012 7:38 pm

Stan Giko wrote:
. . .

I just felt that the privacy issue was just an aspect of mutual respect. I don`t
think you would want to have public records of otherwise private sanzens for
example. You have to draw the line somewhere.

For sure, no one should give out details about sanzen unless there's confession to a serious crime & things like that.

Some former monks here have said sorry for any omissions/commissions during their OBC time, at least, I remember a few doing so (Mark, Isan, Chisanmichael). I know I'm leaving others out, sorry. If I can find the thread I'll post a link to where people talk about feeling very conflicted as they witnessed Kennett's more problematic behaviour but didn't protest or help the persons affected.

I have thought a lot about "We wouldn't be like we were if we could help ourselves." I lean toward the view that we have a lot of choice re: how to act, the things we say, the patterns that our minds run along. I've met some people who aren't self-analytical or aware, can't see how they're perceived by others, so I accept that some people possibly can't help themselves. Maybe some of the OBC monks discussed here (Kennett, Eko) could not help themselves after a point, and if that's true, I think it matters to try to figure out why. It must look and sound like blame, I suppose. But I think some of us are genuinely mystified as to how things went wrong and why these leaders' practise of the Dharma wasn't enough to keep the negative behaviours in check.

Stan, your posts help me to continue thinking instead of clicking the tired old "replay" button on my oft-recited opinions. I appreciate that Smile
Back to top Go down
http://obcconnect.forumotion.net
sianabelle

avatar

Posts : 44
Join date : 2010-09-13
Location : Scotland

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Thu Nov 29, 2012 3:16 am

Mia wrote:
sianabelle wrote:
it's not exactly in the same league as the Scientologists is it?
That's why I pooh-poohed the suggestion to begin with, but failing to take genuine concerns seriously is what got us into this mess in the first place.

That's quite right, Mia, good point. I get so frustrated when questions are not allowed to be asked, or if they are, they get ignored, like it's as if you never spoke. Mind you, these days more often I prefer to do the listening, I say to myself "listen and learn".
Back to top Go down
Carol

avatar

Posts : 364
Join date : 2009-11-10

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:48 am

I personally would like to read the report on the Eko investigation because Eko and his teachings kept me connected to the OBC for years. He was my "savior" when things went sour at North Cascades.

As a personal matter, I would like to see what I missed. How do we assess the accuracy of our responses to the world? Reading that report would for me be like looking into a mirror. Where did I go astray in placing my faith in Eko and his teachings? Was I right in part? Was I totally deluded?

I understand this isn't part of the discussion about the rightness or wrongness of the OBC's decision to keep the report private. It's just my reaction to their decision. For me, they are missing a teaching moment.
Back to top Go down
Dr Dyson



Posts : 3
Join date : 2012-12-31
Location : United Kingdom

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:10 am

I hope no one will mind if, as a newcomer to this site, I put in my fourpence worth.

I used to go fairly regularly to Throssel Hole as a lay trainee. In the course of time certain misgivings/dislikes started to form in my mind. They boil down to the following:

(a) The monks’ attitude to the lay students was very much de haut en bas, and their attitude to the dharma very authoritarian and dogmatic.

(b) Much of Jiyu Kennett’s autobiographical and semi-autobiographical writing seemed to me rather obviously self-serving. The picture that I formed of her at an early stage was of a self-dramatising, control freak, attention-seeking type. I never met her, but from what I have subsequently learnt from people who did, I wasn’t the only one to have this impression.

(c) Jiyu Kennett seemed to enjoy a kind of quasi-papal status as an infallible fount of wisdom that mustn’t be questioned.

(c) I felt that at Throssel Hole the dharma (to me, a simple life of desirelessness and compassion) was hugely and unnecessarily complicated: that a good deal of what was done there looked very like Worship and could only clutter and distract the mind.

What tipped the balance for me – what made me decide to leave the place alone – was an incident that occurred when I and a close friend went to Throssel Hole together in 1996. In due course there came a Summons that I was to go and be interviewed by Reverend X [no names, I think]. My friend got a similar summons. When I went to see Reverend X it turned out that I had been “reported” for having a private conversation with my friend during one of the breaks, and that I was now to be cross-examined as to the nature of our friendship. I’m afraid I made my position rather bluntly clear: that I resented being kept under surveillance and “reported”; that I would not be permitted or forbidden to talk to anyone; that I had no intention whatsoever of answering the kind of highly personal questions that Reverend X wanted to ask. Whereupon Reverend X suggested that it might be a good idea for me to leave the monastery as soon as I could. I recount this incident for what it’s worth. People may think I was in the wrong. I don’t, but I’m not into self-justification here.

A cult? I suppose it depends on what you mean by “cult.” They want your mind, certainly, and it’s a very controlling environment, with people being watched and tales being told. Certainly they want you to be submissive, and can turn nasty if you won’t play. But wouldn’t all this be just as true of a strict Benedictine/Cistercian/Trappist monastery? Aren’t things like this true of many large business corporations? Perhaps monasteries are the kind of places in which control-freaks and people who like to be controlled tend to congregate.

What it comes down to, maybe, is that, if you don’t like monastic life, stay away from monasteries and live the dharma in the world.
Back to top Go down
Isan
Admin
avatar

Posts : 918
Join date : 2010-07-27
Location : California

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Jan 01, 2013 12:21 pm

Dr Dyson wrote:
I hope no one will mind if, as a newcomer to this site, I put in my fourpence worth.

A cult? I suppose it depends on what you mean by “cult.” They want your mind, certainly, and it’s a very controlling environment, with people being watched and tales being told. Certainly they want you to be submissive, and can turn nasty if you won’t play. But wouldn’t all this be just as true of a strict Benedictine/Cistercian/Trappist monastery? Aren’t things like this true of many large business corporations? Perhaps monasteries are the kind of places in which control-freaks and people who like to be controlled tend to congregate.

What it comes down to, maybe, is that, if you don’t like monastic life, stay away from monasteries and live the dharma in the world.

Hello Dr Dyson and welcome to OBC Connect. Feel free to contribute wherever you wish and note that there's an introduction section should you decide to share a little about yourself.

As to your experience at Throssel it was highly typical - the arrogance, condescension and control you describe are aspects of the culture Jiyu Kennett created. Interesting question you pose about monasteries being places where people who need to control and be controlled congregate. The problem in the religious sphere is these basic behaviors are obscured by the enchantment of spiritual practice. It sounds like you were able to reject that environment a lot more quickly than I did :-)
Back to top Go down
Jcbaran

avatar

Posts : 1614
Join date : 2010-11-13
Age : 67
Location : New York, NY

PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   Tue Jan 01, 2013 2:53 pm

Dr. Dyson -- welcome. Please do share your thoughts anywhere on the site - jump in. There are many topics and conversations that relate to both the OBC and other groups / situations.

There is no one definition for what a cult is. I sometimes call groups "cultic" - but that's hardly precise. Sometimes I talk about the OBC as an extended "personality cult" since that nails what Kennett created. Certainly, we can talk specifics that make a group more authoritarian, dogmatic, closed, repressive, emotionally toxic, self-blind and so on.

Recently posted a lot of material on the current Shimano and Sasaki situations. These groups were / are also highly "cultic" in their behavior, blind adoration of the teacher, group think, denial, insulated, and so on. And just because sexual conduct was involved in these cases doesn't make these groups more toxic or more unhealthy than Shasta / Kennett / OBC.
Back to top Go down
Sponsored content




PostSubject: Re: Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?   

Back to top Go down
 
Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?
View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Page 3 of 4Go to page : Previous  1, 2, 3, 4  Next
 Similar topics
-
» Rev. Sun Myung Moon is dying - current big cult story unfolding
» Is the OBC a cult? What do you think?
» Debunking the myth of General Relativity and cult of Mathematical physics
» NBC Dateline - One hour on Michael Roache Buddhist cult
» Antisocial Personality Disorder in Cult Leaders

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
OBC Connect :: OBC Connect :: OBC Experiences-
Jump to: