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 Hi, new member here: Jim

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Serend



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PostSubject: Hi, new member here: Jim   Sun Jun 12, 2011 12:08 am

Quick hello to the forum folks: discovered the forum when I googled "That which is true is greater than that which is holy." (Inscribed on the back of my lay minister's rakusu, which I will be sending back to the OBC executive secretary in the next few days...story to follow).

How cool is it that here I get to bump into Josh/Jitsudo, Kyogen, Gyokoko (who opened the gates to me at my first visit to Shasta Abbey), Sophia, Meian, Carol Arnold and many other acquaintances over the years? cheers (Lay ordination at Shasta Abbey in 1975.)

I look forward to catching up with all of you, and to get to know those I've not met. Will be browsing the forum over the next few days to catch the general drift and see what I might add to the discussions.

With bows,
Jim McCormick
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cmpnwtr

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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Sun Jun 12, 2011 12:41 am

Welcome, Jim, from another former OBC lay minister. ( I sent my rakusu with the same inscription back in 1987 ). It can be a good forum for working through unfinished business and learning from others who may be doing the same.
Blessings,
Bill Ryan
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Sun Jun 12, 2011 10:49 am

Serend wrote:


How cool is it that here I get to bump into Josh/Jitsudo, Kyogen, Gyokoko (who opened the gates to me at my first visit to Shasta Abbey), Sophia, Meian, Carol Arnold and many other acquaintances over the years? cheers (Lay ordination at Shasta Abbey in 1975.)


With bows,
Jim McCormick

Welcome Jim,

Yes, there are many here from the early days. It has made for interesting and helpful conversation. I look forward to your thoughts.
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Serend



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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Sun Jun 12, 2011 1:22 pm

Thanks, Bill & Isan! (Bill, I recognize yous as one of the familiar faces in the constellation I encountered many times at Shasta Abbey.)

I have a long association with OBC: some 36 years, 15 as a lay minister. (Wow, that went by quickly, didn't it?) I've not experienced many of the disappointments mentioned by other forum members, and my principal feeling toward OBC is one of gratitude. I experienced Recognition at Shasta Abbey almost as soon as I walked through the gate, and the Dharma path I have followed since then has been profoundly shaped by the Order.

My experience has been positive overall and I have many good friends in the Order as well as among those who have left. For many years I equated OBC with "my" Sangha, not really thinking about it too much...it was my faith community. Although I was associated with a Pure Land temple during the dozen or so years I lived on the East Coast, I never felt really at home there. I managed my career so that I could relocate to the Seattle area, in large part so that I could renew contact with what I have always thought of as the Shasta Sangha. I now see that the organization OBC is related only tangentially to "my" Sangha.

I am a lay disciple of Rev. Master Koshin Schomberg, who left the OBC some months ago. Rev. Master Haryo, the current head of the Order, recently asked that I either renounce my discipleship to RM Koshin or resign from the lay ministry, explaining that under the rules and by-laws of the Order the two roles are incompatible. I personally don't perceive the two roles as incompatible, but I understand that from an administrative/organizational point of view such may be the case. Since administrative/organizational viewpoints are somewhat irrelevant in matters of the heart/mind, I tendered my resignation to the Order with some sadness, but with no regret. The decision was not a difficult one; in fact it never really even felt like I was making a decision to leave the Order. Staying with my teacher is the natural and obvious course of action for me.

So I am thankful for RM Jiyu Kennet's teachings: they pointed my way to the Dharma, and I'm thankful for the good friends in the Order who have helped me along the way.

Much has been said on the forum about RM Jiyu's behavior and personality. I always found it interesting that I didn't particularly like RMJK--she seemed to be grumpy and defensive in much of what she wrote and said. But the monks who were her disciples exhibited something in their being that touched me in the most compelling way. And I came to understand that something was going on that was much more important than my likes and dislikes. As the scripture says, the Truth "is like a giant fireball: never come to close nor put yourself too far away." As luck would have it, I've found my "locale" with regard to OBC to be just about right.

Again, thanks for your warm welcome. I look forward to visiting with you in the days ahead.

With bows,
Jim
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Mon Jun 13, 2011 10:12 am

Serend wrote:

I am a lay disciple of Rev. Master Koshin Schomberg, who left the OBC some months ago. Rev. Master Haryo, the current head of the Order, recently asked that I either renounce my discipleship to RM Koshin or resign from the lay ministry, explaining that under the rules and by-laws of the Order the two roles are incompatible. I personally don't perceive the two roles as incompatible, but I understand that from an administrative/organizational point of view such may be the case. Since administrative/organizational viewpoints are somewhat irrelevant in matters of the heart/mind, I tendered my resignation to the Order with some sadness, but with no regret.

So I am thankful for RM Jiyu Kennet's teachings: they pointed my way to the Dharma, and I'm thankful for the good friends in the Order who have helped me along the way.

Much has been said on the forum about RM Jiyu's behavior and personality. I always found it interesting that I didn't particularly like RMJK--she seemed to be grumpy and defensive in much of what she wrote and said. But the monks who were her disciples exhibited something in their being that touched me in the most compelling way.
With bows,

Jim

Hello Jim,

I believe you are the first student of RM Koshin to post in the forum. I agree with you that organizational matters are secondary, but I'm curious about them in this case. It seems significant that Koshin and the NCBP Sangha have separated from the OBC and it would be interesting to hear more about that. What can you tell us?

Regarding RM Jiyu Kennett I have a somewhat similar point of view. That she was not particularly likeable did not prevent me from learning. I did eventually have to leave, but much good came out of my studies with her.
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Serend



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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Mon Jun 13, 2011 1:11 pm

Hello Isan,

I'd rather not discuss RM Koshin's reasons for leaving the OBC other than to say that it was not a hasty decision on his part. His monastic disciples have also resigned from the Order, as have the other senior monks residing at NCBP. I think the lay ministers are still considering their next step.

The organizational issues I referred to have to do with one of the OBC rules concerning lay ministers, who are expected to "...express his or her Buddhist practice by practicing only the teachings of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives." As I understand it, RM Haryo interprets RM Koshin's resignation from the Order as a departure from RM Jiyu's teachings. I can't speak to RM Haryo's specific concerns in this regard since he didn't offer any examples when we spoke.

I don't feel that this matter has affected my relationship with my many friends who remain in the Order in any meaningful way.

With bows,
Jim
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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Mon Jun 13, 2011 2:30 pm

Hi Jim, here's a belated welcome -- I'm catching up after being away.

I have a follow-on question to your comment about Koshin, but please know that there is no obligation for you to comment further -- but if you're inclined to -- to your knowledge, did Koshin actually tell his lay followers the reason for the resignations, or did he confine his remarks to "it wasn't a hasty decision"?

Lise

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Serend



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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Mon Jun 13, 2011 9:13 pm

Hi Lise, and thanks for your efforts to keep this forum up and on track (a helpful forum for those of us with experience in/with OBC.

RM Koshin has not, so far as I know, explained in any detail to his lay followers the reasons for his resignation. I'm sorry that I can't say more on this.

With bows,
Jim
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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Tue Jun 14, 2011 10:54 pm

So, you don't know what happened?...
"RM Koshin has not, so far as I know, explained in any detail to his lay followers the reasons for his resignation."
...and yet you remain, what?, his devoted lay disciple?...
"Staying with my teacher is the natural and obvious course of action for me."
I'm sorry, but I find your position to be a very scary one, mostly of utter ignorance. You down-play everything including the most obviously disturbing story I have ever heard- Amalia's story. Even Haryo and the order has made decisions and thank goodness, has let the North Cascades abusers go. And what, you're saying basically that you don't know anything, but you're going to keep training with Koshin.
Am I the only one totally disturbed by this information????????????????
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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:31 pm

I am going to risk the wrath of many here and point out something that has struck me from the beginning of my time on this forum. Here goes:

Amalia fully admits that she was having a psychotic break while she was at North Cascades. People who are having psychotic breaks cannot rely on their own perceptions during their psychotic breaks. Other people cannot rely upon that person's perceptions of what was happening during their psychotic breaks either. People who have experienced psychosis rarely have a clear memory of psychotic episodes. It is inherent in the condition.

While Amalia's story is truly problematic, what actually happened is anybody's guess if they weren't there. The fact that she was mismanaged is clear but I don't know what anyone could have done for her if she didn't allow it. You cannot force an adult to seek medical or psychiatric care, to my knowledge. People have the right to refuse care unless they are a danger to themselves or others, again, to my knowledge. If anyone knows different I will gladly stand corrected.

So, at the risk of offending, and with respect and care for Amalia's experience, I just think it's important to remember this stuff when using Amalia's case as ammunition.

And I'd like to say hello to Jim/Serend, I'm glad you could join us, and I wish you could tell, (maybe you can?) Reverend Basil that he meant/means a great deal to me.
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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:12 am

I am not sure anymore what has been told to me privately and what is public, so I feel rightly that my hands are tied a bit in my comments (for once!)I broke the story here of the previous lives experienced, especially of Jesus , Bodhidarma etc,It creasted a debate as to right and wrong practice.The point with visions and these previous lives, is the attachment to them. The importance placed on them, I think importance was placed on them, if not there would have been a completely different spin , one of honesty, you know..I had a vision I was Jesus but I let it go it was transient.I do not think this was the case,it was more 'dont tell anyone or it may go against us, they may think Mark was right. I have been told that these visionary practices were continued at North Cascades, and joint visions were experienced,I think also they were regarded as kensho. Well all powerful stuff,. These practices are wrong way zen, they lead one into delusion, a stronger sense of self and individuality all dressed up as true Buddhism,but the simple fact that they if they are part of the practice, then this will be transmitted to innocent people like Amelia and allow her to be more fervent in in her endevours. When the practice of a place is fervent, and incredibley devout, or over the top,practicioners go to strange places in their minds fast.One of the good aspects I found in Japan was the practice, was always the same, every day,it was a grind , zazen, cleaning, digging, zazen, it was always going on, through the night and day.It was helpful to me, simply because it enabled me to realise the moment, here , now, this moment, everything else is fabrication. This fabrication keeps us from realising we are this moment.I have not met Amelia, I have written to her ,and her mum, and just had a message from her mum,but my point is at a key moment in Amelias life, there seemed little or no humanity, she should have had an arm put around her, she should have been cared for,it is as simple as that
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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Wed Jun 15, 2011 2:50 am

I am a retired mental health counselor with 30 years experience in diagnosing and treating severe mental illness in the public sector of mental health services, including six years as a crisis intervention and commitment specialist dealing with acute psychiatric emergencies, including severe psychosis. It is a mistake to attack the credibility of Amalia based on her awareness that at some juncture in the course of the progression of her experience that she had an episode that involved psychotic symptoms.(Amalia reported that the treating psychiatrist had given a diagnosis of a trauma induced psychosis, a transitory, not chronic condition, brought on by extreme stress.) I read her account with interest and what was most troubling to me from a professional and ethical standpoint, is that she was exhibiting profound psychological distress in response to the pressures being placed on her. Her behaviors and symptoms of distress were interpreted instead as a spiritual malaise or crisis caused by karmic entities that were attached to her, and the use of rituals of "Buddhist" exorcism were being employed to address her problems, which only caused greater distress, confusion, and psychological decompensation. I found the reports of this clergy behavior appalling and when she should have had psychological or psychiatric attention, it was reportedly not offered or made available by those in charge. I found these reports of the spiritualizing of mental health distress in Amalia's account consistent with teachings given at Shasta Abbey in my tenure, along with a denigration of the mental health disciplines and attacks on their efficacy.

In my recent dialogue with present authorities at Shasta Abbey and the OBC I made a point of advocating for mental health training for priests who are working with the public, and for the cessation of practices that interpret mental health problems as symptom of spiritual disease. Amalia and her mother have endured through this crisis and have constructively attempted to address their concerns about others having to undergo destructive experiences. For myself they have my full support. They have chosen the discreet avenues that they have chosen, and have decided to let go of the public discussion of those events for the present. I have an opinion about what happened based on my reading of the account, and my prior knowledge of Koshin and of my experiences of the teachings received through Shasta Abbey and the OBC. But I don't think now is the time to do a public rehash of these events, especially since the survivor and her mother are electing to leave it behind. It is a positive sign that the OBC and the clergy involved in this incident are going separate ways. It is best to respect Amalia's and Carol's wishes at this juncture.
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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:07 am

Diana,
I too was ,and am , disturbed by Koshins disciples attitude - very . I'm afraid i subsided into a familiar - to me now - despair and pain and rage about the OBC and religion and Masters , and my x master who is v close to Koshin .
I'm just not articulate enough , and get kind of lost in this site so full of reasoning and admirable articles from josh and fine arguments etc . That is the trouble - perhaps with on line stuff , it goes in , i want to know and share , and then i put it down , it haunts me but i dont have to contribute . If we all were sitting together perhaps I'd manage a groan or a possibly not very helpful tear , or just agreeing whole heartedly with the likes of you .Well , at least THAT i can do , NOW !
And yes Michael , yes ,i agree an arm put round Amelia , and care ...........yes.
Thank you both of you .
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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:56 pm

Bill,

Are you saying that those you've been talking with at Shasta think it's a good idea to have mental health training? Do you get the feeling that they're beginning to see the complexities of being human and that sitting and looking at a wall -- though extraordinarily valuable in my opinion -- is just one aspect to spiritual and mental health?

Even when Daizui -- Ph.D., psychology -- was alive, mental health care was poo-pooed at Shasta. One senior monk had such a severe breakdown that his parents were called to come get him. He was banished from the grounds, and the OBC had a restraining order issued against him. This was after he'd been there for 20-plus years. He was not dangerous. He was just a nuisance and they wanted to get rid of him. I was not there when it happened; however, I spent many hours on the phone with this monk listening to how he had been treated. Daizui was the head of the order. I don't know why he didn't intervene.

There's a community of Eastern Orthodox monks that I know of that had a monk with some serious mental health and chemical dependency issues. He died as a result of those issues. Upon his death, his community wrote a very loving, tender tribute to him, and still to this day he is remembered with only the warmest regards. They tried to help him. They didn't kick him out. To me it seems like in their vows to god, they also made vows to their fellow monks: for better or worse, we're in this together.

The aspect of the OBC's practice to seemingly try and annilate anyone outside the status quo is very disturbing to me. (I'm addressing mental health here, not Koshin.)

Bill, in your experience with Catholic monasticism, have you seen similar attitudes of rejection towards those in their communities with mental health issues?


mokuan
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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:10 pm

I am very grateful to you, Bill, for your specialist opinion. I found your following statement particularly insightful:

I found these reports of the spiritualizing of mental health distress in
Amalia's account consistent with teachings given at Shasta Abbey in my
tenure,[...]
(bold letters mine)

I found that the tendency to "spiritualize" (what a good term!) our behaviour at Shasta was the principal method of guidance on Roshi's part. The problem with it is, that there are no constrains there (Roshi was the expert on matters spiritual), and there was no recourse. Anything one did, or failed to do, or did incompetently, was interpreted in this light. This 'technique' disarmed one's common sense and undermined one's self-confidence; and it paralyzed one's ethical sense. If Roshi 'went after' (I am not exaggerating!) a fellow monk, we all accepted it meekly and mutely, because Roshi was presumed to be using skillful means, guided by her transcendent wisdom and motivated purely by benevolence and compassion. No allowance was made for her fallibility...and worse, for the possible existence of her psychological deformity (wishing to hurt another human being, in my view, is a deformity).
My impression is that Koshin and his hench(wo)men were very able students of Roshi's in this respect.
I very much like your point, Bill, regarding us not going into Amanda's case now, since she now chooses to withdraw from the public eye, and Carol respects that. We must also respect that, and be very circumspect as to what we say, if we mention it at all. At times we may still touch on it, since it is such a glaring example of what went severly wrong in OBC; but analyzing the case is not appropriate and may be hurtful to Amanda. I think that, with your expert assessment, we may now put our tentative and possibly incompetent evaluations to rest.
Thank you, Bill, for your kind and calm posts on the forum.
Ol'ga
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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Wed Jun 15, 2011 5:53 pm

mokuan wrote:
Bill,


Even when Daizui -- Ph.D., psychology -- was alive, mental health care was poo-pooed at Shasta. One senior monk had such a severe breakdown that his parents were called to come get him. He was banished from the grounds, and the OBC had a restraining order issued against him. This was after he'd been there for 20-plus years. He was not dangerous. He was just a nuisance and they wanted to get rid of him. I was not there when it happened; however, I spent many hours on the phone with this monk listening to how he had been treated. Daizui was the head of the order. I don't know why he didn't intervene.
)

Bill, in your experience with Catholic monasticism, have you seen similar attitudes of rejection towards those in their communities with mental health issues?


mokuan

Mokuan... I honestly don't know what the present leadership of SA or the OBC thinks about mental health as a valid discipline and way of understanding human psyche and behavior. Your characterization of former times is sadly very true. Daizui (Doug) was a good friend, mentor, and also a professional mental health colleague. He did his psychologist post-doctoral residency and post-residency work at the mental health clinic where I worked, and we collaborated in co-therapy together with groups. I think Doug was very conflicted in certain areas with the teachings of Jiyu Kennett and Shasta Abbey, especially regarding the practice of psychology and psychiatry. Doug was well trained and did his predoctorate internship at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute. (Sadly when he found himself in those conflicts he always capitulated with JK wanted. That included the insistence that he break off from contact with me at a certain point.) He tried to educate the monks there to no avail. The episode you cite of the veteran monk abandoned and sent away doesn't surprise me, but saddens me, especially where Daizui's own negligence and complicity are concerned. He knew better.

At the time I was active at SA and the OBC there were prevailing beliefs that Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Major Depression and a whole host of other brain disorders were curable with Zen meditation. When I went through Jukai there was an out of control paranoid Schizophrenia who was obviously becoming more agitated and aggressive as a result of intense meditation. He ended up assaulting the guest master. Even that kind of experience didn't change their minds. Ironic isn't it. Belief trumps experience in a Zen monastery?

Regarding the Catholic monastic communities. It wasn't always so, but mental health disorders and problems are pretty much an accepted part of their reality system, and it's generally easy for monks to get access to psychotherapy and psychiatric medications, if needed. My own mentor of many years, Abbot Bernard McVeigh, chaired a monthly meeting of therapists, psychiatrists, and spiritual practitioners in the Portland area because he thought it was a good idea for people like himself to make use of the psychotherapeutic disciplines and to work cooperatively to help people. He was not averse himself to being in therapy or attending workshops on psychological and emotional healing. Being a Zen sitter also, he was aware that practitioners' unhealed psychological wounds are exposed through practice, and having a good therapist to work with was a good adjunct to a solid sitting practice.

I hope I addressed your questions.
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Serend



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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Thu Jun 16, 2011 6:05 pm

Diana wrote:
So, you don't know what happened?...
"RM Koshin has not, so far as I know, explained in any detail to his lay followers the reasons for his resignation."
...and yet you remain, what?, his devoted lay disciple?...
"Staying with my teacher is the natural and obvious course of action for me."
I'm sorry, but I find your position to be a very scary one, mostly of utter ignorance. You down-play everything including the most obviously disturbing story I have ever heard- Amalia's story. Even Haryo and the order has made decisions and thank goodness, has let the North Cascades abusers go. And what, you're saying basically that you don't know anything, but you're going to keep training with Koshin.
Am I the only one totally disturbed by this information????????????????

Diana,

I remain Rev. Koshin's lay disciple because I have found his teaching to be very helpful. I realize that has not been everyone's experience. I don't consider myself "devoted" to him, certainly not in the way you imply: as though I would be blind to his mistakes. Discipleship, as I experience it, doesn't involve surrendering my judgement or slavishly applauding everything my teacher does.

As for the reasons behind his resignation from the OBC, the question I answered above was whether he had explained them to his lay followers. So far as I know, he has not done so in any significant detail. My sense is that it is a matter of "irreconcilable differences." I would refer you to the people concerned, Rev. Koshin and Haryo, if you want more information on those differences.

I have not seen Amalia's website. I know little about what happened during her time at NCBP, but it is clear that it was very difficult for her. Please don't interpret my ignorance as indifference to her nor my wish to respect other people's business as an attempt to "down-play everything" at NCBP.

With regard to the issue raised above about the OBC's tendency to regard mental health problems as spiritual matters, I'll make an observation with this caveat: I am not a mental health expert, and I'm not a Zen master. In my own experience I have found that the two "domains" aren't independent, any more than the body and mind are separate. I have received help from mental health professionals for depression, and I find that my Buddhist practice is very helpful in maintaining a bright mind and positive outlook. It is not, to my way of thinking, a matter of only one or the other.

As my teacher Rev. Koshin represents the Eternal to me. Should he behave toward me in an abusive way or otherwise violated my trust in him, I would have to reevaluate my discipleship. He has done nothing to make me question his trustworthiness. So yes, I will keep training with him.

With bows,
Jim
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Thu Jun 16, 2011 8:42 pm

Hello Serend
my teacher Rev. Koshin represents the Eternal to me.

I have no opinion as to whether Koshin should or shouldn't represent the eternal to you but since my spirituality has evolved largely from meditation, I seem to have some devotional blind spots & simple queries to ask that I think I've mostly ignored in the past.

I am not sure what you really mean when you say someone represents the Eternal to you? Are you choosing a particular person to teach you about the Eternal? In following that persons teachings are you better able to experience the Eternal? Is it a case of deliberately choosing to follow another persons guidance so as to reduce the chance of pandering to your own ego?

My second question has to do with why your choice to follow this person is only conditional to how it effects you. My practise of meditation tends to dissolve the boundaries between self and others but it sounds like your devotional practise works differently? Is this typical of devotional practise or is it just the way your practise has developed?

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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Thu Jun 16, 2011 9:32 pm

Hello.
Jim clearly wrote that he did not read Amalia's website. This website and the detailed story are no longer available. He cannot go by other people's say-so. I would give him the benefit of the doubt, for now.
As to his relationship to the eternal or Eternal, and his relationship with his teacher, his way of chosing his teacher, his practice, they are entirely his business.
If your questions, Howard, are just that, questions, rather than challenges (they seem to me to be the latter, but I have been wrong once in the past, ehm), then perhaps they should be asked in a PM.
What I mean is that some privacy should be respected even on a forum such as this - or perhaps particularly on this kind of a forum.
Anyway, I used the world 'should' twice in this post. Upon a brief consideration I still stand by it.
Ol'ga


Last edited by Ol'ga on Thu Jun 16, 2011 10:34 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : typo's)
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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Thu Jun 16, 2011 11:53 pm

Dear Ol'ga

Congrats with the hall room moniter job position.

Serends choice to pass on checking out a disturbing story on one of Koshins other disciples is his business so the only doubt mentioned was your "benefit of the doubt".

Everyone else on this forum has had to labour with my (meditation verses devotion) koan so why not Serend too ?

Since he made a statement about Koshin representing the eternal to him and as I am ignorant about much of how that works, I've asked him to teach me about it if he's willing. I could of asked you but it was Serends Eternal public statement posting..

I'm not sure how to address your suggestion that questions be reserved for pms while challenges be left for public postings. I don't expect him to be shy or embarrassed about his knowledge of this path but nothing stops him from PMing me if he is or just not answering at all..


Cheeky Cheers


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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Fri Jun 17, 2011 12:27 am

Hi Howard,
I appreciate your cheeky cheers. It's fun to have you back for a while.
I thought that Serend could not check on Amalia's history because it is no longer available.
There would be no point in your asking me about the Eternal, as I don't know anything about it.
OK, now I understand that this is your meditation versus devotion koan - fair enough. I don't see the two as opposite, rather as co-mingling. You know, like two legs that you need to walk. Oh, I don't mean that legs co-mingle, that would look rather odd. Oh dear, what was I saying...
Perhaps I jumped to Serend's defence unnecessarily - I rather mind when the new kid on the block gets clobbered...while it is perfectly possible that there was no clobbering and that Serend himself didn't mind.
BTW, Serend, are you there?
Re my suggesting you PM Serend those questions: I'll PM you tomorrow, shall I? Now I'm off to my feathery bed; hope there no peas under the matrace.
Ciao, buddy,
Ol'ga
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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Fri Jun 17, 2011 1:32 am

Sorry, can someone explain to me what the eternal is please. I have not come across it before
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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Fri Jun 17, 2011 2:20 am

Hey Chisan
Sorry, can someone explain to me what the eternal is please. I have not come across it before

OK Chisan, my time zone favours a first answer so I'll bite.

Someone might say its another word for the unborn, the undying, the uncreated, or whatever transcends all dimension, space. Captain Kirk was always running into it.

Tonight I'd say that it's the word that best contrasts the minutia of our own ego based perceptions.

At Shasta it usually had that vague whiff of a christian based god but with all the PC trappings that Buddhism tended to coat over the residential Deity that inhabited any country that Buddhism entered.

If we are a cherry, its the whole spiritual sundae.

Buddhists that make fun of the Eternal often seem to get the lumpy zafu, just in case yours was a mock posting.

Cheers
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Fri Jun 17, 2011 4:05 am

Lumpy zafu
Green frog jumps in
Kerplunk
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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Fri Jun 17, 2011 11:23 am

I thought Howard's question was pretty gentle actually, and one I would wonder about myself. To say that one's teacher represents the Eternal is a huge statement and a very interesting one. I think it's fair to ask him what that means to him. It could be interpreted in several ways.
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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Fri Jun 17, 2011 12:10 pm

Ah the eternal! Are we talking about inside of time, in which case we are talking about everlasting; are we talking about outside of time, in which case we are talking about the unborn and uncreated, the undying and indestructible.

But perhaps we mean something more prosaic. There was reportedly a British consul in some far flung part of the world where nothing ever seemed to happen and whose weekly reports always reported just that, nothing. Until one day he sent the cryptic H:13:8. Fearing an unexpected coup or something worse, everyone scurried around looking in various code books and protocols until someone had the sense to send out for a bible (King James version) and looked up Hebrews 13:8
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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Fri Jun 17, 2011 1:38 pm

Time, the gauge of time, the concept of time, our need to gauge time, our ability to gauge time, and where is this yesterday and tomorrow
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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Fri Jun 17, 2011 9:40 pm

Howard wrote:


I am not sure what you really mean when you say someone represents the Eternal to you? Are you choosing a particular person to teach you about the Eternal? In following that persons teachings are you better able to experience the Eternal? Is it a case of deliberately choosing to follow another persons guidance so as to reduce the chance of pandering to your own ego?

My second question has to do with why your choice to follow this person is only conditional to how it effects you. My practise of meditation tends to dissolve the boundaries between self and others but it sounds like your devotional practise works differently? Is this typical of devotional practise or is it just the way your practise has developed?

Howard

Howard, thanks for your question. What I meant by my comment about RM Koshin representing the Eternal to
me: a number of years ago I asked him how I could distinguish
promptings from my True Nature from the other random ideas and thoughts that entered
my head. "What is the tone of voice that I need to listen for?", I
asked him. He looked at me and smiled and said, "I think you and the
Eternal are going to have a most interesting time together." Or
something like that.

Fast forward ten or so years. It dawns on
me that whenever I get a "noodge" from my deeper Self, the Eternal, Buddha Nature, or whatever you want to call it, it is as though I
am hearing RM Koshin saying something to me. It's not an auditory
hallucination, or anything like that, but there is definitely a "Koshin"
quality to the thought/realization/nudge/prompting. I reported to him
in sanzen one day that I'd finally figured out what the Eternal sounds
like, and I said "The Eternal's tone of voice sounds very much like yours."
He dismissed it, saying "The Eternal uses what is available to help all
beings." I told him that I wasn't confused about this, it's just that I
thought it was interesting that the "tone of voice" I was listening for
turned out to sound a lot like him.

I should add for clarity that I do not consider my teacher to be the Eternal. Nor do I worship him or consider him inerrant or anything like that. I listen carefully to what he has to say to me, and I try to set aside my own opinions when I listen to him. I often find that he is pointing to a deeper understanding of things that warrants my attention.

I don't understand Chisan's and mstrathern's playful comments about time. I would agree with Howard that it is somewhat like the Christians' idea of God (for purposes of explanation...that is a complicated question).

I hope that's helpful.

with bows,
Jim
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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:44 pm

Jim,
You seem to express yourself carefully, meticulously. Then, surprisingly, you write:

I do believe the monks acted with good faith and tried to help Amalia, because I find that most people do the best they can, mistakes notwithstanding. [emphasis mine]

If 'most people do the best they can, mistakes nothwithstanding', does it mean, that there are no child-molestors, no sadists - no deliberately hurtful actions, no breaches of ethics, ever? Does it also mean that there are no gravely wrong acts, albeit carried out with the best intentions?

On the other hand, if there indeed are child-molestors, sadists, etc, if there exist deliberately hurtful actions, wrong acts by commission or omission, how can you then 'believe the monks acted with good faith and tried to help Amalia'?

If the monks' motives were beyond reproach (how would one determine that?; should one assume that?), but their actions were gravely wrong and caused great harm, should they be absolved of any blame, because 'most people do the best they can'?

I intentionally used the word 'blame'. It is frequently necessary to determine who caused harm, and how. To deliberately, pointedly, avoid looking at the situation means chosing blindness over truth. What a waste.

Ol'ga

Ol'ga
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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Sat Jun 18, 2011 1:06 am

Ol'ga,

I'm at something of a loss as to how to respond. I can't tell whether your questions are a rhetorical device, or whether you want me to answer them. I'll err on the side of saying more than less, though do I feel a bit silly answering them.

I do believe that most people do the best they can. Happily, most of us are not sadists or child molesters, and most of us don't go around deliberately hurting others. I trust that you you yourself act in good faith when dealing with others, though I have no verifiable evidence to support that trust. Would you consider that rash of me?

I also suspect that since most of us do at some time or other, you have also done things that caused others harm, even though your intentions may have been good at the time. Were I to discover an occasion when this happened, I don't see how it would be beneficial to you, to those you offended, or to the general public for me to blame you or shame you or lump you with the sadists and pedophiles. Your actions, and mine, have consequences and if we make mistakes, then we suffer the consequences of those mistakes. To hold others in judgement has about it a taint of arrogance and hostility that makes me uneasy. It goes against the precepts I try to follow.

If people's actions are gravely wrong and cause great harm, they will reap the consequences of having done so. I have no need to determine who caused the harm and how.

I trust that the monks at NCBP acted in good faith because I know them, and have known them for many years. They're as fallible as anyone else, I suppose, but they don't strike me as people who would intentionally do harm. I am not privy to the exchanges that took place with Amalia, so even if I were inclined to judge the behavior of her and the monks, which I'm not, I couldn't do so objectively. You do me an injustice to suggest that I am deliberately, pointedly, avoiding looking at the situation and choosing blindness over truth.

What is clear to me is that you do blame the monks for what happened to Amalia, and that you are angry about it. I am puzzled as to why you are taking an angry tone with me, however. I feel like you are trying to pick a fight with me.

With bows,
Jim McCormick
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Ol'ga

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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Sat Jun 18, 2011 10:45 am

Hi Jim,
Thank you for your reply.
No, my questions were not a rhetorical device. I was questioning your argumentation: if most people do the best they can, does it then follow that particular individuals in a particular situation were blameless? I gave the example of child molestation because, according to expert opinion (not my field), that is unfortunately common. The perpetrators are usually persons in the position of trust.

If you had given your reasons for standing by the monks as you did in your latest post - I trust that the monks at NCBP acted in good faith because I know them, and have known them for many years - I think I would not question that. Since I don't know you, your experience is not guiding for me - but it's yours and I am not inclined to question it. However, I form my opinion on the basis of my experience with my former - once beloved - teacher Roshi Jiyu Kennett and the general trend at Shasta as I knew it. It was horrid and deluded. I hear from people I know well (e.g. Josh, Mark, Isan, Gensho...) that things got worse rather than better. I learnt from my experience, as one normally learns something from life experiences; but now, after years of study and reflexion, - and, simply, living - I conclude that the teaching there was seriously flawed.
As you, I also rely on my experience, (hopefully) ready to adjust or correct my conclusions on the basis of new evidence. Hopefully, as I live, I grow in maturity, integrity, and certain 'smiling' accommodation of others...and humour.

Did I really 'take an angry tone with you'? I did not intend to, even though I do get an impression that you avoid looking at the situation. We all do it at times. Maybe that is also part of our doing the best we can - how can we judge that? We can question it, though, in ourselves and, tentatively, in others.

I am not exhorting you to do anything. I am not a preacher by profession or temperament. I am not picking a fight with you. But you've joined this forum - you probably know it well, by now - and you are likely to read things you will find unpleasant - justified or not. That's the nature of the beast.

Ol'ga


Last edited by Ol'ga on Sat Jun 18, 2011 11:44 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : clarification)
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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:42 pm

Thanks for your reply, Ol'ga.

Based on reports from others, including a number of those here on the forum, my impression of the atmosphere in the monastic community at Shasta Abbey was dysfunctional, to say the least. And, as I've said in another post, I never found RMJK to be a very likeable person, I was troubled by some of the things she had to say in print, and I am sure I would not have been able to stay there had I been training as a monk. And had that been the case, I'm sure I would harbor the same misgivings as yourself and others.

The amazing thing is that came through unscathed, no doubt in large part because I am a lay person. Or maybe I was just lucky. I sometimes marvel that through that most unlikely set of circumstances I managed to be pointed toward the precious gift of the Dharma. But there it is. I'm often reminded of the poem by Shantideva where he says

Just like a blind man
discovering a jewel in a heap of rubbish,
Likewise by some coincidence
An Awakening Mind has been born within me.


I have been reflecting on what I've posted here, and I realize that in explaining how I view training under RM Koshin and with the NCBP community, I may have given the impression that I am unmoved, uncaring, indifferent, or callous about the harm Amalia experienced. I don't doubt for a second that it has been a source of great grief to her, and her feelings of betrayal must have been traumatic for her and for Carol as well. It's a sad business, and I pray that she is able to heal as she moves on with her life.

The question of blame is a tricky one. I think of it as having two levels. The first has to do with identifying the cause(s) of some misfortune or other. I was digging out the ditch in front of my house yesterday with a backhoe and broke the water line to my neighbor's house. Obviously, I am to blame for breaking the water line (happily, it was repaired in short order due to a rather miraculous turn of events which I won't bore you with sunny).

The second and more difficult level to the matter of blame has to do with the moral overtone/undertone. This can lead me to cut off, devalue, or dismiss another as being unworthy of any compassion or understanding. It's their fault, I might say, they should have known better, what they've done is inexcusable, etc. It is a mistake that I can easily fall into.

Consider the matter of the child molester which you used as an example. As I understand it, many if not most child molesters were themselves victims of sexual abuse themselves when they were children. It is easy enough to see the adult as a perpetrator and the child as a victim, and surely that is accurate so far as the matter goes. To what extent would we look to the adult's experience as a child victim of abuse as a cause of the behavior when he/she becomes an adult? Who can say with any certainty how all that works out in the mind of the person at fault? Would we behave differently if we had experienced the same abuse when we were young? Is the pedophile beneath contempt and undeserving of compassion?

That compassion is warranted does not mean that the behavior should be excused or tolerated, or that the person should be not constrained in such a way that they can not do harm to another. It would be irresponsible for us not to do what we need to do to protect others and ourselves. When you concluded that the climate at Shasta Abbey was harmful to you, you left, and you are to be supported in your decision.

Forgive me for rambling on here. Please be assured that I take no offense at what you've said. I firmly believe that people of good will can disagree with each other charitably and without rancor.

With bows,
Jim
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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Sat Jun 18, 2011 5:56 pm

Hi Jim,
Nice to hear from you. You are in no danger of my rambling 'at' you, this time - Saturday is a busy day.
I think that it is not for us to condemn anybody. There is a beautiful story in "Stories from one and the other pocket" by Karel Capek. (I may not have the title precisely right; this is an attrocious English translation from the Czech original "Povidky z jedne i druhe kapsy"). The particular story's title is The last judgement. I read it when I was about twelve and it influenced me deeply. I don't want to give the story away, since it is so beautiful - in case you ever come across it.
The point is, do not judge, because you can't do a good job of it; and when you could competently judge (i.e. you would know enough), you would not judge - not condemn, at least.
This does not mean that we should not discern. Sometimes we have to take action; and for that we have to make as good an assessment of the situation as we can. We simply don't have the luxury, legitimately, of being innocent by-standers.
I don't know what I would do, if it came to my attention that my teacher, or his close disciples, were guilty of a serious misjudgement, neglect, or worse, that would result in a young trainee's dire suffering. I think it would very much depend on the source of such allegations. It would also depend on how much out of line this might be with my own experience of my teacher. Being human, he must be fallible, limited. The question is, could there be a more serious flaw there. I personally, would have to look into it, if the source of the allegations were at all credible.
If I were told - and I had no reason to doubt this - that someone in my teacher's care was in serious danger, particularly as a result of rigors of training 'under' him, I would need to know, what he did to help her; or what instructions he gave his disciples in caring for this person.
In our particular case, it seems to me that there was serious neglect on the part of both Koshin and the two senior monks in question: neglect at minimum. I think, however, that it is worse then that. I think that there is an underlying serious flaw in their understanding of teacher/disciple relationship, and hence of training.
So, my friend, as I said somewhere else, I am inclined to believe Amalia's story because it is on the continuum of what I've seen personally. Possibly I am driving many people here to distraction by repeating my firm belief, that pushing the student does not help them 'drop' the ego. (I don't believe it's about ego anyway - I could write you a dissertaion on that, but neither you nor almost anybody else would care for that, and I put my head in the noose only when I can't help it [often] - this is not the case). Where you and I would probably agree is, that the student's trust in the teacher must be protected. Once it is damaged, any teaching is over.

It appears that Amalia had an uncommonly deep trust in her teacher, Koshin. That she was terribly hurt in her time as a novice, is hardly open to doubt. This should not ever have happened. Responsibility for this happening lies squarely on Koshin's shoulders.

This is not to say that he is possibly not a good person. I simply don't know - never having met him even. I would not condemn him as a person; I would doubt his qualifications as a teacher, though; and I do condemn what happened to Amalia. Had she died, nobody could say, oh, everyone is prone to making mistakes. Well, I am told she nearly did die. What can I say?

I am sorry if I cause you pain. You are probably a thinking person, and you have been bombarded by various communications here. That they were at times angry, and you may think they were over the top, is not the point. Those are just minor irritations we encounter all the time. If our communications also sowed any doubts in your mind - well, be brave, then. I wish you all the best.
Ol'ga
I was hoping I could be brief - could not abbridge it, though.
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PostSubject: Re: Hi, new member here: Jim   Sat Jun 18, 2011 10:20 pm

Ol'ga, thank you for not abridging.

Quote :
Where you and I would probably agree is, that the student's trust in the teacher must be protected. Once it is damaged, any teaching is over.

It
appears that Amalia had an uncommonly deep trust in her teacher,
Koshin. That she was terribly hurt in her time as a novice, is hardly
open to doubt. This should not ever have happened. Responsibility for
this happening lies squarely on Koshin's shoulders.

I agree with you on these points. The responsibility for what goes on at NCBP is Rev. Koshin's responsibility. You probably have grown weary by my saying that I don't know the details of Amalia's experience, but I do not doubt that it was very difficult for her. I was not aware, for example, that she almost died. This is a serious charge to lay at the feet of the monks at the priory, to say that they were responsible for her near death. Are you telling me that she was held at the Priory against her will, that she was physically abused or denied needed medical attention or food and drink, that sort of thing? Did they fail to intervene in some self-destructive behavior on her part? I couldn't refute such charges since I don't know what happened, but I cannot imagine something like that happening.

Thanks for your best wishes and kind words. I will look for the book by Karel Capek and let you know if I'm able to track it down.

With bows,
Jim
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