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 Questions about North Cascades

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mokuan



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PostSubject: Questions about North Cascades   Mon Jun 13, 2011 3:13 pm

First topic message reminder :

[Admin note: The following posts were split from the thread titled Rev Kinzan under Keeping In Touch, in order to keep that thread on topic. Let's try to keep the topics separated going forward. Although the system shows Mokuan as the “author”, this thread was created by an admin for topic administration reasons.]


Hi Jim,

I just sent an e-mail to an old friend and former OBC monk who may know Kinzan's wherabouts. I would love to know where she is, too.

I do know that Kinzan went back to school and obtained her Ph.D., and she may be teaching. If I hear anything, I'll let you know.

******

Like Isan, I'm curious about the split between Koshin and the OBC. Isn't it the usual practice when events of this magnitutde happen there is a statement made by both parties invloved clarifying their particular points of view? To me that would seem to be important information for anyone involved with the OBC or North Cascades or anyone interested in becoming involved.

I've checked on North Cascades' website and there's no statement whatsoever. Do you ever get the sense that Koshin wants to keep his community shrouded in secrecy? And if that's the case, do you know why? And do you personally think that's healthy?

Just curious.
Thanks,
mokuan
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chisanmichaelhughes



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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Mon Nov 18, 2013 4:33 pm

Someone who can spell Carol so that rules me out
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Mon Nov 18, 2013 7:26 pm

Maybe the history could be co-written - a collaborative effort?  People could contribute material to a lead writer who's good at organising and creating a cohesive structure. Would it be like an collection of essays, or perhaps a fact-walk as they call it, a more objective review of the who/what/when/where history.

Ayiiiee, it makes my head hurt a bit to think about it. Not a bad idea though -
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Kozan
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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:03 pm

Lise, I think you are right, a collaboration in some form would be necessary.

Carol, you wrote:

"Does anyone know why Koshin and North Cascades Priory left the OBC? I have always thought that RM Haryo and the OBC wanted more accountability from Koshin than he was willing to allow. If so, this is a positive sign for the OBC. However, I don't know why NCP departed. Anyone have information on this?"

Carol, I think that the issue of accountability is indeed the catalyst that precipitated Koshin's departure.

My current understanding, based on conversations with both current and former members of the OBC, is that Koshin began to show signs of leaving the OBC while RM Daizui was head of the Order (and that this consumed no small part of his time and energy during the last years of his life). RM Haryo simply inherited the issue.

Koshin, in my perception, has evolved a need for hyper-control, even exceeding what I observed in RM Jiyu during my time in the Order.

Koshin apparently also believes that his depth of understanding exceeds that of most, if not all, other monks in the Order.

There seems to be an emergent master-disciple pattern here.

Although a number of monks left the OBC along with Koshin, it appears that there are still a number of current members of the Order who feel (based on their belief in Koshin's depth of understanding) that he should be the head of the Order.

Accordingly, there is some quiet speculation that Koshin might possibly be planning a come-back.

I find all of this disturbing, to say the least. As RM Jiyu used to say, "it boggles the mind".
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June99



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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:57 pm

It's hard for me to picture a Koshin comeback. When I went to a retreat at NCP several years ago (before this forum was around) my perception was very much in line the with the posts on here from a year or two ago. I felt like I was in the novel "Heart of Darkness" when I went there.  It was difficult to find, not welcoming, they were very suspicious of my arrival etc. R.M. Koshin kept to himself, did not say hello, and seems to hit on the same note over and over again in his lectures. There's also a huge emphasis on past life healing or "cleansing" if you will there. The place is kept very, very still and quiet. Comparitively, the abbey feels like a party school, but ironically, in a good way--less possessed and eerie.  
Koshin seemed very content with his cave in the woods, so to speak. There was a lot of talk of buying more land for around half a million dollars. I was completely bewildered as to where the money comes from. There was only a handful of members at the retreat, and one seemed to be losing her [banned term] while I was there--crying and in a lot of distress. I think there is just way too much emphasis on drudging up your suffering there. A Koshen comeback would make for a very, very somber Abbey. It also seems like it would be too close to civilization for him.
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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Tue Nov 19, 2013 1:11 am

June, the prospect of a Koshin come-back makes me shudder.

Your description of your experience at NCBP, and my own, resonates strongly.

If Koshin were to somehow become the head of the Order, he would not have to live at Shasta Abbey.

Koshin (again, in my understanding) has managed to buy a significant amount of residential property around his original parcel.
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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Tue Nov 19, 2013 1:16 am

That is a scary thought Kozan.  I can't imagine the Order being headed by Mr. Schomberg, or a majority of monks looking to him as the spiritual authority.  

It is interesting that you mention all the temple assets June.  I have pondered myself how the temple had organized as a 501c3 religious corp in such a way to facilitate his taking the assets into another entity of his making.  Although he had associated himself with the Order (and gained the benefit of that association) he obviously set it up so he was authorized to change how the assets are held into new entities of his choosing.

Temples organize independently of the Order and can set up their corporate Bylaws according to their personal desires to operate, within the law of course.  It looks like to me that the spiritual director of North Cascades decided to reorganize things to maintain control of all the assets - a lot of assets. There is something that just doesn't sit very well with me about that -- at least I don't think I'll be donating to his temple anytime soon.
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Kozan
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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Tue Nov 19, 2013 1:32 am

Enida, like you, I cannot imagine Koshin actually being elected as head of the Order. 

The OBC (and Shasta Abbey) incorporated under California law as a non-profit "corporation sole". This means that one person has the sole legal power and authority to make all decisions. I don't remember Washington State's non-profit corporation law clearly (even though I created a non-profit there myself years ago) but I think it's a safe bet that Koshin either established a corporation sole, or has created the equivalent through his chosen board of directors.

I don't think I'll be donating anytime soon either. wink
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Tue Nov 19, 2013 1:43 am

too much emphasis on drudging up your suffering there

that sort of sums it up for me June.
whereas the beauty of zen for me is it has helped me see that suffering and cleansing through ast lives are indeed as empty of permanence as is the amazing banned word you ysed that i cant work out what it is,even after standing on my head very quietly in the corner
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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Wed Nov 27, 2013 3:35 pm

There's also a huge emphasis on past life healing or "cleansing" if you will there

For me the essence of zen is realizing that the emptiness skandas ,our self creates the self endlessly,shadows are doemed we live and we die,but our selves and even our karma is empty of permanence. This is a positive realization as we drag around our heavy burdens where ever we go.
So for e Koshin has not realized this impermanence he seems to be creating even more self by digging up past lives,and most probably not accepting his impermanent self and its self creation,that a posh way of saying self denial
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Carol

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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Wed Nov 27, 2013 10:37 pm

The idea of Koshin returning to the OBC as head of the Order is certainly interesting!

The rumor may have some foundation as some people in the OBC think he has exceptional spiritual power.

Some time in the late 1990's after the death of RMJK, Koshin entered into deep "retreat" for about a two year period. We understood this "retreat" to be a huge 3rd kensho. 

The message to the lay people during this period was that Koshin was not to be disturbed for any reason. No one was supposed to come around, and if they did, they were not to talk. We were led to believe that this "deep meditation" was a serious kensho and that big things were happening that we could not understand or discuss.

Koshin's behavior during this "retreat" was quite strange. In secular terms, someone might have called it some sort of mental breakdown.

Oddly, it was a joint deep "retreat" or joint kensho that was shared by a female monk from the UK.The two of them were together constantly in their "retreat," eating together and spending most of their time together.

The relationship between the two of them was the subject of speculation among some of the lay people and at least one person dropped out because she thought the relationship was "weird." Indeed, it did have some weird aspects.  Koshin always treated the monk  with special favor - she always got the best piece of cake, etc. - and the two of them wrote articles together even after she returned to the UK. He visited her numerous times when she returned, and the two of them went on some sort of vacation together in England. Koshin announced at one point that he had found the true meaning of love, in a preceptual way, i.e. it wasn't a physical relationship.

In any event, Koshin more or less resumed a normal life after about two years. After that, he became even more authoritarian, autocratic, and intolerant of doubt or questioning. NCBP was never particularly open or friendly toward "outsiders," but it shut down even more after Koshin's experience. Someone on this forum once wrote that when he visited NC, he kept the GPS on his phone on so he could escape if necessary. The place seemed that weird to him.

Someone on this forum also pointed out that Koshin's intent was to create a quiet place where people could come for serious retreats and meditate deeply. I guess it was that  . . .

The frightening experience that at least one novice had at NCBP suggests that this sort of obsession coupled with secrecy and non-accountability for those in charge can lead to disastrous consequences for some people.

But I think some of the senior people in the OBC admire Koshin for his deep spirituality and I'm not surprised at the rumors that he might return and become head of the order. He had no use for Eko and wouldn't put tapes of Eko's talks in the NCBP library. But I thought he had a good relationship with Haryo. He hated administrative duties - meetings and the like - but he would probably consider himself fully qualified to be head of the order.

Any information anyone has about this situation would be really interesting to hear.


Last edited by Carol on Wed Nov 27, 2013 11:04 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Carol

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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Wed Nov 27, 2013 11:02 pm

About the property at NCBP --

At one point, some research into the property records indicated that Koshin owned nearly $1 million worth of  real estate - about 80 acres around the priory. He always said buying up all this property was  to protect the area from development. This is not unreasonable as that part of Pierce County is rural but the farmland and forests are rapidly being turned into housing developments and shopping malls.

He financed the property in various ways, including loans from the one wealthy monk who is his disciple and in other ways. You can look into all this  by checking the property records in Pierce County, WA.

Possibly his break from the OBC had something to do with buying all the property, although the senior monks at Shasta used to laugh about him becoming some kind of land baron and I never got the idea anyone thought it was inappropriate.  However, if someone had questioned or challenged his judgment on the property, he probably would not have listened. He was quite convinced he was doing the right thing.

The property is owned by North Cascades Buddhist Priory. This is a WA non-profit corporation. Koshin is president and registered agent.
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Carol

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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Wed Nov 27, 2013 11:10 pm

One other thing -- Before this deep "retreat," Koshin was a good teacher and quite friendly to the lay people. He did regular dharma talks, teas, ceremonies, etc. with the laity. I enjoyed his talks and his friendship and he asked me to become a lay minister, which I did. Several people from our meditation group left lay life to become monks and his disciples.

People who knew him from the early days at Shasta seem to remember Koshin as a nice guy, serious, but often fun to be with. When he first arrived in the early 1970s, he was married. He even wrote a piece for the early Journal on sexuality. He had a kind of wry, devilish sense of humor.

Something happened to him over the years, though, especially after the death of RMJK. He was totally devoted to her and considered her to be a living Buddha. He believes he is carrying on her legacy and he apparently believes that some others at Shasta are not. Those of you who remember him from the early days might not recognize the very different person he seems to have become.
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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Thu Nov 28, 2013 1:43 am

All beings Buddha
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Stan Giko

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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Thu Nov 28, 2013 5:11 am

Carol,

As you know, the female monk you mentioned is my sister.  Please feel free to name names and
say what you think.  I`m saying this in case you think you should hold back on my behalf.  It`s
not a problem for me.  Anything you say that is true and not speculation needn`t be a problem.
If I feel that you have said something that isn`t true about my sister, I may or may not make a
reply....if I do, it won`t be antagonistic or hurtful to you.  Just wanted to clear that up.  :-)
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mstrathern
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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Thu Nov 28, 2013 6:15 am

Well and bravely said Stan.
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Stan Giko

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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Thu Nov 28, 2013 7:47 am

Thanks Mark.
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Carol

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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Thu Nov 28, 2013 3:52 pm

Stan, I didn't know (or forgot) that she was your sister. She spent several months at NCBP while I was still involved, and I liked and respected her. She was always friendly and had a smile for us "lowly" lay people. (Compared to Koshin, who once told us that lay people had "sticky karma" and some monks wanted to avoid us.)

I have no way of knowing just what her relationship with Koshin was (or is). She may very well agree with his interpretation of their joint "retreat." It certainly impacted Koshin afterwards - and not necessarily for the good from the perspective of the lay people. She always seemed much more in touch with the laity than Koshin.

There was a certain amount of resentment when Koshin suddenly decided to sell the priory in Seattle, which the small lay congregation had supported both financially and in other ways. He announced the proceeds were going to a monk in Oregon and to your sister in Wales.

I don't know what he actually did with the proceeds of that sale, although we know he made a couple hundred thousand dollars in profit on the deal when he sold the property to a real estate developer.

In any event, I'm not "holding back" any comments about your sister. I liked her and thought highly of her!

I do not think it's a good idea to use  the names of particular people still connected to the OBC on this Forum. It's useful for the discussion to name Rev. Koshin and Eko and some others who have leadership roles in the OBC. But many OBC monks are good, kind people and I don't like to name them here.
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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Thu Nov 28, 2013 8:07 pm

Wondering what his mission statement would be.
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Stan Giko

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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Thu Nov 28, 2013 8:55 pm

Thank you for your kind words Carol,

I agree that it`s not generally a good idea to name monks still connected to the OBC in respect
to their actions....unless necessary.  That`s because there are monks who have no idea what
is being said about them, and are therefore not in a position to put their case.

I`m very close to my sister but rarely get to see her as she lives pretty far away.  She wouldn`t
want me to speak on her behalf and I`m not familiar with all the ins and outs of what went on at
North Cascades.  I came in on the forum just as your daughter Amalia was pulling her details off
the forum.  I rather regret not being able to familiarise myself with her story properly.

I checked out some of Koshins teachings on his website and I`m willing to share my views as to
my impressions of them.  I had a very similar experience,from what I can tell, to your daughter`s
many years ago.  I wrote to RM Jiyu in desperation at the time. It took five weeks or more for
me to receive a reply from her via a letter from Mokurai. It was very obvious that neither of them
had a clue as to what was happening in those experiences.  It`s very clear to me now but, it
took many years, some of them very difficult, for me to get over the experience. let alone fully
understand it.  This was before Jiyu`s `lotus blossom` experiences.

I believe that RM Jiyu also experienced to some degree a similar experience.  In a particular edition
of one of her books,  (they vary) she describes the point when she knew that a major experience
was starting to happen. She described how she went for sanctuary to Daizui`s place so that she
could go through what was about to happen in peace and safety.  She said that when she got to
Daizui`s door, she was in tears and..her words.."in terror".  I`m sure she wasn`t exaggerating when
she used the word "terror".  She also described her early stage of the experience as the "dark
night of the soul"....the point of the deepest despair a person can know.

In those years, there was very little information in the west about those types of experiences.
Nowadays, with the advent of the internet, you just have to type in Kundalini awakening terror
and you get a whole host of similar stories.  There is a whole yoga devoted to the awakening of
this `energy` but very few people manage do so.  When they do, the most common reaction is
to try to get it to stop...immediately, if possible.  most people would give their right arm...and a
leg to to get it to stop !  It isn`t a kensho but, it could lead to one...a lot of crises can but, it
can also lead to insanity...not uncommon.  It is a very overpowering experience and the way the
energy is experienced is completely arbitrary.  It seems to make no sense to most psychiatrists
and `spiritual` teachers.  The weak minded can come to believe that they have become
enlightened when really, they are suffering insanity.

I believe RM Jiyu went into her experiences during her `Lotus Blossom` period but didn`t manage
to extract a full understanding of what was happening at the time. Not surprising really and no
blame attached.  I personally believe that as she managed to get over the fear element she came
to a plateau and tried to rationalise the experiences . It needed to be an enlightenment experience
to make sense to her and it probably was to a degree.  However, judging by her teaching, she
didn`t complete her understanding and the remainder became her story and new identity.  So in
the end, it was maybe half understanding and at least half fiction.  The ego co-opted the
understanding, such as it was, and that was where the training stopped.  It was a big mistake to
make such a big deal of the Lotus Blossom story..stained glass windows and all, because it was
just the experiences of one person.  She never came to terms with her psychology and thought
she had jumped over it into an enlightened state.  Oddly enough, she often said that it normally
takes many years to assimilate such an experience but, she rushed in with the book, the teaching
and the stained glass windows !  She really needed to go on a long retreat.

The past life experiences may or may not have happened.  I`ve had them but I don`t consider
them to be MY past lives.  She perpetuated the myth of having to remove your Vasanas before
you could reach Enlightenment.  When the Vasanas ( Unconscious psychological compulsions) had
been cleaned up from the present life, they had to be cleared up from the past lives in order to
be made pure enough for Enlightenment.  In one way she is right because we are living out our
past vasanas now.
It`s neither possible nor necessary to clean out all the vasanas. It`s enough to clear up enough
of one`s psychology to bring about a stable and unagitated mind. Enough for effective meditation.
There are some very desirable vasanas worth having.  A vasana for truth, morality etc.  in fact a
vasana for training.  Because of this, the placing of great importance on past lives, and seemingly
clearing them up, is bogus. A story.

To cut a long story short....I`ve just noticed how late it is here,...I believe Koshin also had a
similar experience but used Jiyu`s experiences and teachings as a template for his own
understanding.  I think he thought that Jiyu`s teaching was pretty much chapter and verse and
swallowed it whole.  It`s my opinion...for what it`s worth, based on his website teachings.
I met him once at my sister`s place.  I found him very relaxed and friendly.  I had been visiting
my sister which is a rare pleasure for me and koshin had dropped into my sisters place on a visit
as he was then going on to holland.  He has a disciple there.  I do know that he had been on a
holiday with my sister and another OBC monk now based in Germany. A really nice gentle guy.
  
I mentioned that Maggi and I had owned nine consecutive houses and always aimed to make money
on them, he said that he speculated on land purchasing in order to make money.  Whether he lent
or donated any money to my sister, I have no idea.  It had never been mentioned.
As for `sticky karma`....jeez !  What`s it supposed to be sticking to ?

Anyway, I`m off to bed or I`ll be in trouble.  Sorry if I rambled and wandered a bit.  I blame the
time of night. Hope most of that made some kind of sense !

By the way, I`m happy to talk to you via pm if you wish and I do agree..."many OBC monks are
good , kind people "  I feel the same about you.
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June99



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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Fri Nov 29, 2013 2:46 pm

Thank you Stan for providing this perspective. It really helps me understand things more clearly too.
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June99



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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Fri Nov 29, 2013 2:47 pm

Thank you Stan for providing this perspective. It really helps me understand things more clearly too.
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Carol

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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Fri Nov 29, 2013 3:02 pm

Thanks, Stan. I'll re-read your very interesting perspective later as i have to leave the house now. More to come . . .
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Carol

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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Fri Nov 29, 2013 8:19 pm

Thanks, Stan, for your thoughtful post.

You said that RMJK "never came to terms with her psychology and thought
she had jumped over it into an enlightened state."

This to me is a serious problem for the OBC and the followers of RMJK. I have no doubt that people can have authentic kensho or enlightenment experiences. You describe your own in vivid terms. People who have had kensho or similiar experiences have no doubt that something extraordinary happened to them
Perhaps people also have past life experiences, but there is no way to test the veracity of those. (Eko as Jesus Christ? I don't think so!) 

My problem is with a teacher who prootes and encourages kensho experiences - like they do at NCBP - without taking resonsibility for the result. As you say, the line (if any) between an enlightenment experience and a psychological breakdown is pretty thin. It's irresponsible for a teacher to encourage such an experience and, if it happens, not have  the professional training to distinguish between psychosis and kensho. Or maybe worse yet, refuse to acknowledge that the person needs psychiatric help and that the answer is not just to ride with it, keep faith in the "Eternal," etc. etc.

A psychotic break can seem like a religious experience, but the person with the psychosis needs medical care and treatment. A psychotic experience can have life-long adverse effects on a person. It's not enough just to say, Oh great you just had a kensho.

Experiences like these can also lead to physical breakdown. For example, a person can quit eating or do bodily harm to themselves in one way or another.

Koshin taught that psychological  treatment was inconsistent with training. A good friend of mind was undergoing much-needed therapy treatment. Koshin told him not to come to meditation group until he stopped. Ironically, meditation was one thing that was helping my friend cope with his psychological problems. Koshin once gave a dharma talk on how he didn't believe in psychiatry. He thought RMJK agreed.

This is irrepsonsible and cruel. If someone needs treatment, they should not be banished or told they are somehow not healthy enough to continue training. If someone developed cancer, they wouldn't tell them to stop coming to meditation group until they have finished chemotherapy.

It's also irresponsible to let someone go so far in what may or may not be a kensho experience that they they cross the line into psychosis. But if the monks get no training in psychology and refuse even to admit the usefulness of psychological treatment, they can't know when a person is crossing that line.

Even back in the drug-addled 60s, it was common wisdom to have someone with you if you were taking LSD to help you out in case of a "bad trip."
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June99



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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Sat Nov 30, 2013 11:54 am

Thank you Carol. You articulated beautifully a pretty big problem at the OBC. It seems to again harp back to their tendency to be fundamentalistic and rigid, not open to other ideas and change.
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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Sun Dec 01, 2013 10:34 am

Hi again Carol,


Thanks for your reply.  You raised quite a few points and I`d like to address a few of them.

 *   Note...I`d like to add an apology for the long reply. Not sure if I should have just pm`ed you as
it`s mainly you I`m addressing really.

"I have no doubt that people can have authentic kensho or enlightenment experiences. You describe your own in vivid terms. People who have had kensho or similiar experiences have no doubt that something extraordinary happened to them"


Yes, a great many people experience kensho, epiphanies, deep insights...call them what you will.

They are experienced by all sorts of people and are not the province of `religious/spiritual` people
exclusively.  What makes a kensho stand out among experiences is that it is an experience of
wholeness where the barriers of self and other no longer hold. One no longer sees oneself as
separate from other people or anything else in the universe. Often there is a feeling that one`s
being is pure love. It`s a feeling of liberation and coming home as if at last, one`s re-set button
has been pressed.  There are degrees of clarity in this type of experience.


I would like to point out that my experience as described earlier was not a kensho.  At best it was
a potential kensho that couldn`t be processed due to terror of going insane and an inability to
understand what was happening and why.  It was an experience of an overpowering energy that
was crashing about `inside`, seeking release in a desperate way.  It seemed literally to be like a
fight for my very life and sanity.  I was often surprised in the calmer moments as to why I never
thought of committing suicide.  Every time I though things couldn`t get worse...they did !  There
were many times when I found myself caught in a spiral of terror, and just to add the cherry on
top, a terror of the terror itself.  Somehow, I could never quite believe that what was happening
was completely real.  Although there were amazing but totally unwanted visions and other types
of experiences, I found that my mind was perfectly normal and peaceful between the episodes.
Surely I couldn`t be both mad and not mad ?
I had had a major kensho a couple of years earlier and the memory of that, and what it taught me
got me over the very worst.  I just clung on to anything.

I had met Jiyu twice before I went to throssel and had written to her desperately for help.  As I
mentioned previously, it was over five weeks before I received a reply.  To my despair, it was
obvious that no one understood what was happening to me.  I attach no blame as no other
teachers or doctors had a clue either.  I slowly managed to gain much more stability and decided
after several retreats and stays at Throssel Hole, to get ordained.
In my case, being in the Monastery did me a lot of good.  It provided a very positive lifestyle and
regular routine.  It was very helpful and healing.  However, I still couldn`t find an answer or even
an approach to what had happened to me and always thought it could happen again. I lived under
a hanging sword.   After a while I left and rejoined lay life.
I enjoyed being back in lay life. The work and social interaction was enjoyable and I was glad to
have put the whole seeking thing on the famous`back burner`.  I took the opportunity to delve
into Theravada and read everything I could and felt confident to meditate alone again.  I studied
for a while under a Tibetan teacher....couldn`t really get on with the visualization meditation. It
seemed too indirect and went into Pure Land Buddhism for a time.  I collected a few `nuggets`
everywhere but could never get the big picture.  Couldn`t join up the dots. There always seemed
to be some sort of teaching missing.

After a few years, I had written to Jiyu and spoke of my current state and she suggested I come
over to Shasta and put the robes on again.  My sister wanted to go and get ordained too, so we
went over together with a friend of ours.
We had just heard of all the past life and visions rumpus going off and frankly, it didn`t bother me.
It can`t remotely be more of a problem than I`ve had to deal with previously.  I thought that if
they didn`t know what my experiences were previously, I bet the buggers do now ! I couldn`t wait.


When we got there, the past life saga had largely plaid out and no one made a big deal about it.
There was a reasonable amount of shiatsu being practiced and a very active and as far as i`m
concerned, positive life of practice going on.  Over time, I really gave it my best shot, I loved the
sutra studies and Jiyu`s talks on them.  I felt extremely fit and very healthy and positive.  Maybe
I was lucky but I only witnessed one major episode of `Ego bashing` by Jiyu.  I thought it well over
the top but that was about it. Anyway, I`d survived five years of boarding schools and bullying was
like water off a duck`s back to me.  After a while, I knew that I wouldn`t find the liberation I had
always been seeking at Shasta.  In particular, I still couldn`t get a grip on resolving my old problem.
I had several talks with Jiyu and she wasn`t able to say how I could resolve my issues other than
staying on and doing more of the same.  I was convinced that the teaching was too narrow and
there was too small a tool box to deal with a variety of issues.  The ultimate seemed to be to get
a mind that mirrors an enlightened state and keep it there by effort of training, treading water
forever, it seemed to me.  I left with a light heart and canned the whole thing again.

Back in lay life, I married the girl that had sown my first robes for me and got together. We got
heavily into business over time and had about forty employees, the big house, car, money and toys.


After quite a few years, my wife`s mother was diagnosed with cancer.  As we had just had the
best financial year of our lives, we decided to sell everything and buy a beautiful old hunting lodge
in the Polish mountains. It was almost paradise and our accumulated stresses began to fall away.
We knew that mother would die a difficult death and we would nurse her till the end.  She died in
our arms.  Towards the end, I must admit, it was a very difficult time looking after her.
It wasn`t long before things were back to normal.  In fact, things were so blissfully peaceful that
life felt just like a wonderful dream.  Until one day that is.  It was back.  I awoke one night and
knew without doubt that the whole overpowering experience was coming back.  I admit to some
fear and apprehension but I knew also without a doubt, that I would come through it and get to
the bottom of the matter, once and for all.  I just couldn`t imagine how, nor did I care.

This time I was not going to be moved. I didn`t care if I died or went insane so long as I could get
to the bottom of that what was tormenting me. Over a period of about three months, I seemed
to be slowly stripped down, layer by layer.  My notion that I was the body could not be maintained.
This was followed by my feeling that I was basically the mind. that was much more fearful as I
thought that if I let go of the mind, surely, that must be insanity ?  seems not. still here and yet
there is still a pressure to go deeper but there was nothing I could do but be totally still and just
look. suddenly, there was a very subtle shift of perspective.  I realized that I am no longer a `doer`
but `that` which is observing the `doer`and always was.  At the same time, a feeling of internal
pressure instantly deflated. To put it simply, I used to think that I was the body with consciousness
but now the reality is that I am consciousness with a body.  I feel that everybody is the same and
the whole deal at large is just a lack of confidence.  After all, it doesn`t feel like that generally !
I would like to say that this all concluded with the light of a thousand suns and transcendent
bliss Lol.  Yes, it was beyond wonderful but the abiding feeling was one of embarrassment.  It seems
so ludicrously simple, just upside down to the usual way of seeing. After all that, nothing to say.
Nothing gained. No more story...especially the enlightenment story !

After a couple of years of near bliss constantly in the background, I realized that I was slightly
bored with it.  I knew that there was still something to be learned. It took me more years to get
to the bottom of that and I still practice everyday so that ignorance does not creep back but more
than anything, I do it because I love it.


So, my initial experience wasn`t a kensho but was just a begining. Could easily have been the end
of any further interest in meditation and practice.  It was the suffering aspect that gave me no peace
and forced me on when I would have given up the whole thing happily, if I but could.

Oddly enough, Jiyu knew she couldn`t really help me.  I had many talks with her over the years
and we had a `heart` connection.  Not long before I left, she told me to read `The hound of
heaven` by Francis Thompson. She got one of the monks to get me a copy.  It is a religious poem
that proved prophetic for me many years after her death.

You said....

"My problem is with a teacher who promotes and encourages kensho experiences - like they do at NCBP - without taking resonsibility for the result. As you say, the line (if any) between an enlightenment experience and a psychological breakdown is pretty thin. It's irresponsible for a teacher to encourage such an experience and, if it happens, not have  the professional training to distinguish between psychosis and kensho. Or maybe worse yet, refuse to acknowledge that the person needs psychiatric help and that the answer is not just to ride with it, keep faith in the "Eternal," etc. etc."

I believe that the origin of the `Encouraging kensho` belief goes back to a misunderstanding of the
Buddha`s own enlightenment experience.  Apparently the Buddha experienced past lives and the
`frightful attacks of Mara` whilst going through his experience . He was enlightened to the certain
knowledge of himself and the universe as being non separate. or in other words, that Reality is a
Non-Duality.

It`s not much of a stretch to assume that if such an experience can be replicated, it must lead to
enlightenment as well. But nowhere does the Buddha say that it`s essential to have kensho experiences
or any other type of mystical experience to attain enlightenment.  The Buddha taught that `Ignorance`
is at the root of suffering. not Ignorance as stupidity but ignorance about the reality of our selves and
the world about us. The Buddha taught the `middle way` to remove suffering and it includes `Right
Understanding` as part of the Eightfold Path, as Right Understanding` removes Ignorance.

It`s completely unnecessary to try and `force grow` understanding via a boot camp regimen.  It`s counter
productive to having an open, receptive and trusting mind.  We all get an uneasy feeling if we sense that
we are being manipulated in any way.   If someone is undergoing an experience that involves a falling away
of the personality and one`s usual surroundings, it is reckless and dangerous to try and force the issue.
It also betrays a lack of understanding of the whole process .  I don`t know what Koshin tried to achieve with
the way he treated your daughter Carol but, it was obvious that the end result was just prolonging her agony
rather than helping her come through her experience.  It wasn`t a kensho because whatever the experience
was, it became `stuck`.  I imagine that Koshin was doing his best to help in the only way he thought was right
in the circumstances.  However, as things became worse for your daughter, he should have stopped doing
what wasn`t working,( in simple terms)....and fast.  He should have stopped all notions within himself that
he had the `answer` because he obviously hadn`t.  At that point, a doctor should have been proffered, and
a very relaxed, pressure free environment created...all in a very caring and loving way.  It`s not rocket
science, for God`s sake ! A fairly heavy food diet would have helped to reduce that `hyper` state and promote
more of a sleepy unenergetic feeling. anything to promote a bit of distance from the feeling of desperation.
I imagine, the surroundings would be great for walks and a bit of physical exercise...don`t know if that was
promoted.  Also, you should have been called promptly for your loving support...I don`t know if that happened.
Trying to dogmatically shoehorn a religious belief onto someone undergoing a difficult `opening` experience
is delusional, arrogant and dangerous.  Perhaps Koshin thought that your daughter would just `break through`
or the whole thing would just subside naturally.  After all, he didn`t cause the experience to happen in the
first place.  Maybe he was afraid of contacting you before the whole thing `went away`, one way or another.
Who knows ?

At Shasta, the monks who experienced kensho in one form or another were issued a red tassle. It`s a pity
because it ends up being seen as a symbol of status....my understanding is greater than yours !  The whole
spiritual scene is hugely status conscious. probably even more than in the secular world, as witnessed by the
fawning and sycophantic attitude to gurus and teachers shown by their followers.  Once you are given a high
rank and fancy clothing, it`s hard not to flaunt the new power over those below you. Human nature 101.
give a man a uniform etc....why do it ?  The whole nonsense just gets perpetuated down the ages and is a
failed system.  It doesn`t even work in Japan anymore.

You also said....

  "Koshin once gave a dharma talk on how he didn't believe in psychiatry. He thought RMJK agreed. "

Yes, I think this is the general belief.  I don`t think that the belief is that psychiatry doesn`t work exactly, it`s
rather that it`s inferior as a tool for understanding the true nature of oneself.  The spiritual folk have broadly
the view that psychiatry is limited to returning oneself to the `normal level of unhappiness`.  It doesn`t have
a concrete definition of what a completely healthy person is and uses pathology as a treatment for ills.  It`s
seen as `band aid` fixes and cannot supply a permanent cure.  an example would be when a guy stands up and
says "I`m an alcoholic and I`m 4 years and 14 days drink free."  still identified with being an alcoholic and not
his real free self.  The `spiritual` guys say that they deal with the true self.  It seems that both sides have very
different views of what the self is and are therefore opposed to each other.  It`s a very limiting and narrow view
of course . both sides are right in their own way and should work together.
When I was in Shasta, there was a guy with mental issues who would come for stays and retreats and after a
time, he would hit his issues and rather lose control and become very disruptive.  At that point he would be
asked to leave but, he was always allowed back when he was stable again.  Meditation alone is definitely not a cure
all for mental ills but in certain cases, if a person is pretty stable, it can be very helpful.  The guy at Shasta used
to get encouraged to go back to his normal treatment and the psychiatric approach was definitively not frowned
upon.  

Also...

"It's also irresponsible to let someone go so far in what may or may not be a kensho experience that they they cross the line into psychosis. But if the monks get no training in psychology and refuse even to admit the usefulness of psychological treatment, they can't know when a person is crossing that line."


I think that if a person is going into a `difficult` kensho experience or a positive and easy one, it`s not something
that can be controlled by someone else.  It`s an intensely personal experience related to that person alone.  It`s
good to have help, support and guidance of course, especially if one gets stuck.  The unfortunate truth is that there
is a shortage of experienced and understanding teachers that are capable of skilful guidance with the most
difficult of problems.  It has always been so and it`s very unfortunate to be beyond the end of a teacher`s limits of
understanding.

I don`t know anything about Amalia Carol...apologies for speaking over her...I came in on her story just before it got
removed but, there was a lot in it that I recognized and much that I don`t remember.
I`m willing to guess that she`s a very happy person with a new life now...out of it all.  I strongly suspect that when
she got psychological help, that they found that she was completely normal and all the mental symptoms were in
the end temporary. from my experience, I would say that she definitely is not a psychotic and of course she doesn`t
need me to say so.  I presume that she went through the LSD stuff of the times and I know she was very heavily and
sincerely involved in meditation and the whole Shasta way of training in an intense way.  I can`t see how that was
not going to have an intense effect !  I`m glad she`s got her foot off the accelerator peddle and hope she`s really
happy.

Carol, sincere apologies for such a long post.  I couldn`t decide whether to pm you, delete the whole thing or put it
on.  I don`t really want to put my stuff on display but in the end, I thought it might just be helpful for the folks who
get to experience the really difficult stuff.  I also want to say that because meditation is undertaken in an intense
way, it will lead inevitably to the sort of problems that have been mentioned...it doesn`t.
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Sun Dec 01, 2013 11:37 am

Stan Giko wrote:

I think that if a person is going into a `difficult` kensho experience or a positive and easy one, it`s not something
that can be controlled by someone else.  It`s an intensely personal experience related to that person alone.  It`s
good to have help, support and guidance of course, especially if one gets stuck.  The unfortunate truth is that there
is a shortage of experienced and understanding teachers that are capable of skilful guidance with the most
difficult of problems.  It has always been so and it`s very unfortunate to be beyond the end of a teacher`s limits of
understanding.
.
Stan, thanks for sharing all that personal info.  The difficulties you describe are not talked about often and people do need to know both what can happen and how to get through it.  When I went through my own "opening" at Shasta I must say that Jiyu Kennett (to her credit) really had my back.  She protected me when necessary and gave me what I needed to ride it out.  There were definitely scary, vulnerable moments and if I had been treated badly I can see how it could have all gone terribly wrong.  If I'm remembering Amalia's account correctly Koshin wasn't even in the temple - he was in Europe - and the monks at NCBP didn't appear to have the necessary experience and skill to properly support her.  I remember someone perceiving her weakness and inability to function as laziness and screaming at her to get with the program.  Under those circumstances the bad outcome was no surprise.  As you say it's not rocket science.  When someone is in distress you can at a minimum be kind and supportive of them - it doesn't require deep insight.  As to what Amalia actually experienced only she can know.  It's not surprising that the doctor's labeled it a psychotic break - they have no basis for understanding spiritual experiences and distinguishing them from psychosis.  From my own experience though I do believe that one can find a way through.


Last edited by Isan on Mon Dec 02, 2013 7:05 am; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Sun Dec 01, 2013 12:18 pm

There is some very in-depth work now being done on contemplative experiences - the light and the dark sides - I posted a little about this elsewhere, but I will start a new thread / topic on this - it deserves it's own thread.
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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Sun Dec 01, 2013 2:01 pm

Look forward to seeing it Josh....
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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Sun Dec 01, 2013 2:22 pm

Isan,

I didn`t really relish giving out too much of my personal experiences.  What`s that saying ? It goes
something like `better to keep your mouth shut and be thought foolish rather than open it and
confirm it as a fact`...Lol.   I just hoped that what I spoke of may be of help to someone.  I know
that when I was struggling, I was desperate for help from any quarter.

I do agree with you about one thing. I always found Jiyu supportive when it came to the crunch.
I`m just glad that any support didn`t include me getting pulled into the Lotus Blossom scenario but,
that was down to me. and yes, there`s usually a way through....just.  :-)
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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Sun Dec 01, 2013 2:52 pm

Hi Stan. I am grateful that you were willing to share your experiences. It is frustrating to a lay person that there seems to be some taboo about discussing such matters. We are just left in the dark.
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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Sun Dec 01, 2013 3:25 pm

Thank you, Stan, for telling your story. The narrative will help others to know that they are not alone when they face similar experiences. I admire your courage in sharing your personal experience.

Also thank you for your kind and compassionate suggestions for helping someone in trouble--good food, relaxation of pressure, walking in the woods, medical help if needed. Instead, what North Cascades did to  my daughter was just the opposite: withheld the only food that could be tolerated, ordered her to get out of bed, get back to work,  follow the schedule, and offered no medical care at all. Isan is correct that when the experience began, Koshin left for the UK. He was gone the whole time. He spoke only once on the phone to her and ordered her to get back to work, eat with the community, straighten up. 

I was never notified of any problem. She could not contact me. The monks (and everyone else) must get permission to use the telephone. Novices are not allowed to write letters to their families. No one is allowed to use the internet.

 She  finally  escaped by making her way to a  neighbor's house  and telephoning for help. When I picked her up, she was skin and bones (lost 25 pounds in a month or so), could barely walk leaning on  a stick, and was confused and distraught. The doctor said she was at risk of organ failure.

I reported all this to RM Haryo, talked to Koshin (after Haryo directed him to talk to me), and tried to go through all of the OBC's procedures for redress of grievances. Nothing ever happened. No apology, and -- to the best of my knowledge - no critique of how the matter could have been handled better, no guidelines for future care of someone in distress, no instructions on when to call in medical help. Nothing. To me, the OBC as an institution and certainly North Cascades completely failed.

I have always wondered if Koshin and the other monks who were involved left the OBC rather than submit to a candid (i.e. unsupervised by Koshin) investigation. I would be surprised if he would have allowed OBC investigators to talk to the monks who were there at "his" monastery without him present.
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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Mon Dec 02, 2013 9:08 am

KAT14,

Thanks for your kind comment.   In the end I chose to share my experiences because as you
said, there does seem to be some taboo about sharing experiences openly.  It doesn`t make
sense to not throw light on any type of meditative experiences. Indeed, it can be very helpful.
I know I would have welcomed any light thrown on my predicament when I desperately needed it.


CAROL,

 " She  finally  escaped by making her way to a  neighbor's house  and telephoning for help."


Carol, are you actually saying that your daughter had to `escape`...as in, saying she wanted
to go but, was forbidden or prevented ? Did she make it plain that she wanted to leave and/or
contact you ?   If so, that would be horrific and I`m struggling to get my head around this.

The rest is bad enough, but the `escape` thing would really take things to another level. Can
you clarify this a bit more ?   Thanks.
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PostSubject: Re: Questions about North Cascades   Mon Dec 02, 2013 6:37 pm

I wasn't there of course, but I believe she just left. I don't think she told anyone she wanted to leave because she was fearful they would try to stop her and she wasn't  in any condition to have a rational discussion with anyone about leaving.
But, no, "escape" was probably too strong a word. She just walked out to the neighbor's house. The monks called me to find out if I knew where she was because they were worried, but I don't think anyone tried to prevent her from leaving.
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