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 Upcoming dharma discussion at Shasta Abbey _ 18 June and after

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Lise
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PostSubject: Upcoming dharma discussion at Shasta Abbey _ 18 June and after   Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:54 am

The message below is promising.

I don't know this, but I'm willing to bet that a handful of plucky laity brought this forward and made clear that the issues need to be addressed. And good for the monks that they aren't "ducking and weaving", as used to be the case whenever the topic of sex came up. I used to hear from them that it "clouds your perception" and "pulls you away from your centre", and that was about it.

(Whoever is speaking up out there, in lay-land, keep it up.)

--- On Tue, 6/14/11, Rev. Vivian Gruenenfelder <hounvivian@gmail.com> wrote:

From: Rev. Vivian Gruenenfelder <hounvivian@gmail.com>
Subject: Fwd: Dharma Discussion 18 June
To: [admin delete
Date: Tuesday, June 14, 2011, 6:35 AM

Dear Sangha Friends,

Regarding the Dharma "Talk" to be given in the Vimalakirti Hall on Saturday, 18 June at 3:30: The topic, "Sexuality and Buddhist Training", came out of a suggestion given at a monks-and-lay-together community meeting held at the Abbey a few Saturdays ago, that it would be helpful to talk about training with sexuality. I have put "talk" in quotation marks because this will, in fact, be a discussion, or, even better, a conversation. I will have a few opening remarks, but I think it best that the bulk of what we address come from all of us and what our real concerns are.

As far as I am concerned, there is nothing that cannot be brought into the light of day, so no topic is taboo as long as we regard it with respect and kindness. My hope is that we can begin (and I think the topic warrants ongoing discussion) to explore training with sexuality---the blessings and fruits of healthy sexuality; in what ways do we cause harm through sexuality; the value of an active sexual life and the value of choosing celibacy; what Buddhist teachings we bring to our sexual life; sex and relationships; sex, families, and children; gay and lesbian sexuality; training with sexual energy; sex and abuse; the close relationship between sexuality and spirituality---I think the possibilities are endless and I encourage you to bring whatever is on your mind regarding this topic. By pooling our collective wisdom I think that we can all be helped.

If you want to read something on this topic you might try: "Sexuality" by Rev. Mokugen Kublicki in The Journal of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives, Winter 1994, p. 39 ff; "A Gay Man Trains in Buddhism," also in the Journal, Summer 1998, p. 68 ff; or relevant chapters in the following books: The Mind of Clover by Robert Aitken (very good); Being Upright by Reb Anderson; The Heart of Being by John Daido Loori; and An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics by Peter Harvey. If any of you have other things on this topic that you think might be useful, I am happy for you to mention them to us. Please rest assured that reading prior to our meeting is not required.

I look forward to seeing you on Saturday for a lively and useful conversation.

In gassho,
Rev. Vivian

--


Last edited by Lise on Tue Jul 19, 2011 10:30 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : changed title to reflect additional posts)
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cmpnwtr

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PostSubject: Re: Upcoming dharma discussion at Shasta Abbey _ 18 June and after   Wed Jun 15, 2011 6:35 pm

Seems like a positive development to me.
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PostSubject: Re: Upcoming dharma discussion at Shasta Abbey _ 18 June and after   Fri Jun 17, 2011 12:09 pm

Yes, indeed, a possible positive development. However, I am curious why the book recommended to the Abbey by the Faith Trust Institute (and which some of us on this forum are reading) entitled: Sex and the Spirtual Teacher by Scott Edelstein is not on their list of books to read. To quote Therese Jacobs-Stewert, author of Mindfulness and the 12 Steps: "This book is an enlightening must-read for every spiritual student and community governing board." I think it is a ground breaking work and a must-read, too.

Machik
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Upcoming dharma discussion at Shasta Abbey _ 18 June and after   Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:30 am

Machik, maybe they will add Edelstein's book to the list -- they have had a request to discuss "abuse of power", per the follow-on message below that went out to the e-tree:


" --- On Sat, 6/25/11, Rev. Vivian Gruenenfelder wrote:


From: Rev. Vivian Gruenenfelder
Subject: For the e-tree
To:
Date: Saturday, June 25, 2011, 6:29 PM

Dear Friends,

I hope this finds you all well and enjoying our beautiful weather. It seems as if our first conversation on Training with Sexuality, held on June 18 in the Vimalakirti Hall at the Abbey, was successful. Several of you have expressed the wish for more, and so we would like to continue with them. The next one is scheduled for July 16th. My thought is that we could have several of these meetings, each with a chosen topic, and that a lay person or two could introduce them (with the exception of celibacy, in which case I think it would be good to have both a monk and a lay person introduce the topic). The introduction would take ten to fifteen minutes, and it's purpose would be to raise questions and/or suggest approaches to the topic in order to generate a discussion which would follow. You might add your own experiences regarding the topic if you wish to.

In consultation with a couple of you I have generated a list of possible topics. I would appreciate feedback from any of you who wish to respond. Do you have any other topics you'd like to suggest? And, especially, which topics are most important to you? Your responses to this last question will largely determine what we talk about and in what order. Here are the topics I already have:

1. The blessings and fruits of a healthy sex life (can include love and intimacy)
2. In what ways do we cause harm through sexuality
3. The value of an active sex life (I think we could combine this with #1)
4. Training with sexual energy
5. The close relationship between sexuality and spirituality. (Perhaps #4 could be combined with this one.)
6. Abuse of power
7. Celibacy, monk and lay
8. Male and female monks' views
9. Gay and lesbian sexuality
10. Sexuality in marriage and committed relationships
11. Sexual addiction
12. Sexual abuse, child and adult
13. Family discussions about sex
14. Media and peer pressure in society - use of pseudoscience to justify position
15. Male and female hormonal differences (discuss in # 10)
16. Taboo is not true

When we had our discussion on the 18th we mentioned many other possible topics. The list above is not meant to exclude any of those, so if we mentioned anything that is important to you that you don't see here, please bring it up.

If you are willing to introduce a topic, please let me know.

Thank you all for your interest in this and help with it. I think it will lead to a series of fruitful discussions.

In gassho,
Rev. Vivian"

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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Upcoming dharma discussion at Shasta Abbey _ 18 June and after   Fri Jul 01, 2011 4:04 am

Yes very good
I think society as a whole is far more aware of social and sexual difficulties.
A quick example, my girlfriends young daughter was having a few problems at school, and the out of school helper, thought daughter may be feeling a bit insecure as her gran recently died. The helper suggested a weekend (with mum) workshop that focused on bereavment. It was a great workshop, and everybody talked away , painted and ended up releasing balloons,and feeling a little better. For me the remarkable thing was it was run by the council.
I have known lots of people with sexual problems , alot from abuse and rape. One of my friends was raped by her dad,she helps a rape crisis centre, and helps raise money. She is very very open, and talks it out, but she has been through the same old situations, excessive drinking , being sexually free, and not letting people be really close, and trying in this way to abuse men.
It is interesting the long list of discussion points above, and we of course have touched on sex and teachers here.
The range of sexual problems is far greater than I know,R D lang the English therapist psyciatrist told me stories that were mind boggling to say the least.
So can religion,/ Buddhism help. I am sure it can,it does need really good people to do the helping.


Pamela Stevenson springs to mind as she is a Buddhist and a sex therapist.
personally I would like to see a retreat/in a loose frame like a workshop, where there is talking, painting discussion,meditation, releasing, to help get through, over, and release. Ideally these sort of retreats are best in my opinion run by women supported by men.also the ideal, is women or men who have been in abuse situations,simply because they know from experience what they are talking about. It is very difficult to lead a retreat or workshop or discussion without experience.

Our own Robert would be excellent at having on board a discussion group, I do not understand cross gender but he does and sadly experinced that we as Buddhist hindered rather than helped.

I would not be at all surprised if there are these sort of retreats workshops run by Buddhists happening in America, I have not heard of them.
The above clearly shows there is a need for open discussion,and it is a good thing .

My only other comment is no 1 above I do not quite understand the brackets ( can include love and intimacy) sex without love and intimacy is pretty grim in my experience, with love and intimicy is very beautiful
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Upcoming dharma discussion at Shasta Abbey _ 18 June and after   Fri Jul 01, 2011 2:28 pm

chisanmichaelhughes wrote:
My only other comment is no 1 above I do not quite understand the brackets ( can include love and intimacy) sex without love and intimacy is pretty grim in my experience, with love and intimicy is very beautiful
Michael, I wonder, maybe the brackets were just meant to confirm that love and intimacy as topics can be folded into the larger discussion of an active sex life? Or, maybe it was meant to be read as you read it.

Interesting to think about. I have met people who identify as Buddhist and also hold the position that sex can be experienced as a sport event or recreation, without an emotional connection, without necessarily doing harm, breaking precepts, etc. I can accept this as possible, but I imagine it's the kind of idea that looks do-able on paper and mostly falls apart in reality. Maybe if like-minded people meet each other and have very candid discussions about what they both expect, harm can be avoided. Humans being as we are, I think the situation is inherently risky; two people usually aren't perfectly aligned in what they want, at least that's been my experience.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Upcoming dharma discussion at Shasta Abbey _ 18 June and after   Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:59 pm

Well I think we think the same here , I agree with the looks doable on paper and then falls apart in reality. Everyone though is different, I can say what is not right for me may well be right for others. I think one of the authors Josh quoted Brad I think, who strongly criticises Gempo has a reasonable view on sex, however it is more liberal than mine.
I think the point I feel is the religious, have to be very careful in laying down guideline for sexuality of others as it can create problems. Kennett Roshi told me once a month was reasonable. I think society is far more enlightened generally nowadays. I personally do not think there is a right, it does depends on the people concerned,I do not think a loving couple need to be told, any outside guidance can cause problems, and a priest giving that sort of guidance is a bit offish to me.
My friend RD Lang saw many many people knotted up in their heads, and they tended to have 2 types of problems, sexual, and sort of religious. At that time the problems were mainly coming from Catholic people , who felt they were committing a form of a sin in relationship to their thoughts or actual sexual activity. It was quite an eye opener for me, as to how so easily we tangle ourselves up.

Personally I do not see too many people myself like this, I did when he was alive as he sent a few over to learn meditation. I do see more and more people who have suffered abuse, domestic and sexual, I think the two very often are linked as most sexual abuse I believe happens between people who know each other, Last year 2 doors up from my Mum's house a guy was arrested for having sex with children, so was his son (aged 30) the children were grandchildren and children of them.

That would take a lot of sorting out by experts. One of my friends who sits with me was a psyciatric nurse , he tells me that pedophiles think they are normal, and what they do is normal or ok .

I am sure it is so in the states but we are moving along (sometimes a bit slow) in help and welfare of sexually abused people. I think that there is no substitute for an expert, but combining with a retreat would or could be helpful, this is based on my belief that zazen helps see our true or original nature, I would support the idea.
I loved the idea of my girlfriends daughter ( aged 10) releasing her balloon, in fact I wrote about a young girl who was asking for help,one of her problems is her Dad died when she was very young, 2 weeks ago we have a fathers day children SHOULD ( only joking) give their Dads a present, My girlfriend gave the young girl a balloon to release, how great is that.
Somehow it makes me think of Ikko Roshi, his involvement with the little school that was built by the temple, he would encourage helpfulness and compassion, getting the right people to help,I think he would certainly have helped blow up the balloons.

Sorry it is not really following what you say,nobody talks to me about a healthy sex life,I tend to hear the not so good.
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PostSubject: Re: Upcoming dharma discussion at Shasta Abbey _ 18 June and after   Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:50 pm

I hear both good or otherwise, given how women talk. Oh my, yes, we do. I expect blokes do the same.

Michael, I like this idea, the specialised retreats and symbolic acts of release, I think this would be helpful.

I am trying to process the idea that Kennett would say "once a month is reasonable", as far as couples engaging in (sex, love, choose the name you want for it). People in their 20s or 30s, presumable in a committed relationship -- seriously, once a month? Actually it doesn't matter what age, this is more than biology. If love manifests in a physical way, age has nothing to do with anything.



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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Upcoming dharma discussion at Shasta Abbey _ 18 June and after   Sat Jul 02, 2011 2:06 am

Well I think you have hit 2 most important points.
Most of the problems of Catholic type sexual problems has come from this type of direction. Without going into great details,A story RD Lang told me was a normal educated housewifey type woman (sorry how she was described) went to see him after having fainting spells.
In trying to understand he wanted ti try to talk about the core problem. The fainting spell started when she went to the fridge at night to get some milk and fainted. with closer and closer examination it appeared that ablast of cold air had comeout of the fridge hit the floor and risen up her night dress, having been told that it was wrong to sexually touch your body she clammed up physically and fainted.
The remarkable part was she had 2 children.
We are generally far more aware now one can read about sexuality in magazines and hear talk on the tele,society is far more emlightrned.
Then you mention women talk,and (apparently) they do,English men are getting better,but men tend to like to project that they have no problems,it is not the sort of thing to tell your mates I have a problem with some thing or other, it goes against the macho.I think women can talk far freely with each other than men can sometimes talk to their wives or partners.
Having brought 3 children up on my own most of my friends though that period were single mums,I got used to girly chats.
I think for Shasta it must be a shock to them, not only with Eko being asked to leave,but the issues with North Cascades and a lot of general criticism,the way they are viewed by many people, religious groups and leaders, not just us is not positive. I would not have believed it in 1970, I would have put Kennett Roshi as a leader of enlightened action,I would too with Walter Nowick.So I think responding to actual needs rather than forcing issues is a good way forward,and talking about a wide range of topics on a difficult subject,is to be applauded not criticised
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PostSubject: Re: Upcoming dharma discussion at Shasta Abbey _ 18 June and after   Sat Jul 02, 2011 4:23 pm

How very refreshing to see a post which aims to place sexuality and related issues on the table for open discussion! Somehow discussing sexuality in a monastery setting raises its own barriers as it seems most people take their "Sunday best" behaviour and suppress the rest until leaving, so I hope both the laity and monastic communities feel able to talk openly and honestly without fear of judgement. It's an important step in the right direction, not least as it "gives permission" for us to acknowledge and accept our humanity - sexuality being a fundamental part of humanity.
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PostSubject: Re: Upcoming dharma discussion at Shasta Abbey _ 18 June and after   Sat Jul 02, 2011 5:30 pm

I want to say something to reply to you Robert ,but not sure exactly what!
I have perhaps written a one sided view, due to issues that I have seen and been told about.
There is always a difficulty when being brave and open that one will meet judgements, i think personally that discussions like this are more than good. the hard thing is for other peolpe to really understand circumstances they have nor experienced. It is difficult to talk about being gay if you are not gay,it is difficult to relate it to practice.
I skipped through an article today in the Daily Mail about the wife of an archbishop of Canterbury within the last 100 years who had 8 children, and spent most of her time persueing lesbian relationships, whilst the Archbishop was struggling with his homosexuality.
I think the big issue is be able to put down our views and be open. The Dharma is for everyone,zazen can not be hindered by who one is, and an entry point into zazen is accepting our humanity
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PostSubject: Re: Upcoming dharma discussion at Shasta Abbey _ 18 June and after   Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:06 pm

I'm sorry to be posting this after the fact, I didn't hear about it until after the talk was over, but I wanted this notice to be publicised even so. It's good to see this continuing. Too bad it wasn't offered whilst I was going to the Abbey -- I would have gone to these sessions and had my say Wink Two of the questions asked below really hit home for me: "Are there qualities of sexuality, relationship, love and intimacy that help to deepen our relationship with the Unborn, with our own Buddha Nature? What supports this in our lives?"

Would that all of the senior Shasta monks are required to attend Saturday talks with the laity and take in some of this conversation Smile



From: Rev. Vivian Gruenenfelder
Subject: Saturday's Discussion
To: [admin delete
Date: Monday, July 11, 2011, 8:57 PM

Dear Friends:

I hope that you are all well and enjoying the summer, which now seems to really be here. May your gardens grow!

On Saturday, 16 July, we will continue our discussions on Buddhist Training and Sexuality. The topic will be the Third Precept, which can be variously stated as: "I undertake to train myself to abstain from sexual misconduct," or "I undertake to train myself to abstain from causing harm through sexuality," or "A disciple of the Buddha does not misuse sexuality but rather cultivates and encourages open and honest relationships." Rev. Master Jiyu translated this Precept (from the Kyojukaimon) as "Do not covet."

Some topics we might consider include: In what ways do we cause harm through sexuality? What training tools do we have that can help us work with sexuality in difficult situations or when it is causing us trouble? How do we train effectively with desire? How can we express our sexuality in healthy ways which bring an end to suffering? What about sexuality and its expression brings a deepening of our religious life? Are there qualities of sexuality, relationship, love and intimacy that help to deepen our relationship with the Unborn, with our own Buddha Nature? What supports this in our lives? And anything else related to this topic that is important to you. Ellen Cleaver has generously agreed to introduce the topic. Rev. Amanda will be joining us.

I look forward to seeing you on Saturday. In gassho,
Rev. Vivian

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