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 A question for those who train

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Lise
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PostSubject: A question for those who train   Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:41 am

How would you respond to the position that you should be training "for the good of others" as well as yourself? Not only that it is desirable to do so, but that somehow you must do that or else your training isn't up to snuff - I think they call this the bodhisattva vow or ideal, to save all beings along with yourself. That's rather a tall order isn't it, for regular folk?

Is it "selfish" to train only for the sake of what we need to do about ourselves? Are we obliged to train for the sake of society, our friends, etc.?

A secondary issue here, of course, is the audacity of those who comment on other peoples' training and whether it is on track - I have some thoughts about that hmm
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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Thu Jun 30, 2011 1:53 pm

Hi Lise

Where's the posting for people that bus?
& is it OK to use a spiritual HOV lane?

I think it makes practical sense that abbots of monastics in olden days seeing the spiritual complacency of self satisfied concentration oriented monks would have to develop this teaching. How else could you move along the seniors whose meditative attainment has stalled on a plateau of peace and control. How else would you deal with your wards argument that "I follow the Buddhas footprints, know that I have arrived and here I sit complete (provided that I am fed & cared for).

The second aspect of this is that spiritual experience transcends the worlds illusory insistence that there is a self and other. To solely direct your "training" for yourself can be seen as a denial of this spiritual understanding.

The third reason for me is that I know what my ego needs to thrive. It works tirelessly toward developing the view that there is "me" and then there is the rest of the universe. I know that ego will actively support any structure that can re enforce that view, be it worldly or spiritual in nature. I think not having the refrain about training with the universe is just too fecund with delusive potential.

In the end, I don't think its actually possible to "train" just for yourself but there are a lot of sticky resting spots that look like self that a good teacher would suggest to walk on by on this journey.

As for Bodhisattva vows, this is where I part company with most of Buddhism (& touch some nerves)because I think it infantizes humans. Its not that I disagree with its purpose but I better trust the moment to moment direction of meditative truth than some ritualized statement of intent. (I guess that's why I'm in a common law relationship with Buddhism & my wife)

As for "ordinary folk", what is that? Is this nano second that we share ultimately different for priests, abbots, monks, lay folk or anyone else beyond how we face it? Most of the time, meditatively attending to what's needed of this one second leaves our deified masticating mind far behind to carry it's own backpack full of obligation, divided responsibility, self, other and a common plethera of "shoulds"

Really interesting questions that are broad and wide ranging enough to stop me packing up for our next kayak trip which will put me in some seriously deep do do at home. Hhmmm.... am I stopping for self or other?

Love all
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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Thu Jun 30, 2011 4:32 pm

Howard, your post gives me more questions, which I like. Lots of good stuff you wrote - wish my lunch hour was longer but I will keep this limited to a couple of items.

Howard wrote:
I think it makes practical sense that abbots of monastics in olden days seeing the spiritual complacency of self satisfied concentration oriented monks would have to develop this teaching. How else could you move along the seniors whose meditative attainment has stalled on a plateau of peace and control. . . .

Granting that an abbot probably can move some seniors along, should they? Does that indicate their own attachment to a particular outcome for the person they're trying to influence? Do people have a right to be/stay where they are in their path, or choose other directions, even if it isn't the spot where someone else might like them to be?

This concept is a biggie for me, the idea of whether any trainee owes this extension of . . . whatever it is, good intentions coupled with selflessness . . . to anybody else. I can see that it's a beneficial thing to give, if it's there naturally without having to be wrought by conscious effort. But what if a person isn't called to put selflessness at the top of the list? Do they owe it nonetheless? To me it seems like the bodhisattva ideal will grow of its own volition, inevitably, as a by-product of seeing things clearly and keeping the precepts more often than breaking them. But it can't be held out as something you must strive to cultivate and better not forget, else your training will be judged lesser (and does anybody have the right to assess that?) It seems to me that a person might just as likely end up with bodhisattva traits by not trying to do it nor heeding anyone else's exhortations to leave the self behind.

Howard wrote:
As for Bodhisattva vows, this is where I part company with most of Buddhism (& touch some nerves)because I think it infantizes humans. Its not that I disagree with its purpose but I better trust the moment to moment direction of meditative truth than some ritualized statement of intent.

I tend to agree. I used to squirm during those recitations of "I vow to save all beings, however limitless they may be" or however that went. I would think to myself "that's noble, and presumptuous, and grandiose". And not something I'd go round saying out loud -- it just feels weird.

Howard wrote:
As for "ordinary folk", what is that? Is this nano second that we share ultimately different for priests, abbots, monks, lay folk or anyone else beyond how we face it?

No, to me it isn't different, but that's an easy position to take, since I believe the four classes of buddhists actually are equal, and therefore priests/monks/abbots shouldn't get pushed around (meaning, exhorted to another view of what selflessness is or should look like) any more than the rest of us with different job titles.

Off to a meeting, hope others will have their say too -

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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Fri Jul 01, 2011 12:26 am

Lise, this is a wonderful question, and a wonderfully rich topic, as both you and Howard have confirmed by your comments!

I too have much that I would like to say and discuss about the myriad issues raised; but I will hold off for now (it has been a long and productive but tiring day for me here)!

Your question (or part of your question), Lise, was:

"How would you respond to the position that you should be training "for the good of others" as well as yourself?"

For now, I will simply say that for me, it boils down to being willing to look through the eyes, hear through the ears, and experience the feelings, of all people, of all beings, I interact with, at the level of awareness itself. By this I mean, a willingness to empathize, not just within imagination, but through an experience of resonance within awareness, at the core of being, by simply paying attention. (Many on this Forum have described this experience quite precisely--Michael, Nicky, Howard, and Ol'ga come to mind, in particular, at the moment--and you Lise, not only by asking the question, but by establishing this Forum itself!)

This willingness to empathize, in turn, seems to lead to an ability to actually do so, at least on occasion. And by the experience of doing so, it becomes clear that there is no separation between any of us. That which we are, we share with all beings, and existence itself.

In essence, we are all in this together. Other people, other beings, with whom we interact, are just as fragile as we are (as living beings)--and just as unharmable as we are (as Awareness itself).

Our job, I think, is to be mindful of fragility.
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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Fri Jul 01, 2011 1:38 am

Kozan ,what a completely wonderful response , i'm up too early , though the morning IS lovely.
when i read lises question yesterday i was shocked and disgruntled , feeling that her questions where what i wanted to get away from. i posted up something along those lines , left it there for 2 minutes , and then deleted it wondering what was going on within , and knowing my reaction was off key . this morning after reading your post i see i just didnt want to look within or without , now early as it is I'm ready - though not dressed .
thank you , Howard and Lise too .
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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Fri Jul 01, 2011 4:27 pm

Steve, what you describe - the willingess giving rise to an ability to see through another's eyes -- is how I picture this bodhisattva thing working. Not through force or deliberate effort, just a natural recognition that we can come to on our own, once we start seeing that we are, as you say, all in this together. I don't think it's about a conscious directive to train for the benefit of others so we can save them.

And there's a tangent I'd like to explore. How does an average bodhisattva know who needs saving, and from what? How we can know that someone else is deluded or making a mistake, or has fallen into error? What if they are not the deluded ones, and it's the self-deputized boddhisattvas who are a bit blinkered spiritually?

I hope someone knows how to address this. I'll sit here on my favorite virtual rock and wait, to see what comes along. ta.
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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Fri Jul 01, 2011 11:38 pm

Hey Lise

Perhaps this is taking a spiritually evolved concept like a Bodhisattva and bringin it to da hood but....

Beyond the limits of our own ego, the idea of saving doesn't need to be reduced to a saviour and the saved. If one asked who & what was being saved, one answer could be that the activity of egolessness is simply the transcendence of the delusion that there is a separate who & what to be saved.

Seeing the manifestation of a Bodhisattva as an enlightened being saving a deluded being only partakes of egos greatest folly that our very existence is defined by our separation from each other. Compassion, tenderness, benevolence, empathy and sympathy is the Bodhisattva that arises naturally in the absence of ego. All the rest of it reminds me of painting Jesus as a English speaking Caucasian.

This is all from someone hearing voices asking if using the computer is getting the VHF radio fixed, so either my meds are wrong, or she who must be obeyed has awoken.

Cheers all
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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Sat Jul 02, 2011 8:32 am

What?! Jesus wasn't Caucasian? Give me a moment to recover from that, thanks a lot Howard.

Okay, time to be serious. I take your point about egolessness = transcendence of the idea of savior / saved. That's the theoretical side which I agree with to the extent I understand it. I get lost at even moderate levels of abstraction so I have to stay at sea level mostly. I'm looking more at the practical, "what-is-going-on-here" side of things. As a hypothetical, let's say that a monastic decides to continue her/his journey on a path that is other than the community life they've been part of for years. I would think they have the right to make this choice for any reason or none at all. It is their life to decide how to use. If their decision is cast as a mistake and deluded selfishness by those who don't agree with it, what does this mean? Is there a duty to save others that trumps all other considerations?

How does this idea comport with what the Buddha taught, I guess that's what I'm digging at. I don't think it's selfish to decide to train outside the monastic/buddhist teacher framework, but even if we accept that others hold that view, is "selfishness" now the fourth poison, to go along with greed, anger and delusion?

p.s. is your radio fixed? If not, don't feel pressed to reply, I don't want to get you in trouble.
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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Sat Jul 02, 2011 6:25 pm

Hi all,

I haven't posted in a long time, but I've been lurking, and Lise's question and the wonderful responses caught my attention today.

My take on it is that training for self or training for other boils down to exactly the same thing. You cannot train yourself without that helping other people, and you cannot help other people without that helping you. The only real question to my mind is one of balance. If you think you are going to spend your life saving others, I'd say you have a whole lot of ego in the way. If you only care about your self and have no compassion for others, the same is true. If you can see both sides of that self/other coin as truly being one whole, undivided coin, I think you're doing just fine.

Comment away!

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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Sat Jul 02, 2011 6:48 pm

Hey Lise

I'm not sure it is just theoretical. I think it's just our practise. We meditate, allow everything to play out without our manipulative fiddlings and then arise with an ear to the heart that beats free of sufferings cause. Repeat process often enough to stay with the beat.
What ever I make more important than this dance messes up the beat and the next thing I know I'm stepping on toes all around me again.

Bringing this to the "what is going on here" side of things, all trainees ( with what ever tittle they may carry) live some version of this. The Buddhas last words about being your own island speak of this but the real authority is just what's left over when we get out of the way. This means that while a community, society or a teacher should be listened to, you either choose to dance like a robot or you can make manifest the truth of the Buddhas final words with your own steps.

Likewise I also think its any linage or teachers right to tell the student that his dance steps should conform or he/she should dance elsewhere and no longer represent his former school.

My personal experience with selfishness is that it just simply partakes of one or all of the three poisons rather than being a separate poison. The fourth poison is already relegated to a stimulation vampire pulling the weak willed away from there responsibilities through forums like this. I've been looking for an emoticon that looks like garlic.

And yes the VHF is still broken, go figger

& Nice posting Laura!


Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Sat Jul 02, 2011 8:37 pm

I didn't do a good job with framing my original question, because no one has quite addressed it yet redface although I appreciate the responses.

I would like to understand why someone might accuse another person of selfishness simply for deciding to follow an individual path of training rather than one that is overtly dedicated to the bodhisattva ideals of "training for others".

I should have illustrated this with an example and then maybe it would have been clearer. In Michael Little's email of May of 2010, after the news of his resignation but before his romance became known, he said he was told by some in the community that he was being "selfish" (among 5 or 6 other undesirable things) for wanting to leave Shasta Abbey and make a change. I would like to know why this was judged to be selfish. Leaving aside the romance bit, since no one knew of that yet, why was it not ok for him to make such a decision? And in the current environment at Shasta, why are some exiting monks given a "bon voyage" and even the equivalent of "don't let the screen door hit you on the rear on your way out", yet others are held up as examples of delusion and error, easy pickings for Mara, I suppose you might call it, for making the same decision? What is up with that?

I would like to understand this better.

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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Sat Jul 02, 2011 11:34 pm

Hi Lise,
I think what you speak of may be a way to have control over people and maintain power. Perhaps the selectivity of certain people to shame and others to dismiss is based on how useful the person in question is to the group. Some people are likely deemed less valuable than others when it comes to solidifying the power of those in control, the top monks and abbot. I know this sounds incredibly cynical but I suspect this is true. I'm not much of a cynic really. Some people come across as stronger and likely have more status than others even in a monastary. Some people have a personality which is more charismatic than others. (This is coming from someone who never went to Shasta Abbey and I could be in error to some extent.) Still I think there's some truth to what I suspect is behind this matter of calling a person selfish for wanting to pursue another course of life other than life at Shasta Abbey. Blaming Michael Little for what happened I think is kind of like having a scapegoat; the problem is systemic and more than he is responsible for this unfortunate outcome.

I'm usually quite trusting but as I get older, I think I'm thinking more and trusting less.
Waving, and respectfully nodding, Claire
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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:56 am

ps.
I think there are those who are happy with the status quo and who do not want anyone rocking the boat. When someone leaves a religious group, it's not unheard of for the remaining people to discredit the person leaving, to shun them, punish them for not being loyal. You'd think Buddhists would be above acting this way but it appears not so. Why some people are just let go without much comment probably means their leaving didn't rock the boat as much as those with maybe a higher status in the group. This is how I understand it at any rate. bye, claire
waving respectfully.
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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Sun Jul 03, 2011 9:04 am

You're probably right, Claire, what you've said would explain the difference in how some are treated. I hadn't thought about the issue of how useful they might be to the community vs. others whose presence won't be missed as much. I wonder too, if this is related to the propping-up of Shasta's image -- do they feel they must cast the decision as a mistake, otherwise the validity of Kennett/OBC buddhism may be undermined?

I haven't been around too many religious groups yet but I have been hanging out with some Tibetans for almost two years and I have not see this same dynamic in play. We've had monks come and go, sometimes to other traditions or sometimes back to lay life. What is said privately, who knows, but I've yet to see any PR campaigns to label the occurrences as error & delusion. Can anything good come of that? It seems to me all this achieves is to tick off the person who is leaving, such that she/he might resolve never to come back even if they later concluded they'd made a mistake.

I am a cynic, I don't remember being otherwise. Mostly it doesn't bother me - I think of it another tool in the shed that helps me cut through brambles or turn up a patch of stubborn mental turf, as needed. This is my favorite emoticon Suspect I wish I could make that face in real life funny

cheers, L
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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:38 am

Laura wrote:
My take on it is that training for self or training for other boils down to exactly the same thing. You cannot train yourself without that helping other people, and you cannot help other people without that helping you. The only real question to my mind is one of balance. If you think you are going to spend your life saving others, I'd say you have a whole lot of ego in the way. If you only care about your self and have no compassion for others, the same is true. If you can see both sides of that self/other coin as truly being one whole, undivided coin, I think you're doing just fine.

I wanted to come back to this yesterday but was too pressed for time. I think these points are so important and they make sense to me completely, the idea that training oneself will end up helping others. I can't see how selfishness can be construed from it.

For myself I wouldn't trust that I was qualified to try to "save" any being but myself or that it was my business to try. The idea of taking an interest in others' well-being, and in trying to treat them considerately, is much easier for me to understand than the concept of deliberately helping or saving them.

I'll be back later with a comment/question on this topic that relates to one of Rev. Meian's retreat dharma talks from last week. I need to skim back through them in order to know which talk contained the reference to someone "frisking off" on their own instead of remaining dedicated to saving others, I think it was, something to that effect. I will find the exact reference to avoid misquoting/taking out of context.

Updated to say, I am mistaken about the reference to "frisking off"; this was not mentioned in the context of an alternative to saving others, rather, it was related to dealing with karmic tendencies and "purifying selfishness". The passage in question can be found in the mp3 called "Hongzhi Retreat02 The Monday Talk" at 11 minutes, 32 seconds into the 26 minute, 24 second talk. "We can’t just go frisking off into some state of bliss, we’ve got to work. It doesn’t work that way. If you try frisking off, we’re liable just to be deluded because we haven’t dealt with our selfishness; we have to deal with our selfishness." I got the concepts tangled up a bit, sorry about that.


Last edited by Lise on Tue Jul 05, 2011 7:13 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : correcting a misstatement about the quotation)
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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Mon Jul 04, 2011 1:45 pm

I'm glad you found my comments helpful Lise. I would like to mention something about the "frisking off" comment, which I know you are going to look up. First, that just sounds so much like RM Meian that it made me laugh. But second, regardless of the context of this particular comment, it reminds me of something I've wanted to say about Eko's departure for some time.

I've read a few comments asking why it was such a big deal for him to fall in love and leave the monastery. I have a couple of thoughts about that. One, you have to understand how strongly Eko preached to the monastic community about the importance of celibacy, not just as physical abstinence from sexuality, but as complete lack of "attachment" to other sentient beings. He not only ridiculed others who so much as experienced love as an emotion, he was punitive towards them to a degree that I can only describe as cruelty. For him to actually leave for this reason was a huge betrayal to people who were working very hard on themselves to try and follow his teaching on this subject. And please remember, he was completely dishonest about his reasons for leaving. He started by laying the blame squarely at the door of the OBC, claiming that there were major, irreconcilable policy disagreements between him and the Order, when in fact he was planning to run off with his sweetheart. This was discovered and revealed by others, who had undeniable proof, or he would probably never have told anyone the truth (and frankly, without that proof the seniors wouldn't have believed it either). I completely understand that people are human and can fall in love, but the way in which he went about this was truly ignoble.

Secondly, an extremely important factor here is that Eko had a significant number of both monastic and lay disciples to whom he had made a life-long commitment. It is not just the disciple who makes this vow of commitment, it is the master too. He made the choice to abandon all of them. His monastic disciples in particular are people who left their entire secular lives behind in order to follow him. The way the master-disciple relationship is handled within the OBC, it is an extremely personal and all-important relationship. I don't particularly agree with the way they have configured this relationship, but given that this is how they do it, I can only say that the monastic disciples he left behind, particularly those who are not yet senior monks, were left completely in the lurch. There was no way they could continue in monastic life there without taking a new master, but they had come there to train with him. His decision to leave was not simply a personal decision. It had enormous consequences for the entire community, both monastic and lay, and he never even had the decency to discuss his situation honestly with any of them. If he had handled this differently, with honesty, consideration of others, and open communication, arrangements for his departure including the transition of his disciples could have been made beforehand, and the way could have been eased for those he left behind. To my mind, he demonstrated a callous disregard for those who had devoted their lives to him and I think it was both irresponsible and selfish in the extreme. I hope everyone recognizes that the problem here is not simply that he fell in love.

Having said all that, I'm delighted that he is gone, and I think it is one of the best things that could have ever happened to the Abbey. His abuses of power went on for years and years, and the shock of his departure compounded by the way he went about it opened the eyes of many who had previously supported him. It is clear to me that they are learning a lot from this experience, and it is high time. I am hopeful that they will recognize that the problem was not just Eko's behavior, it is the system that created, supported, and mindlessly trusted that behavior which really needs to be fixed. I am delighted that there is now an Ethics Committee at the Abbey, as this has been sorely needed. I will be interested in seeing what the Faith-Trust Institute assessment shows, despite the fact that their scope is limited. You can learn a lot about Shasta Abbey as a whole even if you only focus on the Eko situation. The Abbey's history, culture, policies and mind-set are all contained within that situation for anyone who looks closely enough.

Well, there, I've gotten that all off my chest now. I recognize that I have hijacked this thread quite a bit with my outburst and I'd be happy for you to do whatever you need to do administratively to fix this Lise. I'm sure that this post will draw some fire, so have it folks. I look forward to your responses. cat
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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:25 pm

Laura, I had exactly the same reaction that you did to Lise's report of RM Meian's comment (I haven't listened to her talk yet) about "frisking off". I can hear her voice, and her tone of humor, even when making (what to her is undoubtedly) a serious point.

I also fully agree with all of your observations and comments. Although I had left active status as a monk of the Order before Eko's tenure as Abbot, I knew him well, and had watched him change, or rather, solidify, over the years, in the ways reported by others on this forum. When I did Kessei, Eko was my chief junior.

You wrote:

"You can learn a lot about Shasta Abbey as a whole even if you only focus on the Eko situation. The Abbey's history, culture, policies and mind-set are all contained within that situation for anyone who looks closely enough."

In my opinion, you are precisely correct.
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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Mon Jul 04, 2011 5:19 pm

Laura, your comments are directly on-topic and have filled some gaps in my understanding, possibly that of others also.

Impossible to know this, but I wonder if M. Little had followed an approved exit protocol, and handled the transitioning of his responsibilities in the right way, would he have gotten a different response, or would the actions still be seen as selfish? If he had done everything right that he could do, what then?

It would be interesting to hear what any former monks (OBC or otherwise) could say about their experience -
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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Mon Jul 04, 2011 7:16 pm

Lise wrote:
Steve, what you describe - the willingess giving rise to an ability to see through another's eyes -- is how I picture this bodhisattva thing working. Not through force or deliberate effort, just a natural recognition that we can come to on our own, once we start seeing that we are, as you say, all in this together. I don't think it's about a conscious directive to train for the benefit of others so we can save them.

And there's a tangent I'd like to explore. How does an average bodhisattva know who needs saving, and from what? How we can know that someone else is deluded or making a mistake, or has fallen into error? What if they are not the deluded ones, and it's the self-deputized boddhisattvas who are a bit blinkered spiritually?

Lise, I completely agree that training in a way that might benefit others has, and should have, nothing to do with trying to "save" anyone!

Although I share some of Josh's concern about some of Dogen's teachings, there are, nevertheless, some observations made by Dogen (from his earlier years I'm guessing) that I like alot. One that I particularly like is from the Genjo-Koan (the Problem of Everyday Life):

"When we wish to teach and enlighten all things by ourselves we are deluded; when all things teach and enlighten us we are enlightened."

So, I would say that in at least one sense, "self-deputized" Bodhisattvas are always "spiritually blinkered"--if they think of themselves as "Bodhisattvas", if they think they know what others need, and if they plan to give it to them!

In contrast, I think that we can all be of genuine benefit to others--not by setting out to be, but by simply recognizing what we share in common with all people--and all beings. In other words, we all have our own specific and unique stuff to work with in the course of spiritual practice, and yet, I think that it is often just our own specific version of what is ultimately general and universal. If so, then solving our own challenges can be the basis for understanding general principles. I think that one such principle is recognizing that we can't solve anyone else's problem for them. Another principle is recognizing that genuine help is often a paradoxical combination of offering encouragement and support--and getting out of the way.

Lise, you've raised other important related questions, which I will try to respond to in a following post.

Cheers,
Steve...aka Kozan...aka Steve Kozan Beck ;-)
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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Mon Jul 04, 2011 8:53 pm

I look forward to it Steve.

Another principle is recognizing that genuine help is often a paradoxical combination of offering encouragement and support--and getting out of the way. Love this. Right on.

A bit of selfishness on my part, just for the record - as most of you know I'm not often struck by the urge to follow deep thoughts around with a butterfly net, but when it does happen I can count on you good forum members to come out and help me chase them down.

Laura, more thoughts on your last post -- I don't mean to diminish the impact of M. Little's actions in any way. I can't imagine what it was like for those who came to the Abbey because of him and what they thought he was about and believed, and taught. I have always questioned, though, whether someone in his position ever had a realistic way of getting out. I don't mean to resurrect that whole debate again but it is related to my questions about "selfishness" and the problems associated with expecting someone to train for the benefit of others.

I agree with your take on the m/d relationship not being configured in the best way, possibly. And I question the "lifelong commitment" aspect for the simple reason that we just don't know what may be ahead in any person's lifetime. Meian did a dharma talk earlier this year titled "Accepting Impermanence" and I thought it was one of her best that are posted online -- lots of good stuff about why we can't and shouldn't try to hang onto things because "lives change, people change". Everything she said made sense to me. And I didn't hear anything to the effect of "except monks and Abbots, of course; they don't change". Abbots and other monks don't stop being people, they aren't immune to impermanence -- isn't this a basic fact that should be taken under advisement when this "lifelong commitment" thing rears its head, esp. in the context of the m/d relationship? I think anyone should get the benefit of the doubt, in terms of them making such a commitment in complete good faith that they can keep it (people who marry do the same thing), but - if they see the truth and reality of their own path leading them further on, there has got to be a way that makes it all right to leave, with honesty. Maybe the solution is to have a renewable type of commitment rather than one grand, lifelong "I promise to do this forever" statement. I've heard of one order of Catholic nuns who take vows year by year, rather than make lifelong vows, and to me this makes so much more sense. It would be more realistic and compassionate, and would better protect the interests of students/disciples, if they knew they shouldn't count on "forever". I wonder how much difference that would make --

hmm.





Last edited by Lise on Tue Jul 05, 2011 7:24 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : grammar)
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Tue Jul 05, 2011 4:03 am

Laura your post about Eko hit me quite hard again.
I am drawn back to Dianes comments ( I think) about how Eko could tell if some one had had a kensho, and I believe he thought the Abbott of Sojiji had not !
I sometimes think that the basis of at least Ekos teaching stemmed from his inability to accepy his self, his ego. And this word training was his effort to basically suppress his self and deny his humanity. I may be wrong.

I love the koan of the monk looking out of a window and seeing the tail of a bull passing,swishing in the air. No matter how many koans one passes through, and how many experiences of whatever one experiences we still and always swish the tail of our ego. Within that comes the humanity, the compassion and love of Buddhism.
There is something quite strange with the way that Buddhism seems to be interpreted as a vehicle for power, and sadly abuse,I like the catholic idea of commit for a year take vows and renew.
Where do all these titles like Rev Master come from? Do they come from the Malasian group that Shasta is connected to? There have always been more titles and positions, with Kennet Roshis monastic setting than in normal non monastic life. She used to say she uses greed positively in her teaching,I do not think that one can simply because one is off on a funny tangent straight away
I think that you are right in what you say Laura that Eko did not end it properly, I don't think it is a problem that he fell in love but you say

To my mind, he demonstrated a callous disregard for those who had devoted their lives to him and I think it was both irresponsible and selfish in the extreme. I hope everyone recognizes that the problem here is not simply that he fell in love.

I agree comletely with you. I actually have a problem that people devoted their lives to him, It does not seem to come from any depth of awareness that would naturally occur with sitting zazen, and a zen teacher simply would not be encouraging this sort of thing. Basicall I do not think Eko could handle or or had any experience of the actual swish of his tail. By the sounds of it it was swishing all the way though his being Abbott and his departing,telling other people to deny their tails at the same time,does not sound like he understood the basis of our practice
I remain very puzzled
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Laura

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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Tue Jul 05, 2011 1:59 pm

Hi Chisan,

I think you hit the nail exactly on the head when you say that Eko's "training" consisted of an effort to suppress his self and deny his humanity. I also agree that this idea of people devoting their lives to a teacher is a huge problem, and it is one of the aspects of Shasta Abbey that I consider to border on the cultish. It was Eko and his seniors who required this type of dedication, but they were simply following the example that RM Jiyu set, for it is clear that she required this of her disciples as well. As for the "life-long commitment" thing, I think it is a huge mistake. If a person winds up remaining a monk for all their life, that is one thing, but to require it of all monastics is quite another. As Lisa pointed out, there should be a graceful way for a person to exit.

Lise, I agree with you regarding impermanence, but even though it does apply to monastics, the culture at the Abbey IS very much one of "except monks of course". It's not to say that monks don't change, but they are expected to never change their commitment to monasticism. It is generally viewed as a huge spiritual mistake. I remember being asked to write a letter to the congregation explaining why I was leaving, and they were going to post it on the community bulletin board at the Abbey. So I wrote a letter, which did not explain the true reasons I was leaving because I was unwilling to talk about all the problems with Eko and I knew they would never post it anyway if I did. Mostly, I wanted to reassure the congregation that I was leaving of my own accord, and that my work on the Shobogenzo would be finished before I left, which I knew would be a huge concern to them. I had one sentence in there, I don't remember exactly what it said, but it put my leaving in a very positive light as something that was spiritually good for me to do. Meian came and asked me to remove that sentence, because a monk's leaving could never be spiritually good, lol. I went ahead and removed it, but thought you would be interested that she made this request, although it is possible she made it at Eko's request. Nevertheless, it is clear that she agreed with this view. I, on the other hand, can tell you from my personal experience that it was absolutely the right choice for me, and one that I have never regretted.

I was taken by your question about "would things have been different if he had left in an appropriate way". I think things would have been very different. In fact, it was being handled differently until they found out he had been lying to them for years. They were helping him tie up all his affairs, and letting him stay at the Abbey for weeks and weeks after his public announcement of resignation, which was tremendously awkward and difficult for all the monks there. They took up a big collection to give him money to help with his transition to lay life. I happen to know that many of the monks gave significant amounts of their own personal money (some of them actually have some). Even though they were devastated by his leaving, they did everything they could to help him on his way. I was actually really touched by that. Mind you, all of this was done in the context of thinking he was making the worst mistake a monk could make, but they did their best to help him anyway. And even when they found out the truth, they still gave him the money to help him transition to lay life, but they did ask him to leave the premises at that point, which I think was highly appropriate given that he had been breaking the OBC rules for years.

The problem of the Abbey's structure of the master/disciple relationship and their life-long commitment view, however, does remain. I wonder if they will be willing to look at these sacred cows in the context of their self-assessment. Only time will tell.


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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Tue Jul 05, 2011 2:08 pm

Thank you for the reply Laura , which I appreciate too.
I want to reply without rushing, but I am rushing like a rip snorter through a candy shop,( It is not an ancient English saying I have just made it up as it fully expresses how I feel !)
I will reply with time later.
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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Tue Jul 05, 2011 3:36 pm

Laura wrote:
Lise, I agree with you regarding impermanence, but even though it does apply to monastics, the culture at the Abbey IS very much one of "except monks of course". It's not to say that monks don't change, but they are expected to never change their commitment to monasticism. It is generally viewed as a huge spiritual mistake.
This goes to the essence of my question. I can understand someone looking within, to ask whether such a change could be a mistake for himself or herself personally, or not, but how in the world could any person presume to know the answer to this for someone else? How is this judgmentalism and opinion-rendering reconciled with the rest of OBC teachings on non-judgment and droppings of opinion?

Laura wrote:
I remember being asked to write a letter to the congregation explaining why I was leaving, and they were going to post it on the community bulletin board at the Abbey. So I wrote a letter, which did not explain the true reasons I was leaving because I was unwilling to talk about all the problems with Eko and I knew they would never post it anyway if I did. Mostly, I wanted to reassure the congregation that I was leaving of my own accord, and that my work on the Shobogenzo would be finished before I left, which I knew would be a huge concern to them. I had one sentence in there, I don't remember exactly what it said, but it put my leaving in a very positive light as something that was spiritually good for me to do. Meian came and asked me to remove that sentence, because a monk's leaving could never be spiritually good, lol. I went ahead and removed it, but thought you would be interested that she made this request, although it is possible she made it at Eko's request. Nevertheless, it is clear that she agreed with this view. I, on the other hand, can tell you from my personal experience that it was absolutely the right choice for me, and one that I have never regretted.
I wish I could do better than "wow". I wonder why they did not just write the statement for you and show you where to sign, if you would not be allowed to publish all your thoughts -- and I wonder are they still doing this today, the censoring? Does anybody know?
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June99



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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Tue Jul 05, 2011 4:34 pm

Laura,
Thank you for sharing that with us. I also felt so liberated when I cut my commitment as a lay practitioner with the Abbey. It opened up so much trust in myself and faith that "I" could do the "work" just fine without the OBC. I think my ability to be open, honest, and loving has improved since leaving.
I would also say that being and practicing in this way also helps my partner, our relationship, and reminds me to be a better steward in the world. That's how I see training for the sake of self and others.
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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Tue Jul 05, 2011 6:35 pm

Yes Laura I have thought a little more about what you wrote,and I am pleased again to read Junes post of being more open honest and loving, basic and essential aspects of zazen for me.
I struggle with the concept of the type of teaching and teaching establishment Shasta has become.
As I see it ,Kennett Roshi, was at Sojiji for a few years, I do not know what accomadation she would have had,she found the formal sitting tough( which I can understand) and came over to USA I met her in 1970.
I never saw her sit zazen, although it has been said that people saw her sit zazen in a chair in front of her tele. She sort of followed Japanese zen, what she did not understand she interpreted by her Christian background and knowledge, The names became christiany, like rev and chaplain, the robe were more Catholic.
She then became involved with Malayian and changed her view on married priests, and made them divorce. She was insistant on people obeying her, and had kenshos which seem to be series of visions.If one bought it and went with it things went well, if one challenged one was shunned , written about or sent to the goat shed.
Some people would say this is expedient means of teaching, some would say this is cultish behaviour, and demanding blind obedience is coming out of a need of the teacher rather than what is right for the student.
What seems to happen is our awareness grew from nothing to something,we started to find spirituality and direction within our ourselves our natuaral pratice. Querying a different practice or the direction of the teacher to me is good zen, being in a place for personal emotional need, seeing the place as the place to be, or the teacher as the source of understanding, is not yet zen.
The harsh strictness and control and desire for power over other people that Kennet Roshi and Eko taught and insisted on,comes from insecurity, and I feel a lack of understanding of true Buddhism,the real teaching comes from ourselves. Zazen, not only makes the walls between us and ourselves, us and other paper thin, is enables us to see that there are no walls there any way . The awareness that grows with zazen, shows us that here and now is the only place we can be, we just are not here enough. We are here and now, we just like to be separate.
For me I believe that all of Buddhism is discovered within our own zazen, the moment a teacher is trying to teach any form of dependance it is always some other teaching. Zazen is not taught through words it is taught by doing it.Eko seemed to create a stupid situation where he was telling people how to live,he tryed to controll the way people felt and thought,whilst he felt and thought freely for himself. If he practiced zazen, he would realise that the real teaching comes from within the very people he is trying to control. This we call spiritual maturity.It is what a teacher wants to see and demands from a student, it is why I found Zuoiji Temple tough, the demand was always to be true to oneself.That sometimes is harder than blindly following the whims and fancies of someone else
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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Wed Jul 06, 2011 8:19 pm

Training for self and others ... or not. Definitely a great topic.

I used to have major issues when it came to the Bodhisattva vow. The idea of either needing a savior or being a savior just didn't comport with my way of thinking. It did not make sense to me during my Christian upringing and even less when I became interested in Zen. However, at some point a long the way, I learned that the Bodisattva vow was a much later addition to Buddhism and not an original teaching of the Buddha. When I learned that, I was quite relieved I was not responsible for some else's salvation.

Laura, you sum it up masterfully:
You cannot train yourself without that helping other people, and you cannot help other people without that helping you.

Thank you. Very Happy

mokuan
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john

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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Thu Jul 07, 2011 7:26 am



I have always thought of a Bodhisattva as something not quite attainable, a being of the imagination. As for vows, something I have never really taken seriously, sort of child like really. I see vows as more of waking up to ones intention and to try and keep that on track.Maybe thats what they are.
Dont like them really, as they seem to link up with punishment if broken.

We cant help effecting others, good or bad and vice versa. When it is in a good way and under the title of Bodhisattva, thats all it is a title. If I believe I have an angel hovering over me
helping with my life its only imagination,(until I know otherwise) but for some maybe essentual. Assistance through mental formations seem to me part and parcel of Buddhism and we can make them real or not, not that I would advise myself or anybody else to do that.
The conflict for me is the setting up of these thought formation beings, Kanzeon etc. which are aspects of ourselves, and not depending on them.I think the term is active imagination. The mind needs structure and the practice of Zazen helps to dismantle it.

Chisan said,
The awareness that grows with Zazen, shows us that hear and now is the only place we can be, we are just not hear enough. Loved that , made me laugh.
Wake Up!
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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Thu Jul 07, 2011 4:43 pm

Yes John as the executive vice chairman of the, 'vacant wandering mind society', I am allowed to make your day and offer you free membership to the society.There are regular meetings in most towns. Although we are a growing society, we do not compare to the Americans, where they have brought things up to date ,the leaders have magnificent titles, wear bright red colors, have many beautiful devotees,and the leaders demand the latest and best mercedes,and write very popular books, even appear on TV to discuss their personal vision the art of being vacant, In fact great progress has been made over there with the depth that can actually be accomplished. We are so lucky being British as we really know we don't have to travel far,or even look to others to be taught what for us is so easy
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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Fri Jul 08, 2011 5:33 am

You have got yourself another member Chisan. I am a sucker for the truth.
Dont let Josh know though, you know what hes like .

Thanks for the chortle Chisan.
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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Sat Jul 09, 2011 10:50 am

I appreciate all the contributions to this thread, especially those from Laura and her observations of the monastic culture at SA. I was drawn to Zen in large part because of the promise of growth in practice that would lead to a spiritual autonomy and adulthood. And I have to say that promise held true for me personally, and when it became apparent that there was an institutional demand for growing dependence with unquestioning loyalty to the person of JK and the organization then it was time to leave. Asking for a lifetime submission of one's own will and unquestioning loyalty to a human teacher is utter pathology, and outside my understanding of the Buddhist teaching and tradition, or that of any legitimate wisdom tradition. Whatever mentoring/apprenticeship arrangements are made in the spiritual journey can only be described as temporary and an authentically exist only for the purpose of assisting a student to grow to spiritual and psychological independence.

I also find resonance in Laura's response to the question of training for self and others- no difference. In large part the fundamental choice every person faces is whether to awaken and transform personal consciousness. That choice influences the planet for good or ill and the state of the consciousness of humankind. Gandhi said that if 1 percent of human beings meditated, humankind would be transformed. And I am inclined to believe that is true. A transformed consciousness may lead some persons to activism for overtly compassionate purposes, but not necessarily. Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." I like that.
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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Sat Jul 09, 2011 3:08 pm

Hi Bill.
My 18 yr. old daughter's favourite quote, which she posts on her Facebook pg., is Ghandi's, "Be the change you want to see in the world." I have many reasons for optimism, those being my daughter and her friends. They are down to earth, genuine, even polite to some extent. They are more focused than I was at their age.

I wish I could write more but for some reason my ability to focus on writing right now is not up to par. I'm better at reading the letters in this form. Thank you Bill, Laura, Lise & everyone else
for participating here and giving me so much to think about; there is a high quality of communication here which is hard to find! Bye, claire
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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Mon Jul 11, 2011 2:22 am

Does desire always lead to suffering? I don't believe it does. As a child I remember desiring a doll, getting the doll and feeling quite happy! I don't recall becoming disappointed or disenchanted with the doll however I'm quite sure I moved on to desiring something else.

I think desire leads to suffering when we expect something to be something it's not, something it can't be. When delusion combines with it. Maybe it takes a combo of greed, hate and delusion brewing away before there is the outcome of suffering.

When we desire something and cannot get it, suffering arises; that's pretty obvious.
I don't think absolutes are very often true, absolute kind of statements.

I once suffered very much when I had to share a hospital rm. with a woman who I did not like in the least. I desired her to be gone! I would have her die rather than remain my rm. mate!
I was shocked at myself; I hadn't thought I would feel so extreme. I was very sensitive after surgery and her voice, her habits, her visitors all drove me to thoughts of destruction.
I had to suck it up, so to speak, and live with the reality that I was stuck with her.
I suffered until she went home and a new rm. mate replaced her. I was so relieved once she left! I don't know why I'm wandering off talking about how I suffered from desire to be rid of someone. Maybe it's true to say desire often results in suffering. Hows that? Bye, claire
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Mon Jul 11, 2011 9:12 am

Great bit of real world Clair

I have to go even more off because your story reminds me of a story of Quentin Crisp, if you do not know of him he was one of the first gay men to come out in England ..... at his cost.

He was a great camp man at a time when it was illegal to be gay,

I saw him interviewed and the interviewer asked would he ever he happy, his reply was how could he be when all he wanted was for a real man to love him , and he felt that a real man would actually love a woman.

It was how he felt I found it quite poignant.

Is impermanence sad ?

Seen through certain eyes I find it sad.
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bellclaire



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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Mon Jul 11, 2011 5:36 pm

Oh yes, impermanence is sad! It seems as if every molecule of my being resists accepting impermanence. Maybe it's unacceptable to most human beings. I don't apologize for being a human being and feeling this way re. this subject. Nothing I feel changes things when it come to this though.

My dog is 11 yrs. old this Aug. and the thought of her impermanence is often with me. (This breed generally lives 11 to 13 yrs.) She is walked every day for around an hr. and a half; often I walk her, often my husband walks her and sometimes all 3 of us go for a walk together, my favourite walks. We've seen our dog, "Skylar", a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, slowing down. She loves to chase other dogs who are chasing balls; she's not interested in the ball rather imagining she's herding the dogs. Her breed are the smallest of the herding dogs. It's interesting how they maintain an interest in herding even when they live in the suburbs where there are no sheep, ducks or geese to herd. They switch to attempting to herd dogs, humans, and even cats, which is a huge failure of course!

I don't like it one bit that our dog is impermanent; it reminds my husband, my children and myself are likewise. I face this fact but I can't say I accept it. Instead I think of ways we are connected in life and get very abstract in thought, coming up with a host of maybes. Maybe we continue on in a way which cannot be explained since it's not material. I think I'll continue to have a hard time accepting impermanence. Maybe we're not wired to accept it? If so perhaps there's some truth to there being another dimension or something we can't imagine now. Maybe we're a part of something larger than ourselves. Who knows, maybe impermanence itself is impermanent?!! Perhaps there is something about time which we cannot fathom now. I think it's good to have more questions than answers; helps with maintaining an attitude of honesty and humility. From my lofty mountain where I dwell, claire ( suburb on a mountain backed by wilderness-- love it here! )
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PostSubject: Re: A question for those who train   Tue Jul 12, 2011 1:22 am

I love both your last 2 posts Claire the honesty of being trapped in an appalling situation for you, I am reminded of when I slept in the zendo at Zuoiji Temple, the monk next to me ground his teeth,really loudly,and it echoed and resonated round the zendo! I was sort of laughing about it the next day with one of the other monks, who told me to hit him with a zafu when he did it!
And our basic discovery of Buddhism for ourselves., that no matter who we are we see our loved ones wither and die before our eyes,Our friend Bill had to be with his own child whilst he died. Even the faces of complete strangers that we see in the high street are so often filled with anguish and difficulties from their lives. For me Claire Zen Buddhism no longer gives me an elitist position of life, that I am immune from life's difficulties, in some spiritual place.I believe personally, that our own understanding as you have described,and our ability to touch our own hearts when we meditate,is the basis of zen Buddhist practice as we can't help but feel moved to simply feel for our selves and others
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