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 Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?

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mokuan



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PostSubject: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:55 pm

[Admin note: this topic was split from the thread "heresy - how does that fit into Buddhism?" in order to allow visibility to the new topic on succession. Although Mokuan is listed as the "author", this is a function of the forum software since her post was the first among those that were split.]

I don't know if this thought fits here, but I've been thinking:

My knowledge is very limited about why eko was chosen over others who might have been better suited to the position of abbot and would who have been preferred by the community. His succession was established years and years ago. Maybe it was his reward for staying steadfastly by her during the turbulent times of the mid 80s; maybe it was his substantial personal wealth. Whatever the reason, everyone voted for him as this was RMJK's wish. But it was clearly not what many of the monks would have chosen if there had been some free will in the matter. Look at how many left not long after his succession.

What RMJK did do before her death was to establish Daizui as the head of the order, which I think showed wisdom on her part. The more seasoned monks can speak to this, but I suppose at some point it might have been assumed that if you took over RMJK's position as abbot, then you'd run the whole show.

She greatly admired Daizui and she must have known that eko was not suitable to oversee the greater OBC. I personally don't know how much influence Daizui actually had over things at Shasta, but it seems to me the RMJK did see eko's limitations and sought to keep him in check.

Just thoughts as I continue to ponder my once-community perhaps on the brink.



PS Ever see the moive The Man Who Would Be King?


Last edited by Lise on Sun Aug 21, 2011 2:30 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : clarifying thread author)
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PostSubject: Re: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Sat Aug 20, 2011 1:10 am

Ah, Mokuan, good questions!

It is my opinion, which I've seen expressed by others, that RMJK chose Eko as her successor because she felt that he, more than anyone else, would preserve her stated position on (virtually) all issues.

"His succession was established years and years ago."

I relinquished the job of vice abbot of Shasta Abbey in 1978, in order to become the Prior of the Berkeley Buddhist Priory (out of a need for more distance, and more time to pursue my quest for universally affordable, life-support self-reliant housing--which remains my quest to this day). Eko was appointed vice abbot when I left SA.

"Whatever the reason, everyone voted for him as this was RMJK's wish. But it was clearly not what many of the monks would have chosen if there had been some free will in the matter. Look at how many left not long after his succession."

Nothing for me to add here!

"What RMJK did do before her death was to establish Daizui as the head of the order, which I think showed wisdom on her part. The more seasoned monks can speak to this, but I suppose at some point it might have been assumed that if you took over RMJK's position as abbot, then you'd run the whole show."

Agreed. Your assumption is well based, since it was the norm that she had established. I have heard it said that she had wanted Eko to be both the Abbot of SA and the head of the Order, but was somehow dissuaded.

RM Meian would know far more about these details than I would, and was on the Forum just now when I began this reply. (I can understand her reluctance to post comments here. I have been fairly quiet myself of late.)

"She greatly admired Daizui and she must have known that eko was not suitable to oversee the greater OBC."

She certainly did. And yet, because Daizui was willing to challenge her (up to a point), she may have continued to have some reservations. Nevertheless, on some level, I can't help but feel that she would have recognized his willingness to challenge her as a good thing--and essential for the ongoing health of the Order.

"Just thoughts as I continue to ponder my once-community perhaps on the brink."

This concern is one of my own primary motivations for being on the Forum. It is my belief that the culture, psyche, and institution of the OBC has an unrecognized Shadow-dynamic, inherited from RMJK's own unrecognized, unhealed, fear-driven Shadow, which will continue to manifest itself in sometimes tragic ways, until it is recognized for what it is.

Why has this Shadow-dynamic remained so persistently denied and unconscious--while occassionally (as is so well documented on this Forum) manifesting itself with such traumatic consequences?

I think the answer lies in the nature of the Shadow itself, as a fear-based dynamic. I would say that the fear for many active members of the OBC (with some notable exceptions) is that the actual recognition of RMJK's shortcomings, biases, and sometimes abusive behavior, would undermine the perceived integrity of her teaching, and therefore, the integrity and validity of the OBC itself.

I would propose that just the opposite is true. Our own genuine integrity is innate, within Awareness itself, and can never be undermined by our human shortcomings. The paradox, as always, is that by trying to protect our integrity, by denying what we perceive to be our shortcomings, we cut ourselves off (at least to some extent) from our own inalienable integrity!

I personally believe that the bulk of RMJK's teaching, and the essence of the OBC, as an institution and a sangha, arises from inherent integrity. (I also believe that there is much to be reassessed, as an essential, normal, aspect of ongoing practice, experience, and teaching.)

Accordingly, I would propose that a primary task for the OBC, at this point, in the midst of crisis, is to focus on the inherent integrity of all things--both the inherent integrity of those of us who post on OBC Connect(!)--and on the inherent integrity of the OBC itself--in order to recognize that the acknowledgement of mistakes is not a contradiction of integrity, but a manifestation of it.

By trusting our own innate integrity, I believe that it becomes possible for us, individually, collectively, and institutionally, to fully recognize, acknowledge, heal, and transform, whatever shortcomings and mistakes we may uncover.

Before doing this, the Shadow is simultaneously unconscious--and overwhelmingly large and scary.

After doing this, the Shadow becomes conscious and tiny--and it can be hard to remember what the fuss was all about!


Last edited by Kozan on Wed Aug 24, 2011 7:39 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : formatting correction)
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PostSubject: Re: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Sat Aug 20, 2011 1:22 am

And to bring my last post back in line with the topic of this thread, I would say that challenging any institutionalized dynamic (as I hope I have just done), is an invitation to be declared a heretic--unless the case is made convincingly enough to spark a reconsideration of said dynamic!
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PostSubject: Re: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Sat Aug 20, 2011 8:15 am

np if this goes off-topic, we can split if need be -- leadership succession is an interesting subject to chew on -
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mokuan



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PostSubject: Re: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Sat Aug 20, 2011 1:33 pm

Dear Kozan,

Thank you for your insight. As always, it's been helpful. I'm often amazed, that after all this time, the impact of my years at Shasta still blesses me and haunts me both.

Your statement re eko being the one who would most likely continue RMJK's program was interesting. I hadn't thought of that. That brings another question, further ponderings: If he was so in tune to her teaching, her way of running things, was the cause of his errant behavior a result of losing faith in her teaching? Or had he reached a point where the scriptures were showing up blank pages, and there was another direction his life needed to go?

Because of his increasing rigidity, I would tend to think it's the former. When the scriptures show up blank pages, there is peace. There is no need to force anything; there is no need to do what he has done. M. Scott Peck wrote --and I'm paraphrasing poorly here -- that orgasm is similar to spiritual experience in that in both instances you forget yourself; you're just in the moment. If self-stimulation became his moment of Zen, where did his faith in RMJK derail?

Only mike little can know the answers to these and other questions. I can only imagine it would be a hellava of a thing to face.

Anyway, thanks Kozan for your input. I always gain so much from your insights.



yours,

mokuan



PS To Admin: Sorry if I'm in the wrong thread again. I've got lots of excuses. Let me know if you want to hear them!
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PostSubject: Re: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Sat Aug 20, 2011 1:46 pm

Oh I can hear the sounds of a thread splitting ahead.

One of the more interesting reasons given for Jiyu's choice of Eko was her worry that who ever she chose, had to have enough independence to be able to do their work without being handicapped by power factions within the senior Sangha.

This reflected her worrys that what she saw in Japan might just as easily occur at Shasta after her passing.. Part of her consideration was that the potential abbot needed to be financially independent enough so that pulled purse strings would not become a controlling leash.

What I found educational was the practical & political considerations that were part of the mix in deciding what I thought (at the time) was strictly a spiritual position. It was a small wake up moment in my sheltered lay view of how potentially complex the process of monastic management and succession might actually be.

Cheers all
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PostSubject: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Sun Aug 21, 2011 2:13 pm

I think this topic deserves its own spot so I will make a new thread, under this same category "In Theory and Practice".
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Kozan
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PostSubject: Re: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Sun Aug 28, 2011 9:22 pm

Howard, I think your points are very well taken!

Mokuan, thank you for your comments--and for your insights! Sorry that it has taken me a week to get back to you.

You wrote:

"Your statement re eko being the one who would most likely continue RMJK's program was interesting. I hadn't thought of that. That brings another question, further ponderings: If he was so in tune to her teaching, her way of running things, was the cause of his errant behavior a result of losing faith in her teaching? Or had he reached a point where the scriptures were showing up blank pages, and there was another direction his life needed to go?"

I think that part of Eko's willingness to follow RMJK's program so completely, resulted from his willingness to not recognize her shortcomings, mistakes, and abusive behavior for what they were. He accomplished this by equating them with enlightened teaching and practice, just as she did.

I think that this process of denial is the process by which RMJK's Shadow-dynamic has become a part of the OBC's collective, cultural dynamic. In my observation, Eko seemed to buy into it more enthusiastically than many others.

I'm using the term "Shadow-dynamic" as a kind of catch-all phrase to refer to the specific collection of beliefs and behaviors that RMJK identified as off limits for questioning--and the overall causal dynamic that resulted. It seems clear that some of these practices, like that of shunning departed monks, has been re-examined and changed. But it also seems fairly clear that the Shadow-dynamic itself remains unrecognized, and therefore, unchanged.

I think that a significant aspect of the formation of the Shadow-dynamic was RMJK's own unrecognized and unhealed existential trauma. I think that her tendency to approach spiritual practice as a process of battering the ego into submission then became a means of denying the need to heal, and denying that there was anything that needed healing. Through denial, her unhealed trauma became part of the unconscious, or shadow side of her psyche. When this happens, the shadow is no longer recognizable as oneself, and becomes projected onto others--who then appear to exhibit the unacceptable traits that one denies in oneself. When a teacher projects their own shadow on to others, and responds accordingly, the result can be catastrophic.

Part of RMJK's teaching was that correct meditation and serious training would lead to an ability to transcend human sexuality, and that the failure to transcend sexual desire might therefore indicate a failure in training itself. This belief seems to crop up fairly often in Buddhism, and in religion in general. From my experience, I would say that while meditation can lead to the ability to let go of sexual desire at any given moment, this ability does not lead to a cessation of sexual function! Human sexuality is a biological function and process. The desire to eliminate sexual desire simply represses it into the unconscious, or shadow-side of the psyche, where it joins the other rejected aspects of one's self. This scenario is, perhaps, even more likely in the presence of unhealed sexual trauma.

One problem with repression, or suppression, is that it makes genuine detachment impossible, by making any necessary healing impossible. We cannot heal or let go of anything that we have excluded from awareness. Another problem is that sexual suppression tends to eventually become explosive. I think that this may have been, at least in a general sense, the nature of Eko's trajectory.

As distressing as all of this can be--to think about, to witness, and to experience--I also believe that it is only a small part of what I consider to be RMJK's enormously valuable legacy, and the innate integrity of the OBC itself. The damage that the Shadow-dynamic has caused is confirmation of the destructive power of denial and repression. I would propose that it will inevitably remain potentially damaging until it is recognized, healed, and transformed. And, after doing so, I think that it will be seen to have all been, at root, the result of just a little misunderstanding.

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PostSubject: Re: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Mon Aug 29, 2011 12:03 am

Hey Kozan

Yah see this is where when awed into in-articulation by a posting, ones ability to tick off the old green approval box used to come in handy.
(+)

Cheers
H
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PostSubject: Re: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Mon Aug 29, 2011 6:26 pm

:-) Kozan, thank you for describing a collective "fear for many active members of the OBC" that might affect addressing the Shadow-dynamic. I don't know whether thinking along individual lines would also be relevant to this end...

If one has experienced coming to training from unhappy youth and childhood (as perhaps Eko and many other practitioners have done?), one may look over ones shoulder at how the 'school of hard knocks' propelled one to look at oneself, eventually leading one to find Buddhism and the path of training (sorry about all the "ones"!) Even a quite realised/liberated person, looking for methods to help another, might thereon conclude that this approach is sometimes good (or even necessary!), though the execution will be minus illusoryself-grasping and harmful intent.

However, I think that recognition that the harshness of ones early experiences originally resulted from others' spiritual confusion and bad habits (e.g egoism, lack of love/compassion, etc) would eventually come in the course of an individual's spiritual maturation, inspiring re-examination of those approaches and looking for alternatives. Over time, might insights of this process be come upon by sufficient individuals in a collective to spur a similar collective process?

I realise I am going off topic here, Lise...or am I? Oh dear, where do I belong!?...?...?! confused
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PostSubject: Re: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Mon Aug 29, 2011 7:33 pm

Anne--I think that the way of tough-love teaching is clear, that you regularly let down the hard-hearted-seeming facade and show your student that you and they are human beings together.

You need to show that the student has retained whatever level of trust they have earned, and that you will still also practice kindness with them.

There is no secret here, as effective trainers of professional athletes, and graduate student advisors, and business mentors seem to know. The achievement matters, your student has to perform, you need to be hard on them at times to get the best from them (and some relationships require that you be very hard on others...think of a drill sergeant, whose job it is to give young people the physical and mental tools for war). But you must regularly let them rest and be at ease in your presence, or you risk making the relationship appear to be mostly about your needs, rather than theirs.

To bring it back to the topic of this thread, a great leader in her mentoring aspect inspires that confidence: You know that you're going to get pushed, but you also know that you have a steady hand that totally has your back when you need it.

**********************

I say all this, as most of you know, without a lick of monastic training. However, I have a somewhat jaded opinion (now) that it can't really be very different from other mentoring relationships in its basic aspect of two human beings working through something together. That has been reinforced by reading so many posts here in which folks are apparently shocked, *shocked*, that zen masters behave toward their juniors almost exactly like flawed human beings sometimes. (I don't mean to pick on those who thought that masters were otherwise. RM Jiyu has a black-comedy quote in Roar of the Tigress or somewhere to the effect that you don't learn how to train a monk until you've completely screwed up a few.)

The relationship probably needs to be realigned to reflect that flawed reality, so that juniors have some recourse when they are badly treated. I hope, and have some faith, that OBC/SA are doing just that.


Last edited by ddolmar on Mon Aug 29, 2011 9:04 pm; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : More bloviating! What else?!)
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PostSubject: Re: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Mon Aug 29, 2011 10:12 pm

Re various things that have been said in the above posts.
This is what I hold to be true.
Beating the ego only gives it more reality. The one who beats it (here Jiyu), sees it as real.
Why does one need to subjugate, or transcend, sexual desire? Why not transcend the need to breath, to eat, to sleep; the need of human companionship?
Sexual desire cannot hurt me. There is a place for it. One can, of course, be a slave of it; one can also dance with it. But suppressing it simply doesn't work. It is like trying to push a balloon under water - you push one end in, the other end comes up.

In my opinion, Jiyu's problem was not her shadow. Her real problem was her understanding. Any students of hers have the same problem, unless they outgrew her.
It's a happy thing to be free. Buddha was a free man (so it is believed, and I have no problem with it). Nothing is sacred when one is searching for truth, - nothing is so sacred that it should be permitted to stand in the way. Truth is not subservient to piety or loyalty, - to one's teacher, to the Eternal, to one's idea of God, to anybody. Not to Sangha either.
Ol'ga
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PostSubject: Re: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Tue Aug 30, 2011 1:02 am

Ol'ga, good to see your comment on this thread!

You wrote:

"Beating the ego only gives it more reality. The one who beats it (here Jiyu), sees it as real.
Why does one need to subjugate, or transcend, sexual desire? Why not transcend the need to breath, to eat, to sleep; the need of human companionship?
Sexual desire cannot hurt me. There is a place for it. One can, of course, be a slave of it; one can also dance with it. But suppressing it simply doesn't work."


These were precisely the points that I was attempting to make.

You also wrote:

"In my opinion, Jiyu's problem was not her shadow. Her real problem was her understanding."

Are you suggesting that these two aspects can be separated?
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PostSubject: Re: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Tue Aug 30, 2011 4:40 am

:-) Hi Ol'ga!

You wrote:
Beating the ego only gives it more reality. The one who beats it (here Jiyu), sees it as real.
Do you believe that RMJ never directly saw, in any degree, into the emptiness of a 'person' imputed upon the skandhas; never experienced liberation in any degree from illusoryself-view? (Having had a degree of direct liberative insight, the mind does not revert.) (-:
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PostSubject: Re: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Tue Aug 30, 2011 9:47 am

Anne wrote:
:-) Hi Ol'ga!

You wrote:
Beating the ego only gives it more reality. The one who beats it (here Jiyu), sees it as real.
Do you believe that RMJ never directly saw, in any degree, into the emptiness of a 'person' imputed upon the skandhas; never experienced liberation in any degree from illusoryself-view? (Having had a degree of direct liberative insight, the mind does not revert.) (-:

Allow me to chime in...

This is tricky, ie I believe Jiyu Kennett did directly understand the emptiness of ego/self/person. She gave herself permission to disregard the normally accepted boundaries of the "selves" of her students based on that understanding. The question is when you cease to respect the normally accepted boundaries of others how do you make clear that you do in fact respect them, and how do you avoid seeing their needs and complaints as less deserving of attention than your own? In practice RMJK erred along these lines as many have stated. Ironically when you injure others by disregarding them in the name of teaching they may come to see the "ego" as more instead of less real - the opposite of the desired result.

Edit: Regarding Dan's comments about "tough-love teaching", I think his boot camp analogy is apt. There you have an overt agreement where others intentionally abuse you, even torture you (Navy SEALs are water-boarded as part of their training) so you will know what to expect if you're caught by the enemy. Even so, do those drill sergeants lose respect for the humanity of their "students"? Do any have a bit of the sadist in them that they get to indulge undercover? People attend boot camp for a fairly short, predefined time, and even if you come to believe your drill sergeant is a closet sadist you know when you will be done with him. The monastic environment is different. If you feel some of the people are motivated by questionable impulses then you have the more serious problem of needing to figure out how to live with them indefinitely.

Now let's see what Olga has to say :-)


Last edited by Isan on Tue Aug 30, 2011 10:30 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : additional thoughts)
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PostSubject: Re: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Tue Aug 30, 2011 1:26 pm

My dear friends,
I think we (or I, with your help, thank you) opened a topic where our differences may come into play - and where we may nonetheless become clearer on what we see. Sometimes discussion helps making one's understanding clearer.
First, I apologize that I will not be able to give this its proper due. Today is a very busy day for me; but I don't want to put my response off to tomorrow, or more precisely, I can't.

Please remember that my 'journey' is through Advaita Vedanta, not Buddhism. How much our differencies are purely semantic, I can't say. However, we are all serious seekers of truth, so perhaps our dialogue, or 'polylogue' may be meaningful and not a waste of time.

I can only say how I see these things, then. If we disagree, anywhere, my point is not that 'I am right, you are wrong'. Sometimes I do speak with a certain passion. This is where I believe that certain attitudes are pernicious. At other times maybe I simply enjoy a, shall we say, lively discussion. I am sorry that I hurt some people occasionally. I try not to do it, but it is not always avoidable.

So, then, here goes.
I think that one can indeed have a 'moment' of insight into reality of things, a 'moment' which is placed in time. I don't call it an 'experience' - rather a sort of an 'aha moment'. Experience of one's ego's disolving is actually quite common. Everone has had it, and everyone seeks it.

I would say that the insight is not only about what one is not - the 'neti, neti'. It is about what one is - NOT one of many things, and hence limited. In the teaching I follow, the teaching that makes total sense to me, all things are in me, that 'me', that I truly am, which is not limited in time, space, or by qualities. This is not some high-falutin theory. It is something one can see. And that 'I' is essentially Awareness. I, you, we, were always that, because you cannot become it - it would then be limited in time. Time is in me, I am not in time. I am not rhapsodizing. This is something to see.

Now, there is that very weird matter of multiplicity - the fact that there are differencies at all. How? If everything is one (one without a second), how can there be two? And there is! Some people say that multiplicity is an illusion. But illusion would imply two, also. The way Advaita Vedanta puts it, is there is indeed 'many' but the many depends on the one, does not change the one; does not limit it - otherwise the one would again be just one among many. And it is not. It is a thing to see. In AV vocabulary, there is this creativity, Maya, residing in the one; it depends totally on the one, has its flesh and bones, so to speak, from the one, is not separate from the one, is not something other than the one, but the one is not at all affected by it. It's immovable, because everything is in it, so where would it go? But that everything - the multiplicity - doesn't chop it up into this and that. All parts are in it, if you will, but the one is not made of parts.

Now, how clear can one be of this? It's a mystery to me, that one can live without knowing this; that one can see it clearly as the palm of one's hand, and then get caught up in fear all over again. In AV they call this 'pratibandhaka', obstruction, in one's vision, in one's insight. If there is a 'practice' in getting clearer, then it is basically two-fold. One 'limb' of the practice is seeing over and over what one has seen already. The other one is living a mature life. To me it means seeing the fact of the tremendous beauty of other people - and myself as an individual; seeing how we are connected, as individuals, how beautiful that is! Learning to put myself second, and seeing that it doesn't diminish me. Seeing over and over how judging others is mistaken - seeing how limited my knowledge of facts, all the little facts of this world, - is. Seeing how I totally depend, as an individual on this world, to give me air to breathe, food for body and mind; seeing I am not an author, ultimately, of anything; and being thankful for all that, without being all too holy about it. Do you know that there are about ten times as many organisms (microbes etc) in your body as there are cells? And they are nearly all of them beneficial - even totally essential for your survival. Vow!

Someone I love said, Without the world I am full, with the world I am colourful! There is this dance, which has its order, its logic, its colour - so it is to be enjoyed. If I stumble, yet again, on 'artifacts' of my habits, my pride - and my inferiority complex, at least as often, and with much more force, man - I can perhaps laugh at it. Because, even the fact that I am sometimes, or often (who is to measure it, and what for), proud, or fearful, etc, is a part of this order, psychological order of the world that Maya is - it has its beauty, too, because order is very beautiful.

So I find it quite ridiculous when someone says, with contempt, about others or themselves, 'Oh, he is so insecure'. Or that he, or I, have such an ego! What else can one be, being born in this world, and being shaped by it. It has its logic - and there is also remedy for it.

Now to Roshi, Jiyu. I don't claim to see into her head. I only can conclude - and be not too rigid about it, as I in fact am not - from her actions, that she did not see how all is one. Sure she may have seen something, with some clarity; but it doesn't seem to have taken root. She didn't seem to see its ramifications. You know? It seems to me so, because she put such a tremendous emphasis on the ego, and worse, on the perceived, conjectured, surmised, ego. She was so busy studying us, interpreting our behaviour, our motives. First, it is impossible to know definitely what is going on in someone else's mind; and, second, it's not necessary. Why not give more credit to the innate intelligence of the trainee/student, their sincerity?

If she indeed thought that sexual desire is such an impediment to understanding, I have to ask myself, what did she understand? If you can convince me that she understood the "central thing", I'll definitely listen. But, to tell the truth, it doesn't matter that much to me. I still hold her dear; she doesn't have to be perfect or anything like that for me to hold her dear. The fact that she may have serious flaws as a teacher (that's my view) doesn't change my love for her. If she were alive, she wouldn't probably care for my love. It wouldn't change it.

I don't think I disagree much with Kozan and Isan, whom you know rather well. It's very possible that you might say that I am saying a very different thing; that the 'one' is a stage; that the ultimate is emptiness - cf the ox-herding pictures. I can't discuss that with any competence. If we disagree, if you conclude that I don't really understand the 'reality' - that's quite OK. I cannot take anybody else's route; and I don't attempt to convince you of anything at all. That's just not what this is all about.
I gotta go. Sorry to go on at such length. It wad impossible to abridge it. No time to edit it carefully.
Love,
Ol'ga
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Tue Aug 30, 2011 2:15 pm

:-) Ol'ga

Thank you very much for having taken the time and trouble to reply, and on such a busy day!

To the best of my knowledge, according to Theravadin teaching, a lay person may become an arhat (fourth stage of sainthood in Theravada Buddhism) but will die within a day unless s/he ordains (ref. Questions of King Milinda, 7:2). As far as I am aware, this was not stated by Shakyamuni Buddha: I think it might have been inferred from the fate of a few lay arhats (e.g the elderly King Suddhodana on his deathbed, and the younger minister Santati after he had caroused and generally indulged in revelry for seven days then experienced tragedy). However, Mahayana teaching does not concur with this prognosis, and acknowledges that laypeople and non-celibates can enter the Mahayana equivalent of the fruition of arhat-stage and continue to function.

Theravadin teaching also states that a layperson or non-celibate may become an anāgāmin ("non-returner"; the third stage of sainthood in Theravada Buddhism), but that marriage will be without sexual activity. When sexual activity is mentioned, gross and subtle levels of “devotion to sense-desire” (kāmarāga; rāga, here translated as “devotion”, is important in this term) are often assumed ~ after all, this is common in the wide world ~ but need not be so... Perhaps the following story will provide a useful illustration, though it is not about sexual activity. I read of a study involving a number of people who became vegetarian for “spiritual reasons” (I forget the exact wording but, while the diet was deemed spiritually purer, care for animal welfare was not explicitly mentioned). After a period, the majority returned to their previous diet, the reason in all cases being that the person had been unable to overcome the inflating pride that had arisen while “veggie” and, recognising this contingency (the appearance of pride) was at odds with their spiritual aspirations, had resorted to eliminating the form (vegetarian diet) with which its arising was associated, being unable to deal with it by other means. Fortunately, through good Buddhist practice, one can eliminate the pride without eliminating the diet; but this story shows how one thing may come to be regarded as inevitably concomitant with another, when in fact it is not so if one knows how. In the Theravada, “devotion to sense-desire” is assumed as inseparable from sexual activity, whereas the Mahayana recognises the separability. (-:

:-) Kozan ~ Hi!

Do you think that RMJ actually suppressed her sexuality? I had thought that, in taking up a similar position on celibacy and monasticism as the Theravada, she might not just have thought that she was echoing truths known by the wise, but also might have felt quite comfortable with these (much as a blue-haired person might feel quite comfortable if hearing a teaching that only blue-haired people can become buddhas). (-:
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PostSubject: Re: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Tue Aug 30, 2011 2:30 pm

Ol'ga wrote:


Now to Roshi, Jiyu. I don't claim to see into her head. I only can conclude - and be not too rigid about it, as I in fact am not - from her actions, that she did not see how all is one. Sure she may have seen something, with some clarity; but it doesn't seem to have taken root. She didn't seem to see its ramifications. You know? It seems to me so, because she put such a tremendous emphasis on the ego, and worse, on the perceived, conjectured, surmised, ego. She was so busy studying us, interpreting our behaviour, our motives. First, it is impossible to know definitely what is going on in someone else's mind; and, second, it's not necessary. Why not give more credit to the innate intelligence of the trainee/student, their sincerity?

I don't think I disagree much with Kozan and Isan, whom you know rather well. It's very possible that you might say that I am saying a very different thing...

Love,

Ol'ga, I must admire how articulate you are. You are not saying anything I disagree with. Regarding JK, I eventually returned to the original love I had for her, and as you say, whether or not she would care if she were here today doesn't matter. I've come to believe that I learned from her to the extent that I "recognized" her. That's a choice I made, and it had nothing to do with what she did or did not understand, or believed she was "teaching". The power to learn is in me, not in teachers, and perhaps the most important lesson I chose to learn from JK was to never give my power away again.
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PostSubject: Re: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Tue Aug 30, 2011 3:08 pm

Dear Isan,

You wrote: Regarding JK, I eventually returned to the original love I had for her...

How did you do that? I have moments when I remember how much I loved her, oddities and all, but it's like a memory of a dream; there's no substance to it anymore. I don't even see a legacy that has truth in it. How have you done it?

mokuan


Last edited by mokuan on Tue Aug 30, 2011 3:13 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : correcting a run-on sentence)
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PostSubject: Re: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Tue Aug 30, 2011 5:37 pm

:-) I have repeatedly reminded myself of the title of this topic, Leadership succession - what makes a good choice

Howard, I found your post on the esoterics (“the practical & political considerations”) of choosing an abbot interesting, surprising, and yet familiar…as with many situations, an outsider would never guess what needs to be considered!

When RMJ was “Roshi” in the early 70s, everyone else in her organisation was her student. When the administrative side passed to the second generation (with the different headships of the Order, the abbeys and priories), did Eko’s being favoured by RMJ for the abbacy of Shasta mean that she regarded his level of liberative insight at that time as being ahead of the other masters at the Abbey? If not, this leadership role was obviously not about being the one to whom everyone else is a student. It’s leadership, Jim, but not as I know it…

After turning it over and over, I have to admit complete density as to what would make a good choice…having made several other entries on this thread, I feel it only fair to say so! It would be intriguing to know if there is a ‘job description’ for the role of abbess/abbot in the OBC. (-:
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PostSubject: Re: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Tue Aug 30, 2011 9:55 pm

mokuan wrote:
Dear Isan,

You wrote: Regarding JK, I eventually returned to the original love I had for her...

How did you do that? I have moments when I remember how much I loved her, oddities and all, but it's like a memory of a dream; there's no substance to it anymore. I don't even see a legacy that has truth in it. How have you done it?

Well Mokuan, it definitely took some time. I left in 1984 and I didn't begin to feel reconnected with RMJK until some time in the late 90's, after she had passed. I had to clear a lot of negative clutter first and finally what was left was the original connection - beginners mind if you like. When did you leave?
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PostSubject: Re: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Tue Aug 30, 2011 11:07 pm

Hey Anne
It’s leadership, Jim, but not as I know it

Jim? hhmmm?

Not meaning to type cast you Anne but if your lexicon actually includes a Star Trek "Bones" quote to "Kirk" then you've won yourself an abbey tricorder. ( If it's actually some famous literary quote that I've missed again or someone in one of the preceding posts is called "Jim", ...then just ignore my opening sentence).

Spouting off once again from this lay corner..about long, long ago..and I'm sure there are folks here who are in a better position to speak to this...

Eko's position was horizontal to the other "Masters" in the OBC. He had the responsibility for the Abbot position but was considered to be on an equal footing with the rest of the OBC Masters. I don't believe that this would be any impediment to his leadership role as Abbot.
I have no knowledge of what Jiyu thought of Eko's liberative insight and am only speaking here of how other Masters spoke and acted in regards to Eko..
I do also remember one other factor in choosing an abbot that might of been a bit tongue in cheek at the time. It was "beware of the Monk who wants to be Abbot".

Jiyu used to speak of the two times when a monk usually went "over the wall" ( monastic enclosure) in Asia..
The first was as a junior when the training became too tough to follow.
The second was as a senior when it looked like they were in line to soon become the next abbot.
At the time it gave me some comfort that a monks focus on their practise might be considered more important than an esteemed religious position and that what the world might see as a spiritual reward, the unsui would know as a distraction.

Doesn't quite fit in with boddhisatvic aspirations but was an interesting teaching at the time.
Cheers
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Wed Aug 31, 2011 4:51 am

:-) Well I'm glad, Howard, that someone else is old enough to remember CJTK!...

Thank you for the further explanation about the horizontal/vertical (my brain hasn't really kicked in for lucidity yet)...I had been thinking more about that earlier this morning (it's c.9:50 am here) and figured that the kind of set up you describe made more sense to me.

Re AWOL seniors: could flight be triggered by the thought of "the buck stops here" and the sheer difficulty of growing the necessary extra heads and arms (even when staring at the 1000-armed Avalokitesvara for inspiration), not to mention mastering the art of polylocation? (-:
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PostSubject: Re: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Wed Aug 31, 2011 4:23 pm

Hi Anne,
You wrote, a few postings back:
(Having had a degree of direct liberative insight, the mind does not revert.) (-:

Is that generally held to be true in the Buddhist tradition?

Before I went to the monastery I had read a fair deal of Buddhist literature (that was a very long time ago). Based on that I did believe - and accept - that there would be this sudden enlightenment, almost a flash, from which I would never go back to delusion and suffering.
Later Roshi talked about the Soto tradition of gradual enlightenment, which came to make a lot more sense to me. Only sometime after my departure in the fall of 1974 did she introduce the concept of third kensho. I had never heard of any stages from her.
I do not intend to take on the Buddhist tradition. I have only a certain experience of so many years of living with my own mind to go by. I would say that seeing oneself as in fact 'anatta' or, in my tradition as Brahman, is radically different from the common view. The change is a revolutionary change. To thoroughly own up this knowledge (as I call it), this new insight, takes some time; I would say that it takes a lot of going over the same ground, over and over, re-seeing what is now, newly, seen to be true.
I suppose there may be some adapt 'candidates' for this great insight, who slap their forehands, yell 'I got it!', and never ever slip back. In Vedanta they talk about 'uttama adhikari', the ultimate, perfectly qualified student, who does not need much - and is free, for good.
I, for one, am not such an adhikari. I am not a brilliant student, but am thorough, and the way my mind works, I have had to ask myself over and over, 'Is that true?'. The only difference is, that over time it became fun - because the answer is now always the same.
Roshi comes from a different teaching tradition from mine - as do most of you. Still, I take the liberty to claim that her insight was not thoroughly tested, matured, when she undertook the great task of taking on a great number of disciples. Singlehandedly! I don't know what prompted her to do that, what inner urge she had to do that. I have my ideas...maybe some other time.
This partly answers Kozan's question to me:
You also wrote:

"In my opinion, Jiyu's
problem was not her shadow. Her real problem was her understanding."


Are you suggesting that these two aspects can be separated?


I am struggling with my answer, Kozan. I am circling round and round it as a tom-cat around a hot porridge (a Slovak saying, of course). So please bear with me. If you don't wish to, skip - TLDR.
I think that the 'shadow', if very powerful, would block the insight. There, IMO, probably is some 'dawning' of understanding in many of us - may have been there before we ever started any Buddhist or other practice. There is wisdom all around us - and there is a certain inate intelligence in us, as well. We know what freedom feels like, and we go for it as best we know how. This is, again IMO, because on some level we already sense that we are not these pitiful beings limited to, and constrained by our problematic body, and more problematic mind.
I think that the insight, to whatever degree, or, better, with whatever clarity, helps neutralize one's shadow. Then in turn the insight may deepen, because the shadow doesn't bind one so terribly any more, so we are better prepared, more free, to embrace the truth.
I think it's like walking on two legs: one helps the other to make a new step.
I THINK it works something like this. I am not speculating - rather I am attempting, with some difficulty as you can see, to describe what I am experiencing.
I would like to hear what you guys say.
Ol'ga
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PostSubject: Re: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Wed Aug 31, 2011 8:40 pm

:-) Hi Ol'ga!

By "degree of liberative insight" I was meaning those incremental insights into not-self/emptiness that, I guess for most people, occur serially over time. This is a gradual developmental process.

The idea that enlightenment will burst forth in one great flash like Athena from the head of Zeus can be a bit of a stumbling block, I think! I can remember when I was about 15 (1966) having some insight (not into emptiness but into a previously unsuspected motivation of mine) that had such a relieving effect that I thought I must have found the answer to end my troubles for all time...it lasted about a fortnight! Then I 'saw' myself having to trudge off again down an unfamiliar narrow path that eventually disappeared under thick high overgrowth!... Until beginning Buddhist training in 1972, I had this private idea that I ought to find the once-and-for-all answer; so when I had various insights (as one does), it would seem at first like coming out into bright sunshine with flowers, butterflies and blue sky after stumbling around for a long time lost in dark tangling woods...and then a whole new slew of questions would arrive and I would feel I had got nowhere... Back in the woods again! I realise now that I was 'getting somewhere', though it seemed hopeless at that time.

When I worked as a software programmer, we would try to make our programs crash ("destructive testing"). Likewise when sincere for Truth, I think our integrity demands that we poke and prod and see where our understanding fails, where we have some more work to do.

When referring to "liberative insight", I was thinking particularly of insights occurring from the time one first has an awakening to not-self/emptiness. "Liberative" here means that something that had bound the mind (perhaps previously unbeknown to one), had formed some kind of knot, is undone at a deep level of mind and energy and does not revert. But this does not mean that there is not further work, and there can be many such consciously recognised "liberative insights" over time. I think this is generally held to be true in the Buddhist tradition.

I may be wrong but I think that Roshi taught initially in response to the directive of a senior or the requests of would-be students. According to the articles by Stuart Lachs that Josh posted, the Soto Zen system in Japan does not automatically base its licensing of roshis on the maturity of their awakening, and RMJ may have had greater depth of digested insight than some Soto roshis when she began to teach. By her own account (HGLB) this was still a 'young' stage; and, unlike the Theravada, Mahayana tradition does not regard insight into emptiness as complete even at fruition of arhat stage. (-:
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PostSubject: Re: Leadership succession - what makes a good choice?   Wed Aug 31, 2011 9:31 pm

Thank you, Anne, very much. Beautifully written.

I think we are very much in agreement.

When I left the monastery, my one very well articulated thought was that for an adult it is not right to go back to being a child - put responsibility for oneself into someone else's hands. I very much hold this to this day. In the present discussion: it is simply not right even if the teacher is wise. If the teacher is not even wise, it is asinine. Obedience, or subservience, has no merit. This is not to say that a certain receptivity is not essential in learning. Of course it is! But what I experienced in Shasta under Roshi's guidance was not that kind of receptivity. It was renouncing one's responsibility; trampling on one's own common sense, one's understanding, one's conscience, or being an accomplice in that. We've talked about it - this was to temper one's ego. Rubbish. The bear in me is ready to pounce.
I think I should get Kid's advice and shut up for a bit. You all know my views.
Much love,
Ol'ga
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