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 Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?

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Howard

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PostSubject: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Thu Sep 01, 2011 12:39 pm

[Admin note: this thread was created as an offshoot from another thread titled "Assessment by FaithTrust" which can be found under the OBC Experiences category. Although the new thread shows Howard as the "author", this is a function of the forum software because his post was the first to be split.]


Hello Mokuan

Being Mr. Zen in only the most attached way possible, I agree with your "church of Jiyu" view as of the most accurate description of what the monks of Shasta are when clumped together as a body.

Not disagreeing with anything you just said but I thought Shasta had already themselves publicly & deliberately distanced themselves from the "Zen" term long ago.

I also think that many other schools of Buddhism are also the collections of monks who follow one teacher, alive or dead.

Broad based membership and narrow in Buddhism are common and both have their pro's & conns.



Interesting times to be watched ahead with changing old habit patterns. I guess none of us have too far to look at how much of a struggle it is to let go of our own conditioning..... And we had the advantage of stepping outside the collective to explore it. I wonder why I'm suprised that me doing zazen and messing up should be any different than a collection of monks doing zazen and messing up.

No doubt that the Shasta membership has a hell of a lot of inertia to deal with but I do think that they probably a lot less impetus to do it than most of us.

H
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Thu Sep 01, 2011 1:05 pm

Howard this is from Shasta website



Serene Reflection (Soto Zen) Meditation monastery, Order of Buddhist Contemplatives temple, Shasta Abbey offers monastic and lay retreats, Zen Buddhist ...
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Thu Sep 01, 2011 1:29 pm

Also Howard you say

'I wonder why I'm suprised that me doing zazen and messing up should be any different than a collection of monks doing zazen and messing up'.

Is not that the heart of our practice, humility to say I have messed up, I have not got it quite right. I do no know,Is not that the start of the real letting go,letting go of the rigid parts of our minds that we felt sure were right,even if they are.

For me Lise was dead right with her choice of words, Humility and Guts,personally I think contrition and humility go hand in hand
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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Thu Sep 01, 2011 4:20 pm

Hi Mokuan,
I can't judge whether the SA monks are really Zen monks. I haven't studied Zen since I left the monastery.
I think Josh's position is perhaps the closest to mine. I believe that Jiyu Kennett did a lot of harm to individuals, whether she was faithful to Zen or not. It would appear that OBC carries on in a similar vein, judging by the contributions I've read here concerning Koshin and Eko, and partly Haryo, and Meian. I don't condemn these people as human beings, as that is not my job; but I do feel, without a doubt, that the OBC practices are gravely flawed.
The question is how they could turn around. I think that they really can't. Where would they start? With FTI? The problems, endemic as they are, could not be in the purview of a consultants group such as FTI. I honestly don't know, and can't and wouldn't attempt to prescribe how they should do it. But if they intended to truly make Shasta Abbey healthy (I do not say 'healthy again', because I don't believe it ever was healthy - here I may differ from Josh, and the rest of my old friends), they would not do it in the public view. It would be a much too internal, private process, to be exposed to the eyes and judgements of general public.
I would say that my feeling compassion for them is tentative at best. If they are as complacent as you say they are (very possible!), then why should I waste my compassion on them. It would not be needed, and it would not penetrate anyway.
Thank you for your asking about David. He has some hurdles before him - hopefully all will go well. I am holding up OK, in spite of my general lack of competence....Sometimes am too tired and make stupid mistakes, but such is life, and I am learning not to argue with her.
O.
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Thu Sep 01, 2011 5:57 pm

Hello Chisan

Thanks for the clarification. No arguments from here.

To my embarrassment I have not looked at the Shasta website. I have some sort of personal block in going to their site that I'm not very clear on. An interesting taste of hypocracy considering my theads suggesting that Shasta should post here.

My info came from years of hearing Shasta masters saying that the Abbey was deliberately moving away from "Zen" when ever I would ask why the stuff going on there didn't seem like zen anymore.

I assume the Soto "zen" listing is the Abbeys way of distinguishing it's practise from Rinzai.

Perhaps in todays broad use of the word zen for just about anything, Shasta might still qualify but just not from my understanding of Zen. What I was often told was that Shasta's teaching was evolving towards more of a wider world view of Buddhism and away from being connected to Zen. What I think I was supposed to get from that is that I was just hanging on to earlier teachings that had since evolved and deepened, hence my difficulty. One of those burning house forms of finger wagging that claims earlier simple teachings were just given until people were ready to hear deeper truths, that apparently I wasn't up for yet.
Hence, I have not thought of them as a Zen school for many years and I assumed that they also thought so..
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Thu Sep 01, 2011 9:21 pm

Also Chisan

Is not that the heart of our practice, humility to say I have messed up, I have not got it quite right. I do no know,Is not that the start of the real letting go,letting go of the rigid parts of our minds that we felt sure were right,even if they are.
For me Lise was dead right with her choice of words, Humility and Guts,personally I think contrition and humility go hand in hand


I also agree and.....
As far as the view from my zafu goes today,
Half the heart of our practise is humility, letting go & contrition. Anything held up above the heart of that practise defines ego, blindness, rigidity and ones practise.
I find being open to Anything that others hold onto as also being a possible attachment of my own, helps me develop empathy, compassion, tenderness and sympathy which is the other half of the heart of our practise.
This is not a statement excusing anyones actions or re actions but is just part of trying to drop the job of "wall builder" from my own spiritual resume.

H


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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Thu Sep 01, 2011 9:36 pm

The OBC had definitely departed from traditional Soto by the late seventies when JK was saying that the Cosmic Buddha (Vairocana) and the Christian God were identically the same thing. You won't find that as a teaching anywhere in Soto, just possibly the Esoteric School, but I doubt it even there. However to my mind the departure from traditional Soto came earlier when the practices that where supposed to lead to the experience of previous lives were cultivated. This was when and why I left; I felt that, for me at least, this whole area blocked the path to the truth rather than leading towards it. For me the Soto way to the truth lay and lies through the path of mindfulness and 'just sitting' zazen.
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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Thu Sep 01, 2011 10:43 pm

I joined the monastery and was ordained sometime in the summer of 1971. I left in 1974.
If the treatment I received as a junior, and also senior monk, the arbitrariness of it, is Soto Zen practice, then I have no time for Soto Zen. That kind of treatment aims at and results in breaking one's will. Will is a gift, just as is capacity for compassion, innate yearning for truth, the whole lot. Breaking it turns one into mush, into a person unable to be responsible for one's life.
To know the truth should help one to be fully human, to embrace one's humanity, rather then mutilate it, disown it.
Ol'ga
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Thu Sep 01, 2011 11:39 pm

Yes thanks Howard I agree.
I just wanted to mention the book that describes the growth of the OBC that was mentioned a few months ago. Someone had clearly studied the OBC and I think it was part of a university degree.Mark will know the book and hopefully can tell me the author

In the book there is a piece about Ruth and Maurice Walsh. How they went tp Japan and saw Kennett Roshi there they came away saying that they did not feel Kennett Roshis behavior was appropriate,and I believe kennett Roshi said she was told to mirror them and be a mirror monk.
I was told this story in 1970 by JK herself, whislst I was on the first retreat at Tathata centre.
The story is on my mind a bit so I will write my piece and be done.

I did know Ruth and Maurice Ruth was a lady of individual mannerisms, very easy to mimicked and copy, I actually do think that JK simply mimicked her to belittle her.JK 's story of a mirror monk does not run true. Not only did I know Ruth and Maurice but I have been to Japan it is not true these stories of mirror monks I never saw this there is no need for this type of 'teaching' It borders on something else a little unpleasant.

Soto Zen temples do not function in this way,they are very straight forward places.The basic practice is zazen, as Mark says.The temple revolves around the practice of just sitting even when one is not just sitting the direction is always constantly present, focusing on

"To study Buddhism is to study the self.
To study the self is to forget the self.
To forget the self is to become enlightened by all things."
--Dogen (13th Century, Japanese)

Why a temple is helpful is because it is constant all the time day and night A teachers role is unenviable as they can not let up as they teach by practicing not by clever words

Sorry, the story bugs me a bit I should have said more at the time, as I am in a position of being told the story by JK, also knowing the Walshes, and also being given a robe in a Japanese Soto Zen temple

Off my chest now
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Fri Sep 02, 2011 5:03 am

:-) Hi Chisan!

The story that appears in The Wild White Goose is only of 'mirroring'-by-proxy; no mention is made of RMJ mimicking. The idea was said to be "Rev. Hajime's", who thought that this indirect means would help the couple to see their own pride.

RMJ wrote:
Rev. Hajime went ahead with his intention of trying to treat the couple as if they were an ordinary pair of monastic trainees. He set me up at every turn, yelled and screamed at me, pointed at me with the finger of, "Look how proud she is." Everything I did was wrong; however many times I bowed I was wrong; whatever I tried to do was wrong. I knew that it was all done to show them themselves but they did not comprehend this. The wife got more and more disgusted with me. Finally, since their misunderstanding was causing them to become incredibly hard, I told them exactly what we were trying to do.

The wife turned away in disgust. "I knew there was something wrong with you all along...Now we have the proof of it from your teacher's own lips. He himself is saying how proud and ambitious you are."

...Rev. Hajime looked worried, very worried. "Perhaps I have done wrong," he said.

The husband instantly came in, "Of course you haven't done wrong to show us what she's really like. That's what we came over here for..."
Was this how RMJ explained it to you, or were there further/other details? (-:
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Fri Sep 02, 2011 5:51 am

Hi Anne, this was really me getting it off my chest ,I was clearly told the story by JK it was actually told as a factual account that JK mirrored Ruth Ruth did not like it and went back to the Buddhist Society and relayed the story in her own way as being quite hurt by JK.



If the story is true that JK was asked to mirror Ruth it back fired big time, which means if this hurt Ruth it did more harm than good.



In my personal experience temples in Japan,do actually have a lot of repect for the laity, they look after them,it is part of the life of the temples to love respect and take care of the lay people,I hasten to add it is anaspect of the teaching that the senior monks extend this to the new recruits o fthe temple.

The lay people genuinly feel that they are not ready to embark on the tough temple life, but would like to maybe in another life,but they pay respects and support the temple community.



I have some lovely stories of my interaction with lay people and pilgrims, if they had the chance they would want to communicate with me, as it was clear if it would be difficult for them it would be very difficult for me.



I experienced nothing but mutual respect and a sense of looking after everybody,after all it is Buddhism. Personally I can not see this mirroring situation arising,why would rev Hajime want Ruth and Maurice too see their own pride in the first place.



The effect of the Ruth and Maurice story was that JK was not regarded too favourably by certain older members..whom also I knew.



After Mark returned to UK in 74 or 76 we both did have contact with the Buddhist Society and various Catholic Abbeys,I was asked to give a talk at the Bud Soc Summer school which I did. I did not feel it was honest to represent JK as I was in dispute with her so I represent Koho Zenji.I gave a talk on Dogen and Keizan, which lasted about 10 minutes ( I had an hour slot) I then asked if anyone had any questions, about absolutely anything,and spent the next part of the time talking and answering questions in a mondo style. The questions were quick, and personel. After the talk ended, Anne Bancroft a founding ( certainly inner member) stood up and said 'This was the best talk on Zen I have ever heard'. It was, under the circumstances, not only of mine, but also who was attending the summer school and the talk, rather a pleasant but also amusing way to say good bye, as I took my Shasta robes off that day when I returned to London.



Realy Anne the important thing with the Ruth story is it was a long time ago and I remember it well but it is saying what I should perhaps have said when it was mentioned.The founders of the Buddhist society did a lot in helping the spread of Buddhism,remember Buddhism is the gentle way of love and compassion
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Fri Sep 02, 2011 8:04 am

:-) Thanks, Chisan.

A lot of confusion about 'who meant what' was reported in WWG as happening during a four-week period leading to the mirroring episode above. RMJ ventured that much of this was due to cultural differences and translation difficulties. Reading about it sheds necessary light on the quoted episode, but the text is rather too long for me to transcribe. The following portion (which I have abridged) is dated the day before the bit I quoted above.

RMJ wrote:
The couple from England and I went over to Rev. Hajime's temple this morning. He asked us to go because of the OBon festival and he wanted me to assist at the ceremonies. When they were all over we had dinner together and Rev. Hajime had a long talk with us...

We all went to bed late but Rev. Hajime called me to his room again when the others had retired. "You know," he said, "I'm wondering very much about these two. Why was it that they wanted to be treated as ordinary members of the Buddhist Church here?"

"I thought I had warned you, Rev. Hajime, as I tried to warn Zenji Sama, that in England the Buddhist Church is thought of in a totally different way from what it is here. They want to be treated as ordinary members of the Buddhist Church as they know it. Their exact words in their letters to me were that they wanted to be treated as if they were 'monks in training' but they don't know what 'monks in training' are. And if we treat them as such they're going to be very worried, very frightened and very upset."

"But they said they wanted that. Maybe that is what is wrong...You know, I think the best thing we can do is to mirror them."

"Rev. Hajime, that will be terrible. That will cause unbelievable problems and equally unbelievable trouble!"

"Nonsense! They're very sincere people. I think it will work."

"Well, I don't"

"Look, unless you show them their pride - and they are incredibly proud, just listen to what they were saying this evening - unless you show them their pride while they are young they are never going to know that they possess it."

"Rev. Hajime, if you make me 'mirror monk' you will really destroy me in England."

"No, I won't. They will understand. And don't argue with me."

I sighed. "There seems to be no way in which I can induce you to understand this," I said, "so the best thing I can do is just hope and go on."

"You'll find I'm right," he said, patted me on the shoulder and, as we bowed and said goodnight, whispered, "Don't be afraid. It will work."

I went to bed with very considerable misgiving.
Chisan, am I understanding correctly that RMJ told you her activity as 'mirror monk' was to mimic rather than act as proxy (as described in the quote from WWG)? (-:
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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Fri Sep 02, 2011 8:47 am

I had never heard of the phrase mirror monk, I believe that I saw a flyer advertising the Thathata retreat way back in 1970. The flyer must have gone to all the Buddhist societies around the Uk. I went on the retreat with 2 friends. I believe the flyer told the story of the mirroring technique and about a monk being used to mirror people.

It hit me at the time as being a bit odd, but I was young and did not know anything about zen ( how wonderful). We all thought that mirroring was an essential part of zen and that Mocorai was the mirror monk.

I think the flyer might have been sent by the FWBO I say this as the second retreat was held at Sarum House , which was run by the FWBO , and I saw the same flyer about the mirror monk, and this one unkindly mentioned about JK's disease which she apparently suffered from.

A lot was made of the mirror monk,because of the concern as written above



"Rev. Hajime, if you make me 'mirror monk' you will really destroy me in England."



I think it certainly contributed to an antagonistic feeling re Jk in England.

I do not know the truth behind it all Anne,

It is not of course the 'job ' of a zen monk to show people their greed ,pride and shortcomings.Zazen allows us to be unrestricted in a spiritual way, it allows us to love all beings despite their shortcomings. By accepting our own shortcomings,we can with great humility see the oneness of all people. This is the zazen that I found was practiced in Japan


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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:17 am

Anne, the book that Mike was refering to was 'Tibeten and Zen Buddhism in Britain' by David N. Kay, adapted from his PhD thesis. He clearly had good access to the OBC and knew the The Wild White Goose but only says:
"In the following year, Kennett was visited by Maurice and Ruth Walshe, also influential within the Buddhist Society.
According to Maurice Walshe, their impressions ‘were not wholly favourable: we thought there were signs of some imbalance’. Consequently, they returned to England confirming the society’s rejection of her."


Why he did not recount JK's version is perhaps explained by this passage:
"When it comes to reconstructing the trajectory of Kennett’s life in the East, we are heavily dependent upon her own diaries from this period. These were revised and edited following her return to the West and were eventually published in two volumes as 'The Wild, White Goose' (1977a and 1978). These texts reflected Kennett’s progress through the Japanese Soto system, initially as a trainee in one of its principal monasteries and later as a temple priest. We must remember, however, that as an autobiographer, Kennett was concerned less with historical accuracy than with providing legitimation and identity for herself and her movement. The autobiographical aims and purposes behind 'The Wild, White Goose' will be examined in detail later; for the present, we will concentrate upon abstracting the facts from what is largely, to use Kennett’s own words, ‘a work of fiction’ (Kennett 1977a: xi)."
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Fri Sep 02, 2011 10:16 am

:-) Thanks, Mark. I read the David Kay book some years ago but forget what he wrote of "autobiographical aims and purposes behind 'The Wild, White Goose'".

The following is taken from the preface of WWG.

RMJ wrote:
...This book is published purely for the purpose of showing how Buddhist training was done by me in the Far East. The material for this book has been taken from diaries covering a period of almost eight years spent by me in Far Eastern temples. In Books One and Two I describe the first two and a half years of my religious training as a junior trainee in one of the leading monasteries of Zen in Japan, up through my first kensho and my Transmission as an heir in the Dharma to the Chief Abbot...Books Three and Four are the story of the growth of a Zen priest into a teacher through the process of testing and trial which six years of the responsibility of holding office in the monastery, dealing with religious politics, and running my own temple naturally provided...The reader should always remember that the purpose of this book is to show him or her how training must be done in the "mud" of daily life in order to grow straight and strong the stem of the lotus flower of his own spirituality. To this end great care should be taken to read the numbered footnotes which serve to indicate where I went wrong in my own training at that time. This work is equally meant to teach by the example of what not to do! Above all, please do not become caught up in the apparent "unfairness" of the actions of some of the people around me. What they did must be included here in order that one can see my reactions to it, both wise and unwise; their actions are not published to cause others to become angry and especially they are not published to cause the reader to engage in idle speculations as to people's identities. I have no wish to identify, expose, or embarrass anyone whatsoever.

For this reason, and because I value highly the right to privacy of everyone, I have found it necessary not only to change names and locations, but also years, countries, and, in some instances, the sexes, ages, habits and behavioural traits of characters. Some characters represent a combination of several real people; some real people whom I knew in the East at that time are not represented here at all; some characters have been invented for the sake of reporting certain thoughts which are germane to the teaching. Some teachings discovered later have been reported in conversation form here for the sake of making a more complete book although they did not necessarily take place with the characters I have indicated. All of this I have done since I have no wish whatsoever to invade the privacy of anyone, living or dead - I respect the privacy of others far too much. I have tried to preserve the integrity of the circumstances and events of my training without causing harm to others.

The result, therefore, is a work of fiction in the respects mentioned above. Events spoken of actually took place, however, and documents, letters, etcetera, mentioned in the text all actually exist in the Archives of Shasta Abbey. Out of respect for the privacy and rights of others letters have been paraphrased and identifying details deleted or changed, in consultation with legal counsel. In some instances a certain amount of poetic license has been taken in order to give the events a better flow. Conversations are reported as accurately as possible but not necessarily with the characters with whom they originally took place. My opinions, actions and reactions are also recorded here as accurately as possible but many I have since seen to have been imprudent and would not repeat in the light of my present, I hope more mature, state of mind; it is amazing how wrong a person can be with regard to some situations and events. When events warrant it in this respect, annotations will be found appended to the text by numbers. Taking cognisance of the above information, therefore, any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental...
(RMJ was obviously concerned to "respect the privacy of others" but I don't think that speculating on who the "young couple" were in the described mirroring episode is necessarily "idle", in present circumstances.) (-:
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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Fri Sep 02, 2011 2:11 pm

MARK,

I have just read in your post that Maurice Walshe`s view of " The Wild White
goose" was largely a work of fiction. He backs this up by taking a quote wholly
out of context . RMLK says " the result, therefore, is a work of fiction IN THE
RESPECTS MENTIONED ABOVE". That is, where she explained her need to make
changes for the sake of privacy.

For Walshe to say that "Wilde White Goose" is largely fiction and omitting the
qualifier by RMJK, I find to be frankly a personally dishonest statement and puts
the man in a certain light.

Why he did not "recount JK`s version" I think is down to his own agenda
above any reasons of " imbalance" as he put it. poor show really.

Regards, Stan.
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Fri Sep 02, 2011 2:24 pm

:-) Hi Stan!

Just to clarify, it was David Kay (writer of Tibetan and Zen Buddhism in Britain) who quoted the words "a work of fiction" from RMJ's preface. (-:


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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Fri Sep 02, 2011 3:05 pm

This taken from Kay's book:


mstrathern wrote:
we are heavily dependent "[/i]

Suggests that he and his associates were addicted to drugs, does it not?

context context context Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Fri Sep 02, 2011 3:49 pm

Not sure what we're trying to get at here....

@Chisan; you say the story about the Walshes as related by JK in the Wild White Goose bothers you and doesn't ring true because you knew the Walshes and because you stayed in temples in Japan where lay people were not treated rudely as implied by the "mirror monk" story. That's all fine as a matter of opinion, but is it more than that? You didn't say you asked the Walshes for their version of the story. As far as I know the only version is JK's. If we do not take the story at face value then what are we speculating is the reason for JK telling it?

I'm very happy to hear that you were never treated poorly in Japanese temples, but I don't see how a broad conclusion can be drawn from it. After reading Zen At War it's clear that Zen Buddhism in Japan had its own shadow. As a matter of speculation I think it's more believable that the kind of manipulation JK is describing in the mirror monk story was not something unusual and fabricated in the moment, but a more long standing shadow behavior in the Japanese system. The fact that JK herself could be quite manipulative suggests to me that she learned it there and received permission to use it in the context of teaching. The shadow is transmitted along with the light.

As to the Walshes' intent note that the quote says:

"Consequently, they returned to England confirming the society’s rejection of her" (emphasis mine)

The implication is the LBS had already rejected her and the mirror monk incident gave them a tangible justification. My understanding is JK told the story to demonstrate how her relationship with the LBS - which was apparently already on shaky ground - was sabotaged by this incident. I think it's naive to believe that the LBS was somehow free of politics and personality conflicts. From my contact with them in the late 60s I'd say they had their issues as all organizations do, and if you didn't go along to get along with them then you needed to move on - that's a fairly universal experience.

If someone has another idea as to why JK told this story I'd like to hear it.
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Stan Giko

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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Fri Sep 02, 2011 4:12 pm

ANN,

Thanks for the clarification. I would like to replace the name Walshe with Kaye.
No other changes. Twisting words is twisting words.

Regards, Stan.
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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Fri Sep 02, 2011 5:06 pm

Isan the story was told to me 41 years ago. I remember my feeling at the time was to query it to my self a bit as I felt it a bit odd.

When you say

I think it's naive to believe that the LBS was somehow free of politics and personality conflicts. I don't think I ever thought that,to be fair . I did personally get to know some of the people within it and heard a full range of stories about this and that,from memory they were funny gossip type stories.I never asked anyone their feelings of JK.So I can not honesty say how they viewed her. It was clear though that there had been issues from some of the Buddhist community.I never asked what they were.I think it is fair to say I knew Myokyo-ni born Irmgard Schloegl the best. I did ask her some personal advice after I left Shasta,she had been to Daitoku-ji,and she gave me some good advice which was personal and I liked her.

I think it would be fair to say Irmgard found Daitoku-ji,much the same as I found Japan a very helpful place to be,yes it was tough but so my life is as well.Maybe we were both lucky and did not see a shadow,and found places that we benefited from.

I think at the time of the first and second retreats I was surprised that there very quickly seemed issues, I was surprised to read on the second retreat flyer the story of JK's disease,the phrasing seemed negative towards JK, which did surprise and upset me a bit,why people or some people felt like that at such an early stage I do not know. The flyer was nothing to do with LBS, I am not sure where the info came from. There was an underlying issue with Toby Humphries and JK I do not think it was all the Walshes incident but some of it clearly was.I heard the issues from JK not from LBS

I suppose the story has always slightly bothered me and my feelings expressed here are true,I did not witness the incident only the aftermath, and I did witness a degree of negativity towards JK from a wide number of people and variety of people in the UK,I never asked them why they felt the way they did.

I certainly did not see the manipulation you talk about in Japan and have nothing but respect for all the people I met there
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Fri Sep 02, 2011 5:09 pm

I have to get up very very early these days,so I am hopefully off to bed and can resume any discussions tomorrow
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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Fri Sep 02, 2011 5:11 pm

"Mirroring" as a teaching technique was still in use in my earliest SA contact. And I recall having a conversation with Shuyu Singer about its use. If memory serves, it is a technique which was repudiated or fell into disuse at a certain point.
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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Fri Sep 02, 2011 5:59 pm

:-) Further concerning the Walshes, JK wrote the following in The Wild White Goose as occurring two days after the mirroring, while the couple were staying at her own temple.

Quote :
The husband asked me to go with him to the local city today. He was the one of the two I had known best in England and he is still in two minds as to whether what he heard in Rev. Hajime's temple was true or what I had said it was - a means of teaching - lateral teaching. I explained it to him again, as best I could, but he was obviously not convinced. He told me that he had decided to come out with me by himself because he wanted to talk about it without his wife being there, she being much more interested in the Rinzai school and therefore inclined to look for flaws in our methods. He wanted to give our school a fair chance but it was quite clear that this could not be; the damage done by Rev. Hajime's mirroring was just too great. His faith in my words was just not strong enough.

We returned to the temple and the wife, whom he and several others in England in recent years have regarded as being fairly good at Buddhism, made it quite clear that she neither believed nor trusted me...
WWG reports correspondence between an unnamed man in London and both JK and Koho Zenji, ongoing over several months before the Walshes' visit. JK wrote, "They are coming, it seems, to check me out on behalf of the person whom Zenji Sama wrote to in London". Certainly it seems that the man in London expressed serious doubts on a variety of matters (including, at one point, JK's qualification to teach as a roshi) but perhaps the situation was more fluid when the Walshes set out.

That was probably an exasperating thing for me to suggest, as no one will ever know!... (-:
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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Fri Sep 02, 2011 11:29 pm

I think the early days of Buddhism in the UK there was not very much available for people here to see.Toby Humphries wrote books on zen there was a lot of respect for DY Suzuki and his books, actual practice was hard to come by.
It was certainly Toby's wish to help in some way to bring zen to the west.I believe he would help financially.

I think it is fair to say that Rinzai with the koan method was seen as the preferred choice,and maybe Soto was little heard of.

There were pioneers who did become monks and a house was gifted in Hampstead as the London Vihara,where the Western Buddhist Order could eventually be housed.
To memory there were 2 English Bikkhus who stayed there and started to teach.I can not remember the first one's name,he had had a bit of a history of drinking,and he seemed to find Buddhist practice kept him in the straight and narrow. He was popular Maybe Mark will know his name.

The second was an Englishman called Dennis Lingwood who was ordained in India as Sangharakshita He was a poet very easy going, and became a big hit with many people.He lived in Hampstead Vihara,and for the first time there seemed to be someone English who could talk from experience.

What the LBS did not know was Dennis was gay,this was England in the 60's apparantly his gayness was discovered by some out of hours visitors to the Vihara when certain activities were witnessed. Anne Bancroft was given the job of going to see him to ask if he was a practicing homosexual. I can not remember Sangharakshita's reply but I believe it was a Buddhist response was along the lines of who was there to be gay when everything was empty.

One way or another Bante as he was then called left the Vihara with a loyal following and founded the FWBO which was the Friends of the Buddhist Order.They were and are very popular with a large following. The teaching was I believe Mahayana based they were loose and friendly.They did not have a zen connection but one member was particularly interested in Zen and that was Mark Strathern. The second retreat was held at a FWBO community house and Mark attended, and also Mark then left the UK to be ordained at Shasta.The FwBO did not feel they were loosing a follower,they hoped Mark would be their zen teacher within the group.

I have to say I knew many people there, I knew Sangharakshita stayed in one community but the FWBO was never for me,they were very nice and friendly but it was not my way

Interestingly after the second retreat Sangharakshita did a retreat at the same community house, I attended it, some of the people asked questions to Sangharakshita about this mirroring. I remember his reply was a wry smile and said he did not do that.

The mirroring flyer had made people sit up and they were puzzled as they had never heard anything like it before,so the flyer had made a query or issue to people that did not exist before. I think it was fair to say that the first impressions of JK were mixed by many people some took to her in the UK and some did not.

It was an odd situation as here was someone who had been to Japan come back and was not received with open arms,there seemed to be issues and personality clashes. When Mark left Shasta in 74/76, more eyebrows were certainly raised,and even more so when the letter from JK was circulated and the reasons for Marks departure filtered out. Mark and I were well known, Mark was a respected figure in the Buddhist world,and with a back ground of clashes with members of LBS it certainly had a few heads nodding. I do not know how many people outside of the OBC are aware of the present situation with Eko and the faith trust, however one looks at it,and it appears that something has not quite gone according to plan and issues that surrounded JK then. are still there today















Last edited by chisanmichaelhughes on Fri Sep 02, 2011 11:39 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Fri Sep 02, 2011 11:34 pm

chisanmichaelhughes wrote:
Isan the story was told to me 41 years ago. I remember my feeling at the time was to query it to my self a bit as I felt it a bit odd.

I suppose the story has always slightly bothered me and my feelings expressed here are true,I did not witness the incident only the aftermath, and I did witness a degree of negativity towards JK from a wide number of people and variety of people in the UK,I never asked them why they felt the way they did.

I certainly did not see the manipulation you talk about in Japan and have nothing but respect for all the people I met there

Chisan, I understand that these old stories are unpleasant and why they sometimes bother you. I wish we could verify stories in the Wild White Goose, such as the mirror monk incident, and in general learn more about what was going on between JK and the LBS, etc. You are closer to the source than I am and if you and/or others in England could find people who know more of the history that could help us answer some of these questions.

In the mirror monk story it does ring true for me that JK was put in that position by her teacher Rev Hajime (not his real name, and not KoHo Zengi). It is also important to note that she did not feel she could refuse to do it even though she was certain what she was asked to do was going to have a bad outcome. That is an example of the authoritarianism that she later recreated at Shasta Abbey, and what I meant by manipulation in the Japanese system.
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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:05 am

Yes they are unpleasant stories, I am just getting them off my chest a bit after a long time.
I do not think the people involved would all still be alive. The Walshes were not a young couple they were an older couple the word younger could have been used to hide identity, They were main people in the early Buddhist movement.

I can not comment on manipulation and authoritarianism in Japan I simply did not see it. I suppose the Japanese way of respect for elder people may cloud the edges a bit,I am not sure if it was part of culture or practice ,to always be willing to follow direction or instruction. For example if ones name is called out for example ...''Chisan san! '' one would be saying Hai or yes before the san was finished.

You can imagine the amusement as I would not understand the instruction but was willing to do it anyway, this still makes me smile but it was regarded as good zen practices as were the accompaning smiles

The trouble with the mirror monk story, is it did more harm than good. I did not see it I never saw anything like this, the Dogen style temples practiced Bendowa , ( etiquette and rules of temple life) we did not sway from that and mirroring was not a part of it. I believe the practice of temple life and practicing zazen one gets plenty of opportunity to see naturally the ways of our self. people can not be forced to practice zazen even if they are made to sit on a zafu, spirituality is a personal journey even in a temple, it is a personal decision.

I think the Japanese system of young monks coming for a limited time is a good one, no one expects an enligtened nation, but the monks when they leave will have a good sense of the Buddhist way, and may well have touched some depth within themselves that they felt was true and relevant

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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Sat Sep 03, 2011 2:59 am

:-) With a somewhat refreshed mind after sleep, I have re-read relevant passages of WWG: I should probably have omitted the words ", at one point," from the statement in my last post, "the man in London expressed serious doubts on a variety of matters (including, at one point, JK's qualification to teach as a roshi)"; also, "serious doubts" may convey a milder impression than his letters of the time.

If anyone has the second edition of WWG (one volume, divided into four "books") and wants to check events reported there, relevant information appears on pages 4 (ref. to "'friend' of mine in London"), 219, 221-224, 239-271, and perhaps elsewhere.

From page 261, just after the mirroring and including text already quoted...
Quote :
...The husband instantly came in, "Of course you [Rev. Hajime] haven't done wrong to show us what she's really like. That's what we came over here for. Now we can go back to England and explain quite clearly that it was wrong for us to even consider her in the first place - and definitely unnecessary for us to take the trouble of coming all this way to do so."

Rev. Hajime's face was consternation itself. "But...," he was about to go on but I got up, walked to the door and walked out...
I am unclear from the text whether "Rev. Hajime" actually tried to explain mirroring to the couple but the validity of JK's explanation seems to have been accepted at least by Maurice Walshe by the time they were about to leave Japan. From pages 269-270...
Quote :
The couple came back to Tokyo today to say good-bye to Zenji Sama. He struggled to sit up in bed for it was obvious that he still wanted to hear the words from their own lips that I had done nothing wrong in England and could return there whenever I wished. Assurances in letters, it seems, are of no use to him. He must hear it from people in person...Here he had two live people. From them he was still hoping to hear the truth.

He continued to struggle to sit up, finally gave up and asked the university professor, who had again come from Kyoto, to interpret so that he could be sure of the answers from someone other than me, "Can she return?" he said.

The husband looked a little uncomfortable and then said, "I'm afraid your school of Zen, as I have seen it here, would be thoroughly unacceptable in Britain. The means of testing people by the use of the mirror monk which has been explained to me and this business of constant beatings during meditation would be completely unacceptable. Other schools of Buddhism obviously have much better methods - much better actual teaching methods. The fact that you are none too interested in the Scriptures is also worrying. I am sorry, there is simply no way that I can see this school being accepted in Britain."

Zenji Sama tried to hide the pain in his face and said, "Can she not return to England?"

"There is no legal barrier to her return," said the husband...


Last edited by Anne on Sat Sep 03, 2011 5:15 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Removed one comma)
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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Sat Sep 03, 2011 4:56 am

All quite gruesome stuff Anne, which is surprising that I was asked to give a lecture at the LBS summer school.
I did and Anne Bancroft did stand up at the end and say she thought it was the best talk on zen she had ever heard. That still makes me smile, I think the lesson for me is :

Aways be open hearted
Resolve issues rather than let them fester
Regardless of what others do practice zazen or what one believes in
Just because someone says this is the way,does not necessarily mean it is
Just because I believe this is the right way to practice does not necessarily mean it is
Build bridges and look beyond our own stupidity
Our original nature is not found in another country or person
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Sat Sep 03, 2011 5:23 am

:-) Thankfully things can improve! QED (-:
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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Sat Sep 03, 2011 5:28 am

Anne I love your edit
Last edited by Anne on Sat Sep 03, 2011 10:15 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Removed one comma)
I struggle so much with commas and spelling
I always smile when I read your posts as you seem so intelligent unlike me who struggles sometimes to understand what you are saying !!
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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Sat Sep 03, 2011 5:33 am

:-) I laugh at myself! That's why I gave the game away about the edit!

You are crafty...is there something I should have put more intelligibly? I will have another go, if so. (-:
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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Sat Sep 03, 2011 5:41 am

Not at all You say everything that you should I was only in a nice way having a tease as well.English language is English language I am just not so good at it. All the males in my family are to a greater or lesser extent dyslexic I usually ask people to write down phone numbers for me as I right them all jumbled up names too

But you are right I am crafty !!
Have a nice day there in Dorset Sylvia !
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Sat Sep 03, 2011 5:46 am

:-) Have a nice 'un too, CMH! (-:


Last edited by Anne on Sat Sep 03, 2011 5:57 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Removed one comma. Didn't plan this...honest, guv!...but good for a laugh.)
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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Sat Sep 03, 2011 11:25 am

chisanmichaelhughes wrote:
the FWBO......,they were very nice and friendly but it was not my way





Whew. Don't get me started! The worst of the allegations against the OBC are as nothing when compared to what I have personally witnessed in the FWBO.

Teachers bedding people's girlfriends down right next to them and when the person expressed upset they were told to stop being "unskillful" and told they were teaching buddhism "zen style." My own girlfriend of the time had quite a few Teachers making sexual advances: squeezing her on her rear end, etc and trying to convince her that long term romantic relationships were "unskillful" (they like that word). I witnessed public "therapeutic blasphemy" which involves screaming crude (bannable) terms up at God. This was happening when everyone knew a devout christian was training with us. I challenged the Teacher that time and experienced alot of shunning as a result. One male Teacher would try to get intimately physical with me quite alot. Luckily my cult radar works pretty well and (unlike some) I was not in a position of spiritual dependency. So that particular guy was lucky not to wind up suffering pain.

And those things are just scratching the surface.


Just FYI Wink

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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Sat Sep 03, 2011 1:10 pm

Glorfindel The FWBO started up OK very sincere people who were interested in Buddhism, but wanted a younger approach. There always was a bit loose living but not excessive,bit of weed and bit of free loving, I was young but was not involved with those aspects. I knew some of the early people and they were OK.
The sexuality apparently expanded a bit , I do not really know, but Mark when Prior of Throssel and I when running a centre in London started to see the effects of differnt negative aspects including sexual, This was not just the FWBO.I can not really say more I would like to but it would possibly infringe the identities of individuals,that we were asked to help
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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Sat Sep 03, 2011 3:05 pm

Thanks for the response Chisanmichaelhughes.

I found it really interesting to hear the history since I was a bit tangled in that group for a while. Maybe the initial good intentions of "anything goes" planted some unfortunate seeds.

I don't think there is any intentional malice within the FWBO. Its more a case of someone putting a bunch of Bonobo Monkeys in charge of a space shuttle. God knows where that space ship is going.....

Whereas OBC receives criticism for weighing too heavily on the " no self" side, The FWBO seems like a production line for the creation of monstrous egos. It seems that both methods can produce monsters! In the FWBO's little same-sex communities , things get really weird.

Thanks for filling in a few blanks concerning the early days. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Sat Sep 03, 2011 4:14 pm

Yes I have fond memories of the early innocent days. I stayed at Sarum house there were 4 of us there that became monks with OBC a Tibetan follower and 3 FWBO, we all got on well,The zen people were up first and we did our silent zazen, followed by the other guys doing mantras and chanting. After I left things did get out of hand with some other teachers, but that is all another story for a night by the fire. There have been casualties in the persuit of whatever we have been persuing but I hope we all can meet at this side / the other side and dust ourselves down and respect what we have all done with our lives
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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Sat Sep 03, 2011 8:51 pm

Is this Zen?
Most Shasta followers I know could care less whether they were in a Zen school or not. They are content to follow a religious form and their teacher without needing either to be zen. That's their business. I think that most of those at Shasta who used to be Zen have pretty much left.

Most of my later trials with Shasta came from my resistance to watching them shift from a full Zazen orientation to only giving it lip service within a faith/devotional foundation. To be fair to them, and with abuse issues aside, I think it's their right to take Shasta where ever they see fit just as it's my right to walk away when it's no longer good for me to stay.
With this in mind, I don't think mirroring as it apples to zen practise has anything to do with Shasta beyond being an echo from 40+ years ago.

Defining Zen is a bit of an illusive subject to address. Anyone can call anything Zen.
Zens popularity in being associated with almost everything today partly comes from how difficult people find Zen to define, and as such is often applied to anything to make it seem more special. Marketing gone wild's version of mystifying the mundane!.

From my experience, Zen is just Zazen. Oh yeah, that's novel! To a grasping nature it's more easily defined by what it isn't, than what it is.

Zazen is a diet program for the ego. It's not to make the ego more pleasing, accepted, compressed, open, usable, better dressed, beaten down, remodelled, malleable, pure, subdued, religiously correct, hidden, enlightened, repressed, controllable or anything but just unfed.
Zazen is the stepping away from the habitual ego care that most of us relate to as our identity.

Because manipulative behaviour like power broking, bullying, evasiveness, miss direction, or mirroring feed the ego, I don't think it should be refered to as a Zen practise but rather just an error made by a Zen Monk.. Course to this zealot anything added to zazen is another error made by a Zen Monk.
Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Sat Sep 03, 2011 8:53 pm

I'm afraid glorfindel that the problem may well have lain with the founder, Sangharakshita. We are all flawed but the corruption sets in when flaws are visited on members of the congregation. Especially when they are justified as skilful means, or freeing the victim of their attachments. This only leads the victims only into a guilt ridden sense of worthlessness; bound in a corrupting cycle of abused and abuser.

as an aside, I'm surprised by your picture, are you in disguise?. I thought you had long golden tresses!
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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Sun Sep 04, 2011 6:41 am

That makes sense mstrathern.
I used to visit friends in their FWBO house. When the boss of the house (a Teacher) came home the tension and fear passing through the Mitres was tangible. It was as though their big daddy had come home and they were his little boys.

I'm hoping that the OBC has enough quality of practice to use present circumstances to reflect and transform. Judging from the quality of mind of recent (now ex) OBCers on this forum (Laura, Carol, etc) I think that the practice must inherently do a lot of good,but there are potentially dangerous foibles that need to be looked at.

My picture is of Monkey. He is the dude that broke the precepts to protect his teacher Wink

And yes if you look at the Quenyan root meanings of the morphemes in "Glorfindel" you are indeed correct that my avatar is a mismatch Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Sun Sep 04, 2011 11:11 am

Yes I agree there is clearly some good being gained from OBC practice. The problem is whether in geneal more harm has been done than good, and whether the same good could have been just as easily gained elsewhere with less risk.

Ah! ... a blond monkey - now that would be peeing on the Buddha's fingers. But perhaps such irreverence was your intention.
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PostSubject: Re: Mirroring and other practices -- is this "Zen"?   Sun Sep 04, 2011 1:32 pm

mstrathern wrote:
now that would be peeing on the Buddha's fingers. [/i]

Haha!! You've read the book!
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