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 My thoughts on OBC involvement

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Storm

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PostSubject: My thoughts on OBC involvement   Sun Sep 04, 2011 8:16 am

Compared with many
people on this forum I have had only a brief interaction with the
OBC. This was mainly between the years of 1992 and 1996, when I was
a lay Buddhist in Scotland and visited Throssel Hole a number of
times. After this period I would briefly returned to the practices
every few years and occasionally visit Throssel and other affiliated
temples. The OBC has had a very deep psychological effect on me,
which for the most part has remained unconscious apart from the
handful of times I returned to the practice. I realise that these
psychological effects may be specific to me and not reflect the
general experience of the OBC, but having read many of the threads on
this forum and elsewhere, they do show some commonalities with the
experiences of others. Below I describe a number of these
psychological patterns and the effects they have had on me.




OBC elitism

There was a real
feeling that zazen was the only effective form of meditation and that
Zen was the only true path. RMJK even referred to Zen as the only
true religion, if my memory serves me. There was also a feeling that
you should practice OBC Buddhism exclusively. This led to alienation
with other Buddhists and a feeling of supremacy, it also resulted in
a very narrow view of the world.

This form of spiritual
materialism is not exclusive to the OBC, but it does not foster a
balanced view of life. Until recently if I tried to get into another
practice, at some point the OBC view would arise with the sentiment
'It may be all well and good, but it is not Zen and is never going to
take you to any real depth.”




The monastic imperative

Although it was stated
that there was no difference between a lay Buddhist and a monk, this
was not the actual position. There are numerous scriptures which
make it clear that a monk is superior to a lay person. There is also
a feeling of exclusion, where the monks receive special teachings not
available to the laity. As it is clearly a monastic tradition then
anybody involved will have the question of becoming a monk raised at
some point, even if they are married or have other commitments. I
never became a monk, but the feeling stayed with me at an unconscious
level. I feel that it has hindered me from fully engaging with my
worldly life at some subtle level. It is as if somewhere in the back
of my mind was the belief that I would eventually become a monk and I
had merely 'put it on the back burner.'




Calvinistic style
renunciation


I once knew a monk from
a Tibetan tradition and asked them what they knew of the OBC, they
said they were regarded as the 'Wee Frees of Buddhism' referring to
the Free Church of Scotland, a Calvinistic organisation. In my
experience the 'giving up everything' can lead to a depressive
relationship to life, where all experience is thought of illusionary
and shunned. The renunciation can be taken to an extreme where there
is no joy in life and you can became quite withdrawn. There was also
an anti-intellectual thread to this which was in part why I gave up
my academic studies. Even to this day I feel the after-effects of
this approach and tend to be way too harsh with myself.




I am currently in the
process of realising the effects that the OBC and its teachings have
had on me at a deep level and moving beyond them. I feel there is
hope and I can fully engage and enjoy life once more. This forum has
helped me see that the monks are only human and has taken the OBC off
the pedestal that I had put it on. It is not that I think the OBC is
a cult, but it has lost its way. I do think that the practices and
teachings have also had beneficial effects on me, but it is time to
move on with my life.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: My thoughts on OBC involvement   Sun Sep 04, 2011 8:40 am

I think that is well sorted out Storm you say at the end

but it is time to
move on with my life.

May I suggest you listen to that, the real reasons why you wanted to meditate will not disappear, and any goodness that you may already have uncovered will be with you throughout your life. I would take care and move on.
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: My thoughts on OBC involvement   Sun Sep 04, 2011 9:48 am

hi Storm -- thank you for writing this about your experience.

ChisanMichael has already gotten to the heart of the matter. My tuppence, do reclaim the joy of living and being human We weren't given our bodies, our minds, our ability to love, for the purpose of consigning these to an early grave. What kind of a thank-you to the Universe would that be -

cheers,
L
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: My thoughts on OBC involvement   Sun Sep 04, 2011 9:55 am

What a nice thing to say Lise
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: My thoughts on OBC involvement   Sun Sep 04, 2011 10:32 am

:-) Hi Storm!

Did you noticed any changes during your visits to Throssel and affiliated temples after 1996, which was the year RMJK died?

I realise that, if one returns just occasionally, small shifts may be hard to identify...one can't be quite sure if the difference one noticed was just a happenstance for that day. (-:
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Stu



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PostSubject: Re: My thoughts on OBC involvement   Sun Sep 04, 2011 10:34 am

Lise wrote:
hi Storm -- thank you for writing this about your experience.

ChisanMichael has already gotten to the heart of the matter. My tuppence, do reclaim the joy of living and being human We weren't given our bodies, our minds, our ability to love, for the purpose of consigning these to an early grave. What kind of a thank-you to the Universe would that be -

cheers,
L



Hi Lise,



I think you're spot on there, as Olga was earlier (on this thread?) when she was talking about the human will as a positive element of our makeup, not something to be extinguished. It's been giving me food for thought.



Cheers,



Stu
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: My thoughts on OBC involvement   Sun Sep 04, 2011 3:51 pm

hi Stu, nice to see you. I agree with Ol'ga too.

To carry that a bit further, I don't think any part of us can be extinguished nor are we under any obligation to try. We have not got original sin, for heaven's sake, we don't have parts that we need to grind down, subjugate or destroy. Honestly, how does that jibe with "acceptance"?

Were we really given these marvelous human forms simply to renounce them and kill off the species ahead of time (through celibacy and "cutting of all ties", etc.)? No. We weren't.

Glad that's settled now Smile
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: My thoughts on OBC involvement   Sun Sep 04, 2011 5:12 pm

Hey Stu

I think you're spot on there, as Olga was earlier (on this thread?) when she was talking about the human will as a positive element of our makeup, not something to be extinguished. It's been giving me food for thought.
I'm having a bit of indigestion with this which might be me just mis interpreting this sentence. (couldn't find Ol'ga's thread here talking about it.).

I get standing up and saying human will is not something to be extinguished. I don't understand the part where it's said that human will is either positive or negative. It seems to me to be neutral and only watching it's wake gives us the info to consider it (+ or -) at anytime.

It clearly can result in human atrocities as easily as states of grace. I think of meditative practise as the development of the equanimity to watch our will for when it should be fed or shown the door.

Now I have run into people who consider human will to be eternally good. This has been where will is felt as part of their base identity, so to equate it as anything but positive is taken as a negative personal statement about them.. People who are artistic or emotionally intense often belong to this view.

I've also run into people who consider the human will to be delusive. These are usually followers of doctrinal belief where ones will is to be discouraged which usually speaks more about control issues than anything else. Lots of Buddhist robots in that camp.

Obviously I'm saying that human will in itself is not something to be deified or squashed. It is no more positive in itself than negative.

Am I missing something fundamental again or just boringly demonstrating another firm grasp of the obvious?

Cheers

Cheers
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Stu



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PostSubject: Re: My thoughts on OBC involvement   Sun Sep 04, 2011 5:43 pm

Howard wrote:
Hey Stu

I think you're spot on there, as Olga was earlier (on this thread?) when she was talking about the human will as a positive element of our makeup, not something to be extinguished. It's been giving me food for thought.
I'm having a bit of indigestion with this which might be me just mis interpreting this sentence. (couldn't find Ol'ga's thread here talking about it.).

I get standing up and saying human will is not something to be extinguished. I don't understand the part where it's said that human will is either positive or negative. It seems to me to be neutral and only watching it's wake gives us the info to consider it (+ or -) at anytime.

It clearly can result in human atrocities as easily as states of grace. I think of meditative practise as the development of the equanimity to watch our will for when it should be fed or shown the door.

Now I have run into people who consider human will to be eternally good. This has been where will is felt as part of their base identity, so to equate it as anything but positive is taken as a negative personal statement about them.. People who are artistic or emotionally intense often belong to this view.

I've also run into people who consider the human will to be delusive. These are usually followers of doctrinal belief where ones will is to be discouraged which usually speaks more about control issues than anything else. Lots of Buddhist robots in that camp.

Obviously I'm saying that human will in itself is not something to be deified or squashed. It is no more positive in itself than negative.

Am I missing something fundamental again or just boringly demonstrating another firm grasp of the obvious?

Cheers

Cheers



Hey Howard,



Sorry, can't remember which thread it was, and I'm probably only half remembering it. It just stayed in my head for a bit. I suppose where it resonated with me is that in amongst all the rest of my present spiritual confusions, is the sense that perhaps I'm looking for a more positive appreciation of our embodied-ness, so to speak. I suppose one of the elements of Christianity (and probably applies to many of the major theisms) that has been appealing to me lately, is that there's something instrinsically good about creation and our physical existence, including our minds (and wills), bodies, physicality, senses etc, which just isn't really there in Buddhism, quite the opposite in many cases. Key teachings point quite the other way, though I fully realise that there are Buddhist schools and philosophies which have turned it around in many ways, including a sacralising of the world around us, Zen Buddhism does this, certainly. Obviously, you're quite right, the human will can be bent to commit all sorts of horrors, but I don't think that would necessarily persuade me that it should simply be regarded in neutral terms. For (a trite) example, I think the ability to enjoy/share a meal is naturally good, in some way. The fact that we can take it to extremes, up to gluttony etc, wouldn't persuade me that I should therefore regard it as neutral. I'm note sure I'm expressing this very well, not much of a philosopher.. :-p
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Ol'ga

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PostSubject: Re: My thoughts on OBC involvement   Sun Sep 04, 2011 8:22 pm

I think the post Stu refers to is this one:

Search in: In Theory and Practice Subject: 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


---------------------------

If you are looking for a quotation from one of the posts, and you know the poster, here is a quick way:
Click on SEARCH.
Click on ADVANCED SEARCH.
Fill in poster in SEARCH BY AUTHOR. (not case sensitive but sensitive to typos. In my name the diacritic is required, otherwise you won't find me!)
Click on POSTS.

You will get all the poster's posts. You can then search a particular word by CTRL/F - as I did 'will' in this case.

--------------

As to 'will' I would like to add this much.
My words were that I consider will as a gift. I was writing this in the context of what was attempted to do to us at Shasta - i.e. break our will.
In some religious traditions will is considered negative - something like a rebelion against God. In that context I speak up for will - hold onto it, man, enjoy it; and be ready to take consequences for it. That is, be alive!
But then, that is my style. I have a friend who would occasionally tell me, "would you whipe that grin off your face!".
On the other hand, I don't think for a moment that there is much 'neutrality' in your life, Howard! Bears sniffing your head, not to talk of the forum bears...

Nice to have met you, Stu. It would be interesting, and possibly a bit tricky to discuss Christianity vis-a-vis living one's life fully. It would certainly require a thread. There would be disagreements galore, though, I'm sure. I get a lot of positivity from Christianity - and much less judgementality than from Jiyu Kennett. This is not to say, though, that many people were not emotionally maimed by threats of hell, and plenty of talk of sin. Another great topic...
Luv,
Ol'ga
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: My thoughts on OBC involvement   Sun Sep 04, 2011 8:32 pm

Hey Stu

Is "will" good, bad, neutral or just a shy dancer.

Buddhist negation of what most folks treasure, is the most common complaint of Buddhism. Meditation is the main aid that helps me work with my own similar questions. Other people find other tools that work for them. It didn't come down to what school was right or wrong, what I might gain or lose, who was enlightened or deluded, rather that I had been taught the means to objectively unearth a reality that a variety of conditioning was obscuring. I think it's probably a work in progress for everyone...

Zen happens to appeal to me because it offered me experience over belief. For many folks it says a whole variety of different things but for me it just says let go and observe whats left. The meal could be good or bad but in opening up to it, (or letting go of myself) I get to be present for the experience in ways that I would otherwise miss.

This was the neutral I was speaking of. A neutral that allows an empty canvass to show whatever is, instead of what I might want or expect or fear. In place of a school/ teaching/ master/ or a "will" fecund with it's own potential, can be a simple zafu. Nothing like letting "will" dance buck naked on its own in a meditative light, to show you what you are really going to be living with. I think giving it a halo or horns for the dance are just our investment control issues that say we are not really ready to see it as it is.

Cheers



PS thanks Ol'ga for the search info. & just as my bear experiences may be "will" neutral,
you may switch the word for "will" everywhere for your own fluffy eared bare nature.
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Ol'ga

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PostSubject: Re: My thoughts on OBC involvement   Sun Sep 04, 2011 9:56 pm

Howard, you wrote:
Ol'ga...you may switch the word for "will" everywhere for your own fluffy eared
bare nature.

Me no understand.
O.

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lesley

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PostSubject: Re: My thoughts on OBC involvement   Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:31 am

Howard,
Your last posting is very wise and describes how I feel about sunny life better than I could have done, thank you and best wishes, with gassho, Lesley
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Storm

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PostSubject: Re: My thoughts on OBC involvement   Mon Sep 05, 2011 12:16 pm

Thanks for all the encouragement sunny I would just like to reply to the below comment-

Quote :
Did you noticed any changes during your visits to Throssel and affiliated temples after 1996, which was the year RMJK died?

I
realise that, if one returns just occasionally, small shifts may be
hard to identify...one can't be quite sure if the difference one noticed
was just a happenstance for that day. (-:

I have been back to Throssel post 1996 and did feel that the atmosphere had changed, it was gentler and less authoritarian. I do think they are trying to change for the better.

Blessings

Storm
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Stu



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PostSubject: Re: My thoughts on OBC involvement   Mon Sep 05, 2011 12:41 pm

@ Ol'ga
Hi! Nice to meet you too :-) I'm normally something of a lurker, don't often post! My post is probably a bit misleading, I'm not Christian, though I have a lot of Christian friends (I'm always tempted to say 'some of my best friends are Christian' :-p), some of whom are priests (Catholic, and Anglican). Interestingly, some of them are also rather unorthodox in terms of main stream theology. In their parishes etc, they work with the narratives, values, practices (meditative prayer, charity etc) of Christianity, and articulate these within 'traditional' Church language for their parishioners, but in their own faith they espouse a very philosophical (and contemplative) Christianity and an almost non-realist theology.
So, personally, though I no longer have an issue with 'God', I could never believe in the majority of the theological apparatus in literal terms, if that's what was asked of me. I think this is largely due to the (positive) influence of Zen. If for some reason I ever did shift over to some branch of Christianity (Catholicism probably, I like some of the theology and the mystical/contemplative richness), it would be on those terms (but being pro-choice, pro-women's ordination etc etc etc, I'd be unlikely to be welcomed into any regular church with open arms :-p). Saying all that, I imagine I'll end up staying where I am (Soto Zen - Dogen and zazen continue to challenge and confuse, probably a good thing)...
@ Howard
Hello! :-)
I'll go for 'shy dancer' :-p Heh. I absolutely agree with experience over belief. In personal terms, I really can't conceive of religion in terms of 'belief' now (though it's interesting from an academic, anthropology of religion POV). Values, yes, and practice, but not dogmatic assertions, or in a 'believe these 10 things or go to hell' way.
So many people still do, from all educational backgrounds. I work with a very nice guy at the moment who believes just that (as a reformed Baptist): in a 'loving God' who would send his (very decent and loving) parents into hell because they don't believe in Jesus. Terribly confusing...in all honesty I can't think of it as 'real' religion at all, just as some sort of tribalism with some odd cognative dissonance on the side (I love my friends/but they're going to hell eg). But I'm no doubt simplifying and therefore misrepresenting his faith.
Sorry to hijack this thread!
Hi Storm - a fellow Scot possibly? I've only had a bit of OBC experience in Edinburgh, basically positive on the whole. I agree about the anti-intellectual aspect, from the limited experience I've had. Personally, I would wish for them to open out, draw from the wider Soto/Zen traditions, other Buddhist traditions, indeed other religios traditions. Not just for ideas, but for the sake of generosity of spirit. So, I can appreciate the Calvinist comparison...:-p Still, I'm watching with interest to see how they respond to this investigation/report that's coming out. If they go into denial or attempt to suppress it, it would be such a bad sign...
Right, I'll stop rabbiting now...
Cheers folks!
Stu
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