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 FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement

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Kozan
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PostSubject: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Mon Oct 03, 2011 2:33 pm

The OBC released a public statement from the 2011 Conclave today. It is posted on Shasta Abbey's website (the anouncement and a link to it can be found on the home page).

Here is a direct link to the Public Statement:
http://shastaabbey.org/pdf/PublicStatement102011.pdf

I have copied the full statement below:
(Note: for some reason the original formatting did not survive intact. I will try to rectify, but do not want to delay this posting).


Public Statement from the General Meeting of the
Order of Buddhist Contemplatives 2011


Dear Friends,

As many of you know, in May 2010 Rev. Master Eko Little was asked to resign as abbot of Shasta Abbey by the Shasta Abbey community when it was discovered that he had lied about having a romantic relationship with a member of the congregation. For a monk practising celibacy, any romantic relationship is inappropriate and unethical, and to then lie about it is a violation of both the Buddhist Precepts and the Rules of our Order.

After his departure, there were further disclosures of what was considered to be his misuse of power and authority, betrayal of trust, and violations of sexual and ethical boundaries, often in the guise of spiritual teaching. We take these matters very seriously and deeply regret and apologize for the harm that has been caused.

Initial Response

The Order as a whole takes responsibility for the fact that this situation, involving a senior teacher, developed to the degree that it did within one of our monasteries. In particular, Rev. Master Haryo, as Head of the Order, and Rev. Master Meian, as vice-abbess, Rev. Master Daishin Yalon, and many of the other senior monks, have expressed their sense of personal responsibility and regret. Consequently we have been assessing everything we do to see how we can provide the safest possible environment for those who train with us.

The response from the Shasta Abbey community following these disclosures included:

• Offering spiritual counseling and professional psychological counseling for those affected.
• Community meetings were held and have been continued to allow monks to speak openly.
• Meetings were held with the local congregation to openly discuss what happened.
• Financial assistance was provided for those monastic disciples who wished to train in another temple.
• The monastic community has been studying the literature of other Buddhist groups who have gone through similar problems, to draw on their experiences and solutions.
• An invitation has been posted on the Shasta Abbey website for people to submit “concerns and comments” about their experiences in the monastery.
• Regular Dharma discussions amongst the monks and with the laity on the meaning of celibacy and sexuality in the context of religious training.

At the same time, an Order-wide review of our monastic structure, rules, and assumptions was initiated, and as part of this the OBC established an ethics working group and Shasta Abbey created its own ethics refuge committee ( ethicssa@ shastaabbey.org ). In addition we commissioned the FaithTrust Institute (FTI) in April of this year to conduct an assessment of the misconduct of the former abbot of Shasta Abbey, its subsequent impact and implications, and how Shasta Abbey and the Order responded. We posted a statement on our websites about the FTI assessment and invited contributions, and we also provided contact information of lay members of our congregations with counseling skills for anyone with concerns about this or any other issue.

FTI was invited to conduct the assessment as they are experienced in helping religious organizations, including Buddhist ones, respond to clergy abuse and sexual boundary violations. Also, it was felt that using an independent agency would enable people to speak more freely. The subsequent report was prepared as a confidential statement for use by the membership of the OBC.

We are grateful to the 35 monks and lay people, most of whom are currently still training in our Order, who came forward and shared with FTI their very personal and often painful experiences. The former Rev. Eko did not participate in this assessment.

The report discusses the factors at Shasta Abbey and in the wider Order that made it possible for the abbot, over a number of years and with a number of disciples, both lay and monastic, to abuse power and trust and to violate sexual boundaries. It also recommends improvements for a healthier, safer environment in which monks and lay people can train.

The Order welcomes this report from FTI and we are grateful to them for helping us see more clearly and respond to the many issues raised by these difficult and challenging events. The report is not intended to be a balanced account of training at Shasta Abbey and within our Order, and it does not stand against the gratitude that many feel for the positive ways in which the former abbot contributed to the monastery and helped his fellow trainees during the fourteen years of his tenure.

The Faith Trust Institute Report:

We asked Faith Trust Institute to conduct an assessment for us which had four aims:

1. To examine the extent of Eko’s actions and how he was able to carry on these actions for as long as he did, his actions involving both monastics and members of the lay community.

2. How Shasta Abbey and the Order responded to those events.

3. To establish what lessons there are to be learned from looking at rules, procedures, communications, structures and policies and how these were interpreted, so that both the monastic and lay sanghas can be better protected in the future.

4. To ascertain and make recommendations as to the need for and provision of therapy, healing and closure for primarily the victims and secondarily the Order.

FTI received information about and descriptions of Eko’s conduct when he served as abbot of Shasta Abbey from approximately 35 people through personal interviews, written statements and phone/Skype interviews. The respondents included senior and junior monks, former monks, lay ministers and lay disciples. Background documents concerning our structure, rules and practice were also given to the FTI. The assessment began in May 2011 and was completed in August 2011. The final report was circulated to members of the Order for discussion at the General Meeting held this September at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey in the UK.

Summary of the FTI Report:

The assessment found that the former abbot of Shasta Abbey, Eko Little, had an escalating pattern of conduct spanning over 10 years that included betrayals of trust, sexual boundary violations, and misuse of power. He increasingly overstepped master/disciple boundaries with several lay and monastic disciples, at times for his sexual gratification, then abruptly ceased these relationships, causing spiritual and emotional harm. He maintained these abusive relationships with disciples through secrecy and manipulation and an authoritarian style of leadership. This style of leadership and his inability to listen to those around him gradually contributed to Eko isolating himself and Shasta Abbey from the rest of the Order.

The assessment found that senior monks, including the Head of the Order and the vice-abbess, failed to respond adequately to repeated disclosures in a timely fashion or invoke disciplinary procedures, believing that the allegations were not serious enough to warrant this course of action. There was a limited understanding of sexual boundary violations, and inadequate procedures for identifying patterns of abuse. Personal confrontations with Eko had little effect.

The assessment found that current OBC rules would have been adequate to deal with the situation had they been invoked. The assessment found, however, that many monks and lay people were ignorant as to their existence. Some specific changes to the wording of the rules are recommended.

The assessment found that structural and organizational weaknesses within the OBC allowed Eko to continue his unethical activities for an extended period of time. The trust inherent in the master/disciple relationship was abused by Eko to maintain secrecy. Disciples felt powerless to report any wrongdoing on Eko's part out of fear of reprisal. This problem was compounded when other seniors, not wanting to interfere in the master/disciple relationship, referred those disciples back to Eko to deal with their concerns.

Recommendations from FTI:

• A strengthening of the OBC rules to clarify standards of conduct for spiritual teachers and the process for complaints about misconduct.
• A re-examination of the leadership and organizational structure of the Order in order to reflect principles of greater accountability and transparency.
• Training in basic counseling, listening and teaching skills as well as teaching and discussion on healthy boundaries, sexuality and celibacy.
• Clarification, teaching and discussion of the master/disciple relationship.
• Improved communication, support, discussion and decision making. This should include raising awareness of OBC rules and procedures, and should include greater sharing of resources and encouraging monks to study at a number of temples within the Order.
• Clarification of the role of the Order vis a vis abbeys and temples.
• Continued exploration and implementation of an Ethics Committee, including steps to improve the safety of the lay and monastic sanghas. This could include the creation of an independent ombudsman.

Decisions made at the September, 2011 General Meeting:

At the General Meeting of the Order held in September this year we discussed in detail and agreed to the following practical steps:

1. The Interim Board of the OBC which was established at last year's General Meeting www.obcinterimboard.org will be continued for another year, its purpose being to facilitate better communication within the Order, and to address concerns as they arise.

2. A working group was authorized to review the Order's structure and function, including addressing the questions of greater transparency and accountability, and to make recommendations. This group will work directly with the Head of the Order.

3. The Order's Ethics Working Group will work on developing new rules, or additions to existing rules, to make it clear that sexualized behaviour within teaching relationships is completely inappropriate. The Group is also working towards the implementation of improved procedures for raising ethical concerns within the Order.

4. The Order's Ethics Working Group identified that in the rule on abuse of power (Section IV Rule 11), the warning to disciples to be careful in applying this rule to the behaviour of their master detracted from the intent of the rule. This wording has been removed. (FTI also pointed this out).

5. We will produce a publicly-available brochure or leaflet outlining what behaviour is considered appropriate, and what is not acceptable, in the relationship between a teacher and a disciple or student, whether monastic or lay, with reference to the rules of the Order which address this area.

6. We will ensure that in each temple of the Order specific teaching is offered to increase awareness and understanding of the Rules and their relationship to monastic and lay practice.

7. We will make our rules more accessible at temples of the Order by drawing attention to them on websites, and we will also produce a leaflet introducing the rules to those unfamiliar with them. We will produce a digest of those rules which are most relevant to the safety of all who train with our Order, so that these important rules are easier to find. There will also be a subject index to the rules, so that it is easier to locate those relating to a particular area.

8. Monks are encouraged to consult available resources on the topic of “healthy boundaries”. In particular, the Head of the Order has asked that all monks watch a series of DVDs and read some material recommended by FTI, and have an opportunity to discuss this subject with each other. Many monks have already begun making use of these resources.

9. A provisional rule allowing for lay discipleship in the Order was clarified and finalized (Section II, Rule 14). A meeting of masters who have lay disciples was held, initiating a discussion of the issues relevant to that teaching relationship.

10. Ongoing education in the area of counseling and teaching for monks and lay ministers of the Order is under review.

11. We will [banned term] a resource of talks and information on various subjects relevant to monastic life and lay training. Topics addressed would include sexuality, celibacy, teaching, counseling, and healthy boundaries.

12. We welcome the formation of the Lay Initiative which we believe will facilitate greater links between lay and monastic sanghas, and will further two-way communication and teaching in the future.

13. To help our collective understanding of the master-disciple relationship, monks of the Order, and particularly masters, are invited to write and submit articles on their understanding of this relationship. We will compile a resource of these and other existing articles on this subject, and references to other relevant works.

14. There will be annual meetings for all masters who have monastic disciples, together with the Head of the Order. (In years when there is no General Meeting, these will be separate meetings in North America and Europe. In years when a General Meeting is scheduled, there will be a single combined meeting.)

15. In recognition of the fact that the isolation of any temple or individual has a detrimental effect on religious training, we will strengthen collaborative relationships between temples by encouraging monks to spend periods of time at other temples of the Order. One way that we hope to facilitate this is through a programme of exchange visits.

16. We will also explore how we can encourage collaboration by sharing resources between temples.

17. To help enable wide-spread refuge-taking within the Order, we will have a General Meeting of the Order every other year, the third one of which will be a Conclave to review the rules. (Conclaves may also be convened at any time). These meetings will alternate between North America and Europe.

Where we go from here:

Last year we started to examine ourselves and our practice and to review our structures, rules and procedures. The above decisions have been agreed to by consensus at this year's General Meeting, and we are committed to continuing this process of review. There will be a general assessment of our progress in implementing these decisions in about 18 month's time, and we will publish the outcome of this review.

We wish to acknowledge that pride and heavy-handed teaching methods have been a part of our culture for a long time. We acknowledge that at times this has had a detrimental effect on those who have practised with us, and we are committed to moving away from these attitudes in our collective training. Conversely, we aspire to actively cultivate humility, respect and kindness for people who practice with us at all levels of training.

We are deeply grateful for the Sangha Treasure and the precious opportunity of training together with those who come to our temples and meditation groups. We hope you will continue to train with us and support us in carrying out these important changes. Please feel free to contact any temple of the Order with questions and concerns you may have about any of the above.

In Gassho,
General Meeting of the OBC

Held at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey, UK
29 September, 2011


Last edited by Kozan on Tue Oct 04, 2011 12:00 am; edited 6 times in total (Reason for editing : reformatting the Public Statement)
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cmpnwtr

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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Mon Oct 03, 2011 4:32 pm

I'm surprised to be the first to comment. Without knowing the specifics of the abusive behavior it's hard to come to judgment about the investigation and recommendations. I think that is a glaring omission. I wonder why it is so problematic to describe those specifics. I was glad to see attribution of responsibility to the monastic leadership. I was hoping for more about the historical culture of the abuse of authority in teaching relationships to which there is little mention at all, except for this:
We wish to acknowledge that pride and heavy-handed teaching methods have been a part of our culture for a long time. We acknowledge that at times this has had a detrimental effect on those who have practised with us, and we are committed to moving away from these attitudes in our collective training.

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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Mon Oct 03, 2011 4:49 pm

Well I think it is a good statement However I agree with Bill's comments .

And this seems to be what we have all been saying here over the last year,and yet we have been ignored on this website, nobody has come forward and communicated Rev Sekei did to a point, yet there has been arguments , about our issues, I have felt we have been shunned, as we were told we broke the precepts, and now the OBC agrees with us,All these issues were real
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Mon Oct 03, 2011 5:13 pm

I'm still mulling it over... My current thoughts are swirling around closure- I'm glad it's over and I don't expect anything else to come of it, at least not for me. I have to say though, again I feel validated and I'm grateful for the others who came out (34 people!). It's funny, because Amalia, Lise, and I (and a few others), started this about two years ago and at that time, we couldn't convince anybody that there was anything wrong. We have certainly come a long way! And here it is, in black and white: yes, there was something very wrong going on. I wish Amalia would have the same closure and validation as I feel I have.

One thing that stood out for me, as far as the report goes, was how the OBC wanted FTI to look at "4. To ascertain and make recommendations as to the need for and provision of therapy, healing and closure for primarily the victims and secondarily the Order.", but in the end no recommendations were made. So apparently this is not worth looking at. But I couldn't say what I would expect to happen here. I mean, what do I want or expect from them? I can't even say at this point. I don't think they can give me my spiritual life/practice back; I will have to fight for that myself.

Peace,

Diana
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cmpnwtr

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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Mon Oct 03, 2011 7:02 pm

There is a lot that is good here in the recommendations from FTI and initial actions. But it is glaring as Diana has pointed out, that there is a lack of responsibility about providing professional therapeutic services for survivors of the abuse here. It may be that there is concern about litigation, and on advice of attorney they are holding back on such commitments as admission of responsibility.

The proof will be in the follow through and how that is handled.
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cmpnwtr

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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Mon Oct 03, 2011 9:25 pm

cmpnwtr wrote:
But it is glaring as Diana has pointed out, that there is a lack of responsibility about providing professional therapeutic services for survivors of the abuse here.

The proof will be in the follow through and how that is handled.

Correcting my statement above, the "initial actions" by the OBC include this:
"• Offering spiritual counseling and professional psychological
counseling for those affected."
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Mon Oct 03, 2011 11:38 pm

Diana
I am very pleased to read you post. Also from what you say well done to You Amalia and Lise for starting this website,and achieving most of your aims.

It is a huge achievement to force an inquiry from FTI and receive an apology.

Some of us have issues that went way back, issues with the fundametal core of the OBC.these would never be openly discussed or seen as mistakes,and I will stand by what I said on Carols post yesterday that I believe for these actions to have happened the influence of practice or behaviour has not been zazen. Basically there has been an incredible lack of compassion and love. because nobody could stop the machine of bullying shows an incredible lack of real understanding, from the heirarchy or senior monks. I mean why was Eko not stopped, when people here were shouting out loud to current members and seniors. Why were they ignored?

However I actually think I understated; I am delighted for you Diana; you always end your posts by saying peace, and may you have closure and peace,Henry Amalia and everyone else too. I hope there is a moving on,For me, when Mark returned to England in 76ish with stories that the pracice had changed and it was no longer for him, there was a sequence of events. He told me, Bill Picard, and then I had a chat with Bill. the chat was not very long. Bill simply said 'Don't touch it' For me that was and is the right advice, wrong way zen ends up in the wrong place.
Life can be very difficult, alot of people do not have easy rides through,I hope my friends here have peace, good fortune, and are able to look after their health
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Tue Oct 04, 2011 12:31 am

The focus on Eko and the problems within the Order are well-taken. The statement seems to reflect a sincere desire to reform. However, there isn't a word about Koshin and the others at North Cascades who resigned. This seems to be a serious oversight in that more than one person was harmed by their conduct.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Tue Oct 04, 2011 12:58 am

Excellent point Carol!

I can confirm, from my contacts with the OBC lay sangha in the UK, that this is a specific point that some of their members are raising as well.

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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Tue Oct 04, 2011 1:17 am

I agree too Carol,

Unfortunately the report is limited to Eko, my question which will not be answered is why was Mark me and everybody else who made the first batch of criticisms in 76 discredited..it should all have been dealt with then,it would have cut out future suffering,instead it became concealed and a situation where one could not successfully criticise developed
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Tue Oct 04, 2011 4:09 am

The statement has not yet been put on Throssels website
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Tue Oct 04, 2011 5:30 am

I also wonder when the OBC will ask FT to conduct an assessment of the impact of Koshin's activities on members, and ex members, of the order.

But I suppose that many of the suggested fixes are applicable to the kind of practices that occured (occur?) at North Cascades.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Tue Oct 04, 2011 6:16 am

I would love to be invited to go on the OBC website to have an open, honest and respectful conversation with members there. I would like to start with my introduction post telling my story of the collaboration between Eko and Rev. Kennett that was incredibly disrespectful and demeaning to me at a time when I was very vulnerable. If anyone hear could help me open up that conversation with the OBC to allow me a public discourse i would appreciate it. They feel that OBC Connect is too disrespectful and too many people would gang up on the few OBC members who would come here that they failed to show up to the a discussion of the nightmare they created. Well, what would be the complaint if one person was allowed on their website to discuss with 100 members the view that Eko did not spring up, a wholly formed abuser, with no history. He was a natural extension of Rev. Kennett's abbacy. They feared to look at Eko though many warned them. It is no different that they fail to look at what I and others have to say of their (our) long history that has led to this debacle.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Tue Oct 04, 2011 6:26 am

I agree a discussion would be a good idea, a little personal contact would be helpful too, especially as they say



We wish to acknowledge that pride and heavy-handed teaching methods have been a part of our culture for a long time. We acknowledge that at times this has had a detrimental effect on those who have practised with us,



I think the heavy handed approach has always been there starting with JK. I believe thay are having an ethics committee and one of the committee is the monk that told me Gensho had run off with the devil!!
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Tue Oct 04, 2011 9:54 am

Henry wrote:
I would love to be invited to go on the OBC website to have an open, honest and respectful conversation with members there.

Henry,

The OBC website created by UK members being referred to is actually a "closed" Facebook group. Logon to Facebook (what, you don't have a Facebook ID? join up!) then search on "Order of Buddhist Contemplatives". You can send them a request to join.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 1:56 am

What to say about this. I have seen many spiritual groups go through a similar process -- reassessment after their guru / master falls from grace, ... and this statement is fine, honest, and sincere..... as far as it goes. Which is not very far. Good to see they acknowledged their "heavy handed" teaching methods, but this entire statement strikes me as so formal and rather impersonal. Also, except for a few sentences, everything in this statement is entirely predictable, conventional, churchy, institutional.

As many of us know, the core problem is not just Eko, and it is not just 10 years old, but that's as far back as they are willing to explore. Acknowledging Kennett's shadows is not going to happen. Willful ignorance..... with regard to Kennett -- for decades and then ten years of willful blindness with regard to Eko.

This is a walled community, Within the walls, no doubt their culture will be somewhat kinder and more careful in how it treats its followers going forward.

William Butler Yates wrote, "We had fed the heart on fantasies. The heart's grown brutal from the fare." I think there are many illusions, fantasies, fictions that they are culturally unwilling to face.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 7:59 am

Josh,

I think you are right in your assessment. There will be more more kindness and they will be more careful. They know people are watching. They know they have been made a least a little accountable. But this will be enough for the monks and laity. They are comforted by their beliefs. The pedestal they have place Rev Kennett on provides security and certainty for their own path. In the end maintaining their own cocoon trumps trying to find out the truth of why so many are concerned about the harm Rev Kennett did, not only to those who've complained about it, but to the mental status and powers of discernment of those who've drunk the kool aid. It is the compromised powers of discernment of those in the OBC that allowed Eko to continue the harm Rev. Kennett started. I seriously wonder how little or if anything at all the OBC would have done about Eko if no one on the outside was watching them.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 11:06 am

Thank you Josh,And Henry too.
AT last , yes , yes .
i was very dispirited , reading that timid impersonal report leaving so much out. .

That W.B.Yates quote , Josh ,you end with :

"We had fed the heart on fantasies. The heart's grown brutal from the
fare."

Is to me fearful , but too has profoundly hit my heart.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 11:19 am

Yeats, not Yates. A great quotation.

The report, to me, is entirely as I'd expect, and in fact expected.
Remember Gorbachev? He wanted to reform the regime; or Dubcek in 1968, thought he could develop socialism with a human face. But, as someone said, this is like warming up a snowball - it is then no longer a snow ball.

I honestly doubt that OBC is capable of reforming to the degree that it would make a real difference. It would have to settle for nothing but the truth. It won't do that.

Mark, what sayest thou?
Ol'ga
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 11:38 am

Henry wrote:
I think you are right in your assessment. There will be more more kindness and they will be more careful. They know people are watching. They know they have been made a least a little accountable. But this will be enough for the monks and laity.

I feel there is another way to look at this. Henry, I believe you would agree that in Jiyu Kennett's day the public statement just released would have been unthinkable. She would never accept criticism from even her closest confidants, let alone invite in a third party to do an assessment. However, (to use Buddhist terminology) it is simply the nature of karma that attempts to resist change and hide behavior fail. The process of bringing all this to light has been inexorably grinding forward from the beginning. Of course the "beginning" is an arbitrary point which for this discussion I would position in the early 80s, when Jiyu Kennett decided to suppress the dissent of her senior students to maintain control. She drove many people away and generally did a lot of harm, but that effort was destined to fail and these latest developments - in particular Eko falling into disrepute - demonstrate that failure. Shasta Abbey's response to the FTI assessment doesn't mark the end of the process. The SA leadership will keep learning because they must.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 11:46 am

I would position it in the 70s when JK tried to keep quiet Daiji real reasons for leaving and started discrediting him. It may have been alright for some to see their friends and brothers discredited, it was not alright for me
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 12:18 pm

The discussion about whether this statement from the OBC is strong enough is less relevant than the actual follow-through and how it translates into actual transparency, accountability, and ethical behavior, including redress and healing to those who have been harmed. In the months ahead I am hoping we can hear from various sources how these commitments have been implemented. Actions speak louder than words.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 12:26 pm

this is like warming up a snowball - it is then no longer a snow ball. (Ol'ga's wonderful quote)

(It's what I think a practise is)

I've been at a loss for words and inclination to speak of the summery report. A corporate report designed by lawyers was what I expected and received. I have never understood why it would mean very much to those inside the Abbey walls other than being an unpleasant temporary intrusion by those with worldly minds..

Shasta's reaction to it, is the only important thing worth watching from here.

I hope that I'm wrong but I can't see much motivation for any fundamental change when it would threaten the core of their own conditioning. I really don't know what would get the Shasta brass to seriously re evaluate there own practises when they

Don't see any significant problem to start with.

Are surrounded by supportive devotees who don't see any significant problems to address.

Can blame any complaints on a sacrificial lamb (Eko) that has left the premises.

and equate such questioning to the rejection of their practise and Master.

It wasn't a report that initiated any changes for us,( pardon that huge OBCC generalization) Our changes were largely propelled by finding ourselves in various ways outside of the Shasta collective.

Just what does Shasta have to motivate them towards the pain and suffering that they must know would result from shaking the foundations of their life long conditioning?
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 12:46 pm

I think, Bill, you're absolutely right. We will see how this all pans out. One can't help, though, to have some reaction to what is happening right now.

As to when 'the rot' started, well, there was manipulation, 'mirroring', humiliation, from the beginning. Some people were acutely affected by it at different times. I saw how Roshi maligned someone before I realized the same was actually done to me. It took me some time to admit to myself the fact that it is not for my own good, and that it is in fact entirely wrong. End does not justify the means.

To say that the 'end' (corruption of something hitherto pure) came when I personally felt it keenly, and not before, would be disrespectful to those who suffered from it before me. Henry touched on this in one of his early posts: that he must admit, with shame, that he rebelled against the humiliation when it was directed against him, and not before. This is human nature, though, we are all guilty of it. But it's not nice. So, I would argue, that 'it' did not start with Daiji's treatment (I never saw Mark claiming it did); or the Bodhidharma/Jesus business; or Josh's Three Dimes. I think there is enough evidence that it was there always - a bit of honest analysis would reveal it.
O.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 12:48 pm

I completely agree with you Bill
and Howard when you say

Don't see any significant problem to start with.

I think that sums up the OBC for me, For me the moment I think my practice is right, or I feel good, or getting there or this or that I know I am not just sitting doing, shikantaza,or zazen is no longer being done.

It is much easier to not see any significant problem , as one would have to do something,talk to the agreieved but may be they plan to maybe they will
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 12:51 pm

I agree with you Olga it did not start with Mark, it was though a particular time of more than 1 person leaving it was a significant time of criticism when a batch of senior monks did not like what was going on and left. It was a warning time
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 1:33 pm

Ol'ga wrote:
I think there is enough evidence that it was there always - a bit of honest analysis would reveal it.

Well, my arbitrary date setting seems to have struck a nerve. Olga, you are correct that in terms of our experience as students it was always present. It was my personal experience that things took a noticeable turn for the worse in the early 80s, but that's not to imply the problem started at that time. We each had our own personal arc where these lessons were brought to bear.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 2:08 pm

in 1971 in a brief stay I personally witnessed what I would say now was willful verbal/emotional abuse of both Isan and Jitsudo in separate incidents by JK. I was troubled by it. But... I wanted to trust in JK and this sangha, I wanted to belong to it in some way so I could have a spiritual life and a spiritual community, so I disregarded the inner alarm bells enough to say, "well, this must be some zen thing about getting rid of the ego." Now 40 years later my inner voice was right that humiliation and abuse are not ever an appropriate or healthy way of teaching a spiritual practice. These are the accommodations we are all inclined to make for the sake of an authentic, but misdirected desire. They are similar to the accommodations a child makes in an abusive dysfunctional family. Something in me knew it was wrong and that it caused harm, and I heeded not my own deep heart in favor of seeking a mind created ideal. Therein lies the "rot" that lies within organizations and individuals, and myself. The good that has come from it for me, is that after 40 years of sitting I have learned to trust more the deep heart and to "see" and view with greater skepticism my own mind creations.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 2:41 pm

Bill -- good example -- of what many of us did at Shasta and with Kennett -- we experienced various examples of emotional abuse, bullying and intuitively, rationally knew it was off-base, harmful, creepy - but we went along with it - turned a blind eye - to our own pain and misgivings and to the pain of others. It must be skillful means, great Zen teaching, and so on.

Why did we put up with it? Why did we stay? What did we want? What were we afraid of? What story were we living? And what story was Kennett trapped in?
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 2:45 pm

Bill I have seen quite a lot of family abuse and domestic violence,the awful similarites is that people stay with it, even find a sort of security with it. Some one was telling me yesterday that the scars of their marriage were very much with them even after 6 years, the lady had an alcoholic husband who hit her, she felt she would take it willingly, as it prevented the violence, being focused on the children.
With what we are talking about here are far more subtle abuses,and hidden behind our very limited understanding, and wanting to believe the path will lead us to what we are looking for,with hindsight it was a sham phoenix city of egotism
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 3:14 pm

Jcbaran wrote:

Why did we put up with it? Why did we stay? What did we want? What were we afraid of? What story were we living? And what story was Kennett trapped in?

Those are very good questions, Josh, ones that every young(or older) person who is seeking should learn to ask and look for. Being a sometime practitioner of narrative therapy, the way that we unconsciously construct and live out our oppressive stories is a major dimension of the suffering in the human condition. And religion and its representatives too often pay a big part in perpetrating, and being entrapped within, those oppressive stories.

I would say that a big aspect of psychological and spiritual maturity involves the deconstruction of those oppressive stories and a conscious and ongoing re-authoring of our life's narrative, so that it becomes a story of liberation and growth.


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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 3:15 pm

Isan wrote:

...The process of bringing all this to light has been inexorably grinding forward from the beginning. ... She drove many people away and generally did a lot of harm, but that effort was destined to fail and these latest developments - in particular Eko falling into disrepute - demonstrate that failure. Shasta Abbey's response to the FTI assessment doesn't mark the end of the process. The SA leadership will keep learning because they must.

Isan, I think you are right.

I also agree with points made by everyone above. This public statement from this year's Conclave certainly does not guarantee any change in and of itself. The verification, as Bill says, can only be demonstrated through action.

Also, the root of the problem not only goes back to the very beginning of the ZMS, and latter, the OBC, but, I think, to the significant misunderstanding commonly found in some Buddhist teaching, that spiritual practice requires an adversarial struggle against the ego. Acting on this belief can cause significant harm. (Many of us have already written at some length on this topic.)

From my first reading of the Public Statement, it was the second to the last paragraph that I found most significant. It seems to me that it provides a profound acknowledgement, and a gateway to change:

We wish to acknowledge that pride and heavy-handed teaching methods have been a part of our culture for a long time. We acknowledge that at times this has had a detrimental effect on those who have practised with us, and we are committed to moving away from these attitudes in our collective training. Conversely, we aspire to actively cultivate humility, respect and kindness for people who practice with us at all levels of training.

This paragraph was authored by one person at the Conclave, who was successfully able to resist efforts to water it down.

I think that this paragraph opens the door. I fully expect that many within the OBC will be reluctant to walk through it, because doing so requires facing and acknowledging the OBC's shadow-dynamic. Nevertheless, I think that the presence of the above statement is clear evidence that the senior monastic members of the OBC are not a monolithic block, but human beings who share a range of different viewpoints, some of which are in significant accord with what we express on this Forum. I know from personal conversation, that several senior OBC monks are well aware of the OBC's shadow-dynamic, and are actively working (as I would put it) to bring about its recognition, healing, and transformation.

It seems to me that OBCC has had a greater impact in the precipitation of change than we may think. I am also optimistic that the younger OBC lay sangha, especially perhaps, in the UK, will provide significant impetus. From what I have observed on the OBC Facebook Group page, I am very impressed by the combination of respect for the Order and a willingness to question anything. I think this reflects well on RM Daishin Morgan and many other OBC monks in the UK.

My greatest optimism however lies in the last point that Isan makes above:

The SA leadership will keep learning because they must.

My primary reason and purpose for being optimistic however, is that it is a way to establish a public expectation for change; whereas pessimisim, however well founded, can offer an excuse for not changing!
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 3:27 pm

chisanmichaelhughes wrote:
Bill I have seen quite a lot of family abuse and domestic violence,the awful similarites is that people stay with it, even find a sort of security with it. Some one was telling me yesterday that the scars of their marriage were very much with them even after 6 years, the lady had an alcoholic husband who hit her, she felt she would take it willingly, as it prevented the violence, being focused on the children.
With what we are talking about here are far more subtle abuses,and hidden behind our very limited understanding, and wanting to believe the path will lead us to what we are looking for,with hindsight it was a sham phoenix city of egotism

I believe the abuse, especially to women and children, is pervasive and perhaps more obvious, in its manifestations and its effects. If humankind really wanted to change its development for the better it would put an end to domestic violence before anything else. But you are right. Professionally I have seen children and wives defend the abuser, even years later, out of a fear of not surviving if they don't have a home or a breadwinner, or parents, or even psychologically surviving if the image of the family is deconstructed and seen for what it is.

For those of us who sought spiritual completion and a false certainty, denying the obvious spiritual and psychological abuse in these "spiritual" communities and teachers was a way of deflecting our facing the real dilemma of our spiritual/existential survival and taking the full responsibility for it. Though perhaps subtler, spiritual abuse- the disrespect, undermining of confidence, rejection, humiliation, and sometimes abandonment- as methods of enforcing loyalty and control in the name of spiritual authority, can have a deeper and even more devastating effect on our person, leading to despair and giving up the spiritual journey entirely, even life itself, because of the maltreatment and betrayal at the hands of the abuser. I am personally acquainted withi some of those despairing states of consciousness, and no doubt there are many here who know them as well.


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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 3:42 pm

@ Kozan "Also, the root of the problem not only goes back
to the very beginning of the ZMS, and latter, the OBC, but, I think, to
the significant misunderstanding commonly found in some Buddhist
teaching, that spiritual practice requires an adversarial struggle
against the ego. Acting on this belief can cause significant harm. (Many
of us have already written at some length on this topic.)"
******************************
Thank you, again, Kozan, for underlining a critical belief that is interwoven in so much of contemplative theory in both the East and West, and is so mistaken in its understanding and destructive in its implementation. It is a big part of the rationalization for what has passed as teaching methodology and spiritual authority, both at SA and in other settings.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 3:55 pm

Dramatic and powerfully sad statement Bill
Part of me wants to say the opposite; that all of the extraneous reasons why one stays in a spiritual 'wrong' situation, in other words our weaknesses,are actually are the very things that we need to let go of or not be attached to in the first place.
if only it were so simple.
I had a good discussion last night about the levels of anxiety one can get into,when ones mind is tormented by itself, and it seems impossible to free one self as the anxiety feeds itself, at certain point it is impossible to sit zazen as one needs medication for a while at least. Even with out extremes of mental difficulty.
Zazen shows us how attached we are to the arising of our thought process, the self thinks the self and becomes real.
I think the problem starts with spiritual abuse, when the teacher has more or equal need of a student as the student has of the teacher. The teacher clearly does not know or understand non dependant spirituality, or being a spiritual adult. A good teacher, does not play the game they simply expect you to be what you are, which is a spiritual adult. But not so easy when our eyes are full of the early morning mist of the lowlands
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 4:20 pm

Bill, I love your post of 2:08 p.m. If I may just pull out the following:

[...]humiliation and abuse are not ever an appropriate or healthy way of
teaching a spiritual practice. These are the accommodations we are all
inclined to make for the sake of an authentic, but misdirected desire.


Ever since I left the monastery, I always had on the slow burner a study of how we compromise, trade our integrity for fulfilment of a legitimate need - need of belonging, approval, feeling worthy, a big prize at the end of it all, etc. This runs through so much of human life, individual, societal. I learnt not to judge those who make this compromise (including me), even though it is ultimately unwholesome, and erosive of one's honesty. When I left, I knew, and soon formulated clearly in my own mind, that once one is an adult, there is no going back to being a child, renouncing one's judgement and responsibility. (That is why I mistrust the concept of monasticism altogether.) Yet, it (obedience, surrender) is presented as a very high virtue - as humility...and humility is a two edged sword. I learnt that it is best to aim at being objective, realistic, not idealistic.

Then, Kozan wrote that short paragraph about the misguided fencing with the ego as a spiritual practice (my fancy words), which, as anyone who has read my contributions here knows, is music for my ears. I love you, Kozan.

Then, the rest of Kozan's post, is an area where I need to grow, overcome my knee-jerkk pessimism. How true it is, that pessimism provides a shelter from the wind of change - you know, it's cozy there...If you expect the worst, you won't be disappointed, or even - hurt. What would I not do to avoid pain. So, let it be known, that I may be wrong in being so sceptical, and that those monks that are courageous, and clear-thinking, as the author of the paragraph Kozan quoted (We wish...training) will be able to bring about the necessary change; and that there is that beautiful quality of thirst for truth in every other one in the OBC sangha, somewhere in their human heart.

So, Ol'ga, give the guys the benefit of doubt, eh?

Yet, on the other hand (here she goes again) - heavy-handed teaching methods - ? Is that all it was?

But perhaps, it is a good beginning.

As to Isan's
The SA leadership will keep learning because they must....maybe. Maybe you're right, Isan. I think I am out of my depth here. I simply don't know.

Ol'ga


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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 5:34 pm

Bill, yes, it seems to me as well that this belief pervades both Eastern and Western traditions.

I also think that the belief that spiritual practice requires an adversarial struggle to overcome the ego is actually a subset of a larger misunderstanding that we have collectively inherited.

This collectively inherited belief is so pervasive that we often don't recognize it as a belief at all. It is the conviction that life requires the winning of an adversarial competitive struggle against others, and existence itself, to achieve survival, personal adequacy and success, through the acquisition of status, power, and profit.

Even though it may sometimes go unrecognized as a belief, we have short phrases that encompass this belief completely:

"It's a dog-eat-dog world." "Might makes right." "To the victor goes the spoils."

It seems to me that this misunderstanding can be traced back for a good 6,000 years, to the advent of war, conquest, empire, oppression, domination, and exploitation. Organized religion has, historically, played a role in the dynamic of empire in every case that I know of.

I think that when we look at the way our planetary ecosystems and existence itself actually work however, what we find is that survival and genuine success require synergetic cooperation. This in turn makes it easier to recognize the misunderstanding for what it is--and that acting on it creates the very conditions of failure that seem to prove it true! By acting on the belief that it's a dog-eat-dog world, we create the conditions by which life becomes an adversarial struggle!

This misunderstanding, often unconscious, qualifies, I think, as a classic form of collective delusion. It seems to me that it underlies every dynamic of domination and exploitation--and the dis-identification required for a person to actually dominate and exploit another person or being. I think that it lies at the root of sexism, patriarchy, homophobia, transgender discrimination, racism, classism, ageism, speciesism, national chauvanism, war, conquest, and genocide.

And, in particular, I think that this misunderstanding lies at the root of all forms of abuse including domestic violence.

The very nature of this misunderstanding makes men particularly vulnerable to identifying with it, especially when very young; and, therefore, particularly complicit in acting on and perpetuating this delusion.

However (to bring it back around full circle), I think that one of the most significant consequences, and causes, of this misunderstanding, is what it does, at the very core of our being, as a result of being conditioned to buy into it. By struggling against others and existence itself, we become alienated from our innate oneness with all things, within our own awareness. Our awareness becomes alienated from Awareness itself. The existential dilema of change, threat, and loss, perceived through a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of existence, by awareness that has become alienated from itself, becomes an existential crisis. Responding to existential crisis from misunderstanding can all too easily produce existential trauma. The traumatized self may then become a "selfish" self (after all, "it's a dog-eat-dog world"!).

Suffering, in Buddhism, should, I think, be recognized as existential suffering. The ego, and ego-centered attachment to desire are not the root cause of suffering, but a symptom of the root causal dynamic by which misunderstanding turns the existential dilemma into existential trauma and crisis.

Spiritual practice, conducted as an adversarial struggle against the self only re-traumatizes the self and the root cause of existential suffering! To be successful, spiritual practice should (IMO) be consciously focused on healing misunderstanding and existential trauma, in order to learn how to move skillfully with the existential dilemma and transform existential crisis, in order to facilitate the relaxing of awareness back into Awareness itself. (These three aspects are, of course, not sequential but simultaneous.)

It seems to me that spiritual practice, as a process of recognizing, healing, and transforming existential suffering, and its 6,000 year collectively inherited misunderstanding, becomes particularly important in the face of our escalating global social-economic-ecological-existential crisis. (But that's a comment for another post!)

(Ol'ga, I just saw your post above; thank you--and your points are so well said!)


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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 7:12 pm

Kozan wrote:

I think that when we look at the way our planetary ecosystems and existence itself actually work however, what we find is that survival and genuine success require synergetic cooperation. This in turn makes it easier to recognize the misunderstanding for what it is--and that acting on it creates the very conditions of failure that seem to prove it true! By acting on the belief that it's a dog-eat-dog world, we create the conditions by which life becomes an adversarial struggle!

This misunderstanding, often unconscious, qualifies, I think, as a classic form of collective delusion. It seems to me that it underlies every dynamic of domination and exploitation--and the dis-identification required for a person to actually dominate and exploit another person or being. I think that it lies at the root of sexism, patriarchy, racism, classism, speciesism, national chauvanism, war, conquest, and genocide.

And, in particular, I think that this misunderstanding lies at the root of all forms of abuse including domestic violence.

However (to bring it back around full circle), I think that one of the most significant consequences, and causes, of this misunderstanding, is what it does, at the very core of our being, as a result of being conditioned to buy into it. By struggling against others and existence itself, we become alienated from our innate oneness with all things, within our own awareness. Our awareness becomes alienated from Awareness itself. The existential dilema of change, threat, and loss, perceived through a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of existence, by awareness that has become alienated from itself, becomes an existential crisis. Responding to existential crisis from misunderstanding can all too easily produce existential trauma. The traumatized self may then become a "selfish" self (after all, "it's a dog-eat-dog world"!).

Suffering, in Buddhism, should, I think, be recognized as existential suffering. The ego, and ego-centered attachment to desire are not the root cause of suffering, but a symptom of the root causal dynamic by which misunderstanding turns the existential dilemma into existential trauma and crisis.

Spiritual practice, conducted as an adversarial struggle against the self only re-traumatizes the self and the root cause of existential suffering! To be successful, spiritual practice should (IMO) be consciously focused on healing misunderstanding and existential trauma, in order to learn how to move skillfully with the existential dilemma and transform existential crisis, in order to facilitate the relaxing of awareness back into Awareness itself. (These three aspects are, of course, not sequential but simultaneous.)

@Kozan
Thanks for this most clear and articulate treatise,pointing back to the error we have experienced in our SA/OBC experience and its connection to the human condition itself. I've underlined those sentences that were particularly helpful to me. Definitely a keeper! It puts into words my own attempts to conceptualize. I have some experience with the Christian contemplative/mystical tradition and this easily translates, in my view. And recalling the teachings of the historical buddha as I remember them, he didn't say the cause of existential suffering was "ego." He said it was "ignorance", in other words, misunderstanding.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 7:50 pm

Kozan,
My worms have some comments.
How much there is 'synergetic cooperation' in nature (if that is what you meant) is somewhat problematic. There is obviously competition also. If there is cooperation, I think it's usually in the form of symbiosis - a win-win situation. But when a pack of wolves hunt down a deer, the deer does not think it is cooperation.
I wouldn't date the adversarial pattern to 6000 years ago. Goodness, weren't we, humans, and our ancestors, always fighting - for territory, for an attractive mate, whatever?
It is not a matter of conditioning. Even twins in the womb are found to be competing.
If I think I, essentially, am 'this much', a limited individual, do I have any choice but to compete - at least at times?
I think Bill has it right (not that he was disagreeing with Kozan, but I am, partly) - the root is ignorance - ignorance of our true nature (I would add), which then causes a natural and inevitable corollary, the erroneous conclusion that we are small, limited, and so under threat.
I would tie this with the discussion on another thread, on delusion. Why delusion - unless we are discussing delusion as a clinically pathological condition? Why not error, arising from beginningless ignorance; error that may comprise wilfull blindness, when seeing the naked facts is simply too painfull, or at least dn inconvenient - both flavours to be found among the SA monks (and the rest of us).
I am being reminded I still have an errand to do, so will relieve you...phew!!, says Kozan. (I'm kidding.)
Luv,
Ol'ga
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 8:48 pm

@Olga
You bring into the discussion the huge area of our genetic inheritance, DNA, and our instinctual life. Certainly conflict and dominance is an aspect of the mammalian instinctual life we inherit in our species. I have been reminded from time to time that the goal of the spiritual life is not to transcend my humanity but to become fully human, to express true nature in my humanity. We are spiritual beings on a human journey, in other words, rather than human beings on a spiritual journey. Using Kozan's language, when small awareness is fully united with big Awareness the possibilities are there for a transfigured humanity, fully alive with true nature, and not just unconsciously driven by every instinctual impulse, including the mental obsessions of our thinking mind. We have all seen examples of humans possessed by their impulses, and other examples when the energies of instinctual mammalian, including cerebral life, are fully at the service of love. I think Kozan's model can survive this consideration.

As for what constitutes success in other species and ecosystems, that is a complex question indeed. Our success as a species seems to entail a capacity to identify with all of life and to support and nurture the systems that nurture all of life and other species.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Oct 05, 2011 9:17 pm

Hey Bill

We are spiritual beings on a human journey, rather than human beings on a spiritual journey.

An Interesting separation that I'd not considered but one that you state with such certainty. As both views seem to hold equal weight with me I'm wondering just how one goes about backing up one view over the other?

Cheers H
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Thu Oct 06, 2011 2:45 am

Consider this a random comment here. Was just following some of the coverage of Steve Job's death. Saw this quote from him:

"My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other's kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That's how I see business: great things in business are never done by one person, they're done by a team of people."
-- Steve Jobs - Interview with 60 Minutes, 2003

Shasta -- and other similar cultic spiritual groups -- are the opposite of what Jobs is talking about. These are groups that repress all honest and natural communication, and so individual negative tendencies are denied, ignored, and so become endarkened and amplified, and the sum becomes actually less, much less. People become isolated, and so ten years of harm can occur in the dark, as "reverend masters" walk around in a kind of Zen sleep walking. Blindness is institutionalized. This is how Shimano can behave as he did for over forty years and no one speaks up, how the Magdelene laundries in Ireland could destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands of young women for over a century. Everything is always done for some "good reason", for some grand religious rationalization. And there is never simple, clean, honest communication. All questioning ruthlessly suppressed.

And so, in these communities, people are not helping each other to be better, happier, more expansive - just the opposite - they support each other in being less. The sum is so much less. So much fear - to share what you're feeling, fear of being cut off from some imaginary Buddha or "eternal," fear of being publicly humiliated, fear of being shunned, fear of being cast out. Fear is the operative word. In these cultures, fear is a special paramita I suppose.

And so, over 40 years go by, since the founding of this organization, and only now, because of a scandal that stumbled into the open there is some rudimentary, institutional and limited self-reflection - forced upon them. Honest communication is now officially allowed -- but a very limited form - to keep in check "sexual misconduct" in a celibate community that is very repressed in any case. So they make sure there are no more Eko's. Sad state of affairs.

Did anyone watch the recent PBS series on Prohibition - from Ken Burns? Terrific three-part documentary on this bizarre chapter of American history. So much of what was done during prohibition was done in the name of religion, of bettering our morals, forcing people to conform, done for our own good, by the religious fundamentalists. Lots of grand rationalizations for very suppressive and unkind behavior that had all kinds of extreme longterm unintended consequences. All in the name of doing good.

enough for tonight.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Thu Oct 06, 2011 3:59 am

I can go w


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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Thu Oct 06, 2011 3:59 am

I can go with that Josh,it seems allwell and good supressing or keeping negative tendancies in check ,but it does not say much for growth of the human being or spiritual growth,if there was real groth of understanding, more 'in touch' with our humanity. People there now should have spotted it (especially having been told about it,recently by laura and Diana and I assume all of us starting way back) it should have been dealt with way back keeping negativity in check is not enough
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Thu Oct 06, 2011 11:15 am

Howard wrote:
Hey Bill

An Interesting separation that I'd not considered but one that you state with such certainty. As both views seem to hold equal weight with me I'm wondering just how one goes about backing up one view over the other?

Cheers H

It's a point of view, and I doubt either can be "backed up." But the premise I am supporting is that there is a purpose in life, to incarnate, to express, the absolute within the relative. Another point of view is that the spiritual journey is about transcending, even escaping the relative human state. I support the former premise, which also might be stated as "Life's purpose is to incarnate in our humanity, be conscious in our humanity, be uniquely and fully expressed in each of us in the relative human state." That's the premise which I have come to and have built my life upon over time. In reference to this thread discussion, which point of view one takes, or which premise is being acted upon can take a person or a group in a different direction, and is likely to encourage a different attitude towards one's humanity.

It reminds me of something Daizui once told me, how he got started on the spiritual journey when he was in college. He remarked that he became aware that he had become somewhat stuck with a rather unhappy paranoid cynical view of his life. He said (couching himself in his usual scientific terminology), " I decided to test the hypothesis that love exists. So I did so for three months, and that was the beginning of a conscious spiritual practice."
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Kozan
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Fri Oct 07, 2011 12:03 am

@Kozan
Thanks for this most clear and articulate treatise,pointing back to the error we have experienced in our SA/OBC experience and its connection to the human condition itself. I've underlined those sentences that were particularly helpful to me. Definitely a keeper! It puts into words my own attempts to conceptualize. I have some experience with the Christian contemplative/mystical tradition and this easily translates, in my view. And recalling the teachings of the historical buddha as I remember them, he didn't say the cause of existential suffering was "ego." He said it was "ignorance", in other words, misunderstanding.


Bill, thank you for this. I'm not only glad that my thoughts resonate--but honored that they resonate with you.

I haven't mentioned this on the Forum before, but I am particularly interested in the meta-perspective that emerges, I think, when mystics from all of the spiritual and indigenous traditions enter into conversation.

I was raised as a Catholic myself, within a "mixed" marriage. My mother was an extremely progressive Catholic and a great fan of Thomas Merton, Dorthy Day, and the Berrigans. My father was a Protestant agnostic who introduced me to Buddhism, and was a conscientious objector, before becoming an officer in the Army Corps of Engineers during WWII. (I only mention all of this to suggest why my passion for embracing what, at first glance, might appear to be contradictory opposites, runs in my blood!)

A good friend of mine is a lay member of the Carmelite Order. She purchased the last hermitage I built, and is still using it in Seattle. I would have to say that she is one of the most enlightened persons I know. The concept that direct mystical experience transcends all religious belief, and all religious conceptual framework, is one of our favorite topics of conversation.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Fri Oct 07, 2011 12:26 am

The concept that direct mystical experience transcends all religious belief, and all religious conceptual framework, is one of our favorite topics of conversation.

Kozan personally I would change the word concept to experience,and I would somewhere add in 'is the essence of Zen Buddhism'
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Fri Oct 07, 2011 12:46 am

@Kozan

My own experience with traditions parallels yours to some extent and also in generation. Your mother's interests resonated with my own at an earlier time in my life. Thomas Merton had a tremendous awakening affect on my life, and the Berrigan brothers, and Dorothy Day's life of commitment to peace and justice inspired me. I once attended a speech on peace-making by Daniel Berrigan in Eugene back in college/Viet Nam days. My most powerful mentoring experience was received from a Cistercian (Trappist Monk),Abbot Bernard McVeigh, who was a practitioner of zazen, having been initiated by William Johnston, an Christian Zennist, who was himself a student of Yamada in the Yasutani lineage of Hokkaido, and teacher of Robert Aitken, himself a sometime teacher of Christian students, including Pat Hawk, one of my teachers along the way. It's a small world and old boundaries of mythic membership are breaking down.

The East-West dialogue is something I lived, and continue to live in my own marriage, a dialogue that Thomas Merton catalyzed and nurtured in his own short life. I am reminded of the words of Bede Griffiths, the Benedictine monk who went to India to study and practice Hindu mysticism in the Vedanta nondual school, and founded Hindu-Christian ashrams there that survive to this day. He said that the great religious traditions of the world are together like a hand, the fingers are analogous to the laws, theology, and dogma of each tradition and are distinct and separate. At the level of the palm, in the realm of mystic experience and the non-dual dimension, mystics from the great traditions meet beyond concepts and can communicate with each other, with greater understanding than with members of their own faith tradition. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with all of us.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Fri Oct 07, 2011 1:28 am

Ol'ga, this is brilliant--always trust your worms!!

Kozan,
My worms have some comments.
How much there is 'synergetic cooperation' in nature (if that is what you meant) is somewhat problematic. There is obviously competition also. If there is cooperation, I think it's usually in the form of symbiosis - a win-win situation. But when a pack of wolves hunt down a deer, the deer does not think it is cooperation.


My treatise is, necessarily, a highly condensed summary, simply because its full presentation is book-length. Therefore, I rely on people, like yourself, to zero in on the crux of each issue!

Competition clearly does exist in nature, as when the deer and the wolf come face to face. All animal and many plant species are simultaneously both predator and prey. (The animals at the top of their food chain are usually predated by humans at the very least). What I am proposing is that this form of competition is never adversarial.

If we look beyond individual organisms, and individual predator/ prey competition, what we find is that species always seek cooperative balance. Any species that succeeds in dominating and exploiting its prey species, undercuts its own basis of survival. This does ocassionally happen in imature ecosystems, or with invasive species. When a species does succeed in dominating and exploiting its prey, there is typically a surge in predator species births, followed by a depletion of the prey species, followed by starvation within the predator species. Ecologists call this, "overshoot and die off".

I would propose (and this is backed up by science at every turn) that our planetary ecosystems, and existence itself, exhibit an astonishing degree of synergetic cooperation at every level. Organisms, ecosystems, and existence itself are synergetic whole processes, each of which are more than the sum of their parts, and each of which, in turn, are only parts of a yet greater synergetic whole.

A tiny example of synergetic interdependence: water is the only, or one of the only, naturally occuring compounds that expands when it freezes. (There are some human made metal alloys, if I remember correctly, that do so as well). If water contracted upon freezing it would sink, seriously compromising life forms in water ecosystems. By expanding and floating on the surface, ice functions as a form of insulation (like an igloo) for the waterborn life below. Similar examples of synergetically cooperative interrelationships are endless in number.

The crux of the problem I think, is when humans come to believe that survival is not just a matter of cooperative competition--but adversarial competition--that both requires and permits the domination and exploitation of everyone and everything else.

I wouldn't date the adversarial pattern to 6000 years ago. Goodness, weren't we, humans, and our ancestors, always fighting - for territory, for an attractive mate, whatever?
It is not a matter of conditioning. Even twins in the womb are found to be competing.
If I think I, essentially, am 'this much', a limited individual, do I have any choice but to compete - at least at times?


The 6,000 year date relates to what, at the moment, appears to be the approximate origin of human empire--a phenomena in which one group of people conquers another in order to exploit the ecosystem resources, and the labor, of the conquered. This is a dynamic that goes well beyond competition for territory or mates--and results (I believe) from the misunderstanding that doing so is necessary, desirable, and morally acceptable. Anthropologists and archeologists seem to agree that this dynamic began to occur when the predator society depleted its own resources (usually as a result of growing resource-consumption inequity between a ruling/religious class and everyone else), and decided that conquest, rather than equitable frugality, was the solution.

I think Bill has it right (not that he was disagreeing with Kozan, but I am, partly) - the root is ignorance - ignorance of our true nature (I would add), which then causes a natural and inevitable corollary, the erroneous conclusion that we are small, limited, and so under threat.

Yes indeed! I too believe that ignorance of our true nature--a combination of misunderstanding and the existential crisis that it precipitates--is the root of it all!

I would tie this with the discussion on another thread, on delusion. Why delusion - unless we are discussing delusion as a clinically pathological condition? Why not error, arising from beginningless ignorance; error that may comprise wilfull blindness, when seeing the naked facts is simply too painfull, or at least dn inconvenient - both flavours to be found among the SA monks (and the rest of us).

I deliberately used the term "delusion" in this discussion in order to tie it to the discussion on Carol's thread. Delusion, as I use the term, is any form of misunderstanding that is not recognized as a form of misunderstanding. However, I think the term is normally used for misunderstanding that is not recognized as a result of a serious causal dynamic of denial. 6,000 years of denial probably qualifies. Nevertheless, I usually just refer to it as a misunderstanding.


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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Fri Oct 07, 2011 2:16 am

I have one photo of Ikko Roshi that he gave me, which is of him meeting Pope John Paul
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