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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

First topic message reminder :

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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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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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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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Fri Oct 07, 2011 2:49 am

Michael wrote (quoting me first):

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'


Michael, I fully agree. Implicit for me, in my statement above, but not expressed, is that my Carmelite friend and I recognized, in a very direct way, that our individual experiences were (of course!) a shared experience of the same reality--which completely transcended/ transcends all religious beliefs and concepts.

As I think about it, it seems to me that the fact that our respective religious concepts were so different (even though, raised as a Catholic, I was quite familiar with her's), meant that we could not just fall back on our respective "party lines".

When meeting another mystic face to face, not speaking the same doctrinal language is (paradoxically) an enormous advantage--because it both requires, and gives permission--to speak directly!!
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Fri Oct 07, 2011 4:23 am

When meeting another mystic face to face, not speaking the same doctrinal language is (paradoxically) an enormous advantage--because it both requires, and gives permission--to speak directly!!

Well beautifully said, and beautiful to experience.

When I met Ikko Roshi, there was no room or time for anything other than speaking directly, in true zen style speaking directly in one way was impossible, as we did not speak each others language; but we,in another way always spoke directly.

An interesting aspect of this relationship was; for me, there were nor rules and regulations. We practiced Bendowa,it was never explained . The Old Man sent his dharma heir to talk to me once, as they were puzzled how I seemed to be in the right place at the right time,never seemed out of place, I offered no explanation as I was part of the temple, and I practiced Bendowa with them all.

Maybe if we meet as you suggest Kozan, we can meet without words and silence.

The statement from Shasta concerns me , as they want to bring in more rules,I believe in the eightfold path,and always struggle myself with right practice
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Fri Oct 07, 2011 8:55 am

When I read Kozan, Isan, and Josh's posts, I tend to agree more with Josh in regard to his being the more realistic assessment. In my work with families, I have to assess what goals are realistic. People have a variety of limitations for many reasons and sometimes having too ambitious a goal can be overwhelming, appear unrealistic to the family, or simply be something they're not interested in. All of this has to be taken into account when developing a path to take with the family.

When I assess the OBC's responses to OBCConnect and to the unfolding of the Eko scandal, I see an organization that has done as little as they can to deal with the crisis of the moment. Now that little might actually be quite a lot. After all they did hire Faith Trust to independently assess how they do things and that is a huge step. However, this is something they did, I believe, more because they felt they had to deal with both internal and external pressures (mostly external I'd think) and in hiring FTI, they gave them the narrowest conceivable focus (i.e. Eko) so they would have the best possibility to continue with the stance they had taken up to that time, which was that Eko was the problem. Now that Faith Trust has implicated the senior monks going back 10 years, they have had to expand their focus beyond just Eko. My question is, Will they take that as a hint that they need to go beyond just 10 years, Eko, and how the present seniors have handled the Eko situation for the past ten years. If they truly and honestly examine how they themselves have handled the situation, it will inevitably lead to deficiencies in the OBC culture. If they truly and honestly examine OBC culture, they will have to make connections to Rev Kennett's legacy. The big if is "truly and honestly." I know in working with families, that some want to fix very limited problems and do not want to open up any cans of worms (back Olga). Others are willing to go wherever the next step leads them because they truly want to understand and deal with the causes that created the problems to begin with, believing this will create a healthier family. Again, what has filtered through of how the OBC is responding to this unfolding saga is more indicative of a family who wants to do the minimum to deal with the crisis of the momment. When things are handled in this way, the people truly are sincere about handling the crisis of the moment in the best possible manner; however, they are very protective of not giving too much information in areas not directly related to the crisis, or seeing the connection to other aspects of family dysfunction also not directly related to the present crisis. Of course they are related, but it is not essential to deal with them in order to put out the present fire. With this approach we can expect OBC members to look at my and other OBC Connect member's bringing up how their response falls short of a truly deep and honest reflection on the facts with a response like, "Nothing is ever enough. No matter what we do it will never be enough for them. They are just whiners who don't know how to get along with their own lives and leave us be." This would be another indication that Josh's assessment is the more realistic one.

But Kozan and Isan's assessment, I feel, is the more intriguing one. What if one thing led to another and they were more willing to look at OBC culture as a whole and examine not only the positive legacy from Rev Kennett, but also the effect of her unresolved issues on they themselves handled the Eko debacle. And this could lead to a wider examination of how Rev Kennett's unresolved issues had a negative effect in other areas. Most importantly it would open them up to an examination of the blindness they have imposed on themselves and of the limits to how they can help others they have imposed on themselves. Is this likely? I'd have to say from my experience that likely is not the first adjective I'd use. Possible? Yes, I'd say it's possible. And that would be an intriguing journey to witness.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Fri Oct 07, 2011 10:46 am

Henry wrote:

But Kozan and Isan's assessment, I feel, is the more intriguing one. What if one thing led to another and they were more willing to look at OBC culture as a whole and examine not only the positive legacy from Rev Kennett, but also the effect of her unresolved issues on they themselves handled the Eko debacle. Possible? Yes, I'd say it's possible. And that would be an intriguing journey to witness.

Henry, in your experience how many families who come for counseling focus on the immediate crisis Vs those who are prepared to examine core dynamics? Isn't it generally the case that people start with what is apparent and gradually go deeper? Many of us on the forum have said that we don't want anything from the OBC, but the fact is the nature of our conversation demands everything from the OBC. We want them, as a body, to examine not only the crisis at hand but the very core beliefs that their life-long vocations are based on and allow for the possibility that much if not all of it is in error.

My own experience with family counseling is people demonstrate different degrees of willingness to participate - there are those who take the lead and those who come along reluctantly. As long as people are willing to continue showing up for the sessions the family will make progress. Even the ones who continue to overtly deny that there's any reason for them to be there make progress. For them the willingness to actually admit what is going on to others comes when they are far along in the process, not at the beginning. And how many families could successfully undergo counseling without a guarantee of privacy and confidentiality? We though expect the OBC to go through this process in the public space so that we can critique their progress.

In the case of an organization the very last thing to change is the face of the organization itself. Many members need to engage in personal reevaluation and make significant progress before the organization as a whole can change its self-image and stance. Viewed this way the OBC's public statement RE the FTI assessment is a poor measure of what may really going on with many members in the OBC - that may take a long time to come into the public light.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Fri Oct 07, 2011 11:50 am

Kozan wrote:


My treatise is, necessarily, a highly condensed summary, simply because its full presentation is book-length.



When will you make the full book available in published form?
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Fri Oct 07, 2011 2:09 pm

Kozan wrote:

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.



The arising of empire is not what caused it. It began long before then. The concepts that created the context in which empire could manifest go hand in hand with violence.

The two BIG concepts in this regard are:

Ownership.
STATUS.


You have to put the date back many thousands of years. There is growing evidence of personal and mass violence in the Neolithic and even in the Mesolithic.

Look up the Talheim Death Pit. (Neolithic).
Look up the Ofnet Cavern Skull Nest (Mesolithic) (I can't find an online picture of it. Its really creepy though!).
In some contexts the bone traumas suggest extremely brutal, repeated battering.

I doubt whether many archaeologists would agree that the arising of Empire was contemporary with the arising of the mental constructs that freed the way to mass violence.

Ethnographically, we just have to look at the American First Nation tribes to see that warlike culture can precede the development of Empire (or even agriculture).


</threadjack!>





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Stan Giko

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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Fri Oct 07, 2011 2:40 pm

Hey Glorfindel,

I think it`s more simple than that.

If you look at all the wars , murders, robberies, rapes, domestic violence,
political chicanery , Well, it`s all men by a colossal margin. Same old story
since the begining of time I reckon.

I hate to say it but, I think that women are the superior species in most
respects. I think male babies need something putting in their feed bottles !
Some sort of genetic deficiency somewhere.

There are exceptions of course !

Stan.
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glorfindel

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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Fri Oct 07, 2011 2:51 pm

Stan Giko wrote:
Hey Glorfindel,

I think it`s more simple than that.

If you look at all the wars , murders, robberies, rapes, domestic violence,
political chicanery , Well, it`s all men by a colossal margin. Same old story
since the begining of time I reckon.

I hate to say it but, I think that women are the superior species in most
respects. I think male babies need something putting in their feed bottles !
Some sort of genetic deficiency somewhere.

There are exceptions of course !

Stan.


Nah.

The women made them do it!!

Wink
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Fri Oct 07, 2011 3:26 pm

Isan,
You bring up some excellent points. Let me try to address them in a meaningful way. You are right when you say that many people come to therapy with the apparent problem and gradually go deeper (or not). For example, parents could bring in their child and say, "This child is does x,y,z,a,b,c. Please get him to stop doing this." In other words, the child is the scapegoat for all the family problems. I work in a residential facility, so very often the child's behavior will improve without the parents doing much of anything. I always try and tell them that the changes are due to the child being in a structured, predictable environment, and he will quickly regress if the parents don't learn to do something different, including developing a bond and rapport witht the child. Some grasp the concept and are willing to looking in detail how the family as a whole functions. More and more comes out about how the family functions until the parents are willing to disclose the conflicts they have between themselves. From there they will be able to see how the children are often unconsciously used as pawns in their conflict. The parental conflict (the top of the hierarchy) is often the last problem to be revealed.

No doubt when there was trouble at Shasta, no one would look at Rev Eko as the possible source, in spite of many children (sorry Laura and Diana, this is just a metaphor) pointed squarely at daddy, saying, "he's the one who's messed up. Look at him, not me." Of course the problem remained with the children. In the OBC, the problems with the tippy top of the hierarchy, Rev Kennett, is likely to be the last to be revealed, if they are ever willing to look honestly. To add a further obstacle. The OBC is a mandated client. That is they are not voluntarily entering therapy or self reflection. Their self examination is coming less, as far as I can see, from internal pressures, and more from external ones. The pressure from OBCC and perhaps from the laity when the sexual nature of Eko's ekocapades were revealed seem to me to be the dominating force in forcing self examination. This is like the courts mandating therapy rather than the family coming of its own accord, knowing it needs help. Mandated clients often need special help in getting them to grasp the need to change. Often you can start the process with something like, "How can I help you get the courts off your back?" Or in this case, "What do we have to do to get the OBCC (or other external pressures) off our back?" Of course they will sublimate that question to a more noble one, but the motive may remain the same. If the OBC perceives the benefits of truly examining heavy handed approaches, or asking themselves, "Truly fellow monks, don't we have to look at how saw Eko do what he did for decades and remained completely clueless as to who he was? Really, fellow monks, what does it sat about us that we were unable to perceive what was so obvious to brand new junior monks? How have we become so blind to the obvious when we are the ones who are supposed to be clear eyed Zen masters? There is a glaring discrepancy between what we believed is true and what is true. Don't we need to examine that discrepancy wherever it may lead?

If they follow those steps, then they are like the mandated family in which the parents finally reveal their own conflicts, their own uncertainties, their own ways of having parented poorly. This definitely happens. I've seen it many times. If that can happen with a religious organization with deeply held dogmas that support the dysfunction. That I don't know. It would be interesting, however, to watch whatever happens unfold.

I would also like to comment on your statement:

Many of us on the forum have said that we don't want anything from the OBC, but the fact is the nature of our conversation demands everything from the OBC. We want them, as a body, to examine not only the crisis at hand but the very core beliefs that their life-long vocations are based on and allow for the possibility that much if not all of it is in error.

I myself have made the statement that there's nothing that I want from the OBC, and I maintain that is largely, though not completely, true (see below). What I want is to speak the truth as I see it. Part of that truth is that OBC is falling woefully short of true, honest, and deep self reflection. The OBC is tries to isolate the problems to the youngest children possible, and then as external forces require them to go up the hierarchy, they do so kicking and screaming. At each step they try and protect the most senior people from any accountability. The latest statement about heavy handed techniques, had at least some element of internal pressure, but these are rudimentary steps, at best. I'm not anti rudimentary steps, but I'm going to call a spade a spade. To be honest, I do want the OBC to grasp the truth of much of what I and others are saying (after all, I believe it would create less suffering and more good for all concerned if they did), but in the end it is their choice and I respect that. In no way do I equate my desire to speak the truth as I see it as demanding anything whatsoever of the OBC or anyone else. That is their choice. If others reading this find value in what I'm saying and it makes them doubt the wisdom of involving themselves with the OBC, then so be it. If this puts pressure on the OBC to reflect more deeply on their history and beliefs, all the better. But Demand, I do beg to differ on that one. If they examine what I and others have said, find it to be true, and place the demand to change upon themselves--well that is their decision. Ain't comin' from me.

PS I forgive you.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Fri Oct 07, 2011 4:27 pm

Henry wrote:
But Demand, I do beg to differ on that one. If they examine what I and others have said, find it to be true, and place the demand to change upon themselves--well that is their decision. Ain't comin' from me.

Henry, thanks for the detailed reply. I agree with virtually everything you've said.

Generally I feel that a conclusion has been drawn based on a public document that is intentionally designed to reveal very little. Before I conclude anything about Shasta Abbey's response to the FTI assessment I want some inside information about how the community is really handling it, not just the public face they're putting on it.

Regarding "pressures" there is a significant internal pressure; Eko's behavior and resignation represents a profound failure of the system and betrayal of trust. He didn't just abuse a small number of people in a limited context, he betrayed them all and demonstrated that their faith did not protect them. They have to figure out how to understand and live with that wounding, and that has nothing to do with their public image. It may not be so different from how many of us felt when we left Shasta Abbey.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Fri Oct 07, 2011 5:04 pm

I am with Glorfi in his discussion with Kozan and Stan.
I don't think for one moment that women are any less violent/aggressive than men - they only have different weapons.

Glorf, to your motives of ownership and status, I'd add power.

With regard to the OBC discussion - I have not yet had time to read all that was written on this thread. I rather like some points of Isan's. Can we, in all fairness, expect that OBC would bare its chest, and beat it in contrition - in public? I think this age of iternet, forums and all, gives us a very skewed picture, and espectations of what should be public vs private. I may have various opinions about my family - but try to say anything negative about them, you'll end up with a bloodied nose. I know their pluses and minuses, and I love them.

We've said so many things about OBC and Roshi. Of course, it is not balanced. It can't be and shouldn't be expected to be. But what we've said disqualifies us from having any voting rights there. We're out - so we have the freedom to talk; but we have renounced any right to make decisions - and have expectations.

Suppose we would have some misgivings about our present teachers - you about mine; and the lot of us about Bill Picard or whoever. Would we speak so freely about them?

It really beats me why the OBC approached FTI, unless they simply meant to cover their buttts. Of course, no wider/deeper enquiry could be done by a similar institution. What can one expect them to investigate - teaching methods, that have been common in Zen tradition?

Sorry, I should shut up, since I haven't read Henry's post. Ashes on my freshly washed head.
Ol'ga
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Fri Oct 07, 2011 6:01 pm

I find it a little peculiar that reading the report above above it says

We take these matters very seriously and deeply regret and apologize for the harm that has been caused.

and also

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

I think this is good to feel this,it is an opportunity to build bridges to try and be friendly, to lead the way and show humanity.

I wonder if anyone here has been contacted. The forum is quite unique to me as most of us here have at one stage been monks within the organisation,and we have been very critical,our criticism goes back 35 odd years. Our criticisms are very valid,and have not really been addressed, I may be wrong but they seem to have been largely ignored.

The forum is read by a wide audience, I do not think the forum is relevant to people who have no connection to Shasta,but I was surprised this week by a complete stranger telling someone I sit with that they had read the forum.
So when it says we deeply regret and apologise.. apologise to whom? Is it the people at the Abbey.. Has Diana or Laura or Jay received an apology,has Henry been contacted,has anyone been contacted. Our discussions have brought many painful things into the open,it is not like we have no voice or right to voice an opinion, the forum has provided that. More to the point it seems at this time that there was real need for criticism and SA for once are looking at themselves and admitting wrongdoing, and even being critical of themselves

Anyone throw any light on this
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Laura

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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Fri Oct 07, 2011 11:50 pm

Hi Michael,

I wanted to let you know that I spoke on the phone with RM Meian quite a few months ago, and she apologized most sincerely and several times during our conversation. I wrote about it on the forums here at the time. Here's the link: http://obcconnect.forumotion.net/t215-my-telephone-conversation-with-rm-meian. I think you will find the information here at least somewhat reassuring. At least, I certainly did. sunny
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Sat Oct 08, 2011 1:38 am

Thank you Laura for directing me there,I must have read it as well as I commentated on it.
I am pleased you spoke on the phone together,and I do find it reassuring that Rev Mein made personal effort.

I hope other people are contacted with the same spirit. Buddhism for me is the friendly way,the core of zazen are the glimpses and realization of our true nature . An integral part of realization is being able to identify with all beings,to realize the natural compassion and love that we share.

On the basis of this I hope there are some bridges built, and criticism and way forward discussed.I do not think rejoining the Shasta Abbey is what everyone wants ,but for some people direct communication would be very helpful in healing wounds

Maybe this is happening already
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mstrathern
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Sun Oct 09, 2011 2:54 pm

I am late to this thread because I have been away having a great time in Greece, trying to learn to windsurf amongst other things. Let me just say that at my age and with my knees this was certainly not a cooperative activity between me the surfboard and the sea, I can only say that the sea and the surfboard were out to get me, definitely adversarial!

But to more important matters and start a new hare, the FTI report which as far as I can tell seems to have been good. I note only a couple of matters of minor concern: (i) the terms given the FTI seem to have been a bit too restrictive in my view, but the FTI seem to have got around the restrictions as best they could. (ii) whilst the aims (terms) and recommendations seem to have been quoted directly I'm not entirely clear whether the summary has been, and would have been happier if I knew it had been. But these are merely quibbles.

The two most interesting points to my mind were, firstly:

Quote :

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.

When I was at Shasta, and at Throssel, as far as I remember outside the Shobogenzo, there were no rules. So the rules in themselves are a step forward. But unfortunately there were not implemented, this is worse than useless because I'm sure Eko and others pointed to rules at times to show what a great place Shasta was, and then completely ignored them (whilst saying they were implementing their spirit).

As Josh said:
Quote :

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.
Discussion was not out in the open, indeed there was lip service to openness but in practice there was no way to bring matters out into the open, except perhaps recently this forum, and as we know we were welcomed with open arms! Critics and criticism were often, if not always, belittled, ignored and shunned, all done of course in the name of Truth, Freedom and Openness.

We all observed it and often did not speak out at the time. I put this down to three things first fear of speaking out and the consequences, secondly a form of brainwashing - a kind of mass hysteria, where we thought what was happening was right. And finally a willingness to forgive, or at least ignore, aberrant behaviour, when we felt that it was a relatively minor personal and isolated failing rather than a more systematic failing or abuse.

The second point that interested me was from the recommendations (my emphasis):

Quote :

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.

I have been pondering the problem of clergy abuse, both of laity and of other clergy, and my favoured solution would involve some form of external, independent ombudsman, or perhaps that should be ombudsperson. I'll lay out what I have been thinking of in the broadest brush stroke outline:

First the my thoughts on the problem:
Abuse, both sexual and nonsexual, of laity and junior clergy.This is a question of behaviour not of faith.
No agreed, openly distributed and widely published standards of behaviour.
No method of external, independent redress for justified complaints or calling to order of misbehaviour.

My thoughts for a solution:
An agreed, openly distributed and widely published standard of behaviour. Clearly posted in every place of worship, or other place where clergy meet with the laity. I think given the convergence of ethical standards in different religions it would be possible to make this a universal trans-religious standard, with minor derogations for particular faiths. One could start with an already widely excepted standard, perhaps the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and rewrite it to take in the particular nature of the clergy - laity relationship and also to address the criticisms that have been made that it is a 'western' document.
A public minimum standard of training for clergy who are to come into contact with laity.
An independent Ombudsman service set up and managed and paid for jointly by those faiths taking part with the power to inspect and question. The service should publicly report on incidents and complaints. and least annually on general matters of compliance, etc.
I think there would need to be separate Ombudsman services for different jurisdictions upholding the same universal standards, but again maybe with public minor local derogations.


These, as I said are just very broad brush strokes of an idea. The question is how to proceed. My own view is to ask you and others for comments, suggestions, etc. And then to approach organisations and the great and the good who we know or think might be interested (Desmond Tutu, Archbishop of Canterbury, the Taoiseach (Irish PM), Dalai Llama, Soto Zen Buddhist Association, Faith Trust, etc., etc, etc.) with a view to getting a head of steam for starting a more formal process/group to carry it forward.

Do I think we can make this happen? Well I think we should try and that if sufficient interest could be raised it might well happen. Many religious organisations have had there own scandals where internal self-regulation has clearly failed. This would give them back a chance for a public moral grounding on behaviour issues. And at the very least if there was sufficient public pressure they would need to find convincing reasons to abstain from the process. Can you see a religious leader trying to publicly justify saying 'I could not possible sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights'. A bit of moral blackmail might go a long way!
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Sun Oct 09, 2011 3:13 pm

Well said Mark

Are you saying that is for misbehaviour issues, or questions of faith issues?

I am not sure if I left for misbehaviour issues or lack of faith issues.

For example If i have trouble believing JK was Bodhidharma, is it my lack of faith that is the problem, or does it come under I think JK is misbehaving.

Regardless of answer I am in favour of your recommendations,and as I have done for 35 years will stand behind you
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Sun Oct 09, 2011 8:34 pm

Mark, welcome back; I'm glad you survived your windsurfing experience! In my observation (as a non-windsurfer, but with lots of white water canoeing experience), the board and the ocean can be brutal--when they team up against you. ;-)

I love your idea and proposal. It seems to me that it is a relatively slight modification of your earlier thoughts, and yet, significantly more doable. It had also seemed to me that your earlier proposal would have required some form of litigation before it could be applied in response to a recognized problem. (Or, I may just not have accurately understood your original proposal).

This proposal, on the other hand, as a set of meta-standards facilitated in conjunction with an outside ombudsperson, lends itself to a relatively non-adversarial intervention, before a problem escalates to the point of litigation.

My conversations with current members of the OBC suggests that the current rules and grievance proceedures were not invoked in response to Eko and Koshin's behavior earlier, precisely because the culture of the OBC has been to respect and trust those who are most senior. Now that the flaw in this OBC cultural assumption has been so clearly demonstrated, I expect to see some change.

In a similar kind of situation, with religious communities in general, your proposed process, I think, could be enormously valuable.

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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Sun Oct 09, 2011 9:05 pm

Bill, thanks for your question; and Glorfindel, Stan, and Ol'ga, thanks for your comments!

Farther up this thread, I proposed that the OBC cultural shadow-dynamic, as a process arising from an unrecognized belief system that might include the misunderstanding that spiritual practice requires an adversarial struggle against the ego, might also be a "subset" of a larger collectively inherited misunderstanding that seems (to me) to underly our escalating global-existential crisis.

I am, of course, delighted by the response--both the support and the questioning! While I think that the OBC cultural dynamic, and the similarly unrecognized dynamic of our global-existential crisis, share some elements in common, I am going to hold off on additional response until I can start a new thread.

I do not plan to "split" this thread, but to simply continue the discussion on a new thread, so that Mark's excellent proposal, and other comments which are more directly related to the primary topic of this thread, aren't obscurred.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Sun Oct 09, 2011 9:13 pm

Mike

I was talking about behaviour issues. I think that about faith issues, which is mainly why you and I left Shasta, cannot be regulated in the same way. It can only come from within a wider community. Most, but by no means all, of the dangerously wacky groups seem to be isolated, partly through choice, they have 'the only true way' and everyone else is wrong, and partly because they get shunned by the more normal groups. However in their isolation they often fall into 'cultish' behaviour that tends to end up in behaviour issues that can be regulated. You and I think that the aberrant behaviour of Eko grew out something that went wrong much earlier that led to a position where 'senior monks, including the Head of the Order and the vice-abbess, failed to respond adequately to repeated disclosures', despite the fact that 'that current OBC rules would have been adequate to deal with the situation had they been invoked.' This was in the Faith Trusts view because 'many monks and lay people were ignorant as to their existence.' I would add that in my view the rules were little known partly because they were mainly brought out to coerce people into the 'party line' and that there was no widely known and public, independent, but confidential form of scrutiny. Others view the aberrant behaviour as a one off, a senior monk gone haywire. It matters little which view is true, either way the harm to peoples lives and the sangha in general has been done.

What is hopefully true is that the FTI report will allow those of good heart to take control and move Shasta in the a positive direction. Under those circumstances the ship that Eko finally capsized might be righted and the three drums ring out clearly again. It may not be the ship that you or I would choose to sail in but there are many ways to the truth, and good hearts sincerely searching will find their own path.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Sun Oct 09, 2011 9:22 pm

Kozan, many thanks, your response is very heartening. I agree my first thoughts were entirely impractical. Hopefully something more practical can be fashioned from my second broad outline. I think there are probably a number of ways forward towards the goal but surely what is important is that movement is made along one or some of them so that abusive behaviour of all types is less likely, more quickly detected and pointed out.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Mon Oct 10, 2011 12:50 am

Thanks for explaining that Mark, having slept on it I think your idea is very good, and it would be beneficial for everyone to have codes or as you say

An agreed, openly distributed and widely published standard of behaviour. Clearly posted in every place of worship, or other place where clergy meet with the laity.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Mon Nov 07, 2011 2:53 pm

“I only ever cared about the man. I never gave a fig for the ideologies,
unless they were mad or evil. I never saw institutions as being worthy
of their parts, or policies as much other than excuses for not feeling. I
believe that almost any political system operated with humanity can
work. And the most benign of systems without humanity is vile. The trick
I suppose is to find the system that gives the least leeway to the
rogues. The guarantee of our virtue is our compassion. And if you allow
this institution, or any other, to steal your compassion away, wait, and
see what you become.
The man is everything. And if your calling is
anything, you will always prefer him to the collective because the
collective is humanity’s lowest and the collective is most often spoken
for by people who are nothing without it.”

— John le Carré, character
George Smiley
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:45 pm

An update - recently we received the attached document which appears to be the unredacted Summary portion of the FTI report. To my knowledge this is an accurate copy, but if anyone believes otherwise please let me know.

This doesn't provide much new information, but to me it is interesting to see certain points set down in writing by an objective third party, particularly items 4, 5 and 7.

(My thanks to Isan for fixing/re-posting the attachments below.)

Here are the images - click to view them full size.








Last edited by Lise on Tue Nov 29, 2011 10:51 pm; edited 4 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Mon Nov 28, 2011 7:06 pm

I can't imagine that the OBC is capable of following much of the Foundation's advice, particularly that involving the master-disciple relationship. The OBC's tradition of giving the master complete control over every aspect of the disciple's life with no accountability is the heart of the problem at North Cascades and perhaps at Shasta. Rev. Master Jiyu worship -- complete obedience to the master -- is the crux of the practice for many monastics, at least according to Koshin's teaching. I never could figure out where that duty of absolute obedience supposedly ended for lay people or what its parameters were.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Mon Nov 28, 2011 10:59 pm

Carol, I too wonder how (and if) they will be able to shift their mindsets and behaviour regarding the M/D relationship. It's hard to imagine that 20 - 30 years of habit patterns for these seniors monks will change in the near future simply because one outside group wrote up an unflattering assessment.

"Obedience" in the context of lay practise could be an excellent thread - I'll put one up tomorrow. After two years of reading this forum I still don't get what that is about.

One question I would like to pose to forum members, some of whom are directly in a position to know: what have the OBC done in the way of obtaining outside training for senior monks, in the areas of counseling and teaching? Is this a priority in any way, to remedy the lack of basic training that FaithTrust pointed out, or was this recommendation ignored and buried? If Shasta monks continue to approach the public as "teachers" and spiritual "counselors", whilst having no objective qualifications to do so, just their own stamp of approval, this fact needs to be kept front and center on the forum, for the benefit of newcomers especially.


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Carol

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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Mon Nov 28, 2011 11:42 pm

"If Shasta monks continue to approach the public as "teachers" and spiritual "counselors", whilst having no objective qualifications to do so except their own stamp of approval, this fact needs to be kept front and center on the forum, for the benefit of newcomers especially."

Lise, I surely do agree with you. A good friend of mine was receiving psychotherapy and Koshin told him not to come to meditation group as long as he was receiving this treatment. Koshin delivered a dharma talk once on how psychotherapy was inconsistent with Buddhist "training." I don't know if this was a Koshin-only idea or if other OBC seniors taught this as well. But newcomers certainly should be warned that OBC teachers not only are not trained in counseling techniques, but that some of them actively oppose it.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Tue Nov 29, 2011 10:17 am

All, I'm told that some are having difficulty downloading the attachments posted yesterday - we're looking into it and will try to get it resolved asap. In the meantime please send me a PM if you want them emailed to you - thanks, Lise
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Tue Nov 29, 2011 5:24 pm

Lise wrote:
All, I'm told that some are having difficulty downloading the attachments posted yesterday - we're looking into it and will try to get it resolved asap

Note from the admin corner: the attachments have been replaced by actual pages which can be read in the thread. Scroll up and click on the pages to make them larger for easier reading.

Cheers!
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Wed Nov 30, 2011 2:30 pm

Thank you Lise and Isan.

I confess that I don't find much radical, or even terribly embarrassing, in this summary that wasn't already known: senior monks who should have been braver failed to act, and there were already rules in place that could have been invoked, particularly by RM Haryo.

So I too wonder if it's the recommendations for formal (secular) counseling training that made SA/OBC not want to release it? Still bothers me a lot that they didn't do this officially, and we had to find out from a "leak".
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Thu Dec 01, 2011 3:28 pm

Could be just human nature, wanting to save face -- it stings a little less to put out a message themselves, doesn't it, re: areas for improvement, rather than disclose what a professional evaluator has said about their shortcomings and mistakes. My concern is that SA may have re-packaged the most palatable parts of the FTI report for the general public's consumption and have quite possibly dismissed & buried the items they aren't prepared to deal with. I might be wrong, no way to know until the full report comes across at some point.

For me this is not about continually beating up SA, it's about knowing the full scope of what FTI found worthy of comment, and then measuring those recommendations against SA's actions since then, to see if the risk of harm to innocent people is any less.

Given that Shasta monks were not the ones to propose the FTI assessment in the first place, and reportedly were not keen to have the exercise undertaken at all, the lack of full disclosure really isn't a surprise -
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ddolmar

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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Thu Dec 01, 2011 6:44 pm

Lise--I know (or believe more than I once did) that it's not really about beating up on SA, for you or for most folks commenting on this forum.

If we can trust that this summary is unredacted, then I'm inclined to believe that it contains the full FTI investigation report's major findings and recommendations.

(Obviously, or hopefully so, this is not to say that I now understand and approve of their unwillingness to release the full report. To the contrary, I'm even more perplexed and disappointed.)
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Thu Dec 01, 2011 9:35 pm

hi Dan, just to clarify, I know you weren't suggesting I was beating up on SA by posting this latest update - that feedback actually came via PM from a current Shasta lay attendee, and I wanted to respond publicly in case others had the same thought.

I would like to say also, I am grateful to those who provide information to the forum; I hope my earlier comment above won't be taken as critical of the update that was shared. It's clear to me that quite a few people are torn between loyalties to the Shasta organisation and their desire to see greater safeguards put in place to protect laity and monks. I am contact with several people who really do walk a tightrope in terms of what they stand to lose, if their Abbey contacts knew of their connection to this forum, and yet they continue to reach out; this too is a bodhisattva act whether they realise it or not.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:49 pm

Dan--I think that your observation of the benefit to the OBC, from full disclosure, is right on the mark.

Isan may be able to confirm shortly that we now know that this posted report summary is indeed the unredacted, original, final 4 pages from the FTI Report. If Isan is not at liberty to confirm this--then you did not hear the above from me ;-).

Lise--I so agree with what you have just said.

My abiding conviction is that all of us--the OBC as an organization, the senior lay and monastic members who have invested a near life-time in its teaching and practice, newer lay and monastic members still finding their "sea legs" in this mysterious process of spiritual practice and experience, and those of us who may not now be "active" members of the OBC, but will always be members of a greater sangha, and are reclaiming the innate integrity of our own spiritual quest and insight--benefit equally from unconditional openness.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Fri Dec 02, 2011 10:29 pm

Kozan wrote:


Isan may be able to confirm shortly that we now know that this posted report summary is indeed the unredacted, original, final 4 pages from the FTI Report.

I can confirm that it is a complete, unredacted copy of the original summary.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Sat Dec 03, 2011 2:11 pm

Dan wrote
I confess that I don't find much radical, or even terribly embarrassing, in this summary that wasn't already known: senior monks who should have been braver failed to act, and there were already rules in place that could have been invoked, particularly by RM Haryo.

So I too wonder if it's the recommendations for formal (secular) counseling training that made SA/OBC not want to release it? Still bothers me a lot that they didn't do this officially, and we had to find out from a "leak".

If you deconstruct the Faith Trust corporate speak, you can find an enormous amount that is radical, that the OBC would prefer to have filtered through their own language.Almost everything in there recommends a radical departure from how things were and continue to be done at Shasta. I've heard from some that things are gentler and kinder in the OBC recently. Tell that Amalia, Diana, Laura and others. It is the same old dressed up in new clothes. The same basic soul destroying obey the master, close your eyes, shut off your own discernment HAS HAD TO HAVE CONTINUED IN ORDER FOR EKO TO HAVE DONE WHAT HE DID AND FOR ALL THE SENIORS TO HAVE BACKED HIM AS THEY DID. That is what Faith Trust, in their SEEMINGLY benign, non radical language is talking about.

Rethink the master-disciple relationship. How did everyone go along with the order that senior monks go to the doctor with junior monks to report back to Eko and discern what clinical path the junior monk needed to choose. Think about that. Truly think about that. That is group think on steroids. That is mind control on steroids. That is control period on steroids. The psychological damage to adults who actually rearrange their thinking process to infantalize themselves and to make that demeaning order make sense is horrendous, not to mention the potential physical damage. I know that first hand, on both counts.

Encourage monks to have greater contact with other groups. In other words, the OBC is an inbred organization in which faulty perceptions and ways of doing things feed off themselves over and over, become amplified exponentially and accordingly dangerous and harmful. With minimal outside contact there is nothing and no one to challenge the absurd and destructive habits that are nourished within an enclosed and authoritarian environment.

Monks need to have training in counseling. In other words, they don't know what their doing with a lot of people in regard to helping them. They are actually hurting people through their ignorance. Their ignorance has been idealized as being pure Buddhism without the contamination of psychological nonsense. It is another form of their isolation from other people, groups, and ideas. Because Rev. Kennett had so many unresolved psychological issues of her own, that isolation started out with seeds of harm only grew over time. And because of her own unresolved psychological issues, she kept her distance from anything psychological. Her own image as an arahant could not withstand the scrutiny of anyone well versed in psychology.

These are the points I remember from the FTI report. I'm sure I could go back and make a case for each other point. To my mind, the FTI report is OBC Connect dehydrated. What has been evaporated out? The pain, the details, the heartbreak, the disillusionment, the harm, and the visceral reality of the wake of the OBC's misguided methods and their delusions born of being too inbred, too passive, and too willing to give up individual discernment in order to fit into a dysfunctional group. Don't let the benign words of corporate speak fool you. The report is very radical.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Sat Dec 03, 2011 4:00 pm

I would like to thank and commend the person who leaked the FTI report. It takes courage and a loyalty to truth and one's own integrity to do something like that. For those who have not experienced the OBC, being true to oneself and the truth at the expense of loyalty to the group, even when the group is dead wrong, can be extremely difficult.

I would like see a public statement from the OBC as to what they are going to do about the points brought up by FTI.

How will you rethink the master disciple relationship? Look head on into what kind of obedience is expected or required of disciples. Do you have the courage to put it into words for the public to see, for potential monks to see? How does that compare to what was required of monks under Rev. Kennett?

Put out a public statement about how you are going to train your monks to be able to counsel others. What is your view of psychology and therapy? Are you going to continue to disparage it as Koshin does? As Rev. Kennett did?

Where are they going to be able to go (even encouraged to go) to hear other monks, other ideas? How long does one have to be a monk before they're allowed to make adult choices as to where they go, whether they can participate on OBC Connect or whatever or not? Does OBC Buddhism have to out do medieval Catholicism forever?

That's all the rant I have in me for today.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Sat Dec 03, 2011 9:11 pm

There's a hole in my bucket, dear Henry, dear Henry
There's a hole in my bucket, dear Henry, a hole!

Then fix it, dear Haryo, dear Haryo, dear Haryo.
Then fix it, dear Haryo, dear Haryo, FIX IT!

With what shall I fix it, dear Henry, dear Henry.
With what shall I fix it, dear Henry, with what!

etc, etc, etc.....

(My apologies for making fun but I couldn't resist...and we all know how it ends!)
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Sat Dec 03, 2011 10:28 pm

With a straw (man named Eko), dear Haryo, dear Haryo,
with a straw (man named Eko), dear Haryo, with a straw Wink


Last edited by Lise on Sat Dec 03, 2011 11:57 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Liza won't mind if i leave her out of this :))
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Sun Dec 04, 2011 9:05 am

Problem's finished and done with, my dear monks, my dear monks,

It's finished and done with, it's done with and gone.

Now we all get to go home to old ways in costume

Now we all get to go home, changing nothing at all.
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glorfindel

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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Sun Dec 04, 2011 12:25 pm

the ending of the hiphop ("street") version:


….oh (banned term) it
just chuck it
that bucket's a mess, yo!

Oh (banned term) it
just chuck it
get a new one from tesco.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Mon Dec 05, 2011 3:28 pm

Seems to be a hole in my education...haven't heard that song/poem (nursery rhyme?) before.

Henry--I suppose I could pick a fight about the degree to which changes have been made. You refer to Eko's leadership, and events which took place during that time, as if they are virtually occurring in the present moment. I don't think it's a stretch to suggest that SA is highly, probably much too, dependent on the character of its abbot. RM Meian is a very different person than RM Eko. Ergo...

But your proposed actions seem to me to be right on the money: more outside contact with other monks, and not just social visits; more "spiritual adulthood" (= individual judgment, in my view) for junior monks in fact, not just in words; mandatory secular psychological counseling training for senior monks, and for those about to be granted the title of "teacher", preferably with exams and minimum requirements for passing. Again, how can it be that "Buddhism is a religion for adults" (one of RMJK's favorite sayings), if junior monks are not allowed to think for themselves and act on their own convictions?

And thanks for the shout-out to the person who released the FTI report summary. It might have been inevitable that it would get out, but there was still an individual or a small group who had to be willing to take on some risk to the stability of their own life (or lives), for the sake of providing us with information. Maybe the risk was very small or quite serious. Regardless, many thanks to you, whoever you are.

--Dan

P.S. Christopher Hitchens coined the term "micro-megalomaniac" to describe a person who attains absolute and abusive power over a very small domain. He used it in reference to English boarding school headmasters from when he was a boy in the 50's and 60's, but it seems that the concept may continue to be relevant.
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Sat Nov 16, 2013 10:00 am

Giving this a bump and copying Enida's question over, which can still be found under Josh's "Zen Predator of the East Side" thread under the Reading Corner category.

Enida wrote:

Thanks Josh for this information. I will read it (although it brings up the ptsd stuff again).
That was my motivation for going through the whole faith trust process - to be part of a collective effort to change obc policies so this kind of thing can be minimized. Can anyone tell me with knowledge if anything has changed in the order (ie rules, practices, effective oversight) as a result of all those efforts?
I wonder what would happen if one of us sent this question to the Ethics Committee email address at Shasta Abbey?  Would there be a reply do you think?
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PostSubject: Re: FTI Report Summary and 2011 Conclave Statement   Sat Nov 16, 2013 10:34 am

emptiness
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