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 Shasta Abbey for Seekers?

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AuntyEntity

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PostSubject: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Sun Oct 09, 2011 1:18 am

I need some advice, if anyone would be so kind.

I have a good friend (an older English-speaking Euro-American lady) who is just beginning to seriously inquire into Buddhism, mostly from her local non-Euro Therevadin temple, where she is happy, but has had trouble due to the language gap. She not naive, but is at a tender stage in her life. My friend is looking for a new spiritual home in Buddhism after several years having left her previous religion due to profound disappointment and disillusionment. I'm not a Buddhist, but have some years experience in parisa/sangha communities as a friend and volunteer. She's asked me for help finding resources, but I know little of the Euro-American specificities of sengha/parisa. I've done my best to support her in her discernment, direct her to resources and Buddhist clergy friends who might help. She's made only tepid steps in this direction until now, but came to me recently asking my estimation of Shasta Abbey, as she was highly interested in taking up retreat there. The news of problems at the abbey gave her pause. (Me too.) Research on this score brought me here. study

My initial feeling was that my friend won't be troubled much by the evident institutional dysfunction at Shasta Abbey for only an introductory retreat. But having read some of the posts here, I must confess to being rather more substantially worried.

To those in the know, your advice please:
Despite the leadership and institutional difficulties, would you still consider Shasta Abbey a suitable and safe place for those inquiring about basic Buddhism to make such inquries?
Is their general teaching of Buddhism mainstream at this point?
Is the Shasta method of cultivation and practice at all efficacious and dovetail with general Buddhist method which my friend might find elsewhere?
Do they still use Anglican chant and song for most liturgy?
If Shasta (and evidently its satellite priories) is inadvisable, are there any similar monasteries or temple centres in the Pacific Northwest which you would recommend instead?

Really, bluntly... I'm trying to ascertain just how... dangerous (邪法) Shasta is for more casual layity to experience at this point.

My friend would likely find Shasta a convenient location, geographically and culturally, at which to occasionally practice. Any pointers as to the suitability of care for new Buddhist visitors and retreatants there, or better alternatives in the area, I would greatly appreciate.

TTFN and thanks.


Last edited by AuntyEntity on Sun Oct 09, 2011 1:20 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Linux copying misbehaviour)
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AuntyEntity

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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Sun Oct 09, 2011 1:23 am

And, P.S., what would you say to a new Buddhist inquirer regarding the current scandals and institutional problems at Shasta and other Buddhist monasteries?
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Sun Oct 09, 2011 3:15 am

Hey AuntyEntity

First to your gracious intro. If you've read most the postings here at the OBCC I'm sure that you realize that no one here is going to agree with your personal assessment of you being on a lower level. Non Buddhists not only do just fine here but often provide unique perspectives and challenges that are no less valuable than the Buddhist postings.

Is Shasta a place to recommend or not? Most of us here have both gratitude and conflicted feelings for our Shasta practise & conditioning.

My perspective is that had we been able to read all the postings of the OBCC with an open mind before first going to Shasta, then we would have had substantially healthier experiences there. I don't see why it would be different for your friend. (I think the OBCC postings should be a manditory read for anyone seriously considering training at Shasta) Not to dissuade them from going there but as a life lesson on the great spiritual value in questioning everything.

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Sun Oct 09, 2011 8:51 am

Hi AuntyEntity,

I agree with Howard. You could also argue that since Shasta Abbey has been through their review process they should be safer than some other places.

Kind regards,
George
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Sun Oct 09, 2011 9:44 am

I can't say more than read what's on this site and read what Shasta states it has to offer and make your best judgment (guess?). I'm sorry I can't answer your more detailed questions, as I haven't been there in 20 years.

This might be too obvious a suggestion, but you could Google Buddhist groups in the area your friend is interested in and research the groups you find on the internet. There is also Dharma Rain in Portland. The monks there were originally taught at Shasta. There are no scandals there I'm aware of.
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Sun Oct 09, 2011 11:03 am

AuntyEntity wrote:
My friend is looking for a new spiritual home in Buddhism after several years having left her previous religion due to profound disappointment and disillusionment.

This raises a red flag. Do you feel your friend has really looked at and worked through that earlier experience? It is fairly common that people do not and then recreate the problem in a new group. Many of the members here have learned to stop looking for "home" in religious groups and instead rely primarily on personal practice. That doesn't mean they never attend groups, but they have different and greatly reduced expectations. I hope this distinction is clear.

Regarding Shasta Abbey I would say it's safe to attend an introductory retreat there, but it seems clear that your friend is not looking for a center for occasional retreats, she looking for a new spiritual home. If that's correct then the larger question is "is Shasta Abbey a safe spiritual home?" Having learned that spiritual groups which foster dependance are unhealthy, for me the answer is no.
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Sun Oct 09, 2011 11:07 am

Hi AuntyEnitity,

It depends where your friend is in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I'm currently in Portland, OR and can recommend a place or two here, but I also know of a place or two in the greater Seattle area.

If your friend is older, it's good to know that Shasta's daily schedule is fairly physically strenuous, and in the winter it's usually cold. Yes, scriptures are sung to gregorian chant in the morning and evening, and during the day they are chanted at mealtimes. Lot's of scripture recitation. There's also lots of bowing, which some have equated to feeling like you're worshipping outside entities. This is not what the Buddha taught.

I will be bold here and say that no, I personally would not recommend Shasta to anyone. You may have read here that some of us have used the term "The Church of Jiyu" or "The Church of Kennett," which suggests that the teachings are not "maintstream" as you put it. The master-disciple relationship takes center stage, which is now being shown to be a significant cause to many, many years of problems. You will also read here, that many of us, because of the master-disciple relationship, learned quickly to disregard our own understanding, even our own gut feelings. To be a success there, you have to accept the indoctrination; free thinking is not acceptable. Even literature by other prominent Buddhist teachers is not allowed at Shasta.

If Shasta is more convienent than Portland or Seattle, then I would suggest staying on the freeway and keep heading south to Spirit Rock. Your friend will not get "in trouble" for reading anything; the schedule can be done at her own pace, and the teachers have been trained to be teachers. It is more expensive, though. A lot more.

I hope this helps from one angle. Maybe someone will address the more positive aspects (Stan are you there?) of training at Shasta or one of it's affiliate temples.

Best wishes to you and your friend,

mokuan
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Sun Oct 09, 2011 12:06 pm

I often recommend teachers and groups that are based on vipassana, simple mindfulness -- that come out of the Insight Meditation Society - based in Barre, Massachusetts, or Spirit Rock, based in Marin County - near San Francisco. These teachers and groups tend to follow a very simple, non-guru approach to basic meditation practice, and you can find many one day or weekend retreats, and longer ones if you like.

The other major form of vipassana is the Goenka tradition, but these centers start with a 10-day retreat - for some folks, this is great, others find it too much to start with. I personally think a few days to start is a good beginning.

In any case, just the like we say - the buyer should beware - i say that the seekers should be aware. ANY teacher, group can become cultic and dogmatic, and you always need to keep your eyes open, your adulthood intact, and your honestly active. If any group can't handle questioning, feedback, and openness, then move on.

Would I recommend Shasta or any groups affiliated with it? No.
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breljo

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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Sun Oct 09, 2011 12:27 pm

Hi, Aunty Entity



I concur with Isan, that a lot of the members here have stopped looking for "home" in religious groups and rely primarily on personal practice. This reminded me of something about what Jiddu Krishnamurti had to say about the matter of the need or necessity of relying on group practice, which for a lot of people has proven "disappointing" and detrimental in many respects. I don't know how familiar you are with the work of Jiddu Krishnamurti, or whether you have ever even heard of him, but if you have the time, look up a particular talk of his on the internet under " Collected works of Jiddu Krishnamurti, eighth talk, New Delhi, March 9th, 1960 " and read through it.

We are all social creatures and have a deep need to communicate with others our feelings, needs and understanding, and I am sure there are groups out there that can help with this, yet it is most advisable to proceed with caution and trust your Inner Nature, because Spiritual group practice can be extremely seductive, and before you know it you will have a hard time extricating yourself from something that no longer works for you , as your friend has already found out once.
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Sun Oct 09, 2011 12:32 pm

I don't usually post here, but if I don't answer this then you are only given one side of things....

Do bear in mind I haven't been to Shasta since 1982, and I left the last OBC temple I was at in 1985. However, some of the other respondents were there even longer ago that I was. So it's up to you whether you consider my answers valid and relevant or not...

I got a tremendous amount out of my 10 year term as a monk at Throssel and Shasta. For me, bowing in no way equated to worshipping outside entities, but to looking up to something within me greater than the self. The master-disciple relationship caused me no problems, then or after I left. I learned to rely on my own understanding, and how to recognise my own gut feelings trather than running around in my head over-intellectualising everything, as a result of Buddhist training at Shasta. I never felt that I was indoctrinated in any way. I started out as a miserable,confused young person when I arrived there. When I left I had grown into a fulfilled human being. I left for a variety of reasons, but I had no problem adjusting to 'the world' as I know many others did. I don't know why, because I don't understand why they found it so hard. I didn't find the monastery to be very different from the outside world, in the deepest sense.

There are two sides, or more, to this issue, as to so many others. Personally I don't see how your friend can be harmed by going to Shasta, whatever she ends up getting out of it...or not getting out of it. Others will disagree. I may have simply confused you, and if so, I apologise. But it would be wrong of me to keep quiet when you ask such an important question.
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PostSubject: Visiting Shasta at an introductory retreat   Sun Oct 09, 2011 1:20 pm

Hi--I don't post here often. I have been going to Shasta Abbey since 1980 as a lay person. I have managed to avoid most of the bad Kennett ju ju because I maintained objectivity while being at Shasta and never was involved with Kennett or that whole scene. Ditto for the RM Eko debacle.

I still go to the Abbey occasionally. The price of gas is a major impediment for me now. The retreat structure is strenuous as another poster said. It is one of the few Buddhist centers operating on Dana without a set fee for retreat--a definite plus for those who are poor. I use the retreats I go to at the Abbey as part of a larger personal practice--it is not the only place I practice with a group. Getting to the Abbey for a retreat can allow you to drop the concerns of your ordinary life for awhile and immerse yourself in the schedule. I find the schedules to be balanced with time for working meditation, talks and zazen. The food was pretty good, too.

The chanting is in plainsong, but I find this exhilarating, especially at the end of Morning Service. A nice change from chanting in Japanese and Tibetan at other centers.

I have come to the conclusion that being wary of any corporate culture is good--those of Buddhism are no exception. My practice is strong--I will take advantage of the benefits of organizations like organized retreats, but maintain objectivity and groundedness. I trust my own instincts implicitly and they have not steered me wrong. If your friend can do that, then go for it.
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Sun Oct 09, 2011 2:24 pm

Jimyo wrote:

For me, bowing in no way equated to worshiping outside entities, but to looking up to something within me greater than the self.

Yes, bowing in Buddhism is about recognizing that which is greater than oneself (and if you prefer "within oneself"). It has nothing to do with worshiping outside entities and is practiced in all Buddhist groups in my experience.

Jimyo wrote:
The master-disciple relationship caused me no problems, then or after I left. I learned to rely on my own understanding, and how to recognize my own gut feelings rather than running around in my head over-intellectualizing everything, as a result of Buddhist training at Shasta. I started out as a miserable, confused young person when I arrived there. When I left I had grown into a fulfilled human being. I left for a variety of reasons, but I had no problem adjusting to 'the world' as I know many others did.

Of all the people who've left would it be fair to say that you are more the exception than the rule when you say "the master-disciple relationship caused you no problems" etc? Do you feel that you actually learned those life skills at Shasta Abbey or were fortunate enough to have already at least partially developed them and were able to draw on them while you were there? It was my experience that trusting one's gut feelings was encouraged only as long as it didn't bring about questioning of Jiyu Kennett's teaching. When my gut feelings brought me into disagreement with her teaching I was rather strongly discouraged from trusting them. Regarding growing into a fulfilled human being, had you really achieved that while you were still at Shasta Abbey (or Throssel) or did that come later after you left and struggled to reconcile the conflicts? After all you did experience conflict and you did leave. I have no problem with you affirming that you got a lot of good out of your years as a monk because I affirm the same about my own experience, but if you're implying that the OBC is actually designed to turn out people who are comfortable questioning and thinking for themselves I have to disagree.

Jimyo wrote:
Personally I don't see how your friend can be harmed by going to Shasta,
whatever she ends up getting out of it...or not getting out of it

Of course she will not be "harmed" in any overt way, but if she goes I would recommend she ask a different question, which is "do I wish to become as these people are who exemplify the practice here?" That is quite different then evaluating the teachings and what people say they are doing, and the only way to really know if it's a good fit for oneself. It requires significant maturity and if I had been capable of it I might not have needed to stay in the first place :-) By saying this I'm not implying that the people at Shasta Abbey are "bad", only that it takes time to really understand the nature of a community.


Last edited by Isan on Sun Oct 09, 2011 3:51 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : addendum)
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Stan Giko

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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Sun Oct 09, 2011 3:16 pm

Hi AuntyEntity,

I personally think your friend should go and visit Shasta for a short
introductory visit.

As you say your friend was " Highly" interested, it says to me that she felt an
inner resonance which will not happen everywhere. This is important if one
wants to make a long term commitment to the teaching and may be a pointer that
she is on `the right track`.

I personally did not experience the problems that are expressed on this forum.
In fact, I cannot repay my gratitude to RM Jiyu, the monks and Lay people that
I trained with. Some of those people are on this forum and had the very
negative experiences that are posted here.

Having said that, I find that the people who spoke of their bad experiences
here to be very sincere and truthful. I do not doubt their stories are true.
I think as you read through the forum, the people who have been hurt still
manage to show a compassionate heart when discussing their Shasta days and
I believe that compassionate heart is to be found in Shasta too.

As an example, Mokuan did not recommend Shasta but, called on me to
comment knowing that I have the opposite view to her. I think that speaks
volumes. I personally find it to be one family...with family problems not yet
fully resolved. I have to say, I`m an eternal optimist.

Your friend has been disillusioned in the past and I think this a good thing
rather than bad. She will have had her discriminating senses sharpened and
is much less likely to be looking through `rose colored gasses`. It is essential
to keep an open inquiring mind at all times.

I believe, with this attitude , she should go and see if it works out for her but,
not to rush. If all Buddhist centers had independent forums about them, most
people might have a bit of a job getting started at all !

It may be, that in the end, Zen Buddhism will not suit her best anyway. She
just has to proceed cautiously and follow her heart.

I am adding two links. One to RM Jiyu giving a talk . This will give a bit of a
flavour of how she saw training and leads to other talks. This is on youtube .

The other is to the Dharma Rain website. Kyogen and Gyakuko split off from
Shasta when they were seniors at Shasta and run their own independent
center in Portland. This could be the better option if only because it is a more
intimate center than Shasta which is a quite large monastery. I`m sure she
would not go wrong here.

I think I will also include the Spirit Rock website link for your reference.

Wherever your friend goes, I wish her good luck on her journey. She is lucky
to have a good friend such as yourself.

Best wishes to you both, Stan.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_4HwzfWH2U

http://www.dharma-rain.org/?p=about

http://www.spiritrock.org/
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AuntyEntity

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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Sun Oct 09, 2011 4:52 pm

Thank you all for your thoughtful responses. This forum does seem like a good place to start, so I will direct my friend here to judge, and speak for herself if she chooses.

@Howard Thanks for the welcome! I agree that the OBCC would be a good primer not just for Shasta, but for engaging all formal, communal religious groups. Kudos to you all for maintaining critical view alongside compassion. Real practice/cultivation/faith ought to thrive on questioning and doubt. It's harder, but healthier. cheers

@gnorwell That was my suspicion, too, and an ironical one if so! :that'sfunny:

@Henry Yep, I did some research. She has some local English Buddhist groups in her area, but they are small and informal. She does like her little community temple for the chant and the monks are nice, though they speak little English. I think she's looking for retreats right now. She may enjoy this Dharma Rain; thanks for the suggestion! clapping

@Isan "This raises a red flag......" Thanks for good points of caution. I should have been clearer. By "spiritual home", I meant in Buddhism, not necessarily one monastery or even tradition. My friend is an exceedingly active, intelligent, and skeptical person with an introverted disposition. Her previous disappointment has given her a healthy (perhaps too healthy) critical view. So my worry was the opposite: that she would discount the possibility of finding good training and helpful Buddhist friends at all if problems did occur. She enjoys going to Shasta personal retreats (the mountain itself, but didn't know of the Abbey till recently), so the abbey would only be for occasional religious instruction. yes

@mokuan Thanks for your critique. The cultus surrounding Jiyu Kennett does seem rather... overwrought. I don't know whether my friend would prefer the Gregorian chant or not, but it's good to know. And the rigours of devotional practice might be an issue, but she's only in middle age. I should have said "older than me." Wink

@Jcbaran Seems like this Spirit Rock and like groups of vipassana has is reputed well for respecting integrity. She may find that useful indeed. (I practice neiguan, sort of like Daoist vipassanna, so can somewhat intimate the nature of what you're recommending.) sunny

@breljo Points well taken. No, not read Jiddu Krishnamurti much, but have heard of him. I think my friend will proceed with due caution, having been "once burned, twice shy". But being quite new to Buddhist ideas, she is looking for basic instruction, as well as a retreat location. (She already goes to Shasta Mountain, so...) I very much grok your warning about trusting one's Inner Nature. I have faith in my friend, only filling the role of helping and hoping to get her off on the right foot. Surprised

@Jimyo No, no, you haven't confused. I appreciate your alternate view and hoped to hear some of the benefits of Shasta instruction. I will duly pass your post along. What little I heard and read of Shasta till now was intreguing. Mountain snows, English-chanting monks. I had heard warm words from my friend who is a nun in Mahayana as well as a reverend in another Soto lineage. They found the abbey charming, if different. I love you

@mary kwart Your post is full of strong, healthy perspective. Thanks! I think this is exactly what my friend is going for in terms of use of a retreat facility. It's interesting to hear that most such monasteries now charge a "fee" for retreats. I can see where Shasta is advantageous on that score. P.S., I love to hike, too! Smile Careful on that regolith. Shocked

@Stan Giko I believe my friend was so interested in Shasta Abbey because of the Mountain, which has been a "special" place for her for personal retreats for several years. You're quite spot-on that her vision is clear about institutional drama and spiritual manipulation now. Reading this dialog of alternative views on Shasta, I believe she would go in with educated eyes. I appreciate your half-joke about "independent forums". It's good to be critical and maintain "adult integrity" against rosy-coloured naivete, but also not fall into cynicism; my worry for her was mostly thus, and to gather various opinions for her, that she could decide informedly. study

Thanks for all the opinions. You've all been most generous. Please keep it up. In the spirit of "tough love", I believe you're doing much good! Razz
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mary kwart

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PostSubject: Who is the Seeker?   Sun Oct 09, 2011 11:34 pm

Aunty Entity:

Is the Seeker, you?

--Mary
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AuntyEntity

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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Mon Oct 10, 2011 3:55 am

@Mary Always! Seek, but I try not to expect anymore, just hike the mountains.

Oh, but you mean apropos of this query? Nah, a good, bizzy friend who asked me to help make an estimation of Shasta. I directed her here and she can discern as she likes on the basis of this sort-of survey. Wink

Shasta does look pretty. I would appreciate visiting someday, if they let ratty Daoists covered in desert dust in the gate. Very Happy

Thanks again for your thoughts on all this!
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Mon Oct 10, 2011 5:21 am

Hey Tina/Aunty

While I'm not sure how many gates would open for a Nichiren Sho Shu with a crossbow, I'm pretty sure that any dusty travel worn Daoist with a "we don't need another hero" mantra, would be a shoe in here..

I suspect that you'd also find Shasta's gates opening easily to your knocking but I'm not sure how well you'd actually fit inside carrying that particular mantra.

Cheers

H
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AuntyEntity

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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Mon Oct 10, 2011 11:39 am

@Howard
"Well, ain't we a pair... Raggedyman."
Hah, I was beginning to think no Buddhists have seen Mad Max. :p

(There's a corny, groan-worthy personal joke in the Aunty Entity/Tina Turner thing. For "Thunder Dome," read the Primordial Thunder/the Nine Empyreans or Shasta Abbey or Life... And I am an old desert rat who fires archery. No... No one appreciates my waka-waka-waka humour.)

And cheers! I'm indeed sick of heros too.


Last edited by AuntyEntity on Mon Oct 10, 2011 11:52 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Explain!)
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Mon Oct 10, 2011 12:43 pm

Howard wrote:

While I'm not sure how many gates would open for a Nichiren Sho Shu with a crossbow

Google has cleared my befuddlement regarding

Aunty Entity/Tina/Thunderdome/We don't need another hero

But what's up with Nichiren Sho Shu with a crossbow?
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Kozan
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Mon Oct 10, 2011 1:12 pm

Tina Turner has been a practicing Nichiren Buddhist for many years.

Aunty's Avatar is an image of Tina's character--Aunty Entity--from the 1985 movie, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Mon Oct 10, 2011 2:26 pm

Kozan wrote:
Tina Turner has been a practicing Nichiren Buddhist for many years

Ah, the last mystery solved, except for what any of this has to do with a ratty Daoist covered in desert dust - maybe it's just waka waka waka humor?
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Mon Oct 10, 2011 3:14 pm

Isan, indeed. I look forward to Aunty's response!

One possibility is that while the Mad Max series is, at first glance, a post nuclear holocaust tale, it can also be understood as a metaphor for the spiritual quest itself. For many of us, this quest begins with existential crisis (embodied, in spades, by the very context of the movie); plus the recognition that as convincing as this adversarial struggle seems to be, it's actually not the true nature of things.

Undergoing this quest, entering the way, is to learn how to come into accord with the Tao, since, in truth, there is nothing else but the Tao (or Buddha Nature, or Awareness itself...). The crux of the matter, is to move in synch with the Tao, in all circumstances.
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Mon Oct 10, 2011 4:04 pm

Tao meets Zen meets Kozan.

Without our roles, is there really a play to follow?

A nice description of awakening beyond conditioning's stage which seems to be what Kozan is calling "true" and what Aunti is calling the "way".

Some might sing "we don't need to find the way home", waka freedom's everywhere.


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AuntyEntity

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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:51 pm

Hahaha, y'all are capital. I love a good tangent, especially when it's this corny! Here's my dusty thoughts:

Kozan's on quite a fine track. There's indeed more to Mad Max than meets the eye. Remember that Thunder Dome is a place of judgment and trial, but cheaply won and without ontological courage or real resolution: a "koan", if I'm feeling the meaning on that term right. The audience chants the koan, "Two men enter, one man leaves..." as each adversary faces the other, that is, the Other, their shadow of self which they hate. When Mad Max unmasks Blaster to find that he's a mentally disabled boy, the pathos is quite stirring, much like the unmasking of our karmas as we pursue the Natural. Max yields to empathy, to identity. Even Aunty is haunted and moved, though she continues to scream for Max to kill Blaster. But Max here begins to finally recognize that he must follow the way of compassion by refusing to play the game. Until Thunder Dome, Max was pretty blind. In this metaphor, yes, Thunder Dome is the needless trial of our karmic selves fighting our dualistic Others. To quote another 80's flick about nuclear holocaust, "Interesting game. The only winning move is not to play."

I feel sorry for community leaders like Aunty Entity (Tina) who get caught in the pride of power and believe their achievements don't often rest on injustice. We're all a little like that, aren't we? She does, we must note, experience a Yielding transformation in the end, laughing along with Max in his bumbling adventure.

There's another good koan in that movie, the Lord of the Flies style (but rather edenic) refuge of the Tribe of children. Much like monks who first begin to yearn for worldly life, they chant, "We don't need the Knowin', we can live here!" Their cargo cult's Messiah is Captain Walker, who probably died in the desert, but who they wait for to sweep them off to Tomorrowmorrowland. Thinking Max is Captain Walker, they definitely mistake the meaning of their adult visitor. He's their "hero", but believing this only causes trouble. They believe the finger for the moon, which causes the community to fragment, but does precipitate catharsis. It's Max's flawed, honest humanity, however, his reluctance and simplicity as well as compassion, which does help those who dare to leave to "grow up" and reach the bombed out cities. They begin to build Tomorrowmorrowland with their own effort, with clearer eyes.

More apropos, yes, I thought it was giggly to see Thunder Dome as having some correspondence to Shasta Abbey in this forum. As Tina and her children sing, many here seem sick of hero-idolatry, not needing to be coddled anymore at "home", and have finally decided to only pursue what's beyond the Dome, which may be Nothing if we are lucky.

The Daoist joke in the Turner song: We don't need to know the way home, as KNOWING tends to obscure the Way, which never really leads home again. Our sect does alot of Thunder Rite (靁法) stuff, too, dealing with a peculiar and lesser known theology/cosmology depicting emergence as primordial Thunders, which are an aspect of the Great Ultimate (太極). But... All we want is what's beyoooonnnd the Thunder Dome, the An-Ultimate (無極), the fecund Empty.

As a ratty Daoist chick, I'm in charge of my own karmic Thunder Dome out here in the desert powered on existential pig pucky. It's hard to see Bartertown fall to pieces, and tempting to use force to deny the futility... But in the end I'm laughing along with Max (my inner nature). "Ain't we a pair! Raggedyman..."

Ain't we all?
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Mon Oct 10, 2011 8:48 pm

Kozan wrote:

...in truth, there is nothing else but the Tao (or Buddha Nature, or
Awareness itself...). The crux of the matter, is to move in synch with
the Tao, in all circumstances.


Hey Koz'! If there is nothing else but the Tao, where is there another thing to be in synch, or not to be in synch with it?
O.
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Mon Oct 10, 2011 9:10 pm

Ol'ga wrote:

Hey Koz'! If there is nothing else but the Tao, where is there another thing to be in synch, or not to be in synch with it?
O.


Where indeed!! ;-)

(Sometimes the Tao forgets itself; and then the self has to forget itself, so that the Tao can remember. When the self and the Tao are in synch, neither exist, and yet...where did I put my teacup?)
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Mon Oct 10, 2011 11:25 pm

And, lest I forget--teaching methodologies that seek to subdue the self, especially when they employ deprivation or humiliation--make it virtually impossible for the self to forget itself in any enduring sense.

Buddhism, and the OBC, has a tragic history in this regard, which we (IMO) should never forget.



And, back to the original question of this thread.

Aunty, I agree with virtually all of the above comments. I agree with those that urge caution; I agree with those that cannot muster any recommendation for the OBC; and I agree with those that have had good experience with the OBC (as I have).

Perhaps my sense of humor is just as rogue-ish as I've heard Taoist humor to be--and as your name and avatar suggest!
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Tue Oct 11, 2011 12:25 am

And perhaps last (for now), but definitely not least: your last dusty thoughts Aunty are quite wonderful, and very insightful! Great identification of the koan of dualistic adversity: "two men enter, one man leaves". Solve the koan--recognize that your apparent opponent is only the projection of your shadow--or you're dead, no matter the outcome! You've jogged memories of the film that I had long forgotten.

Your suggested parallel between Shasta, and the Thunderdome is also interesting to me--not as a literal equivalency--but in the sense that an assault on the self, puts the self, in the Thunderdome.

I think that this is a good opportunity for practice and insight--only when it is not contrived, or created through manipulation, by a teacher!
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Wed Nov 02, 2011 12:43 am

Ever since I pushed the send button in an reply to Aunty Entity, October 9th, I knew I needed to make an apology to those monks, Sangha of the OBC, who had shown me during my years of training that there are always those who understood the true meaning of the robe, to whom it is sacred and who trained and taught with simplicity and integrity and were able to convey that without having to resort to methods that should never have a role in any religious training.Should they have read this speech that I referred to in this post I want to say to them that I deeply regret to have injured their feelings and will not try to justify it in any manner.

My sincere belief is that occasional infusions of empathy and kindness when applied at the right moment would not detract from true Zen training, but much rather enhance it.

With best wishes

Brigitte
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Thu Nov 03, 2011 9:46 pm

AuntyEntity wrote:
Despite the leadership and institutional difficulties, would you still consider Shasta Abbey a suitable and safe place for those inquiring about basic Buddhism to make such inquries?
Yes. I would have very little worry that your friend would come to any harm attending a introductory retreat. If she ever became motivated to become a disciple (the question did not EVEN come up at my introductory retreat...in no sense did they try to "rush" us), then I would suggest that she ask some very frank questions regarding their recent scandals before signing up with any of the Zen teachers (aka masters).

AuntyEntity wrote:
Is their general teaching of Buddhism mainstream at this point?
I believe so, particularly if you stipulate that Zen Buddhism is mainstream. There are so many sects in Buddhism that it's very hard to identify a single mainstream.


AuntyEntity wrote:
Is the Shasta method of cultivation and practice at all efficacious and dovetail with general Buddhist method which my friend might find elsewhere?
Certainly, yes. It was efficacious in my experience. I have quoted (in paraphrased form) what I was taught at an introductory retreat to much more widely experienced Buddhists than me, including other traditions, and was told that it sounded normal. I also enjoyed the retreat and found it to be centering and gave a small boost to my concentration.


AuntyEntity wrote:
Do they still use Anglican chant and song for most liturgy?
Yes.


AuntyEntity wrote:
If Shasta (and evidently its satellite priories) is inadvisable, are there any similar monasteries or temple centres in the Pacific Northwest which you would recommend instead?
I haven't really explored. The City of 10,000 Buddhas in Ukiah, CA is known (by report) for marathon meditation retreats. Their website definitely suggests a strong scholarly bent (last I checked), as they appear to teach a number of classes. TC10kB is Chan Buddhist, that is, Chinese Zen. The head monks at Dharma Rain Zen Center in Portland, Oregon used to contribute to this site, and certainly leave the impression of genial and caring people.

Hope this helps. Great photo, btw...Tina Turner was the best thing about that movie.

--Dan
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PostSubject: Re: Shasta Abbey for Seekers?   Mon Nov 19, 2012 2:11 am

gnorwell wrote:
Hi AuntyEntity,

You could also argue that since Shasta Abbey has been through their review process they should be safer than some other places.

Kind regards,
George

I would agree with this statement.

I would absolutely recommend Shasta Abbey to anyone.

It's by how we handle our mistakes, and honest criticism that we are often measured and trust is built.

By that standard, Shasta Abbey and the OBC have done an exemplary job of being open and transparent and addressing concerns and safety.

In Gasshō,

Sara H
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