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 Another introduction and some observations

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Shirlet



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Join date : 2010-07-02

PostSubject: Another introduction and some observations   Thu Jul 29, 2010 6:32 am

Hi

I've been lurking here for a while (like I suspect many others are) and have read everything with great interest.

My background:
I've had an arms length relationship with the OBC for over 20 years. I've read most of Roshi Jiyu's works and continue to receive the journal. I attended a couple of introductory retreats at Throssel Hole and visited a meditation group and a priory once so I don't have a great deal of direct experience of the OBC. I also have some knowledge and experience of other approaches to practice such as those of Jack Kornfield, Jon Kabat-Zinn and Ajahn Chah. I am a practicing therapist and understand the very difficult balance of responsibilities within the process of healing - which I consider spiritual practice in many ways to be. (The book 'Heal Thyself' by Saki Santorelli is an excellent work about the wounded healer and mindfulness practice).

I think this forum serves a hugely important purpose for people to share their thoughts and feelings about their experiences. In any healing process it is necessary to shed light in the dark places and be a witness to what's there - as long as it doesn't create more attachment.

I would like to make two observations. This is still only one side of the picture. There is no one contributing here yet from inside the OBC and I sincerely hope this changes. I think it would be very valuable to get their perspective as long as it does not descend into simple denials and recriminations. My second observation is simply for us to remember that we ALL have a perspective on these things that is ours alone and is coloured by our karma. We should try to be aware that there is never a single true perception of how things are as the parable of the blind men and the elephant tells us. There is however a clear line of responsibility for perceiving when harm is being done.

We should also we aware and sensitive to the fact that content of this forum will be disturbing for current members of the OBC. This may push people into denial or it may have impacts that we cannot foresee, so we should take care and be sure that anything we say is coming from a place of compassion.

So maybe what Roshi Jiyu said about Zen being a practice for spiritual adults was right. And maybe the old-school Zen approach of making it very difficult to enter a monastery was right. I struggled myself for a long time with the OBC approach. I stuck with it because I mistakenly thought it was the 'purest' form of practice and looked down on others. I eventually realised my delusion and that attachment to this idea was getting in the way and have finally moved on to follow a gentler path. However, I think the responsibility clearly lies with the monastery for who they accept and how they are treated. The idea that religious organisations are outside of the normal standards for duty of care is unacceptable in the 21st century.

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Kyogen

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PostSubject: Re: Another introduction and some observations   Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:29 pm

Hello Shirlet,

I agree with everything you say. I think it's important for any religious community to make very clear what is expected at different levels of commitment. It is also important to understand that when a new student first comes through the door, this does not give a teacher permission to direct that new person's life. Spiritual direction should be carefully negotiated and agreed upon. In my view, it should never include power over personal decisions, just as health care or finances. Those are out of bounds.

Kyogen
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Lise
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Age : 43

PostSubject: welcome!   Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:54 pm

Hello Shirlet -- thanks for joining us.

A couple of thoughts in response to your good & very informative introduction:

Shirlet wrote:
In any healing process it is necessary to shed light in the dark places and be a witness to what's there - as long as it doesn't create more attachment. . . .]

Agree. And it would be hard for an observer to credibly conclude when and whether someone is creating or releasing attachment; this is too subjective and personal for anyone else to decide, esp. in a forum setting like this.

Shirlet wrote:
This is still only one side of the picture. There is no one contributing here yet from inside the OBC and I sincerely hope this changes. I think it would be very valuable to get their perspective as long as it does not descend into simple denials and recriminations.

There are a few members here who I think are still involved with the OBC. I too would like to see them use the forum more. The key is for them to start more threads of their own that will stay on-topic with their thoughts and perceptions. For the most part, they've dropped posts into threads started by others who don't feel good about the OBC, so their comments tend to get lost. Or their comments may be perceived as trying to refute or deflect the original poster's concerns or criticism, which may not be their intent at all. I have encouraged some OBC members to start their own threads but there seems to be a barrier for most of these folks . . .


Shirlet wrote:
We should also we aware and sensitive to the fact that content of this forum will be disturbing for current members of the OBC. . . ."

Yes, it's important to be sensitive to different perspectives. This is why I ask people to read the Forum Rules before getting started, which talk about the different viewpoints they can expect to encounter. The rules also say that no one is obliged to agree with anyone else and that anyone's statements can be challenged. From this information they should understand they may read things that upset them. I have also started giving people a gentle head's up, if I see from their introductions that they are current OBC sangha.

Shirlet wrote:
" . . . so we should take care and be sure that anything we say is coming from a place of compassion.

On this I don't agree, and would like to make clear it is not a requirement for posting on this forum.

I still identify as Buddhist. I believe we are better off if we can speak with compassion. Trouble is, some of us aren't there yet, or aren't buddhist anymore, or may be having a bad day and not hitting that compassion target as well as we'd like. I want people to be able to express what they need to say here, so long as it's truthful and expressed in respectful terms.

To ask forum members to keep compassion in mind would be to put my own Buddhist overlay onto their right to speak. I will not do that, nor support anyone else's attempts to influence speech that does not seem "compassionate" on its face.

I hope that clarifies how I see this forum evolving -- it is really a critical point that we need to be clear about, from the outset.

Once more, welcome, and I hope you enjoy being part of the forum community.

Regards,
Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Another introduction and some observations   Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:59 pm

Just to add, I agree with Kyogen's comments that agree with Shirlet's . . . except where I don't agree, as noted . . . Smile
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Kyogen

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PostSubject: Re: Another introduction and some observations   Thu Jul 29, 2010 1:59 pm

Hi Lise,

I'm going to both agree and disagree with you about compassion. I don't see compassion as always being sweet. Since it means, literally, "suffer with," it is essentially about connecting. To me, when anger is deeply truthful it is compassionate. It shares suffering very directly while pointing out something truthful about it. While we can be upset, and post from a position that is less than compassionate, I would hope we are trying to hit the mark in a truthful way that connects us with those we may criticize. This is very different from dumping negativity. Again, I don't expect perfection from myself on this, so I can't expect it from others. But holding that as an intention is important to me.

With palms joined,

Kyogen
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Another introduction and some observations   Thu Jul 29, 2010 3:19 pm

Kyogen, I think I see what you're getting at, and hopefully I've not misunderstood Shirlet's comments too greatly either.

I'm encouraged so far by the tone of discourse here. I was initially concerned we might see baseless bashing of people or ideas, unsupported accusations equal to a personal attack, things which would be examples of the "dumping negativity" you mentioned. So far that hasn't happened -- I think a good tone is being established and I hope that sense of balance continues. It's true that compassionate thought and speech can take other forms apart from positive/friendly terms.

I do need to say, still, that I don't expect any poster here to be constrained by how his or her truthful comments may affect someone who has engaged in abuse or otherwise caused harm. They don't have to take on that burden; it's too much to ask that they be worried about that. This does not preclude the rest of us (or some of us) from feeling or voicing compassion for an abuser or the situation, or offering merit privately; it just doesn't require that the affected person filter his or her speech with that issue in mind.

As mentioned, this forum does not require adherence to buddhist or other principles about compassionate speech or behavior; it wasn't created to promote those doctrines or any ideology. To ask that everyone comment from a place of compassion is not supportable to me because of the chilling effect it would have on discussions here, and I hope to avoid that at all costs.

I'm glad we're trading thoughts on this issue --

L.
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Kyogen

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PostSubject: Re: Another introduction and some observations   Thu Jul 29, 2010 4:38 pm

Hi Lise,

I agree with your policy and support it completely. I must say that I don't think my view is particularly "Buddhist," however, compassion and wisdom being throughly English words and all. So, open policy - good. Meanwhile, some of us will encourage a truthful yet compassionate dialog.

With palms joined,

Kyogen
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Another introduction and some observations   Thu Jul 29, 2010 4:53 pm

Sounds good to me Smile
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Shirlet



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PostSubject: Re: Another introduction and some observations   Fri Jul 30, 2010 9:24 am

Hi Lise,
Thanks for the welcome and your thoughtful response. I apologise if I implied that I thought people should hold back on expressing themselves in line with a doctrinal view of compassionate speech. I am no great lover of doctrine and that was certainly not my intention. I don't expect this forum to conform to a Buddhist perspective and should have been more sensitive in my choice of words. I completely understand and agree with your view that posters should feel able to express whatever they need to unhindered by such restrictions.

My view of compassion is very much in line with that expressed by Kyogen and also by yourself as avoiding "dumping negativity". I've been involved in a few forums before and have been sadly disappointed by a natural tendency for them to descend into negativity and unnecessary cruelty. My intention was to encourage the opposite - as Kyogen puts it "a truthful yet compassionate dialog". I think you've done a marvellous job so far of maintaining the balance here just right.

I'm afraid my use of language is not always as good as it could be. Especially in these cross-cultural environments. Please don't hold back in letting me know if anything I write concerns you.

Thanks, S.
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Another introduction and some observations   Fri Jul 30, 2010 10:09 am

Hi Shirlet -- no apology needed at all, this is how things get clarified, and I appreciate your comments and Kyogen's which have helped achieve that.

I agree, we've all seen those forums where hostility runs rampant and you can barely make sense of a discussion for all the chimps flinging dung at each other. With any luck that won't get started here and it will be a useful place for people to come to. We shall see Smile

Great to have you here.

cheers,
L

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sandokai



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PostSubject: Re: Another introduction and some observations   Fri Jul 30, 2010 2:22 pm

Lise wrote:
There are a few members here who I think are still involved with the OBC. I too would like to see them use the forum more. The key is for them to start more threads of their own that will stay on-topic with their thoughts and perceptions. For the most part, they've dropped posts into threads started by others who don't feel good about the OBC, so their comments tend to get lost. Or their comments may be perceived as trying to refute or deflect the original poster's concerns or criticism, which may not be their intent at all. I have encouraged some OBC members to start their own threads but there seems to be a barrier for most of these folks . . .

This is me.

i'm uncomfortable from two directions. on one hand i feel like im being unfaithful to the people i care about who are loyal to the obc. on the other hand i haven't seen what others have so i feel guilty because i cant offer support or commiseration
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Kyogen

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PostSubject: Re: Another introduction and some observations   Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:18 pm

Hello Sandokai,

Interesting name. I understand your discomfort. Even though I might speak the truth as I see it, no one's view is perfect. That's true of everyone that posts here, so you don't have to agree with or adopt a point of view you don't or can't share. It is enough to witness and accept what people say as their current imperfect view of their experience. You're willingness to be a witness makes a difference. Thank you.

With palms joined,

Kyogen
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