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 Do the monks Know about Eko/OBCC

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glorfindel

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PostSubject: Do the monks Know about Eko/OBCC   Sun Apr 01, 2012 6:50 am

I was just looking at the "cute" pictures in the Shasta and Throssel galleries and daydreaming how nice it would be if the organisation really was as ideal as the pictures suggest. I suddenly wondered whether the monks in the pictures knew of what happened with Eko or were aware of what many ex monks (many of them senior [ie Abbots]) on this forum have said. I became very uncomfortable with the thought that the information could have been kept from them. As a father the idea of bringing up children with the belief that the world is a magical place where Santa Claus is real makes me cringe inside. Likewise, if I was an Abbot I'd want all the monks to have ALL the information so that they could decide for themselves whether or not to continue practicing in the tradition.

Does anyone know? Do all the monks, "even" the novices, know everything?
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Do the monks Know about Eko/OBCC   Sun Apr 01, 2012 10:18 am

glorfindel wrote:
Likewise, if I was an Abbot I'd want all the monks to have ALL the information so that they could decide for themselves whether or not to continue practicing in the tradition.

Does anyone know? Do all the monks, "even" the novices, know everything?

Interesting question. I would actually rephrase it a little and ask was everyone officially told everything? By that I mean were all the monks and novices told the full story by the OBC leadership as opposed to finding it out through other channels. Certainly the disclosure in the Shasta Abbey community was quite thorough, but I don't know that the other temples, such as Throssel, felt the need to fully inform everyone. I don't know that other temples saw what happened at SA as implying system wide weaknesses that they needed to look at.
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: Do the monks Know about Eko/OBCC   Sun Apr 01, 2012 1:42 pm

Glorfindel's quote

As a father the idea of bringing up children with the belief that the world is a magical place where Santa Claus is real makes me cringe inside. Likewise, if I was an Abbot I'd want all the monks to have ALL the information so that they could decide for themselves whether or not to continue practising in the tradition.

The Santa Claus analogy is apt. The space in children between holding on to Santa and not is usually fraught with self interest. Most children have always been surrounded by info that both supports and denies Santa's existence.

Children, like us, have sight that is limited by the the veils of self interest.. If they believed the goodies would stop arriving with their public acknowledgement of the Santa fraud, I think we'd be finding teenaged Santa believers. I see little reason to think that the OBC would be very much different than us. It's not whether the info is out there (because I think it is) but is more about who is actually willing to hear & face it with all the doubt & change that follow in it's wake.
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PostSubject: Re: Do the monks Know about Eko/OBCC   Mon Apr 02, 2012 4:21 am

This is an interesting question isn't it?My immediate response to these posts was the thought that there is a great difference between being cognisant of facts and the appreciation of their significance.For instance,death as a fact of life had a completely different meaning to me when I was a child although the fact that everybody dies hasn't changed...

I could write here about the number and kind of sexual abuses that take place in UK.I could follow the facts with some analysis of causes.I could give you a case history of a sex offender.I could go on to introduce you to a survivor of abuse.

Would that give you a full picture of the significance of these experiences to those who survive them?How would your personal history,your recent and current frame of mind,your beliefs and prejudices,influence your response?

I practice in OBC groups,including Throssel.I know some of the monks quite well,and have discussed the reports about Michael Little in some of these groups,with monks and lay people.For instance two days ago I was on retreat with some lay trainees.One of the trainees told us that in his local group they had discussed at some length "events in America"(ie Shasta Abbey).This group it seems would like to feel these discussions could be useful to the Order.

I have found a variety of different interpretations of the alleged facts,and heard many different languages used while people have been thinking and talking.

I have been astonished and shocked by what I feel is the complacency and ignorance expressed.But I am also aware that in other social circles,in "normal" society,most people don't talk about sexual abuses either.This repressive tendency is part of "normal" functioning in "normal" life.Take lids off cans of worms and the worms would be crawling all over us ---it would all be worms!We need the cans!

Or do we?

A final comment.In my experience there is a high tolerance of bizarre behaviour at Throssel.I have come to the conclusion that the chance of meeting a florid psychotic or a novice sex offender at Throssel is about ten times higher than in the town where I live,although not in the locked wards where I have worked.



This tolerance is probably seen as a benevolent approach to mental illness?

Is it caused by ignorance of the potential risks to the public?

Is it a function of the cultural history of the order ?("We've always had weirdos here")

Interesting topic....
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glorfindel

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PostSubject: Re: Do the monks Know about Eko/OBCC   Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:22 am

Yes Isan that is a better way of putting it. I would hope that the head of each temple would sit down with each individual monk and tell them what has been going on. I include in this alot of the stories told by ex order members. For me, Eko going "laylife" while still an abbot doesn't deserve more transparency than the many things spoken of on this forum (Amalia, Henry, etc).

I'd want the leaders to say,"look, this is what's being said. This is what I think. Now make up your own mind."


Howard I agree and totally see how fear could stop people from looking at something head-on, but it's not so much the reactions of the monks I'm concerned about. It's the intentions and responsibility of the leaders that I'm asking about.

Ikuko, It's really nice to hear from someone still practicing in the OBC, and it's nice to notice that you have your critical faculties in perfect order. It has given me a nice perspective to think of you practicing with equanimity among all sorts of different people, some you even deem to be potentially dangerous! If you were at Throssel and you were told to do something by a senior monk whom you deemed to be a potential sex offender would you bow to him/her?
Again I don't want to emphasize event concerning Eko. I'm also not really asking about the culture that exists in the Order (though the insights you give are sharp and interesting). I'm just wondering whether the leaders are being open with the monks about the order's reputation, or whether they are harbouring secrets.
Even with the mess of Eko, the mess of the OBCC stories and the mess you described in your post, the OBC is still the least messy Buddhist organisation I have been involved with. Most of them involved ACTUAL sexual contact between priests and followers. The OBC is one of the few that I think actually have the potential for the straightforward transparency I am wishing for. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Your job sounds fun!

Ok I will log out now. I'm a bit ill at the moment so possibly not being coherent.
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mstrathern
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PostSubject: Re: Do the monks Know about Eko/OBCC   Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:07 pm

A good question and some insightful comments. I feel that a big part of the issue comes down two major questions. The first question is whether the (mis)behaviours described were symptoms of systematic flaws in the OBC, or whether these were isolated instances of personal flaws and people going off the rails. You won't be surprised to hear that I think that the flaws were systemic. The second question is what can the OBC, it's followers, and others, do in either or both cases. It would appear to me that if the flaws are 'merely' personal than it is a question of better oversight and policing, but if, as I fear, the problems are systemic than it becomes a question of a more wholesale revision. And as others have said in both cases the starting point is honesty, transparency and facing up to the problems. Indeed if this does not happen then problems that are 'merely' personal will rapidly become institutionalised and systemic. If on the other hand the problems were systemic to start with then it will almost inevitably take some time for the lessons to be taken on board and will call for a much wider and deeper reformation.


The OBC has clearly suffered a major seismic shock. Hopefully one that has unblocked their eyes, ears and hearts sufficiently to start them on the long path to recovery.
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Jimyo

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PostSubject: Re: Do the monks Know about Eko/OBCC   Tue Apr 03, 2012 8:42 am

To answer the original question, as far as I remember it was reported accurately in the OBC Journal, which is read by monks and lay people in all countries.
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Ikuko



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PostSubject: Re: Do the monks Know about Eko/OBCC   Tue Apr 03, 2012 10:10 am

Another good series of posts.It is interesting to hear views and thoughts being expressed,and helps me with my worrying tendencies.I don't worry so much when I feel that other people are focussing on this issue...

I wanted to correct something I wrote that might be misunderstood.I wrote "Novice sex offender",meaning an inexperienced sex offender,not a monastic Novice.

Enough said I think.
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tufsoft



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PostSubject: Re: Do the monks Know about Eko/OBCC   Wed Apr 04, 2012 12:19 am

About thirty years ago when the movement against Cruise and Pershing missiles was blossoming in Europe, I had occasion to work with a group of Buddhist monks who were dedicated to building Peace Pagodas in various places around the world. They use to walk around Magliocco missile base in Comiso, Sicily, every day banging drums and chanting a sutra which they declined to translate for the curious. Their order had been founded by a Japanese monk who had been at Hiroshima when the A bomb was dropped, and had henceforth decided to dedicate his life to peace and the avoidance of nuclear catastrophe.

I got to know some of them quite well. They carried backpacks with basic bedding and dossed down in schools or abandoned farm buildings and lived rather as I imagined Buddhist monks were supposed to live.

At that time I was rather under the influence of Zen Buddhism, and had read DT Suzuki and even made a rather unproductive trip to Throssel Hole. And one day I sat down under a tree with one of these campaigning nuns and had a chat and mentioned along the way that I thought Zen Buddhism was flourishing in America and this seemed pretty positive to me. “Oh”, she said, “We hate those people”.

At the time this seemed a strange remark for a Buddhist nun to make, but thirty years later, having watched the progress of “Zen Buddhism” in American it now makes perfect sense and I can whole-heartedly say I sympathise with, and agree with, that sentiment. The whole Zen industry in the USA seems to be nothing but a huge, expensive and vacuous hierarchy for people who would apparently consider it beneath them to settle for an ordinary job title. The property deals, the huge pensions, the power struggles, in a word, nauseating.

As for the Reverend Eko Little, what really surprises me is not that a man, after ten or more years of having no natural outlet for his sexuality, might make a few dirty phone calls (the recipients of which were, apparently, adult women, after all!) but the near unanimous chorus of outraged piety that such a thing could happen at all. I mean, sex is a basic human instinct, isn’t it? Zen followers are supposed to be seekers after truth, aren’t they? Can you get to the truth without going by way of reality? If so I should like to be informed how such a marvellous result can be obtained! Have these Zen followers never read any books? Did the whole of the twentieth century pass them by?

I notice on another thread there is a question as to whether closing your eyes when meditating can kill you. I can assure you from my own experience that it can’t. But it’s quite clear that for many Zen followers today, actually opening the eyes could have potentially fatal results.
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: Do the monks Know about Eko/OBCC   Wed Apr 04, 2012 7:22 am

:-) Hi tufsoft!

I don't want to railroad glorfindel's questions, but to offer some observations and considerations on questions you raised that others might also puzzle about...

You wrote:
As for the Reverend Eko Little, what really surprises me is not that a man, after ten or more years of having no natural outlet for his sexuality, might make a few dirty phone calls (the recipients of which were, apparently, adult women, after all!) but the near unanimous chorus of outraged piety that such a thing could happen at all. I mean, sex is a basic human instinct, isn’t it? Zen followers are supposed to be seekers after truth, aren’t they? Can you get to the truth without going by way of reality?
I think that many Buddhist practitioners experience, as their training develops, seeing through and abandoning quasi-mystical notions of sexual sensation as 'different and special', and addiction to sexual sensation, as well as various (from their new perspective...) 'ridiculous and rubbish reasons' for entering partner-relationships.

I think that, as far as purely physical pleasure goes, DIY may generally be the better method for both genders; so something(s) else is involved when seeking a partner (though hype and misinformation about sexual intercourse may play a part in confusing people, rather like the grown-ups in Hans Christian Andersen's The Emperor's New Clothes).

Bring in a partner and one brings in interpersonal ethics: do I only like this person because s/he is good-looking?...reminds me of someone/thing else?...do I just want to be seen as popular/normal?...do I want him/her to love me because I can't stand myself?...etc. I think that, when some people clear out their powerful rubbish-reasons for entering partner-relationships, they may (for at least a time) be unable to discern any good reasons in their mental dossier for entering such a relationship and assume that there can be no good reasons, and indeed that such relationships will eventually impede spiritual progress. (At one time, I had the idea that 'staying in harmony' with a partner would rely on both of us "stagnating", and that if I/he developed we would inevitably go on different trajectories...this can indeed happen when only one partner deeply trains but, at that time, I assumed it would be true in all instances.)

As a person becomes clearer about sex from the aspects of sensation and befogged reasons for relationships, they may quite naturally gravitate toward an unpartnered and nonsexual lifestyle (at least for a time), not from repression but from clarity that has seen through some factors that they have since shucked off but which may still motivate others.

In Theravada Buddhism is the assumption that sexual abstinence is an inevitable and permanent consequence of a certain degree of liberative insight. Master Jiyu Kennett drew heavily on Theravadin ideas about this; and Eko apparently 'espoused' these ideas, and spoke and ruled adamantly about sexual activity (as reported by some on this forum). So apart from trust and power issues (over which much concern has been expressed on this forum), and reports of his playing roughly with some hearts, Eko's deliberate sexual activity may have run counter to expectations based on what are valid experiences of some practitioners as their practice deepens, plus expectations based on Theravadin ideas that sexual abstinence (at least in intent) is an inevitable outcome, and remains a co-condition, of entering certain stages of liberative insight.

I may be wrong on this, but I think this view of sexual abstinence may also be quite a common underlying assumption among some other Mahayanists, despite the marital status of renowned characters like Vimalakirti, etc.

...And I do agree that, just as "seekers of truth" may for at least a time lean toward sexual abstinence as a result of seeing certain truths, so may come a time when they need to examine certain assumptions arisen from this. Alas, I’m in a bit of a rush, so I hope that what I have written is reasonably clear despite my haste.

(Excusez-moi, glorfindel.)
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Do the monks Know about Eko/OBCC   Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:56 am

tufsoft wrote:
The whole Zen industry in the USA seems to be nothing but a huge, expensive and vacuous hierarchy for people who would apparently consider it beneath them to settle for an ordinary job title. The property deals, the huge pensions, the power struggles, in a word, nauseating.

When Zen first arrived in the West it was so glamorous that its practitioners became celebrities on the order of pop stars, so not surprising that there were the attendant excesses and abuses. Jiyu Kennett was acutely aware of this and to her credit largely avoided associating with the glitterati. Unfortunately her organization was not completely immune to problems which after all derive from human nature.

tufsoft wrote:
As for the Reverend Eko Little, what really surprises me is not that a man, after ten or more years of having no natural outlet for his sexuality, might make a few dirty phone calls (the recipients of which were, apparently, adult women, after all!) but the near unanimous chorus of outraged piety that such a thing could happen at all. I mean, sex is a basic human instinct, isn’t it? Zen followers are supposed to be seekers after truth, aren’t they? Can you get to the truth without going by way of reality?

Agreed. The main problem as I see it is not that Eko "failed" to completely suppress his sexual needs or even that he lied about it. The main problem is the underlying belief that being a monk requires a life long commitment to celibacy, and conversely that returning to a sexually active (lay) lifestyle implies failure. When I was at Shasta Abbey there was so much judgment and shunning associated with this it wasn't surprising that monks initially lied about it (perhaps especially to themselves). Jiyu Kennett originally described the Buddhist Sangha as allowing people to move into the priesthood and then back into lay life multiple times over the course of a lifetime in response to changing needs, but she eventually created a rigid system where that was impossible. Given the consequences of leaving the priesthood it is virtually impossible to honestly evaluate one's feelings and choose without fear. Eko was not the first and probably isn't the last person to be caught by this dilemma.

tufsoft wrote:
I notice on another thread there is a question as to
whether closing your eyes when meditating can kill you. I can assure you
from my own experience that it can’t. But it’s quite clear that for
many Zen followers today, actually opening the eyes could have potentially fatal results.

Priceless!


Last edited by Isan on Wed Apr 04, 2012 1:56 pm; edited 1 time in total
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mokuan



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PostSubject: Re: Do the monks Know about Eko/OBCC   Wed Apr 04, 2012 1:29 pm

It's been nearly two years since eko left. Has anyone heard about how he's doing or even what he's doing?
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Do the monks Know about Eko/OBCC   Wed Apr 04, 2012 2:44 pm

Mokuan - here are a few publicly-available links, indicating recent activities. I'm told that he is still in Maine but stays in touch with contacts in the Mt. Shasta area.

The third link in this list is one that I do not understand, if this is in fact the same Michael Little - I'm not clear on that.

]http://www.linkedin.com/pub/michael-little/36/3a8/304

]http://www.woodschool.org/furniture-making-courses-programs/nine-month-comprehensive/alumni

]http://www.massagetherapy.com/get-a-massage/michaellittle


Edited: some people are having trouble opening the third link (although it opens for me). Go to www.massagetherapy.com and you can do a search for jin shin jyutsu practitioners in Maine, and the listing for Michael Little of Camden, Maine, appears.
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mokuan



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PostSubject: Re: Do the monks Know about Eko/OBCC   Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:43 am

Thanks, Lise. I remember that eko really liked woodworking and flower gardening.
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Do the monks Know about Eko/OBCC   Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:45 pm

Yes, I've heard that too.

update / Since posting the links yesterday I've had some PMs/emails about Michael Little and his jin shin jyutsu business in Maine. To be clear, my post was not an endorsement; it was a factual update. Questions are obviously raised by his decision to enter a profession requiring physical touching of clients, in light of his alleged sexual behaviour with women as reported by Shasta Abbey.

Woodworking - good idea. Massage therapy - hmmm.


Last edited by Lise on Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:02 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : reigning in editorial inclinations)
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