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 Where's Eko?

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whoisit?



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PostSubject: Where's Eko?   Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:01 pm

First topic message reminder :

Where is eko little? Has anyone heard from him ever since he got kicked out of Shasta Abbey? Im curious
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Carol



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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Mon Jul 06, 2015 12:32 pm

That about sums it up, Michael. Thanks for putting it so well! I just saw an interesting movie "See you in my dreams" about a widow who finally meets the perfect new mate, then he suddenly dies. She goes back to doing what she was doing before the excitement of love and the hope of happiness. Only then she finally realizes that doing what is there is what brings joy, not the dream of what might be.
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chisanmichaelhughes



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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Mon Jul 06, 2015 9:32 pm

sounds like a good film Carol..too close to the truth for me I would squirm all the way through!

As humans we do suffer it is the nature f life we love things and they die no ammount of training can stop us being human,and bereavment of closely connected people is always the worse,nobody else can understand or quite feel the pain,the wise can become wiser and more compassionate for others.
I went back to school today to be with a mum I know whose daughter has an anxiety issue and does not attend  school,and legally things have come to a head, the daughter made a good comment by saying 'anxious people live in the futre' in other words they worry about what could happen so they develop an issue about unreality.The girl seens to understand that quite well and hopefully that may be a start to unravelling  her issues,of corse there is only one place to be,but sometimes it is surprisingly hard.You seem to have come back to the present with strength and understanding which is so good to see
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H Enida



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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Thu Jul 09, 2015 12:34 pm

Hello all,

I, too, was surprised by Michael's new-found profession.  After all, he was the "Preceptor" and espoused right livelihood on a regular basis, even at one point informing me he was firing a disciple because she was dating a cattleman (which, of course, if you are raising cattle to eat, is not right livelihood).  The Precept "A disciple of Buddha does not intoxicate self or others but rather cultivates and encourages clarity" (taken from SF Zen Center website) is a pretty basic Buddhist commitment.  To actively serve intoxicants to others would seem to be counter to the Precepts, which are the basis for calling oneself a Buddhist.  Perhaps he isn't a Buddhist anymore, or may merely associate himself socially....who knows.

For me it again brings up the "do as I say, not as I do" mantra I saw over and over in my experience at the Abbey.  It was easy to admonish a novice or junior monk not to do or say something, much harder not to do it yourself (i.e. the articles that Eko would have all his disciples read recommending to not pay attention to the Master's actions only regard his teachings, comes to mind). 

From all of this, I have come to rely on people's actions as true - not their words.  What exactly are they 'doing' when something difficult arises?  Are they practicing generosity or are they practicing selfishness?  Are they keeping a mind of equanimity and openness or are they hiding in self-protectiveness and denial?

I have no ill-will towards Michael Little or whatever he chooses to do for his livelihood - we all reap the consequences or our own actions, good and bad.  I am sure it is a mixed bag for him, as it is for us all.  I do hope that his new venture may give him pause to reflect on what might have been idealized and painful actions towards others on his part in the past - the kind of self-reflection we all can benefit from.  Smile
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chisanmichaelhughes



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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Sat Jul 11, 2015 12:58 am

Very interesting comments Enida. I am not sure that it works this 'do as I say not as I do'  it seems such a bigotted statement and actually takes one away from follow one.s heart.

Zen for me gives freedom from self and other the above gives dependence on other so for me is limited or wrong way zen
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glorfindel



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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Sun Jul 12, 2015 2:50 pm

H Enida wrote:
  To actively serve intoxicants to others would seem to be counter to the Precepts, which are the basis for calling oneself a Buddhist.
"Do not sell the wine of delusion"....Maybe he's serving rum, whisky and beer.

Seriously though, the dude isn't a monk. He can do whatever he likes.
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Mon Jul 13, 2015 2:16 pm

A Shasta monk once said that a lay person needn't abstain from alcohol in order to be a Buddhist. She said the strict prohibition was a part of monastic vows, rather than those lay people take (at Jukai, for instance).

And alcohol doesn't always intoxicate, does it? Lots of people can use it without overindulging and seem to do okay. I think the problem lies with those who don't take the middle way (moderation), for whatever reason. That's not the fault of the beverage.
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Sun Aug 16, 2015 8:33 am

Looking back, there were times when the level of work I accepted was galling. If you check completely, that's not so very uncommon and of course the number of people following your progress and turn from boon to burden in such a situation. The wisest man I ever met was a parking attendant and the most religious work I ever did was as a night auditor at a discount mom-and-pop motel where my decisions and very attitude effected the lives of those living there. Senator McCain told the story of his relief when a Hanoi Hilton prison guard unobstrusively scraped a Christian cross on the floor of his cell. Yes, I've chuckled in sympathy at a stranded motorist on a scalding, bumper-to-bumper freeway but I believe the ability to steer others into jobs that are solid and don't require compromising our way of life is one of the single most appreciated "teachings" anyone can offer.
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H Enida



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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Wed Dec 02, 2015 6:41 pm

Looking back over this thread, I felt I should clarify that I have no judgment towards Michael Little and his vocation as a bartender – I wish him well and that wasn’t my intention.  My point was directed at the fact that monks would occasionally give direct advice  on important matters - yet none of us can really know what the best choice is for someone else.  We can encourage them generally without having to become so entangled in their choices that the consequences become ours too.

And, you never know when you will find yourself in the same situation funny

Cheers to all for a lovely holiday season!
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Carol

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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Wed Dec 02, 2015 8:36 pm

Thanks, Enida, for your post on Michael Little.
I agree that it's not for us to judge what he does for a living.

I've been thinking about Michael Little recently in connection with OBC Connect. There have been lengthy discussions of the dark side of Peggy Kennett and her teachings. It seems to me that the fact that Eko was so close to her and she trusted him so much adds something to this discussion. Was she misled about him? Did he pick up some negative energy from her that became twisted in the year or so before he left Shasta? Did they have some connection on the dark side of the teaching?

Our discussion of Michael Little and his reported wrong-doings makes me somewhat uncomfortable as we have never heard his side of the story. Perhaps a thorough enough investigation was done to confirm his misdeeds, but I still wonder what he thinks about all that happened at Shasta and its aftermath.

I liked him when he was at Shasta and found his teachings helpful. How can I reconcile this with what later happened? What would he say if he were on this forum? How can someone do such a complete U-turn in life at his age?
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Thu Dec 03, 2015 8:36 am

Cheers. Looking back over all the first hand posts and only the first hand posts, Eko seems to have come in for lots of speculation and none of it good. Nobody speculated he's succeeded in some spiritual way he couldn't have ever at Shasta, have they?

I also have thought that the relation of OBC to the Kyogin-led Portland Buddhist colony could have been warmer, again from what I read of first hand reports only. A very dim-witted child can have vital knowledge of the snow, flooding or mud on a trail and I can be ignorant of the facts in both splits while finding them saddening.
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Thu Dec 03, 2015 1:32 pm

Thank you, Dan. "Nobody speculated he's succeeded in some spiritual way he couldn't have ever at Shasta, have they?"

Is it for us to say Michael Little "failed" at being a good OBC monk? Maybe he made spiritual progress beyond anyone's imaginings. We don't know where he started from, for one thing. And how can anyone - monk or lay person - decided that someone else's spiritual progress was deficient. He's still a Buddha, after all.
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H Sophia



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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Thu Dec 03, 2015 11:09 pm

Hi,

Just a thought, but maybe what happened to him was a result of living in a highly structured, dictatorship type environment from the time he was 19.  Maybe it is just not possible to mature emotionally in such a restrictive environment where most of the choices in life are made for you. Maybe it's making those choices and living with the consequences that mature us as we age.

Then, after living in total submission to his Master, all of the sudden he was put in charge, without the maturity to handle the power.  I'm just beginning to think that it is the hierarchical, restricted environment of the monastery that creates the really, reallly, bad behavior I witnessed by many of the senior monks, especially toward the novices.

It was mainly hidden from the laity, but once you ordained, there was some very selfish behavior on the part of many of the seniors.  Some worked hard at being fair and compassionate, but some didn't even seem to be aware of the meanness and spitefulness of their behavior. Some would come to you later and apologize and make an effort to do better, but some, especially Eko, could be really cruel to another monk in front of everyone and not seem to think there was anything wrong in behaving that way. The Monks teach compassion, but mostly by speech, not by action.

Many were afraid of him because they never knew when he would turn his critical attitude on them in a really harsh way.  I'm just wondering how hard it might be to develop normal compassion and maturity in a monastic environment like the Abbey. I think the independent thinkers that might have been better suited to be Abbot all left exactly because they were independent thinkers and their Master couldn't tolerate them.

Sophia (the second)
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Fri Dec 04, 2015 12:00 am

Sophia, your insights are right on the mark, in my opinion.

I would only add the thought that RM Jiyu (yes, I still refer to her as RM) introduced into OBC culture, in my opinion, the dynamic by which she:

1. Was not able to heal her own existential trauma through Buddhist practice as a result of an inadequate "roadmap" of Buddhist teaching and practice for the healing of existential trauma (which Stan accurately refers to as an insufficient or limited "tool box".

2. And, she denied the very existence of her unhealed existential trauma--thereby inevitably (as Stan has pointed out re his observations on the dynamic of denial and projection) projecting what she denied in herself on to others--and then lashing out against them with the same hatred for the traits that she hated in herself...

3. And this dynamic, in turn, allowed her to both perceive and present her behavior (lashing out against traits which she believed to be contrary to right practice) as "teaching".

4. I believe that this entire dynamic inevitably entered into the collective culture of the OBC as fundamental teaching which, by Jiyu's decree, "must never be questioned". And therefore, it remains, in place, unquestioned to this day.

5. In spite of this deeply rooted prohibition within OBC culture against questioning obvious patterns of systemic dysfunction at a collective level, there are--to my certain personal knowledge (and yes, I could name names) a fair number of currently active monks and lay practitioners within the Order who clearly recognize the institutional dysfunction--and do not buy in to it.

6. The problem (in my observation) that individual lay and monastic members of the OBC who fully understand everything that we talk about here on OBC Connect--is that the culture of the OBC simply does not recognize the existence of the very phenomenon of collective culture, or the collective unconscious dynamics of collective culture, itself. Therefore, there is no way (despite numerous historical attempts) in which currently active monks who recognize all of this, can raise the issue and talk about it at a collective level, within the larger monastic community.


7. Eko, unfortunately, in my observation and opinion, bought "hook, line, and sinker" into the collective cultural dysfunction that Jiyu introduced. It allowed him to present his own unhealed and denied existential trauma, as "teaching", just as Jiyu did. And, because of the corresponding context of OBC culture, the culture also made it nearly impossible (like the corresponding dynamic in the story of "The Emperor's New Clothes") for the larger Shasta community, the OBC in general, and the more conservative seniors in particular, to recognize what was going on.

8. Until, that is, both you Sophia, and Enida, bravely spoke up! (Well done!!)

Of course, there is clearly more work yet to do before our collective OBC cultural trauma can be healed.
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H Sophia



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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Fri Dec 04, 2015 11:27 am

Well, after Enida and I spoke up, a number of others came forward and, for a while, there was talk at the Abbey about the culture that had not only allowed this to go on, but contributed to this behavior.  It even seemed, for a while, that the majority of the monks wanted to see things change for the better. 

However, the most senior monks, the ones that had been there and were the most influenced by RM Jiyu, were not willing to change the "trust your Master no matter what he says or does, or asks you to do."  They believe that is the basis of the Master/Disciple relationship and the foundation of the teaching. They fear that without that blind trust, the teachings can't be passed on.

That seems to be the teaching that allows this culture of blind obedience and not questioning when harm is being done.  It's what contributed to harm being done for years without anyone speaking up in a way that forced others to listen.  Many had spoken up and not been believed.  Then they were forced to leave.  

The difference in our case was that I printed up the emails that proved Eko was lying and doing harm and then Enida and I gave them to the Head of the Order.  We actually put them in a position which forced them to see that harm was being done.

It was just amazing to me that after the Faith Trust Institute wrote such an amazing report which so clearly pointed out the culture which had allowed this to go on for YEARS, RM Meian said she didn't agree with the report and all we needed to do was carry on and everything would be ok.

I remember when Eko went up to visit Kyogen.  He came back and talked about how large and active their sangha was and how well they were doing.  They apparently have a large children's group and lots of young families, unlike the Abbey.  

I asked if he thought Kyogen would have ended up as Abbot if he had stayed.  Eko said he was sure, that if Kyogen had stayed he would be Abbot instead of Eko.  He said it really broke RM Jiyus heart when Kyogen left and she talked about and mourned his leaving for years.

Eko was the one who forbid the Carlesons from coming to the Abbey.  After Eko left I heard RM Meian rescinded that decision and the she allowed the Carlesons to visit. I think I might have read that on OBC Connect.  In fact there was a time when I was a novice that I got more information from OBC Connect about what was going on in the order than I did from the Order.

So I think it is true that the independent thinkers all left either voluntarily, or were force out by either RM Jiyu or Eko, later.

But I am probably writing all of this in the wrong thread.  These conversations just seem to go where they go.

Sophia (the second)
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Fri Dec 04, 2015 11:30 am

So sorry, I spelled the Carlson's name wrong.  

Sophia
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Fri Dec 04, 2015 12:47 pm

Kozans quote.
6. The problem (in my observation) that individual lay and monastic members of the OBC who fully understand everything that we talk about here on OBC Connect--is that the culture of the OBC simply does not recognize the existence of the very phenomenon of collective culture, or the collective unconscious dynamics of collective culture, itself. Therefore, there is no way (despite numerous historical attempts) in which currently active monks who recognize all of this, can raise the issue and talk about it at a collective level, within the larger monastic community.

My two immediate thoughts of Kozan and Sophia's postings..

Those un named individuals within the collective culture who see it's failings and their own inability to bring any meaningful changes to these failings, must reason that the failings of this culture are of less consequence than its benefits, in order to justify staying.

&

What is a Zazen practice that obscures such a major attachment as a (collective culture) from being seen in oneself and the majority of ones fellow practitioners, especially after it has been so clearly presented to everyone as a possibility?
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Fri Dec 04, 2015 1:46 pm

I would guess that Mike Little's latest job is about getting by, financially surviving when he has no workable resume to speak of.  At least, he didn't create his own new quasi-Zen cult, which many ex-leaders do - after they have been fired. 

As to the liquor dimension.  The first person to get me drunk was Kennett.  She loved Bristol Cream Sherry and on my 21st birthday, she made sure i drank half a bottle of rum or some such thing. In Japan, as we know, alcoholism is rampant with Zen monks and abbots. They put Sake on the altar as some sacrament. When I visited Sasaki in LA, he proudly made me his sake eggnogs - and clearly drank a lot, according to his disciples.  Maezumi basically died of alcoholism and another well known Japanese Zen teacher in the West would drink a bottle of scotch every night.  So the Buddhism that existed in Japan ignored the intoxication precept - or only saw it as the formless / metaphysical "the wine of delusion" (by the way, what does that really mean???)  - not the actual bottle of bourbon they were drinking in the here and now.
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Fri Dec 04, 2015 2:12 pm

Thanks to everyone for their thoughtful comments on Eko's departure and the significance of his years as JK's faithful disciple and what all that means  for the OBC today. Sophia's remarks about Eko joining at age 19 not allowing him  to grow and mature in a healthy way struck a chord in me. I have known and loved an alcoholic who began drinking in his teenage years and never stopped. Alcoholism at an early age prevents maturation also.

As a lay person who only saw monastic life at Shasta from the outside -- only what we were allowed to see -- I'm shocked that JK herself drank alcohol and encourage her disciple (one, anyway) to drink sherry. Koshen once said that JK was a Buddha so no longer meditated formally because she didn't have to. So maybe the same attitude prevailed about drinking alcohol.

It's also shocking to me as a lay person to read the very thoughtful discussion on this thread by those of you who were monks about the absolute prohibition against independent thinking and speaking. I just finished reading Ayaan Hirsi Ali's excellent book "Heretic." She argues that Islam itself needs reformation in part because the rigid and literal adherence to the Quuran is the root not just of terrorism but also the cognitive dissonance experienced by Muslims trying to adhere to their religious strictures in western society.

Perhaps what happened at Shasta is an example of this fundamentalist way of trying to follow a religious practice. It's not healthy in any society.

And by the way, what about the Buddhists in Myanmar persecuting the Muslims on the border? And I used to think Buddhism was The Way to peace.  Think again, Carol
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Fri Dec 04, 2015 2:34 pm

As long as I knew Kennett, she liked Sherry and sometimes wine - occasionally and moderately.  She didn't have any problem with alcohol.  I never saw her drunk..  maybe a little giddy a few times in England as we had wine with dinner - like an aunt who just had one glass too many - but that was very rare. And while I was at Shasta, I don't think there was ever a problem with anyone around alcohol, as far as I knew.  That being said, Kennett did not take the precept against drinking seriously or literally - and that was likely a mixture of her British upbringing and the general lax attitude of the Japanese Buddhists about alcohol.  

I don't think Kennett needed some grand excuse - like "I'm fully enlightened, so I can drink alcohol" - She liked the occasional Sherry and didn't worry about the precept.  She loved ham and lamb and the olive burgers and didn't worry about not eating meat when going out. 

And as I've said, Kennett didn't do formal meditation because she wasn't well trained in meditation, didn't like doing it, physically had trouble as she got heavier.  She was not a long-time skilled, deep meditator.  Over the years, I have met many who spent decades in serious meditation practice, jhana practice, concentration practice and that wasn't Kennett.  She couldn't sit still for more than 10 minutes.  That's what I saw constantly over seven years.  Meditation just wasn't her thing.  Seeking adoration, that was her practice.  She was quite good at that.
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Fri Dec 04, 2015 4:53 pm

Good luck to Mike
I hope he lets go of all the nonsense he has created and accumulated like we all have, and finds his spirituality where ever he happens to be
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Fri Dec 04, 2015 7:51 pm

Josh ~ I wish someone had told me that JK had a casual attitude toward alcohol and meat. I was a lay minister and we were instructed in no uncertain terms that eating meat -- except for dire medical necessity -- and drinking alcohol were forbidden and against the rules. (Actually, I think the rules for lay ministers only prohibited drinking in excess so I might be wrong on this point.But I was counseled by a senior monk on eating meat and it was definitely forbidden.) Personally I was somewhat lax about these rules. But Koshin would have given it to me if he had known that I liked bacon and an occasional piece of salmon and really enjoyed a drink or two.
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Fri Dec 04, 2015 11:39 pm

In terms of meat, when I was with Kennett and at Shasta, the rule was mostly - at the monastery, we were vegetarian - unless someone donated meat - which rarely happened.  I was the Tenzo for a few years there and cooked only vegetarian food, as I remember.  Now, when we left the monastery for any reason - went into town on errands, went on any trips to the Bay Area, the vegetarian rule no longer applied.  It was a variation of - well, they didn't kill the animals with us / me in mind, so it's OK to eat meat.  An odd variation on the old rule.  And when most of us monks went out, there was no attempt to be vegetarian.  As I recall.

Kennett - and Mark Strathern and Gensho Florence could add something here and maybe Steve Beck has some memories - liked eating meat.  Whenever we drove up and down to the Bay Area (which happened a lot), we almost always stopped at the Olive Burger restaurant which was half way between - and had their olive burger. Kennett loved ham and I remember frying ham for her on occasion.  And when we traveled together in England, she loved to go out for yorkshire pudding and roast beef, lamb with mint sauce, and steak and kidney pies.... I did gain quite a bit of weight that trip.  It is certainly possible that after I left and things got more dogmatic and hard and fast, some rules changed.  Frankly, i have mostly forgotten about most of the food-related stuff, but those of us who were with Kennett a great deal and traveled with her, ate out a lot with her, and I just can't remember any effort to be vegetarian - at the same time, i have little recollection of what she ate - thank goodness i don't have all those kind of useless memories still stored in my brain. During that time, eating out as vegetarian would have been challenging - much more difficult than these days - so dedicated to being veggie when traveling then would have required a serious special effort, planning and so on - and that never took place. Frankly, if someone jarred my memory, perhaps details would come back.

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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Sat Dec 05, 2015 1:20 am

One more thing - this concept - that that the guru is a fully enlightened Buddha, so the rules don't apply to them. ethics don't apply to them, empathy doesn't apply to them.  Well, if we are taking about Buddhism, look at the early suttas, the Pali texts, the stories about the Buddhas life.  The Buddha painstakingly set down all these rules and guidelines that were to be followed - to keep everyone focused and on track.  Did the rules not apply to the Buddha? Did he say - you guys do this and I'll do something else?  Nope.  Hardly.  He set the rules and followed them precisely, totally, along with all his monks. And if you can believe the Pali texts, the Buddha spent quite a lot of time in meditation, in samadhi, in contemplation. There was absolutely no story that because he was fully enlightened, he stopped meditating or practicing or living what he taught.  In fact, there is a particular Pali Sutta where the Buddha says to his monks, scrutinize me, watch me, examine my behavior and make sure I am living what I am preaching.  Make sure. It was all about behavior, how he lived.  That's how you know. He did not tell his monks to do one thing and he did another. And the Buddha told his monks to carefully watch him and judge him to make sure he was the real deal.  There were supposed to be judgmental.
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Sat Dec 05, 2015 1:51 am

In the times I spent at Shasta and at Koshin's monastery in Washington, no one ever ever talked about eating meat and there sure wasn't any served. Every time I went to a restaurant with a monk, they ate only vegetarian. It was certainly written down in the rules for the lay ministers. Honestly, I'm shocked that she ate meat. Maybe things got more rigid as time went on.

Everyone I knew connected to Shasta or North Cascades would have been shocked to see a monk or a lay minister eating meat.

I suspect things got calcified as time went on for the OBC. Things were presented as very black and white -- you did this, but you never did that. Down to petty things -- more than once I got chewed out for drinking tea out of the wrong cup or not passing the cookies to the most senior monk first or god forbid talking to another lay person when you were supposed to waiting for the monk to arrive for the dharma talk. Koshin even got bent of shape if we were all sitting in a circle and someone addressed a comment to someone other than to him. You were supposed to speak directly only to him. These rules were enforced by him and by some lay ministers who took the precept "never make a mistake in Buddhism" to mean it was their duty to tell others what to do.
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Sat Dec 05, 2015 2:22 am

it's OK to be a human being..... OK to make "mistakes"  OK to find your own way.... No problem being a vegetarian ... if that's what works for you.... is reality black vs. white?  Is there a "wrong cup"?  the great question is ... "Is it true?"   Koshin sounds like a toxic cult leader to me... but i never met the guy....
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Sat Dec 05, 2015 2:23 am

and keep in mind, Kennett loved OLIVE BURGERS....
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Sat Dec 05, 2015 3:35 am

This is mainly about abusive relationships, religion is a further colouring on top which can deceive even more.Abusive relationships are about control,usually the controller is the one with the issues mainly insecurity. In most abusive relationships,the abused stays  because they cant afford to leave, they feel they belong, or it is their lot,or staying for children's sake,staying under these circumstances gives more power to the abuser.

With Kennett eating meat this is one rule for one  and different for another.which shows incredible lack of insight and feeling for others,all these so called teachers sit on huge whirling egos and wont allow their followers to have the tiniest of ego, this again shows no real understanding themselves, transcendence, or the way to a spiritual life

Aint no Catch bull at four
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Cant even hear the sky
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Sat Dec 05, 2015 11:13 am

H Sophia wrote:
Hi,

Just a thought, but maybe what happened to him was a result of living in a highly structured, dictatorship type environment from the time he was 19.  Maybe it is just not possible to mature emotionally in such a restrictive environment where most of the choices in life are made for you. Maybe it's making those choices and living with the consequences that mature us as we age.

Sophia (the second)

Thank you for articulating this so well.  I was not particularly mature in some respects when I arrived at Shasta Abbey at age 21, and when I left fourteen years later if anything I had regressed.  I was fortunate to have left at a young enough age to start over.  I think the longer people stay the harder it becomes to question their life direction, and eventually some just can't.


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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Sat Dec 05, 2015 12:18 pm

Olive burgers?
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Sat Dec 05, 2015 12:32 pm

Carol wrote:
Olive burgers?

As Josh posted above there's a restaurant called The Olive Pit in Corning, CA, which is a little south of Redding.  We often stopped there on the way down to (or coming back from) the Oakland Priory for lunch.  Corning is olive country and the restaurant serves a beef burger with olives on it called (wait for it) the Olive Burger :-)  They were tasty.
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Sat Dec 05, 2015 2:19 pm

Ok, thanks Isan  -- there's another problem solved!
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Sat Dec 05, 2015 4:07 pm

 Drinking alcohol.

I never heard Jiyu or anyone (Shasta related) tell me not to drink alcohol. The precept concerning it was about the misuse of alcohol. When champagne was donated to the Abbey, Monk and laity alike toasted with it.

Compared to where she had trained in Japan, I am sure she considered the amount she consumed qualified her as a virtual a teetotaler.


Eating meat

I believe that Jiyu said that her doctor was advising her to eat meat because of her diabetic condition.

Now outside of the fact that I was not aware that a vegetarian verses omnivorous diet should make much difference to a diabetic, are folks here saying that she was regularly ordering meat at restaurants before she was diagnosed as a diabetic?

Anybody remember if there was some other medical condition that warranted the meat eating?
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Sat Dec 05, 2015 5:39 pm

Maybe the no alcohol rule came later or possibly it was a North Cascades rule. Koshin was strict about it. We would occasionally have picnics and he made a great point of drinking non-alcoholic beer. Certainly no one ever drank beer or wine,ever. I was under the impression that no-alcohol was one of the rules for monks but that lay ministers were allowed to drink modestly. 

I wonder if anyone remembers this?
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Sun Dec 06, 2015 1:34 am

Well, when i was there, eating meat was NOT connected to Kennett's health or lack thereof.  I don't think she never said, I have to eat meat because of my health. We all routinely ate meat when we were out, not just Kennett... Meat eating wasn't even a topic of discussion or debate or anything. Maybe later -- after I left - she had some story attached to it, but i wouldn't know that.

Her diet was not healthy - she loved eating Sees candy - would go through a box in a few days - and i used to bake her Angel Food cakes weekly -at her request - they are a bit better than regular cakes - less fat certainly, but she was consuming lots of sugar..... not healthy for anyone. And she loved Hollandaise Sauce - egg yolks, melted butter, lemon juice - I got really good at making it and the variations of the sauce that included folding in heavy cream. Yikes.  And in those earlier days, we were much less conscious about food and health, but even then, i was concerned about all the sugar Kennett was eating, A few times, me or Mark and Alan would gently suggest she not eat so much sweets, but she would dismiss our concerns, saying these sweets were much healthier - and that was that, so we just shut up.  For the most part, the only exercise she ever got was one walk around the grounds once a day... so 10 - 15 minutes of walking which would burn maybe 50 calories.. and then sit in her chair the rest of the time.
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Sun Dec 06, 2015 3:36 am

Josh, I fully agree with your memory about Jiyu's eating and drinking choices and habits.

Meat and alcohol consumption were fully accepted as normal for Buddhist monks in Japan. Jiyu said that in the heat of summer, monks at Sojiji were given a ration of beer every day. In the early years, during the summer, wine was provided every day for all monks as part of the evening meal.

The prohibition against alcohol, meat, and marriage for monks, was only instituted by Jiyu after she decided that she wanted to create her own religious institution--in a form that would be acceptable by her Malaysian Zen lineage.
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Sun Dec 06, 2015 9:57 am

Kozan in this fast unfolding story of olive burgers and sherry 
did Jiyu's own religious institution become a Malayan Zen sect?
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Sun Dec 06, 2015 11:05 am

I just started a new topic about the precepts elsewhere on this board, fyi
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Mon Dec 07, 2015 11:13 am

Howard wrote:

Eating meat

I believe that Jiyu said that her doctor was advising her to eat meat because of her diabetic condition.

Now outside of the fact that I was not aware that a vegetarian verses omnivorous diet should make much difference to a diabetic, are folks here saying that she was regularly ordering meat at restaurants before she was diagnosed as a diabetic?

Anybody remember if there was some other medical condition that warranted the meat eating?


Howard, I don't remember JK saying that her doctors advised her to eat meat because of her diabetes.  That's not to say she didn't say it, but only that it wasn't something told to all monks to offer as an explanation.  I also don't remember a particular moment when JK shared that she was given a diagnosis of diabetes.  It seems to me that that was already part of her story when I first arrived at Shasta (1970).  As Josh stated earlier JK's position on vegetarianism was clear, at least in the early years.  The diet in the monastery was mostly ovo/lacto vegetarian (eggs and dairy products included), but when we traveled it was generally understood that monks could eat meat given that there was little to no vegetarian food to be had on the road.  I also never heard her put forth any other medical condition as a justification for eating meat.
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Mon Dec 07, 2015 5:16 pm

I was told by more than one senior monk at Shasta that it was OK to meat if absolutely necessary for medical reasons. She must have gotten that idea from JK. I have a hard time thinking of a health reason for eating meat, but that seemed to be the teaching at the time. I was connected to Shasta from 1992-2004 or so.

Didn't JK know that sugar was horrible for someone with untreated diabetes? I can't understand why she would have disregarded such an obvious danger to her health. That seems sacrilegious to me.
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Mon Dec 07, 2015 8:53 pm

Carol wrote:
I was told by more than one senior monk at Shasta that it was OK to meat if absolutely necessary for medical reasons. She must have gotten that idea from JK. I have a hard time thinking of a health reason for eating meat, but that seemed to be the teaching at the time. I was connected to Shasta from 1992-2004 or so.

Didn't JK know that sugar was horrible for someone with untreated diabetes? I can't understand why she would have disregarded such an obvious danger to her health. That seems sacrilegious to me.

You may be right Carol, but I can't confirm.  For what it's worth the idea that eating meat was necessary for health was believed by my parents and they were very concerned when I first became interested in vegetarianism.  Perhaps this was a widespread belief of that generation?  As for what JK knew or didn't know about the relationship between diabetes and diet again it's hard to say.  It is also unknown to what extent her condition was untreated.  I think that only the monks who were her personal assistants would know her medical history.
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Tue Dec 08, 2015 12:25 am

Lise wrote:
A Shasta monk once said that a lay person needn't abstain from alcohol in order to be a Buddhist. She said the strict prohibition was a part of monastic vows, rather than those lay people take (at Jukai, for instance).

And alcohol doesn't always intoxicate, does it? Lots of people can use it without overindulging and seem to do okay. I think the problem lies with those who don't take the middle way (moderation), for whatever reason. That's not the fault of the beverage.

Yup, you nailed it Lise!
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Tue Dec 08, 2015 12:38 am

chisanmichaelhughes wrote:
Kozan in this fast unfolding story of olive burgers and sherry 
did Jiyu's own religious institution become a Malayan Zen sect?


No, I don't think that it did.

I think that the problem was that Jiyu hoped that it might be.

I think that Jiyu wanted to create her own tradition...her own institution...perhaps her own religion...

And I suspect that her desire to do so may have usurped her inclination to teach liberation.

But I don't think that this was just Jiyu's thing.

I have come to suspect that the dynamic of religious institutionalization almost invariably becomes a "bait and switch" proposition.

If we don't recognize the dynamic by which religious institutions tend to subvert spiritual liberation teaching--by reducing it into a one-sided form to support their own institutional needs--then the "bait and switch ploy" has been accomplished.

In essence--we are drawn to a spiritual tradition through the promise of existential-spiritual liberation--and we instead, become enslaved by a religious institution.

I don't think that religious institutions per se are the problem.

I think that the failure to recognize the dynamic, is.

In reflecting on all of this, I can't help but remember the insights of your good friend Bill Picard.


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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Tue Dec 08, 2015 1:06 am

Howard wrote:
Kozans quote.
6. The problem (in my observation) that individual lay and monastic members of the OBC who fully understand everything that we talk about here on OBC Connect--is that the culture of the OBC simply does not recognize the existence of the very phenomenon of collective culture, or the collective unconscious dynamics of collective culture, itself. Therefore, there is no way (despite numerous historical attempts) in which currently active monks who recognize all of this, can raise the issue and talk about it at a collective level, within the larger monastic community.

My two immediate thoughts of Kozan and Sophia's postings..

Those un named individuals within the collective culture who see it's failings and their own inability to bring any meaningful changes to these failings, must reason that the failings of this culture are of less consequence than its benefits, in order to justify staying.

&

What is a Zazen practice that obscures such a major attachment as a (collective culture) from being seen in oneself and the majority of ones fellow practitioners, especially after it has been so clearly presented to everyone as a possibility?

Howard, yes, I think that current monks and lay practitioners who see the failings of OBC culture also see a greater benefit in staying.

Why?

Because the benefits that result from successful practice within a flawed culture can--if the cultural flaws are recognized--far surpass the flawed culture.

Why?

I think because the essence of our practice, in the end, has little or nothing to do with the institution that serves as a temporary vehicle for our practice.
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Tue Dec 08, 2015 1:12 am

H Sophia, you made some wonderful observations about a brief recognition of the existence of OBC culture within the OBC, after the FTI report, which I will try to respond to in the next day or two...or three...
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Tue Dec 08, 2015 2:06 am

I agree Kozan it is difficult to cut through the trappings of a religion whilst one is immersed init
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Tue Dec 08, 2015 2:16 pm

I think what Kozan is saying is that it is necessary to cut through the trappings of a religious institution in order to practice what is true and meaningful.  I like that he says the institution is a "temporary vehicle for our practice." But then, Kozan, you competently speak for yourself and you don't need me to explain what you mean!

To me, the OBC's institutional trappings and the practice are so interconnected that I have not been able to separate the two -- even 10 years or so after departing the OBC. The institutional treatment of my daughter was too much for me to remain loyal to the OBC or to maintain the practice. But also the institutional atmosphere at North Cascades was pretty black and white -- you're with us or you're against us -- and that made it harder to separate the institutional trappings from the true practice.

Maybe some day I'll resume the practice, but it's hard in isolation. What made the OBC compelling for me was the fact that the laity supported one another in their practice and the monastic sangha was there to keep the community together and provide direction. How do you separate the joint support component of practice within the OBC from its dark history that persists today?
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Tue Dec 08, 2015 3:37 pm

Kozan:  “I have come to suspect that the dynamic of religious institutionalization almost invariably becomes a "bait and switch" proposition.”

Good point Kozan – I have thought about this often since I left Shasta, both from the perspective of the institution and from my own experience.  This is naturally something one cannot see in the midst of monasticism as it would virtually undermine one's very commitment. 

When I first arrived there were lots of carrots – small encouragings and sanzen with various seniors (and then by my own Master) that left a sense of mystery and longing.  Meditation can be very powerful and its interpretation will be different for anyone experiencing it (as well as anyone trying to explain the experience from a neutral perspective).  If an institutional dynamic is driving those explanations (i.e. the purpose of encouraging participation and/or creating monks) then everyone’s explanations will conform to that purpose in their own unique way.  I was advised to only read RM Jiyu’s books, listen only to approved dharma talks, practice financial generosity towards the institution, and various other subtle suggestions that committed me towards deeper involvement.  Several monks told me later they could see when those in our group had the big “M” on our forehead and were heading towards ordination.  And, as a young novice, we knew to never get between that process with another novice, postulant or lay person and their Master, by in any way disavowing their intention.  Simply stated, I too became an advocate for the institution over time without realizing I had been groomed as such.

On a personal level, I’ve had to ask myself why I would be subject to this subtle indoctrination without knowing it.  Interestingly, the person I first came to the Abbey with told me straight out he would never become a monk – he enjoyed his passions too much, i.e. photography, travel, food (including meat), etc.  Why did I see the teachings as renunciation of things that create desire while he saw those same things as living this short life to the fullest?  He really appreciated the teachings and they were profound to him as well, so that wasn’t the reason.  But, he was satisfied where his life was at that time and looked forward to spending more time upon retirement pursuing his passions.  I, on the other hand, heard the teachings in the spirit of renunciation – as someone who had been battered in life by passion and impermanence.  I spent many years before coming to the Abbey attempting to understand why life had let me down and the teachings gave me an answer I had never heard before – that all I was trying to resolve in my past was based on untrue assumptions.  The teachings spoke profoundly to those assumptions and it was only natural that I would be attracted to deeper answers.  My best guess is that I had the karma to become a monk whereas my friend did not – simple as that, and I have had to take a look at why I took the bait and be responsible for that.

I couldn’t see the switch until I began to doubt my being at the monastery.  And, even after leaving I still had mixed feelings – the commitment was so deeply ingrained in me at that point that I was afraid of my individualism.  It has taken several years to see the institution and its purpose beyond the singular.  And the Faith Trust Institute process and the lack of action by the Order based on the FTI’s findings pointed out just how ingrained it was in the monks and in me.  I have had to go through all the stages of trauma and grief because of how deep those strings ran and I am still working on it.  I can see very clearly now why I couldn’t see it in myself – I would have to admit to being ignorant, and maybe even wrong. 

By the time it became apparent to me, I was so involved it was difficult to untangle.  In a way, Eko’s leaving gave me the perfect out – I didn’t have to make the push and justify my intention to leave all by myself, I could follow on his coattails.  That’s another funny dynamic, i.e. being afraid to explain yourself to the other monks when you leave and being coerced to evaluate your decision over and over again – but that would be another whole topic itself here.  As a result of my realizations and acceptance of them, I still don’t trust institutions today and probably never will.  It comes up the strongest in the idea of unconditionally “bowing to a senior” and of being subtly encouraged to commit deeper and give more in terms of time and money.  My experiences at Shasta have left a bad taste in my mouth for “religion”.

Regarding Eko’s departure and thereafter, I will say he recently apologized to me personally and genuinely.  It was no big display, just a meaningful, simple and individual meeting of words that were sincere and that I could accept.  He may not have had a big sange and plea to the sangha to practice again, but in a way, I trust that more than the public displays some of the other famous teachers have exhibited recently.  Conceivably, he’s in a catch 22 as an apology would no doubt start another round of criticism - it is probably better left undone.  I was his chaplain during the ceremony when he gave back his robes.  He offered incense and took off his transmission kesa, left it on the altar and walked away.  There was no more Eko and no one addressed him as such again. 

I imagine that Michael Little is doing the same things we are, trying to do the best he can and getting by - I expect that hasn’t been easy for him after 39 years in a monastery.  I also trust he has his own version of the bait and switch and the institutional dynamic, and that he probably could see it for himself in the end.  I do know he has many friends and support.  I hope he has gained more than lost in his experience as a monk and that he is happy.
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Wed Dec 09, 2015 2:19 pm

Enida,
(First of all, apologies to all, this probably belongs on another thread, but I'm not sure how to navigate the board.)
 Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts and understanding. I'm curious what the process of healing has been like for you? Do you still meditate or read books by Buddhist teachers? And is there a new awareness in which you stop yourself from thinking in the "Shasta Abbey way" verses what is more natural?
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Wed Dec 09, 2015 4:46 pm

June – it has been a long and winding path – from fear to relief upon leaving the monastery; from hope for change to anger and insistence that the Order do something for posterity about the way the institution is organized that allowed the types of abuse we experienced to occur.  When the process for the Order wound down and was basically closed to further action or discussion, I was left with a deep sadness and feeling of loss and, finally, a coming to acceptance.

I felt the fear (when I became overwhelmed by the seniors’ actions) like an ulcer, a deep ache in the pit of my stomach.  The fear was literally physical.  When I was able to leave Shasta due to Eko’s departure, I felt a huge sense of relief because I would not have to explain it to the seniors or the community about something wrong with me or my training.  I moved into my own little place in Ashland, and I felt like I had a safe place to retreat and heal.  I was able to make my own decisions again instead of having to always ask a senior for approval of any little action.  And I could reflect.

The hope that followed was based in a natural sense that when something awful happens, the bright light is to learn from it and make necessary changes so it won’t happen again in the future.  After all, that was what Buddhist training taught me – to look at our karma and do something about it.  I participated wholeheartedly in the Faith Trust Institute process and came to public talks and tried to offer my own experience and ideas.  When all the dust settled and the book was closed by the Order and nothing really changed, I was deeply disappointed and angry that all of the pain and energy towards that hope for transformation was for naught.  At that point, I let go of an Order teacher I was working with and took the plunge into participating on OBC Connect.

After posting my story on this site, I felt my ties were truly cut from Shasta.  It was the last holdout for my own desire to be a monk and something in me said I needed to let it all go.  I knew that if I posted on OBC Connect, I would likely no longer be welcome in the Order as a monk.  I would be treated kindly by some if I came to Shasta again, but underlying it was a sense if mistrust.  I have one friend now in the Order, but am not in contact with any others.  It was truly like leaving a family you lived with for many years.

The sense of loss felt like a betrayal of my deepest, truest and most vulnerable spiritual place within.  To give oneself earnestly and wholeheartedly for years to Masters by asking the most important and innocent question you have in sanzen/spiritual questioning ceremony and then to be betrayed by their actions and advice as a result, was like plunging a knife into my very core, the blood of my aspiration flowing within the tears that came.  And, the universe wept with me.  All that my ordination and kesa held for me and all that was put into their arising turned to grey.  After much sorrow, ultimately I had only one logical step I could take from there – acceptance.

Over time, acceptance has been where I have learned from it all.  Each aspect of the path has given its own answers to my pain and I can see the compassion in it today – for myself and my aspiration.  It hasn’t been easy – I’ve had to take each pain as it has arisen and hold it with care.  There are so many to thank along the way including my fellow chaplains (Sophia and Nancy) and all the lay people and family out here who accepted me back wholeheartedly and unconditionally.

Today, I don’t meditate formally with a group.  I haven’t been able to find a sangha locally that doesn’t cultivate members for deeper participation and financial support – reminders of how I first became involved in the Order (and how churches survive).  I am basically unable to appreciate the hierarchy of religion anymore due to my experiences of turning over my intuition to another and having it so completely twisted.  The very act of sanzen and bowing puts one in a vulnerable position to another human being, who it turns out, is also fallible.  I have learned so many invaluable lessons from turning over my own power to others, that I can’t imagine doing it again.  What it has taught me is the “all is one and all is different” is simultaneous – and there is good reason to draw a line between self and other, to believe in our own common sense, and to exercise as much compassion for ourselves as for anyone else. 

I still believe in meditation and try to sit personally, and also am committed to bringing myself back to awareness throughout each day.  I recognize when meditation has occurred naturally and when I am resisting things and try to apply my own understanding to the resistance – which is based on many influences in my life over the years, not just the Shasta Abbey way.  I do still rely on things that were revealed to me while at the Abbey, no matter that many of the official teachings have since come and gone.  I continue to trust impermanence and it shows me all I need to know – the kaleidoscopic nature of existence, the preciousness of life, our interrelatedness with all things, and, if I look closely enough with an open mind and heart, where wisdom and compassion meet.  Practice today is a constant exercise in bringing myself back to the present moment - it is here that all of my experiences of the past, good and bad, are revealed and where they become my teacher.
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Wed Dec 09, 2015 6:35 pm

Thank you, Enida, for this beautiful meditation on your experience.

I'm surprised that your writing on OBC Connect was such a turning point for people still at Shasta. Early on in the creation of OBC Connect, there was an active monk who wrote frequently. I think he had the approval of someone -- maybe Eko? -- but it was good to have his perspective on things. However, he was very upset when someone criticized JK, who was his master.

Now we seem only to have former monks, which may be a loss to the discussion.But maybe the former monks disagree that it's a loss.
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Wed Dec 09, 2015 8:47 pm

Enida,
Thank you so much for sharing your experience and insights. I found them deeply moving and inspiring,  especially your words "...the bright light is to learn from it and make necessary changes so it won’t happen again in the future."
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Sun Dec 13, 2015 2:28 pm

Enida - beautifully put.  Thanks so much for sharing your experience and path. I do totally understand what you are going through, since it was very much like my own process.  I do meditate with some Buddhist groups - Tibetan and sometimes Vipassana - but for many years - like 10 years -  after I left Shasta, I totally avoided any groups and teachers.  I had an allergic reaction to them.  Now, when I am involved with groups or teachers, it is as a spiritual adult and I keep only a few toes in any given pond.  If something does not feel right to me, I either speak out or walk out.  I don't care what their rules are.  If I feel a NO, I say NO.  It took me years to process my experiences with Kennett and Shasta - i could say I am still digesting them. The core values and insights of Buddhism stayed with me as still so valuable and true, but not because Kennett said so - but because I found them real in my daily life, worthwhile in my experiences.  Some of the Dogen and Zen stuff I still find of great value - AND others aspects I see as not worthwhile, as false, self-promotional.  

Many groups after an unavoidable scandal goes public use some form of external process - like the Faith Trust.  But as we see, it is often superficial, half-hearted.  The organizations want to process the issues as quickly as possible and usually like to use the "bad apple" approach - there was one bad guy - he's gone - and yes, we went along with some of the abuses, but he's gone and let's just move on - and not dwell on the past, etc.  Most groups never want to look deeper, under the surface, and question some of the main beliefs that lead them to the crisis in the first place.  Also, many of these processes are driven by lawyers who tell groups that they must do some public process to avoid lawsuits - and thenmake a few new rules and procedures... and so they do.  And Shasta was never going to look at Kennett's shadow which, as I have said, is alive and well, in fact it's running the show there - they are the underlying beliefs that make this scene the church of Kennett.
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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Mon Dec 14, 2015 11:29 am

I feel a large part of the issue is needing. I certainly needed a group or teacher and I think it is reasonable to assume the so called teacher has a big need for followers for various reasons. For me practice can not mature till that need is understood and gradually let go of
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Jcbaran

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Join date : 2010-11-13
Age : 66
Location : New York, NY

PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Mon Dec 14, 2015 11:40 am

in healthier communities I would hope that these needs and projections would be acknowledged and worked with as part of becoming more aware, of bringing things to light.  My guess is that because of the nature of the big Zen narrative of masters, enlightenment, and so on, these issues will always be in play. There will always be the potential to get seduced one way or another.  There needs to be much more open communication, processing, mutual respect constantly - those things would go a long way to help the situation. Since I never visit Zen centers, i have no idea the psychological state of these communities.  It doesn't matter what these groups say they are doing - but what is actually lived. I have seen some Tibetan communities - and they are all over the place - and clearly dominated by the stature of the lamas and lineage.  Behind the gold brocade curtains, not sure how healthy they are.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Where's Eko?   Tue Dec 15, 2015 2:46 am

Although there are many great teachings and sayings   a very pertinent one is 'be a light unto oneself'
Enida above said she had to adapt to not having to always ask a senior for approval of any little action.  

For a temple to keep control of people and not allow them the freedom to grow for themselves,shows incredible lack of real understanding and compassion and also fear that ultimately the person being told what to do may find a deeper truth than what is being taught. In reality spiritual understanding is not dependent on anyone nor situation.
If what I say has a measure of  truth then it should perhaps be pointed out that this type of control and not allowing personal understanding is without doubt not the practice of Buddha and as such is breaking the core precepts
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