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 I'll start . . .

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Lise
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PostSubject: I'll start . . .   Sun Nov 08, 2009 10:14 pm

Hi All,

My name is Lise. I went to Shasta Abbey as a lay person, kind of off and on since 2001. I last visited in 2006 and have not been in contact with anyone there for awhile. I often think of some of the monks and lay people I met, and I wonder how they are. It can be difficult to stay in the loop with anyone at the OBC once you stop going. I thought there was a need for this kind of forum where people can drop in, say hello and share their thoughts if they want to.

I hope this forum is helpful to any who want to use it and I look forward to seeing it grow.

Lise


Last edited by Admin on Mon Nov 09, 2009 11:31 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : brevity and clarity ;))
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Kozan
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PostSubject: Re: I'll start . . .   Sat Mar 06, 2010 2:27 am

Hi Lise,

First, thank you for starting this forum! It is a breath of fresh air--and fresh air is what we need!!

By way of my own introduction:

My name is Steve Kozan Beck. I was ordained as a novice monk by Rev. Master Jiyu Kennett in 1970 (ordination name: Zengetsu Kozan), was Transmitted as a priest in 1973, and certified as a Teacher in 1975. I served as Vice Abbot of Shasta Abbey from 1975 through 1978; as the Prior of the Berkeley Buddhist Priory from 1978 through 1981; and with an affiliated meditation group from 1981 through 1987. In 1988 I began a graduate program in Architecture, and effectively withdrew from the monastic order in 1990. My spiritual practice continues--but without institutional affiliation.

Paradoxically perhaps, I am simultaneously profoundly grateful for the spiritual teaching provided by my teacher, and facilitated by the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives, and profoundly concerned by the nearly universal dynamic in which genuine transcendent spiritual experience and its teaching tend to become co-opted and distorted by human institutions to serve personal and institutional ends.

Transcendent spiritual teaching is inherently paradoxical--transcending ALL opposites--while human institutions invariably seem to reduce the paradox to one side or the other (to serve their own human-institutional fears and needs) thereby becoming dualistic. All self-serving institutions thereby also tend to engage in at least some degree of exploitation.

My Conclusion: The spirit of the teaching can only be retained--so long as the pitfall of "party-line" beliefs, and their institutionalization, are clearly understood--and consistently recognized and abandoned.

I have therefore become convinced that mystical traditions (such as our own) that are NOT willing to acknowledge the inherently dualistic dynamic of INSTITUTIONALIZATION--will inevitably take on cult-like characteristics--to the detriment of all!

This is, of course, only my own best current understanding of the matter! I welcome all discussion!!
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: I'll start . . .   Wed Mar 10, 2010 8:40 pm

Hi Kozan -- welcome! It's nice to see a second person posting here. I'll be checking the forum more frequently, to make sure newcomers are promptly greeted. We have quite a few viewers here but not too many active participants yet, and I think each new voice will help others feel more comfortable about saying hi, if and when they want to.

You've shared some thoughts in your first post that I'm sure will resonate with others. Like you I'm grateful for the OBC teaching, or most of it -- some things I couldn't accept as true or beneficial. No doubt those aspects were helpful even so, as warning signs that got my attention and kept me moving away from potential harm.

The issue of exploitation will ring some bells here, no pun intended. There are stories waiting to be told -- possibly in time they will be. I wonder if anything can really prevent individuals being used and their value extracted to preserve an institution like the OBC as a going concern. When insiders are dependent on an institution for all aspects of their livelihood, comfort, security, etc., it seems natural that they learn to think and act in ways that set the organization's interests as a priority, often to the detriment of individuals. I would be interested to hear more from people re: how (and if) their perception of their spiritual experience changed as a result of conflict or disengagement with the OBC institution.

Kozan, I'll stop before I go any further in highjacking your introduction -- thanks for coming here and sharing your info. I hope you'll be back, and start threads on whatever topics interest you, and hopefully more folks will pop in to converse . . . and you can count on me for sporadic chatter . . .

cheers,
Lise
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Jan



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PostSubject: Hello from Madge   Fri May 28, 2010 1:17 am

Hello all,

I've been lurking for a week or so. I heard via the grapevine that RM Eko had resigned and googled that - and came upon this forum eventually. I am planning to stay semi-anonymous for now.

I was involved in a Priory for about 9 years - from 1995 to 2004-ish . . . and spent a number of months at the Abbey at various times as a lay resident or on retreats. My close friends during this time were from the OBC community - and I thought that I would grow old and die with these people. I'm still saddened by the loss of those very good friendships, but I have slowly come to the realization that everything, indeed, is truly transitory . . . no Best Friends Forever in adult land!

I lost these friends when I decided that I could no longer attend nor support the Priory as I felt that the disconnect between the teachings and the behaviour was too great. We're all human, sure, but the presentation of attachment as Dharma, seemed to be an inherent dishonesty that was too hard for me to overlook. I thought my friendships would survive my break with the OBC, but that was not to be.

I've tried a few other Buddhist groups - one Zen and a couple of Vipassana, and have gone back to my meditation roots . . . as non-institutional as possible. I miss the ceremony at times, but for me, it was always window dressing, not the core of the matter, so I can accept that loss. I am not currently connected with any religious group and though I miss that sense of community, I don't think that I would 'join up' in that way again. (Though never is a long time.)

Enough for one posting. Thanks for the opportunity to share.
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: I'll start . . .   Fri May 28, 2010 10:25 am

Madge, welcome to the forum! Nice to have you here.

I had the same experience with sangha friends dropping away, not that I had too many, just a couple. They disappeared quickly and completely once I stopped going up to Mt. Shasta. You're right -- no BFFs in adult land and esp. not OBC land. But who knows, old friends might someday pop into this forum -- stranger things have happened (especially lately).

If you get a chance sometime, I'd be interested to hear more of what you saw regarding the presentation of attachment as Dharma. I couldn't swallow a lot of what I heard regarding the nature of attachment, its harm to us, etc. Sounds like a good thread topic in its own right.

Again, welcome, and thanks for joining Smile

L.
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George
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PostSubject: Re: I'll start . . .   Wed Jun 02, 2010 12:06 am

Hello, Lise and Forum--
My name is George. I discovered the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives in the Spring of 1997 and went to Shasta Abbey for Jukai in 1998. From 1997 to about 2007 I practiced at Pine Mountain Buddhist Temple as well as attended several retreats at the Abbey. I was a lay minister for a few years. It won't take much to figure out my last name. Last year I moved to Fresno for family reasons. I do currently sit with a local Buddhist group, but basically I am unaffiliated.
I have been lurking about this forum for some time, and it seems that the longer I lurk, the less I have to say. That is, others are articulating much the same kinds of things that I saw: arbitrariness, secretiveness, pressure, exclusion, clinging. Of this last I am very guilty--retreating from the OBC was painful for me, and extremely difficult. However, it became clearer and clearer to me that I did not represent the Buddhism that the OBC seemed to stand for. I did not leave a manifesto behind--I just sort of dropped back on the trail and then quietly turned aside. I was charged with being "elusive": indeed. Kozan has certainly considered the question of institutional purpose and direction thoughtfully and at length. My retreat was based on a simpler position: "I know in my heart that this isn't right for me."
For now, I have zazen and my library, which together can support me for a long time. I am also glad to have this forum, where I will be a frequent reader and an occasional contributor. In reading what you all have had to say, I don't feel so isolated or so crazy (except for the Fresno thing).
Thanks, again, Lise, for providing this opportunity to share experiences and viewpoints. I believe that open exchange is always a good thing.
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: I'll start . . .   Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:29 am

Hi George -- welcome! Glad to have you here. Thank you for what you wrote -- I think many will relate to it. I hope you will post whenever you like, even if someone has said it before -- this is a good spot to vent.

I've felt isolated too at times. People with no knowledge of the OBC weren't interested in why I left, and while I was attending, I couldn't share my concerns with anyone, lay or monastic. Everything had to be seen as "Wonderful!", all the time . . . maybe that should be the title of the book, if one of us ever writes about the OBC.

Fresno? Good place to get fuel, as I recall, in order to keep moving (just kidding Wink)

Welcome Smile
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Diana



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PostSubject: Re: I'll start . . .   Sun Jun 13, 2010 10:57 pm

Hi everyone,

I'm Diana. I lived in Mt. Shasta for almost 20 years and was involved at the Abbey. I did Jukai in 1999 which started a deep and profound spiritual experience that would become the center of my life for the following 5 years after. During that time I became a lay disciple of RM Eko. I can only say that my life was turned upside down and the more involved I got, the worse things turned out. I could not "train" and function in the real or normal world. It became such a struggle that I began to self-destruct. Pursuing my spiritual goals caused me to sacrifice my own well-being. RM Eko dismissed me as his disciple and I left the Abbey. I tried my best to live "outside", but I failed miserably.

I'm now doing very well. I have dived in to my own psyche as far as I can go with therapy and I'm now finishing up my masters degree in psychology and will be starting my doctorate work soon. I'm a member of ICSA (International Cultic Studies Association) and am working towards specializing in working with ex-members.

I currently do not identify as a Buddhist, although I take many of the teachings to heart and practice several insight or existential theories that naturally fit my personality and world-view.

I do not intend to try to do anything in particular in this forum. I have learned a lot over the years and would be happy to pass on some of what I know, but I can not offer any formal therapy. I can however, refer to many compassionate and kind therapists out there who specialize in cult recovery to those who might need it.

Mostly I am here for myself! I find this forum to be essential to my own healing process. There are several stages to this recovery thing, and I'm finally at the stage where I can participate and look at the big picture.

One more thing...I am very grateful for the few instances where I did recieve the true teachings and true compassion and kindness. I will never forget those who were dear to me including RM Eko, RM Meido, RM Meian, and RM Hugh. Despite any harm, personal failings, or anything else I might have experienced, I did walk away with a profound gift. I forgive everyone who ever did me any harm and I would ask forgiveness to those people that I have harmed. May we all find peace.

Diana
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sugin

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PostSubject: Re: I'll start . . .   Wed Jun 16, 2010 1:31 am

Hello, I am Sugin and have been attending retreats at Shasta Abbey since 1999. It has been a meaningful and peaceful place for me for many years. The last retreat I attended was the first time I felt something unsettling and Rev. Eko's talk was not pure but rather petty.
The lay congregation around Shasta Abbey seems to have grown and become very active at the Abbey with the result of it feeling more like a church than a monastery. I have been reluctant to return and now with the resignation Rev. Master Eko i am sure I will not be going back.
We live on Vancouver Island and I have been to the Lion's Gate Priory in Vancouver which I found inviting and absolutely non pretentious. It ,unfortunately, is difficult for us to go to so we are rather left on our own here on the Island.
I found this forum because I was searching for some meaning to the resignation of Rev. Master Eko. It affected me more than I thought it would when I first heard about it in May. Mainly, it concerns me that there seems to be a definite late compassion and acceptance from the abbey towards Eko. It is like they defrocked him and excommunicated him from the order...sounds all a little archaic and punitive.
I really have not said much about myself but there will be more time for that once I get comfortable with the forum.
Nice to have someone to talk to about this. Thank you.
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: I'll start . . .   Wed Jun 16, 2010 9:21 am

Hi Sugin, and welcome! Nice to have you here.

You've probably noticed that we have some lively discussion underway about Rev. Eko's resignation and other topics. Yes, his leaving seems to have been a shock wave, and talking about it here does help to process our thoughts.

Thanks for joining us -- I hope you'll be a frequent visitor. We have diverse viewpoints on the forum, but there is room for everyone's voice and each person's contribution is welcomed.

cheers,
Lise
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Mary



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PostSubject: Re: I'll start . . .   Sat Jun 19, 2010 4:09 pm

Hello,
I have to say that I think that RM Eko's resignation was wonderful wake-up call for me. Prior to his leaving, I had many, many idealized thoughts and feelings about the OBC.
The problem I think started many many years ago when I started to have spiritual experiences and several monks told me that I had a monastic calling. They also told me many other things including I would never be happy as a lay person if I ignored this calling etc. etc. Unfort. I've carried these words around in my head for many years, somehow feeling that if I didn't become a monk I was not living up to my potential. Well, long story short, I'm happy to say I'm not a monk. And I think some of the monks at the OBC need to temper their zealousness.


Last edited by Mary on Sun Jun 20, 2010 1:17 am; edited 1 time in total
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: I'll start . . .   Sat Jun 19, 2010 7:59 pm

Mary, welcome -- thanks for coming here and sharing your experience.

I too am "stubbornly content to settle for lay life" as I heard someone put it once. Maybe we should have T-shirts made Wink
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Mary



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PostSubject: Thank you.   Sat Jun 19, 2010 8:22 pm

In addition to not being happy if I ignore my calling... I was told:
a.) If i had children they would sense my calling and unhappiness.
b.) I would resent having children.
c.) That i shouldn't postpone it. This particular monk waited 'till she was almost 30 and had regrets. (a little bit laughable to me now)
d.) If i didn't have children and stayed a lay trainee then life would feel empty and without purpose.
e.) Relationships wouldn't work out for me. Particularly if they weren't doing the same practice.

While most people don't get this kind of crazy, directive advice, I was very young, naive, open, and in awe... so I did.

I don't think the monks weren't intending harm. I was like a sponge and caught on to the practice very quickly. However, they they were pushing what was true for them on to me, and not holding back by any means.
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sugin

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PostSubject: As Sad as I am....   Sat Jun 19, 2010 9:37 pm

I had such a different experience at Shasta Abbey. I never thought they were recruiting (actually just the opposite) and I was always treated with total politeness. I was there to meditate and learn not to join or be adopted. My daughters attended retreats there also...one hated the fencing and the controlled atmosphere my other daughter a truly free spirited artist thought it was great. Absolutely any experience in life is only viewed through our eyes and judge that way. I would like to hear from more people who actually , as I did, found solace at Shasta Abbey.
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Lise
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PostSubject: this is a good topic for a new thread   Sun Jun 20, 2010 12:56 am

Sugin, I expect others have positive comments too -- you might want to create a new discussion so that your question gets noticed and isn't buried here -- just a suggestion.
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Mary



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PostSubject: Re: I'll start . . .   Sun Jun 20, 2010 1:13 am

I would never use the word recruited, and I don't think they ever consciously try to get people to become monks. In my case I had some spiritual experiences that they interpreted as a "calling." And in their own naivete they gave me advice based on their perspectives as monks. I think, in all honesty, they were trying to be helpful. And this advice took place over the course of several conversations, ones in which I expressed both interest and doubt about monasticism. What I don't think they realized that, by me being both young and naive at the time, I really took their words to heart and got caught up in a duality-- always thinking that someday I had to become a monk--it was my special duty, calling, etc. In truth, I like having an internal life/practice--but the last thing I ever want to do is become a monk. And for the first time, I feel completely adequate in saying that.
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Tom

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PostSubject: Re: I'll start . . .   Sun Jul 18, 2010 11:20 pm

hello all,


I have been going to Shasta Abbey since Nov. 1983 when I attended a beginning weekend retreat. I accepted the precepts from R.M. Kennett in April 1984. My last time at the Abbey was to attend the retreat on the Shobogenzo led by R.M. Eko last June.

I just learned of Rev. Eko's resignation. It was a surprise to me, but I realized some time ago that we are all human beings and the monk/layperson thing doesn't make us unequal, rather acting in different roles. So I am not surprised when a monk or anyone else has human characteristics like sexual desire, control needs, etc.

My reason for going to the Abbey was to learn to meditate and have meditation practice be part of my life and that has been my focus. I was struggling with personal issues when I went to meditate at the Abbey and have found much peace and resolution of my own life problems through my meditation practice. I am grateful.

Just checking in with you all. I usually lurk and don't have much to say on forums but we'll see. You never know.

Thank you for creating this forum. It's great to hear what others have to say since my experience of most OBC'rs is on silent retreats. Smile

Best regards,

Tom
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PostSubject: Re: I'll start . . .   Mon Jul 19, 2010 12:18 am

Thanks Tom,
I am a watcher. You have used a few words to say it all. Some people have so many words they a burdened and they do not know this. Silent retreats are nirvana for everyone or anyone who can be quiet.
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: I'll start . . .   Mon Jul 19, 2010 9:17 am

Hi Tom -- thanks for joining us and sharing a bit about your background. I hope you'll continue to visit the forum.

I think you're fortunate to have kept a 27-year connection with the original purpose that brought you to the Abbey. I remember how I felt when I first learned about meditation there, and the sense of peacefulness I experienced at that time. Good memories.

Whether you post or read, either way it's good to have you here -- hope you'll find the forum useful.

cheers,
Lise

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