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 Bubbles of Denial, Bubbles of Delusion - from writer David Loy

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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Bubbles of Denial, Bubbles of Delusion - from writer David Loy   Tue Mar 05, 2013 12:54 am

I find David Loy a very insightful writer. Some of these bubbles have overt sexual abuse, others are more about emotional and verbal and mental confusion / harmful conduct.

Bubbles of Delusion, with some Sex
Posted by: David Loy on March 2, 2013
A shorter version of this blog was posted on the Shambhala SunSpace blog.


What makes human beings unique is also our Achilles heel – the defect that may yet destroy us.

Like other animals, we have instincts, but, thanks to our large neo-cortex, we can gain some degree of freedom from them by choosing how to respond to them. This is something that must be learned. We are born helpless and incomplete. During our extraordinarily long childhood – when the cortex is developing – we are dependent upon, and vulnerable to, the conditioning controlled by caregivers.

Thus, the downside of our relative freedom from instinct is our susceptibility to ways of thinking and acting inculcated by others. Much of that training process occurs before we have the conscious awareness to understand what is happening, much less any ability to evaluate it for ourselves. A common consequence is lifelong subordination to authority figures of one sort or another.

The sense of self develops in relation to other selves: we internalize our caregivers’ and siblings’ understanding of what the world is, and our role within it. And the conditioning does not end when we become adults. Since our egos are inherently insecure, in need of constant reinforcement, we remain very concerned about what other people think and especially sensitive to what they think about us.

Why do we usually believe something, such as a particular political ideology? Not because that belief-system is based on evidence. It’s no coincidence that children normally have political opinions very similar to their parents’. We learn to believe something because it is believed by others whom we respect/identify with/want to be like/want to be liked by. We are good at finding reasons to justify what we believe, but it is much more difficult to examine critically and sincerely our deepest beliefs. In fact, we are not usually aware that they are beliefs: they are not just true, they are reality. We do not normally distinguish the stories we hold about the world from the world itself.

The Buddha was aware of this problem, and emphasized the importance of not being attached to views. He applied this to his own teachings, which he described as a raft that can help us to get across the river of samsara (this world of suffering, craving and delusion) to the “other shore” of enlightenment. He warns us not to think “this is a great raft, I’ll carry it with me everywhere.” Let it go!

In place of the Abrahamic duality between good and evil, Buddhism focuses on ignorance and wisdom – the insight that comes with awakening. Delusion (moha) is one of the “three fires” or “three poisons” (the others are greed and ill will) that cause suffering when what we do is motivated by them.

Because it emphasizes individual awakening and personal transformation, Buddhism has not had much to say about collective delusion. Yet it is of some importance that my delusions are usually not that different from the delusions of other people, especially those around me. I live within a bubble of beliefs that’s not separate from theirs: in fact, our bubbles normally overlap so much that we can refer to group bubbles of delusion. These collective bubbles can help us understand why the world works the way it does, especially the institutional structures that perpetuate social dukkha (suffering).

For American Buddhists, some examples of institutionalized delusion have recently been receiving much attention. Once again, sexual scandals by senior Zen teachers have come to light, which expose not only widespread suffering on the part of those abused but also widespread denial within the centers involved – something especially ironic, since the point of Zen practice is to free us from delusion, especially the delusion of an ego-self that is separate from others. I wonder if sexual abuse by teachers is not the fundamental problem for such communities: perhaps even more alarming is the inability of senior students to acknowledge and address such incidents in a compassionate way, which suggests a deficiency in their training. One person takes advantage of his situation to abuse; but he could not continue to get away with it without the complicity of many others.

Because of ego-investment in the enlightened example of their teacher, students – especially senior ones, who have the most responsibility, as well as the most at stake in the outcome – end up perpetuating a collective bubble of delusion regarding what their teacher is getting up to. There is cognitive dissonance between their image of the teacher and what they actually see and hear. They can’t both be true, so … they repress what their eyes and ears reveal. Or they rationalize it: the master is wise, so what he is doing must be okay.

Denial in such situations is not uncommon, of course, but it is especially damaging for those on a path of awakening. The motivation to deny or ignore is understandable, because personal benefit complicates the issue: long-term students have sacrificed much to devote themselves to intensive practice under the guidance of this particular master, and whatever authority they have gained, or hope to gain, derives from his approval. They are especially vulnerable to this father figure’s opinion of them. Yet such self-concern undermines the whole process of personal transformation for everyone involved. Not only do the students tacitly agree to maintain a collective bubble of denial; the need to do so conflicts with developing the compassion that is just as much the goal of Buddhist practice.

The sexual abuse is bad enough, yet what the scandals indicate is arguably worse: these Zen centers, which ostensibly exist to cultivate wisdom and compassion, are inculcating collective delusion and indifference to the suffering of others. When does such a community become a cult?

Such group bubbles of denial become much more difficult to dispel, or even to become aware of, because people consciously or subconsciously believe they benefit by not seeing them. That suggests a Buddhist response: by truly letting-go of the most fundamental delusion of all – a sense of self whose well-being is separate from others’ well-being – the self-interest that sustains the bubbles is undermined. Whether or not Zen students have realized their true nature, however, the challenge cannot be evaded. When teachers engage in inappropriate sexual behavior, members of their practice communities need to recognize that the kind of personal awakening and transformation they seek does not occur if they are indifferent to what is happening to other members of their community.
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PostSubject: Re: Bubbles of Denial, Bubbles of Delusion - from writer David Loy   Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:02 am

another post from sweepingzen - that addresses similar themes:

The King is Dead, Thank God: Reflections on New Training Models for Zen in the Global Culture
Posted by: Dosho Port on March 2, 2013


The other day I was talking with some of my Zen teacher buddies about the recent demise of the last of the Zen “patriarchs” in America.

“The kings are dead,” I said, “and thank God.”

And what a mixed legacy they leave behind.

It seems to me that the traditional, feudal power models that the Japanese Zen pioneers brought with them served to rapidly establish practice, enlightenment and institutions in the West AND led to serious abuses of power.

Worse than in other areas in life?

Maybe not. That’s hard to assess. It’d be nice, you might think, if Zen was special but that naive wish is certainly a big part of the issue.

As Myoan Grace Schireson observes in How the West Won – Creating Healthier Sanghas, “…We need to examine how through suppression of emotional intelligence, critical thinking and genuine intimacy, we can become active defenders of spiritual abuse in Zen communities. Let us learn how to create and support healthier Zen training models.”

Nonin has a nice piece too on Sweeping Zen, Unethical Practices.

It seems to me that the correction to the tilt in our dharma ship from leaning way over into steeply vertical, feudal power has been under way for decades, going back to the implosion at San Francisco Zen Center in 1983. And what we have accomplished, at least in the Zen narrative, is a big emphasis on community.

For example, when asked in the recent Inklings, “…what are you goals for Dragons Leap in year two?” Dairyu Michael Wenger responded:

“I hope we can both open and deepen our practice. I am clear that this will be collaboration-what do students and community members want? How can Dragons Leap work with them to create a space that meets their needs? I am excited about the voices and ideas we will nurture here in year two.”

A fine expression of a horizontal, shared power and vision. Michael also says, “This is a place where Buddhist practices, creativity, compassion and fun are inter-related and encouraged.”

That sounds good. I’m into fun, lively, and edgy myself.

Yet, given that I’m prone to fretting, my concern is that the dharma ship has leaned too far into doing what community members want, to meeting people’s needs, rather than practicing enlightenment.

Some of us old hands wonder if there is enough intensity in modern Zen for truly open and deep practice. This is the ages old debate between emphasizing samadhi (as team silent illumination did in China a thousand years ago) and insight (emphasized by team koan in the same period and then transmitted to Japan and the West).

Clearly we need both – samadhi and wisdom – like two foci engaged in intimate dialogue.

Real ethical reflection and creative living are not nurtured when traditional power is predominant (the tyranny of the autocrat). Nor are they likely to occur when group think is pervasive. This is “modern power” where the group acts as the authority, prescribing and enforcing norms (which can become the tyranny of the collective). The ideal would be to come together as responsible beings, tolerant of others’ narratives, and reflect open-heartedly about how to apply practical wisdom in whatever situation we are in. This is what I regard as post-modern power and is an on-going way of being, not a place fixed in the horizontal or vertical dimensions of power.

See more at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wildfoxzen/2013/03/the-king-is-dead-thank-god-reflections-on-new-training-models-for-zen-in-the-global-culture


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PostSubject: Re: Bubbles of Denial, Bubbles of Delusion - from writer David Loy   Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:05 am

How the West Won – Creating Healthier Zen Sanghas
Posted by: Myoan Grace Schireson on March 1, 2013

also from sweepingzen.com

Here on Sweeping Zen, some teachers are asking us to examine misconduct in Zen communities as a systemic issue rather than one caused by “a few rotten apples.” I want to propose factors that make us prone to abuses in the Zen community. The sangha is the community in which Zen teachings have the potential to transform suffering, but communities that become dependent either on their perfect teacher, or on rigid adherence to the teachings, will not find a way to transform suffering. Instead, they replace one form of suffering with another. Some of the very issues and circumstances through which Westerners came to practice Buddhism may interfere with creating a healthy Zen path in the West. This is not to say that Zen practice isn’t misused in other cultures—it is just differently misused. To actualize the Dharma in the West we need to keep looking at how we integrate the tradition with our own tendencies and way of life.

First of all, most Western practitioners did not enter Buddhist practice through their family or community. We wanted something different than what our families had to offer. Most of us were looking for a way to end our emotional suffering; we thought we had hit the jackpot when we found Buddhism. Zen was more powerful and more pure than our parents’ religions or philosophies, and best of all—we were done being “hung-up” with emotions and the “rat race”. We could reject our parent’s way of life while imbibing this perfect elixir to end all suffering.

We lost emotional resources when we turned away from family relationships and wisdom. To be sure, all families have their own unpleasant patterns, but in Asian Buddhist families, one learns that reliance on common sense and kind relationships are Buddhist practice instead of turning away from responsibility and feeling. Children feel devotion sitting on their grandmother’s lap during Buddhist services. They may learn to follow principles of honesty and integrity from their parents and grandparents. Their behavior and kindness arises in the context of human emotion and relationship, not in an absence of personal intimacy or in an abstract belief and adherence to “detachment.” The promise of future enlightenment may lead us away from personal relationships, emotional maturity and individuation. This occurs in communities that aim to control the sangha members with intense devotion to the teacher or to his teachings. Furthermore, we have heard reports that some teachers attempt to destabilize important relationships, like marriages, perhaps in an effort to gain greater control of their students.

We can now see some of the costs of an idealized Buddhist practice that has been freed of “all hang-ups.” Who says the teacher needs to follow any rules, or be accountable to any oversight– never mind the precepts? The Buddhist community took the place of family responsibilities and individuation, and the students and leaders were “liberated” from the usual responsibilities and respect for others. Instead, the teacher and the ideal of enlightenment replaced the usual emotional connectivity, leaving the community vulnerable to cult dynamics and all manner of teacher abuse. One is reminded of the imaginary Never-never land of Peter Pan where inhabitants were promised special powers, but they never grew up. In the case of some residential Zen communities, individuals rights were violated, and individuals were sacrificed for the ultimate goal of future enlightenment through following the teacher’s prescription for freedom– believing that s/he was permanently “enlightened.” All of the teacher’s actions went unquestioned.

Besides being freed from emotions, which were to be disregarded, students were also liberated from critical thinking. If questions arose regarding negative effects of the practice or harm caused to individuals, students were told that “their egos were too strong.” They were told that their thinking minds were interfering with their spiritual attainment, told to stop thinking and told to just “become one with what was arising”. Practitioners were taught to discard their critical assessments: How useful are practitioners’ thinking minds for understanding the actions of a “fully enlightened being”—the teacher? Students who remained critical were driven from their Zen sanghas through active and passive methods—actively, their status downgraded, passively or lack of friendship. Zen sanghas have been left to cope with legitimate concerns of harm to community members without the benefits of reasoning or emotional intelligence.

Finally, let us consider the backbone of Zen practice—the schedule of meditation, ritual and the hierarchy. Often, the community is asked to arise at 3:00 or 4:00 am am every morning, and often, the earlier the morning wake-up, the more pride in practice. Sleep deprivation leaves individuals vulnerable to “brain-washing,” and has been used as part of torture and indoctrination programs. If we are training our minds to be free of habitual conditioning, sleep deprivation can also be useful. We don’t have the usual energy for mind mischief, and we necessarily end our customary evening entertainment in favor of sleep. However, sleep deprivation can also lead to blind obedience, confused thinking and unusual states of mind. A student may lack mental energy or the clarity to recognize sangha problems. The rituals can be beautiful and become a proof that we are on the “right” track if we just follow along. When we examine the effects of hierarchy in the Zen residential community we see that practitioners may not only benefit from status in supporting the teacher, but their housing, salary and teaching rank will be affected by their loyalty to the teacher and his/her views.

For years now, John Welwood and others have asked us to consider “Spiritual bypassing” and the danger it presents to Buddhist practitioners. Can we consider how our community meditation practice can be subverted? We need to examine how through suppression of emotional intelligence, critical thinking and genuine intimacy, we can become active defenders of spiritual abuse in Zen communities. Let us learn how to create and support healthier Zen training models.


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PostSubject: Re: Bubbles of Denial, Bubbles of Delusion - from writer David Loy   Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:09 am

Misunderstandings by Zoketsu Norman Fischer
Posted by: Zoketsu Norman Fischer on February 26, 2013
sweepingzen.com


I have been frankly disgusted over the recent stories about Zen teachers’ sexual misconduct (a mild term for the abuse that has been reported) that have appeared in the national press and in the Zen and Buddhist online worlds. Not so much by the conduct itself, though it is certainly disgusting, dismaying, terrible, but by the wearying sense of déjà vu – how often can this happen? How long will it go on? How long can we continue to be this destructively clueless? I have been so disgusted I have more or less been ignoring the stories, not wanting to think or talk or write about them. I’m not proud of myself for this, but, really, I almost can’t take it anymore. It is so repetitive, so tiresome, and one would like to ignore it altogether if it weren’t so terribly wounding to so many. I am thankful to my several Zen colleagues who have been active in writing about and opposing these excesses (and to Sweeping Zen for publishing them); I feel as if they are working on my behalf, and with my support, in speaking out actively as I hope I would be doing if they were not. How can the Genpos, Eidos, and Sasakis of the world do this stuff when they already know that of course they will be outed eventually, and that their guys-just-need-to-have-some-fun spirit is not fun for people on the other end of it. People’s lives are, in too many cases, ruined by what they have done.

How can they do it? In my mind there are only three possibilities: one, no impulse control; like addicts, they literally cannot stop. This is sad and pitiful in the case of most addicts – and would be in theirs as well were it not for the fact that they may claim, and students want to believe, that they are not helpless addicts but spiritual masters. Two, they think they are enlightened and that enlightenment makes them immune from moral constraints; their sexual partners should celebrate the fact that they (the partners) have crawled into bed with a Buddha. Think of the ineffable transmissions! Third, they don’t care that much whether or not they are hurting someone, or maybe they don’t notice or don’t think about it.

No matter which of these three reasons explain it, or maybe all of them do, how can we affirm such actors as Buddhist teachers? Buddhist teachers, it seems, from reading sutras and observation, have some capacity to control their impulses. They are not slaves to their desires, and they do care deeply about the well being of others, and have some capacity to understand what is good or bad for others. As for the enlightened argument, this seems particularly spurious to me. I do not think the word “enlightenment” refers to a permanent state someone possesses somehow as a character trait. The idea of spiritual enlightenment in Buddhism precisely contains the notion that one can’t be or possess anything exclusive of others, so that modesty and radical caring would be its characterological marks. It must be the case that these guys do have great spiritual powers — obviously they do, or they would not have inspired so many for so long. But being a Buddhist teacher seems to me not to be simply a matter of spiritual power per se. Lots of people have enormous charisma, can perform various spiritual feats, but this does not make them spiritual teachers. It may (as many have reported) give them the capacity to inspire others in faith in practice, and that’s positive; and there is no point in condemning those who are grateful to them for that. I am sure the gratitude is heartfelt and I am happy for the offenders if they can have the satisfaction of having done some good, along with the shame I hope they are capable of feeling for the bad they have done. But let’s not be confused by this. Crimes are crimes, and people who commit them are to be condemned. Compassion and genuine gratitude don’t obviate this. They reinforce it. Clarity about right and wrong is a great and compassionate gift we can give to someone who is in need of such a gift.

Okay, there’s that. But, of course, it’s also more complicated. Of course it can’t simply be that there are evil Zen masters who perpetrate crimes all by themselves. Communities must collude, otherwise it would not be possible. And of course sometimes victims are willing, or nearly or partly willing (though this doesn’t absolve the teacher, who must ultimately be the responsible party regardless).

But what troubles me more is that it is even worse than this. To me it seems clear that there must be something wrong with Buddhism (and with religion in general, because sexual abuse is certainly not limited to Buddhists, check your local or international Catholic parish) that its teachings, rituals, customs, understandings seem to give rise to this very special form of human suffering all too regularly. It would be easy if we could just blame the perps, and leave it at that — a few really bad people we can get rid of. Or, blame the communities and the cultures — bad 60′s ideas like gurus and sexual license, we’ll be beyond all that soon.

No, I think it is worse and more subtle that that. We have to ask, what is it about Buddhist teaching, ritual, and practice, with the teacher at its center, that seems to encourage these mistakes? Did we really think that we could simply take on an Asian religion, nurtured in the soils of an alien feudalism, and swallow it whole, without also swallowing a bunch of probably toxic and basic misunderstandings that would require some crucial reformations? We are left with lots of work, lots of discussion, lots of soul-searching ahead of us. This will take time, sensitivity, intelligence, and courage to figure out. But Buddhism (and religion in general) has lots of goodness in it — goodness that we need for troubled times — and it will bear this scrutiny, yielding good results eventually. So, lets all take a deep breath, cease as much as we can from the general confusion that such events foster, do what needs to be done to repair the damage, and get back to work.
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PostSubject: Re: Bubbles of Denial, Bubbles of Delusion - from writer David Loy   Tue Mar 05, 2013 7:19 am

For me David Loy is beginning to get it, thank god!

Add in 45 years of total overt support of Sasaki nd Eido and his wife by all the zen teachers of USA and there you have it: the dysfunctional, not looking at itself Zen family.

Until Zen teachers begin overtly moving towards childhood conditioning and it is a core part of zen practice, virtually noone in zen is going to be setting themselves free any time soon.

And moving towards childhood conditioning is just the start, the important 1st step in setting oneself free of it.

You cannot go round this stuff people, the only way is through it.

1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys are sexually assiulted as children, almost all are assulted in or around the home.

60% of children see violence in the home. (dr. Bernados).

These are conservative figures.

These figures are saying its not just Eido and Sasaki, its all of us.

How we treat Sasaki and Eido and his wife are how we treat ourselves. Doesnt say much for Zen Masters inc. does it?

And oh no i hear you say, these figures cannot be true! Well folks, just go and read some World War 1 and 2 non-fiction then look at how the world dealt with the insane people who came out of these wars alive, and you will begin to realise that these figures are very conservative.

Welcome to the real War Zone.

Remember, its all about love, compassion and wisdom.

And love compassion and wisdom has to be aimed at what's really going on, not infantile fantasy-land, doesnt it.
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