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 Thoughts about this Forum - at this point - April 2013

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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Thoughts about this Forum - at this point - April 2013   Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:57 pm

Just a few thoughts about this Forum and related issues

This site I feel has been and continues to be a very valuable platform for people to share their experiences - whatever they may be. Deep thanks to those that set this up, manage it and keep it alive.

The era of the "one true story" is over and gone. This site along with sweepingzen.com, other Buddhist and zen websites, and even the blog sections at Tricycle and Shambhala Sun have changed the game. Stuff comes out into the open. Abuse can no longer be so easily hidden or denied. Even in the recent past, this could not have happened easily. And in the more distant past, there was no room for any criticism of teachers, traditions. Shadows were never addressed except in whispers and the very few who spoke out were ostracized or disappeared.

This board has 299 registered users. Like any web forum, active participation is a mixed bag. Some join and never post anything and rarely come back. Many people - probably the vast majority visit, read the topics that speak to them, but don't comment. And then there are the more active folks who post and interact much more - and we know who we are.....

I feel that a site like this remains a long-term source of information, of debate, of questioning, of source material - so people at least have the option to consider differing points of view and experiences. One of the reasons I spent so much time posting all those reviews of books and videos was for this purpose If you want to explore..... here are some places to go, things to read.

One thing I noticed. Beyond the registered users, there seems to be quite a few people who visit this board as "guests." At the bottom of the home page it notes the number of guests at any given time. Like right now, as I am writing this, the stats said that there are 2 registered users and 6 guests on line. So who are all these "guests"? I have no idea, but if I understand the information correctly, what this suggests is that this site is of value to far more people that the registered users - that many others - probably former OBC members, current OBC members, other Zen/Buddhist practitioners are coming to this site. I have frequently seen that the number of guests is often 3 times the number of registered users. So that could mean that hundreds of people are coming here to view the discussion.

Since I joined this site, I was in contact with some older former members of Shasta - who looked at the forum and decided not to register or participate. For them, their time at Shasta was old and frankly they wanted to forget the whole thing. I respect that decision, although their stories and points of view would have added to filling out the picture. I also talked to a few former members who did not officially register or participate, but told me how much they found it useful to check into the site every so often.

Also, since this forum was established, quite a lot has gone down in the Zen world - that provided tons of topics for active discussion on this forum. The Eko situation and the OBC's internal investigation / process, the deepening scandals around Shimano, Genpo, Sasaki, and other Buddhist teachers (the death in the desert, the video of Kalu Rinpoche talking about his abuse in Tibetan monasteries), the growing power of the internet in exposing excess and abuse, and so on. All grist for the mill. And the days are gone when stuff happens and people play the game of silence. As we addressed elsewhere on this board, silence is not golden anymore and ignoring is now just willful ignorance. ("I don't want to know this" -- fine, but at least now you have the choice - knowledge, alternative points of view are all just a google search away)

Most of the Buddhist groups for westerners in the U.S. were established about 50 years ago. But it is actually now that the real adaptations are beginning to take place. These recent mostly sexual scandals are the death throws of the old paradigm. What is not sustainable, not healthy, hopefully will begin to fade away. Shimano and Sasaki exemplify this - here there were literally 50 years or more of abuse of authority, sexual predation, total institutional silence and dysfunction -- this is not sustainable - this all ends in mostly harm, organizational collapse, media exposure, revelations on the internet, potential lawsuits, and so on. It doesn't work. And do these "masters" and their behavior produce compassionate, kind, wise, spiritual adults? What kind of enlightened is this that includes such harm? What's the evidence? What the bottom line truth? Forget the ideals. Forget the wonderful lectures and koans. What is really happening right now in the hearts / minds / daily lives of those who follow these "masters" and practice in their communities?

So, on forums like this, we can openly talk about these matters. Share differing points of view. Question. Great thing in my book.

As we have discussed, of course, some will say these matters should never be brought onto a public forum. It harms the dharma. It turns people away from Zen or Buddhism. It is breaking the precepts. We should never criticize these "enlightened masters" - under any circumstances. Who are we to judge them? They are enlightened and we aren't. We don't get it. Yada Yada Yada. If you believe that, then keep your silence and don't participate in these discussions.

I don't buy into any of that story anymore and most of folks posting here would generally agree. The truth is not harmed by the truth, only by believing in harmful stories, only by allowing abuse to continue in the shadows. And the actual evidence shows that so many of these "enlightened masters" are far less enlightened than they believe or claim, that their actions are questionable at best, and that saying nothing leads to more harm and bullying and even physical abuse. Institutional blindness benefits no one not even the institution.

The Dharma in the west will be significantly affected by these kinds of open forums. Also, they will be affected by people speaking their minds and by rejecting blind obedience and adherence to old stories and myths.

I've said much of this before. enough already!! Off the gym and the sunny Manhattan day.

josh
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jack



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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts about this Forum - at this point - April 2013   Sun Apr 07, 2013 5:49 pm

Quote :
And do these "masters" and their behavior produce compassionate, kind,
wise, spiritual adults? What kind of enlightened is this that includes
such harm? What's the evidence? What the bottom line truth? Forget the
ideals. Forget the wonderful lectures and koans. What is really
happening right now in the hearts / minds / daily lives of those who
follow these "masters" and practice in their communities?

That is the very crux of Buddhism as a religious path of value. Some would argue that the truth is not harmed by the corruption and disease of those promulgating it. Religion has always had to make that claim because most of the lives of its purveyors have never been even close to consistent with the truth they claim to speak. Catholicism had to claim that absolution of a sin confessed to a thoroughly dishonorable priest who had just raped them was just as required and effective as absolution from one who made a reasonable attempt to live a holy life.

At least in the Pali Canon, readers are asked to examine the life of the Buddha. Did he practice what he preached? Did he actually live the "holy" life he taught? Though any historical examination of that claim is impossible, the implication is clear that behavior is the compelling trait to be examined if one claims to be a Buddhist.

There is in Zen, in particular, a penchant for believing that nonsense is some sort of holy sense, that corruption is some sort of transcendence that is "not understood." And it spawns rationalization of misbehavior both by the perpetrator and the victim. Did Jiyu believe her defects to be "holy wisdom" of some sort. Very likely.

I do appreciate the tabulations of Buddhist disease because, for those not dazzled by their own delusion, they offer a useful warning to be careful -- to not rationalize things they know in their heart to be unwholesome -- to be aware there is no safe haven where they can become gullible without becoming potential victims or enablers.

But, at least for me, they also become an old story. I already am persuaded. I already agree with the general point. I'm not even outraged any more. That's just the nature of the way things are. I'm dubious of any "reform" effort; the thousands of failed reform efforts convince me that none of them are a solution, though some would be marginally useful if they were adopted. Awareness while remaining open is the only functional safeguard, and that's a tall order for human beings who want to find their way to truth by trusting.

I also have reservations about the longevity of any postings here. This forum is relatively difficult to search, and stories quickly fade into obscurity, brushed aside by the clock which keeps the freshest in the forefront. Perhaps some "sticky" categories for those judged to be most useful would remedy that, but I wouldn't want the task of being the chooser. Amalia's story is a compelling one, and one that demonstrates the destructive dynamics that can come into play within a sangha. But it's mostly disappeared from the web, except for some postings here, which perhaps survive. I don't fault her, but this forum won't likely be a long term repository of information.

In conversation with another Buddhist yesterday about setting up a quarterly meeting of non-associated Buddhists in our region, we ended up discussing the term "secular Buddhists." Though at this point I would not use that term to describe myself, I'm more comfortable at that end of the spectrum than with the "holy" end with invocations, rituals, and mysterious transcendence that seem to also be the stuff of Buddhist disease.
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts about this Forum - at this point - April 2013   Mon Apr 08, 2013 3:37 pm

Deep thanks to you also, Josh, and everyone who comes here. I have more thoughts to share once they line up a little better. So much has transpired in the few short years OBCC has been up. I've been changed by what I've learned here and continue to learn. I carry less anger now about the things I saw and heard at Shasta Abbey. Because those who know the behinds-the-scenes stuff could come and talk about it, some things are clarified for me. Not excused or swept out of view but I feel I can better understand the factors contributing to cruelty and other misbehaviour. The pressure of conformance, the fear of resisting, the surrender of one's judgement and autonomy.

I hope this forum does have longevity. Possibly we should think about what would happen if the forum provider went out of business - I don't know what provision they make for an orderly transfer of the database but hopefully that is sorted already, somewhere.

More soon. I used to have a lot to say about . . . almost everything Not quite so much anymore Smile
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glorfindel

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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts about this Forum - at this point - April 2013   Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:41 am

Jcbaran wrote:


One thing I noticed. Beyond the registered users, there seems to be quite a few people who visit this board as "guests." At the bottom of the home page it notes the number of guests at any given time. Like right now, as I am writing this, the stats said that there are 2 registered users and 6 guests on line. So who are all these "guests"?

The guests are most likely registered users who have not bothered to log in.
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts about this Forum - at this point - April 2013   Sun Apr 14, 2013 10:47 am

oh, that could certainly be much of it. Didn't think of that.
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Carol

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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts about this Forum - at this point - April 2013   Wed Apr 17, 2013 11:34 pm

Thank you, Jack and Josh, for your thoughtful insights into OBCC. Jack's comment sums up the changes that I have undergone through reading OBCC for the past 3 (?) years:
"I do appreciate the tabulations of Buddhist disease because, for those not dazzled by their own delusion, they offer a useful warning to be careful -- to not rationalize things they know in their heart to be unwholesome -- to be aware there is no safe haven where they can become gullible without becoming potential victims or enablers."
A Search function by topic would be helpful. Often I think of a posting from months or years back, but it's hard to find.
The transitory nature of the postings are part of acceptance and growth, although I agree that it would be good idea to preserve the writings here somewhere.
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts about this Forum - at this point - April 2013   Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:23 am

Carol wrote:
A Search function by topic would be helpful. Often I think of a posting from months or years back, but it's hard to find. The transitory nature of the postings are part of acceptance and growth, although I agree that it would be good idea to preserve the writings here somewhere.

A more sophisticated search would be nice, but what works fairly well at the moment is to use Google and preface the specific topic with "OBC Connect" - works surprisingly well.
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mokuan



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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts about this Forum - at this point - April 2013   Wed May 01, 2013 2:10 pm

Hi Josh,
I'm one of the "guests" who often appear here because most of the time I've forgotten my password. I change it and forget it...again.
I do so appreciate all the information and articles you've posted, as well as those from everyone else. Because of this forum my own transformation of healing from my years at Shasta -- that I'd been trying to do for many years on my own -- has been accomplished via OBCC.
It's amazing what the voices of many can do! And I'm profoundly grateful.cheers
~mokuan
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colacho



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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts about this Forum - at this point - April 2013   Tue Mar 28, 2017 4:09 pm

glorfindel wrote:
Jcbaran wrote:


One thing I noticed.  Beyond the registered users, there seems to be quite a few people who visit this board as "guests."  At the bottom of the home page it notes the number of guests at any given time.  Like right now, as I am writing this, the stats said that there are 2 registered users and 6 guests on line.  So who are all these "guests"?

The guests are most likely registered users who have not bothered to log in.
That may be the case but I used to read this forum before I registered. I think it's an invaluable resource for people with an interest in the OBC. I've been to Throssel several times as a lay person and in many respects it was an exciting, renewing sort of place. However, it was presented as a Soto Zen school and Kennett's role as founder and interpreter was certainly not problematised. Other than by her own writing, that is, which was what set alarm bells ringing for me in the first place, alongside the extremely narrow range of reading material available for guests. There was also something about the churchy nature of the ceremonies and so on that rang a false note.
In any case, many thanks to those of you who have shared your stories with great humanity. It's important that there be somewhere where these experiences can emerge. And they certainly do help people by allowing them to see things they might otherwise miss.
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Thoughts about this Forum - at this point - April 2013   Wed Mar 29, 2017 9:13 am

colacho wrote:
In any case, many thanks to those of you who have shared your stories with great humanity. It's important that there be somewhere where these experiences can emerge. And they certainly do help people by allowing them to see things they might otherwise miss.

The forum has been "sleeping" for a long time, so nice of you to post.  It has been a safe space for many of us to give voice to things that we were never allowed to express in the OBC, and has been very healing as a result.
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