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 Kaizan: Belated Introduction

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Henry

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PostSubject: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Sun Sep 19, 2010 10:01 am

My name is Henry and my monastic name was Kaizan. I was ordained in 1976, given the title of Roshi in about 1983, and left the OBC in 1991. I would like to write here the circumstances of my leaving the OBC. The reason for my doing so is to provide a different perspective on the leaving process than the one provided by current monks. Their perspective describes a process that can be difficult, but their perspective is that the difficulty is inherent in the process of leaving something so all encompassing as a monastic profession. Apart from this inherent difficulty, all is portrayed as quite reasonable, a process that perhaps just needs a few tweaks to iron out to make it even smoother than it presently is. It has also been implied that those of us who left the OBC and have concerns about their practices blame Rev. Kennett or the OBC for our suffering. I would like to make it clear that I don’ blame Rev. Kennett or the OBC for my suffering in the sense of my not taking responsibility for my life. I realized the impediment to my health, mental well being, and spiritual development she and the OBC were creating through their actions towards me and took responsibility by leaving the order. There is nothing wrong or unspiritual about seeing the problems other people create for oneself and others, and considering whether remaining in the midst of that is conducive or not to one’s development. It appears to me that denying that others can create suffering for oneself and others is being stuck in the all is one; stuck in the “no one can be harmed in truth so why be concerned.” To that I can only reply with a question: why do monasteries exist if not to create an environment the monks perceive as most conducive to their training? Why does the OBC protect monks from doubt and temptation if no harm can be done? It seems misguided and misleading that on one side monks create a highly controlled environment that protects them from all manner of doubt and temptation that they perceive as harmful, yet when those who leave speak of the harm they perceived within the monastery, we are told that there can be no harm to the true self, so why bring attention to those things. All of a sudden, all harm is just an opportunity to train more deeply. They have forgotten the harm they have so assiduously excluded from their lives. How many times was that “harm” they needed to exclude and protect all monks from was in the form of a monk who left who had some doubts about practices in the monastery they saw as wrong and wanted to speak about it. With that said, I will explain the circumstances of my departure. People can judge for themselves if it was a reasonable process or not and whether I am blaming Rev. Kennett and the OBC for my suffering.

The process of my leaving was centered around my illness. Though for a few years prior to the onset of being ill in 1987 I felt a strong pull to both leave and stay. The pull to leave was that something felt wrong. It seemed there was too much humiliation of others in the name of teaching. No doubt this was a typical teaching device used by Zen in Japan. Still it did not feel right to me. I also was drawn to practice in a more solitary fashion, but Rev. Kennett always asked me to remain in the monastery, so I stayed.

In November of 1987 I was Tenkien, which meant I stayed up all night meditating as guardian of the temple. I also did rounds of the property. At that time, my knees began to hurt and felt I could no longer do this job. In fact it was not just my knees, but the pain started to spread from one part of my body to another over the course of several years. Within 4-5 months, I was pretty much non functional and spending almost all my time in bed. Walking a hundred yards, often just 20 ft., was scary due to the muscle and back spasms that could occur. Sometimes I needed help going to the bathroom. Monks often brought my food to my room. Even sitting up more than 15 minutes was truly an ordeal.

I can’t overstate how kind many of the monks were to me. They took care of my physical needs, kept me company, and gave me untold emotional support. I was and am very grateful to all those monks whose empathy and willingness to help were an incredible gift to me.

There were also some monks in the power structure of the monastery who felt I needed kindness of a sterner sort. At least one thought I was faking and many thought I had a spiritual illness that needed to be treated with meditation. Anything other than this cure would fail. Eko was in this camp and he, more than anyone, except perhaps Rev. Kennett, thought I needed to be dealt with with toughness. I remember a friend walked me up to the dining hall one day so I could get some dinner. By the time I got up there I was shaking and very worried how I was going to make it back to my room. The other monk went into the kitchen to get me some food and Eko very sternly told her she could not do this. There are many stories of this sort I won’t go into here. There were more than enough such incidents that living could be quite scary for me at times.

During those years I felt more and more a pariah. Rev. Kennett, who used to frequently want me over her house, stopped inviting me. It was made clear my presence there was no longer wanted. And let me just say that meditation didn’t cure me. I certainly tried but I just got worse and worse with every passing month. After a few years I decided to try physical therapy and it was then that the most intense crazy making began.

First I requested to go to the Santa Barbara Priory. I made it clear to the prior that I would not really be an active priest at the priory and that the sole purpose of my going down there would be for physical therapy (there was little available in Mt. Shasta). If I could not do it there, my plan was to spend the summer with my mother. The Prior assured me that would be no problem. However, for me to do exactly what I said I was going to do, did turn out to be a problem. What seemed to the prior to be simple, reasonable things to ask of me, were, in fact, neither simple nor reasonable, given the pain level and dysfunction I was suffering. The Prior no longer wanted me there and I was required by him to leave.

I planned to go to my mother’s, but Rev. Kennett, who was at the Berkeley Priory, phoned me and told me she wanted me to come to the Priory there. I told her I absolutely wanted to try physical therapy for the rest of the summer and laid out clearly, in detail, what I wanted to do. If that was a problem I felt I needed to go elsewhere. Rev. Kennett assured me it would be no problem. With misgivings, I went there. The nightmare only got worse. Here are a few incidents to give a flavor of how I was treated: 1. No one was permitted to drive me to physical therapy. I had to take the bus. My physical therapist, who was no wimp, was utterly appalled that someone in my condition was required to take a bus. Though I had no diagnosis at the time she could easily see the degree of my pain and dysfunction and could not believe no one in my religious order was allowed to drive me. God knows what she must have thought of the OBC. 2. One day I went to a doctor who was a member of the congregation and Rev. Kennett’s doctor. I took the bus there and had to lie down on the bus due to the pain. I lost my wallet. I got off the bus and had to lie down on a lawn somewhere. I was in great pain and feared how I could walk the rest of the way to the doctor’s. I somehow made it there and found that Eko was also there. He had taken Rev. Kennett’s car. I was in terrible shape and probably hypoglycemic at the time. I was shaky, dizzy, agitated and desperate for some food. I borrowed money from the doctor (which I quickly repaid). I also got a ride back with Eko. Rev. Kennett was furious that I rode in her car and furious that I borrowed money. She expressed disgust with and anger towards me. 3. Sometime later I overheard a conversation between her and Eko, speaking of me in, let us say, unflattering terms. I came into the room and defended myself and asked why I was not included in discussions and conclusions being arrived at about me. Wasn’t my input of any value? Obviously not. Rev. Kennett spoke to me later in kind terms, telling me of the pressure she was under from “others,” but things remained as they were. Her diverting blame to others felt like an excuse to me, since her behavior towards me didn’t change. It’s hard to describe the degree of hopelessness, helplessness, and humiliation I felt. I also felt I couldn’t count on her following through with what she directly told me. It was crazy making, especially to a person ill and unable to care for themselves. I was told I had to return to the abbey but was able to bargain in a few more weeks of physical therapy, before I was essentially kicked out of the Berkeley Priory also.

I returned to the abbey and I believe I spent one more winter there. After some improvement from the physical therapy, another winter at Shasta worsened my illness terribly. To leave my room felt incredibly threatening. I could have a back spasm and be immobile. I could meet someone who expected me to do something I didn’t feel capable of doing. I felt unbelievable vulnerable, useless, and a burden on everyone. In May of 1991 I was turning 40. I knew my life was over if I didn’t leave the monastery. I decided I had to leave and would ask my family for help. To leave was a fearful thing as I had little money and suffered a degree of disability that I couldn’t work or function on my own. I was also doubtful my family would help.

There was someone at the abbey who had befriended me and sympathized with me in my plight, who told me if my family would not help me, they would leave the monastery and help me just until I got on my feet. I tried to contact my family, but none of them would take me in. They probably feared a permanent invalid on their hands. (As a side note, I would like to say I didn’t ask my mother because for reasons I can’t go into here, I was not able to stay there for an extended time. I don’t want it to look like she refused me). I tried contacting my family again, and failed again to enlist their aide. I wrote a letter to Rev. Kennett, who was at a priory at the time, and told her of the person who offered to help me. I stated that I tried for 3-1/2 years at the abbey and the priories to get better, and had only gotten more ill. I told her no one in my family would take me in. I wrote that I would not take this person up on their offer if it in any way jeopardized their ability to return to the monastery in good standing.

It was then that it really hit the fan. Rev. Kennett wrote back and was furious. She made it clear that I was to have no contact with that other person. (After that I never did initiate contact with that person as I did not want to create any problems for them). I was told I was now a lay person and had to leave the monastery. My priestly vestments were taken from me. (I have been told that no one recalls my being disrobed. I can only ask then, why do I not have my vestments? And why did the following happen?) I received a letter from Daizui (unsolicited) stating that he was unable to do anything to help me, that essentially the sentiment against me had reached a point that he could no longer mitigate it or the consequences stemming from it. Daizui had always helped me and advocated for me. He stuck his neck out on many occasions. He was a great friend who I miss to this day. To get that letter from him, I knew my OBC days were over.

I then contacted my family and told them whether they wanted to help me or not they were stuck with me. I was about to be put out on the street and needed their help. Fortunately they came to the rescue. I also had previously made an appointment at Scripps Clinic in La Joya, which was for a week or less in the future from that time. My father was on vacation in Europe and my family lived in Florida. I wanted to postpone the appointment in La Joya until my father could take me there, as everyone in the OBC was given clear instruction they could not drive me. I was told the appointment could not be postponed and my father would have to cut his vacation short to come and get me to bring me to the appointment himself. Fortunately he did just that.

After almost 4 years without a diagnosis, Scripps diagnosed fibromyalgia within an hour, though I spent almost a week there in total. While at the hotel in La Joya next to Scripps, Rev. Kennett called and told me I was always welcome at the abbey and she wanted me to return after my stay at Scripps. She said that I could follow whatever protocol Scripps recommended, while at the abbey or a priory. My father asked me to return to Florida with him and he’d get me an apartment and into a rehabilitation hospital, which Scripps had recommended. I chose the latter. I could no longer trust that what Rev. Kennett said would be what she did.

For those curious, this is what occurred afterwards. My doctor told me I should wait 3 months before going into a rehabilitation hospital. He prescribed medication and told me to go in a pool everyday and move around as best I could to get my muscles working again. He also wanted the medication to start to work. I then entered the hospital and found being surrounded by severely injured people who accepted me as one of their own was of great benefit to me. No one questioned the reality of what was happening to me. I could get down to the hard and painful work of regaining my functioning. After I left the hospital, I eventually I got my bachelor’s degree in Social Work, then my master’s, and then became licensed as a therapist. It took me 10 years from the time I departed the OBC in 1991, until I could work full time, which I’ve had the great good fortune to be able to continue to do to the present. I also have the great good fortune to be happily married to a loving wife and have a job I love as a family therapist.

I am not writing this for an apology. I wrote to Daizui many years ago, when he was head of the OBC. He apologized for all that happened. As he was head of the order, I took the apology as being in his official capacity. As a friend, he had nothing to apologize for. I asked him to please find out why I was kicked out of the monastery, two priories, and the priesthood. As for the latter, there was no record of that. My best guess is that Rev. Kennett exploded, had someone tell me I was no longer a priest, made sure I was kicked out, and when she calmed down, just reversed that decision like it never happened. Crazy making. Like I said, that is my best guess. No one has ever been able to give an explanation. As for the other incidents, Daizui wrote me stating that he asked all concerned and no one was able to say I did anything wrong. I asked him if there may have been a number of small things I did wrong that amounted to something they felt I should be removed from their priories for. He wrote that no one could come up with even a small thing I had done wrong. The Berkeley Prior, if I remember correctly, felt that Rev. Kennett was in charge at that time and he had little say in the matter.

So why am I writing this? I can’t say I’m sure. I have not shared this full story with many people. But with this forum, and the concerns written by others, I thought my story might help those who are confused clarify what happened to them. There are also some former monks and present lay people who are confused why there is so much concern over things that have happened at the OBC. Is it a perception problem? Are people just looking for someone to blame for their suffering? Have they not progressed enough to know that there is no self, therefore no one that can truly be hurt? I have seen wisdom and goodness in the OBC, what are these people talking about?

Perhaps my story will clarify some of those questions for some of you. Because I was so ill, what occurred to me will perhaps be more obviously misguided than what has happened to others. My vulnerability came from a physical illness, but there were many equally or more vulnerable through having a fragile psychological disposition. There are also those that who invested so much of their blood, sweat, love, faith, and tears at the abbey, that leaving, even when these practices became more prevalent, was traumatic in itself. Though what happened to them might be less obviously wrong, it is my belief that the same dysfunctional dynamic that was so distressing and painful to me, was no less so to them.

I am looking to blame no one. I made my decision to go the abbey. I made my decision to remain past the time my inner urges were pushing me to leave. And eventually I made my decision to leave and not return. If the vestiges of the practices I described have been purged from the OBC, I, for one, am glad this has occurred. But what I’ve seen on this site, is that no active OBC member has really tackled or addressed these practices head on. Everything is made reasonable. It appears to me that the argument put forth is that if one meditates deeply, if one commits oneself deeply to practice, there is no need to address these issues, that all is resolved in the unborn. However, I for one don’t believe that meditating and deep practice, and addressing these issues are mutually exclusive.

If anyone would either like to discuss this point, or discuss the point of view you have on the events I described, I am open to your perspective. I would especially like to engage in a constructive conversation with current monks. Hopefully, monks in addition to Seikai would find some of the issues here worthy of discussion.
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Sun Sep 19, 2010 2:53 pm

Hello Kaizan
Your story seems to be saying that the OBC management found the needs of your illness more disruptive than they were willing to put up with. It seems like most of the problems that people speak of in this forum relate to the OBC's fear & response to disruption. I'm not sure I've ever willingly embraced change unless I saw that the alternative would ultimately cause more suffering. I don't think the OBC is much different. I am not seeing any responses from the OBC side that indicates they see any problems except those that are someone else's responsibility. It is a position that makes the OBC look like just another a bureaucracy. Are there any changes in the OBC that you hope for in light of your experiences?


Last edited by Howard on Sun Sep 19, 2010 2:58 pm; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : Spelling as usual>)
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Sun Sep 19, 2010 4:29 pm

Howard,
I'm not interested in the OBC making any changes in particular. What I and others are doing are holding up a mirror to the OBC. If they are willing to look at themselves, at the effect of their actions on others, it is they who will have to decide what changes will work for them. Holding up the mirror for me is not a deliberate effort to teach. It is just expressing what I've experienced.
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Sun Sep 19, 2010 6:59 pm

What strikes me about your story is the lack of trust. It seems that you had been ordained for eleven years and transmitted for four years before you became ill. At that point in an intimate community, everyone knows each other pretty well (and the transmission should say something about confidence in your practice). Yet your explanations and expression of needs was not trusted, not believed. An underlying agenda - deceit, in fact - was assumed. I think there is something wrong in the relationships among seniors in any community when there is such a lack of trust in what a senior person says about his or her experience or needs.
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:03 am

I would like to add that I think there is a problem when there is such a lack of trust about what anyone says about their experience or needs, be they junior or senior. My personal experience is that there were only a handful of people to whom Eko Little would actually listen. His opinion and the opinion of 2 of his closest friends ruled the monastery, with little to no investigation into what was actually true. And there was a callousness regarding physical disability that was absolutely appalling.

As an example, one of the junior monks had hip replacement surgery. Eko kindly went to visit her at the hospital, and found her crying in pain, pleading for more pain medication. She was literally just out of the recovery room after her surgery, which is by no means a minor one. He came back to the monastery and, at tea with the monastic community, told them that when she returned to the Abbey from the hospital that no one was to go visit her during her recuperation, because she did not understand what it meant to be a monk and was unable to meditate through pain. He wanted her to take this time to reflect on her behavior. She was literally being punished for crying in pain after this surgery, but this isolation was, of course, explained as being for her own spiritual welfare.

This is just one of the more flagrant and easily recognizable examples of a sort of abuse that went on all the time at Shasta Abbey under the direction of the former Abbot. Most of the abuse was more subtle and you would need to know a great deal of the circumstances in order to comprehend the level of cruelty that was at work there. I do not, however, find it surprising that Kaizan lists Eko as one of those who were cruel during his own ordeal. Things certainly continued along those lines during Eko's abbacy. I can only hope that the monks who are in charge there now will be more compassionate, but unfortunately they are the very ones who always justified and supported the former abbot's behavior, so I am not holding out a whole lot of hope for that.


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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:16 am

When Rev. Kennett named Eko as next abbot, I knew my life would be a nightmare. Unfortunately I was too ill to care for myself and leave at the time. I felt trapped. It also made me realize that Rev. Kennett's judgment was seriously flawed. Eko is a troubled human being, who disguised his confusion and unresolved issues with a certainty that was truly frightening. He would use that certainty to lash out at others, frequently doing serious harm. No doubt he felt completely justified, but in truth he was just acting out some internal emotional dysfunction. That Rev. Kennett would instill a person with these sorts of problems with that kind of power was truly worrying to me and reflected on what she valued in a person's character and methods of leadership. All was there to see prior to his becoming abbot and prior to the recent debacle. Many of us saw Eko's unsuitableness as quite obvious. Rev. Kennett originally wanted him as both abbot and head of the order. I can't imagine the damage he would have done under those circumstances. Of course no one spoke publicly of this. That sort of expression in the OBC was not permitted, at least at the time I was there. So we were all complicit in this. I must plead guilty myself.

Well the work week has begun. I will do my best to keep up, but my participation might be sparse.


Last edited by Kaizan on Mon Sep 20, 2010 10:12 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Mon Sep 20, 2010 10:27 am

Hi Kaizan,

That sort of expression wasn't permitted when I was there either. Your description of Eko's character and behavior is astonishingly accurate. The thing is, he spoke so much of compassion in his public Dharma talks, and signed all his letters "In loving kindness". Unless you lived in the monastic community with him, or had a lay disciple relationship such as Diana did, you would never know his capacity for cruelty or the trouble he had with anger. The lashing out you described was what I used to call being sucker punched. It literally felt like a sharp blow to the stomach. And then he would smile, knowing the pain he had inflicted. And then he would justify it as being the Dharma.

I was a new monk when he became abbot. My ordination was literally the day before his abbatical induction ceremony. As all new monks, I came with a heart full of faith and trust, and did not understand at the time why there was such a deluge of senior monks who left Shasta Abbey within the first few years of his taking the reins. As my own faith and trust were destroyed over the years, I came to understand it only too well.
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:07 pm

Kaizan wrote:
Howard,
I'm not interested in the OBC making any changes in particular. What I and others are doing are holding up a mirror to the OBC. If they are willing to look at themselves, at the effect of their actions on others, it is they who will have to decide what changes will work for them. Holding up the mirror for me is not a deliberate effort to teach. It is just expressing what I've experienced.

Kaizan, thanks for posting your story of the last few years in the OBC. Anyone who was not there would likely find your account incredible. Unfortunately, because I was there and both experienced and observed this kind of manipulation perpetrated against others, I know that your account is not only true but also not unusual. This kind of manipulation was the norm, not the exception.
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:56 pm

To Laura,
Thanks for your update at what's happening more recently. If what concerned me wasn't continuing, there'd be no reason to rehash my story. You are one more confirmation that the old pattern that caused distress to me is still playing itself out at the OBC.

To Amalia,
After our rocky start, it was nice to get an "it's nice to meet you" from you. And just after we've made up, I fear I might cause another rift. You had written the following: "I am so happy to hear how great you are doing. Hope I'll be able to look back in 15 years and be so positive about it all." I believe a very important reason that I am able to be positive about it all is from what I learned at the abbey. Some have said it very well when they write about the need to let hurt show us where our attachments are and to learn to let go of them. I believe this is very important in gaining happiness. In life we are hurt in so many ways. If we dwell on them and blame others, we only cause pain to ourselves. A friend once said, "Revenge is poison we drink ourselves and wait for someone else to die." Experiencing hurt and anger with awareness, but not be run and driven by them can be greatly aided by meditation. Please don't hit me yet.

Where I differ from this view alone is that when we see that what has caused ourselves and others pain, there is nothing wrong in trying to make right what we believe is wrong. How we make that right is something we each must find in our own hearts. There is nothing that prevents us from doing both. In fact doing both can bring about more good than doing one alone. This is what Kozan tries to say in many ways.

At any rate, these are things that have helped me remain positive amidst the trials I have had, and I learned much of that at the abbey. I can fully appreciate why you are angry and how you handle that is your decision alone. I can only say what has helped me. Life can be very messy and confusing and black and white does not always provide the best choices. I wish you the best on your journey to find your own way.

PS I learned part A at the Abbey. For part B I had to get my education elsewhere. It is my belief that the OBC needs some help with part B.


Last edited by Kaizan on Tue Sep 21, 2010 7:04 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Additional thoughts)
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amalia



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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Tue Sep 21, 2010 9:05 am

I'm not upset with you! Why did you think that? Because of that other post? I took what you said with a grain of salt, since I thought you were trying to get a point across and wasn't offended. (though someone else was I heard privately). I didn't continue on in that thread because I thought it was getting too off topic, not because I was upset or whatever.
You old monks from the OBC are probably as close as I will ever get to rehashing what I went through with a senior, since no one at the OBC seemed to feel the least responsibility. So thanks for your 2cents, and to Isan, Kyogen, Kozan, Laura and to all the others who have had some helpful words to say to me. Well intended and well received, so don't worry.
Revenge? the quote I like better than yours is "Revenge is a dish best served cold" from Kill Bill. But hey, I'm cool, really I am.... my Samurai sword is all packed away in its case. One of the nicest responses I got to my story was this British guy who told me if I'd been his sister, he'd be over there in McKenna giving them trouble in a second. Too bad I didn't have a brother like that when I needed him! But seriously, what's wrong with being angry? I'm not a Buddhist. I am quite comfortable with my anger. It is a powerful, honest emotion as long as we don't interfere with it too much. I think the thing that makes people so crazy at the OBC is that they are constantly denying and suppressing their anger. They bury it way down deep and then it sickers out in horrible, vicious ways.
One of the things I really like about Kill Bill in fact is that in the end, after she finally puts down her sword and Bill and everyone else is finally dead, it is just over. She's with her little girl and she drives off into the sunset. She's done what she had to do and is at peace. Who's to say that it was wrong? Once you get over this crippling belief in karmic consequence life really opens up in terms of possibilities. Which is not to say I don't think there are consequences, or that I don't agree that revenge can hurt both sides. I am just saying I'd rather be Beatrix Kiddo then a senior monk of the OBC any day. cheers

We all have to do what we have to do. No one else knows what that is. One thing I had to do was to put that website of mine online. And post my thoughts on this forum. I don't know what else I have to do to be at peace with what happened, or to deal with the pain that my OBC experience left me with. But no one else does either. It is my journey and I am not turning it over to anyone else ever again.

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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Tue Sep 21, 2010 11:39 am

amalia wrote:
Once you get over this crippling belief in karmic consequence life really opens up in terms of possibilities. Which is not to say I don't think there are consequences, or that I don't agree that revenge can hurt both sides.

We all have to do what we have to do. No one else knows what that is. One thing I had to do was to put that website of mine online. And post my thoughts on this forum. I don't know what else I have to do to be at peace with what happened, or to deal with the pain that my OBC experience left me with. But no one else does either. It is my journey and I am not turning it over to anyone else ever again.

Exactly right. The question to ask about religious beliefs is "do they help or hinder my effort to live my best life?" I also received some messages at Shasta Abbey suggesting my karma was such that I could not have a certain kind of life. To be fair I don't believe that was intended meanness, but it influenced me to make choices based on a belief that I was not worthy of certain things. Eventually I had to throw off that belief and attempt to live life as I really wanted to. I still believe there is great value in Buddhism and in examining the path of the "masters", but it doesn't work to live someone else' life.

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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Tue Sep 21, 2010 8:14 pm

Kaizan wrote:
It seemed there was too much humiliation of others in the name of teaching. No doubt this was a typical teaching device used by Zen in Japan. Still it did not feel right to me.

I've seen a few others make similar comments here, so not to single you out Kaizan, but I'd like to offer my own two cents about Japanese Zen training. It's really interesting how what Jiyu Kennett experienced in Japan has replicated itself at Shasta Abbey, I'd like to imagine without her really having intended it to be that way. Maybe that's the nature of karma. But, I'll add, what she encountered was particular to a certain era (early 1960s Japan, almost 50 years ago), a certain place (Sojiji, which along with Eiheiji has a more "boot camp" feel than other, quite smaller training monasteries), and to her own personal circumstances (a Westerner and a woman, with little knowledge of Japanese language or culture and an outspoken character). Plenty of others have had completely different experiences, including my own teacher, a bit brazen of a fellow himself. "Japanese Zen" is a pretty broad category, and there are probably as many teaching devices as there are teachers. Certainly, Jiyu Kennett's experiences point to some flaws in the institution--and maybe, I'll grant, the Zen transmission itself--which I'm sure to some degree remain in the present day. But, I think it best not to be too reductionistic, about Japanese Zen or Japanese culture in general. We can't really know what it was like to train with Eihei Dogen, though people certainly have their ideas.
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Tue Sep 21, 2010 8:38 pm

Sogaku,
Thank you for pointing that out. I've learned over and over the samurai connection to Zen in Japan, etc. and a variety of stories that I've taken this as truth. As I have no direct experience and am not a scholar I can't defend my position with any credibility, even to myself. I'll try to be more careful.
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Thu Sep 23, 2010 8:01 am

Amalia,
I’ve just read of your ordeal on your website and can now more fully appreciate where you are coming from. It is my experience that some monks just think they know and understand more than they actually do. When I studied to become a therapist I found it truly eye opening to see how from the therapeutic perspective, the therapist takes the responsibility to understand the client as fully as possible so that interventions can have the most benefit possible. When the intervention doesn’t work, it is the responsibility of the therapist to go back to the drawing board and find something that does work for that client. If he continues to fail at providing help, he should refer to someone else. What I found at the OBC was often the opposite. If the advice given doesn’t work, it is because the trainee is at fault, so you push and push until the trainee gets it right. If the trainee gets more ill or more confused, the it is often assumed he is not trying hard enough, doesn’t have enough faith, etc. The bodhisattva ideal of skillful means is more akin to the former approach to me. Sometimes one can bend the approach offered only so much within the monastic context, because there are rules and structure that must be maintained. In such a case, one should kindly help the trainee find an environment elsewhere where an approach that does work can be implemented. But I didn’t see this didn’t happen in the OBC when I was there. Leaving is so often perceived as failure, or in your case, dire consequences are conjured because you are not fulfilling your true path. That obviously didn’t work for you or for many others. I am most grateful for the approach I learned in becoming a therapist. Looking back, this is how Daizui always helped me with my problems, No doubt he learned that approach from becoming a psychologist. When I was in the OBC, therapy was scorned as second rate or even destructive to training. So many Buddhist organizations have embraced therapy as an adjunct. It is interesting that the OBC , from what I saw, was more closely aligned with the view of some Fundamentalist Christian groups that find therapy interferes with the one true way.

Mia,
As a continuation to what I was writing above, how correct you are that there is a disconnect between spiritual and emotional intelligence at the OBC. In truth there is not one iota of disconnect. From my experience the stern anger tool was too often used as a mode of teaching. How much the OBC could learn from therapeutic techniques, so that there would have been no need for my story, Amalia’s story, and the many other stories posted and not posted here. To help others we need an infinite toolbox of tools. When there is so much hurt as is reported about the OBC, the toolbox must be expanded. Emotional intelligence should be cultivated as much as spiritual intelligence, or the tools the OBC uses will continue to hurt too large a percentage of those who go there to find refuge.

Thank you both for writing here.
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Thu Sep 23, 2010 2:29 pm

Amalia
Would you mind putting a link to your website on this thread? I think it might be helpful for people to see that what happened to me is not unique. I think the more people are willing to post their stories, the more those seeking to understand the nature of the issues some of us are trying to address will get a flavor of what those issues are. People can judge for themselves the veracity and merit of what we have to say. I know of other similar stories that for one reason or another people are not comfortable posting on this site. That of course is an individual decision. I can just say I am grateful to those willing to do so. From what I can glean on this site, the OBC has not adressed these issues in a significant way since my departure. Perhaps by what is occurring here, this might change.
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Thu Sep 23, 2010 3:01 pm

Here is the full account of my experience at the North Cascades Buddhist Priory as a new novice.

I also hope that others come forward. If anyone would like to publish a personal account on my site (anonymously if they wish) they can contact me through this forum PM and I can set up a new section for other peoples' stories. Sometimes it is nice to have a bit more framework then a forum.
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Fri Sep 24, 2010 7:16 am

As a person meditates and unties karmic knots, it is my belief that his emotional intelligence will increase. That is he will be able to better read another person's emotional state and will be able to tailor teaching and interventions that the other person will able to understand, accept and implement given his emotional state. Also increasing one's own emotional intelligence will aide in untying one's own karmic knots. That is what I meant by not one iota of disconnect between spiritual and emotional intelligence (which I wrote a few posts above), not that they are they same.
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Sun Sep 26, 2010 11:32 am

Hi Kaizan,

Can I ask how you would describe the difference between emotional and spiritual intelligence? As I said, I sense that there is one but I've been having difficulty putting words to it. (For admin maybe it'd be best to split this question into a new thread as well.) Thank you in advance -
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Sun Sep 26, 2010 12:25 pm

Mia wrote:
. . . (For admin maybe it'd be best to split this question into a new thread as well.) Thank you in advance -

We'll defer to Kaizan on this, since he's been discussing the topic you mention and your question's directed to him -- thanks for checking, Mia.
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:33 pm

In Zen, it is said that wisdom and compassion are like two wings of a bird. The bird cannot fly with just one wing. You could say that spiritual intelligence is wisdom and emotional intelligence is intelligent, intuitive, well implemented compassion.

I would say that spiritual intelligence is something rather simple. I would describe it as one’s own awareness disentangling itself from the busyness of the mind, negative (and positive) emotional states, and habitual ways of perceiving, and relaxing into a greater awareness that is beyond subject and object, beyond self and other. Spiritual intelligence sees the clouds drifting by as equally being oneself as one’s own body, thoughts, perceptions, and emotions. You could say that spiritual intelligence in truth sees nothing, in that that which sees and that which is seen are the same awareness.

Emotional intelligence is also essential, but too me seems more complex. Without emotional intelligence, you will have an extremely difficult or impossible time helping another (or oneself) develop spiritual intelligence. Some people naturally have emotional intelligence, most of us need to cultivate it. Emotional states very much influence and help determine the health of the decisions we make. In addition, negative emotional states can be an obstacle to becoming sufficiently calm and relaxed so that one’s individual awareness can merge with universal awareness. Emotional intelligence is the ability to help oneself and others navigate those emotional states so that they are manageable enough to allow them to arise and pass without obstruction.

Sometimes this takes a lot of finesse and an understanding of a large variety of ways to go about this. These ways are what are referred to as skillful means in Buddhism. Human beings are emotionally and psychologically highly complex. Pushing or pulling the wrong way can cause extreme anxiety, hurt, and anger. While each of us is ultimately responsible for ourselves, to those cultivating emotional intelligence and skillful means, blaming those who don’t respond to a teaching or intervention given is counterproductive. There is also a large amount of responsbility that is taken on---well, that didn’t work, what else can I try?

As I stated in an earlier post, I found it eye opening when I started studying to become a therapist how much responsibility is placed upon the therapist to find what works for the client. What I saw happening at the OBC frequently is that the teaching is given and then it is the responsibility of the student to implement it. There is value to the latter in that it instills self reliance, which is itself extremely important. However, some knowledge of the former, even for priests and monks, might be very beneficial also. I know the studying I’ve done has helped me with my own emotional intelligence.

Where I work we have what is called “live sessions.” Monthly, one or two therapists do a session with real clients behind a one way mirror with other therapists observing. Needless to say, we have to be open to feedback. Suggestions are made to even as small an issue as how a statement is worded. Did you see the person getting angry or shutting down when you said that? We noticed that you became angry and frustrated when the client did X. Do you know what triggered that reaction in you? All this helps hone emotional intelligence and opens one up to more ways to help a person get past what is blocking them.

Sometimes pushing a person past their limits can bring great benefit to that person. For the more emotionally fragile, too much pressure can create so much internal emotional conflict in the student that it is virtually useless to him, or can even cause great harm. Emotional intelligence is knowing the difference between these two types of people.

Inevitably mistakes are made by all of us. Doing this type of work is a real balancing act and all of us fall down at times. But the truth of the matter is that monks, priests, and therapists are going to be held to a much higher standard than others when it comes to how much we help others, the manner in which we help them, and the ways in which we, most often inadvertantly, harm them. A WWF wrestler is just not going to be held to as high an ethical standard as a monk or therapist. It just comes with the territory. If, as a therapist, a monk, an agency, a church, or a monastery, there is a line out the door, of significant length, of people saying they’ve been hurt and the manner in which they say they’ve been hurt has some very similar elements, then some self-reflection on techniques and approaches used and not used is in order. Trying to find ways to shorten the line is emotional intelligence.
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:32 pm

Thank you for that Kaizan!

Wow, really helpful for me to hear right now as I approach my practicum and internship. I know this will be a life-long learning experience for me. I'll keep my ears and eyes open to your offerings here.

:-)
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Tue Sep 28, 2010 7:38 am

Many thanks for explaining, Kaizan. I understand it better now, and will be continuing to explore the relationship between the 2. If you or anyone reading this has further pointers to learning more about it, then please feel free to pm me.
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:37 am

Hello Kaizan

I have some queries regarding health precautions and “master” certification within the OBC that I would value your input on.

1) Health precautions
Sleep helps to relax the muscles and reset the nerves. Depending on other factors, continuing lack of it could spark fibromyalgia, after which a vicious cycle may set in: once you have this excruciating ailment, natural sleep may be a rare and brief visitor. During the period in which you were Tenkien, did you have opportunity to sleep during the day?

Apart from your own ill health, do you recall if certain activities in the monastery seemed to precede ill health in others assigned to them – not necessarily every assignee but perhaps more than appeared coincidental and in a way that might suggest a link between the activity and later illness in a susceptible person?

I am sure that a night-watch is necessary, and of course the OBC did/does not have infinite resources. Within such limits as these, do you believe that, in your time as witness to events, a reasonable attitude and care generally accompanied giving assignments? I realise that your own observations concern a particular time and locale only.

2) Master certification
When a Zen master gets things wrong and persists in this – perhaps disregarding all said to the contrary and even taking opposition as further evidence that s/he is right and the other party is wrong in training/understanding/etc – people they interact with may understandably assume that the teacher comes from a place of covetousness/enmity and malice/harmful intent/conceit/egoism/etc (delete whichever does not apply!) This explanation for the teacher’s actions may seem particularly convincing if one has not the example of having uprooted these oneself at a deep level of mind and energy, and lived long enough thereafter to make and notice some well-intended (though they may appear otherwise to outsiders) dire mistakes of ones own and eat a few hats; though indeed anyone on the receiving end may doubt. I concur with your observation that “some monks just think they know and understand more than they actually do”. Not only monks; but it is very unfortunate for the beleaguered and bewildered student who never expected the teacher(s) to be quite so imperviously fallible!..

As I have written elsewhere, I think the OBC has been off on its correlations of supramundane stages for ?30-ish years, with perhaps a result that an unwittingly airbrushed picture of arhatship, derived from the Theravada, has been a goal for people who have already trained beyond the actual stage it refers to (a rather hopeless and surreal situation). For decades I have assumed that those certified in the OBC as masters have (in theory) at least uprooted, at a deep level of mind and energy, covetousness, enmity and malice, harmful intent, conceit, and illusoryself-grasping in respect of all skandhas (though there is yet more training and awakening), and that this stage has at some time been preceded by awakening to what one might call “transcendental compassion”, as a result of uprooting the illusoryself-grasping at the root of harmful intent. Is this assumption mistaken*? If not, do you think that Eko may have slipped through the net and been certified as a master despite not having uprooted the foregoing? Or do you think his “confusion”, “internal emotional dysfunction” and didactic lashing out reflected issues that he yet needed to work through after this? There are those reading this website that would not find this latter possibility inconceivable (as contradictory as it may seem to some), having known similar in their own training.

With many thanks

_/\_

* I hope my description of this stage has not been too confusing. By “illusoryself-grasping” I refer to what is termed, in the quote below, “innate/subtle” illusoryself-grasping (“intellectually-formed/gross” illusoryself-grasping having been uprooted at the stage of first glimpsing beyond the opposites but subtle dualistic appearances, that block ongoing simultaneous perception of phenomenality and emptiness (including that of phenomenal ‘emptiness’) not yet having been fully cleared, though this may not be apparent immediately on entering this stage).

From Correlations between Supramundane Paths:
To clarify an important distinction between “intellectually-formed illusoryself-grasping” (sometimes called “gross illusoryself-grasping”) and “innate illusoryself-grasping” (sometimes called “subtle illusoryself-grasping”), I will quote New Kadampa teacher Geshe Kelsang Gyatso from Ocean of Nectar (1995): “We develop the intellectually-formed view of the transitory collection (i.e the skandhas plus the I imputed upon them) when we speculate about the nature of our I and conclude that it is inherently existent. If anyone as a result of relying upon mistaken reasoning or misguided advice holds their I to be inherently existent, then they possess this view. Human beings who do not investigate the nature of their I, and other beings such as animals and insects, never generate it. The innate view of the transitory collection is a mind conceiving ones own I to be inherently existent that arises naturally, without any intellectual investigation, from imprints accumulated in the mind over countless lives. Unlike the intellectually-formed view, it functions continuously in the minds of all ordinary beings, including animals and insects.” Geshe Kelsang’s writing on these matters seems to accord with other Tibetan scholars.

(I should add that what Geshe Kelsang wrote above is relevant to all Buddhist schools; I had no clear Zen sources available to me.)

Maybe this has been just a longer confusing description!
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Wed Sep 29, 2010 12:58 pm

Anne,
That’s quite a mouthful of questions. Given time constraints, I’ll do my best to answer at least some of them. Regarding health issues. I was given time to sleep during the day, but I would often have to be at certain events which made full sleep difficult. I would sleep 2-3 hours before and after my duties. This allowed me to be up much of the day. I did feel pressure to be up and about as much as possible. How much was my own self imposed pressure is difficult to say. It is many years ago now.  I never noticed certain activities causing illness in the monks, I just know there was a lot of chronic illness among people in the prime of life. This concerned me. There were no open discussions about this, which, looking back, is odd, considering the extent of the illnesses  and their effects on the community. About “reasonable care” for those doing Tenkien—I can say for me it would have been helpful if it had been made very clear that after Tenkien I had 9 hours for sleep, eating, relaxing time, like the other monks who had 9 hours between evening and morning meditation.
 
Regarding the level of attainment of those certified as masters in regard to the bhumis, Ihave to confess my ignorance. I am neither scholarly nor well educated in that area. That said perhaps the following might be of some small assistance.
 
My assumption at first was that to be given the title of roshi or master, one would have to have experienced at least once the transcending of subject and object, the dissolution of I, resting in the unborn. Later I heard this was not always the case. Regarding the former, one can have this experience and still have a lot of karma to clean up. In fact, it was often people with a fair bit of painful karma that more quickly had this experience. Likely because these folks felt motivated to move along. So yes there could be all those negative traits you described in people given the title of master. How much each person had come along in cleaning up their karma is not something I could comment on with much accuracy. I have my fair share that is my concern, and for those I am in a position to help, I will help them with their karma as they would like me to.
 
I hope this is of some small help. I’m afraid I am neither as knowledgeable nor enlightened as your question implies.
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Fri Oct 01, 2010 5:01 am

Many thanks for your time, effort and patience, Kaizan.

Speaking from sympathy for all concerned in the OBC, I hope they have been, or will be, able to find ways to lessen and lighten incidence of chronic illness in their community.

I hope you won’t find me a pest ~

In referring to experiencing “at least once the transcending of subject and object, the dissolution of I, resting in the unborn”, can you say if you mean that “I” seemed to reappear later; or that one still clung to certain skandhas (feelings, thoughts, inner activities, object-consciousness) as “I”, until erased in further training; or was it as though the knot of I-grasping in respect of all skandhas had been undone; had I-grasping in respect of the skandhas of inner action (including the grasping-reflex) and object-consciousness ceased, and not just temporarily?

I think that sudden kensho experiences may have a “gobsmacked” component: whereas training may also be a gradual acclimatising that releases the same knots but without a person finding themselves suddenly confronted by something astonishing, yet if one looks back one knows ground has been covered, though a “particular occasion” for dropping “x” may be more of a “general period”. In Sitting Buddha, Daishin Morgan wrote: “Many of those who practise long-term and with great sincerity do not experience kensho as a sudden flash of awakening but as a deep inner change that happens over time. This may be so gradual that one is not even aware of it at the time it is taking place. But then, quite without drama, one realizes what has been there from the beginning. For others, a sudden experience plays a significant role in this process and a lot of what has been written about zen is from their perspective.” When you mentioned that it was not always the case that a master/roshi had the type of experience you described, did this also mean that they might not have had the “slow kensho” alternatively described by Daishin? If so (i.e having had neither type of kensho), can you say what the criteria were for a monk to become a master/roshi, as distinct from remaining a “teacher”?

Let me know if you’d rather I took these questions elsewhere, Kaizan. Otherwise, please do not feel obliged to rush but take what time you need. Also, exceptional circumstances have led to my using an internet pc more than usual this week but I may not be back till Wednesday.

(:-) You may well be as enlightened as my question implied.)

With best wishes and many thanks

_/\_
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Mon Oct 04, 2010 3:33 pm

I think for most of us the experience of immersion in the unborn, where the is no longer an I, was a temporary experience, after which the habitual clinging to I and being thrown about by thoughts and feelings returned. However, I don't think most people ever loose the sense of which is the deeper truth. Even when tossed about by the storms of emotion, when we catch ourselves, it is difficult to buy into the storm in the same way as we used to.

I don't really see the question of whether one perceives there to be an "I" or not as being as important as this is sometimes made out to be. In the truest sense, there isn't. In everyday life it’s used all the time. But even with a cursory look at where the "I" is, it can't be found. The lack of subject and object is really not so big a deal. Maybe, what we call the "subject" would better be described as a point of reference.

As different as we think we are, as humans, we all perceive the world very similarly. The objective reality of a bat is very different from the objective reality of a human. So what's so objective about objective reality? What's seems objective is just the functioning of our own minds. Fortunately, most of the functionings of our minds are shared by all humans (or we couldn’t function collectively), so there is the illusion of an objective world. In order to survive as an individual we have to care a hell of a lot for our own bodies and well being, so the sense of “I” takes on its own irrefutable reality. It seems to me that it is not only more accurate, but more interesting and fun to experience life as point of reference in a shared awareness than as a fixed, unchangeable “I” in an fixed, objective reality. The latter seems a little OCDish, doesn’t it?

Nonetheless, we can see through these illusions and then use this experience, wittingly or unwittingly, to aggrandize the very illusion of the self. If it seems like a bit deal to see through the illusion, it seems to me there will be a tendency to make it a big deal. Why should the truth be a big deal? The world is round. Wow, unbelievable!! It sure as hell looks flat to me!! OK, we now know its round. Can we move on now?

Maybe a more useful way to evaluate the people you might take as your teachers, is to watch how they live their lives, how they treat their students, how you perceive them in your heart. Is their community open and welcoming or closed and secretive? Is it warm and loving or cold and distant? Do the members seem happy and generous of spirit or sullen and withdrawn? Now if you don’t want to practice in a closed, secretive, cold and distant environment and you perceive a perspective teacher’s community to be that, well, don’t complain if that’s what you get. What I’m saying is choose a teacher who lives and passes on to his students, to the best of his ability, those spiritual values you most cherish.

I’ll be frank. When I read about the bhumis, I think, “Holy [Admin edit/delete], I am not now, nor do I think in any time soon, I’ll be that enlightened. Maybe, if rebirth turns out to be true, I’ll get there someday, but for now I’ll have to slog along with the rest of the world’s slobs, making it from day to day trying not to be too big of an [Admin edit/delete].” Trust me, this isn’t modesty. It’s the simple truth.

I hope these ramblings help in some small way.



Last edited by Kaizan on Mon Oct 04, 2010 7:32 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : violation of forum rules / banned terms)
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Wed Oct 06, 2010 7:12 am

Hi Kaizan

My questions seem to have upset you a bit, which was not my intention.

There is a difference, not merely perceptual but also in terms of inner and thence outer activities, when actual illusoryself-grasping (as distinct from perceptual) falls away. When it does so, it does not return. There is not a problem here with everyday use of words, spoken or thought; and I utterly agree with you about taking care of ones body, life and so on.

Your answer has been helpful.

Thank you again.

With best wishes
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Wed Oct 06, 2010 7:44 am

I was not angry in the slightest with your question. If my answer gave that impression, please accept my apologies. I just get a little colorful at times. There are branches of Buddhist philosophy that are very complex and go into remarkable detail. As I stated before, I am not knowledgeable in that area. It appears I could learn more from you there than vice versa.
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Thu Oct 07, 2010 4:40 am

When I read your second reply above, on an internet p.c in a public library, I thought, “Oh-oh, Kaizan’s upset with my questions.” Then I copied it to file to read again at home.

When I read it, in the peace of my relatively pressure-free study, I thought, “Gosh, he doesn’t seem upset with me at all!” Which just goes to show something-or-other about the effects of ones environment on reading-in “tones of voice”!

So, my true regrets, Kaizan, at causing you concern.

:-) All the best
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:12 am



Quote :
It was then that it really hit the fan. Rev. Kennett wrote back and was furious
.

No equanimity at all! Just raging and ranting -- I've heard those stories from several different sources. How can anyone believe the claim of advanced enlightenment when its fruit is harm and unrestrained emotional behavior; many non-religious mature adults do much better for themselves and their fellow travelers. The Buddha said behavior mattered -- really mattered. I agree even if the OBC does not.

Quote :
I received a letter from Daizui (unsolicited) stating that he was unable to do anything to help me, that essentially the sentiment against me had reached a point that he could no longer mitigate it or the consequences stemming from it. Daizui had always helped me and advocated for me. He stuck his neck out on many occasions. He was a great friend who I miss to this day. To get that letter from him, I knew my OBC days were over.

I'm sorry I do not share the same sympathy for Daizui that you and others do. The fact of the matter is that he could have came to your aid, but was unwilling to do so if it jeopardized his standing or comfort in the community. Those are fickle friends in the real world. I've had better. It is a story repeated by others here too. Monks refused to come to the aid of those who were being neglected, shunned, and abused -- even when it was apparent that the physical result -- let alone mental result -- could be death. Monks will devote themselves to the tender care of roaches in the Priory or weep over beetles displaced by construction, but will stand idly by and watch and participate in the suffering of another human being because they have been ordered to, and because they don't want to have to work for a living in the real world if they got expelled from the order. What cowardice. What moral weakness -- maybe even depravity. Ugh!



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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Thu Oct 07, 2010 10:53 am

jack wrote:

I'm sorry I do not share the same sympathy for Daizui that you and others do. The fact of the matter is that he could have came to your aid, but was unwilling to do so if it jeopardized his standing or comfort in the community. Those are fickle friends in the real world. I've had better.

Jack, I feel your pain and I can't argue on general terms with the distorted behavior you refer to, e.g. caring for critters more than people, but did you know Daizui personally? For sure he was not perfect. He internalized the institutional trauma over the years and acted out on occasion just like the rest of us did, but he definitely displayed courage under fire in ways I could not. He disagreed with the bad behavior perhaps even more than the rest of us, but he was determined to stay and mitigate the consequences when possible. He defied RMJK when he continued to communicate with and support those who had left, and he took a lot of heat for it. He definitely jeopardized both his standing and comfort. Note also that he was a clinical psychologist with a local private practice outside the monastery. Unlike most of the rest of us he already had the means to earn a living in the real world, but he stayed anyway.

Would it have been better if he had left, or tried to lead a rebellion, or...what? Who can say? It's not an uncommon scenario in the real world to be part of a dysfunctional system (family, corporation, military, etc.) and have to figure out the best response. Some people stay and work from the inside while others go. Some are whistle-blowers, etc. There are many ways to express an ethical choice.
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Thu Oct 07, 2010 2:11 pm

Thank you, Isan, for expressing my own sentiments so well. Daizui loved Rev. Kennett and loved her Dharma. Unlike seemingly everyone else who held her in the love and esteem Daizaui did, Daizui did not make excuses for her faults. So many turned Rev. Kennett's faults into some convoluted expression of Dharma, but Daizui had a pretty good sense of what were Rev. Kennett's issues and what was Dharma. But there was never any question in my mind that his top loyalty was to Rev. Kennett and the success of the OBC. I do not require of my friends to place our friendship above other loyalties they have. We must each decide for ourselves what our priorities are. Daizui, unlike many others, made his choice with open eyes. He knew he had to take the whole package, which included the good, the bad, the ugly. I did not and do not resent the decision he made when he told me there was no more he could do for me. I knew he made that decision from a very ethical place and he made it with a heavy heart. Determining what consititutes the highest good often includes accepting some bad that goes along with it, perhaps it always does.

I would like to say one more thing here to Jack. Many of us on this site having been trying to help the OBC see how their insular, self perpetuating feedback loop has bred a degree of arrogance that has been quite harmful to others. But it is my belief that hating arrogance in others often breeds arrogance in ourselves. It just seems to be one of life's llittle ironies, and one that bears watching by each of us.
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Thu Oct 07, 2010 2:30 pm

Isan wrote:

Quote :
Jack, I feel your pain and I can't argue on general terms with the distorted behavior you refer to, e.g. caring for critters more than people, but did you know Daizui personally? For sure he was not perfect. He internalized the institutional trauma over the years and acted out on occasion just like the rest of us did, but he definitely displayed courage under fire in ways I could not.

Thank you for your kind sympathy, but it's not warranted in my case. I was not harmed by the OBC, did not suffer any significant pain. Looking back I think I was perhaps disappointed and peeved for a bit when I broke away, but nothing at all traumatic, mind bending, or even really uncomfortable. In all, it's ended up being a wholesome exercise, like the temporary unease when a tot takes the training wheels off the bicycle and starts pedaling off on his own. It's been a good experience, not an impoverished one. I consider the sequence of events a sort of grace, maybe fortuitous karma, maybe just plain good luck or maybe wisdom garnered from real world experience.

I had the good fortune of feasting on sweet Buddhist melons for several years before I discovered the teachers who talked of melons only knew of them theoretically, and while adept at foraging for melon rinds in dumpsters did not know where melons came from or how to grow them. So instead of learning dumpster skills, I moved on. (Of course, this analogy is a bit of an exaggeration, but it sketches a point that I'm trying to make.)

Regarding your comments about Daizui, I did not know him personally, though I was associated with the Order when he headed it. I have the advantage of looking at his and the OBC behavior dispassionately. It is a fair conclusion to state that people's actions represent what they really believe. Daizui, from his actions, believed his self interest to be of most importance. Perhaps he was a Schindler, working for the defeat of Nazism from within the concentration camps, but I haven't read any evidence of that. For every Schindler, there were hundreds of thousands of Germans who were complicit in the institutional terror of Nazism, not because they were comfortable with it, but because they believed their self and preservation of its comfort to be more important than risking interference with those bent on harming others. Daizui wrote at least one enjoyable book, seemed like a nice fellow in talks and writing, but seems to have quite failed in transforming the OBC into something wholesome when he was in charge.

Buddhists who talk in solemn tones about anatta and then unfailingly act to preserve themselves and their comfort, even though doing so involves harming another or failing to come to aid of a friend, seem to me quite deluded about what the Buddha was getting at.

OBC monks who, because they were "following orders," were willing to abandon Amalia, Kaizan, and others and to participate in inflicting institutionalized psychological violence and even physical suffering and death so they wouldn't risk being expelled from the OBC seem to be morally indistinquishable from those who were "only following orders" during the mayhem of WW II. There is a difference in degree, but not in quality. The Buddha didn't indicate that a master or someone else could take your karmic consequence or responsibility if you "just followed orders" and inflicted harm. His message was to the contrary. You will never escape; you are responsible for your choices, and the suffering you inflict -- including that which you inflict you can continue to live a cushy community life that is ever so comfortable to the ego of self.

I am not rendering a judgment here, imposing sanctions, etc. It just seems very clear to me.
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:45 pm

Quote :
I would like to say one more thing here to Jack. Many of us on this site having been trying to help the OBC see how their insular, self perpetuating feedback loop has bred a degree of arrogance that has been quite harmful to others. But it is my belief that hating arrogance in others often breeds arrogance in ourselves. It just seems to be one of life's llittle ironies, and one that bears watching by each of us.

Well, I certainly hope not to come across as arrogant, hurt, or angry. I have little emotion invested in this, but it is interesting from time to time. I am sometimes awestruck by the preposterous harm passed off as good OBC Zen Buddhism. Most of the world can see cruelty, anger, and uncontrolled temper tantrums for what they are. It seems a particular absurdity when those ordinary human failings become irreproachable acts of "enlightened beings" by some magic Zen whiffledust when senior monks indulge them. The world is not that stupid, and it seems a pyschiatric delusion to think that ordinary people cannot detect good and bad when they see it.

I do want to be quite direct and honest, but not unkind. I don't want what I write to get lost in OBC-speak. Perhaps there's no chance of that. Looking back, I was probably never very good OBC material -- far too inquisitive and far too skeptical to be gullible or trusting without reason.

My comments about Daizui were not personal. I didn't know the guy to like or dislike him from experience, and certainly he seemed a personable guy from what I've read and heard. But this idea of not standing with those who are being harmed and mistreated because one is clinging to one's own ambitions and fears doesn't seem like good Buddhism to me. Maybe he was more noble than that. If so, I'm quite happy to apologize for the skepticism. I'm glad you felt befriended by him, and that other priest who WAS willing to resign if necessary to help you.



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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Tue Oct 12, 2010 10:02 pm

Hi, Kaizan,
My name is Bill Ryan, I have withdrawn from participation in discussions but I logged on for the first time in several weeks just to check introductions. If I am not mistaken you started out at the Eugene Priory, and were present at my wedding in Sept. '73, where my wife, Jeanette and I were married by the Singers. (Please excuse me if this is a case of mistaken identity.) I recall seeing you with some frequency at the Abbey until my departure from the Order as a lay minister in '87. Anyway, thanks for telling your story. It looks like you've gone on to have a good life, as also have I and my wife.
Blessings,
Bill Ryan
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Sun Oct 17, 2010 5:45 pm

Hi Bill,
No mistaken identity. I was at the Eugene Priory at that time and was studying with the Singers. I got married there myself, but I can't remember the year. Probably around '72. The marriage didn't last much more than a year or so. Fortunately my second go round at marriage, which took place about 33 years later, is going much better. I'm glad that things turned out well for you too. There is life after the OBC. You, I and many others have quite a long history with the OBC. No wonder we keep poking back onto this site to see what's going on.
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:22 am

Consider this essay on Emotional Terrorism by a Erin Pizzey. How does this shoe fit? There is much to consider here. But think about this description in terms of how Kennett behaved. This is called, "changing the story" from seeing her behavior as some expression of enlightened activity --- which it was NOT -- to something more akin to dysfunctional and harmful behavior.


Those of us working in the field of domestic violence are confronted daily by the difficult task of working with women in problematical families. In my work with family violence, I have come to recognize that there are women involved in emotionally and/or physically violent relationships who express and enact disturbance beyond the expected (and acceptable) scope of distress.

Such individuals, spurred on by deep feelings of vengefulness, vindictiveness, and animosity, behave in a manner that is singularly destructive; destructive to themselves as well as to some or all of the other family members, making an already bad family situation worse. These women I have found it useful to describe as "family terrorists."


In my experience, men also are capable of behaving as family terrorists but male violence tends to be more physical and explosive. We have had thousands of international studies about male violence but there is very little about why or how women are violent. There seems to be a blanket of silence over the huge figures of violence expressed by women. Because family terrorism is a tactic largely used by women and my work in the domestic violence field is largely with women, I address this problem discussing only my work with women.


The potential for family terrorism may rest dormant for many years, emerging in its full might only under certain circumstances. I found that in many cases it is the dissolution, or threatened dissolution, of the family that calls to the fore the terrorist's destructiveness. It is essential to understand that prior to dissolution, the potential terrorist plays a role in the family that is by no means passive. The terrorist is the family member whose moods reign supreme in the family, whose whims and actions determine the emotional climate of the household. In this setting, the terrorist could be described as the family tyrant, for within the family, this individual maintains the control and power over the other members' emotions.



The family of the emotional terrorist well may be characterized as violent, incestuous, dysfunctional, and unhappy, but it is the terrorist or tyrant who is primarily responsible for initiating conflict, imposing histrionic outbursts upon otherwise calm situations, or (more subtly and invisibly) quietly manipulating other family members into uproar through guilt, cunning taunts, and barely perceptive provocations. (The quiet manipulative terrorist usually is the most undetected terrorist. Through the subtle creation of perpetual turmoil, this terrorist may virtually drive other family members to alcoholism, to drug-addiction, to explosive behavior, to suicide. The other family members, therefore, are often misconceived as the 'family problem' and the hidden terrorist as the saintly woman who "puts up with it all.")

While the family remains together, however miserable that "togetherness" might be, the terrorist maintains her power. However, it is often the separation of the family that promises to rend the terrorist's domain and consequently to lessen her power. Family dissolution, therefore, often is the time when the terrorist feels most threatened and most alone, and, because of that, most dangerous.
In this position of fear, the family terrorist sets out to achieve a specific goal.



There are many possible goals for the terrorist, including: reuniting the family once again, or ensuring that the children (if there are children in the relationship) remain under the terrorist's control, or actively destroying the terrorist's spouse (or ex-spouse) emotionally, physically, and financially.



The family terrorist, like the political terrorist, is motivated by the pursuit of a goal. In attempting to "disarm" the family terrorist, it is vital that the practitioner begin intervention by trying to recognize and understand the terrorist's goal.



The source of the terrorist's goal as in the case of the political terrorist, usually can be understood to spring from some "legitimate" grievance. The grievance's legitimacy may be regarded in terms of justified feeling of outrage in response to an actual injustice or injury, or the legitimacy may exist solely in the mind of the terrorist. Whether this legitimacy be real or imagined, the grievance starts as the impetus for the terrorist's motivation. One hallmark of an emotional terrorist is that this motivation tends to be obsessional by nature.



Whence this obsession? Why this overwhelmingly powerful drive? In many cases, that which the terrorist believes to be the grievance against the spouse actually has very little to do with the spouse. Although the terrorist may be consciously aware only of the spouse's alleged offense, the pain of this offense (real or imagined) is invariably an echo of the past, a mirrored recreation of some painful situation in the terrorist's childhood.



I will not describe here in any detail the types of childhood that tend to create the subsequent terrorist. I will say, however, that invariably the terrorist's childhood, once understood, can be seen as violent (emotionally and/or physically). Also invariably, the terrorist can be regarded as a "violence prone" individual.


I define a violence prone woman as a woman who, while complaining that she is the innocent victim of the malice and aggression of all other relationships in her life, is in fact a victim of her own violence and aggression. A violent and painful childhood tends to create in the child an addiction to violence and to pain (an addiction on all levels: the emotional, the physical, the intellectual, the neurochemical), an addiction that then compels the individual to recreate situations and relationships characterized by further violence, further danger, further suffering, further pain. Thus, it is primarily the residual pain from childhood — and only secondarily the pain of the terrorist's current familial situation — that serves as the terrorist's motivating impetus.



There is something pathological about the terrorist's motivation, for it is based not so much on reality as on a twisting, a distortion, a reshaping of reality.
Because the emotional terrorist is a violence-prone individual, addicted to violence, the terrorist's actions must be understood as the actions of an addict. When the family was together, the terrorist found fulfillment for any number of unhealthy appetites and addictions. When that family then dissolves, the terrorist behaves with all the desperation, all the obsession, all the single-minded determination of any addict facing or suffering withdrawal.



The single-mindedness, the one-sidedness of feeling, is perhaps the most important shibboleth of the emotional terrorist. Furthermore, the extent of this one-sidedness is, for the practitioner, perhaps the greatest measure and indicator of how extreme the terrorist's actions are capable of becoming.



Any person suffering an unhappy family situation, or the dissolution of a marriage or relationship, will feel some pain and desperation. A relatively well-balanced person, however, will be not only aware of their own distress but also sensitive, in some degree, to the suffering of the other family members.
For example, reasonably well-balanced parents, when facing divorce, will be most concerned with their children emotional well-being, even beyond their own grief. Not so the emotional terrorist.



To the family terrorist, there is only one wronged, one sufferer, only one person in pain, and this person is the terrorist herself. The terrorist has no empathy and feels only her own pain. In this manner, the terrorist's capacity for feeling is narcissistic, solipsistic, and in fact pathological.



Again, I will not attempt here to detail the factors in childhood that lead to the creation of an emotional terrorist. What is evident, however, in the terrorist's limited or nonexistent ability to recognize other people's feelings, is that the terrorist's emotions and awareness, at crucial stages of childhood development, were stunted from reaching beyond the boundaries of self, due to a multiplicity of reasons.



Later, the adult terrorist went on to make a relationship that was, on some level, no true relationship, but a reenactment of childhood pains, scenarios, situations, and "scripts." Throughout the relationship, the solipsistic terrorist did not behave genuinely in response to the emotions of other family members but self-servingly used them as props for the recreation of the terrorist's programme. And when that relationship finally faces dissolution, the terrorist is aware only of her own pain and outrage and, feeling no empathy for other family members, will proceed single-mindedly in pursuit of her goal, whether that goal is reunion, ruin, or revenge.



The terrorist's perspective is tempered by little or no objectivity. Instead the terrorist lives in a self-contained world of purely subjective pain and anger.



Because conscience consists so largely of the awareness of other people's feelings as well as of one's own, the emotional terrorist's behavior often can be described to be virtually without conscience. In this lack of conscience lies the dangerous potential of the true terrorist, and again the degree of conscience in evidence is a useful measure in my work to anticipate the terrorist's destructiveness.



An additional factor, making the terrorist so dangerous, is the fact that the terrorist, while in positively monomaniacal pursuit of her goal, feels fueled by a sense of omnipotence. Perhaps it is true that one imagines oneself omnipotent when, in truth, one is in a position of impotence (as in the case of losing one's familial control through dissolution).



Whatever the source of the sensation of omnipotence, the terrorist believes herself to be unstoppable, and unbound by the constraints or conscience or empathy, believes that no cost (cost, either to the terrorist or to other family members) is too great to pay toward the achievement of the goal.



The terrorist, and the terrorist's actions, know no bounds. (The estimation of the extent of the terrorist's "boundlessness" presents the greatest challenge to my work). Intent only to achieve the goal (perhaps "hell-bent" is the most accurate descriptive phrase) the terrorist will take such measures as: stalking a spouse or ex-spouse, physically assaulting the spouse or the spouse's new partners, telephoning all mutual friends and business associates of the spouse in an effort to ruin the spouse's reputation, pressing fabricated criminal charges against the spouse (including alleged battery and child molestation), staging intentionally unsuccessful suicide attempts for the purpose of manipulation, snatching children from the spouse's care and custody, vandalizing the spouse's property, murdering the spouse and/or the children as an act of revenge.


In my experience both men and women are equally guilty of the above behavior, but on the whole, because it is men's dysfunctional behavior that is studied and reported upon, people do not realize that to the same extent women are equally guilty of this type of violent behavior. My working definition, then, of a "family terrorist" or an "emotional terrorist" is: a woman or a man (but for the purposes of this work, I refer only to women) who, pathologically motivated (by unresolved tendencies from a problematical childhood), and pathologically insensitive to the feelings of other family members, obsessionally seeks through unbounded action to achieve a destructive (and, therefore, pathological) goal with regard to other family members.



Of course, this defining profile pertains to individuals in differing degrees. Many people, unhappy within a relationship or made unhappy by the dissolution of a relationship, may lapse into periods of "irrational" behavior. What characterizes the terrorist, however, is that the vindictive and destructive behaviors are consistent; the moments of calm and periods of lucidity are the lapses, temporary lulls in the storm.



There are also women who, suffering chagrin and misery during or after the life spans of a relationship, appear far more self-destructive than destructive to anyone else. For the other partner, contemplating leaving this kind of individual, the very thought of leaving such a person is made difficult and untenable by such frequently uttered protestations as "I cannot live without you," and "Without you, I might as well be dead." To be sure, many women exist, extremely dependent within their relationships, who, probably having suffered severe emotional betrayal during their childhood, genuinely feel that their life outside a relationship would be so lonely as to be unbearable.



It is difficult to leave such a woman, and the man attempting to leave may well feel that, by leaving, he would be responsible for delivering a mortal blow to an already pathetic wretch. Men also, are often kept in their relationships, which can only be likened to "personal concentration camps," by the fact that they feel a genuine feeling of "chivalry" towards their partner. Women tend to put so much more of themselves into their relationships and therefore suffer when these relationships fall apart.



Emotional terrorism is by no means confined to the family context. I know an extremely successful woman in the world of fine arts. This woman has been haunted by a former assistant who, vicariously imagining herself to the writer herself, dresses like her, stalks her, and issues public statements that it was she, not the writer, who created the works of art for which the writer is internationally famous. If the writer is to ensure her own safety, then very definite steps must be taken.



In situations of emotional and family terrorism, there are two areas of work to be done: practical measures of protection ("strategies for survival") on the part of family members, and therapeutic work with the terrorist himself or herself. I must reiterate at this stage, that both men and women are capable of terrorist tactics but men tend to behave in a more physically violent manner within the family. Women, as I have shown, use far more subtle tactics, i.e., that of the terrorist as opposed to outright war.



The first step, on the part of other family members, toward limiting the terrorist's destructive potential is to understand the terrorist to be a terrorist. In a recent case, a Mr. Roberts described to me how, during his marriage, he and his children faced a daily onslaught of verbal abuse from his wife. Mrs. Roberts was also physically violent to the children. Now that he has asked for a divorce, she is making use of every weapon in her arsenal. In the children's presence, she has used drugs and drunk alcohol to the point of extreme intoxication. She has staged several unsuccessful suicide attempts in front of the children, threatened over the telephone to "do something stupid," promised to kill Mr. Roberts new partner, and assured Mr. Roberts that when she has finished with him he will not have a penny to his name. To Mr. Roberts, all of this behavior seemed perfectly usual.



After all, he had witnessed this sort of commotion for thirteen years of their marriage. When I suggested to him, "What you endured is emotional terrorism," he suddenly and for the first time was able to see his situation clearly. Now, he realized, his wife's behavior was neither appropriate nor acceptable. No, this was not the treatment that every man should expect from his wife, either in or out of marriage. No, he does not want his children to be subjected to such extreme behavior any longer.



The fact of recognizing a terrorist is the essential first step. Then, because a terrorist is fueled by a feeling of omnipotence and is prepared to behave without bounds, usually encouraged by feminist therapists who insist that their clients suffer from "low self esteem," pragmatic measures must be taken to define clearly the boundaries of acceptable behavior.



Unfortunately the legal situation which many divorce agreements mandate is open-ended. Certainly, when both parties to a divorce are reasonably well-balanced, it is entirely fitting for the settlement to be flexible enough to incorporate changing financial circumstances, child-care capabilities, and visitation rights. When, however, one party to the divorce is an emotional terrorist, then both the confrontational divorce procedure and the resultant open-ended divorce settlement provide infinite opportunity for the courts, lawyers, and the entire battery of psychologists called in for evaluations, to be used as the terrorist's weapons. In these cases, the court and the divorce procedure provide no boundaries for the terrorist; instead they allow the terrorist to continue to behave boundlessly.



For this reason, when dealing with a terrorist, it is best for the divorce procedure and final decree to be as swift, as final, as absolute, as unequivocal as possible. Every practitioner or attorney handling divorces is familiar with clients described as "litigious." ["Tar baby" is a popular term among Colorado lawyers.] Only when "litigiousness" is seen as a manifestation of terrorism can the course to swift and precise legal settlement be steered.



To limit the terrorist's feelings of omnipotence, there are many effective measures. The guiding principle, as in the handling of political terrorists, must be: "There is no negotiating with terrorists." Endless telephone calls, conversations, confrontation, trial "get-back-togethers," correspondence, visitations, gestures of appeasement, and efforts to placate the terrorist's demands, all serve to reinforce the terrorist's belief that she is accomplishing something. Only determined resolution in the face of terrorism shows the terrorist that her power is limited.



Furthermore, for anyone dealing directly with the terrorist, reassurances, "ego boosts," and consolations are lamentably counterproductive. Mrs. Roberts soon found for herself a feminist therapist staunchly supporting the erroneous belief "All feelings (and therefore behaviors) are valid." Mrs. Roberts is told by this therapist that she has a right to feel and to behave in any manner she chooses, in callous disregard for the devastation inflicted upon the children. Such reassurances serve only to fortify the terrorist's already pathological, solipsistic, and eternally self-justifying perspective.


If wishing to undertake the second sphere of disarming a terrorist — personal intervention with the terrorist herself — the therapist must be prepared to be straight, honest and very direct. In my own dealings with women as terrorists, I have found on occasion that one quite simply can point out to the terrorist, "You are behaving like a terrorist. This is what you are doing. This is how you are being destructive. This is the destruction you are heading towards," and the terrorist, seeing themselves clearly for the first time, might be encouraged to reconsider their behavior. More commonly, however, extremely deep therapy is required. For the terrorist's behavior to change, there must first be a solid and fundamental change within the terrorist's physiological constitution.


Usually it is only by an in-depth excavation and resolution of early childhood pain that the terrorist can begin to gain a real, true, and level-headed perception of her own current situation. Direct intervention with a terrorist — like all forms of therapeutic intervention — can hope to achieve change only if the individual concerned wishes to change and possesses that vital yet ineffable quality: the will to health. When the will to health is lacking, there can be no change. If the terrorist cannot or will not change, one can only help the other family members to be resolute, be strong, and, whenever possible, be distant.


From the Emotional Terrorist by Erin Pizzey
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:25 am

Josh,
Welcome to this site. I do remember you. I was just coming in as you left. If I remember correctly, you were the first roshi named by Rev. Kennett and your departure was somewhat ceremonial. Didn't we all stand in line as you got in the car and left? I think that was you. Anyway, though I have often taken a less severe stance on this site than the one you presented I can appreciate where you're coming from. When I was very ill and feeling helpless to stand on my own, Rev Kennett's methods could be frightening and made me feel powerless and be powerless to do what I felt in my heart I needed to do. I am certainly looking forward to reading of your own experiences which have led you to your conclusions.

I need to read your post more in depth. I'm off to work and could only give it a cursory once through. Any meaningful comments will take some thought. Just wanted to welcome you for now.
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Fri Nov 19, 2010 2:06 pm

Josh,

After your provocative post, it’s hard to believe no one has responded to it since you wrote it. That’s got to be a first. I guess I’m stuck with the task. Here goes.

If I were captured by terrorists, and they threatened to pull out my fingernails, attach electrodes to my genitals, and then cut off my head if I didn’t make an absolute and unequivocal choice between the following scenarios:

1. Rev. Kennett invariably did everything out of kindness (as Meian recently said in a talk); there was nothing done out of anger, distorted thinking, frustration, unresolved issues etc., or
2. Rev. Kennett was an emotional terrorist as described in the essay you posted,

I think I would pick 2.

However, I live in Palm Beach Gardens, a rather pleasant community with ample greenery, well manicured bushes and trees along the roads, and little crime. I also live in a gated community, although I was quite pleased recently when someone, seemingly purposely, crashed through the gate and disabled it for some weeks, which made my commute ever so slightly, but much appreciatedly (I’m sure that’s not a word) shorter. Fortunately, chaos has not ensued and my big screen LCD TV is awaiting my return home from work to provide me with an episode or two of The Office before I drift off to sleep. So I don’t feel it very likely that I will be placed in the position I described above for the time being. I guess then that I’ll take advantage of my present more pleasant situation which allows me to hedge my bets and speak in less absolute terms.

I have always found it difficult to pigeonhole Rev. Kennett. There was a time when I wanted to see her as Meian described her, and there were times when I wanted to see her as she was described in the essay you posted. I was never very successful at either. The best I’ve been able to come up with is that both views of her have some truth to them, if they can be seen in less absolute terms. The OBC has done a good job of presenting the case for option #1, so I will write a little of my experiences with option #2.

When I was healthy, I had the luxury of my concerns with what I perceived as her acts of humiliating, insulting, and frightening others being able to be held a distance: an appraisal or perception that could be conveniently place “on the back burner” awaiting a final judgment at some indefinite time in the future. I think of one of my roles at Shasta (when I was healthy) was as a bit of a court jester, so I believe I was given a bit more license than most to tease and cajole Rev. Kennett at times. I liked her.

However, as time went on, the lightness became heavier and heavier and the atmosphere became more and more oppressive. This was during the eighties, when so many monks left. Anyone who spoke against policies enacted was chopped off at the knees. Speaking publicly against her harsh methods of treating others was unthinkable. I wanted to leave, but Rev. Kennett always asked me stay, stating monks with more experience were needed at the abbey. Having bought into the need to listen to one’s master, I stayed, looking back, against my better judgment. Shortly before becoming ill, I experienced a mental image, perhaps a vision, of Rev. Kennett that was very dark, along with a strong urge, you could almost say message, that I needed to leave. Obviously I didn’t. I choose to listen to the external message of always listening to one’s master.

It’s impossible to say what would have happened if I had listened to my own inner voice, but in not listening to that voice, the following years were not pretty. I wrote of those years in more detail in my first post on this thread. I can only say that once I became so ill, weak, physically disabled and emotional hyper vulnerable, I was often very frightened of Rev. Kennett. Was I terrorized? I have to admit, that on an emotional level, I often felt something akin to that when I left my room. I knew when I was in Berkeley there were standing instruction not to drive me to physical therapy, but thanks to Mokuan (bless you) I ‘m sure that there were standing orders at Shasta that no one help me. I must have been viewed through a very negative, judgmental lens, and I could feel that when I left my room. In my state that was frightening. By then, I felt my option to leave was gone: I was utterly dependent. I avoided Rev. Kennett whenever I could, and I did the same for Eko. Frankly, they just frightened me. Were there flashes of kindness? Yes. Could I count on their kindness? Absolutely not. I steered clear.

Another interesting correlation to Josh’s post on emotional terrorism was how quickly Rev. Kennett’s demeanor towards me changed whenever I spoke of leaving. When I wanted to see if I could go to my family to do physical therapy when things didn’t work out at the Santa Barbara Priory, Rev. Kennett called from Berkeley to tell me how welcome I’d be at the Priory with her, how I’d be able to go to physical therapy all summer, and there would be a car for me, and it all sounded so welcoming. I went, and boy did that change. When I was well, she always wanted me over her house, but at Berkeley (as at Shasta when I was ill) I was never invited to be with her. The rest I wrote of in my introduction: no car, ample judgmentalism, physical therapy cut short, get me up to Shasta where Rev. Kennett and other monks there don’t have to deal with me. This all attests to how much it can take to leave after spending so long at Shasta, and how independence is whittled away over so time that it’s hard to see what has happened. As much as I was persona non grata, my leaving the OBC was even worse to Rev. Kennett. When I finally did leave in 1991, and went with my father to Scripps in La Joya, Rev. Kennett again spoke so nicely to me telling me how welcome I’d be in Shasta and could take any treatment recommended up there. Thankfully, I chose not to fall into that trap again, and left for Florida. It is interesting to me in reading the above essay on emotional terrorism, how paramount it is to the emotional terrorist that the person not leave. This was certainly my experience with Rev. Kennett.

Another aspect of the emotional terrorist is that they don’t really understand or empathize with the emotions of others. While I don’t think this is true in any absolute sense with Rev. Kennett, I do believe that there was too great a lack of emotional intelligence for one in such a position of authority over so many. That was certainly my experience when I was ill, and I will tell of another experience when I was emotional vulnerable and I did not see that there was any real grasp of my emotional needs.

My mother suffered from major depression with psychotic features. When she was ill and hospitalized, I would come to Florida and spend time with her, visiting her daily in the hospital. The last time she was in the hospital, I took a much more active role in her recovery. I had previously largely provided passive comfort. This time she openly discussed with me what was troubling her. Her concerns were delusional, but the delusions had thread of truth running through them. I was with her for two months, and over the course that time, we unraveled the true issue she was struggling with from the delusional thoughts in which her real issue was packaged. In addition, I was monitoring her medication. I saw how she had extreme ups and downs and noted that this coincided with the dosage of a particular medication, which fluctuated wildly. I would call Daizui about this and he corroborated my perception. I found a new doctor who helped find a better balance of drugs that was consistent in dosage. This was enormous benefit to my mother. Daizui was a touchstone throughout all of this providing excellent advice for my own mental and physical health to boot. After almost two months, my mother made the final steps out of her psychosis. She thanked me for the two weeks I spent with her, and was bowled over when I told her it was two months. She said, “My God, you have to get home. You’ve spent too much time with me.”

It is hard to describe the emotional pain and physical duress I was under at that time. The pain of seeing my mother in that condition is perhaps something only the children of the mentally ill can fully understand. It tore my heart out. I barely slept, I was anxious, I hardly ate. It was an ordeal. When I finally flew into San Francisco and went to the Berkeley Priory, Rev. Kennett and a number of monks were there, including Daizui. Rev. Kennett welcomed me with a big smile. From the time I left Florida, I was euphoric. It was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and a dark oppressive cloud above my head dissipated. It was a real emotional high. I joked around a lot and laughed a lot. I was probably a bit hyper, but certainly no bizarre behavior or anything like that. Just a little intoxicated. Rev. Kennett’s response to that was to hammer me down. Enough laughing, enough this or that. I drew it all back in. The clear sky darkened. Daizui came up to me and said that he tried to talk to Rev. Kennett and get her to let me let out some of the enormous pressure that had built up from my ordeal, but she wasn’t buying it. He said he was sorry, he did his best. I hadn’t even asked him to do anything. Needless to say she continued.

Less than three months later my illness began. Was the ordeal I went through? Was it my having to stuff everything back in? Was it a combination? Was it something else entirely? Some things you get no definitive answers for. But would I entrust my well being to Rev. Kennett again? No I wouldn’t.

As I said at the beginning, I’m no fan of pigeonholing. I have the great good fortune to have a job as a therapist where I don’t have to diagnose anyone. I’m not at the mercy of having to pathologize to get paid by insurance companies. I also work as a family therapist, whose job it is to work with the relational patterns between people rather than pathologize individuals. But I do see elements of the emotional terrorist described in Josh’s post in my interactions with Rev. Kennett. As I said, I wouldn’t place myself in that situation again.

Rev. Kennett didn’t truly understood how to deal effectively with me regarding difficult emotional matters. She was often more destructive than helpful. It seems this is the case with many on this website. Whether this is of any use to the present OBC in determining a new course is up to them. This is written for their consideration, to be of assistance to those reading this who are sorting through their own experiences, and for those researching the OBC to decide if the OBC is right for them. For the latter, they can visit the OBC, hear their teaching, see their actions, in addition to what’s written here, and decide for themselves.
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Sun Nov 21, 2010 1:05 am

I once saw a quote that was attributed to the Buddha: "To understand everything is to forgive everything." I doubt the Buddha actually said this - doesn't quite sound like him, but I do love the concept whoever said it.

But first there is understanding, before there can be authentic forgiveness. I posted that essay to share another way of looking at Kennett's behavior. I am not suggesting that the essay is a precise description, but useful to consider.

Certainly when I left Shasta, I needed to understand what happened to me there and why Kennett behaved as she did. When I dropped the obviously false story that her actions were all expressions of enlightenment (I stopped drinking the kool-aid), i was able to consider other possibilities. For me, it was useful to understand her very human emotional / psychological issues. We were all subject to a very active play of her shadow that was unconscious and harmful. Important to understand.

I agree. No need to pigeon hole. We don't need to demonize or idolize.
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Sun Nov 21, 2010 12:19 pm

There has been a lot of discussion about bullying lately especially related to kids in schools, but also in the workplace.

If you look at the classic signs of a bully, Kennett's behavior fits all of these signs. Precisely. Calling salt sugar does not make it sweet. Calling her behavior skillful means or expressions of some greater kindness frankly is putting lipstick on a pig. (Kennett said many times how she loved George Orwell's book, 1984 and early on, compared her approach to 1984. She was proud of this. Bizarre.)

Kennett lacked even the most rudimentary emotional intelligence and self-awareness (well, because she was under the delusion that she had no self, no ego) and when she became a leader with more than a few followers, she reverted to her basic psychological dynamics that came from her upbringing, her childhood, her unresolved emotional issues that she had never faced.

I am sure some of her behavior was influenced by how she was treated in Japan, how she saw Japanese monks being trained in their militarist system, and what she imagined was some form of "tough love." But from what I saw and experienced, I would say that defining her behavior in that context was mostly rationalization or spin. Most of how she behaved was much more personal and ordinary.

When I was doing PR in Los Angeles during the late 80s and early 90s, i worked with many hollywood studios and some film moguls. Some were famous bullies, loved being brutal to their employees. They had no boundaries, screamed and yelled, treated people with contempt. Disagreement was ruthlessly punished. Of course, there was no pretense that what they were doing was for the good of their employees.

But one standard aspect of this behavior was that every so often, these mogul bullies would be incredibly kind and loyal. They would literally terrorize their employees for weeks or months, but if they got sick, the boss would send their best doctor to their home at great expense or put the person on a private jet to a special hospital. And then two days later, back to emotional brutality. At Christmas they might give no presents or they might give the employee a new BMW - but everything is done to show off their power, authority, control.

I think such people see their employees, followers,. most people they meet - as playthings, dolls in their ego's doll house. Dolls don't have feelings or if they do, those feelings don't matter. The bully/mogul inhabits the story that he/she is bigger than life, more than human, a force of nature, to be feared and respected. No one else matters.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fS5EUydbamM&feature=fvw
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Sun Nov 21, 2010 1:59 pm

Jcbaran wrote:

Certainly when I left Shasta, I needed to understand what happened to me there and why Kennett behaved as she did. When I dropped the obviously false story that her actions were all expressions of enlightenment (I stopped drinking the kool-aid), i was able to consider other possibilities. For me, it was useful to understand her very human emotional / psychological issues. We were all subject to a very active play of her shadow that was unconscious and harmful. Important to understand.

Josh, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts about the relationship between abusive environments and spiritual experiences. I ask because quite a few people had kensho experiences at the Abbey over the years and that was often used as proof that RMJK's teaching was valid. It seems weird now that a spiritual experience that occurs in an abusive environment would be used to justify the environment instead of debunk it, but as you know that was standard operating procedure at Shasta. When you were running "Sorting It Out" did you find this to be common in spiritual groups/cults?
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Sun Nov 21, 2010 3:34 pm

Lots to say about this and involves what we mean by "kensho" and spiritual "experiences." Probably a pressure cooker environment with meditation will produce some breakthrough experiences - but you would need to look at the full experience of a person's life / daily life, not just the occasional or rare special experience. I don't care how many "kenshos" a person has, if they are uncompassionate, self-absorbed, living out their early conditioning -- that's the reality, not some past experience. Truth is lived now or never, so it is not about any experience or any past.

There are many spiritual practices that can produce all kinds of altered state experiences, but from my experience, these experiences are not enlightenment. They can be very seductive, exciting, but it is just super sangsara.

I saw the former followers of many charismatic cult leaders - many of them also had spiritual experiences of various sorts - but that did not change the reality of the dysfunctional organization and the abusive guru. I knew a number of gurus who had amazing kundalini abilities, could place people in blissful states with a glance or touch, but in one case, was molesting 12-year girls on the side. So whatever he was able to do, whatever this state was, it wasn't what i would consider awakened.

When I was at Shasta, even what Kennett would call "kensho" was pretty rare. Very few monks experienced it. Most of the monks who received transmission when i was there had no experience of kensho, even the most basic kind.

After I left Shasta i have no idea what went on. But, what i have seen in other organizations, there can be an overwhelming story and pressure in some communities that everyone should have certain kinds of experiences - and then people do. Spiritual experience and visions can be manufactured and contrived through wishful thinking, hope, group mind. It happens all the time. Especially in group settings, people can create an intensity of hope and longing and need to see and feel certain things - and this can be very enchanting, but misleading.
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Sun Nov 21, 2010 3:43 pm

Hey Isan
I'm on the fly, this is a bit rough and I know your question was addressed to Josh but...I
Don't you think spiritual experience is just the loss of the egocentric view?. One second or 10 years worth of experience being part and parcel of the same view. That situations both benign or horrific are capable of nurturing the conditions that enable humans to experience this, their Divine spiritual right.
The systems, rites, rituals, behaviours, being accidental compared to an individuals will to face suffering.
Yes, why would an individual not attribute the arising of the spiritual experience to the processes preceding the experience. A small view of this truth coupled with a supportive community of your peers (a worldly mirroring of the spiritual experience) would be pretty convincing proof of the efficacy of the process preceding the experience. The ultimate confirmation between all parties naturally manifesting as a monastic cluster [banned term] that says, "See ! , wasn't it all worthwhile".

If I believe anything, its that spiritual experience is only as real as the moment we that we let go of. It's oommphh being proportional to the state of the preceding delusion. I guess I think of the spiritual experience as being little more than the absence of ego as opposed to the gaining of anything.
How a community responds to it is actually only a reflection of the community and not of the spiritual experience itself.


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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Sun Nov 21, 2010 3:45 pm

Isan nice to hear of you after all these years. You ask about the relationship between abusive environments and spiritual experience. If the abusive behaviour is extreme then it will tend to block both the abused's and the abuser's spiritual progress. But in general spiritual experience comes from the individuals pratice/training, the environment can help or hinder by blocking and pointing in the wrong direction but the individual's progress is down to their own effort.

Sometimes abusive environments appear to have helped but this is accidental it is always though the effort of the trainee actual progress is made. A couple of cases that could be pointed to are the reported relationship between Marpa and Milarepa, which would definately be viewed as abusive today, or the in the Christian tradition the auther of 'The Cloud of Unknowing' who is believed to have been put in solitary confinement for months, if not years, which he then made into a retreat. These are just off the top of my head but if you look at any tradition you will find similar cases, it is the glorifying of these that gives others the excuse to imitate them in the name of teaching. Hardship can stiffen resolve but this does not excuse abuse. More often, as you can see from this forum it leads both sides astray


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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Sun Nov 21, 2010 4:07 pm

Josh,
You are probably unaware that you broke a cardinal rule of this site, which is that if you allude to the possibility of writing of your experiences, then you are required to do so. This rule, oath actually, was signed by all with their own blood.

To make a long story short, I'm hoping you will write about concrete experiences you had or things you witnessed that brought you to conclude that Rev. Kennett's methods were just plain abusive. I ask this because much of what is written on this site is in the abstact. I believe concrete experiences, especially for those who have not witnessed or experienced such things directly, can make more real things that are discussed in the abstract.
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Sun Nov 21, 2010 5:00 pm

OK, happy to share more stories - with very specific examples - as time goes on and as I post more.
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:20 am

Henry,I read this an hour or so ago ,and would liked to have writen straight away as a sign of togetherness, comraderie,but thought I would simmer down a bit.
A catholic reigious friend of mine taught me about ' righteous indignation' regarding Kennett, and Eko Shasta. I hope our friend Mokuan reads this and see if righteousness indignation helps his working out of things.

It appears tha Jiyu who experienced so much intolerance in Japan,comes out of so many stories as being so intolerant. There is a very clear point also for continuly stating that this and other negativities were passed down the teaching line to Eko. I did not realise all this until reading this forum.The nonsense did not stop in 76 in got ingrained.

There is something quite ridiculous,about the use of the word acceptance as a spiritual quality here. And real acceptance as tought by Jiyu You know, accept your thoughts in zazen, but you must accept my clay feet, but actually I have a little bit of difficulty accepting other people and the things that really matter.

I will have to go for another walk on the cliff have a long talk with the seagulls, and get ready for an arm wrestle with you, i prefer that to reading this, even though you cheat, I will see you later my friend
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:14 am

Chisan,
Who told you that I cheat? Every one who asked, I gave their money back if they promised not to tell. They have betrayed me and caused disharmony in my sangha!!

I will speak more of illness and the OBC in the other thread.
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PostSubject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction   Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:19 am

What a lovely reply
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