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 Hi from Sophia

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H Sophia



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PostSubject: Hi from Sophia   Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:52 pm

First topic message reminder :

Hi everyone,
My name is Houn Sophia. I go by Sophia. I visited the Abbey starting around 1974.  I spent several months there one summer. I lived at the Dell with the married monks because I had my 6 year old son with me.

I recognize some of you from those days.  I was there with Henry when he was a lay person and remember the day he Postulated. I stayed at the Dell with Chosei and Zuiko, Hogetsu and Koshin, and Isan and Ando.

After my children were grown I started going back to the Abbey. I was ordained by Eko Little and was his Chaplain for about a year and a half.  I was his Chaplain up until he left and the other Chaplain and I helped him pack for his departure.

I discovered OBC Connect when I was still at Shasta Abbey. I was fairly horrified at the way the OBC was discussed on OBC Connect. But over the last several years I have read much of what is posted here and I have found it helpful to hear so many different points of view and perceptions.

I have enjoyed the shared stories and recollections and find the forum interesting and thought provoking. 

So greetings to all of you. 

Sophia
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Thu Nov 14, 2013 3:20 pm

Stan, you make very good points about appreciating the value of a teaching and being able to separate that from the one who delivered it. And I agree that SA's teaching system is inadequate, even harmful.

Where I get stuck is when I think about this - and it actually doesn't matter, so why think about it -  can we ever know that a teacher actually found "the truth" for himself at any time, or was he simply very successful at repeating an approved doctrine to others?  He knew what he supposed to say and believe, and over the years his delivery would be refined, expanded upon, customized for his recipient. So long as his behaviour didn't give him away, no one would actually know if he accepted any of the doctrine for himself and put his own faith in it. So long as he doesn't harm anyone, if he's able to help others see truth (whatever that is), then I suppose his own internal state is no one else's concern, and we should give him the benefit of the doubt. When serious harm is done, though, I have a lot of trouble supposing that this person actually had any real understanding of "the truth" they claim to teach. And that would lead me to start re-examining whatever nuggets of teaching I'd picked up from them. Re-examining is a good thing anyway, though, no matter the avenue through which teaching comes.

So, I guess I understand small bits and pieces of this, but will continue to slip a gear on the "gratitude toward the teacher".  I could be grateful for having more knowledge, for being able to better protect myself in the future, etc.  Jaded as I am, I'd be more like "well, I got something out of this not because of you, but in spite of you and your shenanigans, Mr."  after which I would mentally kick them to the kerb.

Maybe if I'd ever gotten really attached to a teacher I wouldn't have such a blind spot on this issue.

I am better off for having read all of this discussion, though yes
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Thu Nov 14, 2013 3:39 pm

H Enida wrote:

It is interesting to me that the Precepts chose the youngest novices in this case to reveal themselves, instead of the most senior monks of the Order.  If the seniors were the example, why didn’t they do something about it?  Come to find out later, some of the seniors  knew of the Abbot’s plan to depart many months before his announcement and they did nothing to mitigate more harm, for me personally and many others, in the interim.  That really bothers me.  I still can’t believe that I brought my greatest spiritual pain to my kyojushi (who was my Precepts Master) as best I could describe during that time, and she could look back at me and deny what was happening and poo-poo what I was seeing, even after knowing what she knew, and then turn it back on my own training instead.  I guess you can see I’m still a little miffed, even though she has apologized to me personally (as well as publicly) since.
 
I know this is probably really hard for many of you to hear, including the monks who read this forum as guests but never comment, but I feel this was just not right.  I am probably never going to be welcome at the Abbey in the same way I once was before coming onto OBC Connect and speaking my own experience.  But something in me says it must be said.  I am just really sad and exasperated that all of the exercises we went through after the Abbot’s departure and subsequent committees and meetings, etc., didn’t really inform or change the rules or protocols that made the abuse possible, or create real reform and protection for monks and lay people alike -- including a seriously relied upon Ethics Committee and oversight of senior monks.  I am sad that it is once again relegated to patience, and that accepting the Truth will have to prove itself true in these conditions too.
 
Sad to say, we were all subject to the limitations of the institution at the time, including the seniors and Abbot and the lay people who were harmed.  It seems to me that everyone was just on autopilot and could only do what was known in our experience.  I think that is still true today, but we have more experience than we did then.  It is my sincere hope that what we learned from it all will be made good use of, for our own sakes and Rev. Master Jiyu’s true legacy.
 
 
I like how you framed this as the "Precepts choosing" the two of you, I think you mean in the context of being change agents who would be able to help and not thwart the ripening conditions. 

Maybe the discussions here will also help the Abbey community see that they don't need to, and should not, continue treating people as you and Sophia were treated.  Actually they probably can't keep up the same levels of secrecy, duplicity, etc.  Maybe that part of JK's legacy can be let go of sooner than later, to everyone's benefit.

I can imagine some (a few) at Shasta being quite relieved that more information is coming out and less needs to be hidden/denied.
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H Sophia



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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Thu Nov 14, 2013 7:33 pm

Hi Lise, 

They say that during Sanzen a true zen master will answer the trainee's question on 3 levels. If I remember right, the 1st level is the superficial, literal meaning of the question itself. The second level is the deeper question that the trainee really has, but is often unable to see, and the third level is the one question from which all questions spring.

When you receive and are able to hear the answer on the deepest level, you recognize that and know it to be true. You can never explain it verbally. It can't be put into words exactly. No teacher can learn enough doctrine, or read enough Dharma, memorize enough answers to answer a question on the deepest level. Therefore I'm pretty sure it can't be faked.

 I know RM Jiyu answered question from that place, (I had one encounter with her and had a direct experience of it) no matter what other behavior she may have exhibited. I would say she left Eko in charge because he could teach from that place, also. It doesn't excuse their behavior, but neither does 
their behavior negate the true teaching passed on by them.

Hope that helps instead of confusing.

Sophia
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Thu Nov 14, 2013 7:58 pm

It does, Sophia.

Even if I doubt my own ability to ever perceive levels of questioning & answers, I don't disbelieve anyone else who is able to understand the subtlety of the 3 levels and has experienced that. 

That is good to know, that M. Little had in your opinion a genuine insight.
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H Sophia



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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Thu Nov 14, 2013 9:00 pm

Hi Lise, 

It's hard for me to fathom how someone with such insight can behave so badly. Kind of beyond belief. If anyone has a rational explanation I would be interested in hearing it. I guess it has to do with what I've seen on this site called spiritual bypassing. But it confuses me, too, Lise.

Sophia
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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Fri Nov 15, 2013 1:28 am

I think how we live is who we are, we live our understanding
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Stan Giko

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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Fri Nov 15, 2013 9:24 am

Hi Lise,

"Stan, you make very good points about appreciating the value of a teaching and being able to separate that from the one who delivered it. And I agree that SA's teaching system is inadequate, even harmful."


Lise, I didn`t say that SA`s teaching is "even harmful"...your words.  It might be but, I just don`t know what it is at present.


"Where I get stuck is when I think about this - and it actually doesn't matter, so why think about it -  can we ever know that a teacher actually found "the truth" for himself at any time, or was he simply very successful at repeating an approved doctrine to others?"


I`d like to turn this question around and ask you.....can YOU ever find "the truth" for yourself ?, and if so, how would YOU know that
you found it ?  Is it all just "approved doctrine" as you put it or is there something real that is re-discovered that you can actually be
supported by,...that `stands under you`...a real understanding.
It`s often said that to study Buddhism is to study the self and we all have the same self nature.  This is why it is possible to
communicate what that nature is via words.....it`s all we have.     If the words of the teaching are contemplated on and lead one to
an understanding of one`s nature, then the words of the teacher and one`s self understanding, are one.  In fact, we find that we are
all one, in essence.  It is for this understanding that gratitude arises.  If it`s something within your experience, it cannot be negated.
You would have to negate yourself and that will never happen.


  "He knew what he supposed to say and believe, and over the years his delivery would be refined, expanded upon, customized for his recipient. So long as his behaviour didn't give him away, no one would actually know if he accepted any of the doctrine for himself and put his own faith in it."


That`s true Lise...I agree.  Even if he was some enlightened being, he would still "refine" his teaching to make it more clear.
Eventually...sooner or later...it becomes obvious if he has fully assimilated the teaching into daily life. Actions speak louder than
words in this case. His behaviour did give him away.  If Eko taught men only and didn`t exhibit bullying tendencies, his shortcomings
would probably have remained private.  He might have gone on to build up quite a `teacher` reputation even.




 "So long as he doesn't harm anyone, if he's able to help others see truth (whatever that is), then I suppose his own internal state is no one else's concern, and we should give him the benefit of the doubt. When serious harm is done, though, I have a lot of trouble supposing that this person actually had any real understanding of "the truth" they claim to teach."


Well, coming to understand your true nature isn`t a `one shot` deal.  Ignorance and subconscious tendencies are hard wired into
the psyche.  They have to be constantly  examined and uprooted in the light of self knowledge.  We are conditioned from such an
early age that ignorance feels like knowledge and uprooting it feels counter intuitive.  In Eko`s case, because he was unable to
reduce his psychological problems to a manageable level, his understanding got clouded over again.  In fact it fell back to auto -
pilot level.  He couldn`t live the truth.  He had his `high` for a time but fell back to earth so in that respect, he no longer had `real`
understanding of the truth.... as you say.  No longer a true teacher.
You said....."truth, whatever that is ".  It`s just spiritual `trade` talk. It`s a synonym for reality, self knowledge, Buddha mind, God etc.
just one of those terms needed so we`re all on the same page as to what we`re talking about.  The meaning behind the word is `that which never changes` and there is only
one such thing.



 "And that would lead me to start re-examining whatever nuggets of teaching I'd picked up from them. Re-examining is a good thing anyway, though, no matter the avenue through which teaching comes."


Definitely agree with that Lise !



"So, I guess I understand small bits and pieces of this, but will continue to slip a gear on the "gratitude toward the teacher".  I could be grateful for having more knowledge, for being able to better protect myself in the future, etc.  Jaded as I am, I'd be more like "well, I got something out of this not because of you, but in spite of you and your shenanigans, Mr."  after which I would mentally kick them to the kerb."


Personaly, I would miss out the "in spite of you" bit.  I would say Thank you for the truth that you have helped me find.  As you`re no
longer living by what you have found, I need to part company with you. I hope you get back on track but, I`m out of here.  No mental kicking needed.
.
Nothing wrong with being a bit jaded and cynical...I`m all for it myself.  It`s crazy to take anything at face value.



"Maybe if I'd ever gotten really attached to a teacher I wouldn't have such a blind spot on this issue."


 Huh ? A real teacher would never want you to be attached. The true teacher is within...no blind spots there !  It`s never about the teacher.

sorry about the formatting !
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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Fri Nov 15, 2013 11:00 am

Stan Giko wrote:

"Maybe if I'd ever gotten really attached to a teacher I wouldn't have such a blind spot on this issue."

Huh ? A real teacher would never want you to be attached. The true teacher is within...no blind spots there !  It`s never about the teacher.

sorry about the formatting !
.
Stan, does formatting improve with training? LOL

I think what sometimes gets missed is the Master/Disciple relationship is not academic.  When a teacher helps you "remember yourself" the love and gratitude are boundless.  At least for a time there can be profound attachment to the teacher (and projection, etc, as is well documented in relationships with therapists).  And I don't think a good teacher is necessarily beyond attachment to the student, but I do believe they are beyond making their own needs more important than the student's.  I had one other teacher after Jiyu Kennett that I grew close to and when it was time that teacher blessed me and sent me on my way.  That's how it should be.  No guilt, no imprisonment.
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Stan Giko

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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Fri Nov 15, 2013 12:12 pm

Isan,

Nope, formatting deteriorates with training....funny 

Uh oh.....the dreaded master/disciple topic has been broached !

I agree with all your above statements.  I just wanted to emphasize that a master/teacher
would not leave a `disciple` attached to him or her.  I didn`t mean to imply that the relationship
between them couldn`t be very intimate in a non sexual way.
I totally agree that one`s love and gratitude can be boundless. That gratitude is "not for a time "
I`ll leave you to say more....Ha ha...
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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Fri Nov 15, 2013 12:26 pm

Stan Giko wrote:
Isan,

Nope, formatting deteriorates with training....funny

I just wanted to emphasize that a master/teacher would not leave a `disciple` attached to him or her.  I didn`t mean to imply that the relationship between them couldn`t be very intimate in a non sexual way.
.
I wish it were only formatting that was deteriorating with training LOL

My comment about the relationship not being academic was meant more generally in the sense that in abstracted online discussions it's hard to convey how profoundly personal the relationship can be.  Without appreciating that it can be hard to understand the pretty pickle that some of us got ourselves into and are still in process of extricating ourselves from.

I totally agree that one`s love and gratitude can be boundless. That gratitude is "not for a time "
I`ll leave you to say more....Ha ha...


Yes, but how to say it...
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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Fri Nov 15, 2013 1:24 pm

hi Stan -

I didn't mean to imply you said SA's teaching was harmful, you're right, that was my addition.

You asked me if I can ever find "the truth" for myself and how would I know I had found it. No, I don't expect to find anything that I will label as "the truth" nor am I waiting for a moment when I will find "it" so that I can check that off my bucket list.

Yes, all of this stuff is doctrine, every bit of it. Just stories. It doesn't matter whether it's Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity, paganism, etc.  All of it is actually just stories that people started telling each other thousands of years ago, because humans need stories to help them understand this unpredictable, violent plane we live in. The stories help bind us together, and they also set us apart when we're mad at those who don't believe in our favourite stories.

I notice that so far I'm completely free of needing a "truth" to support me. I like Buddhism much better than the other religious myths and fables I've encountered in my life, and it makes so much more sense than the fundamental faith I was exposed to growing up, but I don't need it to be anything other than a set of helpful hints for getting along better in the world and causing less fuss. That's all I need it to be.

I disagree that a real teacher would never want a student to be attached, partly b/c of what Isan said so I won't repeat that bit. There are many kinds of attachment and I don't mean the slobbery, hero-worship kind, nor the "hot for teacher" kind, although as we know, many teachers end up in the news because they seem to want that. There are positive degrees and types of attachment, but the wisdom to know what's what -  that seems to be in short reply.

I am fascinated by people who are looking for something to be "true" that they can "know for themselves". What if that never happens?  Do you then look back on your life as a busted-axle journey to nowhere?
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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Fri Nov 15, 2013 2:04 pm

I re-read my post and it sounds quite harsh and definitive.  I would like to add, of course I wouldn't say that anyone else's beliefs are wrong or untrue. I've no idea what's going on funny  but I like to think and write about all of this.
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Diana



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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Fri Nov 15, 2013 2:14 pm

In my opinion, the relationship between a master and disciple can be an attachment relationship, the question is, should it be?

In psychotherapy, there are some theories that state the therapeutic relationship should never turn into an attachment relationship because the client could then become dependent on the therapist. The goal in psychotherapy should be to help others be independent, not dependent. Other theories, like AEDP, would say that the attachment formed between the therapist and client is part of the healing process and through the attachment, interdependence is formed and old dysfunctional attachment relationships are healed as the new relationship creates safety and security. This safety and secure bond helps to heal old patterns of insecure attachment styles.

Any form of psychotherapy abides by strict ethical standards and there is no theory or professional association, or law, that would condone a romantic relationship between client and therapist. Treatment plans and the theory followed is explicitly stated to clients so they know what they are signing up for. There is transparence and boundaries. There is privacy and confidentiality.

So, to open up the can of worms of the master/disciple relationship… In my experience, there is a profound attachment relationship formed between master and disciple. The problem for me was, I really didn't know what I was signing up for, there were implicit boundaries which were crossed frequently, the ethical and legal boundaries were also diffuse, there was no transparence, there were rigid rules that could also be broken, there was no one else to go to for safety (i.e., no other "master" to confide in or get help), there were breaches of privacy and confidentiality, and there was extreme dependence.

For me, an insecure attachment relationship formed. On the one hand, I loved Eko deeply, on the other hand, I could't trust him because I couldn't feel safe and secure. Safety and security are basic human needs. When these needs are not met, our biology takes over, and we get launched into fight, flight, or freeze. This is all basic Attachment Theory and Interpersonal Neurobiology, aka: science. 

If the OBC, or Zen, or any other religious organization wishes to use or adopt the master/disciple framework, they should be well educated about how this can all go dreadfully wrong. And if they really understand Attachment, they would understand the harm that is created from prolonged, celibate, cloistered, isolated, dependent, training that all the OBC monks are required to do. 

Of course, psychology and spirituality, are different. But spiritual/religious teachers who are not trained in psychology have no business providing psychological services. Where master's can get into trouble is when they cross over boundaries. Some monks are better at maintaining those boundaries than others. For me, Eko was more than my teacher, he was also my friend (sometimes, that is, not always= confusion!). Therapists are never your friend, btw! What I mean by this is, Eko would confide in me, ask for my opinion or help, and disclose private and confidential information. All of the sudden, I was able to be closer to him (he was moving towards me and I to him), I was able to see his flaws, and I was able to see his struggles. The effect: I lost confidence in the Dharma and became confused on every level. Dissonance: here is the beautiful, amazing man who I love and want to protect, but he doesn't really believe some of what he is teaching here, and he is really not following the rules. If my clients knew me on a personal level and they saw that I was a mess and didn't really believe what I was teaching them, they could forever be damaged. I could also go to jail for disclosing their private information. 

Anyway, there's a lot here to explore, but I've got to get back to work!
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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Fri Nov 15, 2013 2:46 pm

"Of course, psychology and spirituality, are different. But spiritual/religious teachers who are not trained in psychology have no business providing psychological services. Where master's can get into trouble is when they cross over boundaries. Some monks are better at maintaining those boundaries than others. For me, Eko was more than my teacher, he was also my friend (sometimes, that is, not always= confusion!). Therapists are never your friend, btw! What I mean by this is, Eko would confide in me, ask for my opinion or help, and disclose private and confidential information. All of the sudden, I was able to be closer to him (he was moving towards me and I to him), I was able to see his flaws, and I was able to see his struggles. The effect: I lost confidence in the Dharma and became confused on every level. Dissonance: here is the beautiful, amazing man who I love and want to protect, but he doesn't really believe some of what he is teaching here, and he is really not following the rules."

eek ! This was stuff that should only have been taken up with senior monks, not with lay women in a disciple/master relationship. He really lost his way!

Classic seduction ploy. He sure knew how to reel them in. Heady stuff for the women who got caught up in this.

One of the surprises for me that came out of these forums was the fact that Eko even had lay disciples. The issue of lay people finding masters came up in one of my early retreats (around 2000) during a discussion period and he told us not to ask him because his time was taken up with the monks.
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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Fri Nov 15, 2013 3:12 pm

@Kat14: Yeah, well…I was one of the favorites, but it was temporary. I was one of the ones with the "access" and the perks: private teas in his house for hours on end, "Sanzen" whenever I needed it. At some point though, he lost interest. It seemed to me this happened when he realized I couldn't just drop everything and become a monk (I had student loans to pay off), I had no money or personal power in the world (therefor, I wouldn't make a good "get-away" mate), and I wasn't as easy to control as he would have liked. The more he tried to control me, the more crazy I became. For example, he convinced me that because I was so "pure", a romantic relationship (sex!) with someone could be dangerous to my spiritual health. In fact everything became dangerous after I became a disciple. I tried to be celibate as long as possible and as long as I was, our relationship seemed to be okay. Eventually, I started a relationship with someone. When I did, Eko became irritated with me. I eventually broke up with that person because of the pressure I received. I was told that my boyfriend possessed some type of "black magic." He was a Taoist and acupuncturist. In retaliation, my boyfriend tried to show me what Eko was doing to me and posed the question, "maybe he's the one with the black magic?" There was quite a lot of drama around this time for sure. And it just got weirder and weirder….
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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Fri Nov 15, 2013 3:14 pm

Hey Lise,
Feel free to split this off if you like… maybe "the pitfalls of the master/disciple relationship?" ???
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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Fri Nov 15, 2013 3:34 pm

"If I remember right, the 1st level is the superficial, literal meaning of the question itself. The second level is the deeper question that the trainee really has, but is often unable to see, and the third level is the one question from which all questions spring."  Sophia

Diana - that is a helpful explanation for how the roles can cross over inappropriately.  I believe that priests should be held to the same standards as counselors, doctors, lawyers, etc.  Churches are still well guarded legally by the separation of church and state!

So, I can see there was the Master, then there was Eko the Abbot and there was Michael Little, simultaneously....seems I can only see one at a time usually, which would be a conversation here all in itself.

As a monk, there is a ceremony of asking a spiritual question after morning service every so often and different Masters would stand in front while the monks approached ceremonially and asked the important question.  RM Eko used to advise us novices to ask the one question as if it was the last one you would ever be able to ask.  The Master in front would spontaneously answer from the place of meditation and you would then bow and return to your seat.  Every monk participated in the questioning, no matter what your rank.

During the cerremony there was no Eko, Meian, Daishin, etc. in front, there was only the Master.  And the answer would touch my question and light up understanding in ways I couldn't predict.  It was available to me in that way only if I had no preconceived idea what the answer was.

During daily life in the monastery, there were Ekos, and Meians and Daishins, etc., and there was the protocol for addressing each other, based on the rules and traditions.  Sometimes the admonitions were mind changing in amazing ways, sometimes they were good suggestions and sometimes they were annoying or even hurtful. 

Then there is Michael Little, etc., who is human and makes mistakes and carries the karma of those mistakes.

The interesting thing I see in this, is none is exclusive of the other.  They all exist and I just need to shift my view to see any one of them. 

Hmmm.....

Thanks!
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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Fri Nov 15, 2013 5:31 pm

jumping in here.... so much of what goes on at OBC/Shasta continues to be Kennett's shadow being lived out.. and it doesn't matter how many years she has been in the ground... her distortion field is alive and well.. not as some dark demonic force, but internalized in the minds of her devotees.  i hear her when Eko says that your boyfriend is "dangerous" and talks about black magic.  What utter nonsense.  So much fear and control and fabricated stories, one story on top of another, a mass of knots.  And if he was your friend... well, if a friend of mine said something like that, i would say, "What are you talking about?"  "Are you out of your mind?"  or even more to the point, that's none of your business. 

And at these ceremonies, you talk about "there is only the Master."  Is that true?  Are we so many different selves and faces?   Sounds awfully complicated and honestly, when you are in a distortion field where you cannot question, you cannot disagree, you cannot speak up, then everything automatically is seen as profound, as amazing.. when it may not be at all.  When you don't abandon your rational mind and your ability to question, then when this "master" speaks, you don't just bow and say wow.  bowing and wowing... you might.. but then again you might say, What are you talking about?  I don't get it?  or even, well that's not true. or so what?  I am not saying that some of the teachings ere not helpful or profound, but a lot perhaps were not.  But you weren't allowed to think that.....

I have seen lots of Zen dialogues and mondos and some are profound and others, not so much.  Joshu Sasaki gave an interview some years ago, it was all about transcending male and female, and the questioner was quite confused, but assumed it was terribly Zen and profound.  I read it twice and from my point of view, it was Zen babble.  It made little sense and wasn't even interesting.  But there was no one there to challenge him.  Well, we all know that situation.  I am not cynical or overly negative here. I deeply appreciate great dharma teachings, true insight..... and so much spiritual teaching can be more theater than reality, more show than substance, more "look at me at my throne" kind of thing.  

end of my babble.....
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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Fri Nov 15, 2013 5:59 pm

I appreciate the babble Josh.  I am trying to understand what Sophia was referring to as the three levels.  It seems to me those different levels happen every day - at work, home and family.  For example, I might find myself taking things completely different than requested by my boss and then I have to eat a little crow later - and it comes back on me to look at why I took things one way or another and hopefully not make the same mistake.  Did he try to deceive me so I would have to come back and eat crow?  I hope not.  So, are none of those things I described true?  Or am I not communicating what I am saying in a way that can be understood?  They were true for me at the time.  Not so much today.  confused
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Stan Giko

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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Fri Nov 15, 2013 7:39 pm

Hi Lise....back again.


"I didn't mean to imply you said SA's teaching was harmful, you're right, that was my addition."

No problem !



"You asked me if I can ever find "the truth" for myself and how would I know I had found it. No, I don't expect to find anything that I will label as "the truth" nor am I waiting for a moment when I will find "it" so that I can check that off my bucket list."

No problem again.



"Yes, all of this stuff is doctrine, every bit of it. Just stories. It doesn't matter whether it's Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity, paganism, etc.  All of it is actually just stories that people started telling each other thousands of years ago, because humans need stories to help them understand this unpredictable, violent plane we live in. The stories help bind us together, and they also set us apart when we're mad at those who don't believe in our favourite stories."

Again, no problem.  We all have different opinions and different values.  If for you, Buddhism and all other religions have
no value other than "just stories", then that`s your business.  Obviously nobody has the right to say what you should think.
Whether about `spirituality` or anything else.



"I notice that so far I'm completely free of needing a "truth" to support me. I like Buddhism much better than the other religious myths and fables I've encountered in my life, and it makes so much more sense than the fundamental faith I was exposed to growing up, but I don't need it to be anything other than a set of helpful hints for getting along better in the world and causing less fuss. That's all I need it to be."

Whatever works for you Lise.  Live and let live !  I`m reminded of a Tibetan saying Mark came out with when he was still prior
at Throssel Hole.  It goes.... "Better not to start. Having started, better to finish ! "  In many ways, the `spiritual` brigade have things
worse than the so called worldly people.  They get to keep the worldly problems and gain another set of... `spiritual` problems.
Worse than that, they often get smug and superior because they think they`re `spiritual`.  Doesn`t apply to any of us folks on the
forum, of course !



"I disagree that a real teacher would never want a student to be attached, partly b/c of what Isan said so I won't repeat that bit. There are many kinds of attachment and I don't mean the slobbery, hero-worship kind, nor the "hot for teacher" kind, although as we know, many teachers end up in the news because they seem to want that. There are positive degrees and types of attachment, but the wisdom to know what's what -  that seems to be in short reply."

My emphasis was on a `Real` teacher.  Why on earth would anyone want someone to be dependent on them ?  Isn`t that
a form of control ?   " but the wisdom to know what`s what - that, seems to be in short supply "........couldn`t agree more.
Not much different to wanting to know the truth of the matter.  wisdom...truth....what`s the difference ?



"I am fascinated by people who are looking for something to be "true" that they can "know for themselves". What if that never happens?  Do you then look back on your life as a busted-axle journey to nowhere?"


Frankly, yes.  Just like many non seekers, they get to the end of their lives and think.."what was all that about ?"  Life wears
them out and they see no great value in it.   Some folks find life to be a "busted - axle journey to nowhere" long before that
point...and so the seeking starts.  It doesn`t mean that both seekers and non seekers cannot find a lot of satisfaction and
fulfilment in life though....of course they can.  A mature person will not be overly dismayed by life`s ups and downs, will
live an honest and modest life and enjoy a smooth ride until  the lights go out.


"I re-read my post and it sounds quite harsh and definitive.  I would like to add, of course I wouldn't say that anyone else's beliefs are
wrong or untrue. I've no idea what's going on funny  but I like to think and write about all of this."


I didn`t think you were harsh Lise........Thanks for saying.  I find you to be direct and you don`t beat about the bush.  Absolutely
nothing wrong there in my book. :-)   I tend to get a bit `full on` myself, as we say on this side.  I`m sorry if you found me harsh.
If so, it was not intended.

again, sorry about the formatting. don`t know why it`s not working out lately !
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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Fri Nov 15, 2013 9:40 pm

Stan, I didn't find you harsh either, you AND your written expression are tops as far as I'm concerned.

Buddhism and the other religion stories have value for me, in the sense that they help remind all of us that it's better to be good to each other than not. That's really it for me; it's not about the need to acknowledge the validity of any of the structures, scriptures, traditions, protocols, histories, legendary figures, mystical teachings/wisdom of a master, tranmission, kensho, and so on. All of those things are external, anyway, aren't they. I don't need any of the backdrop stories to be true. If there never was a Bodhidharma, Dogen, Hui Neng, any of those guys, no worries. It doesn't touch anything that is important to me.

I have seen myself moving through different stages in the past few years, and at this point I'm one of those nonseekers you mention. I love this life I've been given, with its highs and lows. With any luck I'll keep enjoying the ride until the lights go out.
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Stan Giko

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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Sat Nov 16, 2013 5:45 am

Sounds good to me Lise !   :-)



  Stan.
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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Sat Nov 16, 2013 11:40 am

Hi Lise,

I think one of the things about Michael Little is that he behaved so differently with different people.  When I was a lay person, there were I did not receive invitations to his house.  In fact, I never saw the inside of his house until I met Rev Serena there one day to have her mark the hem of my robe right before I postulated.  I never had a private conversation with him except during Sanzen, and that was always about my questions about Zen training.

He didn't talk about anything personal with me, he didn't ask for my advice, and at Sunday tea I was just a part of the group he talked to.  If I had tea with him in the Guest House, it was because I had asked for the appointment and then waited for weeks to arrange it with a Chaplain.  I was definitely not treated as some others here have describe.  

After I postulated I worked in the kitchen and rarely saw the Abbot except at public events.  So after I ordained and became Chaplain, I was pretty shocked about the favoritism going on.  I had been so grateful just to be able to sleep in the Zendo with the other novice monks and attend the monastic dharma talks and live full time at the monastery that I hadn't realized there was more than that available.  

Now I am grateful that I had the monastic experience without the favoritism.  It is such a freeing experience to have the opportunity to give up picking and choosing in so many ways, just live by the schedule and do the next thing. Living in the monastery without your own room to escape to is an experience in itself.  No going to your room to be alone and have a break. Not having personal belongings except what will fit in one cupboard in the zendo and own small box in the bathroom. It was an amazing experience for me. 

I'm glad I wasn't having private friendly teas with the Abbott and hearing about his personal problems.  One of the great benefits of that time was to not be special. I'm sorry that he stole that opportunity from the women who post on this site and were treated that way.  Especially since he could take that attention away so abruptly, not based on anything to do with the behavior of the trainee, just based, apparently, on his whim.  It would definitely be completely confusing and disheartening to be treated that way.

Sophia
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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Sat Nov 16, 2013 3:04 pm

H Enida wrote:

As a monk, there is a ceremony of asking a spiritual question after morning service every so often and different Masters would stand in front while the monks approached ceremonially and asked the important question.  RM Eko used to advise us novices to ask the one question as if it was the last one you would ever be able to ask.  The Master in front would spontaneously answer from the place of meditation and you would then bow and return to your seat.  Every monk participated in the questioning, no matter what your rank.

During the cerremony there was no Eko, Meian, Daishin, etc. in front, there was only the Master.  And the answer would touch my question and light up understanding in ways I couldn't predict.  It was available to me in that way only if I had no preconceived idea what the answer was.
.
I have fond memories of the Shosan (climbing the mountain) ceremony.  For me it was one of the times at Shasta Abbey when the personal dramas and general dysfunction abated and clarity was possible.  Whether or not the "Master" appeared had more to do with the meditative state of mind of the questioner than the personality or knowledge of the teacher answering.  The role of the teacher was abstracted and to the extent that they were also meditating they facilitated the questioner looking beyond them.  This may sound like "hokus pokus" but it is just an example of how "ceremony" can create a space/opening for a deeper interaction/experience and I believe that's the purpose of ceremony.  When Shosan was over we all went back to the drama of life at Shasta Abbey.  The insights gained during ceremonies didn't negate the dysfunction nor Vice Versa.  Unfortunately the validity of this kind of experience was held up as proof that the system as a whole was as it should be, which as we know is highly debatable.  The insight gained there continues to support me though, and validates what was true for me about the experience.
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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:34 am

Stan put it beautifully. The understanding or behavior of the master isn't the point. If a person reaches an awareness for herself, that is all that counts. The master really does just point at the moon. If he or she is pointing in a way that leads to a  meaningful understanding to the student, that is what matters regardless of whether the finger is pointing in the wrong direction.
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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Sun Nov 17, 2013 9:55 am

Carol,

Thank you for the kind mention.  :-)

" that is what matters regardless of whether the finger is pointing in the wrong direction."

The trouble is, if the `master` is pointing in the wrong direction, it sure makes it that much
harder to get that self understanding.  The pointing can lead to inspiration or despair, depending
on the circumstances.  As we know.

Anyway, I don`t actually recall the Buddha saying that you have to have a master.  Can`t think
where he said that you`ve got to have a kensho, either.....funny that !

As you said,

" If a person reaches an awareness for herself, that is all that counts."  and masters are deluded
if they think that they control that process !

Best wishes to you.
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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Sun Nov 17, 2013 10:38 am

I think it matters if a "master" points in the wrong direction. It signals a serious lapse or regression in understanding on his/her part, rendering them unfit, at that moment at least, to have a teaching role. Unless everyone involved understands the master is engaging in "black is white" activity and is saying/doing the opposite of what is right. That would wear me out, trying to guess at what was going on. I'd rather read a few sections of the Pali Cannon, take a quiet evening walk and then go to bed. I actually did that last night and looked at the moon (gorgeous!). Didn't need anyone else's finger pointing at it, impeding the view.
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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Sun Nov 17, 2013 10:53 am

Sophia, I meant to add that I understand your point about not being special, and what a relief this is. When I used to go to retreat centres, I didn't want to be drawn into involved conversations with those who ran the place, I didn't want them to do extra things for me, I just wanted to do the activities quietly and go with the flow. Being singled out by someone isn't fun when it means they expect you to react to whatever they say, reciprocate by offering details about yourself or other lay sangha, redouble your efforts to be the best trainee at the retreat, etc. Ugh. Not the reason I wanted to be there.

Based on what Diana and others have said on the forum, it sounds as if M. Little targeted some of the women based on their apparent areas of vulnerability, unattached status, etc. I wonder if he also had a talent for assessing who would keep quiet and who probably would not -
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PostSubject: Re: Hi from Sophia   Mon Feb 17, 2014 11:32 pm

I haven't checked in to the forum for some time. I appreciate and I am touched by Sophia's sharing of her story, as well as the story of Enida. I wish them both much healing and goodness in their continuing journey. Their stories reinforce my view that models of spiritual teaching and practice that are life-giving should be free of fear and authoritarianism, and not demand inordinate and non-egalitarian commitments of loyalty and submission. I am hopeful for the future in that regard, and that we all are learning as we go along.
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