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 Institutional Trauma

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Diana



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PostSubject: Institutional Trauma   Fri Sep 24, 2010 1:31 pm

Hi Kozan,

I don’t mean to be responsible for this thread, but I have been thinking about it and rather than PM you, I thought I’d just go ahead and post it in case others might want to read it. So, this in the spirit of sharing ideas and information.

Nowhere in my studies have I seen the term “institutional trauma,” but I think I know what you mean by this and have been trying to find a way into it since you brought it up. Even though my current point of view is largely psychological, I can never separate out my spiritual experience from anything and so I have expanded out a bit to address this issue.

I work as a practicum student/intern with a Native American tribe and have a lot of history with Native Americans even though I am white. I have found the work of Eduardo Duran to be most helpful in my work, especially his books “Buddha in Redface” and “Healing the Soul Wound.” I was referencing “Healing the Soul Wound” recently and made a connection that was relevant to the trauma issue. I will try my best to explain here.

There is a dynamic that occurs in certain populations who have experienced atrocities and trauma such as genocide. This dynamic is called “internalized oppression” and was formerly termed “identification with the aggressor” by Freud. According to Dr. Duran, “Identification with the aggressor is a phenomenon observed in clinical settings in which the patient presents with physical, psychological, epistemic, and cultural violence, and the victim identifies with the perpetrator in a variety of ways” (2006, p. 17). This identification perpetuates violence within the community and can turn into “Institutional Violence.” (The term “violence” refers to any type of abuse including psychological, cultural, spiritual, physical, or sexual).

Internalized oppression and institutional violence occur together. With regards to the Native American community, the people in power can fall into identification with the aggressor and end up harming the people they are supposed to be helping. Dr. Duran states:

“Internalized oppression by some leaders is expressed in community and work environments in which administrative subordinates or community members are systematically abused. Violence manifested in an administrative or bureaucratic setting can be described as colonial bureaucratic violence. This type of violence, perpetrated by the people who are supposed to be caretakers of the community, is a violation that further alienates people from the collective family and isolates them in a society where they can be victimized by the oppressive forces in the culture” (2006, p. 25).

To bring this into the OBC arena, one would need to look at the source: RMJK. When I look back at her story now, I see a woman who was most definitely abused and traumatized by her early experiences in Japan. I can also see her personality more clearly as well. I must admit that I do admire her strength and determination to do what she did. However, I think she turned into the very thing that she fought; I think she did identify with the aggressor. She may have had a pure heart and pure intent in the beginning, but ultimately she had to become what she first identified as the aggressor. There are many accounts of this already on this forum such her changing the rules with respect to marriage within the priesthood in order to become “legitimate” and recognized by those in power in Japan (or was it Malaysia?).

Another phenomenon occurs with all this and that is “intergenerational trauma.” This type of trauma is also called “historical trauma” which has been researched extensively in the Native American population. As an aside, historical trauma can certainly be looked at through a Buddhist’s eyes as “karma.” But what I see is that RMJK’s disciples carry on this trauma and in turn also identify with the aggressor. In this sense, they carry on and perpetuate the institutional violence, or trauma.

One can ask, when did this trauma start? What is the origin? Is the Japanese culture to blame? I don’t know if any of you have read “Zen at War,” but this book does shed some light on this question. There really is no use in blaming anything or anybody is there? I think the important question is how do we “heal the soul wound” of all those who are affected by this trauma.

So, any thoughts and theories on this subject can start here. Hope this helps.

Peace,
Diana
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PostSubject: Re: Institutional Trauma   Fri Sep 24, 2010 6:37 pm

Hi Diana,

I'm delighted that you have started this new topic thread. I have been intending to do so for some time, but have found myself so absorbed in reflecting on, thinking about, and writing notes for my first post, that the time has just flown by!

What I have arrived at (with relatively little reading-based research) is right in line, point for point, with the thoughts you have expressed. I likewise, had never heard of the term or concept of "institutional trauma", but it had come to seem appropriate to me as a specific variation of collective trauma within organizations.

My work over the last several years (well, actually, decades) has been focused on our current, escalating, global economic-ecological-existential crisis. And more specifically, the effort to understand its root causal dynamic as a basis for more accurately understanding the way existence actually works, in order to understand the principles for a genuinely successful dwelling and economic process, as a basis for designing a means of dwelling that can be made affordable, equitable, and sustainable for all--as a basis in turn for helping to heal individual and collective existential crisis. (Whew! I hope this makes sense!!)

I mention this here, because the conclusion of the first part of this quest for me has been the slowly dawning concept that our global crisis is actually only a culminating symptom of a 6,000 year global nightmare of conquest and empire. This collective historical experience has, it seems to me, resulted in a kind of collective existential trauma that we are all born into. Much of the time it can be relatively subtle and unconscious--except when it flares up as a sense of inadequacy, fear, oppression, exploitation, war, and genocide. Our collective Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has been perpetuating itself for so long now that we tend to assume that it's just the way life is, or just the consequence of human nature.

However, I think that the root cause of our 6,000 year collective nightmare is actually the belief that survival and success require an adversarial competitive struggle to dominate and exploit, in order to achieve power and wealth. I would propose that this belief is, in fact, a profound misunderstanding of the way existence actually works--but that acting on the belief that it's a "dog-eat-dog world" creates the very conditions of failure that seem to prove the belief true. Once this apparent verification occurs, we tend to seek solutions by acting ever more vigorously on the misunderstanding that creates failure in the first place.

I think this belief can operate on many different levels and take a variety of different forms. It seems to me that the classic dynamic of individual abuse and trauma, in which the abused may then go on to abuse others, is the essence of this causal dynamic. Your example of Native American trauma: a history of being subject to conquest, empire, oppression, and genocide--and (I would say) its denial by colonizing Europeans, and mainstream America today--ties it all together very well.

The post that I've been working on for this topic will respond to your other excellent points in more detail; but briefly for now, I think it does begin with RMJK for the OBC, and with, as you say, her own experiences of abuse and trauma. And I couldn't agree more--ultimately there is no one to blame because the cycle stretches back, perhaps as far as 6,000 years! (This of course does not excuse or justify harmful behavior!)

My next full post on this topic will suggest what I think might have been a 5-step process by which the collective psyche and culture of the OBC seems to have become unconsciously traumatized--and a corresponding 5 steps by which the trauma might be untangled and recognized, as a basis for healing. (In my thinking, these "five" steps are only a starting point).


Last edited by Kozan on Sat Sep 25, 2010 2:20 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : additional thoughts--and corrections)
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sandokai



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PostSubject: Re: Institutional Trauma   Sat Sep 25, 2010 12:53 am

great topic and fascinating reading.

i look forward to reading more.
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Institutional Trauma   Sat Sep 25, 2010 10:40 am

Diana wrote:


To bring this into the OBC arena, one would need to look at the source: RMJK. When I look back at her story now, I see a woman who was most definitely abused and traumatized by her early experiences in Japan. I can also see her personality more clearly as well. I must admit that I do admire her strength and determination to do what she did. However, I think she turned into the very thing that she fought; I think she did identify with the aggressor. She may have had a pure heart and pure intent in the beginning, but ultimately she had to become what she first identified as the aggressor. There are many accounts of this already on this forum such her changing the rules with respect to marriage within the priesthood in order to become “legitimate” and recognized by those in power in Japan (or was it Malaysia?).

One can ask, when did this trauma start? What is the origin? Is the Japanese culture to blame? I don’t know if any of you have read “Zen at War,” but this book does shed some light on this question. There really is no use in blaming anything or anybody is there? I think the important question is how do we “heal the soul wound” of all those who are affected by this trauma.

So, any thoughts and theories on this subject can start here. Hope this helps.

Peace,
Diana

I think this kind of research is helpful because it can show us the context of our own inherited trauma. I took a counseling class once where the teacher told a personal story about how many of his extended family died while he was growing up. Whenever he asked his parents why they said "it was the water". Even as a kid he realized that was ridiculous and later on he studied his genealogy and put together at least four generations with significant numbers of alcoholics who died from addiction. He turned it around for himself and became a therapist specifically for alcoholics. I think this is a great example of what in Buddhist terms would be "cutting off karma".

Regarding Zen at War I read a synopsis and would agree that it makes important points. Perhaps the most important being the forms of Zen training do not automatically produce moral, autonomous behavior. All religions are disingenuous to the extent that they speak of liberation while demanding conformity. Kensho experience is a profound moment of grace which indicates a new direction (whither? thither!), but after the fact people are still subject to the pressure of the culture and the community. In Japan during WWII I imagine if the head of a Zen temple supported the war then all of his disciples felt they d*mn well better support it too. At any time and in any culture it always takes great courage to chart a course contrary to the prevailing cultural/political wind (Dietrich Bonhoeffer comes to mind).

RM Jiyu Kennett paid a high price throughout her life because she was willing to challenge the prevailing prejudices against women - she was a feminist well before it was fashionable. I believe that because so many doors had been closed to her when she finally established Shasta Abbey she was heavily invested in its' success (as she defined it). It was her personal validation and anyone who resisted her direction was perceived as a threat. She raised a generation of real monks, but then was not willing to share the responsibility for governing the community in any meaningful way. It was precisely because of kensho experience that some of us came to understand we had a responsibility to something greater than RMJK's personal wishes. Ironically and tragically she rejected what was her true success, i.e. the disciples who had gained the vision of a moral, self-governing life, and instead handed the power over to those who could only understand her dharma as obedience.



Last edited by Isan on Sun Sep 26, 2010 7:22 am; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : clarification, refinement)
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Diana



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PostSubject: Re: Institutional Trauma   Sat Sep 25, 2010 11:03 pm

Hi Isan,

I've never actually said hello to you, so, hello! I think I read somewhere that you were married to Ando? If that's true, then I would like to say that she is one of the kindest monks I ever met. I hope that statement isn't painful for you, I'm just saying that out of respect.

Anyhoo, something came up for me thinking about "Zen at War." A senior monk once told me that Keido Chisan used to actually send off the Kamakazi's with a prayer. I'm not sure of the details, but I think the troops would line up before they were to go and fulfill their orders (commit suicide), and would be blessed by Zen priests before they flew out. I'm not sure if Keido Chisan was on the carriers or at home on the mainland.

It's been a couple of years since I read the book, but I originally read it to find out if there was a mention of Keido Chisan. I didn't find anything, but found the book to be enlightening anyway.

Another thing came up for me as well. I think people believe what they want to believe about RMJK. I never met her. I do remember listening to her dharma tapes though. Wow, what a presence. You can hear it in her voice. Definitely a force to be reckoned with. I believe though, that at some point, she must of gone off on another path that will ultimately be the demise of the order.

I listen to all of you ex-roshi's and I hear a lot of wisdom, compassion, and kindness. I do not understand why you all are separated out from the order or "shunned." Except that I know this is what the OBC does! I think people either refuse to look at how the OBC regards anyone other than themselves (the OBC) or they just to refuse to see anything at all!

Here's the deal, if you become a monk (or a lay disciple, lay minister, etc...) and there is any little problem, including tiny petty things such as one of the people in charge doesn't like you, then you will never be considered a "real" monk or trainee. In fact, you will be shunned. The rules are very simple. If you are out, you are out forever. And you have to live with the label of "failure." This label, this shunning can be devastating.

I was surprised to see in black-and-white, RM Daizui's quote in a paper of his: "Fortunately, in the area of success in religious vocations there is one certaintly reliable criterion: whether or not the person leaves the religious life. Staying on one's order is hardly an adequate defintion of success, but dropping out is a clear measure of failure." Once a person is labelled as a failure, they are forever shunned. (Interesting to hear Daizui talk in terms of "success and failure". Seems so dualistic, and worldly)

How does that make you feel? I think the majority of us here feels really bad about this because it is like being separated or shunned from your own family. It is the complete opposite of kindness, compassion, wisdom, no-self, etc... The fact that Kyogen and his wife aren't even allowed on the Abbey property to pay respects to RMJK at her grave? Come on! Not only that, but this issue itself causes unrest and doubt in the sangha. As a lay person, seeing people come and go, there is always the question of why the person left, or "could I be next?" There is no harmony, love, kindness, forgivennes.

I think RMJK and the OBC have a very different side than what the lay people see. The politics, bureaucracy, and desire for power, are big motivators. Even kensho is reduced to the politics of it all. I was told that even though I had a kensho, as a lay person, it would never be recognized or acknowledged and that I wasn't allowed to ever speak of it to anyone. I had a very difficult time and the more isolated I became, the worse it got. When I asked what the big deal was I was told that there were several senior monks and master's who had not yet experienced kensho and that to confirm a lay person's kensho would make others in the community jealous and would disrupt the harmony of the sangha by placing doubt into the monks and laity as to the master's qualifications and power as priests. Oh, and not only that, I was later berated for even wanting to talk about it as a sign that I was too full of myself and proud of it all. Actually, I was okay at first, but when things got really trippy, I became terrified and needed help, which is why I made inquiries and asked for more information.

I really don't care about the kensho thing and I can't fake it and say "well, the Abbey was tough, but I owe it so much because it taught me so much and made me who I am today." That, to me is the weakest possible perspective one can take. I am who I am. My life is what it is. But I have made it through because I persevere. I take responsibility for my life.

And yet, to all of these rules that the OBC has, according to some of the ex-monks I have heard, there is very little real "training" that they get to be teachers. What a set-up. I feel sorry for these people. They seem doomed to fail.

Anyway, I guess I ranted a bit. Oh well, it is what it is.

The trauma issue is a complex one, but I feel it unravelling a little more each day.

Peace,
Diana
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PostSubject: Re: Institutional Trauma   Sat Sep 25, 2010 11:33 pm

Well said Diana! Denial runs deep in the OBC, because, I think, the trauma runs deep as well.

I know of several lay members who experienced kensho--and then were subject to the same denial of recognition that you describe. How can a tradition that espouses and teaches a path to awakening, deny the reality when it is experienced by members just because they they are not monks? Of course, a perfectly "rational" explanation is offered--except that denial is unneccesary in the first place.

And now, I'll get out of the way so that Isan can respond.


Last edited by Kozan on Sun Sep 26, 2010 9:12 am; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : personal obsession with word accuracy and grammar)
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PostSubject: Re: Institutional Trauma   Mon Sep 27, 2010 12:18 pm

Diana wrote:
Hi Isan,

I've never actually said hello to you, so, hello! I think I read somewhere that you were married to Ando? If that's true, then I would like to say that she is one of the kindest monks I ever met. I hope that statement isn't painful for you, I'm just saying that out of respect.

Anyhoo, something came up for me thinking about "Zen at War." A senior monk once told me that Keido Chisan used to actually send off the Kamakazi's with a prayer. I'm not sure of the details, but I think the troops would line up before they were to go and fulfill their orders (commit suicide), and would be blessed by Zen priests before they flew out. I'm not sure if Keido Chisan was on the carriers or at home on the mainland.

How does that [shunning] make you feel? I think the majority of us here feels really bad about this because it is like being separated or shunned from your own family. It is the complete opposite of kindness, compassion, wisdom, no-self, etc... The fact that Kyogen and his wife aren't even allowed on the Abbey property to pay respects to RMJK at her grave? Come on! Not only that, but this issue itself causes unrest and doubt in the sangha. As a lay person, seeing people come and go, there is always the question of why the person left, or "could I be next?" There is no harmony, love, kindness, forgiveness.

Even kensho is reduced to the politics of it all. I was told that even though I had a kensho, as a lay person, it would never be recognized or acknowledged and that I wasn't allowed to ever speak of it to anyone. I had a very difficult time and the more isolated I became, the worse it got. When I asked what the big deal was I was told that there were several senior monks and master's who had not yet experienced kensho and that to confirm a lay person's kensho would make others in the community jealous and would disrupt the harmony of the sangha by placing doubt into the monks and laity as to the master's qualifications and power as priests. Oh, and not only that, I was later berated for even wanting to talk about it as a sign that I was too full of myself and proud of it all. Actually, I was okay at first, but when things got really trippy, I became terrified and needed help, which is why I made inquiries and asked for more information.

I really don't care about the kensho thing and I can't fake it and say "well, the Abbey was tough, but I owe it so much because it taught me so much and made me who I am today." That, to me is the weakest possible perspective one can take. I am who I am. My life is what it is. But I have made it through because I persevere. I take responsibility for my life.

Peace,
Diana

Well, a proper Hello! to you too Diana sunny Yes I was married to Ando and I would agree she is a very kind person. I heard that she is back at the Abbey now...? If so I hope she is at peace.

Regarding Keido Chisan, unfortunately I know very little about him and nothing at all about how he may have participated in the Japanese war effort during WWII. RMJK didn't tell us much about his personal history. There is some information about him on the Dharma Rain website, but it is in context of RMJK's bio and doesn't shed any light on his past.

Being shunned of course feels pretty bad. What isn't talked about much is shunning occurs inside the temples too. Usually it is thought of as what happens after people leave, e.g. no one being allowed to communicate with them, etc, but when I was at the Abbey it was actually the main way that people were made to comply with RMJK's wishes. In fact, when practiced there I would refer to it as shunning and shaming, since people were not only virtually excluded when RMJK deemed them persona non grata, she also subjected them to public humiliation to make them get back in line. Whenever anyone disagreed with anything she said or did the standard response was to immediately call all the senior monks to her house where the offending monk’s behavior was condemned. Then that monk was also summoned to the gathering where he could be called out on the carpet in front of everyone. That was usually enough to produce the desired contrition. After a monk was sufficiently penitent he would be forgiven and RMJK would resume her benevolent demeanor. So you see the shunning that people experienced after leaving was not something new and unfamiliar. Seikai would have us believe that there are specific reasons for "exclusion", implying that there are clear rules and consequences for breaking them, but in my experience the behavior I describe above was completely arbitrary and often triggered by things quite trivial. Whatever rules he is referring to either didn't exist or weren't taken seriously then. If such rules and consequences exist now in the OBC I would invite him to post them.

What you say about kensho is a very important matter. Zen attracts people who want to become "enlightened". Teachers can talk until their blue in the face that we don't become enlightened, we already are enlightened, but for many this is not a meaningful distinction until sometime down the road. Zen literature talks about the kensho experience and people want it, pure and simple. Now that's just human nature, not the fault of any particular Zen organization. The upside is it works to motivate people to practice, so eventually they can understand the bigger picture and let go of the notion of "attainment". The downside is it encourages delusion. Because kensho is the coveted prize and also seen as the imprimatur for teaching there is great jealousy surrounding those who have experienced it. It also upsets the pecking order where seniority is typically based on years of practice and other measurable criteria. In other words, kensho has no respect for seniority, monk Vs lay practice, etc. - no respect for any human criteria whatsoever. It is grace. So how does a Zen community deal with this? To her credit I never saw RMJK deny anyone's kensho. I know she acknowledged the experiences of lay people. What she didn't always do was advertise the fact which she sometimes would do in the case of monks. I believe she did the latter to encourage others in the community to believe in themselves more, but a perhaps unintended consequence was it bestowed celebrity on those monks and that was a bad thing. Monks with acknowledged kenshos were the rock stars of Shasta Abbey! (that's pretty funny) It created many problems, but most importantly it contradicts the experience itself. Kensho reveals that we are nothing and need nothing - it is validation beyond culture and community - so it is a gross distortion to turn it into a status symbol and then deny recognition to lay people because they are not allowed to have status in the community. The explanation you were given for why your experience would not be acknowledged shows the extent to which those people simply did not know what they were doing.
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PostSubject: Re: Institutional Trauma   Mon Sep 27, 2010 5:18 pm

Diana wrote:
Hi Isan,

A senior monk once told me that Keido Chisan used to actually send off the Kamakazi's with a prayer. I'm not sure of the details, but I think the troops would line up before they were to go and fulfill their orders (commit suicide), and would be blessed by Zen priests before they flew out. I'm not sure if Keido Chisan was on the carriers or at home on the mainland.

Diana

I almost choked on my supper when I read this.

I'm currently in the UK so I can't check my detailed notes on Koho Zenji's biography which are in Japan, but he was a very considerable and gifted academic. From memory he was acting as headmaster at a Soto-shu run girl's high school towards the end of World War II. Far from being a carrier-borne warrior stalking the Pacific he had actually never even done his own military service back in the Meiji era because he suffered from a serious lung complaint as a young man (he had been brought up effectively as an orphan in Koho Hakugun's temple in Ishikawa Prefecture from about eight years old due to his mother's remarriage after his father's death).

During the last year of the War he was also resident priest at a small temple in the Asakusa district of Tokyo. This was incinerated, together with his library of 3,000 books and everything else in a five mile radius, in the big American air raid of 9-10 March 1945 during which around 100,000 people died in the capital. He was very fortunate to have survived that firestorm.

Koho Zenji's experiences of war at this time were what made him so utterly determined to work for a better international understanding, a commitment that eventually led amongst many other things to his invitation to Rev. Master Jiyu.
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PostSubject: Re: Institutional Trauma   Mon Sep 27, 2010 5:33 pm

Just to add a little to what I wrote above and to put it into some historical perspective for you because you may not know much about the history of this period ...

If you look at the Wikipedia page on the Tokyo raid of 9-10 March at

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Tokyo

About half the way down the page on the right side near the references is a before/after aerial view of Tokyo.

Koho Zenji's temple was just to the left of the Sumida River at the left of each of the pair of pictures, in the area which is completely white on the second photograph because everything has been incinerated.

Actually more people died in this March raid than in the inital firestorm at Hiroshima. Koho Zenji survived being at the very centre of it.
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PostSubject: Re: Institutional Trauma   Mon Sep 27, 2010 7:01 pm

This recount brought tears to my eyes. Who are we to complain when so much suffering has been and will continue to be? I just returned from a memorial service for a family friend who died of cancer at the age of 33 leaving 2 beautiful little boys and a lost husband. I do not know why I mention this but such human dignity in the throws of overwhelming pain is ..... sunny
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PostSubject: Re: Institutional Trauma   Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:42 pm

Sorry to upset you Iain!

I must say for one, that that information was given to me by the highest authority that I knew of at the time. Why I was told that information, I'll never know. But it did leave me with an impression, that's for sure.

I actually know quite a bit about Japan and the war times. I actually work in Los Alamos, NM, the "birth place" of the bomb. What led me here is quite an interesting story that I will probably never share, especially here. But I have had some very interesting schooling of what has transpired that adds a special twist on this subject.

The Japanese monks were in a pickle, for sure. I wouldn't be surprised that if Keido Chisan did bless those soldiers, that he would have quite a bit to say about it. My point in bringing it up was to set up the picture for historical trauma as it is handed to generations, and since if any of us here did Jukai or were monks, we have inherited that karma through a direct lineage. I believe it is relevant to the "institutional trauma" that we are speaking of here.

Hope this clears things up a bit.

Peace,
Diana
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PostSubject: Re: Institutional Trauma   Tue Sep 28, 2010 10:03 pm

[Admin note: per Kozan's request I have tried to find a good way to copy Rev. Seikai's post back into this thread. My apologies once more for the disruption.]


[Begin quote from Rev. Seikai]

"Dear Kozan,
Thanks for the post above on the 6000 year collective trauma of humankind, and taking that thread of thinking towards how the OBC has functioned over the years. I'm trying to understand something, which I think you and I are both trying to work on from opposing sides of a philosophical fence, and in trying to articulate what that thing is, I will start with a comment made by Diana, which is:

I listen to all of you ex-roshi's and I hear a lot of wisdom, compassion, and kindness. I do not understand why you all are separated out from the order or "shunned." Except that I know this is what the OBC does! I think people either refuse to look at how the OBC regards anyone other than themselves (the OBC) or they just to refuse to see anything at all!

I ask myself, well, it seems like what some people who contribute to the web forum are saying is that they would like to be reconciled, somehow, somewhere, in some fashion, with the OBC. What is keeping them from doing that, if that is what they want? So I asked Rev. Master Haryo that question, and he doesn't actually know what keeps anyone from reconciling with the OBC. Anyone and everyone who feels an urge to become reconciled with the OBC, can set that process in motion anytime they wish to.

So, it appears to me that there are some false assumptions in Diana's statement, one of which is that "you are all separated out from the order or "shunned." My question is, what would people like to happen?, what would a reconciliation look like?, and what level of involvement with the OBC are you asking for? Another false assumption is that "people either refuse to look at how the OBC regards anyone other than themselves (the OBC) or they just to refuse to see anything at all!" Well, doesn't my presence on this web forum discount this statement? I care what people outside of the order think about the OBC, and I happen to know that the same is true for most of the monks. Not only that, I'm actively trying to do something about it. If the day comes when I am empowered to do more than I currently am, I will attempt to do more.

Meanwhile, here is what seems like an apparent contradiction, or mixed message coming from people who contribute to this web forum: if, on the one hand, you desire some sort of reconciliation with the OBC, however that might manifest, however that might come into being, wouldn't you make some kind of effort to bring yourself into harmony with members of the OBC? In other words, if you continue to bash the OBC, doesn't that work against your other motive of wanting to be reconciled with it?

I realize that there has been a stated motive on the part of contributors to this web forum, that they want to warn people who are considering a deeper involvement with the OBC on the dangers of getting too involved with these people, lest you get yourself seriously hurt or damaged. And, given the behavior of the former Eko Little, who can blame them for doing so? And yet, rather than painting the whole OBC as a bad bunch with a tar brush, why not actually ask some serious questions about what is actually going on within the OBC? Why not inquire into the reality of things as opposed to sitting around speculating about what has happened or is happening, and then believing in the speculation?

So, I hope I'm able to begin to paint a picture of the difficulties involved in bridging a philosophical divide wherein many assumptions are being made which, when you look at them, don't necesarily stand up to scrutiny. Here's one more question: those of you who honestly wish to be reconciled with the OBC, would you be willing to make it known to the world exactly what you did which brought about the reality of your being excluded? That would be the point at which true honesty and humility would be brought to bear upon the whole larger question of reconciliation: owning up to what one has done. This is not a one-way street in which all the misbehavior lies with the OBC. In saying this, I am not advocating for some sort of airing out of dirty laundry, but rather that this is a complicated business, every given individual is different and has a different history, and there are no simple solutions, generally speaking. It would require maturity and honesty in large doses.

So, Kozan, those are my questions, and I wonder if you, as a reasonable, honest and intelligent human being, can formulate a direct response to them. As I said, I think you and I are working towards the same thing from opposing sides of a philosophical divide, the bridging of which is not an easy matter, but I also believe that this fact should not be a cause to discourage us from trying in all sincerity.

Respecfully submitted, with all best wishes,
Rev Seikai

PS: hello, Jimyo / Helen Krasner, nice to see that you're still around!"

[End quote from Rev. Seikai]

[Resume Kozan's comments]


Please note that my comment below is in response to Kaizan's comment, which followed comments by Rev. Seikai, myself, and several others, which have been moved to the OBC Experiences forum, and the Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC? topic thread. Kaizan's post provides the context for my response:

Kaizan--very well said--on all points!

And I agree that the disconnect you identify is fully pertinent to the issue of institutional trauma, and its recognition, healing, and transformation.

It seems to me that as essential as spiritual intelligence is as a response to the experience of trauma--transcendence by itself is not enough to bring about healing. It appears to me that trauma is actually experienced and retained by body and mind, not by the construct of the ego. Transcending trauma by returning to the all-is-one within Awareness, in and of itself, does not heal the trauma retained by body and mind. I think this is especially true if a pattern of denial is present that prevents the recognition, acceptance, letting go, and offering up of the trauma itself--and the work to transform the conditions that created the trauma in the first place, which is often essential for full healing.

If trauma has actually become institutionalized within the OBC as an ongoing dynamic, then its healing and transformation require both spiritual and emotional intelligence.

Thanks for bringing your post on the two over to this thread!

Post topic move P.S.
Now that the posting of your observations on spiritual and emotional intelligence have been removed from this thread and transferred to another--I hope that you will again copy them back to this thread as well!!

No worries--life is change.


Last edited by Lise on Sat Oct 02, 2010 12:03 am; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : life is change / adding Seikai's text back)
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PostSubject: Re: Institutional Trauma   Tue Sep 28, 2010 10:19 pm

To Kozan, Kaizan and other forum members, I am sorry for the confusion caused by the thread split. I have moved Kaizan's comment to a new thread called "Making it known: why are you separated from the OBC?"

We may have slippage from time to time as members post whilst new threads are being created and posts moved over. I regret any inconvenience to readers and hope you will forgive the disruption.

Thank you.

Watson

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PostSubject: Re: Institutional Trauma   Wed Sep 29, 2010 6:17 am

Admin: Please allow this to remain here as it is. Thanks

There is a very good discussion that develops on this site at times, but it seems to often disintegrate into polarized, mutually exclusive perspectives, with each polar argument alienating the other. Each side seems to look at the other across a great divide at the other side and wonders: “Don’t these people get it?”

I would summarize the two polarized sides as the following:
1. Those who feel they have been hurt in some way or have witnessed others being hurt. This side repeats in various manifestations that the OBC has done and is doing harm. Some feel the harm can be mild but still needs to be addressed; others feel the harm is horrendous to the point that they consider the OBC to be a cult. Either way, they would like the OBC to take seriously that harm is being done. This side feels their hurt is denied, minimized, rationalized, or justified away. Side 1 is correct.
2. Those who feel the OBC is a not only a good organization, but an organization whose very purpose is to help people get beyond their own ego, to help them understand that dwelling on hurts we’ve received is only perpetuating the life of the ego and preventing our individual selves from merging into the great ocean of awareness that is the Unborn. An essential part of the training this side teaches is that people give up attachment to the hurts, big and small, that we all experience. To indulge Side 1 is to diminish this essential tenet of the teaching and training. (That anyway is how I’ve been reading it. Corrections to my understanding are welcome.) Side 2 also is correct.

How then can these sides have some point of meeting? I think my recent post on spiritual and emotional intelligence might be of assistance in this. Essentially Side 2 is calling for spiritual intelligence from Side 1, and Side 1 is asking for emotional intelligence from Side 2. It is my belief that the disconnect between these two polarized sides is very pertinent to what Kozan refers to as institutionalized trauma (perhaps Kozan could comment). If this website is to function beyond being a place to share experiences, which is by no means a small accomplishment, we will have to find a way to talk to each other that does not alienate and minimize what is important to our polar twin.

I would also like to add that I think the questions and topics raised on this site go beyond what poor Seikai can handle alone. If he has become the official OBC Connect monk, I think both the participants on this site and those at the OBC who’ve relegated this too him are being unfair in their expectations of him. It’s too much for one person. I know I’d feel overwhelmed if I was in Seikai’s shoes. And when I feel overwhelmed it is difficult to do as good a job as I might do otherwise. If the results of the discussions on this site are of importance to the OBC, and I have no way of knowing if that is or isn’t the case, then it would be good to have more current monks participating. In fact, one of the perceptions or misperceptions of the OBC is of its monolithic character. Having one monk speak for all only reinforces this belief. Anyway, perhaps this post will be a start to not making the other side into the OTHER. Here is my previous post on spiritual and emotional intelligence:

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: Institutional Trauma   Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:59 am

Hello Diana

Firstly, my apologies for having misspelled your name (as “Diane”) on the Monk vs Lay thread – I had checked first, too, but memory failed me.

Above, you posted that you were "told that there were several senior monks and master's who had not yet experienced kensho".

Are you sure your source said “masters” and not “teachers”, as a term covering both teachers who are also masters and teachers who are not? If so, I think this may have been a slip of the tongue.

I have heard or read (more than once, I think) that teachers who are also “masters” have had kensho (though to what basic level I am waiting to find out), whereas teachers who are not masters have not had this level of kensho (unless they are in a period of awaiting recognition and official change of title); though in both cases commitment to training has been recognised and they have been trained to teach. Given that mistakes are possible, the foregoing represents the theory. Perhaps a knowledgeable person can clarify, affirm or correct me on this.

I think that Zen may be quite unusual among Buddhist schools in making what amounts to a public declaration of kensho (i.e through title) for specific lineage members; but the question remains for me, what level of kensho? Maybe it’s the first bhumi, as the OBC have said, but (as I have posted elsewhere) I’m inclined to think they have unwittingly been miscorrelating stages for many years and that the kensho concerned is at the level of the eighth bhumi; but maybe Kaizan will soon have some news for me in his Introductions thread.
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PostSubject: Re: Institutional Trauma   Wed Sep 29, 2010 9:45 pm

Hi Anne,

Don't worry about the name thing, it's okay :-)

I was told specifically that some of the master's or roshi's had not yet experienced a kensho. I was surprised by this as well.

I believe since the subject is so obviously a taboo topic, that the very thing that supposedly is the purpose of practice in the first place, is held and controlled by a very small group of people and this creates all sorts of problems including dependency. For me, I thought I was literally going insane and I had no help. I could barely function. I asked specifically what was going on with me and nobody would say until a few weeks later. And when they told me, I had no idea what they were talking about. I spent years going in and out of it. I couldn't integrate into the world and I couldn't drop everything and become a monk (I was in college and had 50K+ of student loans to pay off). All that and I was basically told I could very easily die because all my karma was basically cleased and that if I didn't find a solid reason to live, my life would end. And I was told that anything I did at that point that was bad or if I broke the precepts, that it would come back 10 fold and I would suffer greatly. Ultimately, my only choice was to become a monk so I could be protected and live out the kensho as it came and went.

I couldn't handle the pressure. I had symptoms of PTSD. I was trying to live in the world, but I had to isolate myself as I was planning on "leaving the world" to become a monk. I was fresh out of college and trying to start a career! That pressure alone was enough. In order to work I HAD to have it together. Sometimes I would have to call in sick if something big was going on. It got to the point where I couldn't meditate because I was too afraid of what would happen. My anxiety grew and grew and I started to self-destruct. I went in the complete opposite direction and just tried to be normal, but I was always split and suffering.

I believe if I would have had help, REAL help, that I would have been okay. The way the OBC operates can be destructive for someone like me. I could have very easily killed myself or died.

Anyway, I know I went off on a tangent there, but it all goes back to the same thing; if the OBC is to continue, they had better figure out how to do it right.

And also Anne, I have no clue as to what you are talking about most of the time! No offense! I think maybe you are trying to understand things through another vehicle, but the OBC is on a different freeway! Even though I'm trained to teach in the Theravadan school, even the person who taught me had no clue about the stuff you are talking about. I even asked my (Theravadan) teacher about "kensho" stuff and "spiritual emergencies," but he was clueless. I would love to hear a roshi respond to some of what you say. I wish the OBC monks were better educated. I know for a fact that the teachers aren't really taught to teach. My old master used to say RMJK would transmit people left and right and some of them would become masters after a very short time. I was told that they were all pretty much clueless!

Peace,
Diana
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PostSubject: Re: Institutional Trauma   Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:32 pm

Hello Anne,

You were discussing the difference between a "master" and a "teacher."

When I first went to Shasta, monks who had experienced a kensho wore a knotted red piece over their shoulder. (I can't remember what it's called.) I don't know if they still do that or not. When Koshin's red piece wore out, he mentioned that it would have to be repaired in Japan. There were monks at Shasta who wore purple robes but not the red piece, and I was told by one monk in purple that she had not had a kensho.

Before her death, Jiyu was the only one at Shasta referred to as "Reverend Master." After her death, Koshin began ordaining disciples, and we were told to call him "Reverend Master." We were also instructed to stand when he entered the room. When another monk at North Cascades ordained disciples, we were told to call her "Reverend Master" as well.

So I don't know for sure what constitutes the difference between an OBC "teacher" and an OBC "master," but the practice may depend upon whether or not the monk has disciples.
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PostSubject: Re: Institutional Trauma   Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:51 pm

Hi Violet!

From what I understand, and I might be wrong, the monks with purple robes are senior monks, the monks with purple robes and red knots are roshi's or "reverened master's." The senior monks are transmitted and are therefore, "teachers." And as I stated above, I was told that not all roshi's have had kenshos.

Hope that helps. And yes, there is definitely the accompanying social nuances with respect to who's-who!
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PostSubject: Re: Institutional Trauma   Fri Oct 01, 2010 5:06 am

Hi, Diana and Violet

Thank you for the information.

I have asked Kaizan more questions on masters and kensho/certification, in his Introductions thread. May he forgive me…
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PostSubject: Re: Institutional Trauma   Sun Oct 03, 2010 2:00 pm

Anne wrote:


I think that Zen may be quite unusual among Buddhist schools in making what amounts to a public declaration of kensho (i.e through title) for specific lineage members; but the question remains for me, what level of kensho? Maybe it’s the first bhumi, as the OBC have said, but (as I have posted elsewhere) I’m inclined to think they have unwittingly been miscorrelating stages for many years and that the kensho concerned is at the level of the eighth bhumi; but maybe Kaizan will soon have some news for me in his Introductions thread.

Regarding the matter of levels of Kensho, during my years with RMJK (1971-1984) she only loosely referred to the first kensho, second "on-going" kensho, and third kensho, which she called the "harmonization of body and mind". She never referred to the traditional Theravada teachings of the Supramundane Paths, etc, so I don't know that any of the OBC monks (either current or former) are going to understand that terminology. More generally it would be helpful if you could offer explanation when using terms like "bhumi" and when possible draw connections between this terminology and the Zen terminology that most of us are familiar with. Perhaps you can also recommend resources on the web?
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PostSubject: Re: Institutional Trauma   Wed Oct 06, 2010 7:46 am

Hi Isan

We met briefly in 1978 (I think), while you were Prior at THP.

I do remember (perhaps they were, in the round, very occasional) references made by RMJK to the bhumis and Theravada stages, from which unfortunate conclusions seemed to be drawn, which was why it seemed appropriate to me to post the stuff on them in my thread on correlations. But I would be happy to try to oblige.

Part of the difficulty in drawing connections with the Zen terminology you mentioned is identifying what RMJK meant by a first kensho. I know she wrote of her own experience in Wild White Goose but it can be hard to write exactly about processes.

Kaizan has tried to answer some of my questions in his Introductions thread. I may be premature in making this statement, so please bear this in mind, but it sounds as if a first kensho may be the first bhumi (perhaps also entering the second), after all: unlike my original premise. Of course, I do not know if what Kaizan described is as experienced by most people who have been told they have had a first kensho.

Unfortunately, I use a timed internet computer (public library), so I will have to buzz off for now.

I am not sure if I will be able to come up with web resources but will reflect on whether I will be able to clarify matters further.

All the best
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PostSubject: Re: Institutional Trauma   Wed Oct 06, 2010 10:10 am

Anne wrote:
Hi Isan

I do remember (perhaps they were, in the round, very occasional) references made by RMJK to the bhumis and Theravada stages, from which unfortunate conclusions seemed to be drawn, which was why it seemed appropriate to me to post the stuff on them in my thread on correlations. But I would be happy to try to oblige.

Part of the difficulty in drawing connections with the Zen terminology you mentioned is identifying what RMJK meant by a first kensho. I know she wrote of her own experience in Wild White Goose but it can be hard to write exactly about processes.


All the best

I appreciate your willingness to keep working on this, but I understand the difficulty. To make matters murkier still, I believe when RMJK said someone had a first kensho she wasn't referring to the level of the experience but to the fact that it was the individual's first experience.
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PostSubject: Re: Institutional Trauma   Mon Oct 11, 2010 6:40 am

Isan wrote:
I believe when RMJK said someone had a first kensho she wasn't referring to the level of the experience but to the fact that it was the individual's first experience.
Another senior monk said in a talk that Japanese men are considered to have had a kensho when they realise that other people have feelings. Not sure to what extent that was meant to be a joke, but the point was that interpretations are flexible.
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PostSubject: More on Institutional Trauma   Sun Apr 29, 2012 10:36 am

Hello,

I am very interested in your dialogue. I am a Buddhist meditating practicing Christian writer. I am writing a book about embodiment and Christianity, suggesting that Christianity has become "disembodied", meaning lost connection with its own essence.

I call this "institutional trauma" and a google search on that phrase led me to you.
What has happened with your dialogue?

A. Russell
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PostSubject: Re: Institutional Trauma   Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:35 pm

Hello arussell, and welcome to the forum.

You may have had time by now to see the various threads mentioning institutional trauma. I'm not aware of many recent discussions referencing this topic, but you might want to drop in here occasionally and see if it's popped up anew. It's a concept that underlies many questions & comments re: what caused Shasta Abbey to go off the rails and remain that way.

If you do a search on Kozan's posts you should see quite a bit of good material -- I think it was he who introduced the concept here (somebody correct me if needed) as a framework for understanding OBC culture and members' behaviour.
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PostSubject: Re: Institutional Trauma   Wed Jun 13, 2012 12:02 pm

[Admin note: the article titled "Nechemya Weberman, Orthodox Counselor to Hasidic Community, On Trial in Sex Abuse Case" has been move to the thread titled "More on Shunning and Institutional Blindness - article from the NYT.]
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PostSubject: Re: Institutional Trauma   Thu Jun 21, 2012 10:11 am

not precisely sure where this should article should go, so those that have the power to move things around, feel free to put it in a better place. Although the title suggests it's about the annual meeting of American Zen teachers, the piece is almost entirely about the Zen Studies Society and Shimano. Useful to read as an example of how this community continues to struggle with the simplest aspects of truth-telling, accountability, facing reality, cleaning up the past, and moving forward. If they can't grow up and evolve, this community is doomed, no matter how elegant their zendo is.

The 2012 Annual Meeting of the AZTA by Genjo Marinello
Posted on: Jun 20th, 2012 - from the Sweeping Zen website


Recently I had the opportunity to attend the annual meeting of the American Zen Teachers Association. It was a small gathering this year, only 18 people. It was held at the Vermont Zen Center (VZC) in Shelburne. I only have great praise and gratitude for Sensei Sunyana Graef for hosting the event and for the hospitality offered by VZC’s sangha. I think it was a difficult meeting especially for Shinge Roshi, the new abbot of the Zen Studies Society (ZSS), and I to attend, as there has been great tension between us about the course to be followed in the wake of Eido Shimano’s resignation and retirement, which were precipitated by yet another revelation in 2010 of a major ethical breach. Over the course of the gathering she and I both had the opportunity to say what needed to be said, with the support and witness of others. I think everyone could feel a shift and softening between us, which is a relief.

Towards the end of the meeting, I recall Shinge Roshi said to me publicly and privately that many of the steps that I’ve been putting forth as essential prerequisites for renewal and growth at the ZSS are indeed necessary and would be addressed. The question that remains is when and how will these steps be accomplished, and which if any will be bypassed.

To begin I suggested that Shinge Roshi release the names of the four new ZSS board members and how and why they were selected. In addition, it is imperative that the new ZSS bylaws be made public. Announcing a projected date for the completion and public release of the forensic audit would also go a long way towards real transparency.

I can’t know for certain before the new bylaws are released, but I am suspicious that the new structure still does not include a mechanism to have at least half of the board directly elected by the active sangha. Given ZSS’s history there needs to be good separation of fiduciary management from the role of abbot.

I’m told the retirement negotiations with Eido Shimano Roshi continue to drag on. My hope is that those negotiations take into account the fact that Eido Roshi’s actions have greatly diminished the resources available to the organization. Moreover, I hope the needs of those harmed by his actions are not forgotten. These realities must take precedence over the Shimanos in excess of $90,000 per year claims for deferred compensation and benefits.

I know that ZSS is working on a land trust deal with the Nature Conservancy and I think everyone will agree that the first use of these monies should be dedicated to the preservation of the properties for generations of Zen students to come. Secondly, these funds should be committed to the healing of organizational ills and establishing a reserve of some portion of these funds to assist those most directly harmed by Eido Roshi’s actions. Then and only then should the remainder of these monies be considered to fund the Shimanos retirement needs. If these priorities are not considered in this order, then as Eido Roshi himself would say it is upside down thinking.

Sooner than later ZSS needs to issue some sort of organizational apology conceding that it could have done a better job to protect it’s own sangha from Eido Roshi’s abuse of his position of power and authority over decades. At the same time, it will be essential to remove all of Eido Roshi’s personal possessions from the properties; disputed items will need to be placed in storage off campus. In addition, as soon as possible, Eido Roshi should be excluded from visiting either property, except to do funeral services for those who insist on it and to occasionally visit his family’s resting place in Sangha Meadow. I think it is fair to say there was a general consensus of those present that only when there is sufficient separation from Eido Roshi will the complete truth of his abuses of power and authority be revealed.

When the above steps have been completed it will become possible to do further outreach to those most harmed and alienated with the intent of offering some process of truth and reconciliation at meetings held at neutral locations supported by professional moderators. Part of the reconciliation process will need to include more all sangha meetings where the whole sangha and organizational leadership can learn together with professional assistance how to recognize and help prevent further abuses. This list may not be exhaustive, but I hope everyone reading this can agree these are the steps that must be taken if there is any hope for a deep recovery at ZSS.

I do wish Shinge Roshi and the ZSS board best success and good speed in accomplishing these goals. I understand that at the current pace, this may take two or more years. Many demand a faster pace, but continuous small steps in the right direction are far better than none. Once there is more separation from Eido Roshi and bylaws adjusted to allow significantly more democratic representation, I will make every effort to resume a more direct and active role in ZSS’s practice schedule and further recovery. Only time will tell if the current ZSS leadership has the fortitude to follow through.
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