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 Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?

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Rev. Seikai



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PostSubject: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Sun Sep 26, 2010 4:26 pm

First topic message reminder :

[Admin edit: This thread is an offshoot of another titled "Institutional Trauma", located under the category titled "In Theory and Practice". Please see that thread for preceding posts. In addition: although the forum software identifies Rev. Seikai as the "author" of this new thread, for purposes of clarity, he was a respondent to the parent thread from whence this was split. The forum software considers the first poster under a new thread to be its "author". We regret any confusion.]



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!



Last edited by Lise on Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:02 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : clarity / identifying dedicated thread)
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mstrathern
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Sun Dec 12, 2010 12:19 am

Kaizan
I missed your posting about preserving the best of Jiyu's teaching before putting up mine on talking to the OBC. I too would like to preserve what was good in Jiyu's teaching as I have said in other postings, but I don't think that it is a straightforward matter. Each one of us has a different view about what the best is I don't think that Seikai, me, you, Jimyo, Anne to mention just a few would agree about what the good in that heritage is. But in the end the decision will lie with the OBC and posterity, neither of which we have very good communication channels with! The OBC may be prepared to listen to us but we will have to find a method that will mesh with its methods or we will just be whistling in the wind as far as trying to influence it to address it's past. This was my point about the organisational form of the OBC. We cannot coerce after all this is one of the major complaints we have. Instead we have to find a suitable arena and present our views openly, persuasively and in manner that allows the OBC to take them on board and act on them This is why I made the suggestion about the Interim Board. Perhaps someone within the OBC heirarchy could reply or come up with another suggestion.
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gnorwell



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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Sun Dec 12, 2010 12:57 am

Hi Nicky,
I've only just seen your posting and of course I remember you. I'm truly sorry that your experience has been so bad. Each of us can only draw on what we have personally known and my experience since 1987 has been very positive.

If I've had problems I've always felt able to discuss them with RM Daishin or other senior monks and have "frank discussions" where necessary. But then I'm an old trade-unionist and not particularly a respecter of rank and authority for its own sake.

My experience has been good, yours hasn't and it's so important that both are expressed.

I hope life treats you better in the future. Please take good care of yourself.

George
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deweyboy



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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Sun Dec 12, 2010 1:59 am

I have written to haryo and get no response, so there you go!
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Henry



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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Sun Dec 12, 2010 11:11 am

Kozan,
I agree completely with everything you said. I would just add that I think what you referred to as "cult like" dysfunction in the OBC is the mistaken underlying belief that to fully perceive, admit, and be accountable for mistakes made, is a threat to the underlying integrity. So all sorts of defense mechanism are brought to play in order to make those mistakes insignificant or non existent. The bigger the mistakes, the more denial and minimizing is needed, to the point that perceptions become quite warped. The cure for that is understanding that the underlying integrity is not diminshed by the mistakes; conversely, denying and minimizing the obvious does make the OBC appear like a cult.

Mark,
I agree completely with what you wrote also. I think the next step is to hear if the OBC is at all interested in an open conversation with those who would like to see the best of their legacy maintained. For me, if they stop the harm so amply recorded on this site and its underlying causes, I'd be happy for them to go on whatever path they choose. I hope someone else takes up the task of organizing how such communication would take place. It's not my area of expertise. Josh is the one with expertise, but I can't imagine that would be a warm a fuzzy conversation.
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Sun Dec 12, 2010 12:18 pm

hi John / deweyboy --

Possibly you might hear from Haryo now, if he sees this. If your letter was sent some time ago he may need some details again. (Not trying to get you to post them here although you're welcome to. I hope that comes across right.)

Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Sun Dec 12, 2010 4:08 pm

I just have one more thing to say (for now) and I'd like to say it because I realize that I did a pretty bad thing attacking Jimyo the way I did. I'm ashamed and I'd like to explain to her and anybody else who thinks that "get over it" or "why don't you move on" is a useful response. I'll tell a true story:

My husband once worked in a mill. It was generally a good safe mill except it had a piece of machinery that was tricky. Guys kept getting cut on it. The mill owners refused to replace the equipment, saying that it was the fault of the injured men for being careless. One day my husband came home with a hole punched right through his palm, and he's a careful man. The next day a guy lost his hand. He sued the mill and the mill got new machinery. But the guy who lost his hand was never the same. He was young, came from a tough background, he couldn't get girlfriends, he began to drink, he ended up in the gutter.

Now we all know about the guy who climbed Everest with artificial legs. Getting over a maiming can be done. But if someone had gone to the fellow who lost his hand and told him to get over it, I guarantee he would have hunted them down and done some damage himself. Some people can get on with their lives after being maimed and live good and useful lives. Some can't. None of them get to have their parts back. They have lost something real and valuable and important and they will never be the same.

So to all those who think that those of us who were hurt by some part or aspect of the OBC should get over it, move on, or that it was probably at least partly our own fault for not reading the safety manual more carefully or following the unwritten rules, just understand that the response you get probably won't be the one you wish for.
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Robert
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Sun Dec 12, 2010 4:20 pm

Thanks Polly, that's an eloquent story to portray the dangers of telling others how they should respond to a challenging situation. I think it was Steve Biko who said that the liberal white man was not perhaps the best placed person to tell the black man how to respond to the difficulties caused by the apartheid laws in South Africa...

I sometimes wonder if those saying "get over it" or "move on" and all those traditional it's your fault/your training replies, whether they really mean that or whether it might be more honest for them to simply say "shut up", "don't mention this" and "keep quiet". It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between the two.
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Rev. Seikai



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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Mon Dec 13, 2010 4:21 am

Addressed to Mark Strathern, and by extension to Kaizan and all other posters and readers:

I have read what everyone has written here, and taken it on board. I agree with Mark that there are logistical and philosophical hurdles to get over if we are to actually agree as to what we might hope to preserve as the best of RMJK's legacy. But that won't keep me from trying. And, just as a first step that one can take in the here and now, I'm trying to build bridges of communication so that we can learn to have an open dialogue about these matters, and start to find ways to heal divisions, wounds, sorrows and scars from the past.

We are carrying on this conversation on this post and on my introductory thread post, where I made a longer post today, saying that I will do some homework and undertake to get more seniors of the OBC involved in this process. I can't predict what will come of that, but I have submitted something to the Interim Board of the OBC for their consideration. It might serve as a litmus test for the efficacy of this newly-created mechanism for addressing problems, both of an immediate nature and those of a more longstanding nature, such as what we are discussing here.

Would anyone be in support of an entirely new website or web forum, one which would be dedicated to this process, and have a screening device in place so that those who contribute to it would be restricted to those who are genuinely interested in speaking positively, using Buddhist Precepts as guides? And if so, is there anyone with the tech savvy necessary who would be willing to work on setting up such a thing in concert with the Interim Board?

I have my own opinions about what RMJK taught which was of greatest value to me personally. It is reasonable to assume that the same would be true of anyone and everyone who values what she taught. That particular aspect of things does not especially concern me; rather, I'm trying to work for more immediate, short term, possibly achievable things such as a reaching out on the part of the OBC to people who feel that they have been harmed by members of the OBC, to try to get at the root of what went wrong and see if anything can be done to help accept, embrace, love and let go of it.

Regarding Diana's comment:
I do not see how they can possibly survive if they do not align with other Zen schools.
This cannot happen unless the OBC decides to abandon celibacy. And if we choose to retain celibacy, and doing so leads eventually to the failure of the OBC or its dissolution, then so be it. In Asia, the monastic traditions which observe celibacy, as required by the Buddha as being necessary for monks, regard non-celibate Buddhist priests, such as are the norm in Soto Zen, as not actually monks.

As I have said before, I reconciled myself years ago to the possibility that the OBC may not live very long, given our strange beginnings and other factors such as the above-mentioned unique position in the Zen world. I accept that possibility as simply a part of life as she is lived. Meanwhile, for however long I live, I will at least make an honest effort to work for the removal of aspects of OBC culture that have demonstrated over time to be detrimental to our own enlightened self-interests, and, obviously, the interests of those who come to us to practice. Celibacy is not one of them. The institutionalized traumas spoken of by Kozan and others, I would say, is one of the more pressing ones to go to work on.

Respectfully submitted,
Rev Seikai

Site Admin: due to some technical glitch, this post replicated itself and posted twice. I don't think the reason is that it is doubly important, so please remove one of them, if that is possible. Thanks, SL
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Mia



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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Mon Dec 13, 2010 7:37 am

Robert wrote:
I sometimes wonder if those saying "get over it" or "move on" and all those traditional it's your fault/your training replies, whether they really mean that or whether it might be more honest for them to simply say "shut up", "don't mention this" and "keep quiet". It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between the two.
There is a third possibility. To borrow Polly's metaphor, maybe they mean "I wish he/she would find a way to function despite that maimed hand." That's not to say that due responsibility for the maiming shouldn't be taken, or that people haven't already found good ways to function. It comes from a compassionate but inadequate intent, compassionate because it wishes well, inadequate because it fails to take due responsibility.
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mokuan



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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Mon Dec 13, 2010 9:36 am

Seikai,

i have a question for you regarding celibacy that's been nagging me for twenty years, and I apologize that I cannot not package it in shosan format -- I've lost that skill!

It's my understanding, and correct me if I'm wrong, that celibacy became institutionalized at Shasta when RMJK was seeking recognition and financial support for the community from a group of Malaysian or Chinese monks. Part of their support was contingent upon OBC monks being vegetarian and celibate. Is this a correct statement?

And if this is a correct statement, why did RMJK eat meat? And did she have permission to do so from her benefactors?

Now, I know your first response will be because of her health. I fully acknowledge that I'm not a doctor, nurse, or nutritionist, but I do know that you can manage Type II diabetes with a vegetarian diet.

So here's the rub for me: RMJK required all her married monks to divorce, to make this very great sacrifice in her behalf, and yet she could not sacrifice her enjoyment of meat.

She did not need to eat meat for her survival -- bottom line. Medically speaking, you can't spin that any other way. (I have recently double-checked my facts from a medical provider.)

I believe you've also likened OBC celibacy to that of the Catholic church and, in fact, it was also a political move. Celibacy became institutionalized as a way to maintain land and wealth for the Church that would have otherwise been passed down to sons who may not have wanted to be priests.

Seikai, this is a major stumbling block for me. Some married monks did divorce, and those who didn't were ostracised and vilified. That she could require such an extraordinary sacrifice of her monks without making the seemingly minor sacrifice of vegetarianism on her part, is beyond me.

And if she did not have permission from her benefactors to eat meat, well, that speaks volumes in itself.

Any light you can shed on this would be greatly appreciated. Like I've said, this is a big one for me, and it is not even really about celibacy.

I hope you are well and continue in good health.

yours,
mokuan
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:10 am

Bob Aitken roshi, seemed a great teacher ,very well grounded, very compassionate, married helped a lot of people
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jack



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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:30 am

Rev. Seikai wrote:


Would anyone be in support of an entirely new website or web forum, one which would be dedicated to this process, and have a screening device in place so that those who contribute to it would be restricted to those who are genuinely interested in speaking positively, using Buddhist Precepts as guides? And if so, is there anyone with the tech savvy necessary who would be willing to work on setting up such a thing in concert with the Interim Board?

I don't have any vested interest in whether or not someone does this or not. But the whole things smacks of setting up another environment where the OBC could control and sanction the content, delete posts that were unpleasant, demand respect where none was due, and denounce anyone who did not revere Jiyu as a Buddhist god of sorts as being "unpreceptual."

I don't think you have been treated unkindly here. People have disagreed with your beliefs that Jiyu is a Buddhist semi-deity, that the OBC and sound Buddhism are the same thing, and that your words are healing or helpful. They've been sometimes hurt again when your speech, rather than seeming to understand and acknowledge pain, re-opens the wounds with language that seems to be the same dismissiveness they encountered when first hurt.

In the final analysis you are correct that people need to move beyond this for their own mental health and well-being. But that advice from one who consistently defends their previous tormentors comes across as more of same dismissal of harm that exacerbated the infection of the wound in the first place. Perhaps it's good advice, but it will never be received well from any in the OBC because it is tainted with self-protection and denial of responsibility. For you and the OBC, it would be wise speech to stop using those words. It would seem obvious at this point. They are not in any way 'skillful means.'

I'm sure the frank words I've written are the very type of thing you'd want to avoid and censor in a new forum where adherence to OBC speak would insist on a heavy sugar coated gloss to avoid any discomfort on the part of OBC participants.

Buddhism is about seeing things clearly as they are -- unvarnished, unwashed, unglossed without either aversion or attachment.

While I've written directly, I have not been unkind, nor intended any unkindness. The lack of deference in my words is not unkindness. In this discussion, you are my peer, not my teacher, nor a representative of the Buddha, -- or whatever. I'm comfortable with that though I'm sure it goes against your hierarchical nature.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:47 am

Hi jack
I have just asked Lise to confirm on another what you have just confirmed.
I can not quite believe I read it right it seems like censorship to me. A new forum where rules have to be obeyed,no mentioning jesus and peolple only being positive to the obc. which is fine, but I hope this forum keeps going,I do not think it is negative,at all I think we are facing things that we were not allowed to voice before.
I am pleased you wrote what you did,jsust to clarify to me what I thought I read
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:32 am

hi Chisan, just checking in here to confirm my answer on the thread. OBC Connect will not go away.

I was not surprised to see Seikai's comment about a new website requiring adherence to the precepts. How that impacts the ability to have open discussion, time will tell. I suspect the participants will spend more time debating whether a comment is right speech than they will addressing the substance of issues. But I do wish them good luck in setting something up.

L.
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Robert
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:54 am

Thanks Jack, Chisan and Lise for saying what I was thinking. Censorship is censorship, however it may be disguised. One thing I do appreciate in our culture is the freedom of speech and to have that suppressed through veiled threats of keeping the precepts is about as transparent a type of censorship as there is.

I'm willing to be proved wrong, but for me, right speech is saying what's needing to be said and not being afraid to say it, however unpalatable it may be. Right speech is honest speech, open speech and not dictated by fear. I'm sorry the attempts to resolve the many issues revealed on this site have hit a wall of censorship. How very disappointing.
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Mon Dec 13, 2010 12:16 pm

Just a fast observation on the fly..
We all see the limitations of this suggestion for a new website but
I assume that Rev Seikai thinks that these are the minimum conditions that would be required to attract other seniors into the fray.

Without these conditions I believe Rev Seikai expects them to say "Why should I bother exposing myself to unpleasantness right now when sometime down the road another agency will be looking into it."

Maybe there could be some mid way counter suggestions.

He may also wish for another website that doesn't contain a library of past ventings against Rev Jiyu. We need to remember that we are dealing with a group whose entire career has been spent protecting themselves from having to deal with any doubt and criticism.
I would be interested to see what wiggle room is possible.
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Mon Dec 13, 2010 12:32 pm

mokuan wrote:
Seikai,

It's my understanding, and correct me if I'm wrong, that celibacy became institutionalized at Shasta when RMJK was seeking recognition and financial support for the community from a group of Malaysian or Chinese monks. Part of their support was contingent upon OBC monks being vegetarian and celibate. Is this a correct statement?

And if this is a correct statement, why did RMJK eat meat? And did she have permission to do so from her benefactors?

Seikai, this is a major stumbling block for me. Some married monks did divorce, and those who didn't were ostracised and vilified. That she could require such an extraordinary sacrifice of her monks without making the seemingly minor sacrifice of vegetarianism on her part, is beyond me.

Hello Mokuan,

Allow me to take a shot at your question. RMJK initially proposed celibacy as necessary for monks after her Lotus Blossom experiences. I cannot remember specifically when it became a requirement, but it was before the alignment with Malaysia. Up until the time I left - in 1984 - RMJK was not asking that married monks divorce, only that they observe celibacy while they lived and trained in the Abbey (note there were married monks who lived at Cannon Dell for whom celibacy was not a requirement). The matter of divorce came later and I cannot say for certain why she required it. Perhaps this had to do with making the OBC acceptable to the Malaysian Sangha?

Regarding vegetarianism, RMJK always leaned in that direction, but she also taught that gratitude for all food offered and an appreciation for social context were more important than strict observance. For instance if you went home to visit your family and were offered meat she suggested it was more important to accept it and not alienate them.

Meat was generally avoided during the time I was there, but the diet was always "ovo lacto vegetarian", meaning eggs and dairy products were included. I cannot speak specifically to why RMJK ate meat herself. My memory suggests it was as infrequent in her case as in the rest of the community while I was there.

To speak more directly to your question though, which I believe is the feeling that RMJK was being hypocritical by ignoring rules she required others to follow, it's hard for me to say. Could she have maintained her health as well on a more strict vegetarian diet? Maybe but I can't know for sure, and although the medical literature says "yes you can" you have to remember that it speaks in statistical generalities. In the end each individual has to assess their own needs.

Regarding the matter of requiring married monks who were already observing celibacy to divorce, I am still waiting for someone in the OBC to explain why this was deemed necessary. The possibility that it was done to make the OBC more acceptable to the Malaysian Sangha is quite deplorable to me.

I trust Seikai will weigh in and answer you as well...
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Mon Dec 13, 2010 6:34 pm

Rev. Seikai has proposed the possible creation of a new website or forum dedicated to the process of addressing problems within the OBC, and:
"...restricted to those who are genuinely interested in speaking positively, using Buddhist Precepts as guides?"

Jack, Chisan, Lise, and Robert have responded with (I believe) excellent concerns, and Howard, with several equally excellent observations.

Jack wrote:
I'm sure the frank words I've written are the very type of thing you'd want to avoid and censor in a new forum where adherence to OBC speak would insist on a heavy sugar coated gloss to avoid any discomfort on the part of OBC participants.

Buddhism is about seeing things clearly as they are -- unvarnished, unwashed, unglossed without either aversion or attachment.

Robert wrote:
I'm willing to be proved wrong, but for me, right speech is saying what's needing to be said and not being afraid to say it, however unpalatable it may be. Right speech is honest speech, open speech and not dictated by fear.

Jack and Robert, I think that you are both absolutely correct. I firmly believe that speaking the truth--in and of itself--is never a violation of the Precepts.

I think that it is not so much what we say--but how we say it (which of course, then does affect what words we use and (therefore) what we actually say)--that is the real issue.

I think that this is what Keizan was trying to get at in the Kyojukaimon when, in his commentary on the 6th Great Precept, he said: "Do not allow any one to speak of another's faults. Do not allow any one to make a mistake in Buddhism."

At first, I used to think that Keizan's point about not allowing others to make a mistake in Buddhism was simply a way to reinforce the previous sentence. It then occured to me that never speaking about harmful behavior actually serves to perpetuate the mistake--and was not what Keizan was trying to say at all.

I would propose that Keizan's point was: that speaking against others becomes a violation of the 6th Precept--and that not identifying harmful behavior, thereby colluding in the perpetuation of a mistake (in Buddhism)--also becomes a violation of the 6th Precept.

Accordingly, I think that what Rev. Seikai is probably proposing is not a restriction on what is said, but how we go about saying it.

Fortunately, a way of doing this, without using the Buddhist Precepts (per se) as an imposed structure, has been developed by Marshall Rosenberg as a process that he calls Non-Violent Communication. NVC is also sometimes referred to as Compassionate Communication. It consists of a few simple principles, and has been widely taught and used worldwide with great success.

Marshall Rosenberg has even used this successfully with groups in violent conflict: a group of 20 Serbians and 20 Croations; a group of Israelis and Palestinians; a group of Hutus and Tutsis.

A simple Google search will reveal all, but in essence:

NVC focuses on whatever behavior we are observing or have experienced, rather than on interpretations, judgement, personal criticism, blame, or attack--in order to minimize defensive/ offensive responses--in order to be able to facilitate understanding and healing. One of its primary purposes is to help prevent the traumatization, and its perpetuation, that can result from judgement, blame, and attack.

In response to Howards suggestion:
"Maybe there could be some mid way counter suggestions."

I would suggest that we consider the principles of Non-Violent Communication as a tool and framework for faciliating discussion with members of the OBC, for the purpose of addressing problems within the OBC.

I believe that Non-Violent Communication skills can benefit everyone. It would benefit monks and Lay Ministers in teaching, counseling, and interacting with others. It would benefit anyone involved with the OBC, as a means of communicating problems they might encounter, or concerns they might have, without triggering defensiveness or denial through implied judgement or blame. And now that I am becoming enthusiastic, I would also observe that it is a great meditation skill for helping to let go of any negative judgements that might be encountered when uncovering ones own shortcomings!
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Mon Dec 13, 2010 6:50 pm

Lise thanks for both replies

Kozan, cor that is a mouthful,it is sad really if your are right,it sort of shows how when we were all together and now there has been unresolved difficulties.
At the moment y underlying feeling, is one can not escape the effects of ones actions,years later it comes back round again
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Mon Dec 13, 2010 7:32 pm

Someone said a while back that the OBC connect is not a coherent entity. I guess I'd have to disagree, again!

It's interesting and maybe premature but to me we all seem like different parts of an elephant. Everyone has some purpose, skill or contribution that as a whole is getting this thing moving.

It's no longer a question of is the OBC connect a coherent entity but more of what's the best direction to head?

Personally I think it would be good to remain strong by leaving no parts behind while we seem to be focusing on getting this beast moving.
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Mon Dec 13, 2010 8:48 pm

Howard wrote:
Someone said a while back that the OBC connect is not a coherent entity. I guess I'd have to disagree, again!

It's interesting and maybe premature but to me we all seem like different parts of an elephant. Everyone has some purpose, skill or contribution that as a whole is getting this thing moving.

It's no longer a question of is the OBC connect a coherent entity but more of what's the best direction to head?

Personally I think it would be good to remain strong by leaving no parts behind while we seem to be focusing on getting this beast moving.

I pointed this out and I think also so did Mark Strathern.

I have been a contributor on OBC Connect for three months and yet I don't feel like I am a part a coherent entity at all. Many different views are expressed on the forum. My observation is that several other contributors here don't share a sense of grievance resulting from their experience with OBC monks or temples. 'Everyone' includes them too.

Please don't presume to speak for me.
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Mon Dec 13, 2010 9:18 pm

I would propose that Keizan's point was: that speaking against others becomes a violation of the 6th Precept--and that not identifying harmful behavior, thereby colluding in the perpetuation of a mistake (in Buddhism)--also becomes a violation of the 6th Precept.

Accordingly, I think that what Rev. Seikai is probably proposing is not a restriction on what is said, but how we go about saying it.

Fortunately, a way of doing this, without using the Buddhist Precepts (per se) as an imposed structure, has been developed by Marshall Rosenberg as a process that he calls Non-Violent Communication. NVC is also sometimes referred to as Compassionate Communication. It consists of a few simple principles, and has been widely taught and used worldwide with great success.

I would like to thank Kozan for his above post, which accurately describes what I was thinking. I would also like to make the clarification that I am not proposing such a thing on behalf of the OBC. In other words, the impetus for it would have to come from outside the OBC, and thus it would not be a thing which the OBC would be in control of, as people seem to think I am suggesting. My motive for making the suggestion is to find a way in which to involve more monks of the OBC. I would be delighted to learn more about Rosenberg's NVC, which is basically the equivalent of, or similar in spirit to, the Buddhist Precepts on Right Speech, and I think other monks would get involved if NVC were part of the ground rules.

I also agree completely with Kozan's assertion that: Accordingly, I think that what Rev. Seikai is probably proposing is not a restriction on what is said, but how we go about saying it.

Thank you once again, Kozan, for your insight and ability to track my thinking.

Respectfully, Rev. Seikai
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:25 pm

Hello Iain
I have been a contributor on OBC Connect for three months and yet I don't feel like I am a part a coherent entity at all. Many different views are expressed on the forum. My observation is that several other contributors here don't share a sense of grievance resulting from their experience with OBC monks or temples. 'Everyone' includes them too.

Please don't presume to speak for me.

There may come a day in the affairs of man when we may falter but it is not this day. Whoops. wrong speech...

If it gets to a point where I feel I can talk adequately for myself then I might stretch out to become someone elses mouth piece, but it's not this day.

C'mon Iain, I did premise my post with saying that I might be premature.

My apologies if you somehow thought that the word everyone excluded anyone.
-I don't think your voice is less valid than anyone elses.
-I don't think having a grievence or not with the OBC makes a voice more valid or less here.
-I think everyone having the same view here would just be an invitation to delude ourselves..

Do you see the reason why people come on the OBC connect and what they all share?.

Would you prefer word tangible instead of coherent to describe the OBC connect.?

My small excitement for the moment is that with some good intent, maybe some healing in the form of communication between people may just happen.

I've got a question to ask you that has received pretty negative responses in the past here. What is it that you want here? The most common response to this question has been "Nothing". It like to say that you want something is tantamount to saying that you have an attachment. And yet a few posting further on will be filled with what the person wants. It's something I've yet to wrap my head around.

Cheers

Howard
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jack



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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:25 pm

Iain wrote:


I pointed this out and I think also so did Mark Strathern.

I have been a contributor on OBC Connect for three months and yet I don't feel like I am a part a coherent entity at all. Many different views are expressed on the forum. My observation is that several other contributors here don't share a sense of grievance resulting from their experience with OBC monks or temples. 'Everyone' includes them too.

OBC Connect a coherent entity? I have to agree with you on that . There's a diversity of experience discussed covering a span of roughly 40 years. And forums are conversations -- diverse ones -- not expected to be any more coherent than normal conversations.

And as you've stated, I don't have a personal grievance with the OBC to resolve. So I'm definitely one of those people you mentioned.

My participation here has helped me understand much more fully the harm that has been done by the OBC in the name of Buddhism. Amalia's story is recent, not 40 years ago -- a story of a descent into dark Gothic mythology with the cruelty of isolation and shunning, physical negligence and psychological abuse with a bit of exorcism thrown in. Polly's, Diana's, Laura's and other stories aren't ancient -- but relatively recent stories of people manipulated to their own harm with the full complicity of the entire group of monks who were supposed to be watching out for them, and helping them. And none of those found any within the OBC wiling to come to their aid when they needed it.

I have personally benefited from the content of this forum by resolving to have nothing more to do with the OBC or its temples, unless or until it actually reforms its behavior. It's a closed question for me at the moment, one less thing to consider. The time needed to convince me of any reformation may be well beyond my lifetime.

I also have another convincing example that my own heart/mind is trustworthy -- a compelling intuition that caused me to disassociate with the OBC before I was affected by the poison that is sometimes tolerated within it. I had no idea that the minor toxicity I encountered was so much less than found elsewhere.

I'm not a good candidate to help the OBC reform. I have no issue to resolve with them. If they can reform, and quickly, then perhaps they can be of some value for good in the world. If they cannot do any better, then in the interest of Buddhist compassion, I hope they fail quickly and completely such that there is less harm done in the world -- Buddhist or otherwise..
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Tue Dec 14, 2010 1:55 am

"...but relatively recent stories of people manipulated to their own harm with the full complicity of the entire group of monks who were supposed to be watching out for them, and helping them. And none of those found any within the OBC wiling to come to their aid when they needed it."

Hi Jack,

You have so eloquently expressed the sense of complete betrayal that I felt by the entire senior community of Shasta Abbey that I just had to write and thank you for it.

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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Tue Dec 14, 2010 3:47 pm

Rev. Seikai wrote:

... We are carrying on this conversation on this post and on my introductory thread post, where I made a longer post today, saying that I will do some homework and undertake to get more seniors of the OBC involved in this process. I can't predict what will come of that, but I have submitted something to the Interim Board of the OBC for their consideration. It might serve as a litmus test for the efficacy of this newly-created mechanism for addressing problems, both of an immediate nature and those of a more longstanding nature, such as what we are discussing here.

Would anyone be in support of an entirely new website or web forum, one which would be dedicated to this process, and have a screening device in place so that those who contribute to it would be restricted to those who are genuinely interested in speaking positively, using Buddhist Precepts as guides? And if so, is there anyone with the tech savvy necessary who would be willing to work on setting up such a thing in concert with the Interim Board?


To Seikai's suggestion for a forum in concert with the Interim Board: the Board are welcome to advertise that forum on OBC Connect so long as the description identifies what the other forum is about, who may join, etc. They may contact me for further information if needed.

Thank you.

Watson
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:28 pm

I owe it to the forum and to Rev. Haryo to say that he contacted me and I want to clarify that I misrepresented him when I said he had told me to focus on intent and that should be enough. He explained that he did not mean to imply any such thing, but that while good intentions are not an insignificant factor, they are no guarantee of anything. "Many a road I would not want to walk down is paved with good intentions".

So, I got that bit wrong. and I'm sorry about it. We did talk about intention and I didn't think I had put any spin on that but I accept that I did. As Rev. Haryo indicated, it's a miracle that we can express things clearly to each other at all, try as we might. At least I think that's what he said.

My sincere apologies,
Polly
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:47 pm

I like that Polly good integrety
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:15 pm

Thanks, Chisan. I appreciate that.
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:44 pm

Thanks to you too, I have read all you recent posts polly,I may have missed some, because they move so fast sometimes,If I am right you seem very able to reflect back on yourself,and say i have not got it quite right. I am not an expert at all on truamas,of any kind, certainly not spiritual ones.I think to be here we have been through similar experiences,they are difficult sometimes to wade through to the other side,without throwing away,fundamental beliefs. I think our first step, or the mind that seeks the way, is vital in Zen practice, it is pure and unblemished. I was interested in Gensho's post when he seemed to have an important sanzen with his Japanese roshi, when he spoke of his issues with Kennett. I felt the same or experienced the same when I went to Japan,similar circumstances, private interview, the Abbots answer, was I want to give you a proper robe in the proper way. he did give me alot, responsibility and integrity were part of it. Your stories have moved me, and I have often wanted to write back, but feared it inappropriate at the time,but I do recognise your responsibility and integrity, which does come out naturally from your writings, I believe when we have these, we can start to find the road to our hearts
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Wed Dec 15, 2010 7:59 pm

Dear Chisan,

Never worry that it is inappropriate to write back to me. You are so kind and so respectful of others that your messages are always a pleasure to read, regardless of who they are written to. And it's pretty nice to have someone tell you that you have integrity when you have just realized that you messed up and misrepresented someone, and also it feels good that you see hope for my finding the road to my heart.

So thanks again.

Polly
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Wed Dec 29, 2010 7:04 pm

Rev. Seikei wrote

Quote :
Regarding Diana's comment:
I do not see how they can possibly survive if they do not align with other Zen schools.
This cannot happen unless the OBC decides to abandon celibacy. And if we choose to retain celibacy, and doing so leads eventually to the failure of the OBC or its dissolution, then so be it. In Asia, the monastic traditions which observe celibacy, as required by the Buddha as being necessary for monks, regard non-celibate Buddhist priests, such as are the norm in Soto Zen, as not actually monks.

First, I'd suggest that you review Diana's comment as being an alignment with other schools regarding the wisdom of zen rather than the forms of the practice. The OBC is sadly lacking in its understanding of the Buddha Dharma and the culture of Zen training.

Second, regarding 'monks' as a branch of the Sangha, a monk obeys the entire Vinaya (leaving aside for the moment the question of the lesser rules that the Buddha released the community from on his deathbed). The OBC clearly doesn't follow the entire vinaya rules for monastics and would do well to drop it's imagined superiority that seems based on its' celibacy. In the deepest sense, celibacy begins with an internal restraint of the 'monkey mind'. The many accounts of the continued unkind words and actions by the seniors of the OBC toward lay persons and juniors show the lack of celibacy within their practice. Regardless of whether or not they engage in sexual relationships.

Regarding KR's diet, as long as I was with her (may 70 to dec 76), she was never a vegetarian. As her jiisha I cooked many of her meals, and accompanied her on many trips to Southern California. She ate meat when she wanted to and often required her students (myself included) to eat meat when we had selected a vegetarian alternative.
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Wed Dec 29, 2010 8:12 pm

gensho wrote:

... In the deepest sense, celibacy begins with an internal restraint of the 'monkey mind'. The many accounts of the continued unkind words and actions by the seniors of the OBC toward lay persons and juniors show the lack of celibacy within their practice. Regardless of whether or not they engage in sexual relationships.
Gensho, you make a good point that has come up before on this forum and has yet to be satisfactorily addressed, in my opinion. It is why I no longer suggest that anyone should visit Shasta Abbey even as an information-gathering experience.

I don't think some OBC monks really have accepted celibacy, either in the broader context of restraint as you refer to it, nor specifically in regard to releasing an attachment to emotional involvement and romantic relationships. I have seen very questionable behaviour, by male monks (not Eko Little), toward women who were vulnerable for a number of reasons. Why it was allowed, I can't imagine, except possibly Eko's behaviour set the tone for wilful ignorance where other male seniors' actions were concerned. There's no point in trying to understand it now. It's enough for me to conclude that these problems, and many others, are not likely to be addressed. I had hoped RM Meian joining this forum might lead to something, but it appears she only joined in order to ask (via email) for our membership list. I explained that we don't release it.

gensho wrote:

Regarding KR's diet, as long as I was with her (may 70 to dec 76), she was never a vegetarian. As her jiisha I cooked many of her meals, and accompanied her on many trips to Southern California. She ate meat when she wanted to and often required her students (myself included) to eat meat when we had selected a vegetarian alternative.
This is beyond my ability to understand --

L.


Last edited by Lise on Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:27 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : fixed typo)
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:02 pm

Lise wrote:


gensho wrote:

Regarding KR's diet, as long as I was with her (may 70 to dec 76), she was never a vegetarian. As her jiisha I cooked many of her meals, and accompanied her on many trips to Southern California. She ate meat when she wanted to and often required her students (myself included) to eat meat when we had selected a vegetarian alternative.
This is beyond my ability to understand --

L.

To speak to this specific point, when I was with RMJK she never treated vegetarianism as an absolute. She pointed the community in that direction, but she also wanted people to understand that a monk accepts what is offered and is not attached to any specific type of food. That may have changed later during the business of aligning with the Malaysian Sangha, but it was the case at least until 1984.
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:45 pm

Isan, I hear you, but I'm stuck on this point -- it's easy enough to arrange things so that meat is not offered to monks as the Abbey currently does by telling people, on the web and in person, that they don't eat or serve meat. If one truly wants to reduce harm to other living beings, as I assume Kennett said she did, why would one choose to indulge in meat-eating? I have read the comments about her possibly needing to eat meat for her health, and only she would know if that was correct -- we can't assess that. I think it's very questionable, though, to suppose that she needed it as frequently as Alan's comments indicate that she wanted it. It sounds as though she just enjoyed meat and wasn't willing to do without it.

I'm having trouble with the idea that Kennett is held out by Shasta Abbey as a living example of true, deep compassion, when that compassion apparently did not extend to the animals who were processed into food she wanted to eat.

I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, I'm just shocked by it somehow and saddened. I have seen pictures of Kennett with her bulldogs (maybe from Kyogen's posts elsewhere?), and the little mouse she kept as a pet. Why did she see them any differently from the animals she chose to consume?
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Thu Dec 30, 2010 3:03 am

I shall try to address some of the points being raised here;

Second, regarding 'monks' as a branch of the Sangha, a monk obeys the entire Vinaya (leaving aside for the moment the question of the lesser rules that the Buddha released the community from on his deathbed). The OBC clearly doesn't follow the entire vinaya rules for monastics and would do well to drop it's imagined superiority that seems based on its' celibacy. In the deepest sense, celibacy begins with an internal restraint of the 'monkey mind'. The many accounts of the continued unkind words and actions by the seniors of the OBC toward lay persons and juniors show the lack of celibacy within their practice. Regardless of whether or not they engage in sexual relationships.
(written by Gensho)

The OBC is a non-Vinaya order, meaning that we do not take and practice the whole Vinaya. The fact that we do practice celibacy has made it possible for us to cultivate good relationships with other Buddhist monks in America from a variety of different Asian traditions, all of whom also practice celibacy. The OBC is not discriminated against owing to our being a non-Vinaya order in this regard. On the other side of the coin, I don't think there is any sense of superiority within the OBC on account of our being a celibate order, where the rest of the Zen tradition is concerned. It is a philosophical divide, one might say, and one that has far-reaching implications, but there is no need to feel any particular sense of being "better" as a result.

To make the jump from "monkey mind" to the practice of celibacy is a new and different point of view in my experience. But, let's look at it. I would definitely agree, actually, that unless a monk gets the "monkey mind" under control, celibacy will be very hard if not impossible to practice, for the simple reason that thinking about sex is such a compulsive thing for human beings, men in particular. And, as we have been taught as being central to meditation practice, it is one thing to have sexually-oriented thinking arise, but then to deliberately expand upon and dwell on such thoughts is another thing. A monk needs to get that kind of thinking under control, or they will not last as a celibate monk. In other words, a monk needs to let go of sexual thinking, a sitting place which is squarely in the neutral zone between repressing it and indulging in it.

Let's also look at "the unkind words and actions by the seniors of the OBC toward lay persons and juniors...." If true, this is saying something about skillful means of acting and teaching, and the jump to celibacy is a stretch, but I've already touched on that. Wisdom is no easy thing to cultivate, and it takes years. People, monks included, have all sorts of different aptitudes, dispositions and qualities; some are naturally wiser, some have areas of skill, some work really hard just to stay out of trouble. I think it has always been this way and always will, so to make a sweeping statement about the OBC on account of the stories one reads on this web forum is also a bit of a stretch; certainly it is very judgmental.

Lise wrote: I don't think some OBC monks really have accepted celibacy, either in the broader context of restraint as you refer to it, nor specifically in regard to releasing an attachment to emotional involvement and romantic relationships.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and certainly this is one. Until you have actually taken the bold step of entering monastic life and practicing celibacy, you are not really in much of a position to comment on what one goes through with regard to emotional involvment with other human beings and the various challenges which revolve around that particular challenge.

Lise continues: I have seen very questionable behaviour, by male monks (not Eko Little), toward women who were vulnerable for a number of reasons. Why it was allowed, I can't imagine, except possibly Eko's behaviour set the tone for wilful ignorance where other male seniors' actions were concerned. There's no point in trying to understand it now. It's enough for me to conclude that these problems, and many others, are not likely to be addressed.

Since I personally have not lived at Shasta Abbey for ten years, I can't really comment on this observation. Everyone looks through a particular lens, a lens made up of our own unique predispositions and attitudes; there are probably many situations in which behavior on the part of men toward women could be taken as either compassionate, or crossing a hypothetical line in the direction of being too intimate. Whatever the case, to conclude that this problem, if it ever existed and if it still exists, is not likely to be addressed by Rev. Master Meian, is another opinion, and another judgmental one at that. If one were to practice empathy and try to imagine what it must be like for Rev. Master Meian to inherit the situation she has from the former Eko, I would think that one would pity her and try to help her in some way, as opposed to concluding that she will let problems go unaddressed.

Lise wrote in reply to Isan: Isan, I hear you, but I'm stuck on this point -- it's easy enough to arrange things so that meat is not offered to monks as the Abbey currently does by telling people, on the web and in person, that they don't eat or serve meat. If one truly wants to reduce harm to other living beings, as I assume Kennett said she did, why would one choose to indulge in meat-eating? I have read the comments about her possibly needing to eat meat for her health, and only she would know if that was correct -- we can't assess that. I think it's very questionable, though, to suppose that she needed it as frequently as Alan's comments indicate that she wanted it. It sounds as though she just enjoyed meat and wasn't willing to do without it.

The Japanese Soto Sect does allow its priests to eat meat, and drink alcohol. RMJK brought that tradition with her to America, and so, up until about 1985, she herself would eat meat on occasion and have the community to do as well. I do recall her saying that it helped her control the effects of diabetes, but I personally never got the impression that she "indulged" in meat-eating; meanwhile, I wasn't there until the late 70's, and so how she lived prior to that, as Gensho reports in his post, might have been different. In any case, there was a shift that came about in the mid-80's, when Shasta Abbey and the OBC were associated with the Malaysian Sangha of Seck Kim Seng, RMJK's ordination master, in which meat and alcohol became strictly verboten. That, of course, continues to this day. While she was alive, RMJK was willing to do without eating meat, unless she was very ill. In the last several years of her life I rarely saw her eat any meat; the Vinaya, of course, permits it, and if I am not mistaken, Chinese and Japanese temple regulations tend to allow it in cases of illness.

Meanwhile, was she compassionate towards all living beings. The debate over vegetarianism is one I don't care to get into: it can be argued infinitely in both directions. One thing I can say about my master is that she didn't have rigid views on these things, and if, in the early years, she encouraged monks to eat meat, it would have been for the purpose of dislodging them from clinging to the ideal of vegetarianism. In other words, if someone was of the attitude that, "because I am a vegetarian, I will never eat a piece of meat, ever" she would have, in the early years anyway, tried to get the person to give up the clinging aspect of the attitude, however virtuous the underlying ideal might have been.

Respectfully submitted,
Rev. Seikai


Last edited by Rev. Seikai on Thu Dec 30, 2010 3:11 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling and usage)
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Thu Dec 30, 2010 2:17 pm

Rev. Seikai wrote:

On the other side of the coin, I don't think there is any sense of superiority within the OBC on account of our being a celibate order, where the rest of the Zen tradition is concerned.

This is not what I heard from some monks at Shasta and one of the OBC priories. I have heard condescending comments about non-celibate groups and traditions, particularly SF Zen Centre. And as I've said elsewhere, during private spiritual counseling I was told that relationships are not necessary and are a delusion-ridden attachment that even lay people can and should renounce, in order to "train sincerely" and make progress on "the path". (There's much on this website from others who were told the same thing, most of us single women in early- to mid-life.) There was superiority in the tone and demeanor of the monks involved. I don't think they were at all aware of how they presented.

Rev. Seikai wrote:

... Wisdom is no easy thing to cultivate, and it takes years. People, monks included, have all sorts of different aptitudes, dispositions and qualities; some are naturally wiser, some have areas of skill, some work really hard just to stay out of trouble. I think it has always been this way and always will, so to make a sweeping statement about the OBC on account of the stories one reads on this web forum is also a bit of a stretch; certainly it is very judgmental.

All of this is true. And it misses the point in regard to harming laity. If the monks were working on themselves in a fully cloistered setting (without exposing the public to the many forms of contact and interaction they offer), their mental and emotional stability wouldn't be anyone else's concern.

My issue is that the OBC has not had, and apparently still lacks, an effective system of protecting laity from monks whose lack of wisdom and skill have had devastating consequences. We know now that they aren't trained to give spiritual counseling; they probably don't get psychiatric help themselves when they need it, due to the stigma of admitting that "sit with it" didn't work; monks are shielded from facing up to the effects of their behavior.

Not all monks have caused harm, but the systemic flaws are deep enough in the organisation to justify public comment on an open forum. It is judgment, and it's justified. People need to be aware of the OBC's history and activities, from Kennett's time to the present. Warnings are appropriate. I think about this: if Eko hadn't flown the coop, would anything have changed there? Although this forum pre-dates his leaving, there were few members and things were pretty quiet. My own thought is that people were finding this forum (based on the IP hits I can see as Admin), but until Eko blew the lid off, very few must have felt able to discuss their feelings about the OBC. That prohibition against "opinion" and "judgment" takes an amazing hold, doesn't it. Until one day people realise they can speak. And judge if need be.

Rev. Seikai wrote:

Lise wrote: I don't think some OBC monks really have accepted celibacy, either in the broader context of restraint as you refer to it, nor specifically in regard to releasing an attachment to emotional involvement and romantic relationships.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and certainly this is one. Until you have actually taken the bold step of entering monastic life and practicing celibacy, you are not really in much of a position to comment on what one goes through with regard to emotional involvment with other human beings and the various challenges which revolve around that particular challenge.

The point in commenting on this issue is not to suppose that I know what a monk goes through. I'm sure it's a struggle. Those monks are not my concern, however. Dealing with celibacy is part of what they sign up for, they should get help when needed, and they should be held accountable when they choose to push the boundaries of acceptable behaviour with others.

I care more about the effects on laity who may experience the fallout to these monks' personal tribulations. I would not need to have taken vows or tried to live as monk, to see what has been apparent within some parts of the OBC. I saw monks who "talk the talk" but definitely do not "walk the walk". Touting a commitment to celibacy, while setting up situations to foster and exploit intimacy with vulnerable persons . . . that is not celibacy. Those who do this are not monks; robes, tassles and titles notwithstanding.

Rev. Seikai wrote:

If one were to practice empathy and try to imagine what it must be like for Rev. Master Meian to inherit the situation she has from the former Eko, I would think that one would pity her and try to help her in some way, as opposed to concluding that she will let problems go unaddressed.

I was at one time more optimistic about RM Meian's leadership potential but I think she has gone as far as she's willing to go, and stopped short of what was truly needed. Perhaps more will come. Like Laura I'll be happy to be proven wrong.

I also felt differently after she asked for our membership list. I can't think of any positive or beneficial reason for requesting it.

Agree, meat-eating is difficult to debate and I'm not equal to the attempt, I know. It is a topic I feel very strongly about but I don't want to harangue anyone who feels otherwise.

L.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Thu Dec 30, 2010 3:36 pm

Lise personally I do not believe having a relationship with someone else, I mean sexual, but I think emotionally close would also be included, has any bearing what so ever on ones sprituality. Sure ly this is another form of dualistic,limited thinking. Bob Aitken was married, and I think he was a very stable person and teacher,rich in compassion and wisdom,I have not heard anything bad about him,he seemed normal (for want of a better word) There are plenty of Bobs around. By contrast kennet moved the goal posts I think told desciples to divorce had stained glass windows made of herself,and is seriously questioned by many of those who knew her.
I personally do not have a position on meat eating,years ago,I helped run a soup kitchen,and would try my best to obtain meat for the soup,the wose run we did,was when all we had was some bones to boil,in the broth,it was very cold. When the temperature dropped to zero and below, these guys would die more easily, meat would help them, I know I am saying a very extreme case.

Again personally if you do not mind me saying,you seem a very thoughtful girl,who loves her cats,so you wanting to live a compassionate life, without eating animals,warms me up ona cold night too.
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Thu Dec 30, 2010 11:35 pm

Chisan, thank you, I am somewhat dotty about animals and this tends to colour my perceptions I suppose. I can well understand what you've said about the soup kitchen and trying to take care of people whose strength was compromised. Nothing is black and white, is it. I do love my cats, I can't even tell you how much, and the ponies who live with my family (we're a trail-riding bunch). I am way, way past the point of being able to put a piece of meat in my mouth ever again, for anyone or any reason. I am thankful to be able to live that choice, as I choose.

It seems true to me that celibacy is very likely a non-issue to the concept of training, created by governing personages to control those in lower ranks. And I agree, Kennett moved the goal posts on people who had joined her in a good-faith understanding of what the rules were supposed to be. The way I see it now, with celibacy and the OBC, is that every time the monks do that "Renewal of Vows" ceremony, any monk who doesn't agree the current terms is free to say "no thanks" and move on. If they do stick around and renew those vows, they should live out all of them, with more than just words, but actions too --
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Fri Dec 31, 2010 3:18 am

The renewal of vows ceremony, I have not heard of this either, it is fair if you do not want them then leave. It is all quite emotive language. I sit first thing in the morning without saying or cnahting anything ,for me my wish to sit zazen is free and spontaneous, is what I do.I suppose reminders are always important and helpful. I believe what I learn and learnt ( especially from Ikko roshi in Japan) was to pull it out from myself, he was not going to give me anything,so I learnt to follow and have the confidence to follow my my own zazen my own heart.I think all these ceremonies can help, all the trappings can help, but one also has to drop them. I think this also communicates your /my feelings about eating meat, you feel strongly the way you do,and you have to follow that. In my very dusty life Lise I have not so much had a difficulty in knowing the path or what to follow, it has been my difficulty following my heart sometimes, this perhaps is really breaking the precepts
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Fri Dec 31, 2010 7:49 pm

Lise it is 20 mins to midnight I have to type quick to tell you before I turn into something I am not, but that might not be a bad thing.
I see they like the pink story,but this story is about animals so is for you on this page.
Before Bill Picard died we spoke about me building a zendo on the cliffs here, very difficult thing to do. Anyway a lot haas happened in the last few months, and I may have found and possibly could aquire, an old shack,right on the edge of the cliff,with a clear view of Amerca ( only on a good day) It is very near where I live, and fairly remote, some unusual wild life .
I was walking up there today,when I heard a strange noise, I was right on the cliff edge, I looked arond and there behind me hovering was a Raven ,I looked at it, it rolled over onto its back and did a gutteral croak, then righted itself,and dropped below the cliff,I continued to walk round the cliff, and it kept swooping up at various points,
Very strange,i actually thought it was trying to communicate,I thought it was saying wecome
10mins to go and my skin is turning green happy new year
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Fri Dec 31, 2010 8:05 pm

Happy New Year, Chisan Michael Smile I am looking out my window towards Old Blighty. . . Perhaps I'll make it back this year, and might pop in to see you on the cliffs . . . Wishing you every happiness in the coming year Smile L.
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Sat Jan 01, 2011 11:56 am

And you will be very welcome too.

I have had some correspondence on the shack on the cliff and the Raven so I will write a bit more later and the talks I had with Bill Picard during the last part of his life
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Sun Jan 02, 2011 12:55 am

Hi Lise,

I'm in agreement with you regarding Meian. I had hopes, too, but since she asked for the registration list for this site, I've become skeptical. I wonder if it was ignorance or arrogance that prompted that request. The OBC has a confidentiality statement; surely she must know confidentiality laws apply to this forum as well.

And, Seikai, two things on my mind for you: You said that any empathetic person should have compassion for Meian and the mess --my word-- she's left to clean up after Eko. I'm not feeling so very empathetic. She helped create the mess. Eko Little asked her for permission to carry on as he did, and she said yes.
I was also quite surprised when I read Phoebe's talk after he abdicated the throne to hear her say that for years seniors have questioned his attitude and behavior and talked to him about it. Years Seikai? Years?

And the other thing, Seikai, please remember that many of us have lived your life, but you have not lived ours. You have not had to find a new life, a new home, new job, new friends, new clothes to wear. Transferring to the priory doesn't really count. Isan mentioned that he crashed and burned for several years after leaving. Many of us did. So before you use the argument about "you've haven't live the monastic life" or something like that, please rethink and remember you have not lived what we have lived.

I do wish you all the best. I'm just tired of the rhetoric. You think change might not happen for years or even decades. The OBC, at least on this side of the pond, doesn't have decades. In 25 years most of the monks will be in their 80s -- if not dead-- and there is not much new blood coming in. For the upcoming conclave in the fall, I would recommend if you can't figure out where things went wrong and make a concerted effort to fix them, then you should make a plan for the care of the grounds at Shasta and RMJK's stupa when there is no one left to do it.
It would be arrogant to do otherwise.

mokuan
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Sun Jan 02, 2011 2:07 am

Hi Lise--If Meian's request for the OBC Connect registration list seems so weird, and is actually making people skeptical about her intentions, do you think it would be appropriate to ask her what exactly were her reasons for wanting it?

It's one thing to not know, possibly quite another for her to not want to say.

--Dan
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Sun Jan 02, 2011 11:21 am

Mokuan, you've asked excellent questions.

Hi Dan -- if Rev. Meian wants to disclose her reason, she's welcome to. I don't plan to ask. It's moot anyway as we don't release the list for any reason.

There's enough else going on right now, meaning people being "counseled" to avoid this site, that I think her request is very likely connected to that.

If I'm wrong, I'll stand corrected.

Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Sun Jan 02, 2011 11:58 am

Lise,
It could be that she (Meian) wanted to contact certain people and just thought that it would be easier to have a list. She contacted me. It's funny, for some reason I was keeping that "secret" and realised it is the same-old control set in place that communication is discouraged or something. It's just a pattern, habit, learned behavior thing, ya know? Anyway, her message did mean a lot to me- she apologized for any suffering that may have come my way and offered help if I needed it. I also offered help if she needs it. I have no clue if anything will ever come of it.

I don't feel bad in any way that she contacted me, but private messaging is sticky. I have had several mesages that I would never disclose. But I did have one message that discouraged me from talking about one particular thing. This was disturbing to me; I took it as a way to control me and to keep me quiet. This is when things get sticky. So there still is some power there that still tries to exert itself. I would imagine that it would only take one message from a current member to keep certain people quiet and this is what disturbs me the most. We have seen here on the forum, people who have been "out" for over 20 years who still display behavior that looks like they are still defending the OBC or still controlled by them. It's a powerful thing.

For the people out there who are scared to post here on this site:
It is very helpful to look deeply at your fear. What are you afraid of? What do you have to lose? It is my experience that knowledge, learning as much as I can about the OBC and it's members, its history, etc... is essential. And it is also essential to let go of the fear and assert my own voice, my own experience, and take responsibility. When I let go of wanting anything from the Eko or the OBC, I was set free. I know that some members perhaps identify too much with their positions in the OBC and with their robes. This isn't Buddhism. It isn't about who is able to display the "perfect student" persona or who gives the most donations. It's about being real and authentic and living a responsible life. When I was at the Abbey, it was all about the outer stuff- it was all an act. When I went back after being away for some time I felt like everyone was so repressed and fake. I couldn't even have a regular conversation with someone. Is this how it's supposed to be? At least here, on this forum, I can be real and assert myself. It gets easier and easier everyday- to let go and be me, the real, authentic me.

May we all be fearless and courageous! May we all be free and at peace!

~Diana

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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Sun Jan 02, 2011 12:07 pm

Lise I find what you say a bit puzzling about the contact, It is a very fine line between,saying sorry for something,and attempt at control to keep people quiet. Interesting what you say Diana too. the big question is how does zen come from the east?
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Sun Jan 02, 2011 12:18 pm

Hi Chisan,
Are you referring to form?

~Diana
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Sun Jan 02, 2011 12:24 pm

Ah Diana
I think you are great
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Sun Jan 02, 2011 2:04 pm

I've been thinking about the request for "the list." Perhaps we should send a request to the OBC and ask for their mailing list. Hmmm, I wonder what the answer would be.

Diana, I'm with you in feeling I've found my voice here. And like you, it's getting clearer and stronger everyday.

I have a fun voice story -- at least I think so -- that happened at the Abbey. I can't recall the specifics, but it had to do with the "I could be wrong" mantra. I was with a senior monk, and we were disagreeing about something. It seems to me we were back and forth on the subject for some time when she finally said to me "You could be wrong." Well, I turned around, looked her straight in the eye and said, "You know what? I could be right." That poor monk, you'd think I'd hit her with a sledge hammer!

But it was an invaluable moment for me. We learned not to trust our guts and to stifle our voices. In that moment, I knew I was right for myself, and I wasn't going to be bullied.

In retrospect, I think my assertiveness stemmed in large part from an incident that happened just a few years before. I'd lost control of my life, and when I needed to scream, I had no voice. Without a conscious decision, it wasn't going to happen again in any way, shape, or form.

There's an interesting aside to that story, that I guess I can mention here. I have never had any anger towards the man who attacked me. I do feel the repercussions of that event to this day, but no anger. Yet, for years I've been angry at Shasta. And the difference is the attack was impersonal. He didn't know me from Adam. But it was personal at the Abbey; they knew me.

But I don't want to be an angry person. I just can't stop anger. I have to see it, feel it, understand it, and I have to balance it. That's why I'm trying to remember the good times at Shasta, the people I loved and who loved me; the summers where we worked hard but on a relaxed schedule; popcorn and movie nights -- we had a movie monk; it was his job to procure the feature film -- all sorts of good times. I can't let anger blind me to those times, just as I can't let those times allow me to turn a blind eye to the distortions at the Abbey.

If Meian wants the list to intimidate people or dissuade anyone from venturing on to this forum, then that's a sad state of affairs. It would be working on the might is right thinking. For me, that translates into: A tree that does not bend will break. And if she wants to offer friendship, then I think publicly will have more of an impact. Pay the attorneys to figure out a way to do that.

mokuan
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Sun Jan 02, 2011 4:20 pm

Diana wrote:
Lise,
It could be that she (Meian) wanted to contact certain people and just thought that it would be easier to have a list. ...
I don't feel bad in any way that she contacted me, but private messaging is sticky. I have had several mesages that I would never disclose. But I did have one message that discouraged me from talking about one particular thing. This was disturbing to me; I took it as a way to control me and to keep me quiet. This is when things get sticky. So there still is some power there that still tries to exert itself. I would imagine that it would only take one message from a current member to keep certain people quiet and this is what disturbs me the most. ..."
Diana, that could be the reason, and I should keep that in mind. The thing about a general interest in contacting people, though, is that some members here have set up their profiles so that they can't be contacted, either by PM or email, and to give out a list with everyone's info would undermine that protection. (I know you weren't advocating for releasing the list, I'm just mentioning the no-contact issue as fyi for all readers here, as a group.) Also, we have a number of registered users who have never posted, leading me to think they prefer anonymity.

Anyway, I may be viewing this with too much suspicion, and I will think about that. I guess it was unavoidable that my own perspective about the OBC would shift so much since starting this forum. I had only my own experiences to go by, which were not extreme or traumatic. Then as an admin, I started getting the messages & stories that people wanted to talk about but didn't feel ok to post. It's been a strange transition, and it has altered me.

I still remember the good things I learned from the OBC, though, and the people who I believe were genuinely on the right track. I need to reflect on those more often, to keep some balance.

Mokuan, thanks for your comments along those lines, it is a good reminder for me as well.

L.
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Sun Jan 02, 2011 6:35 pm

Lise,
I too have had a number of people contact me wanting to speak their mind but reluctant to do so. It is just a reflection of the mind set of the OBC. People say much has changed, but I believe there is an underlying pathology that remains strong and intact.

My impression is that the request by Meian is strange to say the very least. Here she has been invited to participate, given a chance to formulate rules of a forum that would take into account her and the OBC's concerns and yet there was not even a response. To then come to you and request the entire list of participants of OBC Connect after never even responding to our quite reasonable requests for a mutually agreeable forum and set of rules, and in addition not even informing you of the purpose of her request, is just plain bizarre. There is no other word for it. Everything I've seen and heard from the OBC on and off this forum indicates to me a group that has lost touch with even very basic knowledge of how people interact. Seikai is making the noble attempt to break out of the the closed feedback loop that has created this situation and to my mind, he can only be commended for it. It is a shame others in the OBC are still so enamored with their inbred, self sustained opinions, that they continue to listen only to themselves--suggestion boxes, conclaves, eliciting comments from the choir. Josh has made it clear that this is just the norm for such groups. It is truly a shame.

I have concern that this site can develop a similar dynamic. The crucial difference, however, as I see it, is that we as group have invited the OBC to challenge our self sustained opinions in a forum and format that takes into account their concerns. That speaks to the state of mind of those on this forum. That the OBC refuses to engage in an equally open minded manner speaks volumes of theirs. As I said, it is truly a shame.
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Sun Jan 02, 2011 7:52 pm

Hi Kaizan,

Could elaborate further on how you see the dynamics of this forum potentially turning into something like Shasta?

* * *
And I just had a scathingly brilliant idea: Since it appears there will be no public participation from any monk other Seikai on this forum, and these posts are getting longer and longer, maybe we should help them by putting together an outline -- you know, like the ones we learned in grade school.
Something that might look like this only properly formatted:
I. Shasta Abbey
A. Institutional Trauma
1. RMJK
a. Anger Issues
b. Control Issues
c. Unmet Needs
and so on.
With a script to follow, maybe, just maybe,
strides can be taken to help see the dysfunction within the community.
I love outlines! Outlines are our friend.
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PostSubject: Re: Making it known: Why are you separated from the OBC?   Sun Jan 02, 2011 8:24 pm

Mokuan,
Wherever there is a group in which the significant majority shares a similar point of view on a subject there is the danger that that view will be reinforced to the exclusion of other views. That is what to all appearances has happened in the OBC. For that reason, I would much prefer that there would be those to challenge the majority view. But in the end we can only make the invitation. We can't drag the unwilling to where they don't want to go. The very fact that we are open to a free exchange of ideas is itself a safety valve of sorts. In the end, doubt is good. Doubt towards the ideas of others and ourselves. The OBC appears to still be in mortal fear of doubt. To me it is the basis of all honest and open inquiry. To me, Buddhism at its best is a scientific inquiry into the nature of being, heart, and mind--the human condition. All scientific inquiry should welcome doubt, not fear it.

As for your outline, I've tried outlines in previous posts to simplify my message. Doesn't seem to work.
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