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 After the Conclave: First Steps

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ddolmar

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PostSubject: After the Conclave: First Steps   Wed Oct 06, 2010 6:20 am

All--I wasn't sure where this post belongs. Lise, please feel free to move it to where it might make better sense. I do want as many members here to read this as possible.

I am guessing that many OBC Connect Forum members would be quite interested to hear RM Meian's first post-Conclave dharma talk.

The audio is available here:
http://www.shastaabbey.org/audio/rmmAfter.mp3

There is a very firm, obviously very public statement in her talk that mistakes have been made within the Order and at SA which have resulted in people getting hurt, that things should have been different, that they promise to have more and better communication regarding ethical matters, that there may be some level of "external" involvement in ethical reviews, that people are encouraged to say something if they observe bad behavior, and so on.

Proving causation is a tricky business, but as one who has been following this forum and has read many (probably most) of the posts, I can't help but think that OBC Connect has had a significant effect on the Conclave, and tentatively that it may have been an effect that many members here have desired.

I look forward to reading others' thoughts.

In gratitude for your stories and insights.
--Dan


Last edited by Watson on Fri Oct 08, 2010 11:15 am; edited 5 times in total (Reason for editing : The usual: bad writing. / 2nd edit: adding Dan's text to thread description)
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Mia



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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Wed Oct 06, 2010 6:47 am

Thanks for relaying that news Dan. It means a lot to me.

Mia
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PostSubject: After the Conclave: First Steps   Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:33 am

ddolmar wrote:

There is a very firm, obviously very public statement in her talk that mistakes have been made within the Order and at SA which have resulted in people getting hurt, that things should have been different, that they promise to have more and better communication regarding ethical matters, that there may be some level of "external" involvement in ethical reviews, that people are encouraged to say something if they observe bad behavior, and so on.

--Dan

I knew RM Meian when I resided at Shasta Abbey. She was always a kind and honest soul, and her open admission on behalf of the order and commitment to improving the situation is significant - this is a hopeful turn. I look forward to seeing where she takes things.


Last edited by Isan on Wed Oct 06, 2010 1:07 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : accuracy)
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Wed Oct 06, 2010 4:27 pm

Isan, I second the motion completely.

It's no surprise to me that Rev. Master Meian has grasped what Rev. Seikai can't; that you do have to say sorry to people first before telling them to give up blame.

The only part of her message I couldn't quite follow had to do with what they were apologizing for; the focus seemed to range back and forth, between things in the past and those close in time. Some comments seemed aimed straight at Eko's canoodling whilst others were general and could have encompassed almost anything, including stories told here, and other stories that only the OBC may know about. But it was very clear that they (or she, anyway) wants to be told about monks' behaviour that isn't right. What a huge step this really is --

L.


Last edited by Lise on Wed Oct 06, 2010 4:31 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : jumbled thoughts, fuzzy writing)
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ddolmar

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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Wed Oct 06, 2010 5:43 pm

Lise--Thanks for making a new thread. Obviously that's a good solution..."I shoulda thought o' that!"

Now I'm going to step in it: naturally, I can't know Rev. Seikai's reasons for providing the traditional (and frustratingly, both absolutely true and understandably (to me) un-healing) "look inwards" response from the Dharma.

But a couple of concerns probably would have occurred to me were I in his position (yes, I'm about to get cheeky). His apology might have been viewed by those desiring one as: a) not having been from a "high-enough" official within OBC, b) having come from a monk at Pine Mountain Priory where--as far as I can tell--no abuses have been alleged, and so the apology would have been somewhat irrelevant, and c) having been premature, because the conclave was just around the corner.

It is unfortunate that organizations are slow to say "we're sorry", but in order for the apology to be more than mere words, the wrong-doing, follow-up, improvements, and contrition need to be kicked around internally so that, at least, a level of common understanding of the whole circumstance and the proposed path forward can be achieved.

All that said, it's obvious from the stories here that many of specific hurts caused by OBC, and the on-going problems, have evidently been left unaddressed for many years.

So, I admit that I've stepped in it, presumptuous jackass that I can be (hope that's an admissible word). Hope I haven't just made a bunch of you angry where you might have been healed a bit by RM Meian's apology.
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Wed Oct 06, 2010 6:23 pm

hi Dan, actually I wasn't clear, it's not that I expect Rev. Seikai to apologize & I agree the reasons you mention, esp. item (a). I meant that his posts are wholly evasive re: why an OBC apology is appropriate before people are told to pull up their socks and get on with it. That is what I take from his comments.

ddolmar wrote:
. . . presumptuous jackass that I can be (hope that's an admissible word). . . .
Watson just PM'd me to say that it's okay with him if you call yourself that but you may not call anyone else that Smile (He's the "decider" now on bad words.) I don't know if that's a good rule, I think it could backfire.

Back on topic.

The test of this good intention will be if actions follow words.

Idea: the OBC should set up a central email inbox where people can send comments anonymously. Then have both Abbeys and all the priories copied on all incoming emails, so that the entire organization knows what's going on and can ask each other, if needed "did you look into that yet?" Peer awareness, peer pressure, peer corrective action -- they could all help each other with this -


Last edited by Lise on Wed Oct 06, 2010 6:33 pm; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : smilies not working / grammar's not either / clarification)
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Diana



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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Wed Oct 06, 2010 6:59 pm

What a pleasant surprise. I couldn't be happier about R. Meian's message. I agree with some of you as far as action serving as the proof of this message, but I also would like to ask, and this may seem very uncharacteristic of me, that all of us respect the daunting and painful transition that the OBC and S.A. now faces if they trully intend to change and seek to improve their ways of functioning. I certainly do not wish that things could get worse for them, and actually, I don't think they could, but I know it will be difficult for them. As they say again and again "we are just monks;" they don't have degrees in communication, law, or psychology. They are not trained in conflict resolution. This next step will take some effort and even more effort if it is to be lasting and trully good and positive for all.

I hope they can get some help. I always thought Spirit Rock had the most impressive system for dealing with ethics. Here is a link that explains how they go about dealing with ethical issues, etc... http://www.spiritrock.org/display.asp?pageid=7&catid=1

One more thing- I appreciated how Rev. Meian addressed the issues at the beginning of the talk! Thanks R. Meian! I didn't have time to listen to the whole thing. The opening incantation did get to me a little bit. Maybe a word of caution to all you folks out there who are easily triggered: beware, dharma talk ahead! At least it is R. Meian's beautiful, calming voice! I sure miss her.

Peace!
Diana
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Wed Oct 06, 2010 8:46 pm

I wish I could be more reassured by RM Meian's statements. She is the very one who I went to for years with my concerns about Eko's behavior. She always defended him, excused his behavior, or completely disbelieved and devalued my observations. Based on that experience over many years, I find that I am unable to trust her statements now, as welcome as those statements are.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Thu Oct 07, 2010 5:47 pm

RM Meian has her job cut out for her. It is not an easy thing to change an entrench organizational behaviour. She always struck me as a solid and strong woman so maybe just maybe she can carry it off. Laura, I think she was just a second fiddle who had to calm the waters as long as Eko was in charge so I hope she can now show her true colours.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Thu Oct 07, 2010 11:21 pm

Time will tell. I would be delighted to be proven incorrect.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Oct 12, 2010 7:28 pm

I separated from the OBC and Shasta Abbey because I was given a stark choice - presented to me by Eko - that I had to choose between training there and training with my teacher, Kyogen, at my home temple in Portland. Kyogen and Gyokuko had been shunned by the Order, and it was being extended to all those who practiced with them. It was either/or, and no time to think about it.

I grew up near the Abbey and have often wanted to return for a visit; it was a place of great meaning to me in the early years of my practice. But I have not known if I would be allowed in, and even if I did know that, I have not felt it would be appropriate to enter a monastery that refused to allow my teacher to enter with me.

I know that Kyogen and Gyokuko were deeply hurt by this separation for many years. They have at times made overtures toward reconciliation. Even very recently, this did not seem possible - based on the OBC's response.

There is a point where any person wounded in a conflict will cease trying to find a way back into the relationship. Instead we begin to work on a reconciliation that takes place internally and involves understanding of our own behavior and reactions, acceptance of the situation, a willingness to move forward with things remaining unresolved.

If Rev. Meian really wants to change the culture at Shasta Abbey, I think she will have to reach a hand out in some way to individuals who were told to leave, or whose circumstances made it impossible to stay.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Wed Oct 13, 2010 7:56 am

Jiko wrote:

If Rev. Meian really wants to change the culture at Shasta Abbey, I think she will have to reach a hand out in some way to individuals who were told to leave, or whose circumstances made it impossible to stay.

One of the things that frequently occurs when contrition is expressed, particularly when a lot of people feel wronged, is that a large number of calls for amends and reparations are made. Individually these requests or demands may be perfectly reasonable. But in total they can represent a very large amount of work, or be physically impossible ("what's done can't be undone" is the unfortunate state of our existence). The demands may even contradict each other: not everyone wants the same reparations.

My point is certainly not that the Abbey should not be expected to reach out to Gyokuko, Kyogen, and others who were excluded, as Jiko suggests, but that the Abbey's leaders apparently have a great many demands on their plate. Rev. Meian has acknowledged that people were hurt. As Diana said, one hopes that now SA will be given time to respond in a coordinated and deliberate manner. I also hope that the aggrieved parties will accept that probably the Abbey's response will not be perfect in every detail, and can't completely undo anything. Perhaps this forum can strive to keep track of the positive steps that they take in addition to the remaining unaddressed problems and painful history?

Jiko, I would be interested to read your thoughts on how reaching out to former monks might help to change the culture of the Abbey in the present day.

P.S. Lise--I shouldn't have jumped on you in my post above...Rev. Seikai has certainly received a good kicking around for his participation in this forum, and while I can empathize with many of the retorts to his posts regarding a lack of acknowledgement of wrongdoing, others have seemed to demand far too much of a single monk in the early stages of rapprochement with the past. Anyway, he seems like a pretty tough, articulate guy, so perhaps I shouldn't presume to defend him. Thanks for your understanding and clarifying response.


Last edited by ddolmar on Wed Oct 13, 2010 8:28 am; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : the usual)
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Wed Oct 13, 2010 9:02 am

Dan, no worries, my writing wasn't clear and I was glad to have a chance to clarify.

I agree with you in this sense -- Rev. Seikai is well-equipped to defend himself -- but disagree on the kicking around. If I look at the posts where people have called him out, it's where he has replied to some members (the ones who throw him softballs) but not others (those who pitch at 95 mph), or evades / mischaracterizes a question, or otherwise obfuscates (that was my new word for September, thanks to Howard). This isn't meant as an attack; it is an assessment of what happens prior to the upbraiding or taking-to-task. Candor and the ability to meet a question head-on are traits that serve posters well here, while obfuscation paints a bulls-eye on their forehead. I have noticed though that Rev. Seikai's posts have come a long way since he joined here, toward being able to acknowledge OBC harm. That is positive.

And on that note, I hope the forum does keep track of positive steps the OBC takes. On 19 July I started a thread called "Small signs of change" (which went way off-topic, never recovered) but my thought back then was to make note of healthy, normal, good things we heard or saw with the OBC. That idea was perhaps smaller in scope than your suggestion now, but it was the same intent -- if you see good changes, let other people know.
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Wed Oct 13, 2010 9:08 am

Jiko wrote:
If Rev. Meian really wants to change the culture at Shasta Abbey, I think she will have to reach a hand out in some way to individuals who were told to leave, or whose circumstances made it impossible to stay.

I think this is one of the most critical issues the OBC should address when setting priorities for the work that lies ahead of them.

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Diana



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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Thu Oct 14, 2010 9:38 am

Laura!
Great picture! It's good to see your face again. Hope you are well.
~Diana
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Thu Oct 14, 2010 10:02 am

Thanks Diana! I'm doing extremely well, and hope the same is true of you. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Oct 19, 2010 5:56 am

This looks promising:

http://www.obcinterimboard.org

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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Oct 19, 2010 7:34 am

That feels right. Thanks to all the monks and laypeople here and elsewhere for the work they've done on this so far.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Oct 19, 2010 7:55 am

I agree, Mia.

These points were posted by me on the "Suggestions" bit. They clearly belong here. Please feel free to tidy up, Lise.

Apologies for repeating some information that's already here.

18.10.10

“Having raised the issue of the Conclave on here, it may be helpful for me to point people to the talk by RM Meian at:

http://www.shastaabbey.org/teachings-recent.html

which includes a brief account of the Conclave proceedings and some of its decisions.

Perhaps fuller information about the decisions reached there and the next steps for the OBC in dealing with the range of issues raised here and among both lay and monastic Sangha will be published on their website(s) in due course.

At our meditation group retreat yesterday, the Senior Monk who liaises with us gave an account of the main decisions and the Conclave proceedings. A discussion of the issues ensued. This seemed to show a clear intention to take practical steps to develop a changed culture including the establishment of an ethics committee and an investigating committee to see what went wrong in the past - the latter possibly to include outsiders. There also seem to be plans for the development of an organisational structure for the Lay Sangha and the establishment a body to pursue wider ongoing reform and development. The place of formal rules and structures on the one hand and the role of culture on the other seemed to be balanced reasonably. The need for tranparency, accountability and openness was emphasised. So was regret for the failures of the past which made people vulnerable.

The signals from both the talk on the Shasta website and the talk to our group seem to me to indicate a genuine recognition in the OBC of the problems and a sincere and honest resolve to address them. I am grateful for the way this has been handled and hope that this indicates a healthy way forward.

19.10.10

For more and fuller Conclave news and, in particular information about the new Interim Board and its website address see http://www.readingbuddhistpriory.org.uk/news

This is yet another sign, to me, of serious and honest resolve and a spirit of openness."
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:41 am

It's no surprise to me that Rev. Master Meian has grasped what Rev. Seikai can't; that you do have to say sorry to people first before telling them to give up blame.
* * *
Now I'm going to step in it: naturally, I can't know Rev. Seikai's reasons for providing the traditional (and frustratingly, both absolutely true and understandably (to me) un-healing) "look inwards" response from the Dharma.
* * *
But a couple of concerns probably would have occurred to me were I in his position (yes, I'm about to get cheeky). His apology might have been viewed by those desiring one as: a) not having been from a "high-enough" official within OBC, b) having come from a monk at Pine Mountain [Buddhist Temple] where--as far as I can tell--no abuses have been alleged, and so the apology would have been somewhat irrelevant, and c) having been premature, because the conclave was just around the corner.
* * *
hi Dan, actually I wasn't clear, it's not that I expect Rev. Seikai to apologize & I agree the reasons you mention, esp. item (a). I meant that his posts are wholly evasive re: why an OBC apology is appropriate before people are told to pull up their socks and get on with it. That is what I take from his comments.


Rev. Master Meian is in a better position than I to apologize to the public for actions and behavior that have hurt people in the past, given that she is now the abbess of Shasta Abbey, a high profile job, and an unenviable one given that the former Eko Little was responsible for much of the hurt that people speak of in this web forum. The only reason I have not apologized for anyone other than myself is that I have not been empowered to do so by the OBC, and not for a lack of insight into human nature.

What I have been saying in my posts is frustrating in that it gives the self basically nothing to hold on to, and thus seems to be unhealing. However, if anyone wishes to go deeper in their own personal development and training, it is exactly what brings about the greatest transformation. This takes years, of course, and obviously is not what people want to hear on this web forum, although there are those who can appreciate it. I have said several times that on a human and emotional level, apologies help significantly. Kaizan gave a very succinct examination of emotional intelligence versus spiritual intelligence, which I think is very helpful to understanding the entire crux of the matter with this web forum. So long as we are dealing with emotional matters and emotional intelligence, I don't have a lot to say because that is not my field. Spiritual matters are my field, so that is what I talk about.

I think the OBC has a history of ignoring the harm that can be done to people on a human and emotional level, obviously to our cost. I think that we have arrived at a collective recognition that this has to change; the world is a very different place from the one that existed 20 to 40 years ago when RMJK was teaching. Change is coming forth from the OBC conclave, and it will take time, obviously, to implement.

Looking inwards was what the Buddha taught. Buddhism is not psychology, and part of the reason Buddhism is so immensely valuable is that whereas in psychology the self is taken for granted as a reality to be nurtured, built and supported, in the realm of deeper religious truth and practice we can move from a place of a reasonably healthy sense of self to an altogether different way of understanding the world and our place in it. This deeper understanding comes about as a result of giving up the self; this is neither self negation nor self affirmation--it is to transcend both of these opposites. In my own experience, a deep but non-indulging love of my self was necessary for my spiritual life to unfold naturally. But having said that, until a person is pretty thoroughly fed up with the limitations of religion in which the self is assumed to be real and of primary importance, none of what I say here is going to be very appealing.

It is important to me and the other senior monks of the OBC that any person who has been harmed by the actions of one of our monks be given every opportunity to resolve the matter. Exactly how any given person goes about that, and what constitutes healing, or a sufficiently genuine apology, will vary from one person to the next. Different illnesses call for different modes of treatment. Meanwhile, we all have the same intention, which is that whatever harm has been done, it can be healed.

Respectfully submitted, Rev. Seikai
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Laura

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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:17 am

One of the things that I remember about Rev. Master Jiyu was her concern that doctors set them selves up as authorities about what was best for a person, and did not really listen to the patient or understand that the patient was ultimately responsible for care of their own body. I have been unpleasantly surprised to see that although this was frowned upon for the medical profession, it was encouraged for monks to behave in this way towards their congregation in terms of setting themselves up as spiritual authorities who know better than their "patients", the trainees, both monastic and lay, who are "junior" to them. This is the root of much of the damage that has been caused by the OBC and is clearly very deeply entrenched in the thinking patterns of those who have been trained there.

Although I am truly gladdened by the public statements that have been made after the conclave about recognizing the need for reform, I don't believe that too much reform will really be forthcoming unless this superior and patronizing attitude is eradicated at its root.


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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Oct 22, 2010 4:24 am

Just when I was thinking our jobs been done and it might be getting time to wave my goodbyes to the Sangha of the OBC connect forum, Rev Seikai posts again.

Anyway, reeling from an emotional overload I thought I'd run Rev Seikai's post through my new gluteus maximus translator that converts spiritual intelligence into something more OBC connective.

What I have been saying in my posts is frustrating in that it gives the self basically nothing to hold on to, and thus seems to be unhealing. However, if anyone wishes to go deeper in their own personal development and training, it is exactly what brings about the greatest transformation.

Translation - People are not happy with my posts because I am not supporting their egos. If they let go of their egos they could understand what I'm talking about.

This takes years, of course, and obviously is not what people want to hear on this web forum, although there are those who can appreciate it.

Translation - The depth of this understanding takes years to attain but the people on this web forum just want a quick fix, except those who agree with me.

So long as we are dealing with emotional matters and emotional intelligence, I don't have a lot to say because that is not my field. Spiritual matters are my field, so that is what I talk about.

Translation - My definition of spirituality does not include addressing emotional issues like what is generally found on the OBC connect forum.

In my own experience, a deep but non-indulging love of my self was necessary for my spiritual life to unfold naturally. But having said that, until a person is pretty thoroughly fed up with the limitations of religion in which the self is assumed to be real and of primary importance, none of what I say here is going to be very appealing.

Translation - My love of self is deeply spiritual but yours is self indulgent so its no wonder that you complain about my posts.


Rev. Seikai, Do you have any idea how condescending your post sounds. Your post doesn't sound like love or healing so much as another example of conditioned ego protection that I don't even think you are aware of but is the major causal factor of why the OBC connect forum exists today.

Respectfully
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Oct 22, 2010 9:43 am

Seikai,
I have a different understanding of emotional and spiritual intelligence. That you presented my post as an explanation of spiritual intelligence VERSUS emotional intelligence highlights the difference in our understanding. As I said in the beginning of that post, I view spiritual intelligence as wisdom, and emotional intelligence as intuitive, effective, and skillful compassion. Compassion and wisdom are the two wings of the bird. The bird dies without compassion. Compassion cannot be an abstraction, or a feeling, or a personal experience. It cannot be just the way we view the world within the experience of our own hearts and meditation. Compassion must be how we are able to lead others to non violence, non abuse, peace, and ultimately to their own Buddha Nature. But we cannot tell people, “I am going to lead you to your Buddha Nature in this way, and this way only.” We should rather be able to see into their emotional state and work with their emotional state to take them step by step from their confusion to clarity. I cannot stress enough my belief that emotional intelligence needs very much to be your field of expertise. Without it, I believe whatever measures, committees, outside advisors, and whatever else the OBC institutes to deal with the problems enumerated, is doomed to failure. In each of the instances of abuse and mistakes that the OBC made, a lack of emotional intelligence was at its root.

As two old friends with a history of mutual respect, I ask you to seriously consider what I have written here. When you speak to others from a position of authority and absolute knowledge, and suggest by your tone that you have the true answer and they must abandon their childishness to reach your level, you lose many people you don’t have to lose. You also set up an “us and them” mentality that invites hostility from others and opens the door to the same mistakes made by the OBC that have been so amply described on this website. If monks from the OBC continue to speak to others as though they were recalcitrant children, how is that not opening the door to the same mistakes made in the past?

I have noticed that monks besides yourself, when they post on this site, proclaim rather than engage. Since you have gone to the conclave, I have noticed that your posts are veering from humble, open, engagement between equals, in which you showed an equal willingness to learn as well as teach, to proclamations similar to the posts of other monks. I know that there are those on the opposite side of the OBCs position that use similar tactics. But as I noted on a previous post, monks, priests, ministers, and therapists are held to a higher standard. If we “give as good as we get” the general public will disparage us, not those we give it too. Nor do we always lead from the front, on the tallest steed. Most effectively, we lead holding hands, or from behind, with a just quiet word of encouragement, and also watching if perhaps we can learn something from the new path being trodden.

You wrote in a previous post, if I remember correctly, that there was institutional trauma within the OBC. Meian spoke about the mistakes that were made. While I found these statements encouraging, I also had a niggling feeling in the back of my mind that these mistakes could be externalized; that Eko, for example, could become a convenient scapegoat. But the institutional trauma that Kozan spoke of is within each of us. Rev. Kennett’s flaws were intricately entwined with the Dharma she taught. Each of us, you, Kyogen, Isan, Kozan, Meian, Daishin, Eko, myself (anyone mentioned, please feel free to contradict or enlighten me), all absorbed the flaws along with the Dharma. That along with our own emotional/karmic jangles. That is the institutional trauma Kozan is speaking of. That cannot be fixed by an ethics committee; that cannot be fixed by just changing behavior; that cannot be fixed by cleaning up Eko’s mess. That is fixed, to my mind, by fully grasping that the emotional intelligence wing of the bird is just as vital as the spiritual intelligence wing. The bird cannot fly straight and true without two wings of equal strength and health. You cannot abdicate the requirement that you and the OBC become well versed in emotional intelligence.

It is one thing to say mistakes were made and to admit there is institutional trauma within the OBC, and it is another to truly self inquire: "where does that institutional trauma exist within myself?" "How do I manifest the institutional trauma that resulted in stories like Kaizan’s, Amalia’s, and so many others posted on this site and not posted (but believe me they are there; others for their own reasons just chose not to tell their own horror stories)?" That self inquiry and brutal honesty is what will heal the OBC. The rest of the things as spoken of by Meian are only aides. The aides, in and of themselves, are nothing.

The tone you took in your last post, along with the tone of proclamation in the posts of other monks in this site is the very embodiment of the institutional trauma Kozan spoke about. It is inseparable from the very mistakes themselves that Meian apologized for. It is what allows those mistakes to be made, all along thinking that one is doing good and proclaiming the Dharma. It is my belief that in order to avoid repeating past mistakes, this needs to be understood.

I would very much like to hear from Kozan, if he feels my thoughts on his ideas are in line with his thinking. I am also very open and would much appreciate, dialogue from Seikai and any other active monks on the thoughts I have expressed.

It is my belief that it this very website that has caused the OBC to look at themselves and start the process of contrition that Meian expressed recently. (Again, please enlighten me if I am mistaken). If this is true, and if there is sincerity (and I believe there is) in the OBCs contrition, then why is the agent or catalyst (i.e. this website) for the realization by the OBC of the extent of their errors communicated to through proclamations? Why is there only Seikai who has, at times, communicated with a truly open heart, as an equal, ready to learn from friends and adversaries, as well as teach through the expression of his own beliefs and understanding? These questions are not rhetorical. I obviously have my views, but am ready to alter them if provided with good reasons to do so. I don’t see myself as an adversary to the OBC, but as a friend who can provide a different perspective. I hope it is so perceived.


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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:43 pm

Rev. Seikai wrote:


Buddhism is not psychology, and part of the reason Buddhism is so immensely valuable is that whereas in psychology the self is taken for granted as a reality to be nurtured, built and supported, in the realm of deeper religious truth and practice we can move from a place of a reasonably healthy sense of self to an altogether different way of understanding the world and our place in it. This deeper understanding comes about as a result of giving up the self. In my own experience, a deep but non-indulging love of my self was necessary for my spiritual life to unfold naturally.

Respectfully submitted, Rev. Seikai

When you refer to a "reasonably healthy sense of self" what do you actually mean? I was motivated to go to Shasta Abbey by a clear sense of not having a healthy self. That was true of many people who went there and I imagine it's true of most seekers. I believe we all hoped to arrive at a healthier sense of self through training, but the opposite was often true. The core of RMJK's teaching was intentionally wounding the self in order to move the student to the place of no-self. This resulted in a generation of students many of whom had the vision of no-self combined with a deeply wounded, dysfunctional self. At its' worst her teaching left some people with only a deeply wounded, broken self. To put it simply if you believe it's necessary to beat people into enlightenment you wind up with a lot of damaged people.

In the process of living in the world we all have hurtful experiences. We can learn from them and become stronger as a result, but to the extent that harm is intentionally perpetrated against us it is morally wrong and creates karma. I find it especially reprehensible when harm is perpetrated against others and justified as being good for them.

Giving up self is a natural part of living an examined life. We do it willingly everyday as we realize in small (and sometimes large) ways that we need to do better and be better. When the self is surrendered through contrition and forgiveness it incurs no injury and gratitude is the only result. That is the path that leaves no trace and it can only be chosen freely; it cannot be mandated or coerced.

I would be interested in hearing you say more about:

"a deep but non-indulging love of my self"



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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Oct 22, 2010 10:25 pm

Rev. Seikai wrote:
[color=blue] . . . Rev. Master Meian is in a better position than I to apologize to the public for actions and behavior that have hurt people in the past, given that she is now the abbess of Shasta Abbey, a high profile job, and an unenviable one given that the former Eko Little was responsible for much of the hurt that people speak of in this web forum. ...

I don't mean to detract from previous responses to Rev. Seikai's posts. It is worthwhile to me, though, to state my disagreement each time the former Rev. Eko is cited as the cause for "much of the hurt that people speak of in this forum." People know the issues here are so much bigger than what one person could have wrought. Michael Little is not the problem (bless him, wherever he is, hope he's happy).

I'm with Kaizan -- is there someone else in the OBC who could talk with us here?

Lise


[Edited to say: I thought better of the assumptions/speculations I was making about enmity and I removed that reference. Speculating is a habit I would really like to break.]


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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Oct 23, 2010 12:17 am

Howard, Please don't wave goodbye, I always learn something from your posts. You are needed.

Isan, would you explain a little more about how the core of Rev. Jiyu's teaching being the intentional wounding of the self? How did that manifest? The monk I trained with told me that monks there were not allowed jobs that they had any familiarity with because "we had to give up everything." I notice that the Dalai Lama does exactly the opposite with his trainees. What other ways did this intentional wounding occur?

Kaizan, thanks for another eloquent post. Your explanation of spiritual and emotional intelligence has been real food for thought.

But who is Michael Little?

Polly
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Oct 23, 2010 1:06 am



Thanks Polly

Hi Lise, I'm not sure if the Eko reference is enmity or just a convenient doge.

Is there someone else in the OBC who could talk with us here?


I kind of wonder...Why would another Shasta Monk open themselves up to possible censure or shunning by honestly interacting on this site? How would they be able to explore much beyond the party line without getting their leashes tugged by management or their community?

I am very grateful for what Shasta did for me but my involvement with Shasta was a form of brain washing. I didn't have a problem with that. I used to joke that if my brain ended up a little cleaner in the end, it would be a bargain.

The unequivocal buying of the complete Shasta outlook took a lot of effort but it provided comfort, certainty & focus where previously my life seemed full of the opposite. I don't blame anyone doing this to me because its what I asked and worked for.

Even 10 years free of Abbey involvement didn't show me the depth to which that conditioning still held me captive compared to what I've learned about myself from the last 3 months of the OBC connect forum.

My avoidance of doubt coupled with the instinctive fear of falling back into the uncomfortable, uncertain and unfocused direction of my former life, kept much of my conditioning fully charged.

My meditation was limited to the confines of my conditioning which restricted my ability to fully question anything beyond it or that threatened that conditioning. Now I can let doubt be as much a subject of meditation as anything else and the questioning is just fine..

This is what I think of when I read about some of the recent postings from OBC monks. I am able to see much of what I was not able to face because this site provided a safe environment in which to explore the ramifications of Shasta conditioning. I can also do it with little fear of censure or community shunning.

What do the Shasta Monks have that can help them face the inertia of there own conditioning?
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Oct 23, 2010 5:48 am

Howard wrote:
Just when I was thinking our jobs been done and it might be getting time to wave my goodbyes to the Sangha of the OBC connect forum, Rev Seikai posts again.

................... Stuff........................

Respectfully

Translation: I am going to paraphrase everything you say and twine meanings into it that were not originally there.

It is possible to take anyone's spiel, analyse it to hell, and make it mean whatever we want.

I'd say let this monk-dude express his point of view in his own way. We can respond to him without presuming to tell him what we think he really means.

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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Oct 23, 2010 10:56 am

Howard,
Your last post is a very important one, though your post before that one with the gluteus maximus reference did provide some welcome comic relief. The journey you described in leaving behind the OBC package of thinking is something that I believe most of us had the take in one form or another. Despite the gross injustice of what had happened to me, it was very difficult for me to openly admit to myself the depth of that injustice. In many regards we were trained not to criticize. Like most things in life, there is a positive and negative side. It is important to learn to not be critical of others and focus on fixing our own faults. It is essential to learn how to let go of judgments in order to open up to a greater reality. However, on the flip side, shutting down one’s very human and important ability to think critically in ALL areas of our life, turns this virtue into an error.

If we look at my story, I was told in subtle and not so subtle ways, that my illness was spiritual only, and I could feel the disdain at my trying medical means to cure myself. Amalia was told her problem was hungry ghosts, and she could get better only by accepting that. We were told in countless ways that leaving one’s master would bring horrendous, frightening results. Disobedience or criticism towards Rev. Kennett, as Isan has pointed out numerous times, would bring shunning and a degree of “displeasure” that would be a very powerful force in getting one back in line. The result is we trained ourselves to not allow our minds to go in certain directions. When we did, there was a self imposed censorship. At the time, we made it make sense to ourselves. Once we depart the OBC environment, we gradually allow our critical thinking abilities to roam much more freely into our OBC experience as well.

There have been more than a few people who have contacted me privately stating that they had their own stories to tell, but they are uncertain whether or when to do so. Everyone is different, every situation is different, so I can’t give a blanket recommendation to speak publicly. This is something each person must weigh on their own (with advisement, if they wish) and pass through their own critical faculties, as well as their hearts and meditation. But I have to wonder if most people struggling with this question are struggling with the very journey you described and I’ve tried to elaborate on.

As an aside, I think this is why you might consider cutting Seikai a little slack. You yourself stated how difficult it would be for an active monk to go on this site, and I agree with you on that point. But Seikai, by his own volition, chose to do so. By your own criteria, Seikai has been willing to jump way, way out of his comfort zone. He has been willing to put his ideas out in front of the public, many of whom are adversarial towards him and the OBC, and subject each statement he makes to a wealth of criticism, sometimes ridicule. While we are all open game on this site, (and I do wish more monks would band together to gang up on us; it would make for a more lively and productive conversation and equalize the playing field), I think it’s important to acknowledge what Seikai has been willing to do. I think you yourself acknowledged it indirectly in your last post. As you do, I also disagree with many things Seikai has said, but I respect the courage it takes to have placed himself in the unenviable position he finds himself in.

PS I know my comic relief comment doesn't jibe with my last paragraph. I guess I'm inconsistent.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Oct 23, 2010 12:38 pm

polly wrote:

Isan, would you explain a little more about how the core of Rev. Jiyu's teaching being the intentional wounding of the self? How did that manifest?

But who is Michael Little?

Polly

Well Polly, that's a reasonable request. I will think about how I can describe it, but it isn't immediately obvious how because it occurred on a subtle level. It is sometimes called mirroring and it contains an element of deniability. Perhaps one of the other former monks can try to speak to this...

"Michael" may have been Eko's name before he was given his Buddhist name, but that was a long time ago and I can't remember with certainty. Perhaps someone else can confirm?
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Oct 23, 2010 12:56 pm

Yes, "Michael" was Eko's name.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Oct 23, 2010 1:04 pm

Howard wrote:


What do the Shasta Monks have that can help them face the inertia of there own conditioning?

Virtually nothing until recently. RM Meian's talk and the movement we are beginning to see RE mistakes, ethics, etc, is primarily directed toward the grievances of those who have left the community, but I think it will also give some permission for the current monks to start reflecting on these issues.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Oct 24, 2010 1:08 pm

Regarding Reverend Seikai...Let the man speak. He's got just as much right to be here as anybody and nobody deserves personal attack. I don't know that addressing someones tone is useful. As they say in AA, principles before personalities!
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Oct 24, 2010 1:50 pm

Most internet forums have a rule that you should attack the post if you like, but not the person. Always sounded good to me.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Oct 24, 2010 3:18 pm

Polly,
The reason I mentioned the tone of Seikai’s post is that I felt it was very much associated with the issues I was trying to address. I know that when I was very ill and some in the power structure of the OBC felt I was not handling the situation well or in accordance to how they felt I should view my illnesss, I was addressed in a manner that made it clear that they knew what was the truth and I did not. There was no dialogue—there was my accepting the truth (i.e. their opinion) or not. There are many people on this site that have described similar experiences of being treated as one would treat a child, and this has been a recurring theme on this site. As I stated, taking this approach to people opens the door to many of the abuses the OBC is having to deal with now. My intention was to point out that the abuses do not spring from nowhere, but start with much subtler attitudes. It was my impression that Seikai was taking that same approach in his post, and I was trying to point that out. My intention was not to attack Seikai personally. My apologies to Seikai and others if my post didn’t make that sufficiently clear.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Oct 24, 2010 10:53 pm

Kaizan wrote:

...But the institutional trauma that Kozan spoke of is within each of us. Rev. Kennett’s flaws were intricately entwined with the Dharma she taught. Each of us, you, Kyogen, Isan, Kozan, Meian, Daishin, Eko, myself (anyone mentioned, please feel free to contradict or enlighten me), all absorbed the flaws along with the Dharma. That along with our own emotional/karmic jangles. That is the institutional trauma Kozan is speaking of. That cannot be fixed by an ethics committee; that cannot be fixed by just changing behavior; that cannot be fixed by cleaning up Eko’s mess. That is fixed, to my mind, by fully grasping that the emotional intelligence wing of the bird is just as vital as the spiritual intelligence wing. The bird cannot fly straight and true without two wings of equal strength and health. You cannot abdicate the requirement that you and the OBC become well versed in emotional intelligence.

It is one thing to say mistakes were made and to admit there is institutional trauma within the OBC, and it is another to truly self inquire: "where does that institutional trauma exist within myself?" "How do I manifest the institutional trauma that resulted in stories like Kaizan’s, Amalia’s, and so many others posted on this site and not posted (but believe me they are there; others for their own reasons just chose not to tell their own horror stories)?" That self inquiry and brutal honesty is what will heal the OBC. The rest of the things as spoken of by Meian are only aides. The aides, in and of themselves, are nothing.

The tone you took in your last post, along with the tone of proclamation in the posts of other monks in this site is the very embodiment of the institutional trauma Kozan spoke about. It is inseparable from the very mistakes themselves that Meian apologized for. It is what allows those mistakes to be made, all along thinking that one is doing good and proclaiming the Dharma. It is my belief that in order to avoid repeating past mistakes, this needs to be understood.

I would very much like to hear from Kozan, if he feels my thoughts on his ideas are in line with his thinking.


Kaizan, your thoughts here are very much in line with my thinking. In your reply to Polly earlier today, you also mention: ...abuses do not spring from nowhere, but start with much subtler attitudes. (Emphasis here is my own.) I think this is such an important point and one that I should have emphasized much earlier. "Trauma" is a technical term used for physical, mental, or existential distress, no matter how subtle or mild it may be. This is in sharp contrast with our tendency to equate the word trauma only with its obvious and extreme forms.

It seems to me that, ironically perhaps, one reason that institutional trauma may be difficult to recognize for those of us who have been subjected to it, is that it can begin in very subtle ways that may then be reinforced by spiritual teaching, usually in some one-sided form.

One example that comes to mind is the teaching that the ego, or sense of separate self, has no fundamental existence (true)--and therefore, there is no one who can be harmed (false). Add to this RMJK's equating of virtually all emotion with the ego (false), and a foundation is laid for dismissing feelings of distress, or denigration, or shame, as nothing more than ego-based responses that indicate inadequate training.

It seems clear however that the sense of being nothing but a seperate self, which is indeed an illusion and certainly plays a role in how experience is interpreted, nevertheless ultimately has nothing to do with the process of feeling or thinking itself. After all--the ego is only an illusion! Thinking and feeling are, rather, intrinsic to the way body and mind work. By the same token, the experience of distress or trauma (no matter how subtle) is not experienced (only) by the ego--but by body and mind--which retain the memory of trauma until healing takes place. But, this healing can only take place if the trauma is first recognized as trauma. It then requires, as you say, both spiritual intelligence and emotional intelligence to unravel the karmic knot that results from unhealed traumatization.

All of this in turn pertains directly to what I think is Isan's accurate observation that RMJK's teaching sometimes involved a deliberate wounding of the self. This is the point where subtle distress can become serious trauma. (More thoughts on this later).
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:33 am

Kaizan wrote:
There was no dialogue—there was my accepting the truth (i.e. their opinion) or not. There are many people on this site that have described similar experiences of being treated as one would treat a child, and this has been a recurring theme on this site.

Kaizan et al.--
A Buddhist master names "Dharma heirs"; RM Jiyu's "Dharma family" is Houn; at the beginning of sanzen, one prostrates before the Master, taking the most submissive stance that one person can before another; "because I said so" is, while more kindly put, given to be adequate reason by the Master to correct lay trainees in regard to their own training.

With all of those clues presumably available to you before you signed on to monastic life (I'm good at presuming), did you expect to be on more-or-less equal footing with the senior monks, just at different skill levels, as in a relationship with an adult piano teacher? Because at least these days I think it is plainly advertised that your journey as Boddhisatva In Training is going to rather closely guided, and that your own opinions are not necessarily going to be given a lot of weight.

Hm, that sounds suspiciously like a self-righteous "you did it to yourselves"...for the sake of brevity I will rely on your goodwill to believe me when I say that I mean the question as written, and NOT with any cruel insinuation that you might infer. You folks are mos' def' NOT less wise than me, whatever this sounds like.

(Also, I don't address the physical harm that was caused or ignored by asking these questions of you. To me it seems obvious that a simple rule is long overdue, or needs to be revived if it is ignored: "Requests by junior monks or novices to seek medical attention may not be overruled by a senior monk." You'd think that the senior monks, who seem to be as adverse to legal trouble as the rest of us, would be eager to see something like this put in place.)

I wonder if the statue of the fellow with the flaming sword (and a beatific smile, no less!) shouldn't serve as a sort of warning: "Some of the training that you receive here is likely to hurt like the dickens"? Because I assume that a part of the Master's arsenal of tricks is going to be a metaphorical sword that they might use to help sever your addictions to the...I forget what you call these as a group...the opposites like praise and blame, success and failure, etc. They are going to force you to confront some of the worst sludge in yourself, and it's going to be exactly like when a parent forces you to do your math, except that the work is sometimes far more painful.

To what extent do you think the masters should be more up front about this, and how much of it should change to a less paternalistic system? Can it function properly--actually forcing people to face the really bad stuff--without the masters having that kind of authority at least in some contexts? Does Buddhist training in the West need to be something different than Buddhist training in Confucian countries for it to be culturally tolerable here? Do the senior monks need to be clearer about how much authority they assume, have a big "caveat emptor" sign out front?

Do they really need to tell anyone that they are fallible, and that sometimes their rules and punishments are going to be unfair? Wouldn't that be assumed by most people?

************************************************

Possibly apropos of nothing:

The ship and three drums symbol at first looked to me like a smiley-face with a "third eye" in its forehead. Then, cynically, I thought that third dot maybe could stand for a bullet-hole as well. Uh-oh, what are they selling here?

...And maybe all I mean is that I'm smarter than you. But I hope not.


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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:57 am

Also, Rev. Seikai--Thank you for responding to the exchange between Lise and me (talking about you right in front of you, as it were) with your own thoughts. You were kind not to comment explicitly on my attempt at mind-reading.

I am slightly concerned that "it was Rev. Eko's fault" is becoming a bit of a mantra. However, that does not mean that this is not the case.

I am still grateful for Eko's mammoth explication of The Awakening of Faith, which cleared up a lot of my questions about the intellectual underpinnings of Buddhist philosophy.

I hope that he is also remembered (and praised, for Mike Little's not dead, that I've heard) for the good things that he did for the Abbey, however many bad things are correctly laid at his feet.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Mon Oct 25, 2010 10:21 am

Regarding Seikai, I think he's due the respect that one would show any human being -- not more -- not less. In the context of this forum, he is not an authority or teacher, but a participant in a conversation of his choosing. I think his difficulty is that he cannot switch that context easily. I've seen it in other ministers across denominations as well. They sometimes expect deference as "persons of God" and are huffed when the world at large does not offer them reverence they believe due them as a result of their title or position. They are also sometimes huffed when the world at large does not give their words credence just because they declare it is "the word of God."

I did attend Quaker meeting for a while during my spiritual journey. Perhaps the Quaker insistence on seeing God in everyone rather than deferring to titles, including self-assigned ones, has remained. I ran across a sign on a vehicle the other day proclaiming the ministry of Apostle Dean Jones. I laughed, but I'm sure Apostle Jones would have been huffed to see my amusement.

It is a terrible OBC notion to believe that "wounding the ego" is a useful means of helping people let go of it. It only results in instantiation of a "corporate" ego in place of the former one. The military uses it regularly. Break down the ego in boot camp and physically exhaustive training, and replace it with one compatible with its mission. But that's not letting go of the ego at all. I seriously doubt any can relinquish a wounded or damaged ego. Rather, the ones that I've seen successfully transcend the ego have done so, not because it was beaten to a pulp, but because they saw the real nature of things and no longer believed it really useful or valuable.

There is nothing of sound Buddhism in surrender to a master. Perhaps in a Japanese samurai culture, that became embedded in Buddhism, but it is not sound Buddhism. Buddhism is about seeing for oneself -- so clearly that it would not matter if the Buddha himself contradicted it, let alone a self-acclaimed master. There is something of a sickness in feeling so impoverished that one is willing to believe in a self proclaimed savior to the point of total submission. The Christians do better than Zen in this regard in that the Christian savior is an ideal, not a living person, and thus cannot wound the way a real person can. The "surrender to master" concept of Zen is not generally useful, and does much more harm than good, particular since the "masters" I've encountered in real life who wanted to be followed were often more defective than I.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Mon Oct 25, 2010 11:14 am

ddolmar wrote:

With all of those clues presumably available to you before you signed on to monastic life (I'm good at presuming), did you expect to be on more-or-less equal footing with the senior monks, just at different skill levels, as in a relationship with an adult piano teacher? Because at least these days I think it is plainly advertised that your journey as Bodhisattva In Training is going to rather closely guided, and that your own opinions are not necessarily going to be given a lot of weight.

snip...


This is all good as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough. What you are describing is the vertical component of the Master/Disciple relationship. There is also a horizontal component. The disciple bows at the master's feet, and the disciple also stands on the master's head. The hope is that eventually the disciple will become greater than the master and Buddhism will continue to grow. Practically speaking this means that the disciple at some point has to be recognized as an adult and allowed to live an autonomous life. RM Jiyu Kennett demonstrated this in her own life when she left Sojiji and returned to the West after Keido Chisan Koho Zengi died. She openly despised the new regime in Sojiji and broke with the Japanese Soto Zen Church, which she felt discriminated against her because she was a foreigner and a woman. She needed to get out from under the bureaucracy so she could function as an independent teacher. Unfortunately she forgot this when it came to her own disciples. She used to tell a story about seeing very old monks in Sojiji kneeling in front of and being chewed out by an even older monk as an example of how you could never be free of the authority of the monastic system. Apparently the hypocrisy of this escaped her and she recreated the dilemma at Shasta Abbey where the only way a monk could take the step into autonomy was to reject her authority and leave.

If people are not allowed and encouraged to become adults then at some point the whole system becomes toxic, and instead of helping it warps and cripples them. Eko is a classic example. RMJK chose him to be the next abbot of Shasta Abbey because he was willing to put himself aside and be obedient no matter what she demanded of him. Yet in the end he failed because he could not continue to deny his humanity and keep up the "monk persona".
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Sarah



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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Mon Oct 25, 2010 1:56 pm

jack wrote:
Regarding Seikai, I think he's due the respect that one would show any human being -- not more -- not less. In the context of this forum, he is not an authority or teacher, but a participant in a conversation of his choosing.
Very good point.

It's hard to get past the "proclaiming", to be able to hear the message.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Thu Nov 04, 2010 3:55 pm

Hello to all forum readers,
I've not visited the OBC connect web forum in two weeks. The primary reason is that I have become the subject of open attacks, and being human and on an equal footing with everyone else who makes posts to this web forum, I find that hard to bear at times. I have a lifetime of dysthymia (low level but chronic depression) behind me, meaning that in cases like this, I'm vulnerable to the criticisms of others on an emotional level.

I will openly admit that I entered Buddhist monasticism in some measure to find a way to deal with my very low self-image, low level of self-esteem, and general struggle with my "self"--with all the subtleties and variations which that involves. I mentioned in my last post that a non-indulgent love of my self was what provided the cure for me, and that remains vital to maintenance of a healthy sense of self. Isan's question above is very to the point. But if I say more, will people accuse me of proclaiming as opposed to listening?

I understand and appreciate the concerns expressed by many people on this web forum. My own rules for responding were and are: 1) be patient; 2) don't criticize anyone; 3) be as accurate as possible regarding events that have taken place; 4) always exhibit a willingness to listen and move towards healing and reconciliation. For a while that seemed to work until I became the target for criticism, whether warranted or not, anyway.

By its nature, this is a space on the internet for people to connect with others who have similar issues with the OBC; basically, you want to engage with the OBC to tell us how we have erred in the past, and what we should be doing now. Great. I've tried to get a feel for what people want, generally speaking, and it is quite a nebulous thing. I don't generally defend the OBC, because I openly admit that we've made mistakes and are trying our best to correct them. I speak from the perspective of Dharma, and people take me to task for that. What is left for me, other than to remain silent? There is one correspondant, Kaizan, who understands what I am saying. I take his comment to me--that it is my business to understand emotional intelligence just as much as it is his, as a counselor--very much to heart. My best guess is that in my own way I've been trying to do this over the years, because I've found my own way in all of these issues, and don't do a lot of things the way I was taught or experienced on the receiving end in the past. I just haven't understood it in the terminology used by Kaizan, terminology which is valuable in that it clarifies an area of how human beings are wired, and thus claifies how to best go about helping them.

The issue of deliberately beating down the self for the purpose of letting go if it is something I have never found effective for me personally, and have never made any attempt to use as a teaching method in working with others. It might have worked in Japan, an entirely different culture from America, but it clearly does not work here.

Blaming Michael Little, the former Rev. Eko, for whatever problems exist or have exited is, obviously, oversimplistic. It doesn't help to blame him personally any more than it helps to blame RMJK or anyone else, for that matter. In looking for solutions that do help people in the here and now, my efforts to point beyond praise and blame, gain and loss, etc. have not been well received. It helps to talk privately with people, but this is not the place for trying to give teaching of a public nature.

I value and appreciate Kozan's thesis on institutionalized trauma. I have suffered from it, and continue to look at it in myself, and find skilful ways to recognize it for what it is and let go of it. However, where I am coming from, I can also see that often human beings get hurt on an emotional level, and then in response to that hurt, react in all kinds of different ways in order to defend themselves. This is hard-wired into human beings. I have been trying to point to the alternative to reacting out of self-defense, which is to look beyond the self-other dichotomy, or to look beyond having a self that it is need of defense.

I am not simply going to tune out this web forum because I have exposed myself to being criticized and hurt. I'll keep coming back, but I have to take care of myself (should I say "my body and my mind"?) because I am a recovering cancer patient, don't have unlimited energy, am hurt by criticism (just try to imagine yourself being on the receiving end of all of this stuff!), don't have all the answers, and am just plain human. And I do apologize for all of it.

Best wishes, Rev Seikai
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Thu Nov 04, 2010 4:23 pm

Rev Seikai,
A while back I said I'd left these forums, the reasons being that I was very overworked, hence didn't feel I had the time to contribute properly, and I found a lot of the posts quite hurtful and plain nasty. However, I couldn't go! Something just wouldn't let me. So I've been lurking a lot when I've had time, and I plan to come back when the book I'm writing is finished, which should now be in a few days. However, under the circumstances I want to say that I thought the criticisms against you were harsh, unkind and unjustified. I really felt for you!!!! I probably should have said so earlier, but as I said, I just haven't got the time to be involved right now, and being basically selfish, I decided to think of ME. Sorry about that, and thank you for coming back.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Thu Nov 04, 2010 7:20 pm

Rev. Seikai wrote:
Hello to all forum readers,

By its nature, this is a space on the internet for people to connect with others who have similar issues with the OBC; basically, you want to engage with the OBC to tell us how we have erred in the past, and what we should be doing now. Great. I've tried to get a feel for what people want, generally speaking, and it is quite a nebulous thing.

Best wishes, Rev Seikai

Hello Seikai. Thanks for coming back and expressing your feelings. You've been in a difficult position from the beginning because you are literally the only senior member of the OBC who has been willing to make an effort to engage with others here. Although you've made it clear that you don't formally represent the OBC nevertheless you are its' only "face" and as a result a lot of stuff gets sent your way that ideally would be portioned out to a larger group. I listened to Meian's post conclave talk (on Bodhidharma day) and I suggest that one way to address problems and mistakes would be a greater presence on this forum. It could be helpful if there were some people participating here that did formally represent the OBC in addition to others who do so as individuals. You may not feel appreciated much of the time, but it actually means a lot to talk with someone on the "inside". The isolation between current OBC members and those who have left is extreme.
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jack



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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Thu Nov 04, 2010 9:39 pm

I'm sure Seikai views me as one of his critics.

Many monks I've encountered have not been reluctant to criticize, particularly when they hold situational power. When some of those same monks find themselves in situations where they do not have situational protection from criticism from others, they often have the thinnest of skins.

No one has suggested Seikai is accountable for the sins and harm of the OBC. Nor do I expect him to denounce or renounce the OBC. The OBC can be justly criticized for some of its harm. I think even if I were still associated with an OBC Priory I could handle that.

One of the most convincing thing one monk did one time was to give a dharma talk about a lie he'd told earlier in the week. Nobody pounced on him. There was immediate respect for his integrity and his intent to follow the precepts carefully. He didn't excuse it, explain it away as breaking a precept to keep a precept, etc. He simply said he had failed yet again, had more work to do, more care to take. Whether or not he succeeded totally didn't matter. He was awake. He saw the problem. He had the possibility of doing something different. What I haven't seen is any convincing evidence of yet is that the OBC has awakened. There seems to be no recognition that Jiyu is the cause of some things being very wrong; I'm not sure the OBC is capable of acknowledging that. . Sacking Eko after tolerating, venerating, and supporting him for years -- pretending it's all news -- rather than something one has actively participated in -- smacks more of political scapegoating than recognition of core flaws. Perhaps time's are a changin'. But it seems more like to me that only people are changin' organizational positions. Until I see evidence of core change, I will remain unconvinced.

What Seikai wrote that was interesting and possibly helpful was about his own personal journey and experience. I find his own experience much more potentially instructive than OBC Dharma (to distinguish it from just Dharma.) I did appreciate him sharing that. I'm interested in the experience of fellow travelers, much more so than OBC Dharmic pronouncement.

I wish Seikai well. If and when Seikai chooses to share more about his personal journey, I'll be reading.

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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Thu Nov 04, 2010 11:32 pm

Dear Reverend Seikai,

Your willingness to continue to return to the forum and the courage that it clearly takes are reasons for me to not give up yet on the OBC, and remind me that there is much good there.

With respect,
Polly
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Thu Nov 04, 2010 11:44 pm

Hello Seikai.

Welcome back.

I think most of what you've written here will touch the OBC connect members.

You said that you found what the people on this forum wanted seemed nebulous.
I wonder if an OBC connect thread that specifically tries to distill what the forum participants want, might be helpful for yourself or any other active OBC monks that might be considering joining the fray.

Cheers
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 05, 2010 2:35 pm

Rev. Seikai,
I hope that what I say here will help. I understand the recent comments upset you and I don’t wish to add to that, but a couple of points need to be made. Jack has made most of them in his posts above and I will try not to be repetitive. I don’t mind taking flak for it, if others feel I’m being hard-hearted, so with my flak-jacket on and buttoned --

I wondered when you first came here how you would find the discussion style when it became contentious. Most people who post on public forums realize their comments will be dissected, reviewed, responded to, and usually not with a gentle touch. Some points in your posts have been attacked, I feel justifiably, but it’s not clear to me that the attacks are directed at you as a person, an individual. I feel safe in generalizing that most who have met you, including me, like you as a person. At the same time, we may not like things you’ve said or the way you say them and we don’t hold back in telling you. Other threads on this forum will show that everyone is treated this way, if they post comments that others take issue with. It really is not about you as a person.

In your world, I’m guessing, you haven’t been directly challenged, disagreed with or rebuked by anyone, maybe not even by another senior, for what, possibly twenty years or longer? And almost certainly never by lay persons, whom monks typically talk to (as opposed to “talk with”) under very different rules. A public forum will never feel like a Pine Mountain dharma discussion in which you’re asked for teaching by people who treat you as an invited authority. I don’t know if you expect, unconsciously, to find that dynamic here; some may respond to you as though they’re sitting in that half-circle of chairs gathered round, but most of us never will.

It is hard to think of you being upset each time you try to participate here. I hope it doesn’t remain that way, but I fear things won’t change unless you see the difference in how forum discussions work and try to take things less personally. You are right to guard your physical and emotional health and I’m sure no one wants you to put them at risk.

I would like to say also that we shouldn’t assume members are here because they want engagement with the OBC; maybe you don’t need to try to discern what we want and tailor your comments toward that objective. I’m here to share experiences with other lay folks, connect with friends, trade ideas. I hope the OBC will work on the problems they read about here. And I don’t think they will be free of creating a karmic wake until they make very explicit apologies & redress to people who were shunned, excluded and otherwise abused by the organization. I want these things, but they aren’t the reason I came to the forum and I don’t expect anything from the OBC in response to my presence here.

I’ve rambled a bit, like always, but hope it makes sense. I’ll keep the flak jacket on for awhile just in case --

Lise
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 05, 2010 2:39 pm

I don't want anything. As the conversation meanders, many subjects are touched upon. To pick one is to exclude others. My suggestion is to let the conversation go where it will. I think the healing and the understanding of each other will come from the engagement itself: the openness, the humility, the listening to the experience of all regardless of what "side" they are on, and speaking our mind with respect for others.

To Dan:
Isan stated some of what I would have. Thanks Isan.

Respect is universal. In my opinion this simple human basis for effective communication was often lost in the shuffle in the OBC I knew. When seniority is used as a blunt instrument to the degree I witnessed and experienced, its purpose has been lost.

To Lise:
Thank you for verbalizing some things that were very important in my personal post OBC growth. I can't say how grateful I was that as a civilian in 1991 South Florida, hardly a bastion of Buddhism, that no one could care less that I had been a Roshi. Of course they would not even have known what that was. I can't tell you how much it taught me about myself and how to be in the world to not have anyone's respect for a title I had had.

Rev. Kennett created a very heirarchical, dare I say frequently authoritarian, organization. I mentioned in a previous post that the monks of the OBC appear to proclaim (again with frequent exceptionon of Seikai) on this site rather than engage. I believe this is a residue of a hierarchical system in which the monks have lived their whole adult lives. With twenty years less in that environment, it was an eye opener to me to be just another voice in the crowd. As such I had to learn to engage others.

From some contact, reading, and listening about other Buddhist groups, I believe they have done a better job in their ability to engage as equals and still manage to pass on the Dharma. Perhaps others with more experience in this area could enlighten me. To my mind, in 21st century America, this is an important skill for Buddhist teachers to develop if their Dharma is to spread here.

To Seikai:
Thanks for being here and I'm glad my perspective has been of some value to you. I hope it is also of some value to the OBC in understanding some of the reasons for so many people being upset with what they've seen and experienced.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Nov 06, 2010 4:23 am

Kaizan
I don't want anything.
I have heard you say this before. That's great for you ... really...but for the rest of us humans.....

The reason I suggested a posting along the line of simply exploring what people want is because our active un official senior OBC monk has not been able to easily see or hear many of the stories here. He has misconstrued or misread much of what people want at this site and has openly stated his confusion about that. I know he is intelligent and willing to try so there must be some other reason for misreading so much of the intent at this site.

You have stated that you wish that other active OBC seniors would join in here. If a senior OBC monk who has actively asked to be here isn't getting it, just why would other monks with even less motivation to be here on the firing line get involved.?

Yes we are talking about conditioning getting in the way but its not only just on Shasta's side.

Maybe simplifying what people want won't help but it is something that I've heard someone express questions about. If Seikai's motivation for being here is to help, maybe we should try listening to what he's asking for as well.

I think that the window of opportunity for Shasta to willingly change is small when compared to the size of the conditioning against that change. The arising of other Shasta sponsored forums and the ousted abbot conveniently carrying away much of the past blame further shrinks that window.

Resolution with the OBC is not high on the agenda for many individuals at the OBC connect but I think trying to help make sure that the Shasta machine does not un necessarily hurt others is something we all share. Giving Seikai the tools that might help him with that (understanding what people here want) seems like a reasonable step towards everyone getting what they want.



Respectfully
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