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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

First topic message reminder :

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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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:33 pm

[quote="Jimyo"[I'm not sure that everyone within the OBC is like that either. I have memories of, as a monk, being told to go to the doctor when I didn't want to...I've had a phobia about doctors for years, and I never went to one if I could avoid it. I remember someone at Throssel saying a particular lay person needed a psychiatrist, not us. Recently, Rev Master Myoho told me not to feel bad if I needed to take anti-depressants...I'd just told my doctor I didn't want or need them, so I wasn't impressed, but you get the point.]

Hey, Jimyo,

I didn't intend to accuse all OBC monks of refusing or discouraging medical /psychological care for trainees. But I have heard the online dharma talks of one monk in particular who seems to me to openly sneer at people who take psych meds, and even discussed extensively his belief that you can't do both (serious spiritual training and psychiatry). He also tends to make fairly regular snide asides about things like "taking pills to change your MOOOOD". Snide asides are abusive, taking a position on a subject that requires a great deal of education to understand is dangerous and arrogant to say the least. But obviously he doesn't speak for everyone in the Order nor did I intend to suggest that he did. He does however speak for and influence many others, monks and laity.

As well, I didn't suggest that all monks get college degrees in psychiatry, now did I? I said I wished they would get some education in that area. That might consist of having guest lecturers come to the Abbey. Just a little light shed on the biochemistry of depression and mental illness, plus warning signs of incipient melt-down that might require medical intervention would be a good start. Kind of like a First Aid class. Ignorance in the world of health care is staggering, it wasn't long ago that women with multiple sclerosis were considered hysterics and treated as such, much like fibromyalgia is treated today. Ministers in most Christian faiths do get college degrees and you can bet your boots they get classes in psychology. Which is still not to say I thinks Zen Monks need college degrees, but it is to say that there is some hubris attached to thinking that Zen training will give you wisdom and knowledge over all subjects. Maybe a few can pick up neurochemistry, microbiology and quantum physics while staring at a wall, but not all.

I prefer not to have my perhaps simple concepts overgeneralized if I can help it. I'm not anti-OBC, I still have hope that good is predominant. I can accept that my own neurosis contributed to some degree in my separation from it. I look to this forum to give me a broader perspective from which to proceed. I am neither "on the bus" nor "off the bus" and I absolutely reject the idea that not to be one or the other shows lack of integrity. Ken Kesey and his "on/off the bus" blather always irritated me. I like Firesign Theater's position that "We're all bozo's on this bus." Did I just date myself or what?
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:36 pm

From my own experience, I wholeheartedly agree with Polly that further education for monks in pastoral counseling would be beneficial to both monk and lay. Even if it's just to learn to recognize that it's time to say, I don't know what to do about this situation; perhaps a professional in such-and-such field could address this better than I.

Here's what happened to me -- and I apologize in advance if this starts to ramble or is in any way incoherent. It's not something I would normally put out for the everyone in the universe to see, but I think it makes a point.

So here goes: Before I returned the Abbey in the late '80s, I had taken a year off to go to the South Pacific. I'd been living in a remote part of Alaska where 55 degrees in the summer was a heat wave, and I was thinking I needed to thaw out. I needed to get warm and to consider again about going back to the Abbey.

It was a great trip. In Australia, I went from beach to beach to beach reading good books, swimming, meeting lots of interesting people. I hiked the Routeburn, the Milford, and the Abel Tasmin in New Zealand. In Papua New Guinea I thought I'd been transported back in time to the stone age. Then I landed in Tahiti.

I was camping pretty much the whole trip. I mean, to live for a year without working, you have to conserve your available funds. I was only going to be in Tahiti for a short couple of weeks, but then there was this kitten that was sick in the campground and I extended my stay to help her. I named her Sneezy!

I finally had to leave. I was packing up my tent and all my gear to leave that morning, when a tropical downpour hit. I covered my stuff with my tarp and ran to this outdoor shower type structure to get out of the rain. Well, I didn't know I was being watched; I didn't know I was being followed. And when this fellow crawled into the structure, and I didn't know he'd only been released from prison about two months on a rape conviction.

I can't go into details, but suffice it to say I was attacked. I learned that the term "paralyzed with fear" is not just a euphemism. It's true. My vocal cords wouldn't move; I tried to scream, I couldn't. Also true, someone can literally rip the clothes off your back. It was really, really bad.

About half way through my trip, I decided to go to Santa Barbara to live near a priory rather than return to Alaska. So after I made it back to the States, that's what I did. Jisho, a self-ascribed curmudgeon was really good to me. There were many times I remember just lying on the floor of the Priory with his dog Max, another wounded creature, needing the warmth and solace of a living being, but not wanting anyone to touch me. He never scolded me or told me to get up off the floor. He just let me and Max be.

About three months after arriving in Santa Barbara, there was a monk visiting the area. We had been novices together and I invited her up to the estate where I was a nanny/housekeeper to go swimming, sit in the hot tub, and to reconnect. Since I knew her more as a peer than a "senior", I started to tell her a little bit about what happened in Tahiti. Not the details, of course, but I remember telling her about the abject terror, that I wasn't sure during the attack if I would live or die, about getting away, about standing naked in the rain and finally being able to scream.

We were just talking around the pool. I wasn't seeking any advice, spiritual or psychological, just talking. You have to talk after something like that happens. And after all, we'd been novices together. We'd even been reprimanded together a time or two for chitting and chatting with each other.
But what she said to me was shocking. She said, "Well, you know, you can't be a victim unless you've been a perpetrator."

I was horrified. It's essentially saying you deserved this to happen to you.
I was barely putting one foot in front of the other to stay afloat and this was her response. I understand people don't know what to say when faced with what I was telling her, but that was unconscionable. Fortunately, I knew her as a friend and not as a senior monk. But what if I'd been a rape victim, a lay person perhaps, who revered her "monk-ness" and took her word as gospel --or sutra-- it could have done tremendous harm. And even if it is true, you do not say that.

So this is why I feel even a modicum of counseling skills should be taught. And although the kessei ceremonies do give an insight as to the teacher's ability, perhaps there should also be just some rudimentary quizzes on basic Buddhist doctrine such as understanding karma. Over the years and even just recently I've asked some pretty smart people about the nature of karma. I don't think she's got it right.

Well, I'm going to close this without proofreading. My apologies if there's grammatical errors or things don't flow smoothly. I just don't want to read it!

my warmest regards to all who are here,
mokuan
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:50 pm

Wow, Mokuan! Thanks so much for letting that piece of your life come out so that you could make such an important point so absolutely crystalline clear. Man I'm sorry that happened to you- all of it. No matter how long ago that was it still has to be tough. I send you all the love and healing thoughts I can, you should be able to feel them going zip zip zip into your heart.
Polly
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Nov 16, 2010 4:05 pm

Thank you, Polly.

Hi Polly,

It never really goes away. When I'm stressed, especially by the deadlines I work with, I'll have nightmares and I'm there again. I'm trapped and I don't see a way out. And that thought: You deserved this to happen to you -- man, that still gets me!

But I would like to add that the man was apprehended and subsequently convicted. He admitted to being the perpetrator, so that meant I didn't have to go back there to testify.

Thanks again for your kindness and warm wishes. It hasn't always been easy.

yours,
mokuan
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Nov 16, 2010 5:28 pm

mokuan wrote:

But what she said to me was shocking. She said, "Well, you know, you can't be a victim unless you've been a perpetrator."

I was horrified. It's essentially saying you deserved this to happen to you.

mokuan

Dear Mokuan,

Brave of you to share this. I have never had such violence done to me so I'm sure I cannot fully appreciate it, but I do get it. I understand that recovery is an ongoing process that requires much kindness and patience, and I don't believe that the teachings on karma were meant to invalidate your suffering.

The monk's comment to you is a really pointed example of the lack of emotional intelligence that Kaizan has talked about. If I had not trained at Shasta Abbey I would not understand how someone could make a statement like this. Normally it would imply malice, but because of the brain washing I'm sure it was offered "matter of fact". It shows how meditation and conditioning can suppress instead of enhance empathy. It also demonstrates that training based on Buddhist practices and beliefs doesn't automatically produce more compassionate and wise people. In the end we copy the walk, not the talk.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Nov 16, 2010 5:50 pm

In my albeit limited experience, it's incorrect Buddhist teaching anyway. Don't listen to fools! Unfortunately, they exist everywhere, both inside and outside monasteries.

If it's any help at all, I had something similar happen to me many, many years ago, and eventually the experience lessens...sort of runs out of steam, at least it did for me. In the meantime, I think you need a hug. (((((((mokuan))))))


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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Nov 16, 2010 7:08 pm

Mokuan, thank you. I'm sorry too that this happened to you.

And I'm thankful you recognized that truly ridiculous statement for what it was.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:52 pm

Mokuan,

I’m very sorry you had to go through that horrendous experience. Thank you for being vulnerable yet again to open up with us and tell of the horror you went through. I appreciate and respect the courage it took for you to do that. I know it wasn’t an easy decision for you to make all this public. Your story states much more eloquently and powerfully than anything I’ve said about why it is important that monks cultivate emotional intelligence and sensitivity. Ideological purity does little to help people when they are distressed and traumatized. It often just traumatizes them further.

Thanks again Mokuan. I pray your suffering diminishes and that you find solace and peace.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Nov 16, 2010 10:06 pm

I too am very sorry to hear about the horrible thing that happened to you on this trip Mokugan. I'm sure that you were the victim of a violent criminal assault for which you were in no way to blame.

Kaizan wrote:


Ideological purity does little to help people when they are distressed and traumatized.


I'm puzzled as to why you would claim that the comment made by Mokugan's friend was in any sense 'ideologically pure'. What is 'ideologically pure' about it? It seems to me to be a pretty crass and ignorant remark based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the Buddhist teaching on karma.

I'm also puzzled as to why some contributors here perceive this conversation between friends by the swimming pool twenty years ago as evidence of a structural insensitivity on the part of OBC sangha members. You might with much more justification frame it as evidence of the emotional insensitivity of a substantial minority in wider Anglo-American society. There are always folk around who seem to feel the need to express a bizarre and cruel opinion that "if it happened then 'surely she must have been asking for it'" whenever some appalling crime like this takes place.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Nov 16, 2010 10:15 pm

Hello Mokuan

I've just read about your horrifying account of one persons attack upon another. Even as a distant reader, the best I could do in hearing about it was to try to be as still and open as possible. I wondered what idiocy might come out of my mouth if I was the friend listening first hand to your story. I hoped that I'd do better.

Your posting is so much more than monks needing to be taught to recognize the limitations of their skills. It is about an inherited pattern of spiritual ego covering that seems to be part and parcel of Shasta mind conditioning. Doubt, fear and inadequacy seems to be the demon they feel they need to dodge, no matter the situation or the cost.

The perks of this top down teaching resemble the perks of a border guard who abuses the vulnerable beyond the requirements of the job. He does it, his boss does it, his peers do it and eventually it is just who he is. He is unable to see his abusive attitude for the comfort rewards he receives from his "border guard" identity.

Most of what comes out as "Shasta Speak" is notable not so much as incorrect Buddhist teaching but for the feeling that you get that it is just being trotted out to make the speaker feel more comfortable. The end result is feeling and being manipulated.

Having people be able to truly sit still in the midst of fear, doubt and inadequacy would seem to be the fundamental prerequisite for facing the limitations of their skills. I don't know what would bring that about at Shasta?.

It does bring to mind the stories of people suffering from compounded delusion over simple delusion. I just never thought of it applying to Shasta monks.

The mentioning of Jisho's awareness and response to your situation presented a nice balance to your posting and left me with some hope.
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Thanks for sharing such a private and painful experience.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Nov 16, 2010 11:59 pm

Isan was quite right. There was no malice in her statement. It was just a fact.

I don't bring this up to Abbey-bash. There are some wonderful people within the OBC who offered me love and support -- and I can name names.

The Interim Board is looking at their polices and procedures. And if I say I think your counseling skills need some work, I have to be able to back that statement up. So I did.

And, you know, my emotions were just too raw at the time to say to this person: you're a sophomoric twit, you don't know what you're talking about.

Today I probably would.

Jimyo thanks for hugs and thanks again for that zafu. Robert, you're a jewel in the Buddha's crown. Kaizan, Iain, Isan, Polly, Howard, thank you as well.
I'm okay.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Wed Nov 17, 2010 4:56 am

Hi Mokuan,

I am so proud of your courage in sharing this story with everyone. I don't know that you really need to hear this anymore, but just in case you do, I want to tell you something that I remember Rev. Master Daizui teaching once when he was giving a class at Shasta Abbey to the novice monks. I was one of those novices at the time. I don't remember in detail his exact words, but what he said in effect, was that people who believe in karma seemed to think if something bad happens to them (or anyone else) it must mean that they had done something bad to deserve it, either in this life or a past life. He said that was completely untrue. Not everything that happens is the result of past action. If that were true, he said, everything would be predetermined and there would be no free will. He said that this is not what Buddhism teaches. The quote I do distinctly remember is his saying that "People can create new karma in an instant."

What the law of karma really teaches is simply that there are consequences for all of our volitional choices. That's it. The point is for us to learn to make wiser, more beneficial choices through an understanding of cause and effect, not to add insult to injury by blaming people for being victimized in the way that you were. I am so sorry for how callously you were treated. Your story is a poignant illustration of how important it is that monks be educated in how to help people, and of how NOT to help them.

It is due to the sheer preponderance of stories such as yours, many of which I either directly observed or personally experienced, that I reached the conclusion that I was no longer willing to represent the OBC, despite over 25 years of combined lay and monastic practice with them. No, actually, it was not "despite" it, it was because of that long association and what I learned during those years that I finally disrobed.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Wed Nov 17, 2010 3:33 pm

mokuan wrote:
There was no malice in her statement. It was just a fact.
I don't bring this up to Abbey-bash.

What you wrote came across as you intended. I am sorry for your trauma, and that your friend could not see beyond mere misunderstood doctrine to offer you comfort and help.

Even Daizui acknowledged that karma was not the only law of the universe, and that some things just happened by chance. So your friend was wrong about karma, even if you just stick to OBC content for guidance.

The deterministic cause/effect is a common belief in much of our society. A relative of mine believes that both the 2001 trade center attack and the New Orleans flood were thoughtful acts of God punishing sin and calling people to repentance. Even in New Age groups, you see sick people who are not healed by the offered mind potions often condemned for their lack of cure; Many end up feeling their remaining problem is just another failure on their part -- an effect caused by their failure to meditate properly -- that their body's condition is just a result of a flawed mind that they are unable to correct.

During hospice training, the chaplain emphasized that we were never to drift into platitudes or religious explanations when we were dealing the dying, suffering, or those impacted by such. She related the story about a mother who had been called to a hospital emergency room because her son had just died, killed by a drunk driver. Her minister heard about it somehow and bebopped over to the hospital to console the family. He started talking about how this was somehow all the will of God, and was in some mysterious way part of God's plan for Jimmy's life. The mother hauled off and hit the minister in the mouth as as hard as she could and demanded that he leave. I doubt that minister ever spouted those platitudes so glibly again. The chaplain's point was that it was never OK to discount people's suffering by acting as if it could be healed by platitudes -- religious or not.

Lots of people have problems with this. The problem within the OBC is that there seems to be almost no training related to pastoral care. Perhaps as monks, they feel they don't need it, but the lack of it for lay practitioners is crippling.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 19, 2010 6:11 pm

Iain wrote

I'm puzzled as to why you would claim that the comment made by Mokugan's friend was in any sense 'ideologically pure'. What is 'ideologically pure' about it? It seems to me to be a pretty crass and ignorant remark based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the Buddhist teaching on karma.
I'm also puzzled as to why some contributors here perceive this conversation between friends by the swimming pool twenty years ago as evidence of a structural insensitivity on the part of OBC sangha members.


I guess I’m using “ideologically pure” in a loose sense. When fundamentalist Christians isolate a verse in scripture and then beat someone over the head with it, in a loose sense, one can say they’re being ideologically pure. Homosexuality is an abomination, period. Of course they do all sorts of other things that the bible says are an abomination, but that’s conveniently ignored. What I’m trying to say is that some people read Buddhism as saying everything that happens to us is a result of karma, actions in past lives. It also says a lot of other things that would temper the way one approaches someone who was raped. But if you want to just isolate that one teaching about karma, you could say that telling someone that, even in what we would deem inappropriate circumstances, is ideologically pure, in the same misguided sense as the example of the Christian fundamentalist. Slightly convoluted, but I hope you get my drift.

As to why some of us would perceive that one incident 20 years ago by the pool as being evidence of structural insensitivity at the OBC, I think the experiences innumerated on this site speak to a pattern of emotional insensitivity. I had my share. I just posted some more of my experiences on my introduction thread in response to Josh's provocative post of an essay on emotional terrorism. I'm truly am glad you haven't had similar experiences. But for those of us who have had them ourselves and witnessed similar things happen to others, isolated instances are seen to exist within a greater pattern.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 19, 2010 7:23 pm

Having written privately to Mokuan, I'll not say too much about her situation except that I am too share the sorrow expressed here that she was attacked in such a horrific way and that she is obviously in my thoughts, as I hope she will know.

Howard mentioned in an earlier post that;

"Most of what comes out as "Shasta Speak" is notable not so much as incorrect Buddhist teaching but for the feeling that you get that it is just being trotted out to make the speaker feel more comfortable. The end result is feeling and being manipulated."

I'm not in a position to speak for Shasta never having been there, but I can say that what you've described here is not behaviour reserved for Shasta monks. I too was raped, and fairly brutally, when I was 18 and a first year student. The police took their time to decide whether the charge should be rape and the associated sexual crimes comitted, or whether an additional charge of attempted murder should be included. With the complications of having a trans identity, I don't tend to mention this aspect to my history much as it involves having to first explain that I was female at the time and frankly, my life has moved on to a point where the attack is incidental to my life rather than the whole focus of it.

I did however mention it to a monk as it was relevant to training at the time. Initially I was told to stop being a victim and wallowing in it. As the the thirteenth anniversary approached, and anniversaries are inevitably times when reflection occurs naturally, I was told, "yes, you really should be over this by now." In the months and years which followed the same monk made constant reference to the attack with flippant remarks like, "well when you were raped", which was so incredibly insensitive and unneccessary to the backdrop at the time I simply couldn't respond adequately. I was made to feel that there are certainly some things you don't mention unless you wish to leave yourself painfully open and vulnerable.

What somehow makes it all rather dangerous is the belief a sincere trainee can take with them to the monastery that what ever happens in the monastery is in some way controlled for teaching and bringing about greater insight or understanding. I was told to remember that what ever may happen, it was all done out of love. Having stepped back as I now have, I can see it for what it is. I'm not sure counselling courses would necessarily help as you need to have a certain emotional maturity prior to taking on such a course and from what I've witnessed personally and read here, many of the monks seem to be in an unhealthy, emotional vacuum.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 19, 2010 8:28 pm

Kaizan wrote:


Some people read Buddhism as saying everything that happens to us is a result of karma, actions in past lives. It also says a lot of other things that would temper the way one approaches someone who was raped. But if you want to just isolate that one teaching about karma, you could say that telling someone that, even in what we would deem inappropriate circumstances, is ideologically pure, in the same misguided sense as the example of the Christian fundamentalist.

Completely agree with you. But I don't see why you described this as 'ideologically pure'. To me it seems to be the contrary - a complete misunderstanding of teachings on karma.

Quote :
As to why some of us would perceive that one incident 20 years ago by the pool as being evidence of structural insensitivity at the OBC, I think the experiences innumerated on this site speak to a pattern of emotional insensitivity.

Well, that is a personal opinion based on your personal experience. But it is not related to the point I wanted to make. A causative connection was implied here, taking one persons comments in a conversation between two friends at a swimming pool as evidence of a wider structural insensitivity on the part of an entire Buddhist institution.

What kind of evidence would that be? I don't feel a specific connection is really sustainable and that you could more reasonably argue, for example, that the influence of wider values in North American society were at work. People often say dumb things, and especially in situations where they just heard something awful and shocking and don't quite know what to say next. Stuff falls out of their mouths and a whole lifetime of experience (or sadly usually a lack of it) lies behind such utterances.

I'm labouring this because it feels important to me that if you want to publically criticise others (and especially perhaps those already dead for fifteen years who can't respond themselves) then it is relevant that it should be fair, proportional and evidence-based.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 19, 2010 11:52 pm

We certainly do say dumb things at one time or another, and I said a dumb thing the other day. My computer has been down -- again -- or I would have written this sooner.

I want to apologize for my mean-spirited remark calling the monk by the pool a sophomoric twit. It was inexcusable. It was mean and completely unnecessary.

Her comments may have been insensitive, but mine were caustic. There's no excuse for that and it's not the kind of person I want to be.

I'm very sorry I said that.

mokuan
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Nov 20, 2010 1:08 am

Personally, mokuan, I think she WAS a sophomoric twit. I call that accuracy, not mean-spiritedness. But if you think you shouldn't have said it, that's fine.

I don't, however, see the logic in deducing from her isolated comments in an isolated situation that anything whatsoever can be said about the OBC as a whole.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Nov 20, 2010 1:32 am

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.

Having been away from this web forum for a while, I've fallen out of the thread of the conversation. (I've been traveling and dealing with a lot of other matters--and guarding my health. I was released from the hospital a year ago today, so it is an anniversary of sorts). I deeply appreciate the kindness in the words of several people who have written to me privately, or in posts to this thread. Thank you all for your good wishes and thoughtfulness.

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.

At one time I thought it might be fruitful to try to find out what people who are posting here actually want from the OBC. But clearly, there are as many different views as there are people; some people have said that they don't want anything; others mostly just want the space to talk to people and share experiences. So, Howard, thanks for the idea, but I can't imagine that it could be done. And, it would seem, there are no other OBC monks who in fact are considering joining the fray. I wish there were, but such is life.

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.

Lise: you guessed wrong. On the contrary, I've been directly challenged, disagreed with and rebuked more times than I can possibly remember, before and during the last 20 years right up to the present time. The lay people I have contact with seem not to have reason to directly challenge or disagree with me, although within our congregation people are welcome to speak out about anything, and sometimes they do. I treat lay people with respect and I talk with them frequently. The authoritarian dynamic which so many people object to is something I've consciously done my best to leave behind.

The attitude that comes across in what you say, Lise, is one of presuming to know a lot about people, myself for instance, who you don't know at all. You lump together all the monks of the OBC, presume that we've all been ill-taught, and that we are all continuing to perpetrate ills which, for the most part, have been left behind a long time ago by the majority of the monks still active in the OBC.

The former Eko Little was, as a matter of fact, directly responsible for a great deal of human suffering that has occurred within our four-fold Sangha over the years, and it is no exaggeration to say this. He meant well, as we all do, but was a misguided human being. He was not "sacked"; he resigned as abbot of Shasta Abbey by his own volition, as has been accurately noted previously. When details of his romantic involvement with a lay woman came to light, he was asked to resign immediately rather than after another 8 weeks, or whatever it would otherwise have been, during which time he wanted to complete things he thought were important. In all fairness, he also did a lot of good for the monastery. He gave teaching that was helpful to people, as some have pointed out on this forum. He opened up the monastery in ways which it previously had not been open; in my years as guest master I worked with him on that and we were able to invite in a large number of new lay practicioners, some of whom ultimately became monks. Many people benefitted greatly from what he did, especially in those first several years beginning in 1996, and it is tragic that he veered off that initial course and ended up where he did.

I don't expect to be treated on this web forum as I normally would by those who venerate the Three Treasures of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. What hurts me is not so much that people take issue with things that I write, but rather that they take issue with the teachings of the Buddha. This is not the same as having an inquiring mind, a mind that is looking for truth within the noise and confusion of the world we live in; there are those who simply deny basic teachings of the Buddha: deny cause-and-effect; deny the truth of anatta; deny that people and conditions change constantly; deny that, as human beings, we exist within a realm of existence which is marked by discontentment, unsatisfactoriness, lack of faith: that is, suffering.

For someone like myself who has devoted his life to Buddhism, to read some of the things that people post on this web forum makes one feel physically ill. This, too, is no exaggeration. I am not saying that such an opportunity should not be offered to people, or that there should be censorship or anything like that; after all, this is the information age and anyone who has any opinion whatsoever on any subject can express that opinion on the internet. But it does make we wonder whether Buddhism will be able to survive the onslaught of pure opinionatedness in the modern world. In a world where respect for authority and wisdom are steadily diminishing, real religion is in trouble.

I have many friends who are monks and nuns in other Buddhist monastic traditions. We meet once a year and talk about many of the issues that we all face; our differences quickly vanish once we are together and we feel like a fairly close-knit family, spread out over America and Canada, who come together for a yearly reunion. What we share is deep respect for the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and deep dedication to put the teachings into practice. You never hear people talk at one of these gatherings the way they do on this forum; we try to support eachother in whatever way we can. That's what is generally lacking here: support for the OBC, support for genuine religious practice, and devotion to the Three Treasures. I accept that I am a member of a tribe that may be dying out: that, too, is part of anatta and anicca.

Respectfully, Rev. Seikai
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Nov 20, 2010 8:27 am

Without looking for or even wishing it, I've come across overwhelming evidence across the sociocultural strata of Buddhism growing, sometimes despite and sometimes because of the "onslaught of opinionatedness in the modern world".

The social structure is changing enormously and fast, and Buddhism is certainly taking a different shape; but the yearning for and attempts to understand Truth as Buddhists see it, is growing. (I'm normally a cut-and-dried cynic so when I say something good you have to believe me. Wink ) I guess it's related to our culture having tried everything else, and everything else not making us happy. The material 1980s were a depression in Buddhist terms, and because of it the tide has turned. If in doubt you'll see it more clearly in 10 years' time when (I'd bet my cotton socks that) a modern Buddhism, its real aspects undiminished, will be more defined and visible.

I hope no-one's judging a whole picture by what they think they see on one forum.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Nov 20, 2010 8:28 am

Rev. Seikai wrote:
... The attitude that comes across in what you say, Lise, is one of presuming to know a lot about people, myself for instance, who you don't know at all. You lump together all the monks of the OBC, presume that we've all been ill-taught, and that we are all continuing to perpetrate ills which, for the most part, have been left behind a long time ago by the majority of the monks still active in the OBC.

Seikai, this is true, I do not know you. My impressions of you have been favorable overall, although I have also personally seen some of your interactions with laity, which formed the basis for my questions about how you handle being challenged. These are my impressions, and only that. Others may not agree.

When you say that I lump together all monks of the OBC, or allege you have all been ill-taught, or are perpetrating the same ills, I can only suppose that you haven't read this forum extensively. I usually say "some, not all" when referring to undesirable behavior or attitudes I've seen from monks. From others I never saw or sensed anything troubling. I even named some of those people in my early posts, now that I think of it. Where I have generalised it is because I feel the problems are pervasive and likely shared by many monks.

Rev. Seikai wrote:
The former Eko Little was, as a matter of fact, directly responsible for a great deal of human suffering that has occurred within our four-fold Sangha over the years, and it is no exaggeration to say this. He meant well, as we all do, but was a misguided human being.

You've mentioned Eko Little often, but I don't understand how that relates to the here-and-now. How is he responsible for much of the suffering? If he is responsible, how did the OBC seniors not see what was going on all those years? Did some of you know and feel powerless to object? If so, is it because of repression in the Abbey culture? If there is something we really should know about the former Abbot, that is relevant to anything being discussed here, could you say so? Otherwise, it's hard to see your comments about him as anything other than clinging to some issue you are carrying. I erased one of my comments a few weeks ago that speculated about enmity between you and Eko on a personal level. Now I will ask it outright: do you have an unresolved beef with him? Are you using this forum as an opportunity to take shots at him, under the cloak of right speech?

Rev. Seikai wrote:
What hurts me is not so much that people take issue with things that I write, but rather that they take issue with the teachings of the Buddha. ...

I have many friends who are monks and nuns in other Buddhist monastic traditions. We meet once a year and talk about many of the issues that we all face; ... You never hear people talk at one of these gatherings the way they do on this forum; we try to support each other in whatever way we can. That's what is generally lacking here: support for the OBC, support for genuine religious practice, and devotion to the Three Treasures. ...

Clearly, you may find support for the OBC lacking here. The forum wasn't created to do that, and the focus is on people sharing their experiences, many of which are negative. It's hard to get around that one.

I don't agree with you that we here are necessarily taking issue with the Buddha's teachings. Although we can; it's anyone's right to do so, and the Buddha himself gave us permission (!) Don't you believe that, Seikai? Isn't it ok to take issue? Some of us may not agree the OBC's interpretation or their living expression of the teachings, but that has nothing to do with our respect or love for what the Buddha taught. Like Jack, I read the Pali Canon. I read other teachers and find much less cognitive dissonance there than I ever did whilst trying to absorb Kennett's material, or process some of what I saw at Shasta Abbey. I don't wish to hurt you further by saying this, but Kennett and OBC do not represent Buddhism to me. I have no obligation to regard either one as a source of authority or wisdom. I've said elsewhere, I may have left the OBC but I didn't leave Buddhism, and it didn't leave me. We're doing all right together.

I don't fear for the future of religion or Buddhism specifically. Only if fear overtakes an open and questioning mind, would I be afraid . . .


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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Nov 20, 2010 10:14 am

Rev. Seikai wrote:


What hurts me is not so much that people take issue with things that I write, but rather that they take issue with the teachings of the Buddha. This is not the same as having an inquiring mind, a mind that is looking for truth within the noise and confusion of the world we live in; there are those who simply deny basic teachings of the Buddha: deny cause-and-effect; deny the truth of anatta; deny that people and conditions change constantly; deny that, as human beings, we exist within a realm of existence which is marked by discontentment, unsatisfactoriness, lack of faith: that is, suffering.


I don't see nearly as much as what troubles you as I see people being willing to face life and Buddhism honestly rather than with an attempt to will beliefs out of a need to believe or a fear of not believing. If Buddhism cannot weather an honest, open search for truth, then it is not a worthy vessel for the voyage. It is a serious mistake to make an idol of out the provisional makeshift raft for crossing the stream of life that the dharma is. This raft-like nature of the dharma is asserted by the Buddha himself; you have to disagree with his teaching if you disagree with that.

Rev. Seikai wrote:




But it does make we wonder whether Buddhism will be able to survive the onslaught of pure opinionatedness in the modern world. In a world where respect for authority and wisdom are steadily diminishing, real religion is in trouble.


I'm not fearful about the future of Buddhism. Authority based religion is in decline across the world because millennia of such has failed miserably in transforming the world in wholesome ways. Science with its inquiry based, fact-facing, testing approach has been enormously more successful in reducing misery than all of the authority based religion combined.

Seekers wander in and out of our small meditation group all the time searching for answers to the big insoluble questions in their life. Buddhism has some useful insights to offer them. Many come because of the open compassionate kindness they find in some Buddhist teaching, often in a book they've read by the Dalai Lama, which offers hope without requiring authoritative articles of faith. Our group includes Tibetan, Zen, Pure Land, and Theravadin paths and several who do not consider themselves Buddhist at all. The compelling truth in each case comes from our own experience and practice -- not some authoritative persona declaring infallible truth. I think that honest, sharing of experience, truth, and practice is the future of a healthy Buddhist sangha rather than the OBC model of lay people gathered around a robed authority figure greedily grasping for crumbs of truth generously dropped on the floor. Buddhist truth is abundantly available without the necessity of a robed authoritative teacher to declare it - though that may be helpful at times.

I actually have come to steer away from strongly charismatic teachers, because I have found them, as a general class, to be unreliable, with more than average tendency to be pied Buddhist pipers. It's just statistics. There are better places to fish and hunt for food.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Nov 20, 2010 11:52 am

Rev. Seikai wrote:

Having been away from this web forum for a while, I've fallen out of the thread of the conversation. (I've been traveling and dealing with a lot of other matters--and guarding my health. I was released from the hospital a year ago today, so it is an anniversary of sorts). I deeply appreciate the kindness in the words of several people who have written to me privately, or in posts to this thread. Thank you all for your good wishes and thoughtfulness.

Respectfully, Rev. Seikai

Seikai,

I'm glad to see you posting here again, and to hear of the first anniversary of your return to health - live long and prosper!

I recently listened to RM Meian's "welcoming" talk. She stated over and over again that everyone was welcome, and mentioned there were a number of former monks in the hall to make the point. So here's my question: Are Kyogen and Gyokuko now welcome to return to Shasta Abbey? Am I? Can you relay the question to Meian and post her reply?


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mokuan



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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Nov 20, 2010 1:19 pm

Dear Seikai,

One year out from your diagnosis -- congratulations on that milestone. May this next year bring even greater health and happiness.

I think Jack makes a good point on the changing face of religious practice across the board. I have a friend who is a Catholic theologian -- she'd love to be a Jesuit, but females aren't allowed -- and she tells me that in many parishes, the laity have assumed much of the litergical functions of the mass. In her particular church, the priest blesses the sacrament, but euchuristic ministers present communion. There's the homily committee, of which my friend is a member, and they take turns giving sermons. It seems to be working. People are overflowing the pews on Sunday mornings. They are active participants in many other areas as well.

I think Buddhism is surviving out here in the world and many, many communities are flourishing. Here in Portland, both Dharma Rain and Great Vow are solid. And even though they're different lineages, it's easy to flow between the two groups. IMS in Barre, Mass and Spirit Rock in Woodacre, both thriving. I know there's many more, so I don't think you need to worry that Buddhism will be lost.

Maybe religion has its own "natural selection" process. What isn't strong, what doesn't work, won't survive.

Again, I'm glad those little hairy cells are in check and my warmest wishes for your continued recovery.

mokuan
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Nov 20, 2010 5:40 pm

Hi Seikai,
I'll ditto everyone's congratulations on your one year milestone. I'm glad that you received the message I sent and I wish you continued good health. It can be a brutal bunch on OBC Connect--don't let any of us stress you out!
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Nov 20, 2010 7:48 pm

Rev. Seikai--First I want to join the chorus of congratulations on your "anniversary", and I wish you very many happy returns (but not to the hospital!)

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

At the core of Buddhism are a few really good ideas that I am confident will last for as long as humanity and its dissatisfaction. The Four Noble Truths, the Eight-Fold Path, and some version of the Precepts are really helpful, useful antidotes to the things that drive us crazy. Meditation is constantly showing its benefits in rigorous scientific studies; you and most other Buddhist monks in America have no doubt taken notice of this.

So one can't help but think that expert teachers of these ideas and practice will remain in some demand.

However, it seems unrealistic of you to expect to find uniform devotion to the Three Treasures on a web forum where a majority of participants are disaffected former monks. I appreciate the straightforward and honest way that you describe the pain that it causes you for people to trash the Treasures. But people need to be able to speak critically and openly about what's on their minds, or else the spiritual journey will get reduced to merely pleasing Teacher, rather than actually finding liberation.

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

Here are some of the challenges that come to my mind, when I consider what people in your calling may face:

There are truth claims in Buddhism which cannot be cashed in by empirical study, such as the doctrine of rebirth, and depending on how strictly it is formulated, the doctrine of karma. In fact, many modern phenomena seem to be much better explained outside of the context of these doctrines.

For example, the human population has increased about seven-fold since 1800. Does this mean that a whole bunch of animals gained sufficient merit to become humans in their next and future lives, or is it simply that modern nutrition, medicine, and hygiene have made it much more likely for H Sapiens to live long enough to reproduce? If an airplane falls from the sky, does it mean that the couple hundred people on board all accumulated the same unconverted karma, or is it more satisfying, more useful, less presumptive (and less cruel) to investigate mechanical failure as the cause? Put another way, if we want fewer plane crashes, would we fare better if we studied the Dharma, or engineering mechanics? Of course I realize that they are not mutually exclusive studies.

And there are passages within the sacred scriptures that aren’t really defensible. The vicious slander of Theravada in the Lotus Sutra is a glaring example of merely narrow, sectarian thinking. It is to OBC’s credit that I first learned of these passages from one of its senior monks, speaking openly, and not from reading the text on my own. But why should one not be extremely critical of claims that the Way of the Elders is a “Lesser Vehicle”? That is a rotten thing to say! How can one assert that “this isn’t valid teaching” without defaming the Dharma? And yet, it is written in a great Sutra, and therefore it is supposed to be as good as direct teaching from Shakyamuni himself. So then, the critical-thinking question should naturally follow: What else isn’t valid in these sacred texts?

And then there are the truth claims of Soto Zen which contradict other forms of Buddhism. The Pure Land Buddhists cannot be correct if the cosmology of Soto Zen is true: either we will all eventually be born painlessly from lotus flowers in the Western Paradise upon final enlightenment, or not. Nor can the reincarnation taught by the Tibetan Lamas be true if the Soto Zen version of rebirth is correct. Nor can The Way of the Elders and The Great Vehicle both be exactly correct: either the Pali Canon is the whole of the Buddha’s actual teachings, or it is not. Is there any experiment, or any reasoning based upon the empirical world, which could possibly tell us which of these doctrines is the most accurate?

Finally, does it need to be pointed out that the Roshis of Japan acted as spiritual cheerleaders to Emperor Hirohito and the Japanese war machine during World War II? Brian Daizen Victoria, an Australian Zen Buddhist master, wrote a book-length treatise on the workings of Zen Buddhism in early-mid 1900’s Japan called Zen At War. In it, Rev. Master Daizen documents the appalling spiritual rationalizations for unprovoked warfare that were cooked up, and promulgated, by your very Great Uncles in the Dharma. Who was that serving Final Tea to the Kamikaze (“Divine Wind”, let’s recall)? How can anyone knowing these stories take the righteousness of Buddhist Masters on faith? But perhaps masters make no claim to divine authority these days.

In short, when a 2,500 year old religion is thought about critically in the context of the modern world, with the vast improvements in our knowledge, and the necessary juxtaposition of its ideas against many others, you can’t expect that every single idea that was accumulated in the first years of its existence will be vindicated over time.

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

I am satisfied that the Four Noble Truths (including the truths of cessation and the Way of Enlightenment), and the Eightfold Path, and to a great extent the Precepts require neither metaphysical beliefs nor supernatural (religious) authority in order to be very useful rules to live by. Nor do Teachers of Zen Buddhism need to be perfect human beings, although I think that they need to admit to fallibility and therefore submit themselves to being questioned (as do all who teach), or else they are not following through on their realized imperfection to its natural conclusion.

The true core of the teaching, of mindfulness and non-self, etc., seems to me to be in great demand, and I think that many people do want to stop living in their habitual minds. These ideas, in my opinion, are the true gold in Buddhism, and I feel quite sure that others will continue to find the big quiet frame of reference within themselves via Buddhist teaching, and will discover that life is better when they identify with that rather than with their ceaselessly whirling thoughts. For that reason, Zen Masters have a recognizable and honorable place in our future, living simply and demonstrating anatta as best they can, and providing guidance and spiritual counsel to those who seek it. So I think.


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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Nov 20, 2010 9:31 pm

Very well said, ddolmar.

I concur.

The current books on my nightstand: Confession of a Buddhist Atheist and Buddhism Without Beliefs, both by Stephen Batchelor.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Nov 21, 2010 1:56 am

I recently listened to RM Meian's "welcoming" talk. She stated over and over again that everyone was welcome, and mentioned there were a number of former monks in the hall to make the point. So here's my question: Are Kyogen and Gyokuko now welcome to return to Shasta Abbey? Am I? Can you relay the question to Meian and post her reply?

Dear Isan,
My understanding is that the answer to your question is “yes.” I didn't attend Rev. Master Meian's Induction ceremony, but I've talked to a few people about what she said in anticipation of this question coming up, and people seem to think that this is so. Shasta Abbey's phone number is 530-926-4208 (hasn't changed in years); why don't you call them yourself and ask this question? I'd prefer not to act as an intermediary between former monks and any temple, or the OBC at large, because I haven't been empowered to do so; if I were, I'd do so without hesitation. My fond hope is that you and the Carlsons would be welcome to visit.

Dear Mokuan,
It's nice to hear from you and I'm happy that you're well. When you were at the Abbey the second time, I remember talking with you about your misfortune in Tahiti. It's good that you can share your story and if anyone heard it with anything less than complete sympathy, it would only add grief to horror.

Regarding my musing on the future of Buddhism in Western societies: being a monk, my frame of reference is monastic Buddhism; my misgiving is not for the survival of Buddhism per se—people have mentioned a lot of reasons why it is likely to survive—but rather with the survival of monasticism. Celibacy, authority, hierarchy, and tradition are all reasons why monasticism is unpopular in this most Protestant of nations, America. Stripped bare of those attributes, will we still have Buddhism? I don't know. In Asia it formerly was (and perhaps still is) unthinkable to have Buddhism without monks, but this country is different; we do things our own way.

Zen Master Manzan Dohaku is quoted as saying, “As long as bowing lasts, Buddhism will last.” I can see the day coming when people might be happy to have Buddhism without bowing; what I feel coming from many on this web forum is no-bowing Buddhism. I don't recall ever saying that I expected people on this web forum to have respect for or venerate the Three Treasures; all I'm saying is that it makes me sick at heart to witness the lack of it. Originally, the word Sangha specifically referred to monks and nuns, but in America the meaning has changed to refer simply to people who regard themselves as Buddhists. This sets the stage for Buddhism without monasticism.

Dear Lise,
I do not have a beef with the former Eko Little; during his first four years as abbot, while I was still a resident of the monastery, we got along fine. The same was true after I moved away, an event which occurred with his blessing and every possible good grace on all sides (10 years ago, actually, another anniversary of sorts). There was never enmity between him and me.

You've mentioned Eko Little often, but I don't understand how that relates to the here-and-now. How is he responsible for much of the suffering? If he is responsible, how did the OBC seniors not see what was going on all those years?

It is not for me to detail who was hurt by Eko and in what realm of human experience. It accumulated over time and led to his resignation as abbot of the monastery. Some OBC seniors saw what was going on, others didn't, or chose not to look at it. Either way, we all tried very hard to give him every benefit of the doubt and every opportunity to change himself; many seniors talked with him, and he wouldn't have it.

Did some of you know and feel powerless to object? If so, is it because of repression in the Abbey culture? If there is something we really should know about the former Abbot, that is relevant to anything being discussed here, could you say so? Otherwise, it's hard to see your comments about him as anything other than clinging to some issue you are carrying. I erased one of my comments a few weeks ago that speculated about enmity between you and Eko on a personal level. Now I will ask it outright: do you have an unresolved beef with him? Are you using this forum as an opportunity to take shots at him, under the cloak of right speech?

In my own eyes I'm not taking shots at Eko, I've tried to simply state what I know as fact in a way that does not compromise anyone's privacy. It is important that people outside the OBC looking in realize that we had an abbot who made some big mistakes, resigned, and that as an order we are looking honestly at what happened and making every effort to make sure that it doesn't happen again. That is the reason for Rev. Master Meian making the statements which she has recently. Human beings were deeply hurt by his actions, and this fact seemed central to some of the conversations that have been ongoing in this forum. Among other things, he created a repressive atmosphere which did not allow for evaluation or criticism, a complaint which many have had with regard to the culture of Shasta Abbey over the years, and they're right.

Thank you all very much for the kindness you have extended with regard to my physical well being and recovery from cancer. I think I'm doing really pretty good at the moment, knock on wood.
Respectfully, Rev. Seikai
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Nov 21, 2010 4:36 am

Rev. Seikai wrote:


Celibacy, authority, hierarchy, and tradition are all reasons why monasticism is unpopular in this most Protestant of nations, America. Stripped bare of those attributes, will we still have Buddhism? I don't know. In Asia it formerly was (and perhaps still is) unthinkable to have Buddhism without monks, but this country is different; we do things our own way.

Thanks for that insight. During the past few months I have read many contributions here that didn't correspond to my own experience. A part of this was clearly the contributor's own personal experience and motivation, but it was soom evident that there must be significant institutional differences between Shasta at Throssel Hole Abbey too. However I think you have pointed to another underlying angle to this, which is that monasticism in Christian form has been a long-standing, generally understood and widely intellectually respected institution in European cultures (and despite in England the best efforts of Henry VIII) in a way in which it may not be in America.

Quote :
Originally, the word Sangha specifically referred to monks and nuns, but in America the meaning has changed to refer simply to people who regard themselves as Buddhists. This sets the stage for Buddhism without monasticism.

The first part of this is incorrect. It originally referred to all of the four classes of Buddhists who had formally taken refuge in the Triple Treasure. The emphasis on 'monks and nuns' was a product of some Buddhist cultures at a later date. In Western cultures people can regard themselves as what they like and call themselves what they like, but unless they have formally taken refuge in the Triple Treasure they 'aint going to be a 'Buddhist' in terms of what the Buddha himself taught was the necessary formula any more than me calling myself 'Lord Snooty' is going to get me an entry in 'Burke's Peerage' or a seat in the House of Lords. sunny
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Nov 21, 2010 10:52 am

Seikai,
Thank you for your frank and open responses to all. One problem I have with pointing to exclusively to Eko for the repressive atmosphere you spoke of, is that I see that coming directly from Rev. Kennett. Eko to me represented the worst of Rev. Kennett, and from what you've said, this understanding has borne the test of time.

But this begs some important questions. As I've said elsewhere, that Eko was totally unsuited for a post of authority in a religious institution was crystal clear to me thirty years ago. My perception of Eko was that he totally submitted himself to every whim of Rev. Kennett's and would carry out hurtful acts that he appeared to not question in the slightest. He certainly would brook no debate from those he acted upon. What he was thinking in his own mind, I can't say. In return for his seemingly mindless obedience, he was named abbot, and almost was named head of the order also. The same absolute, or near absolute, obedience Eko displayed, I imagine he expected from others once he donned the cloak of authority himself. This was certainly my fear when I was there.

It is my belief that Rev. Kennett valued this, to me, horrific personality trait of Eko's. How could she not see the obvious? The repressive atmosphere you attribute to Eko existed well before he took office. That repressive atmosphere existed quite palpably, under Rev. Kennett. I believe she felt this repression was needed to keep order, and keep whatever else she felt needed to be preserved. To this I can only say--What collosal misjudgment.

It was that belief in the efficacy and value of repression that was closely linked to hurt and disillusionment that so many write of here. Is this the only aspect of Rev. Kennett's personality. Absolutely not, from my point of view. But that she valued and chose the one person who could perpetuate a repressive atmosphere, speaks to very important flaw in her judgment. This flaw has not been openly addressed here. I don't know if this flaw is or can be discussed at the OBC. Meian's recent talk about how everything Rev. Kennett did was out of kindness, makes me suspect her flaws are still off limits for public debate.

I also believe, as many do, that Rev. Kennett's sad and traumatic history from early childhood of serious emotional abuse, contributed to the way she handled dissent within the OBC. That this abusive approach was reinforced in her experiences in Sojiji, make the scars that much deeper. I don't believe she ever really fully worked through that trauma and was unaware of how the scars affected the way she used her authority. And even after her death she perpetuated abusive, repressive ways to handle dissent and unwanted emotional issues in others by naming Eko her successor.

You can't isolated Eko's actions from Rev. Kennett herself. The Eko problem the OBC faces is joined at the hip with what Rev. Kennett herself valued as a leadership style. It is joined at the hip with her own unresolved emotional trauma. The spiritual cannot be divorced from the emotional, any more that compassion can be divorced from wisdom.

That which is true is greater than that which is holy. What I've spoken of regarding Rev. Kennett does not cease to exist no matter how much she is idealized.

Nothing matters and everything matters. No one can hide from the truth that emotional harm, any harm, is part of the everything that matters. That nothing matters does not negate that everything matters. Never has, never will.

Josh dropped that bomb of an essay on emotional terrorism on my introduction thread (Seikai, I know you know what that plug's about) to get people to realize that despite the good she has done, she was not exempt from the effects of her own history of being emotionally abused, and be abused very badly. Was this negative pattern described in that essay the sum total of who she was? Absolutely not. Did it exist to some degree with her? I believe so. Is the harm this created real? I believe so. Is it easier for the OBC to see the harm created by Eko than look to how that harm is joined at the hip with Rev. Kennett's own issues? I believe so.

I'm curious as to your thoughts on the above. Just if you feel like it.

Respectfully,
Kaizan
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Nov 21, 2010 6:06 pm

Kaizan, what you've said above is the linchpin issue. Eko could not have created that environment out of whole cloth, on his own.

If ever there was a chance to "turn the wheel", as the devout say, well, here it is -

L.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Nov 21, 2010 6:07 pm

Kaizan,

I've noticed both you and Lise tend to put pressure on people to tell their stories. I don't know if you realize this or not, or care, but I can say that I certainly have felt pressured by you guys (and others) to tell all my "Eko stories." What is it about this forum that has created this pressure? Lise has said in the past that when she gets enough information (proof), that she can then make a decision if the OBC is harmful enough to let go of. What I see though, is that really nothing is getting resolved. We all tell our stories, but there is always someone out there who wants more "proof." Like Amalia's story isn't enough? Are we so intoxicated by all this drama that everyone is glued to their computer screen just waiting for the next post? I have seen my fair share of obsessive postings.

I bring this up because I can tell you that Eko was a problem and the fall-out from his many years at the Abbey will be felt for a long time. Now, I was not a monk, so some may discredit me just for that fact, but I had a very intimate relationship with him and knew him very well. My relationship was different than a monks relationship with him. Even though the monks lived with him, they didn't have the same access I did. Eko tended to build intimate relationships with his lay disciples (especially the women) and this was a problem. Those of us who were harmed by him can tell our stories, but so far I think I'm the only one on the forum here (lay disciple, that is). Rev. Seikai's posts that point the finger at Eko are accurate and I'm getting tired of people commenting that he is using Eko as a scapegoat. Actually, Rev. Seikai has helped me work through some of my Eko stuff and I am very grateful to him for that.

There are certain stories that I have that I'm not sure I'll ever tell. I have such mixed feelings about this forum, that it is really hard for me sometimes, but I can say that the more I learn about Jiyu, the more I understand Eko. So Kaizan, I think what you are saying is correct; I'm not disagreeing with you. I do appreciate what are saying and I appreciate every person's willingness to share their stories.

I don't have much more to say except that one missing piece of the puzzle is Daizui. Daizui and Eko had a very interesting relationship and power struggle. I think the struggle came from Eko's side. Daizui kept Eko in check for the most part. I witnessed some very interesting behavior after Daizui died. Eko seemed like he took on a whole other role. His last obstacle was taken care of. Haryo was made head of the order. Haryo, in my opinion, is completely unqualified and I think his position is a total disaster. I think Eko's problems started before Daizui died, but at the same time, they grew to be quite big when Daizui died.

Peace,
Diana


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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:43 am

Diana,
I'm sorry if you've felt pressured by me to post your story. I've tried to not push anyone to do what they don't want to. Many people have written to me privately asking for my input about them posting their stories and I have said that overall I think it's helpful, but I can't know all the factors they're dealing with and everything they're weighing, so in the end only they can decide. My comment to Josh (in another thread) was meant as joke. I tried to make it as absurd as possible so he'd be clear about that. That was my intention anyway. That the joke reveals a bias, I don't deny. But am I unique on this site for having a bias? Please don't take my bias as an attempt to pressure you. It is not meant that way. If my opinion makes no sense to you or you feel it doesn't apply, I will neither judge you nor be offended if you ignore it.

There are now a number of monks on this site who were there before I got there, back to 1970. I am curious about how they decided to leave, what they saw that troubled them, etc. Josh also has a background dealing with cult issues, so I am interested in his perspective both personally and professionally. I also think it is important that people see the connection between Eko and Rev. Kennett. His way of doing business did not spring out of nowhere. For these reasons I'd like to hear people's experiences, not just their conceptualizations on the subject. In the end, if the details don't interest you, you certainly don't have to read them, or reveal your own.

I appreciate your perspective on the struggle between Daizui and Eko after I left. It doesn't surprise me. To my mind, that Rev. Kennett chose Eko over Daizui demonstrates how she distrusted full open communication, emotional intelligence, and a non hierarchical approach and chose instead an authoritarian, who knew right from wrong and brooked no gray areas, compromise, or debate. Both of their personalities and understanding were crystal clear. The direction the abbey would go under one or the other when she died was crystal clear. Rev. Kennett chose who she chose because her own unresolved issues made her value the one more than the other. That Eko was chosen was not his fault. Only Rev. Kennett had that power. Only Rev. Kennett's values would prevail. That the OBC cannot see this clear truth takes denial, rationalization, and blaming of epic proportions. That Eko is sometimes referred to as a scapegoat is because he is being divorced from the person who chose him and valued the the very traits that wrought so much harm.

PS I don't discredit your perspective regarding Eko because you were not a monk. In fact, it is a very valuable perspective as it can shed light on his interactions with lay women. After all this ended up being the issue that ended his vocation. As an after thought-- Isn't it amazing how quickly the OBC could jump to remove Eko for a sexual relationship infraction of the rules, when they did not so act for the wealth of harm enacted over years for which they now point fingers at him? My best guess is the sexual relationship he had or has was the LEAST of the harm he did.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Mon Nov 22, 2010 2:08 pm

I am not driving home the connection between Eko and Rev. Kennett in order to lay blame. I'm doing so because if a problem is to be solved, the closer one looks to the source, the more likely the problem can solved effectively. This goes back to Kozan's original thoughts on institutional trauma. It appears that Rev. Eko is the best example of the perpetuating of mistakes made by Rev. Kennett, but it seems unlikely he is the sole example.

I had written in my previous post that Rev. Kennett chose Eko over Daizui, and I realized I was mistaken in this, in that Daizui was also chosen as head of the order. Perhaps this slipped my mind because in my last years at Shasta I felt that Eko had more power and the day to day running of the place and atmosphere felt far more Eko-like than Daizui-like. I realize this is subjective and others may have experienced it quite differently. I don't know. In my own personal circumstance, especially while ill, I definitely experienced official concern/reprimand/policy/strictness as coming through Eko. Daizui was just my friend who I could vent to and discuss things openly with. No doubt my personal experience influenced my statement. The degree of objective reality it represents is difficult for me to say, as I was very much in my own little bubble the last few years.

Nonetheless, I feel that even though Rev. Kennett changed her mind in giving
Eko all the power, as she originally planned, and he ended up not being head of the order, it was still a huge error of judgment to give him that power and demonstrated the value she placed on Eko's leadership style. Perhaps Daizui and Eko represented her better and worse halves (though that may be a bit too metaphorical for some). Unfortunately, at the end, I saw largely the latter in my dealings with Rev. Kennett.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:57 pm

Dear Kaizan,

I only just saw your last two posts, and what I have written below is in response to the one previous to the last two. I think I'd just as soon stay out of the debate regarding the handing down of power, so to speak, upon the death of RMJK. I was there and I saw what I saw, I had a lot of the same feelings you did over the years, but evidently they haven't had the staying power for me that they've had for you. Meanwhile......

I'll try to answer your question as to what I think about the essay posted by Josh Baran (I hadn't read it, so thanks for telling me where to look), and then by extension your latest post. To give an answer in encapsulated form, my thinking is that there is some truth in all of it, and it helps to explain the repressive atmosphere at Shasta Abbey that existed, as you noted, during the 1980s, and Josh says started before that.

[/size]
[/size]
size=9]I'm assuming the language of the essay comes from Western psychology, which of course is a language for explaining all sorts of human phenomena. It's a language familiar to most of us, and as such is very useful to explain various behaviors, like those of RMJK, and then as an extension of her leadership style, the behaviors of Eko Little. There are other languages, or paradigms, that one might consult in attempting to explain human behavior, such as Chinese medicine. Chinese medicine might explain that someone like RMJK was a liver-oriented type of person, that she had relatively weak liver function—we know she had kidney function issues associated with diabetes—and that these weaknesses triggered various kinds of emotionally charged behaviors. Similarly, women are subject to greater emotional swings than men; they have a definite monthly emotional cycle based on menstruation, which doesn't go away with the onset of menopause. This biological fact is going to have an impact on everyone when people live together in a communal situation such as a monastery. If a woman with a strong personality is the abbess, as in the case of RMJK, then you have an interesting and potentially challenging situation.[/siz[/size]e]

[size=9]Personally, I'm comfortable with any of these explanations, and no doubt there are other potential ones. I don't regard Josh's essay as a bomb; I think it's really useful information to have on hand. I've lived with one degree or another of emotional terrorism pretty much all my life, and it helps a lot to know that there are core causative reasons for the behaviors, and that they are not personal in the sense that they can be directed at anyone who happens to get in the line of fire.

[size=9]What we then do with this information is another matter. Personally, it doesn't change anything about my respect for, or relationship to, my Master. At the time when we all lived with the kinds of situations that you describe in so many of your posts, I took the attitude that this was karmic stuff or psychological stuff or just plain human stuff that was being worked out on a multitude of levels, and that what I had to do was accept it, and place it on the altar of my own heart, offering it up to whatever it is that is greater than myself.

size=9]I've continued to do this for all my years as a monk, and it has served me well. It isn't as though I don't feel the pain of nasty situations, or that I don't feel hurt, or that I don't have anger arise in response to difficult human situations. But on the other hand, it has been the means by which I'm able to let go of things that happen which are difficult and painful. Since it works for me, I've just continued doing it all these years.

[size=9]Acceptance and offering up to that which is greater than me is my formula, so to speak, for living in samsara. We weren't really taught much about metta—loving kindness—back in those days; I educated myself on basic Buddhist ideas, such as metta, anatta, anicca, dukkha, etc, and tried to incorporate them into my practice and my basic philosophy of life as a monk. Many a late evening was spent kneeling in front of my altar in prayer, processing all of this stuff. Somehow I came out of it relatively intact. Loving kindness for myself, first and foremost, but also for anyone who seemed to be causing pain was my salvation.

[size=9]I never had an illness of an acute nature, like you had with your back. I did have acute exhaustion for many years in the 90s, and at one point I was ready to take my leave on account of it, but stayed nevertheless. RM Daizui helped me a lot in those days, like he did you. (My recent experience with cancer has taken place under very different circumstances). So I didn't have quite the make-or-break immediacy of a health situation like yours which necessitated leaving monastic life.

size=9]Still and all, I see no value in denigrating RMJK on account of all these fore-mentioned events. Late in her life we grew a lot closer and I was pretty comfortable with her persona, and I think she mellowed out some, too. This leads me to ask a question of you, which is: does telling your story in public bring you some sort of relief, satisfaction, resolution or healing? And in light of what you have been saying with regard to emotional intelligence, is what you are doing considered a normal prescription for the working out of emotional trauma? I'm not trying to call into question what you're doing, I just want to understand it.

Once again, I speak for myself, and whether this is a taboo subject for the greater OBC, I just can't say. Probably would depend on who you talk to.

Respectfully, Rev. Seikai
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:00 am

Rev. Seikai wrote:


Still and all, I see no value in denigrating RMJK on account of all these fore-mentioned events. Late in her life we grew a lot closer and I was pretty comfortable with her persona, and I think she mellowed out some, too. This leads me to ask a question of you, which is: does telling your story in public bring you some sort of relief, satisfaction, resolution or healing? And in light of what you have been saying with regard to emotional intelligence, is what you are doing considered a normal prescription for the working out of emotional trauma? I'm not trying to call into question what you're doing, I just want to understand it.

Once again, I speak for myself, and whether this is a taboo subject for the greater OBC, I just can't say. Probably would depend on who you talk to.

Respectfully, Rev. Seikai

Seikai,

I see this post is a direct response to Kaizan and I don't mean to preempt him with this quick comment. First I really appreciate what you've written here. In retrospect do you think being able to share your feelings with Daizui was key? When I struggled with all the same issues I didn't feel there was anyone I could fully trust, and so my suffering escalated until leaving was the only viable choice. Regarding your question about whether posting one's story facilitates healing, I would answer yes. The story doesn't necessarily need to be shared publicly, but most importantly one needs to feel there is permission to tell it, and then do so in some context. If I had felt there was permission to share my deepest concerns about RMJK with a trusted third party the outcome could have been quite different.

Thanks again. More later....


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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Nov 23, 2010 4:32 am

Rev Sekai,

As with Isan, I hope that my reply will not intrude on your conversation with Kaizan. So, I will try to make this brief.

I do not mean to be judgemental--but I find this, your most recent post, to be one of the most compelling and insightful of the many that you have written to date (and I have enjoyed and appreciated all of them--each in their own way)!

You (Rev Sekai) Wrote:

"Still and all, I see no value in denigrating RMJK on account of all these fore-mentioned events. Late in her life we grew a lot closer and I was pretty comfortable with her persona, and I think she mellowed out some, too."

As I have cycled through these issues over the years, I keep coming back to this point for myself as well. In fact, I can't help but feel that it may lie at the crux of the matter that many of us, with different viewpoints, dance around on this forum.

My conclusion, in essence:

I have the highest possible regard for RM Jiyu. This does not prevent me from recongizing the trauma that her sometimes abusive behavior caused others, and which, I believe, has become subtly institutionalized within the OBC itself--as teaching methods that are sometimes coercive, and teaching that is sometimes one-sided.

And yet this recognition does not lead me to blame her or to diminish the value of the insightful teaching that, I believe, she provided.

And yet again, the teaching that she provided does not diminish or excuse the harm that she sometimes caused.

It seems to me, that all of this together, somehow, lies at the crux of the matter--and its resolution.

I did not experience (what I would consider to be) abusive behavior from RM Jiyu--ever. And I have no explanation for this.

Perhaps the pursuit of my life-long quest to understand and design universally affordable housing--as a means of solar self-reliant life-support, and home-based livelihood, as part of a strategy for achieving social-economic justice and hepling to heal global crisis--provided a kind of safety-buffer for me. I mean, think about it--the pursuit of universally affordable, life-support self-reliant housing--how crazy is that??!!

At any rate it led me to seek space and time for the quest after 8 years at the Abbey, first at the Berkeley Buddhist Priory, then with an affiliated meditation group, and finally, in the pursuit of a graduate degree in architecture, with RMJK's full permission.

On the other hand, this empassioned pursuit of mine was clearly at variance with traditional forms of Buddhist monastic practice. RMJK could have easily pointed to my focus as a clear breach of training, for a monk, and brought me back "in line". And yet, she never did, even by inuendo. (Although she did, on occassion, refer to my then, very organic house forms, as "spud houses"--as in potato-like). I will be forever grateful for the support she provided in the fullest sense--contrary to all possible expectation.

I have come to the conclusion that no change is possible within the OBC, without the paradoxical recognition that Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett is simultaneously responsible for perpetrating an institutional dynamic of often subtle and sometimes overt abuse--together with genuine spiritual teaching that many of us have benefited from far beyond what we can possibly express or repay. Neither aspect contradicts or negates the other. The enormously beneficial aspects of RMJK's teaching are precisely the reason that it is so important to recognize, acknowledge, heal, and transform, the harmful aspects.

It seems to me that healing, above all, requires this paradoxical combination of acknowledging the trauma sometimes caused by another person's behavior (or our own)--recognizing how they (our we ourselves) have been previously traumatized--and yet simultaneously recognizing the benefit that their (or our) actions have produced as well.

To heal, is to relax back into awareness itself.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Nov 23, 2010 4:59 am

Excuse me for butting in here too, but I've found all these last three posts - Seikai, Isan, and Kozan - incredibly insightful and useful.

My own situation was different...but there are similarities. I too never experienced anything I could remotely call abuse from RMJK. I do remember her saying and doing things which shocked me - in particular, an anti-semitic outburst of hers which, having grown up as a Jew in xenophobic 1950s Britain, upset me for years. But I sat with it, saw it as a result of her upbringing and background, plus her annoyance at the time...and it was in no way aimed at me; I just happened to be there. I was happy - well, most of the time - with someone who could pass on genuine spiritual teaching even if she wasn't always a particularly nice human being, and I had no problem with those existing together.

My problem came when I went back to Throssel. Daishin Morgan and I had always tended to clash, but things went well for three years; I fact, I was Vice-Abbot at the time it all went pear-shaped. I honestly don't remember the details, and I don't think posting them inaccurately will help anyone. I do remember - and I think this is the crux of the matter - that eventually I realised I had to go, because there was no-one I could talk to and sort things out with; we had reached a complete impasse. I phoned Shasta, but RMJK refused to talk to me, saying it was between me and Daishin. I talked to Eko, who was actually quite helpful (for the record, I generally found Eko helpful), but I knew by then that this simply couldn't be resolved. Daishin asked me not to contact them for six weeks - the whole thing was thought to be possibly temporary - but at the end of that time I had no desire to go back, and felt our inter-personal difficulties would never be sorted out.

I bear Daishin no ill-will whatsoever, and I'm sure he's a fine Abbot and teacher. I don't really see what any of us could have done differently. Similar situation to those at Shasta; different participants. Perhaps as a result of RMJK's teaching, perhaps not. This sort of situation can occur in any organisation where people live in close proximity; I'm not at all sure it's an OBC thing. Whatever the reason, it needs to be recognised and allowed for somehow - a Daizui equivalent in every temple, if you like. A mediator, a facilitator. Somewhere people can go before things get blown out of all proportion and leaving is the only option.

Had that been possible, I might still be at Throssel. Would I like that to have been the scenario? That's a different story...
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:13 pm

Seikai,

Thank you very much for your last post. I feel like the conversation is moving from speaking to each other about opposing ideas to speaking with each other about shared experience, with different perspectives, yet searching for mutual understanding. I got a little tearful.

First, and most importantly, I want you to know how deeply I respect the decisions you have made in your life, the journey you have traveled, and the resolve you have kept to remain a monk. I know there were times this was not easy by any stretch of the imagination. I also see in you much our mutual dear friend, Daizui (a little tearful again) who strove to keep his integrity (which I believe he did), and help others do the same, in the midst of the fallout of the more negative aspects of Rev. Kennett and Eko’s actions. Daizui could see the negative aspects of Rev. Kennett’s personality and not sugarcoat them by giving them some higher spiritual significance. He could see her irrational outbursts and the harm they caused as just that. He could see that she used repressive means to deal with problems and know there was a better way. In the midst of that he had a fierce loyalty to Rev. Kennett and her teaching. Because Daizui was a compassionate and open minded person, and BECAUSE of his fierce loyalty to Rev. Kennett, he sought to mitigate the damage she could do by validating the perceptions and empathizing with the feelings of those who were hurt by her. His loyalty to Rev. Kennett did not diminish his loyalty to his friends who were hurt or confused by what was going on around them and being done to them. The empathy and understanding he provided his friends, and his loyalty to the truth, even when that truth did not place Rev. Kennett in the best of light, did not diminish the loyalty and respect he had to Rev. Kennett. I deeply respected and loved Daizui for all of the above. I see the same traits in you Seikai. You have the ability to take that ball and run with it and do a lot of good. The whole problem of former monks and people having become disaffected seems to be important enough for Meian to speak about and want to create a shrine for all those who’ve been a part of the OBC. Unlike some on this site, I appreciate Meian’s idea and sentiment behind it. However, in comparison to what Daizui did and what you can do, it is the smaller good.

With the most important thing said, let me touch on some of the things you brought up. First of all, you stated that you had many of the same feelings I’ve expressed but they haven’t had the staying power. I don’t want you to have the impression that the feelings and experiences I’ve discussed here have been some burden I’ve been carrying for decades that I’ve finally been able to dump on this site, like a load of [banned term] in the toilet after two weeks of constipation. Really, I’ve been pretty regular over the years. There was the typical post monk adjustment, during which I worked through much of what’s being discussed here. I won’t pretend that was easy. I needed to go through some un washing of the brain, realize that I had a disease, not a spiritual flaw or lack of resolve, etc. that had been foist upon me by Rev. Kennett, Eko, and others. I had to understand that cutting myself loose from Shasta and Rev. Kennett was not some betrayal on my part—if one wanted to look through the lens of betrayal, the OBC and Rev. Kennett had their share of that responsibility. (This whole process of leaving is something the OBC needs to educate itself on. It is no joke. If you grasped the enormity of the process, you would handle people leaving very differently. This is something Josh might be able to help you on, along with general feedback from the motley bunch on this site.) On top of all that I was in constant pain, disabled, without a skill or vocation with which to support myself. Let’s say my plate was full and I had my share of indigestion. This was worked through over the years, and again Daizui helped. We exchanged a number of letters sorting out the whole mess of my leaving. I believe I alluded to that correspondence in my introductory post. As was so typical of Daizui, he had the integrity and cajones to take responsibility and apologize. Not generally, but specifically.

What has continued to pop up over the years (less and less over time, but it never completely went away), is how utterly oblivious so many of the monks of the OBC appeared to be aware of the harm they cause; how much they appear to be in denial about Rev. Kennett’s patterns of abuse, which sprung from her own abuse; how repressive an atmosphere was created to deal with dissent; how dissent was impossible; how, how, how, all the things being discussed on this site. These were conversations I’d have with former monks or my wife occasionally, less and less as time passed. The emotional investment of the early years after leaving was gone though. I imagine that a similar process occurred for many of the former monks and laity now popping up on this site. For the more recently disaffected, the pain is more acute.

Then I got an email from a former monk, “Heard about OBC Connect?” No. “You might want to check it out.” Obviously I did. What I found here in addition to the old timers was a slew of former monks and laity of far more recent vintage than my old self, all with similar tales of woe that I experienced and witness others experiencing. “Holy feces!” I thought to myself. “These folks just don’t seem to learn. The damage continues.” I decided to not walk away, but instead see if there could not be some way to help the OBC grasp that there are fundamental issues not being dealt with. I also wanted to provide some comfort and validation to those who continue to sort these issues out. Along the way, I have found my share of the latter myself.

All this leads up to why I posted my story. It was not for catharsis. Though it was somewhat liberating to just put it out there, that was more of a beneficial side effect than an expression of intention. There are a few reasons I posted my story: 1. I did and do believe that the OBC needs a wakeup call. The more stories there are posted publicly, the more I hoped they would have to perk up and notice, “Hey we might have a problem.” If the stories were plentiful and graphic enough, perhaps it would cause sufficient embarrassment, even fear of some publication getting wind of this interesting story, or fear of a lawsuit, that a real fire might be lit under some butts (by the way I have no desire to file a lawsuit or spread stories). 2. My story is somewhat unique in that a) it was already corroborated and apologized for by the former head of the order, therefore it could not be so easily dismissed and, b) it was centered around a physical ailment, and for about 99% of the general public, the treatment I received would be perceived as outrageous (and this is the nicest word I could come up with for the reaction of that segment of the population). For most people, because of the devastating physical nature of my ailment, my situation does not have the “subjectiveness” that many stories posted could have. I see no difference, but for a general audience, I felt there could be a significant difference, and 3. Providing validation and helping others further clarify their own experiences.

Before posting I emailed Haryo. I told him that I might be posting my story of leaving Shasta, but that I was not sure if I would do it. I told him my intention was not to cause harm to anyone, and particularly, I didn’t want to make Meian’s job any more difficult than it already was, with her filling her position in the wake of the Eko disaster, along with the OBC Connect problems they were facing. Haryo was very cordial and didn’t try to pressure me to not post. I also didn’t want to alienate former monks who I still consider friends. In the end, weighing the good and harm on both sides, I went ahead.

My purpose was never to denigrate Rev. Kennett. What I learned from her and my years at Shasta have been invaluable. I have many fond memories of her. She frequently asked me over to her home and I helped her with jin shin late at night when everyone had gone to bed. Her job was terribly difficult and she sacrificed much in her pursuit of truth. But as Kozan stated all this does not negate the negative emotional patterns she regularly enacted and harmed others with; these negative emotional patterns that were passed down and continued through her elevating Eko to a position he didn’t belong; through the more recent stories of monks and laity negatively affected to this day.

To me this site, and my postings, are a message: There is nothing to hide. The elephant in the room is visible to anyone not purposely, or unconsciously needing, to look away. We don’t have to be silent. You don’t have to perpetuate the mistakes that keep the same stories coming long after Rev. Kennett’s death. You stated that much has changed, and you may well be correct. My strong inclination is to trust what you say. But my only real contact with the abbey since Daizui’s death is what I’ve read on this site, and that tells and different, or another story. I don’t doubt that these stories and your story can be true simultaneously. But I don’t believe your story negates the stories told here. And though you came to your present understanding by going through the storms resulting from Rev. Kennett’s own issues, that doesn’t mean that you and others can’t look at how her issues have affected atmosphere, degrees of repression, teaching styles, and change what needs to be changed. I believe you have done much of that, and many others probably have done the same. As I said in my post on emotional intelligence, the idea is to make the line of folks standing outside the door with stories like mine or similar, as short as possible. Stripping away denial and rationalization, and, I believe, by more monks being much more open to people on this site (as you have done) may well be of benefit.

Jimyo frequently states that the OBC is like all other organizations. Why be so critical of the OBC when you’re just being what organizations are? Is that Rev. Kennett’s legacy? Is that the legacy you want? “We’re just like everyone else.” From within the OBC you have ample cheerleaders. But for those outside looking in, do you want an increasing number taking a glance and saying, “They’re just like most other religious organizations—aggrandizing their founder, denying their problems, and covering up their mistakes. They’re more interested in survival than truth.”

It is very difficult to be an exemplary individual (and I don’t hold myself in that category). It’s a 1000 times more difficult to be an exemplary organization. Again, I am not here to denigrate Rev. Kennett or the OBC. I would much prefer to look to Rev. Kennett and the OBC and say with pride rather than shame: “I devoted 16 years of my life there.” But to be honest, when I read the stories that continue to come out, I feel more of the latter than the former.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:17 pm

To Jimyo,

In your list of people's postings that you found helpful, you forgot to put my name. The edit button is to the upper right of your post, and you can easily remedy that mistake. Don't worry. I'm not offended. I'm getting forgetful myself.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:31 pm

Kaizan,

"I feel like the conversation is moving from speaking to each other about opposing ideas to speaking with each other about shared experience, with different perspectives, yet searching for mutual understanding."

That was the feeling I got from the posts I mentioned, and....sorry...I didn't get it from your earlier ones. Simple as that; not the result of my admittedly awful memory. Perhaps I skimmed and missed the relevant bit; Lise has pulled me up for doing that in the past. But anyway, your LAST post is spot on! And you're right; I shouldn't just accept that the OBC is like other organisations when it could be so much more/better. The constant criticism of an organisation and a person who changed my life for the better was getting to me, and I was sometimes posting in protest. But these last few posts seem to suggest that we all agree that the OBC and RMJK were basically good; but some things weren't, have ongoing karmic consequences, and need changing. I'm OK with that.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Nov 23, 2010 4:36 pm

Jimyo wrote:

But these last few posts seem to suggest that we all agree that the OBC and RMJK were basically good; but some things weren't, have ongoing karmic consequences, and need changing.

Your statement might be correct if "we all" does not include me. I've read the postings. I've read the OBC books, and much other Buddhism. I observed the behavior in the Priory I attended. I was never a monk, and didn't know Jiyu personally, only through her books and disciples. I don't have any wistful ties to Shasta or even the Priory I attended for years. What I've observed directly in the OBC and what I've read and heard discussed here has made me doubt anything she taught that I cannot confirm by other reliable sources. I cannot reach a rational conclusion that she was a good person, nor did she leave a kind and good legacy -- despite how ever many kenshos Shasta claims.

I quite forgive her mistakes, and even much harm, by understanding her as an erring, flawed human being. It the insistent exalted claims of her insight and perfection, and the worship of her as a Buddhist deity of sorts that I disagree with, not only because it is inconsistent with basic Buddhist teaching, but because it has spawned a generation of monks that have modeled both her harm and limited beneficence -- with little ability to distinguish between the good and evil she might have been or done. And they, in blind misguided loyalty, attempt to pass that irrational harm along to others.

Perhaps ignorance is bliss here. If you do not or refuse to know the harm she has done, her failings, her lack of enlightened behavior, what she wrote might seem pretty good or even useful. But the Buddha taught that ignorance was suffering -- not bliss. Perhaps if you are suffering intensely, reaching for bliss via ignorance is understandable.

It is true that the OBC is not a prison camp with armed guards to prevent one from leaving, and that those who came and stayed, came and stayed of their own volition. But it seems obvious that many came with psychological needs, were encouraged to become even more vulnerable, and then found themselves twisted on the blade of that vulnerability by those who were supposed to be their benefactors. It seems that religions who attract the vulnerable and needy have a special obligation to heal them rather than injure them further. It is true in the wild that nature preys on the sick and isolated. But if religion can't do better than the beasts of the field, then it is truly something humans should be encouraged to repudiate and ignore.

Sorry to be out of tune with the chorus, but I've learned to be honest with myself first about things -- not pretending to think things I don't out of either fear or need to believe.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Nov 23, 2010 5:08 pm

To Jimyo,
You're a hard task master.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Nov 23, 2010 6:00 pm

Kaizan,
I know!

Jack,
By "we all" I meant the people who'd recently posted on this thread. You'll never get everyone on the forums to agree on anything. You and I might just have to agree to disagree. I don't have a problem with that.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Nov 23, 2010 10:57 pm

Jimyo wrote:


Jack,
... You and I might just have to agree to disagree. I don't have a problem with that.

Nor do I. Disagreement without rancor is a healthy part of life. It is only in unhealthy relationships that it cannot be tolerated or the "sin" of it is punished.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Wed Nov 24, 2010 4:24 am

For the record, I disagreed openly with RMJK several times. She didn't like it - neither do you or I or anyone else, actually - but I wasn't punished for it. I'll tell you about it sometime...
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Wed Nov 24, 2010 12:03 pm

Jimyo wrote:
For the record, I disagreed openly with RMJK several times. She didn't like it - neither do you or I or anyone else, actually - but I wasn't punished for it. I'll tell you about it sometime...

I suppose it depends on what you mean by "like." Disagreement doesn't have the pleasant rush of affirming one's ego or securing it. But "agreement" in general has not proved to be very valuable. I have very often explicitly conversed with, sought and solicited advice/further information from those who openly disagreed with me or from those that I knew would see things differently. Such has often helped me see/explore something differently than I otherwise would have. Some of my best friends have been people who have added greatly to the sum of my life by intelligent disagreement.

Some disagreement, of course, doesn't have much value. Sometimes when explored, it's obvious the emotions, motive or thinking behind it have little to offer except an understanding of how another's experiences are driving their behavior.


Last edited by jack on Wed Nov 24, 2010 12:51 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : s/p agreement)
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Wed Nov 24, 2010 6:55 pm

I see this post is a direct response to Kaizan and I don't mean to preempt him with this quick comment. First I really appreciate what you've written here. In retrospect do you think being able to share your feelings with Daizui was key? When I struggled with all the same issues I didn't feel there was anyone I could fully trust, and so my suffering escalated until leaving was the only viable choice. Regarding your question about whether posting one's story facilitates healing, I would answer yes. The story doesn't necessarily need to be shared publicly, but most importantly one needs to feel there is permission to tell it, and then do so in some context. If I had felt there was permission to share my deepest concerns about RMJK with a trusted third party the outcome could have been quite different. (written by Isan)

Isan: Although this conversation started out between Kaizan and me, I welcome all contributions to it, and thank those of you who have written in the past couple of days. To answer your question first, yes, talking with RM Daizui and sharing my feelings with him saved my bacon. I could see that I wasn't going to last as a monk unless I did. We were all taught that we needed to take refuge in the Sangha, but the teaching was given in somewhat of a formalized way; eventually I decided to just do it, to bring the whole pile of dung and trust that I could set it down in front of someone. Whether or not you would have stayed in monastic life had you done the same thing is speculation at this point, 25 years later, but the tragedy embedded in it is that you and others felt that you did not have “permission” to talk about your deeper issues, that doing so would challenge the authority structure in some way, shape or form. There were monks who had enough trust to talk about it with another monk, usually RM Daizui, and they still left monastic life for whatever reasons.

I think the problems that existed with regard to RMJK were a) cultural: she was British and had different cultural wiring than Americans; b) generational: she was from a generation that had difficulty talking about deep rooted human problems; and c) cultural again, in that she absorbed Japanese culture, and Zen culture, with its hierarchical, vertically oriented structures, in which age and rank are venerated. This was a completely new paradigm for all of us, being Americans (I think the Brits by and large had less trouble), and it was a big leap to try to figure out how to work within this system, or tweak the system with its rigid, vertical orientation, which does not allow much wiggle room for any feedback. I think RM Daizui kind of figured it out, but he was fairly alone in doing so.

One thing I learned from observation was that if you challenged RMJK, and took an adversarial, immovable stance on any issue, you were probably doomed to fail at it; she had all the power and authority. On the other hand, if you approached her first by recognizing her position and authority, and on those terms made it clear that you wanted to learn something from her, then it was possible to broach difficult stuff and have a fairly open give-and-take about whatever it was. She actually really loved it when monks got over their fear of her and were able to have an intelligent conversation with her on tough things; I enjoyed that with her over the last half dozen or so years of her life.

My conclusion, in essence:
I have the highest possible regard for RM Jiyu. This does not prevent me from recognizing the trauma that her sometimes abusive behavior caused others, and which, I believe, has become subtly institutionalized within the OBC itself--as teaching methods that are sometimes coercive, and teaching that is sometimes one-sided.


And yet this recognition does not lead me to blame her or to diminish the value of the insightful teaching that, I believe, she provided. And yet again, the teaching that she provided does not diminish or excuse the harm that she sometimes caused. It seems to me, that all of this together, somehow, lies at the crux of the matter--and its resolution. (written by Kozan)


We seem to have a fundamental human dilemma in which the positive aspects of RMJK's life and teaching live on one side of a scale, and the negative aspects live on the other side of it. We can choose to look at the glass (sorry for switching metaphors) as half full or as half empty. I agree with basically all that you are saying, Kozan. If it's true that some of RMJK's negative personality traits have been subtly institutionalized within the OBC, as you assert, then my hope would be that the monks of the order come to a full recognition of those traits and make every effort to drop them from their collective repertoire of teaching methods. She did, after all, openly say that no one was under any obligation to copy her mistakes. In fact, she discouraged us from doing so. The fact that Eko Little, for one, did so was a deeply unfortunate turn of events for the community of Shasta Abbey and the order. I wouldn't go so far as to condemn her for picking him as her successor, because he had every opportunity to get it right, not to repeat her mistakes, and be a successful abbot on his own, and in the end he was unable to do that.

As to your second point, the crux of the matter is something I've been trying to get at without a great deal of success, but maybe now we are getting close. As spiritually mature individuals, we have to hold the scale in our hands and not judge RMJK too harshly and yet not deny that she used harsh teaching methods from time to time which harmed people. The people who have been harmed need to find a way to come to terms with their unhappy memories, their hurt, whatever it is that they still need to resolve.

I would like to think that I'm here to try to facilitate that process. e]]First, and most importantly, I want you to know how deeply I respect the decisions you have made in your life, the journey you have traveled, and the resolve you have kept to remain a monk. I know there were times this was not easy by any stretch of the imagination. I also see in you much our mutual dear friend, Daizui (a little tearful again) who strove to keep his integrity (which I believe he did), and help others do the same, in the midst of the fallout of the more negative aspects of Rev. Kennett and Eko’s actions. Daizui could see the negative aspects of Rev. Kennett’s personality and not sugarcoat them by giving them some higher spiritual significance. He could see her irrational outbursts and the harm they caused as just that. He could see that she used repressive means to deal with problems and know there was a better way. In the midst of that he had a fierce loyalty to Rev. Kennett and her teaching. Because Daizui was a compassionate and open minded person, and BECAUSE of his fierce loyalty to Rev. Kennett, he sought to mitigate the damage she could do by validating the perceptions and empathizing with the feelings of those who were hurt by her. His loyalty to Rev. Kennett did not diminish his loyalty to his friends who were hurt or confused by what was going on around them and being done to them. The empathy and understanding he provided his friends, and his loyalty to the truth, even when that truth did not place Rev. Kennett in the best of light, did not diminish the loyalty and respect he had to Rev. Kennett. I deeply respected and loved Daizui for all of the above. I see the same traits in you Seikai. You have the ability to take that ball and run with it and do a lot of good. The whole problem of former monks and people having become disaffected seems to be important enough for Meian to speak about and want to create a shrine for all those who’ve been a part of the OBC. Unlike some on this site, I appreciate Meian’s idea and sentiment behind it. However, in comparison to what Daizui did and what you can do, it is the smaller good. (written by Kaizan)

]To me, this is a really beautiful piece of writing by Kaizan, for which I'm deeply grateful and humbled. RM Daizui was my closest spiritual friend, a model and an inspiration, and to be seen in the same light as him is an honor. I've never felt divided with regard to any loyalty; I loved my Master, and had great respect for her as did RM Daizui. But I'm not one to just gloss over her human problems, chalking them up as enlightened activity done for the sake of rescuing sentient beings from suffering. At the same time, I know that that was, in fact, her motive, but that the motive had to pass through the filter of her humanity, with all the conditioning and suffering attendant to it. She tried mightily, as do we all, to overcome her own human faults, and had varying success at it; that makes her no different from anyone else—we all struggle in that way. Diabetes made it increasingly difficult for her as the years went by. At times when she was feeling a bit better she could be enormously compassionate, and at others times she struggled.[/size]

So now I can see that there are a lot of people that feel the need to tell their story, and that for them to do so is part of the working out of a deep rooted grief or sadness that came about as a result of their unfulfilled aspirations in the religious life, or just plain traumatic experiences. I think that for many active members of the OBC today, to read all these stories, which anyone in the world with a computer and internet access can read, seems to add up to a concerted effort to discredit RMJK; and although that is probably not anyone's specific motive in posting to this site, it can nevertheless look that way from a distance. Meanwhile, I personally can see that, especially in the case of former monks and disciples of RMJK, there is mostly just a searching for a return to a more complete whole, less of a dichotomy with regard to her, and maybe some kind of re-establishment of good relations with the OBC as it currently exists, its monks and lay followers. And I see no reason why that cannot happen.

What has continued to pop up over the years (less and less over time, but it never completely went away), is how utterly oblivious so many of the monks of the OBC appeared to be aware of the harm they cause; how much they appear to be in denial about Rev. Kennett’s patterns of abuse, which sprung from her own abuse; how repressive an atmosphere was created to deal with dissent; how dissent was impossible; how, how, how, all the things being discussed on this site. These were conversations I’d have with former monks or my wife occasionally, less and less as time passed. The emotional investment of the early years after leaving was gone though. I imagine that a similar process occurred for many of the former monks and laity now popping up on this site. For the more recently disaffected, the pain is more acute.

Well now this is a big bushel basket, isn't it? Wish I had an answer but I don't. It's a painstaking process of working with one individual at a time, going over what they experienced, by whom, and how they were adversely affected. What can be done to take old wounds, apply the salve of compassion to them so that they can heal? Meanwhile, in the same way as a couple of days ago, I have the following question: how much of the pain can be attributed to idealism that ran headlong into reality? In other words, we come to the religious life with ideals about what we hope to find, enlightenment for instance; or that we want to deal with our horrible childhood and put that to rest; or we want to find some deeper meaning in life, like what the hell we're here for, and isn't there something more worth living for than the kind of superficial happiness that society tries to sell us? And the most insidious idealism is the one we project onto the spiritual teacher, that they be perfect, or perfectly compassionate, that they never harm anyone, and they will guide us to the promised land; but that idealism gets crushed by reality. Reality is that all teachers are just human after all. So, then what do you do with your crushed idealism? Again, I'm not calling into question your methods for dealing with crushed idealism or emotional trauma, I just want to understand it.

From my perspective and experience, what actually cures the emotional trauma, or the dark pieces that one finds in ones own heart, is pure love. To be willing to sit still enough within the arising of painful memories, and hold them with arms of loving kindness seems to be the most effective cure. Taking the pieces of doubt, guilt, frustration, pain—everyone has their own unique mix of it—and let loving kindness wash over it repeatedly is very effective. How do we deeply let go of the negativity? Do we really want to return to a place in which things can be seen as existing within a complete whole, not tarnished by our judgments of people and events, or do we wish to stay in the world of duality which judges, condemns, and gets a little kick out of doing so? Understand that I am not pointing a finger at anyone, it is a rhetorical question, but I think one that is in need of asking. Nansen cut that gosh darn cat in two, but I think we can and should do something better.

Respectfully submitted,
Rev. Seikai
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Watson
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Thu Nov 25, 2010 9:16 am

Dear Rev. Seikai,

As one without a connection to OBC matters I have not often commented except as moderator. However, curiosity overtakes me and I have something to say as a reader only, not as a moderator.

There is a marked difference in your discussion of the late Abbess and the former Eko Little. Her faults and acts of harm appear to have your defense and understanding whilst his do not. The language you employ for them is different and the contrast, in fact, rather stark. The inference is that you yourself do not yet hold Abbot Little's acts and their consequences with arms of loving kindness, though this is recommended to Kaizan and others for their experiences with Abbess Kennett. Would the doctrine not recognise this approach as an example of discriminatory mind? Both persons appear to have caused serious harm. Is only one to be held accountable, in your view?

My apologies if these remarks have intruded on the discussion.

Thank you.

Watson
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jack



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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 26, 2010 9:58 am

Watson wrote:


Dear Rev. Seikai,

As one without a connection to OBC matters I have not often commented except as moderator. However, curiosity overtakes me and I have something to say as a reader only, not as a moderator.

There is a marked difference in your discussion of the late Abbess and the former Eko Little. Her faults and acts of harm appear to have your defense and understanding whilst his do not. The language you employ for them is different and the contrast, in fact, rather stark.
Watson

Interesting observation. I think the exceptional veneration and ignoring of mistakes related Jiyu is a necessary part of the OBC culture, and the one that makes me doubt the OBC most. The OBC has built its Buddhism around Jiyu, and if she is seen as basically flawed, its institutional version of Buddhism crumbles. She is more important to the OBC than Buddhism itself, though they keep both tightly connected.

Eko, on the other hand can now (though apparently not during his reign) be discarded as a flawed exception.

I have seen fear flicker across the face of monks at the possibility that Jiyu might be wrong. They really would scramble to find a way for her to be right -- always right. Many seemed more willing to challenge Buddhism than to honestly consider that she might have been wrong. It is understandable in a way. If, after decades of devotion, they were to realize how wrong they'd been, much of their life and suffering would become meaningless and pointless. I can sympathize with that -- but it doesn't have much to do with truth.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Nov 27, 2010 3:26 am

Watson and Jack--You may have put your finger on something telling and important here. The ancestral tie back to the Japanese Zen Dharma ancestry goes through RM Jiyu, of course. So, if she is not upheld as a great Master by the senior monks that were her students, then what does that say about their Transmission, their own level of understanding, and the pedigree of instruction to be had at OBC institutions?

This isn't necessarily a matter of vanity, in the personal sense that individual monks might fear being called out. There's the whole legitimacy of OBC as a credible source of Buddhist teaching at stake, and putting her on a pedastal may be in part a relatively painless, and truthful by their reckoning, method of claiming the right to teach the Buddhist Way. You can tell that the senior monks also love her memory very much, in the way that they talk about her. Or at least I can, and I don't detect a whiff of the abject in their Jiyu stories, either.

The senior monks have also put a lot of work--a life's work in most cases--toward building OBC, and it must really suck to have the "Buddhist-ness" of it all challenged. This is a part of what I imagine is contingent upon having RM Jiyu's faults emphasized at the expense of her virtues and achievement.

Consider RM Jiyu's life story. Yes she was fortunate to come back to the West at a time when there was a lot of spiritual seeking going on, but she also really worked her tail off and got a lot accomplished: two Abbeys, a large handful of priories, and umpteen meditation groups now exist that wouldn't have if she hadn't been who she was, and hadn't worked at it day after day for such a long time.

For that alone I'd say that she more than earned at least a little pedastal (or a saintly painting and a terrific stupa, perhaps). Veneration from her students does not automatically imply messianic worship. (And that value judgment of mine should not in any way detract from all of the calls to review RM Jiyu's mistakes and not perpetuate them, which are after all far more knowledgeable than my views.)

There's an apparent difference of perception between Rev. Seikai and Jack. On the one hand, Rev. Seikai says that he does not shy away from talking about Jiyu's human faults. Surely he is not alone in this out of the dozens of Jiyu's students. On the other, Jack says that he witnesses fear in monks who try to process that she might have even been wrong about anything, let alone have had systematic personality flaws. This really sounds like two very different institutions being described, although it would be naive to say that these two views can't coexist side-by-side within a group. I wonder which would be the more prevalent view, if we could scientifically survey the monks of the Order? If the relatively new monks were asked, could they name any of RM Jiyu's faults as a human being, as reported by the senior monks?


Last edited by ddolmar on Sat Nov 27, 2010 6:53 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : poor English)
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Iain

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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Nov 27, 2010 4:12 am

ddolmar wrote:
Watson and Jack--You may have put your finger on something telling and important here. The ancestral tie back to the Japanese Zen Dharma ancestry goes through RM Jiyu, of course. So, if she is not upheld as a great Master by the senior monks that were her students, then what does that say about their Transmission, their own level of understanding, and the pedigree of instruction to be had at OBC institutions?

It is worth remembering in this context that because of the tensions that surrounded the transmission of a foreign woman at Sojiji back in the 1960's Keido Chisan Koho Zenji later sent her for an independent formal interview with Sawaki Kodo Roshi at Antaiji and that he also confirmed her understanding.
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ddolmar

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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Nov 27, 2010 6:39 am

Iain wrote:
It is worth remembering in this context that because of the tensions that surrounded the transmission of a foreign woman at Sojiji back in the 1960's Keido Chisan Koho Zenji later sent her for an independent formal interview with Sawaki Kodo Roshi at Antaiji and that he also confirmed her understanding.

Well worth remembering, Iain. Thanks.

To clarify, I don't doubt RM Jiyu's or OBC's Dharma ancestry at all.
--Dan
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Nov 27, 2010 9:23 am

It's interesting how so many different viewpoints can arise out of the same organisation.
Before I got (slightly) into the OBC I tried out aloooot of other buddhist gangs. In fact I tried out pretty much every one in the hood (uk), living in their centres/monasteries for a few months at a time. In pretty much every one of these gangs the veneration for, and adulation of, the Head Dude was intense. When I went to Throssel hole I asked a monk what Main Man Daishin was like. I was expecting the usual flowing verbiage to surround him with magical robes and spin a halo over his head. But the monk just said, "what do you mean?" So I told him I wanna know about the Man With The Plan (paraphrasing here). He just said, "he's ok. kind of careful."

Also once, when I was at the monastery, I told a disparaging joke about Queen Jiyu and it really caught a monk like a left hook and he kind of creased up laughing.

The other buddhist gangs tended to be a lot more obsequious and dribbly.

So if we are going to pull the obc up on their sycophantic pedestal-placing activities, we will have to do it to alot of the extant buddhist groups.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Nov 27, 2010 12:07 pm

If this posts twice, my apologies -- my last post seems to have disappeared -- will try again.

Does this exchange emphasize Kennett's flaws? Most commentators who knew her give as much praise to her good acts. The issue is the uneven treatment given to how people should acknowledge and right themselves from her harm in comparison to Eko Little's.

The following was written about Eko:

Quote :

Human beings were deeply hurt by his actions, and this fact seemed central to some of the conversations that have been ongoing in this forum. Among other things, he created a repressive atmosphere which did not allow for evaluation or criticism, a complaint which many have had with regard to the culture of Shasta Abbey over the years, and they're right.
Are each of these points not true of Jiyu Kennett also, and to no lesser degree than they are true for Eko?
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   

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After the Conclave: First Steps
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