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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   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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glorfindel



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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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jack



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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Nov 27, 2010 4:13 pm

glorfindel wrote:


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.

You make a fair point. At least one specific Buddhist lineage wannabe touted their founder as Maitreya. As I recall, there were others that claimed that for their teacher too. When I hear such claims, I turn away. I have no time for such myths. I am not looking for Maitreya. Wise, experienced Buddhist friends and fellow travelers are enough. Then I can benefit greatly without worrying about gods cracking when they fall from a pedestal.

In a mid-point discussion with monk one time, I stated I was looking for truth, whether or not it agreed with Buddhism, the OBC, etc. It took him off guard, and he paused and stated that his obligation was to teach the OBC version of things. Later he stated that the OBC mission was to promulgate Jiyu's teachings. I'm sure in his mind he had reconciled that Jiyu's teachings were in fact also indisputable Buddhist truth and truth. If he could have acknowledged that Jiyu might not have gotten everything right, that she might not have been a near-Buddha, it would have helped. I could have examined her teaching more closely if the pressure to always accept it despite her behavior hadn't been there.

I think some of what she taught was correct. And I have the koan of being grateful to both an OBC monk, Jiyu, and the temple for the initial Buddhist teaching I received while also seeing their flaws.

What I finally could not reconcile was the emphasis placed on blind devotion rather seeing as stated by Milarepa.

Quote :
To see things as they are. This is the only understanding.

The inability to see or to dare to see things as they were, to ignore mistakes to avoid doubting, to recite as truth what could not be explained by experience or understanding -- led me to doubt and finally discard the whole. I did see the OBC and Jiyu as getting things partially correct and felt and offered appropriate respect and appreciation for that. I was not willing to accept or venerate either as perfected Buddhism or Buddhists.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Nov 27, 2010 5:13 pm

Jack said:
In a mid-point discussion with monk one time, I stated I was looking for truth, whether or not it agreed with Buddhism, the OBC, etc. It took him off guard, and he paused and stated that his obligation was to teach the OBC version of things.

This is making "teaching" an object that can be grasped, dessiminated, etc. But Buddhism is about practice, about knowing with one's blood and bones that anything called Truth slips away like water once one tries to hold it. All one can do is zazen and put that zazen into life through the precepts, responding to the world and, through this response, allowing the world a glimpse of dharmakaya.

A teacher and teaching opens the way: but it is from one's own meditation that the precepts are enacted. One must turn the wheel of the dharma for oneself.

These things were clearly stated at one time at the Abbey.

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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Nov 28, 2010 11:04 am

Sophia wrote:


This is making "teaching" an object that can be grasped, dessiminated, etc. But Buddhism is about practice, about knowing with one's blood and bones that anything called Truth slips away like water once one tries to hold it. All one can do is zazen and put that zazen into life through the precepts, responding to the world and, through this response, allowing the world a glimpse of dharmakaya.


I want to be fair to the monk. I think he might have ultimately agreed with you, had that been the crux of the dialog. Within the context of the conversation, his comment was reasonable, and I commend his honesty vs. dodging my inquiry. He was making a deliberate, though selective, choice about the relatively narrow boundaries in which he would explore truth. And I was unwilling to accept that limitation, seeing Buddhism not as a bounded territory to explore, but a means of exploring skilfully without boundaries and without getting totally lost..
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Nov 28, 2010 12:26 pm

Bounded territory is all a matter of perspective. 'Monkey' found the precepts binding. But within the vast field of compassion, there are unlimited opportunities.
Yes, there are lots of boundaries. Taking refuge is an important boundary. Truly hearing the Other. It is also a paradox that when our I meets You, we become open/unbounded. No easy answers here.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Nov 28, 2010 12:52 pm

Seikai,

I wrote:

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.


You responded

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.

I have no problem with Rev. Kennett being human and having flaws. This is a hurdle many people have to jump over, when they see the idealism they brought to practice meet the reality that teachers and organizations have flaws. But that is not the hurdle that I tripped over, nor is it the hurdle that many people are trying to address here. While flaws can be accepted, what is much more difficult to swallow is when those flaws are denied, rationalized away, and even elevated to being spiritual teaching. The problem arises when people try to talk about the effect those flaws are having on themselves and others and are then criticized and shunned; when their motives are then suspect; when they themselves are then suspect. When they try to talk about those concerning flaws that they are accused of causing disharmony in the sangha. When scripture is found that discusses causing disharmony in the sangha and it is clearly pointed out that those doing this will go to hell for eons and eons. And not only are they going to hell for eons and eons, but they are inciting others to same fatal error and they will also go to hell for eons and eons. Think of the fear created. Think of the utter confusion created in the minds and hearts of people who devoted their life to an organization and teacher now telling them they are on the road to hell. Is this the Buddhism we committed ourselves to? Think of how one’s perceptions needs to be repressed. Think of how one’s values need to be repressed. Think of how the simple truth needs to be repressed. Think of what it does to one’s body, heart and mind to repress, repress, repress. This is the OBC I experienced more and more as I neared my illness and eventual departure. The rationalization, denial, fear mongering, etc. etc. etc. as a way to PROTECT the SANCTITY of the flaws is what I have an issue with. This is something that I saw OBC wide when I was there. Others can speak to more recent events, but with Eko at the helm, how different could it have been?

Repress, repress, repress.. Eko was pathologically repressed. He subsumed his personality under Rev. Kennett and displayed a frightening lack of empathy for those upon whom he enacted unfair and misguided directives. He was repressive towards others, a great advocate and fierce soldier to enact the nightmare scenarios I discussed above. Was I some enormously insightful monk of vast enlightenment that I could pierce the veils that so completely covered the inner Eko that had all other monks flummoxed, who saw only his pure façade? Was I so great a monk that I alone could pierce those veils to see the twisted inner result of the deeply repressed personality of Eko? I don’t think so. Yet he ascended the throne.

In their reliance upon repression and repressive techniques, Eko and Rev. Kennett shared a common bond. Rev. Kennett could not see the obvious for one reason—she herself was enamored with repressive techniques. She ruled with an iron fist way more often than necessary or prudent. She looked at Eko and saw someone who could do the same. Eko was enamored with repressive techniques. Join that with a lack of true empathy (not the false empathy one turns on and off at one’s convenience), which was an equally obvious aspect of his personality, and the nightmare the OBC is trying to clean up at present was very easily predictable.

I have little doubt that the net of Eko’s sexual impropriety runs deeper and wider than one person. I suspect that the OBC is scrambling to figure out just how deep and wide as we speak (or write). If there was one sexual impropriety, there was likely many more, especially with a repressed personality like Eko’s. Could this not be seen by anyone at the OBC? Was there no one who suggested to others in the hierarchy that his behavior was suspicious? What was done with these perceptions?

My suspicion is that they were handled as they were in Rev. Kennett’s time, with denial, rationalization, blaming the victim, and fear mongering. Am I wrong in this? Were there no suspicions? Was there no one bringing these things to anyone’s attention? If I am not wrong, do you not see a pattern? Do you not see how Eko’s flaws were handled is no different from how Rev. Kennett’s were? There is your problem, and the real problem, the deepest problem, is not Rev. Eko. The real problem is NOT Rev. Kennett. The real problem is that the monks of the OBC have learned to rationalize, deny, use fear, and blame the victims. This happened under Rev. Kennett and under Eko. That is why Eko can so easily function as a scapegoat. If every monk in the OBC does not look at themselves and ask, HOW DO I CONTINUE TO PERPETUATE THIS CULTURE OF SILENCE, DENIAL, RATIONALIZATION, JUSTIFICATION, BLAMING THE VICTIM AND FEAR MONGERING? then how will the real problem ever be perceived much less dealt with. This is institutional trauma. It is the complete assimilation of characteristics that perpetuate harm in a way that those in the institution are blind to it all. Blame Eko? Blame Rev. Kennett? No…. look at yourselves. How do you allow these things to happen? Who do you have to be that these things are allowed to continue in plain sight? For they are in plain sight. They are the elephants in the room that all eyes avert.

That my friend is what I have a problem with, not the natural erosion of idealization that comes to all facets of one’s life along with becoming familiar, closer, more intimate with those facets, be they people or organizations. I am married. I know my wife’s flaws, as she knows mine. We love each other none the less and we want to remain married. But if either of us handled problems the way I and many others see the OBC handling theirs, I think the other would file for divorce. It’s not the problem that’s the problem; it’s the way it’s handled. It’s whether problems are even allowed to be seen.

When you have the time and energy, and if you’re so inclined, I am interested in your thoughts about my comments.



PS Eko’s sexual improprieties are the least of the OBC’s problems. I understand what he did and its effects on many others are very important and must be dealt with in a serious and empathetic manner. However, the acts themselves are symptoms of a deeper problem. Bombastic events are often, what are referred to in psychotherapy and mystery novels as Red Herrings. When it comes to solving the real problems, Eko’s sexual escapades are a red herring. Don’t allow this to sidetrack you from deeper issues. A place to start is this question: Why did it take SEX to get the wheels of the OBC in motion?
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Laura

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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Nov 28, 2010 1:44 pm

Hi Kaizan,

I wholeheartedly agree with your post, and left the OBC for exactly the reasons you describe. And you are right that Eko's sexual improprieties were not confined to the instance surrounding his departure. I complained about this for many years and was told that I was deluded and forbidden to speak to anyone in the Sangha about it, apart from the one senior monk who was protecting him and enabling his behavior. I can personally attest to the unbelievable stress that the combination of harsh judgment and repression causes, having been subjected to it long-term by the people I loved and trusted the most, until of course that love and trust were completely destroyed. I cried for hours a day, for months on end, and had saved up enough pain medication to commit suicide before I finally found the strength to leave.

That senior monk who enabled all of this is the current abbess. I finally even went to the Head of the Order about it in absolute desperation. He said he would look into it. Finally, months later, he spoke about 4 sentences to me on the cloister to let me know what he found out. He said that he went to RM Meian about this, who told him that the problem was my own koan, and so he considered the matter closed. I had honestly never expected that I would be believed or any action taken, because this was the pattern of behavior throughout Shasta Abbey. I wasn't able to find fault with RM Haryo at the time because he was generally not there and had no first hand knowledge or experience of what was going on. It seemed reasonable to me that he would ask the most senior monk (apart from Eko) about it, and I knew the answers that he would get.

I have not spoken of this on the forums before, and will not go into detail now, or later, in order to protect those who were the subject of his inappropriate attentions. I must say, however, that I was not in the least bit surprised by the circumstances surrounding his departure, and have felt completely vindicated by them. I only wonder if RM Meian recognizes the extent of her complicity in the damage that was done.
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jack



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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Nov 28, 2010 2:28 pm

Sophia wrote:
Bounded territory is all a matter of perspective. 'Monkey' found the precepts binding. But within the vast field of compassion, there are unlimited opportunities.
.

I have sometimes cruised by the Catholic channel to hear Father Corapi say again and again as he coaches people on the catechism.

"Do not try to figure this out for yourself. The church fathers have figured it out for you. Trust what the Church says. If you try to figure it out for yourself, you run the grave risk of falling into heresy, and from heresy to hell."

Once one accepts that sort of boundary out of fear or devotion, one has cut off the means of exploring and finding truth for himself. The only thing left is how to "understand the truth that has been spoken." It is that aspect of the monk's position I disagreed with. No freedom. Just another set of hand-me-down beliefs to choke down.

There is discipline to any practice. That discipline/teaching serves as a raft. But the steering of the raft cannot be done by rote, by program, or even set protocol. Wild untamed streams make a mockery of such efforts, and leave many dead on the rocks.

Perhaps how I came to Buddhism explains things a bit. I did not come as a young, inexperienced, vulnerable person. I did not come to it for a new, improved set of beliefs. I did not come to it because I wanted to achieve some mental high. I came to it to find a means of becoming free of the ruts of what I'd always been, to find a way to explore/grapple honestly with the deepest questions of life that I found unresolvable by means of science, philosophy or authority. Buddhism has offered that to me.

The Precepts and Buddhist teaching are part of a skillful means of guiding that exploration. The Dharma is a means to an end -- only a finger pointing in direction of the moon. A tenacious trust of one's own heart and mind (Buddha nature? -- don't know) while remaining open has helped me avoid crashing on the rocks for many years. I strongly believe I would have crashed quite a while ago had I tried willing "faith" in the OBC.
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Diana



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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Nov 28, 2010 7:10 pm

Thanks Laura! Thank you for sharing.

And thank you Kaizan!

~Diana


Last edited by Diana on Sun Nov 28, 2010 7:21 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : forgot to thank Kaizan:-))
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Nov 28, 2010 9:33 pm

Laura and Polly,
Thank you so very much for your posts. Thank you for being willing to state clearly what happened to you. Sometimes enough is just enough. All these wonderful abstractions the monks from the OBC put forward and when that doesn't work, blame the victim. It is the same story over and over. How many stories does the OBC have to hear before they start to look at themselves and stop blaming others. Laura, did Meian ever apologize to you personally? If she did not, her lofty talks about fixing the mistakes of the past lose any moral authority. How can they "clean up Eko's mess" when Meian herself ignored your repeated warnings? Does Meian not see that it is not Eko's mess, but her own and so many other monks who have bought into this backwards, repressive, dysfunctional way of dealing with problems? Seikai, can you not see the full extent of this? This is not just people's flaws. This is exponentially greater. It is a culture gone awry with everyone on top hiding the mistakes of everyone else on top. If they are not hiding the mistakes, they have simply unlearned the most basic ability to even see them. Which is worse? I can't begin to say.

Again, thank you so much Polly and Laura. One concrete picture portraying this mess is worth a thousand abstractions about it. I don't know what to say. What happened to me years ago is continuing to this day unabated. What a horrible, horrible shame.

Polly, be true to yourself. Don't allow anyone with "spiritual authority" to twist your truth. The price of belonging is not worth your integrity.
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ddolmar

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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Nov 28, 2010 11:30 pm

All--In the aftermath of Eko's resignation, Rev. Master Meian sent out a letter on about June 22, 2010 which read, in part, "After our statement on May 17th Rev. Master Eko requested that it be made clear that there was no sexual contact: to celibate monks this is an important point, so we sent out an addendum to our statement to make this clear." That letter is saved on this forum here:
http://obcconnect.forumotion.net/keeping-in-touch-f5/a-letter-from-rev-master-meian-t28.htm


However, the above posts in THIS thread (particularly Laura's and Kaizan's, can't seem to find Polly's story that Kaizan refers to....that might've been a private message) appear to contradict this, and suggest that not only was there sexual contact but that Rev. Master Meian knew about it.

I do not ask by any "right", but because this allegation is awful enough that I think we should look it in the face: Was RM Eko telling the truth, or was there sexual contact? If there was, is it plain that RM Meian should have known that Eko was lying at the time that she sent this letter? Or do we need to parse this letter to mean that in the particular relationship with the woman for which Eko disrobed there was no sexual contact, but it does not address prior relationships that were partly sexual?

My apologies to all if this seems out of bounds or appears to prod for lurid details to substantiate someone's claims. I would never want to do that to anyone. Please, do not give details that you are not prepared to have on the internet forever and ever. Above all, protect yourselves. And maybe the appropriate response will not occur on this forum. Certainly, I don't think I need or deserve answers to these questions for my own sake.

My heart goes out to all who have been abused.


Last edited by ddolmar on Mon Nov 29, 2010 2:59 am; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : Spelling)
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:12 am

Hi Dolmar,

I do not believe there was sexual contact as we would usually think of it. It had to do with an inappropriate romantic relationship, and extensive use of "spiritual massage" between the parties involved. I believe this massage was used as a substitute for the physical longing that could not be fulfilled within a monastic context. I mean, do you really need massage for 3-4 hours a day every day for months and months on end, lol? At all hours of the day and night, including 2 a.m. when he would call to wake her and ask her to come over? And all this by a person that Eko ADMITTED to being in love with. I mean, really.

All of this occurred simultaneously with the propagation of rules at the monastery about male and female monastics, or lay/monastic pairs, not ever being alone together. If they were, as in the case of sanzen, they had to be in rooms that had sheer curtains so there was no place for them to hide and engage in inappropriate activity together. RM Eko was, of course, exempt from these rules that he created for others. I personally confronted him about this on many occasions and asked him to at least have a 3rd party present, or to take turns having various disciples, including male disciples, do this massage. But he always refused, and Meian supported him when I went to her about it, as I did many times.

Kaizan, there has never been an apology by RM Meian, but she did send me a kind email not too long ago saying that I was always welcome at the Abbey if I should choose to visit. She did apologize for not replying to a previous email of mine, but the subject of that email was completely different.

My personal take on her situation is that she had so completely brainwashed herself into the "Master is always right" view that she was completely unable to see to what was happening not only right before her eyes but, in some cases, with her express permission. The reason she gave was that he needed these massages (called mudras) because he was in the middle of a third kensho. I think his subsequent behavior in abandoning all his monastic and lay disciples, and running off to pursue a romantic relationship, clearly demonstrates that he had not yet reached such an exalted state of enlightenment. In fact, as I've been told, his romantic relationship with the lay person while he was abbot also centered around his going to her for massage. Ironic, isn't it.

At any rate, I believe that RM Meian was NOT lying in her letter about Eko never having had sexual intercourse while was a monastic. He did, however, greatly enjoy having the same set of female hands on his body on a regular basis, and they spent an incredible amount of time alone together. I know because I was one of his chaplains for several years.

I hope that clarifies. I guess once I posted about this I was bound to tell more about it since questions would certainly arise. I'm not completely comfortable about that, but it appears to be too late now.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:40 am

Laura--Thanks. Yes, that clarifies the matter quite well. It would be a difficult subject for most people to talk about, I would think.

I am relieved to read that you believe that Meian was telling the truth. I hope that it is now put to rest in others' minds, as it is in mine.

I feel that I may have transgressed in even asking the questions in the way that I did. Please forgive me if I have forced you to give details that you would otherwise not have.

--Dan


Last edited by ddolmar on Mon Nov 29, 2010 2:28 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : improve English)
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:51 am

I'm sorry, I chickened out and deleted my post. ( I am sooo conflicted.) Lise pm'd me saying she thought she could retrieve my post if I wanted to re-think my decision and I told her to go ahead, so if it's possible I will put on my big girl pants and re-post. I was going to tell you what my thinking was when deciding to delete but I can't actually. Everybody's heard it before, who could it hurt, blah, blah, all that stuff. Just chicken. I take your words to heart, Kaizan. I think you must be pretty good at your job.

Laura's revelation has really blown my head off. And I do thank you for that, Laura. You had more guts than I did. I'll fix it, but not tonight.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Mon Nov 29, 2010 1:03 am

Laura wrote:

The reason she gave was that he needed these massages (called mudras) because he was in the middle of a third kensho.

At any rate, I believe that RM Meian was NOT lying in her letter about Eko never having had sexual intercourse while was a monastic. He did, however, greatly enjoy having female hands on his body on a regular basis.

I hope that clarifies. I guess once I posted about this I was bound to tell more about it since questions would certainly arise. I'm not completely comfortable about that, but it appears to be too late now.

For the sake of clarity did the term "mudra" refer to what used to be called "flows"? In 1976 RMJK introduced the practice of Jin Shin Jytsu (usually shortened to Jin Shin) to the Shasta Abbey community. Doing Jin Shin involves placing one's hands on the recipient, touching specific points in a predefined order to release the flow of energy (hence the term "flows"). This is not massage in the usual sense because there is no rubbing or pressure to speak of, just a light touch to palpate the energy. Jin Shin was widely adopted by the community and during the eight years I practiced it (and witnessed others doing so) I never observed anything overtly sexual in the exchange. Jin Shin was mostly done in public places, such as the zendo or RMJK's living room, but there were no rules prohibiting monks from pairing up privately. There was a reasonable amount of trust regarding this and it never became a problem as far as I could tell.

None of the above is meant to contradict the accounts that Eko was misusing his authority and creating relationships that were inappropriately intimate. Sharing Jin Shin can be quite intimate in my experience and, as with so many things, intent determines outcome more than form. It's important to note that while RMJK received Jin Shin on a regular basis from her inner circle of monks she never allowed a layperson to perform it, and (her other issues aside) there was never a romantic or sexual undercurrent. On one hand I can see Eko continuing this practice as part of copying RMJK's way of engaging with students, but from all accounts he did not have the necessary maturity.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Mon Nov 29, 2010 1:35 am

Dear Kaizan,
When you have the time and energy, and if you’re so inclined, I am interested in your thoughts about my comments.

Ouch. May I suggest that you offer your services to Rev. Masters Meian and Haryo to come back to Shasta Abbey to clean up the mess?

With all best wishes, Rev. Seikai
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Mon Nov 29, 2010 2:52 am

Hi Isan,

Yes, I'm talking about what used to be called flows. I don't have a problem with their practice per se, just with the way in which they done in this case. The time they spent together doing mudras (on each other) was excessive to the extreme, it was kept secret from almost all of the monastic community, it was done against the rules about men and women being alone together that Eko had established for everyone else, and it was not done by his "inner circle of monks" but only by one female monk with whom he was in love. I personally view this as a flagrant misuse of both his office and of the Jin Shin practice. And, as you know, some of those flow "points" that are held are in sensual areas. Again, I've no problem with that in particular, but only in the context that I've described here.

Thank you for taking the time to describe the Jin Shin practice so succinctly!

~ Laura
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Mon Nov 29, 2010 2:53 am

Dear Polly--Well there's certainly no need that I can see for you to re-post, unless you just feel that it's the right thing to do, or decide that you want to tell the story.

Balance that against the impulse that you had to protect yourself, and if I may suggest, be kind to yourself for wanting that protection.

Thanks for letting me know where the "missing" (there's nothing missing, really) post went.--Dan
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:46 am

Thanks, Dan,

It's a weird place to be in because on the one hand I think maybe the story can help protect someone else. On the other, I feel like I'm pointing at a sick person and castigating them publicly. Whatever went on and goes on at Shasta and its outposts, some of it's is, as Jack said to me, just plain nuts. It's finding the balance between protecting others from craziness and condemning crazy people. Heck, I'm a crazy person.

Polly


Last edited by polly on Mon Nov 29, 2010 10:04 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : clarification of 2 sentences (out of, like four...))
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:13 pm

Polly
The problem is that the craziness is being promulgated as the truth and people are believing it because there is a wall of normalcy and authority that sucks people in until it is to late and they are caught or damaged by the craziness.

I don't know if this is helpful but I think there are three considerations about discussing things:
First and foremost will it help or hinder you to discus it
Second do you think it will help or hinder others
Third and least important will it help to put the record straight

after that it is just chat and friendship which is fine but not important enough to get in a tangle about.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Mon Nov 29, 2010 4:19 pm

polly wrote:
Heck, I'm a crazy person.

Polly

Polly--Me too. Sometimes I feel like a complete moonbat. :0)

And I don't like the aspect of what we do here that is looking in at the monks like fish in a bowl, either. Or else I enjoy it too much in a bad way..."Hey, that one swims funny, and feeds on the bottom!" It's not as if they're going to defend themselves as vigorously as a lay person might.

The Precept against talking smack about others is good for *us* to observe, not to mention that it reduces the amount of hectoring that others must endure. But obviously, the Precept (even if you still take them into account) does not include situations where not speaking would be harmful.

But I also like Mstrathern's priorities. You shouldn't feel under any expectations one way or another from the rest of us. My thought is to give it a rest for a few days until your mind really sets the question aside. Then you might find the best answer "just showing up", as they sometimes do.


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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Mon Nov 29, 2010 5:52 pm

Just a couple of thoughts on the above.

Agree with Mark completely and with Dan on their advice regarding re-posting.

And I agree with Dan that we non-monastics do have an advantage in our ability to comment here. I'm told some monks would like to but aren't allowed. And even if they were, they may run their remarks through a Precepts filter whilst some or many of us don't. The forum doesn't require adherence to Buddhist principles in order to participate and posts aren't evaluated on the basis of whether they may violate a Precept.

The fishbowl thing bothers me at times also but I have made peace with it. I feel it's unavoidable unless a community chooses to be fully cloistered and limit its exposure to the public, and public review. That is a choice they could make.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Mon Nov 29, 2010 10:54 pm

Well I'm a bit of a noob so maybe I don't belong in this thread but I've been reading it. I don't have all the info but, as far as I can see the boss monk started falling in love with the woman students and didn't tell anyone. I personally can't fault him for that because I have had far more than my fair share of romantic and carnal collisions. I hope he is happy in his non-monk life which is obviously the life he was moving toward all along.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Nov 30, 2010 12:07 am

glorfindel wrote:
... I hope he is happy in his non-monk life which is obviously the life he was moving toward all along.

I have felt this way since the story broke. For those of us who choose to experience emotional and physical love, it's no great leap of understanding to see why anyone might grow weary of living without it. It's no mystery to ponder what might happen if someone can't give and receive "attached love" under normal human conditions. They break the rules and find it another way.

This is not meant to minimise the harm caused by Eko's acting out in ways that hurt people and violated his vows. I do believe Laura, Diana and others who saw or experienced harmful fallout to others. I don't excuse any of that or think he should be given a free pass. It's just that I feel for the position he would have been in, as the standard-bearer for renunciation. I don't believe others' assurances that he could have taken refuge in his peers, not in the Shasta system described here. How, really, to get off that galloping horse except to jump?

My thought: creating a relationship with the lay woman and setting a new course for his life might be the most enlightened thing he has done in years. Isn't that a type of kensho? If a person is not a monk of the mind any longer, why keep the body in service? Is there anything more false than that? Why waste life that way?
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Nov 30, 2010 12:57 am

Dear Dan, mstrathern and Lise,

thanks to you all. Good advice. I'm going to take a break from the whole thing for awhile. It's not making me feel very good. Broken hearts all around.

Best regards,
Polly
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Nov 30, 2010 5:50 am

Polly
When you feel better come back to where you are loved.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Tue Nov 30, 2010 11:16 pm

mstrathern wrote:


I don't know if this is helpful but I think there are three considerations about discussing things:
First and foremost will it help or hinder you to discus it
Second do you think it will help or hinder others
Third and least important will it help to put the record straight


One way that information and stories help is to provide a searchable record on the internet. When I got involved with the OBC, I could find very little that I could consider and evaluate before deciding to attend and eventually join a Priory. I often try to read both advocates and critics of an organization so that at least I can wisely evaluate experience as it unfolds. At the time of my search, there was almost nothing critical of the OBC to be found or evaluated. If this forum continues as an internet record, it can provide the necessary balance to the OBC promotional material.

A second way information and stories help is to prepare one for any bizarre and potentially damaging experience they might have if they associate with the OBC. If they have the good fortune to find an OBC resource that isn't harmful, then the information will eventually be set aside. If they happen to run into a resource that is veering toward harm, they can perhaps change direction before harm is done. At the very least some of the stories related on the forum should have the effect of sobering people up before they become enchanted or entranced to their own injury.

A third way this sort of information helps is to make those who are seeking a guru to solve their problems aware that gurus may take advantage of their vulnerability -- intentionally or unintentionally. At least then they might go slower rather than faster, such that they can stop their involvement before reaching a cliff's edge.

In my own instance, the stories have actually made me feel a bit more appreciative and a bit more understanding toward the OBC monk I knew best. Though he was a direct disciple of Jiyu and lived at Shasta for a long time, it's a bit more remarkable to me now that his Bodhi tree wasn't twisted far more severely than it was by the conditions it grew in. I can see where some of the limitations and prejudices were rooted, and understand the tearing between his need to believe Jiyu as infallible and the seeing of things he really knew did not fit. In most instances he was more consistently kind and stable than much of what I've heard described here. I lucked out, I guess.

I'm not sure that kindness would have been stable if he'd been able to find a disciple to follow him. Some statements he made indicated that he would have felt the need to "come down hard" on disciple trainees. But for lay trainees, he had no leverage and little control, though I think that frustrated him occasionally.

The stories have also explained a lot of things that previously only appeared as dark transient shadows in my OBC experience. At this point, I don't think I could visit an OBC temple again, because it seems the dark shadow side is an integral part of the OBC culture. There's no reason to risk venturing into deeper OBC darkness.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Dec 04, 2010 10:43 am

Laura wrote:

I wholeheartedly agree with your post, and left the OBC for exactly the reasons you describe. And you are right that Eko's sexual improprieties were not confined to the instance surrounding his departure. I complained about this for many years and was told that I was deluded and forbidden to speak to anyone in the Sangha about it, apart from the one senior monk who was protecting him and enabling his behavior. I can personally attest to the unbelievable stress that the combination of harsh judgment and repression causes, having been subjected to it long-term by the people I loved and trusted the most, until of course that love and trust were completely destroyed. I cried for hours a day, for months on end, and had saved up enough pain medication to commit suicide before I finally found the strength to leave.

That senior monk who enabled all of this is the current abbess. I finally even went to the Head of the Order about it in absolute desperation. He said he would look into it. Finally, months later, he spoke about 4 sentences to me on the cloister to let me know what he found out. He said that he went to RM Meian about this, who told him that the problem was my own koan, and so he considered the matter closed. I had honestly never expected that I would be believed or any action taken, because this was the pattern of behavior throughout Shasta Abbey. I wasn't able to find fault with RM Haryo at the time because he was generally not there and had no first hand knowledge or experience of what was going on. It seemed reasonable to me that he would ask the most senior monk (apart from Eko) about it, and I knew the answers that he would get.

I have not spoken of this on the forums before, and will not go into detail now, or later, in order to protect those who were the subject of his inappropriate attentions. I must say, however, that I was not in the least bit surprised by the circumstances surrounding his departure, and have felt completely vindicated by them. I only wonder if RM Meian recognizes the extent of her complicity in the damage that was done.


I would like to return to Laura's post on her experience of warning those in power at Shasta and being ignored. Her post was one of the most important on this site, to my mind. It demonstrates clearly a number of things:

1. that there are those who know things and whose perceptions can be trusted (those in power) and those whose can't (those with no power). I can't say how often I experienced that myself. To my mind, this existed in the extreme at Shasta, and was internalized by those on the bottom rungs, learning to not trust their own perceptions.

2. The devastating effect it has on people when the utterly obvious is so stubbornly ignored/mispercieved/whatever. This is absolutely crazy making. You live in a community where people in power are so highly respected and people learn to defer their own perceptions and judgmentsto others. In the end you start to doubt yourself or feel trapped. So much has been invested--sometimes decades of one's life--that to just follow your heart and mind means you have to walk away from your whole life. This is why, I believe, Laura could come to the point of saving up medication to commit suicide. Think of the suffering one must be in to get to that place. But having been at Shasta and had my perceptions and judgments denied and ridiculed, I can well understand her feelings. When you see the emperor has no clothes you are utterly isolated and alone. Even close friends may ignore or even shun you. Silence, repression, self doubt, loneliness. These things are the real experience of those stuck in an environment that does not know how to deal with the flaws of those in power or allow ample voice to those who have none.

3. How utterly ignorant the OBC remains as to how to respond to the reality of mistakes they've made. Meian gives some broad apology, totally devoid of specifics which would require meaningful accountability. Laura's perceptions were correct. The nebulous apology Laura received was a pittance in comparison to what truly needed to be apologized for. If I were in here position, I would be on this website making an unequivocal apology--end of story. It is just the right thing to do.

4. How the problems that so many of us have been trying to point out are alive and well. That Eko could do what he was doing in broad daylight (please just open your eyes) and no one sees it shows that the requirement to avert one's eyes and delude oneself persists to this day.

5. How the leader of the OBC must be aggrandized. For God's sakes, the perception was that Eko was having a third kenso!! What utter drivel. Only he can have flows done in private because he is having a third kensho. Everyone else must obey the rules. How convenient for him. Does no one see how ludicrous this leader aggrandizement is? How much people must delude themselves to perpetuate it? The very people who are now trying tro make the OBC's problem pinned on Eko are the same one's who were enabling him. How about a public apology/admission about that. But then those in power would be de-aggrandized, and I guess the OBC is not ready for that degree of change. This leader aggrandizement did not start with Eko.

Daishin M. asked us when would we move on. My answer to that is when will you grasp the basics of how the past is alive and well in the present. Just as you have values which you are trying to follow, so do many of us. We would like those who are about to devote their lives to an institution in which they may possibly end up having experiences like the hordes of people on this site, have an understanding that these things have happened, that the OBC continues to want to ignore them and make those speaking of them be quiet, that the OBC hopes all this will just go away, all indicating that in the future they might face what we faced. Let those people considering devoting their life to the OBC see the good you have to offer, which I believe there is plenty of, but also let them see the darker side so that they can make an informed decision. For us to be silent is to allow others to walk into pitfalls that they could have been warned about. Those are not my values.

I believe that at this point in time, the OBC needs help in how to manage their problems and manage criticism. There are those who have skills in this area, but there does not seem to be anyone with those skills in the OBC. (Seikai is an exception in that he is at least trying to develop those skills, but really, do you want to throw someone with his health problems to the lions? That in itself is PR mistake of enormous proportions.) The OB C seems so used to using proclamations to make dissent go away that they have not developed the skills to engage those with different opinions and concerns from them in a way that could resolve problems.

Humility would be a good place to start. Contact Laura and let her know that she was correct after all, and that you wish you had taken her more seriously. Tell her how sorry you are for pain she went through and that you realilze that the OBC has to change the way they handle dissent and perceive their leaders. Be proactive. Don't wait with open arms. Walk out the door, come on this site, whatever will make people feel that you take these problems seriously. Talking to choir and amongst yourselves will not cut it. Coming on this site and telling Laura and Amalia and Isan and Josh and Chisan and Gensho and Mokuan and Daiji and and and to just move on and stop living in the past, will not help your cause.

Get outside help. I believe you truly need it. There are ways to handle situations like this, but to my mind, you are only making matters worse for yourselves. And I'm not only talking about superficial PR to change your image. I'm talking about facing reality.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Dec 04, 2010 1:31 pm

Kaizan , Thank you . And , yes, a huge yes of agreement.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Dec 04, 2010 2:48 pm

Hi Kaizan,

I've got to say, you are extraordinarily good at taking someone's few words and extracting the really pivotal information out of them, and then fleshing out all the implications. Thank you so much for doing that. As usual, you have hit the nail right on the head in my opinion.

There are a few things I would like to add to your insightful commentary. First, it is important to understand that this sort of denial by those in authority was not confined to "big" things like inappropriate romantic behavior. I cannot begin to describe the effect of years and years and years of being told that your perceptions are completely wrong and invalid. The impact is exactly what you describe: crazy-making. You learn over and over again to completely mistrust your own heart, your own perceptions, your own Buddha Nature. Instead of learning to take refuge in your own true heart, you are taught to place your trust outside of yourself, to vest it completely in the Abbot who stands in the place of the Buddha. And that trust only goes one way. My perceptions were not trusted and generally eschewed as being my own spiritual "problem". I spent years feeling as if my entire being were literally cut in two. It wasn't until I once again learned to trust my own heart that the damage of that was healed. And that only happened when I left.

I have talked to former monks who say there is no problem with this method so long as the Abbot is not corrupt. I completely disagree. The point of Buddhism is to learn to discover the truth for yourself, to learn to take refuge within your own Buddha Nature, to learn how to stand on your own spiritual two feet, to learn to look within. The thrust of monastic training as I experienced it at Shasta Abbey is completely focused in the opposite direction. This not only does a huge amount of spiritual and psychological harm, but it is totally counter to the point of Buddhist training. Learning to let go of "self" does not mean enthroning an "other" in its place. But this is exactly what was being done at Shasta Abbey.

Now I'd like to talk about apologies. In all honesty Kaizan, I no longer care and I neither expect nor desire them. I do think it is pivotally important that Shasta Abbey recognize their problems, and perhaps apologizing is a necessary part of that. But I am far more concerned about the recognition, primarily for the sake of the people who still remain under the dominance of that incredibly repressing and damaging system they dignify by using the term "monastic training".

And I honestly believe that progress is being made along those lines. The fact that they have formed an Interim Board made up of monastics from varying temples and lay ministers too - this is a very good step. It means that someone like me would have somewhere else to turn when they needed help and would not be trapped within the silence imposed by their seniors. I think that having lay people on that board will add incredible depth and much-needed perspective.

I would like to add that I received a private message from Rev. Seikai recently. Seikai had nothing to do with my situation at the Abbey, having left there when I was quite a young monk to go to another temple because of Eko's "leadership style". Despite that, he did give me an absolutely honest and beautiful apology for what happened to me.

He also invited me to be part of an inquiry that the OBC is trying to put together into how to recover from problems caused by abuses of power within an organization, and more specifically Eko's abuses. Apparently, they are looking for an external agency to assist with this, and wish to have that agency interview people who were subject to those abuses, both those who are still at the Abbey and those who have left. I think that this effort speaks volumes to the OBC's recognition that harm has been done and change needs to happen. Yes, it is centered on Eko, and yes, that is a limited view of things as you so correctly point out, but I think that an investigation of that sort has great potential to open their eyes to the internal dynamics that allowed Eko to abuse his authority in the way that he did. He certainly could never have done so without institutional support.

Apparently that investigation is not yet happening because they are still looking for an appropriate agency to turn to. I find the fact that they are even looking for outside assistance of this sort to be enormously heartening, and I hope that you will find it encouraging too.

I feel that you and I are kindred spirits in many ways. I sure wish you lived on this side of the US so we could go have a cup of coffee together sometime and talk our hearts out. Thank you so much for your participation in this forum.

~ Laura
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Dec 04, 2010 11:57 pm

An investigation.....

Hiring an outside agency.... I wonder what kind of agency they could hire? That would be smart and independent?

Should I be sitting the by phone waiting for a call?

Should I be holding my breath that they are going to talk to the early founders of this organization?

When I posted my three dimes story, Daishin - a senior leader of this organization - dismissed my story as bitter and that i misunderstood and that I / we should just move on.

I was one of the original founders of this group and even served as a President of Shasta Abbey. And that's how he responds???

That was NOT a promising beginning to any serious inquiry as to what went wrong. If they so routinely and culticly dismiss accounts and criticisms, there is NO HOPE whatsoever that they will honestly face the dark part of their history.

Hiring an outside agency -- Waste of time and waste of money. I have seen many organizations do this -- and its more like PR spin than serious inquiry. Looks good - they can talk about how open they are -- but then continue in their habitual patterns. We shall see.

Now personally, i don't have any interest in what happens to this organization.

My presence on this website is to share my experience, shed some light on how organizations like Shasta become so harmful and abusive and gurus like Kennett can lose their way, and then my work here will be done.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Dec 05, 2010 11:17 am

Laura,
Thank you for the invite for a cup of coffee and good yak, but alas, I have not travelled further than one state away in the twenty years since I left Shasta. The plane flight from CA to FL convinced me not to board another one. The exception would be a first class flight (which I can't afford) with fully reclining seats (which they don't have on domestic flights) and and ample supply of muscle relaxers (valium anyone?) which would be easy for me to get. So if anyone has a private jet available for me, please send me a message. Maybe a number of us could meet in person for a cuppa joe and pleasant conversation. Another former monk has been trying to get me out to either Hawaii or CA for many years. Sadly, I've yet to make it.

I'm very glad that Seikai has sent you an apology. It does not at all surprise me. Why don't people like Seikai get high office, though one reason is he might not want it. When I wrote that the OBC should give you an apology, it was as much for them--more really--than it would be for you. I'm glad you've go so past the need for one. But really, isn't it just plain old common decency. What in God's name is the use of a first, second, third, or fourth kensho, if one is unable to discern when it is time for a simple apology. It's all such nonsense. Even so, it has been our dialogue with Seikai that helps me have a different perspective than Josh. Though there is much I disagree with with Seikai, his willingness to listen and grasp much of what is being said, his willingness to step outside the party line box to some extent, gives some hope that the OBC could change in a significant way. Let me say I'm not ready to discard all hope and concern as Josh has done. Josh seems more concerned with making sure more newbies aren't drawn into a snare they haven't been warned about and that is admirable in itself. Each of us chooses are own battles. Josh may have more sense than me.

I am also tentatively pleased that the OBC is looking into outside help. I agree with Josh however, in that many on this site could provide significant help in that area, but to my knowledge, no one has been contacted. Seikai's suggestion that I offer my services was an interesting statement, but I figure if they wanted my services they would have contacted me. Obviously I'm not hard to find. Anyway, without the humility to ask for help, there's not much hope there will be true motivation to change.



The leadership of the OBC has been able to control their message, both internally and externally, for 40 years. Externally, they have done this by just allowing their best side to be visible. Internally they have done this through repressing dissent, using fear (you'll go to hell if you leave the OBC or find a new master, or talk about how you perceive mistakes, or even allow yourself to believe the severity of their mistakes, or tell people grow up, stop living in the past and move on) to keep people from leaving or speaking out. For the first time in 40 years, the leadership of the OBC has lost control of the flow of information. For the first time they are not dealing with one dissenter at a time, but with the accumulative experience, knowledge, and insight of a lot of people intimately knowledgable as to how the OBC works, both former laity and monastics. They are pulling out the same old tired arguments that they've used for 40 years to maintain the status quo. They cannot deal with the wealth of experience of those of us on this site as though we were one, lonely, frightened, confused person with doubts, on the verge of leaving the OBC or on the verge of speaking out for the first time, but not yet with enough experience outside of the OBC to get a perspective on what goes on there and develop our own perspective on that. To an objective third party observer, who sees the tired old responses the OBC drags out to deal with the well thought out ideas, wealth of knowledge, and verifiable experiences that point out the mistakes made by the OBC, their efforts are inadequate. But how else could it be. They have only heard themselves speak for 40 years. They have been able to effectively keep from their ears and minds the views expressed here. They only have responses for the shadows they've projected, not the real life people who have come to their own conclusions. But now it appears they have no other choice but to look deeper. How deep is up to them.


There are two types of consultants they could employ. One is a PR firm. They could do a BP style image makeove, but this would do nothing to address the concerns stated on this site. The other type of consultant actually goes in and works to change the culture of the organization. An old friend of mine did this kind of work. It would often occur when an organization would have lawsuits piling up. The fear of their demise was greater than the fear of change, so they'd bring in outside help to shake things up. The latter type of consultant might actually do some good.


In the meantime, I guess we'll keep puttering away on this site. Seems like bits and pieces of info surface occasionally indicating our hot air is not expelled totally in vain.


Last edited by Kaizan on Sun Dec 05, 2010 12:07 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : ADDED A PARAGRAPH)
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Dec 05, 2010 11:48 am

There are many firms that consult and advise non-profit organizations on management, structure, financial and leadership issues. I am sure that the SF bay area is crawling with such consultants.

And OBC/Shasta would I am sure be advised to create a functioning and independent board of directors, set up more advisory committees, create a regular process to air issues and concerns, release a yearly report, and somehow make the leadership more accountable.

Basic non-profit management 101. There are hundreds of books on non-profit management that would pretty much present the same road map.

But would this inquiry / process go any deeper into the more core issues which have plagued this organization? It all depends on who they hire and what their assignment is. And if they really want to dive deeply or stay on the surface.

An extensive investigation would be more time consuming and expensive -- and only be of real value if this group was open and willing to listen and make changes.

From the PR side, I have been involved in some "communication audits" - for major non-profits - they wanted to determine the effectiveness of their communications, staffing, results, etc. Often these organizations must bring in an outside team because there is just too much internal politics that gets in the way.

For Amnesty International, the process and results worked very well. They took my recommendations and implemented them. In another case, I realized in the middle of the process that this other organization was not in the position or really willing to make any changes - so even though I felt the report was quite on target, nothing happened. That also happened in another situation - and this foundation was not really ready to make any changes.

Making significant changes can be quite difficult for many organizations as we know -- especially religious ones. There are just too many "traditions" or beliefs that need to soften or shift.

And in the OBC's case, they will always have the hovering presence of Kennett watching, looking over their shoulders - their minds will naturally think what would Kennett do or think about this.
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Diana



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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Dec 05, 2010 12:15 pm

If the OBC contacted ICSA, they would be directed to people who can help them reform. Other cults have done this. The major one that comes to mind is the Hare Krishna's (ISKCON). After they were faced with lawsuits and bankcrupcy, they sought outside help and"reformed." It was during this time that they took some major PR advice to better fit in with the mainstream American culture. For example, it was determined to no longer have Hare Krishna's at airports, etc... They did deal with their demons and are thriving again. They were forced to look at the abuse and discrimination and changed.
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Dec 05, 2010 12:26 pm

actually, lawsuits or the threat of legal action can be very useful to get organizations to pay attention. Gurus do not like to be deposed -- to be questioned under oath. Who knows what could be asked???? I am sure that if someone had sued Shasta when Kennett was alive, she would have had a total meltdown, probably fled the Abbey and remained in a permanent state of freak-out - not kidding.

But since there was apparently no sexual abuses - it is harder to bring legal action based on mental abuse - too hard to prove.

When a well known Tibetan lama was sued for sexual harassment by a former devotee, the lawsuit had a very positive effect on the Tibetan leadership. It put them on notice that they weren't in Lhasa anymore, that they had to follow the law, and that there could be consequences - serious financial consequences. After all, in Tibet, there was little civil law and no media, lamas could do what they liked. But in the U.S., not only was their legal recourse, but there is a free media.

The lawsuit was eventually settled, but the Tibetan lamas now knew that they had to be more responsible.
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ddolmar

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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Dec 05, 2010 9:25 pm

Kaizan and jcbaran, et al.--Early on in this thread, Diana said:

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

I think that implicit in this is the idea that the OBC be given some time to figure out what the next steps are. It has only been two months since the Conclave. The fact that they have reached out to Laura to be a part of the investigation into the past, and that they're looking for an "external agency" to help with the investigation suggests that they are not laying down this burden. It could take a couple of years to sort the whole mess out, and even then, what are the chances that everything will be rearranged to anyone's liking?

They must surely feel on notice that certain kinds of complaints from junior monks are really serious, and must not be ignored. Meian has specifically asked the lay congregation to speak up if something seems wrong, and has promised that junior monks will have more lines of communication open to them. As an object lesson, Eko's leaving seems sure to have staying power.

In the meantime, we will be free to interrogate them here, "Why haven't the senior monks done this? Or that? Can't they even get around to seeing their blind spots about the other thing?" Who knows what their thought process will be when the formal Eko investigation--which unless I've been bamboozled will be significant--is over?

I follow you through the arguments about institutional trauma, and I think the evidence of all the testimony here from former monks suggests that you are surely far more right than wrong. I guess I just don't see the OBC leadership to be such terrible fools as to ignore this point, regardless of what defensive thing any particular Master suggests in a sentence here and there. I think maybe what they're really saying is, "Ouch, dog. You don't need to gnaw in that same spot any more. I get it." The evidence of whether they do or not is likely to be a ways down the road.

I guess what I'm saying is that, pending major new developments from the OBC which I might be in a position to share, I think that my involvement with this web site has largely run its course FOR NOW.

Reverend Masters: it seems to me that the ex-monks here deserve a full and open investigation into Eko's leadership, and even more, due consideration of whether and how much the institution needs to evolve away from a top-down authoritarian management that discounts the perceptions and insights of junior monks: Are you a cult, or a Buddhist training order? The ex-monks of this forum have collectively devoted many decades of service to the OBC. I have only devoted a couple of working meditation days here and there. But you're a smart bunch and seem like pretty decent people as well: I have faith that you will deliver for them. A couple of years from now I may have an opinion as to whether or not you did.

This is Dan, signing off for what will probably be a few months, pending any major news from OBC. I probably won't be checking my messages frequently here, just for my own discipline's sake (a big part of the reason is that I have too much going on, going on, always going on, ha ha).

I am so impressed with the deep levels of communication, psychological insight, and compassionate wisdom that this group has achieved.

If anyone wants to contact me, please feel free: ddolmar@ch2m.com.

Thanks everyone! Cool


Last edited by ddolmar on Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:50 am; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : clarity)
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Dec 05, 2010 10:04 pm

Thanks Dan -- your presence here has been a great contribution and I hope you will indeed be back, with or without news to share.

I appreciate everything you have said and done to try to bring forward movement and positive progress to the many issues. You have a good heart.

Best regards,
Lise
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Laura

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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:41 am

Hi Dan,

I have also really valued your contribution here and hope we will hear from you now and again. Take good care of ourself and try to get that ongoing stuff under control. Very Happy

~ Laura
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Kozan
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:25 am

Dan, I add my voice to Lise and Laura's: I am very sad to see you go, and will miss your always insightful contributions. I hope that a (brief) time-out will recharge your enthusiasm for this collective healing process that I believe, however naively, we are now engaged in!
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