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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   Thu Nov 04, 2010 11:32 pm

Dear Reverend Seikai,

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

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

Hello Seikai.

Welcome back.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Respectfully
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Nov 06, 2010 5:19 am

One thing which definitely won't help anyone is accusing Rev Seikai of being patronising, then telling him he's thin-skinned when he says he feels hurt, then telling him he wasn't attacked personally and shouldn't take it that way! Jeeezzzzzz. I feel hurt on his behalf. Pot, kettle, and all that kind of stuff comes to mind here.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Nov 06, 2010 6:52 am

Yea Seikai, I thought the over scrutiny of your every utterance was a bit heavy handed too. Still, its the internet and typed words, without cheeky or ironic smiles to soften them, can seem cold and harsh. Though its fair enough if people disagree.

If contributing here isn't all that good for you then I honestly wouldn't feel pushed into staying. At the end of the day this is just a group of about 10 to 15 regular contributors (with more lurkers); a tiny swirl in the great ocean of people blaa blaa blaaing on the interwebz. I'm glad you are here but, you know, look after yourself.



Last edited by glorfindel on Sat Nov 06, 2010 7:37 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelled da munks name rong)
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Nov 06, 2010 9:43 am

Howard wrote:


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

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


Regarding additional OBC monks participating here, what I specifically suggested was it could help if someone formally represented OBC. The fact that Seikai says he does not adds to the confusion. When he asks what other forum members want is he asking a personal question or is he really asking on behalf of the OBC? He has mentioned that he requires permission from the OBC to participate here, so it's unclear to what extent he is a free agent. As far as others being less motivated than he is, why assume that's true? There may be others who want to join in, but are not permitted to do so.

The question of what people want is more difficult. Based on what I've read it doesn't seem like most people want something specific. What I would like to see is the growth of mutual understanding. Specific, meaningful responses to individuals will come naturally from that, but greater understanding comes from being willing to challenge underlying assumptions...not easy.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Nov 06, 2010 10:48 am

Howard,
I don't want anything in as much as setting a particular goal to achieve on this site. I have found the meandering conversations interesting and sometimes frutitful in helping participants in ways that might not have occured if there was a set goal. I was only expressing an opinion for myself, not trying to set an agenda. If it's useful for people, I'm all for it.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Nov 06, 2010 12:54 pm

Like Kaizan, there's really nothing I want from this site. We are a many and varied bunch here. However, from reading a number of posts, I suspect that what many people want is for the OBC to change radically. Many people here feel they have been hurt, and they don't want anyone else to be hurt in the same way. I understand this, but I don't feel the OBC needs to change - although possibly the attitude of some individual monks does, which is not the same thing. My reasons? I'll try to explain my own experiences, which might help to make this clear, and hopefully a few other things too...though that may be a tall order.

I went to Throssel for the first time in 1974. I was lonely and under-confident, felt I'd never fitted in anywhere, and was definitely looking for something. I had a very hard time at Throssel, felt I was badly treated, and could definitely have left many times. I didn't, because I was desperate, and I felt there was something very real there...at least possibly. At any rate, I had little to lose by staying. Anyway, I was one of the group of five monks who were invited to Shasta in 1975 (or 1976?) after Daiji left. I had a hard time there too. I felt that I didn't fit in, even among my fellow Brits. I felt constantly criticised, given the worst jobs, bullied...you name it. For anyone who thinks things never got changed at Shasta, one Chief Junior finished his 6 months three days earlier than planned after I told Eko, in floods of tears, that I couldn't cope with his bullying any longer, and there was just no way I could survive another three days. A digression from what I'm explaining, but perhaps an interesting one.

Anyway, eventually I was transmitted, and came to do Kessei - I don't know if lay people know what that is, but you have to stand in front of all the monks and answer questions, basically. Shy and insecure, I was absolutely terrified! I remember asking for help, to...who knows, anyone or anything who'd listen! At the time, all I knew was it went OK, and I even enjoyed it. But I was flabbergasted - and that's an understatement - when immediately afterwards Rev Master Jiyu announced to the monastic community that I'd just had a kensho. I had??? As far as I was concerned nothing had happened except...I'd survived what I'd perceived in advance as an ordeal. Indeed, I was embarrassed, and also a little disappointed as I'd expected a kensho to have flashing lights and and thunderbolts from heaven, or...well, something at least!

Over the next few weeks and months it was all a bit strange, from people putting me on a pedestal and asking me if they could do it too, to being told to beware of pride, to thinking I was having visions and being told they weren't real - my kensho which I didn't know about was real, things I saw weren't; hey-ho; what was going on? But the really important things came to me gradually - and I don't know how to describe them. It was......an absolute certainty that nothing mattered, that I could not be hurt, and that everything I'd read and heard about Buddhism was absolutely true and made perfect sense. Gradually my whole life was turned around. It was never one thing or one time, but it was definitely a change, a huge ginormous change in fact. That doesn't explain anything, but I can't, I don't know how. Perhaps most importantly, I was content, for the first time in my rather miserable life.

At the same time, I really hadn't changed in any normally accepted way. I still got upset, and cried easily at real or imagined criticism. I KNEW I could not be hurt, but I still got hurt, in fact maybe more so, as I seemed to have lost my previous natural defences, somehow. I still lost my temper and hurt others. I, who ought perhaps to have known too much to behave this way, still behaved as I always had. These things co-existed, despite my attempts to change. Eventually I got named as a Roshi ( I wasn't at first, as I hadn't been a monk for the required 5 years) and was supposed to teach others. But how? I had nothing to teach. I couldn't give them my certainty; they had to find it for themselves. And more often I think I gave them my very human and mixed-up emotions; I didn't want to, but that's how it happened. I was only human, and perhaps not a great example of good humanity anyway.

Eventually I went back to Throssel, and I tried hard to deal with a long term personality clash with Rev Master Daishin. Things went well for a while, I even became Vice-Abbess, but I struggled the way I always had - on that level nothing had changed. Eventually I had a row with him and left, although I honestly can't remember now the details of what all that was about - well, it was 25 years ago.

My 'understanding' if you want to call it that, has never really gone. It's not important, and yet it is terribly important. Kaizan said on another thread that it's like finding out the earth is round rather than flat, and feeling, "so what?" I understand the analogy, but to me the fact that the earth is round is forever wonderful, because it means I can go anywhere and do anything and not fall off! In other words, I can't be harmed. But at the same time I've found the world outside to be very like the monastery in that people still make mistakes and I still get hurt. This maybe happens particularly in the male-orientated world of helicopter flying where I work, where an apparently confident woman is not that well-liked. My confidence, which I've had since my kensho (or thereabouts) is real, but doesn't prevent me feeling insecure and unsure most of the time. Again, I cannot be hurt and yet I get hurt all the time; those things co-exist, though I don't quite understand how they can. In fact, a friend who knows me well once said, "people think you're so confident that they can't hurt you, but I know that's not the case in many ways."

I would never go back to Throssel or Shasta. Why? Because it was hard, and painful, and I have a pretty good life, thank you very much. In Rev Master Jiyu's words, I'm happy to dine out on what I found when I was there, whether that's right or wrong. And it's because of what I found, that I don't think the OBC should change. Their way of doing things may be imperfect - but it works. As far as I'm concerned, The OBC's aim is to help people find the place I found, not to make you feel good. If things changed, maybe that wouldn't work so well.

Of course, that doesn't mean that everything is OK. There have been individual mistakes, and what happened to Amalia, Kaizan, and some others I can't recall right now, was awful! But as I hope I've explained, 'knowing' doesn't make you immune from making mistakes, even huge ones. Some individual monks may be getting things wrong, perhaps very wrong - indeed they clearly are. But that doesn't mean the OBC as a whole is wrong...if there is such a thing as the OBC as a whole anyway. And sometimes people get hurt inadvertently and accidentally, no matter how hard people try.

At times over the past 25 years I've veered from guilt to anger to all sorts of other emotions concerning the OBC and Rev Master Jiyu. Now...I battle mild depression, which has been an on-going problem for years, and arthritic knees, which is a little newer. And lack of money, which is a nuisance. So it's not all sweetness and light. But still, I'm just very grateful, actually. I found what I was looking for.

I don't know if anyone will find this ridiculously long post to be helpful, but I'm writing it in the hope that maybe they will. That, in all honesty, is my only reason for trying to explain all this. If it comes over as know-it-all or condescending in any way, it really, really REALLY isn't meant to! I don't know anything really anyway, except that my time as a monk changed my life completely, and for the better.

Homage to the Buddha
Homage to the Dharma
Homage to the Sangha

Jimyo
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Nov 07, 2010 2:36 am

Hi Jimyo
Some individual monks may be getting things wrong, perhaps very wrong - indeed they clearly are. But that doesn't mean the OBC as a whole is wrong.
I am only speaking of Shasta here but ask me sometime how the bigger migration of Brit monks nicked all my silverware after staying the night in my house. (It was returned)

When I hope for change for Shasta it is for Shasta as a whole. My interest is not in trying to ladle blame on particular monks but to look at how they they were allowed to do what they did. What allowed others to turn a blind eye, pretend it wasn't happening, consider it someone else's responsibility, sacrifice ethics for continued favour, etc. ( put any number of OBC connect experiences in here)?

These things only continue with our consent. Much of my purpose on this forum has to do with trying to find out how I participated in the blindness because I am at the very least, responsible for that.

I am grateful for the OBC connect because every last participant on this forum has posted something that has helped me to explore my own conditioning.

Isan's "
greater understanding comes from being willing to challenge underlying assumptions " brings up some fear, doubt and uncomfortableness but the alternative is just mindlessess.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Nov 07, 2010 4:50 am

Random things:

Seikai--Way to hang in there (that is, here)! I greatly appreciate your presence on and contributions to this forum. I empathize with your hurt feelings, and I think they have been provided some cause.

But as Glorfindel and Lise point out, it's the web, and people sometimes tee off just because they can (not that anyone here has been quite so ad hominem). I've certainly done it to others elsewhere, and been on the receiving end as well. We don't even have to watch as our target registers insult or pain. One imagines that in-person conversations about these matters would proceed differently, although you might also get fewer and less intense good, useful challenges to your thinking out of exchanges with more polite ground rules.

It seems that there may be very few specific things that people here want from OBC going forward. One of us (perhaps it was Mia, or Kyogen) suggested that official reconciliation or reaching out to former monks might be in order. For the sake of everyone involved, I hope that medical attention will be sought pro-actively for monastics who are suffering, and that imminent kenshos or other spiritual events are not assumed until after physical causes are ruled out by a health care professional. Perhaps that is already the norm.

All--Is there anything else? Anything more concrete?

I wish you and the other senior monks, and the whole OBC community, the very best success in your post-conclave efforts toward openness and resolution with the past.

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

Isan and Kaizan--Thanks for your very fair and thoughtful responses. You both have the knack of describing an abstract thought so that its meaning is clear and straightforward. In hindsight I can see that the answers to my questions regarding the OBC master-disciple relationship were covered from a different direction elsewhere in the forum. The properly-posed question (in my words) is not whether OBC masters have great authority over the lives of their disciples, as I had it, but whether OBC is guiding its masters to use that authority..."skillfully."

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

Jimyo--Thanks for taking the time to share your OBC story. How interesting that you went from Roshi to helicopter pilot! In many (perhaps superficial) ways, they seem like polar opposite professions: esoteric knowledge vs. physical performance, and all those dualities. But it sounds like you have integrated your training into your post-monastic life, whether you're "dining out" or not (and what a great expression that is).

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

I find it interesting that several of us who have been drawn to OBC Zen Buddhism have had long-term bouts with depression. I am one as well. I think there's an old saying that you don't get into training unless something is driving you at least a little crazy.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Nov 07, 2010 4:58 am

Hi Howard,

ask me sometime how the bigger migration of Brit monks nicked all my silverware after staying the night in my house. (It was returned)

OK, I'm asking! Actually I'm not sure what it has to do with what we're discussing here, as I imagine we're talking about one person anyway (that's a guess, and I've no idea who). But I'd like to know what you're talking about.

I haven't been to Shasta since 1982. Before then, things weren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but as I've said, I think the good overcame the bad. It's awfully hard to have checks and balances for individuals without spending all your time....dealing with checks and balances to the exclusion of all else. I had to make a lot of fuss before the Chief Junior mentioned above was removed from his position, but I was desperate. I vaguely remember other incidents where people were dealt with for treating others badly. Things weren't deliberately ignored, in my experience. But it can be difficult, as it's often one person's word against another.

It's the same outside the monastery. I wrote to the Civil Aviation Authority about a flying instructor who destroyed my confidence, caused someone else to give up flying, and was generally an unsuitable person to teach flying. I got back a nice friendly letter, but nothing got done. When two people were seriously injured and nearly died when I was on a charity camel ride in Mongolia, and nothing was being done to reprimand the company responsible, who had been totally negligent, I reported it to "Watchdog", a UK primetime whistleblowing TV programme. I got myself on peak viewing time TV...and I also got thoroughly abused by a number of people who thought I shouldn't have done what I did!!!

Why should Shasta be any different? Yes, let's try and change things that need changing, for sure. But don't make that a priority when there are so many more important things which it is - or was in my time - doing well.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Nov 07, 2010 5:06 am

Jimyo--Thanks for taking the time to share your OBC story. How interesting that you went from Roshi to helicopter pilot! In many (perhaps superficial) ways, they seem like polar opposite professions: esoteric knowledge vs. physical performance, and all those dualities. But it sounds like you have integrated your training into your post-monastic life, whether you're "dining out" or not (and what a great expression that is).

ddolmar, not straight from one to the other! I left Throssel in 1985, and I didn't start learning to fly until 1997. I did loads of things in between - I'll tell you about it someday. And to get it in perspective, I was only a monk for ten years.

Actually, the monastery and the aviation world have many things in common. In the early days, complete dependence on someone else - you have to trust your flying instructor; you'll die without him or her! A community of people who are 110% committed to what they do, and can't imagine doing anything else. Also, flying is actually more about mental activity than physical - the bit with your hands and feet is easy, while dealing with weather, passengers, and your own mind (particularly if something is going wrong) is the hard bit - and meditation helps a lot. Human Factors in aviation has become a hot topic recently, as it's been proved to be the major cause of many accidents - read a book called The Naked Pilot if you ever get the chance, which is all about this. And my recent book (finished yesterday, which is why I finally have time to join in on here) is to a large extent about the human factors involved in helicopter training. So they're really not all that different.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Nov 07, 2010 2:16 pm

Hey Jimyo
This response would have been mp except for other private messages asking about the nicked silverware.

When I last responded about the OBC I realized that my concerns centred on the Shasta which I had contact with and not elsewhere like Britain. I didn't think that the British monks had anything to directly answer for in my personal experience. The caveat to that was a bit of a joke....

When the mass migration of British Monks came over as a group to take up residence at Shasta, Visa difficulties forced them to leave the USA and re enter from Canada. They needed a place to stay for the night so I gave them my tiny home and left. When I returned with some friends the next day, the monks were gone and so was all my British silverware. Yes it looked really bad and for those less trusting of bald headed, robe wearing monks in the late 70's it was a head shaking experience.
Of course it was just an innocent mistake during a hasty morning cleanup of 12 or so monks.
It eventually got returned from Shasta with apologies for the mix up but my friends never hesitated to remind me to hide the valuables whenever British monks returned over the years to hold retreats.

with a smile.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Nov 07, 2010 2:54 pm

OK Howard, mystery solved. EXcept.....I was one of the group of British monks, and there were only FIVE of us, not twelve. I expect someone came with us, but it still can't have been that many people. However, I can't even remember staying at your place, so if you've got details confused after all these years, that's hardly surprising.

Ah, yes, those visa difficulties. All Jisho's fault, actually. I'd tried to sort things out before we left England, but hadn't managed it...though I tried, and wasn't popular for doing so. A long and so far untold story. Maybe I'll tell it sometime....
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Nov 07, 2010 3:07 pm

Jimyo,
What I had written was:

"Nonetheless, we can see through these illusions and then use this experience, wittingly or unwittingly, to aggrandize the very illusion of the self. If it seems like a bit deal to see through the illusion, it seems to me there will be a tendency to make it a big deal. Why should the truth be a big deal? The world is round. Wow, unbelievable!! It sure as hell looks flat to me!! OK, we now know its round. Can we move on now?" (not "so what")

The idea of this is if we get stuck in "there is no one that can be hurt" we can miss the boat on the indispensable need to develop compassion and skillful means. Some of the differences in opinion that I've had with Seikai (who is only stating what he learned from the actions of many senior monks, in my opinion) is that there it is not of great importance to deal with the emotional side once one knows the unreality of the ego, the reality that we cannot on the deepest level be harmed. What I have stated repeatedly is that it is of absolute necessity. Understanding our own emotional makeup and patterns and learning to not do harm to self or others in the midst of our emotions is essential.

I believe it is a mistake to think harming others by our unresolved emotions is not that important—that those who are hurt should just hurry up and realize they can’t be really be harmed so that they won’t make a big deal about it. And that of course, is up to them. There is no need for the person doing harm to resolve their emotional conflicts. If no one can be harmed, why even bother. What kind of Buddhism is that? What do people think “do no harm” means? Of equal destructiveness is to deny one's own unresolved emotional conflilcts, and claim the harm that has been done was purposeful teaching of the dharma. I don't doubt there is a place for this. I have also seen it misused terribly by those who were only deluding themselves.

If someone claims to be a teacher of Buddhism, they also have to know how to help others who do harm with their unresolved emotions. The teacher cannot just judge that that person is doing harm and then shun them until they stop. They need a bigger tool box than that. They have to understand where that person is coming from emotionally so they can help them lift themselves out of the storm. You were brought as far as understanding you can't be harmed. You were not brought to knowledge of how to not be swamped by your own emotions. To say that the OBC should not change is to say that as far as you were helped to get is as far as anyone needs to go. I differ with that position. We all need means to go deeper into ourselves to understand patterns of emotion and thought that perpetuate our doing harm. If we are a teacher, we need many tools and approaches to help others who are stuck in their emotional storms do the same.

I believe much of this was lacking when I was at the OBC and, as far I can tell by what has been stated on this site, is still lacking today.

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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Nov 07, 2010 3:36 pm

PS. I agree wholeheartedly with Glorfindel.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sun Nov 07, 2010 5:28 pm

Kaizan,

Outstanding post. Thanks.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Mon Nov 08, 2010 2:43 am

Jimyo wrote:

ddolmar, not straight from one to the other! I left Throssel in 1985, and I didn't start learning to fly until 1997. I did loads of things in between - I'll tell you about it someday. And to get it in perspective, I was only a monk for ten years.

I'd like that very much, Jimyo. Someday...
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Mon Nov 08, 2010 4:33 am

Kaizan ,
thank you , what a relief to read your posting in response to jimyos OBC story. Nicky.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Mon Nov 08, 2010 12:40 pm

Like many others here, I'm not looking for anything in particular. In particular I'm not much interested in messengers shuttling information/feedback to or from the OBC. I would like for the OBC to change its ways, but its more the idea that I see many religious organizations do harm in the name of their ill conceived truth, and would like for them all to fail in harming others -- or reform -- but that's not very likely. So while I'm interested in Seikai's experience, I don't expect or want him to do anything relative to the OBC -- at least on my behalf.

Jimyo wrote:


At the same time, I really hadn't changed in any normally accepted way. I still got upset, and cried easily at real or imagined criticism. I KNEW I could not be hurt, but I still got hurt, in fact maybe more so, as I seemed to have lost my previous natural defences, somehow. I still lost my temper and hurt others.

I think that is a common aspect of Buddhist (and other) practice. Certainly in my case, it sometimes takes considerable time between when I "see" something and when I come to realize it as "Zen bones, Zen flesh" truth that changes my life. Jiyu's analogy of climbing a mountain in a spiral and seeing the same thing over and over again from different perspectives is something I've experienced. Mostly the first insight about something does not change me dramatically A change in direction, like a change in vector of navigation takes considerable time before the effects become substantial. Behavior can change faster than feelings. It is great freedom to realize that one's behavior no longer has to be controlled by thoughts and feelings. Anger is seen as the painful emotion it is. Depression is seen as a painful feeling. I find it an interesting phenomena that people, though, often hold negative feelings much more tightly, even with a death grip sometimes, than ones that are pleasant and enjoyable. Perhaps it is that those negative feelings affirm their existence, and that without them they fear something worse -- that they might not exist at all. I just don't know exactly what drives it.

Jimyo wrote:

I don't know if anyone will find this ridiculously long post to be helpful, but I'm writing it in the hope that maybe they will.

I find people's honest experience to generally be helpful. It gives me a perspective different from my own. I don't find religious teaching that is not based on personal experience to be convincing or persuasive. And I don't find it convincing if those who claim vast experience and knowledge still harm others without cognizance or concern.

The fact that some survive toxic environments and become whole despite them cannot and should never be construed as justification or proof that toxicity is wholesome or conducive to life or religious well being. There is an old adage that "when the student is ready, a teacher will appear." I think it's better stated as "when the student in ready, the truth will appear," And that truth may appear in the deadly environment of a Nazi concentration camp (e.g., the book 'And Then There was Light.') or it may appear in the ugly environment of misguided religion.


Last edited by jack on Mon Nov 08, 2010 1:49 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : misspelling -- minor clarification in 1st paragraph)
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Wed Nov 10, 2010 8:32 pm

FYI, Rev. Master Meian was officially "promoted" to Abbess of Shasta Abbey on Saturday. Rev. Master Haryo's very brief remarks on the occasion are here:
http://www.shastaabbey.org/audio/inductionRemarks.mp3

Her Dharma talk on Sunday indicated that many former monks were in attendance. She also made very clear that ALL are welcome at Shasta Abbey: that was both the opening and much of the substance of her talk.

Her talk is here for those who are interested and don't suffer DT's when hearing the opening invocation:
http://www.shastaabbey.org/audio/rmmWelcome.mp3

I also note that RM Meian's Dharma talks have been routinely under 20 minutes, not that there's any "proper" length for such talks.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Thu Nov 11, 2010 10:09 am

:-) Hello Jimyo ~ I'm glad you're sticking around.

This may be a rather thick question, given that decades have passed since your Kessei kensho, but my cover has already been blown! Did you find/have a way to stable mindfulness of sensation afterwards? Else one can be so bucked around on the emotional rollercoaster, reacting to psychologically and physically generated sensations, and reacting to ones reactions, which also generate sensations, ad nauseam... Stable mindfulness of sensation (necessarily accompanied by intent of self-directed goodwill and compassion) paves the way for establishing stable mindfulness of mental states and phenomena generally ~ a necessary (though not sole) preliminary to being able to face, penetrate, clarify and resolve the deep-level knots of which Kaizan wrote.

_/\_
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:42 am

Hi Anne,
It's not a thick question...but I'm not sure what you mean, and even less sure how to answer you. All I know is I have a certainly that wasn't there before. It has nothing to do with states of mind, and exists even in the middle of emotional roller-coasters etc. I don't understand it...in fact, I don't understand very much really. But I wouldn't have it without the OBC, and as far as I'm concerned, they got things right even though it often didn't look like it - another version of God writing straight with crooked lines. I realise what I've written is going to be misunderstood on here, and I don't expect anyone to agree with me, but that's how it is. Sorry not to be of more help. Take care, old friend.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Thu Nov 11, 2010 12:07 pm

Jimyo wrote:
,
But I wouldn't have it without the OBC, and as far as I'm concerned, they got things right even though it often didn't look like it - another version of God writing straight with crooked lines. I realise what I've written is going to be misunderstood on here, and I don't expect anyone to agree with me, but that's how it is.

Actually I do agree with you. God does write straight with crooked lines. Understanding that puts a lot of the past to rest. There's just the matter of responsibility for trying to make things better in the present. Based on RM Meian's recent talks I think the input people have given the OBC has helped them. That's a good thing and shows that what's going on in this forum has value.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Thu Nov 11, 2010 12:24 pm

That makes a lot of sense, Isan; thank you!
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Thu Nov 11, 2010 12:46 pm

I wouldn't have the (limited) spiritual understanding that I do without the OBC either. But I agree with Jack that just because someone survives and becomes whole within a toxic environment does not mean that the toxicity is therefore vindicated or worse yet, desirable. The fact that most if not all of the OBC monks have good intent does not mitigate the damage done by applying limited skills to a complex situation and passing off the ensuing disaster as "where there is hurt there is self."

The responsibility of the spiritual teacher is huge. Since OBC was founded under the umbrella of "this religion is for spiritual adults" they are provided with a gigantic caveat that places the onus of correct training on the student. Lise said she felt her training was found lacking. That happened to me too. "I guess I was mistaken about how much you have in place spiritually," was one phrase used. This in direct response to a situation where I was emotionally swamped and profoundly ill physically. "You have to let go of the self!" Right. True, but not helpful.

I feel a great deal of love for the OBC still, and some of the monks I know are truly magnificent but boy do I wish they would get some training in the stuff that Kaizan talks about. People with such influence and authority need as broad a range of training as they can get. Medical doctors get lousy training in pain control, it's still a topic that carries a lot of moral and medieval baggage, and they wreak havoc in many lives because of it. I think the OBC has the same blind spot when it comes to psychological/emotional training. Well obviously they do, just think of RMJK's horror of psychologists that she passed down. I think the really responsible thing for the OBC to do is to get some education in training the whole person, not just the "spiritual" part, as if you could separate them. Or at least learn how to separate them wisely enough so that they can say "this is not my area of expertise. You would be best served by seeing a psychiatrist," just as one would hope they do when confronted with medical problems. It's one thing to talk about the spiritual ramifications of disease, be it physical or emotional, but quite another to try to treat it or pass judgment on it.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 12, 2010 10:02 am

Thank you Polly. You could not be more correct. The OBC deciding my medical treatment for me was wrong, a disaster, and caused me an enormous amount of distress on top of the extreme difficulty of the disease itself, which disabled me for years. Amalia wrote about the the monks assessment of her psychosis and their version of treatment for psychosis, which inflicted untold distress upon her. I've heard other stories of the OBC getting between monks and their doctors deciding the treatment they should get. Not only is this morally a nightmare, but it is like the OBC having a sign on its back saying, "Please sue me, I'm an easy target." Like you said, they have to either expand their knowledge, or understand the limits of their knowledge and refer people to someone with the knowledge to help the person.

What amazes me is how this lack of accountability goes hand in hand with the mantra, "there is no one that can be hurt, so you should not be at all upset with me for hurting you. Really, there is no reason to even discuss and try to resolve the matter. It's all about you understanding you can't be hurt." I wonder if this is not a central koan for the OBC. I and many others have heard in one form or another over and over on this site and in our relationship with the OBC directly. It is as though those who recite this mantra don't realize that you can help a person through their pain, accept responsibility for your part, AND in the process help the other's and ones own spiritual knowledge. It is like a previous post of Seikai's, stating it was spiritual VS emotional intelligence. Where does this constant theme come from, that if you know you can't be hurt it is DETRIMENTAL to examine the origin and nature of the hurt.

Again the question: If there is no one that is hurt, so being hurt and hurting others is not worth examining in detail--openly and with humilty--then why is the first precept "Do no harm?"

I recently received the same message from someone into eastern spirituality and Ekhart Tolle, etc. so I have to wonder if this is not a common koan for many who study eastern meditation. To my mind, this perspective so detracts and even demeans the beauty and transformative power of the truth of no self.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 12, 2010 10:53 am

Hello All,

Rev Master Jiyu used to say that a Zen master's anger was like a flash of lightening. In my OBC experience, I think that's very true. I'm fairly confident she meant that her explosions of anger were short-lived. But if you follow the analogy to completion, being struck by lightening can kill you or at the very least leave you with permanant scars. In my experience, RMJK's anger on many occassions was more like a lightening storm; and in an enclosed environment like the monastery, there's no shelter from that storm.

We live what we learn and maybe this is why, at least at Shasta, lightening strikes became an acceptable practice. But you know what folks, I never saw this as skillfull means, and I've got some scars to prove it!

Thank you all for being here. I really, really appreciate it.

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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 12, 2010 11:17 am

Dear Kaizan,

It's like pixie dust.

I was raised as a Christian Scientist, and brought up on "There is no life, truth, intelligence nor substance in matter. All is infinite mind..." Our root instruction was to "know the truth". Since you were a perfect child of God and all matter was illusion, that meant all illness was illusion. If you were ill your job was to "know the truth (and the truth would make you free)." If you didn't get well, it was because you didn't know the truth hard enough. When a little 8 year old girl in my Sunday School class got sick and died, having only received medical care at the last (too late) moment, both she and her parents were looked down upon because they hadn't known the truth. Also her parents were stripped of their church membership because seeking medical attention is against the rules. Sound familiar?

When I first read Peter Pan I saw the correlation: "All you need is faith and trust and oh! a little pixie dust!" Forget about "Lo, with the ideal comes the actual!" In this particular arena that very important Buddhist truth seems to have slipped through the cracks.

But I studied Raja Yoga for 25 years and the teacher was adamant about that point. Extremists were frowned upon and we were told to accept the place of our development with humility and seek help from doctors and psychiatrists when needed. So not all eastern thought is as you suggested in your last paragraph. Ekhart Tolle is a construct in my opinion. Well meaning perhaps, but a construct of his own rather ill-conceived design, and he has nothing to do with Hindu philosophy. Just more pixie dust.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 12, 2010 11:48 am

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.

Things get complicated, since some spiritual problems have physical and emotional manifestations. I have a friend, whom I can see has spiritual problems. I leave her alone, since I know she's scared to deal with them on that level; she's as good as told me that. She's been to see psychiatrists, and it hasn't done much good, and probably never will. But drugs and occasional chats help her keep her head above water enough to just about cope with life. I leave well alone, because it's not my business. But suppose she went to the monastery, ie apparently asked for spiritual help. Then when if was given, she didn't like it. Or, suppose the monastery suggested she needed a psychiatrist, when she'd tried that route, or didn't want to try it and that was why she was there. No easy answer, is there.

Monks get medical and/or psychological qualifications? Not sure it's practical. Here in the UK at any rate, a first degree in psychology is three years, followed by a diploma in clinical psychology. A medical degree is five years, before you start to study psychiatry. In my experience, short counselling courses and similar only touch the surface of things, and longer ones also take several years. Is that what monastic spiritual counsellors should be spending a large proportion of their lives doing? I don't think it is, and passing people on to those better qualified is of course the way to go....but is everyone always sure when to do that? These things aren't cut and dried, and that's why mistakes get made.

I don't have all the answers, but I'm not sure that anyone else does either.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 12, 2010 12:06 pm

Thanks everyone for contributing and posting on this thread. I am very pleased with what you have uncovered and I agree with what you are saying. Polly, I really think you got to the heart of the matter here.

I believe that RMJK was first of all, a product of her own conditioning which was well documented in her books. I know she did the best she could with what she was given, but I think that ultimately what she really needed was a lot of compassion, help, and support, which she did not get. I think her skin grew thicker and thicker the more time went on and she turned into an oppressive teacher. This is a really good example of what can happen after kensho; just because you have had a profound religious experience, does not mean you can just kick back and ride the wave. If you cannot find compassion and fearlessly and directly care for the self, then your beautiful and profound experience is just a dream or illusion. But you can go back. It is never too late. The self is just waiting there for you to care and comfort it, like a child.

I believe the OBC tends to view the self as a weakness or a burden. Maybe RMJK thought that she needed to be strong and powerful to prove herself and gain recognition. Of course she did have to do these things for survival, but I think that because this is what she modeled to her students, that some of them picked up those negative and bad habits. Eko was a classic example of such a student. Again, he was also conditioned by his teacher. This is the intergenerational trauma that occurs in communities or organizations. Combine that trauma with the individuals past conditioning and you could easily have a recipe for disaster. RMJK and Eko both had past trauma and issues in their youth that were not dealt with and festered over time. It essential to look very deeply at the self, absolutely essential.

What is the self? I follow certain theories of the self. I believe in the "self as context" which stems from the RFT/ACT perspective: the self is a "continuous and secure I from which events are experienced, but that is also distinct from those events." With mindfulness we can see that we both need to take great care of ourselves because our "self" is the "arena of experience", but at the same time the experience itself is distinct or independent. To say "where there is hurt or anger, there is self," is flawed and is a very bad teaching. A correct way to view this is where there is hurt or anger, there is hurt and anger. Who experiences this hurt and anger? The self experiences the hurt and anger. You have to FIRST deal with the self experiencing the hurt and anger. It has to be touched, felt, understood, experienced, loved, accepted, etc..., first before it is ready to move on. But, the problem with the OBC way of teaching is that it is left up to the student to do all this on their own. Students need guidance, direction, an support in processing these feelings and emotions as they come up in training. To just blow off students and teach them to "get over the self" is to abandon those students and it can cause trauma, especially if a student is dealing with a lot of stuff coming up.

Many have said here that the OBC needs help and training and I agree. They need to find wise ways of helping people. There is no way to compartmentalize the "self" and only come from a spiritual perspective. The body, mind, emotions, environment, and culture, all influence the arena of experience and are essential to the self. You cannot say that the spiritual life will fulfill all of the needs of a person. It does not surprise me that many OBC members past and present suffer from depression. This stems from isolation which probably is caused by cutting off essential aspects of the self. In effect, you end up harming the self when you cut it off from it's essential needs. Studies have shown that isolation, lack of significant relationships such as friends and family, and love, can all cause pathology in later life such as Alzheimer's, dementia, and depression. All these things lead to poor quality of life and early death. I think about these things when I think of all my dear monk friends whom I love very much. I worry that they do not have a good quality of life and do not recieve what they deserve as human beings. When you cut off aspects of yourself there is a form of self-hate that develops and that is projectted on to others. It actually leads to lack of compassion over time and just plain meanness. This is the "identification with the oppressor" aspect of intergenerational trauma; it's the "kick the dog" syndrome. The stuents learn to cut off the self and that leads to self hate, then they act that out towards others and the cycle gets repeated.

That's all I have for now.

Peace,
Diana
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 12, 2010 1:17 pm

Diana wrote:
But you can go back. It is never too late. The self is just waiting there for you to care and comfort it, like a child.

When you cut off aspects of yourself there is a form of self-hate that develops and that is projected on to others. It actually leads to lack of compassion over time and just plain meanness.

Diana, your post brought to mind a technique I've practiced involving guided meditation called "inner child retrieval". During the meditation people are directed to invite banished parts of themselves back into awareness with sometimes remarkable results. It can literally feel like recovering a child you no longer remember having. There are usually memories of events and feelings involved that could not be acknowledged when they occurred so people have to be prepared to do some processing afterward. I think it's an interesting way of expressing that every part of ourselves needs and deserves a seat at the table and I don't think we can be healthy otherwise. When I was training at Shasta Abbey I often felt like I had locked a part of me in a box and no amount of growing in other areas relieved that feeling.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 12, 2010 1:32 pm

Isan, that can be a very powerful and healing technique. I experienced a similar use of it. My therapist helped to take me back to a certain time when I was 6 years old. She asked me to see that child, talk to her, and ask her what she needed. I befriended that child and spent weeks getting to know her. I made her an altar and put photos and things that I knew she would like on it. I talked to her and dealt with some very old emotions. It was a very powerful and healing thing for me and I know I'll use that technique to help others some day.

Our emotions are stored in our brains and in our bodies. We can't think or meditate them away. We cannot cut ourselves off from ourselves. Shaving your head, wearing robes, and changing your name is an extreme way of trying to adopt a new identity, but we cannot become something other than what we are. I have heard so many times from monks and ex-monks that they came to training because they were suffering so much and they hated themselves so much that they couldn't stand it any longer. I think this is common in American or Western Buddhists. But after the romance wears off and the cosmic fascination is gone, we are left standing naked with ourselves.
Peace,
Diana
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 12, 2010 1:50 pm

And I've spent around 36 years - since first encountering the OBC - thinking meditation was about knowing oneself, warts and all, not cutting anything off, and embracing everything with compassion. Doesn't everyone?
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 12, 2010 1:57 pm

Jimyo said:

Things get complicated, since some spiritual problems have physical and emotional manifestations. I have a friend, whom I can see has spiritual problems. I leave her alone, since I know she's scared to deal with them on that level; she's as good as told me that. She's been to see psychiatrists, and it hasn't done much good, and probably never will. But drugs and occasional chats help her keep her head above water enough to just about cope with life. I leave well alone, because it's not my business. But suppose she went to the monastery, ie apparently asked for spiritual help. Then when if was given, she didn't like it. Or, suppose the monastery suggested she needed a psychiatrist, when she'd tried that route, or didn't want to try it and that was why she was there. No easy answer, is there.

I agree with everything you said on your last post (second to last post now that you snuck ahead of me). It is absolutely true that there is no magic bullet; it is absolutely true than neither I nor anyone elso on this site has all the answers; and it is absolutely true that whatever solution that one tries in order to resolve a problem, there will be other problems that ensue.

Where I differ from you is in where I would go from there. My impression from what you wrote, and please correct me if I'm wrong, is that since all suggestions and ideas that have appeared on this site have potential problems that might arise if employed, then the OBC might as well remain as they have.

I would suggest a different direction, which is to go forward and evolve. When a species, civilization, or individual evolves, each step does not solve all problems. In fact the entity, by the very fact of its evolution must now face different challenges. But by evolving it does help the entity adapt to the reality of the situation at hand. For a decade or more before I left, monks were leaving the OBC for reasons discussed on this site. I left for reasons discussed on this site. A decade or two after I left, other monks left for similar reasons. What this suggests to me is that in certain areas the OBC has been ossified and ossification (is that a word?) does not lend itself to evolution.

I know I don't have all the answers, but by all appearances, there has been enough discussed on this site to help Rev. Meian and others I'm sure, look more closely at taking these concerns more seriously than has been in the past. This is a first step.


Last edited by Kaizan on Fri Nov 12, 2010 2:11 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 12, 2010 2:04 pm

Polly said:

But I studied Raja Yoga for 25 years and the teacher was adamant about that point. Extremists were frowned upon and we were told to accept the place of our development with humility and seek help from doctors and psychiatrists when needed. So not all eastern thought is as you suggested in your last paragraph. Ekhart Tolle is a construct in my opinion. Well meaning perhaps, but a construct of his own rather ill-conceived design, and he has nothing to do with Hindu philosophy. Just more pixie dust.

Thank you for correcting me. My last sentence before I edited the post you referred to was a request asking for more information from those who have had more experience with a variety of eastern meditative disciplines. I removed the sentence out of concern that it might divert from my main point. I'm sorry I did that now, but no worries, you've enlightened me.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 12, 2010 2:22 pm

Jimyo said:

And I've spent around 36 years - since first encountering the OBC - thinking meditation was about knowing oneself, warts and all, not cutting anything off, and embracing everything with compassion. Doesn't everyone?

Everyone thinks that, but how well do we act on it? I had written in a previous post that when there is a line out the door with people who have the same or similar complaints about a person or organization, it is probably a good time for some self reflection, which Meian appears to have initiated. The development of emotional intelligence in situations such have been described here and referred to by Meian in her talks is a good way to shorten the line. One does not have to become a therapist to do that.

None of us, as individuals or organizations, will have no one standing outside the door with a complaint, but monks are, and should be, held to a very high standard. I think even the OBC has gotten to the point that no response is not an option.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 12, 2010 2:30 pm

Kaizan wrote:

Where I differ from you is in where I would go from there. My impression from what you wrote, and please correct me if I'm wrong, is that since all suggestions and ideas that have appeared on this site have potential problems that might arise if employed, then the OBC might as well remain as they have.

I'm genuinely not sure, Kaizan. One the one hand, what you say about people leaving is true. One the other hand, in all the years you talk about that monks have been leaving, others - monks and lay people - have been helped tremendously by the OBC. They stayed, and many of them are still there. Others have left one of the monasteries, but still feel positive about their OBC experiences. Some have come to this site, not liked the constant criticism of something dear to them, and left...and that's happened in just the short time since I joined. They found it positively hurtful, as I did, but I couldn't leave for some reason!

The OBC is clearly not right for everyone. I doubt if any path is. But it is good for a large number of people, and allows them to turn their lives around dramatically. And I'm afraid that if you change its way of doing things, you might dilute and change that. That's why I'm resisting so much of what's being said here. That, plus a feeling that a lot of what's being discussed is arising out of (understandable) anger and hurt, and that's no basis for decision-making. I don't think the OBC or anything else can be perfect. And I don't want to remove the very great good that I've seen and experienced since first going to Throssel and Shasta.

But then, I haven't experienced what you and some others have, or at least not to the same extent, and hearing about it is not the same. So...I'm just not sure. Thoughts are ongoing......

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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 12, 2010 2:41 pm

Kaizan,

I recently ran across this from the Vinaya. I wished it would have been required reading when you were so terribly ill, especially by those who were deciding your fate.

mokuan

Mahavagga VIII.26.1-8
Kucchivikara-vatthu
The Monk with Dysentery
Now at that time a certain monk was sick with dysentery. He lay fouled in his own urine & excrement. Then the Blessed One, on an inspection tour of the lodgings with Ven. Ananda as his attendant, went to that monk's dwelling and, on arrival, saw the monk lying fouled in his own urine & excrement. On seeing him, he went to the monk and said, "What is your sickness, monk?"

"I have dysentery, O Blessed One."

"But do you have an attendant?"

"No, O Blessed One."

"Then why don't the monks attend to you?"

"I don't do anything for the monks, lord, which is why they don't attend to me."

Then the Blessed One addressed Ven. Ananda: "Go fetch some water, Ananda. We will wash this monk."

"As you say, lord," Ven. Ananda replied, and he fetched some water. The Blessed One sprinkled water on the monk, and Ven. Ananda washed him off. Then -- with the Blessed One taking the monk by the head, and Ven. Ananda taking him by the feet -- they lifted him up and placed him on a bed.

Then the Blessed One, from this cause, because of this event, had the monks assembled and asked them: "Is there a sick monk in that dwelling over there?"

"Yes, O Blessed One, there is."

"And what is his sickness?"

"He has dysentery, O Blessed One."

"But does he have an attendant?"

"No, O Blessed One."

"Then why don't the monks attend to him?"

"He doesn't do anything for the monks, lord, which is why they don't attend to him."

"Monks, you have no mother, you have no father, who might tend to you. If you don't tend to one another, who then will tend to you? Whoever would tend to me, should tend to the sick.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 12, 2010 3:38 pm

Mokuan,
Thank you very much for your kind thoughts about my predicament when I was ill at Shasta. However, I want to make it clear that there were a number of very kind monks who were enormously helpful and generous towards me. Rev. Kennett, I think was aware of this. As Jimyo stated, things are complicated. They are rarely black and white. If I've given the impression that there was no one to help me, I am at fault.

Let me attempt a more accurate picture, from what I know. When I was in my room and not in public sight, there were a number of monks who frequently stopped by to help me with all manner of needs, including helping me to the toilet when I was in such pain I could not walk on my own. Their kindness was remarkable. I know their hearts were open to me and their concern deep and genuine. I don't know if I showed them sufficient gratitude. This short acknowledgment I know does not do them justice. However, once I was out and about, it was a scary thing for me. I had been close to Rev. Kennett when I was healthy, but feared seeing her when I was ill. I have written of the results of some of these interactions with her and others in my introduction thread. I felt like I was much safer "out of sight and out of mind."

However, on a day to day basis I got so much practical, spiritual, and emotional help from many monks that it would be horrendous to even thiink about not acknowledging that or giving an impression it was otherwise. Daizui is one such monk. As for others that are still monks, I'm not sure it would be to their benefit to name them here. If any of these monks are reading this and were under the impression I saw it otherwise, please accept my deepest apologies. It is shameful to not acknowledge you.

Pointing out mistakes to friends is not condemning them. It is my sincere belief that the mistakes that were made towards me and many others that have come forward on this site are fixable. If, when, and how they are fixed will be up to the monks of the OBC. For myself, I don't want to use a wide brush of condemnation to paint the whole of the OBC and all they do. I do, however, think that, as an organization, the OBC has blind spots that are causing themselves and others harm. To some the harm is considerable to say the least. I am here to help support those who have been on the receiving end of those mistakes and to respectfully point out and clarify what I perceive to be mistakes, hopefully to the benefit of OBC and its members.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 12, 2010 3:58 pm

Dear Kaizan,

I'm so glad to hear that. At the time when you were most seriously ill, I was a jisha for Rev. Master Jiyu, and all I really knew about was what was going on behind "closed doors". And although I was not privy to the conversations, just being in her house all day, every day and attending to her, led me to believe no one was allowed to help you.

I do hope people were allowed to help you. I've envisioned you separated out and isolated. Maybe it goes back to what we've spoken about privately: I'm sorry I didn't help you. I'm sorry I didn't warn you.

yours,
mokuan

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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 12, 2010 4:04 pm

Jimyo,

We can't seem to get the rest of our day going can we? I just find this conversation a very good one and keep getting pulled back to the old forum.

Again, I agree with you. Maybe my previous post to Mokuan will help you understand where some of us are coming from. It is my belief that the OBC can address many of the issues here without diluting the Dharma. I don't expect them, nor would want them, to become therapists. I would not want them to dilute the teaching of no self. I also have no desire to change the OBC to my way of thinking. Obviously some in the OBC are watching this site. It seems apparent that our discussions here have been cause for monks to reflect on the way they’ve done things. So in some way--if Meian’s apologies are sincere, and having known her for many years I have no reason to think otherwise—our “criticisms” have been of use to her and other monks. But they will change only as they see fit to change within their principles. I am quite flattered that you invest me with the power to change the OBC, but it’s been a long time since I’ve tucked a towel in my collar and jumped down the stairs pretending to be superman. Frankly, I’m in physical therapy again working on walking up and down stairs.

I’m glad that you’re not sure and having ongoing thoughts. That attitude promotes openness and discussion. If there were not some truth in what is being said on this sight, Meian would not have started the discussions occurring now at Shasta. There are many intelligent monks in the OBC. If there is some truth to what has been said by myself and others, then there are monks who have thought about these things themselves. However, if they have thought about them, have they discussed them openly before now? If they have not discussed them openly, what prevented them? I know there was something preventing me back when I was there. It was simply not done. If that same preventative mechanism is there, and there is much on this site from more recent OBC members that certainly points in that direction, is that not something that the OBC would want to fix?

Ongoing questions for ongoing thoughts…..
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 12, 2010 4:10 pm

Mokuan,

My God!! Thank you for letting me know that. Thank you very much. I did not know those monks were helping me against Rev. Kennett's wishes. Perhaps they didn't know her wishes. Perhaps they just did the right thing regardless. I had no idea, Mokuan. I feel like I'm knocked over. I guess I'm stupid for feeling that way. No wonder I was so frightened to step outside my door. No projection, no irrational fear, just the truth. Excuse me Lise, but HOLY [banned term]!!! No doubt I appear naive and stupid. I just didn't know that was an ongoing directive. I was mostly bedridden for well over three years. How long was that directive in effect? My God, when Zen Masters play doctor--God help us.

Mokuan please don't feel bad or guilty. Your saying nothing was something we all did, including myself. This is what we all, including present monks must look at. Why could nothing be said? Why did we all say nothing? Do monks say nothing now? Thank you Mokuan. Put your heart to rest about this.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 12, 2010 4:57 pm

Kaizan,

What happened to you was wrong, horrendous, awful...it's late at night here and I'm running out of adjectives. However - and I may slightly be playing devil's advocate here - fibromyalgia is often misdiagnosed by doctors, at least in the UK, and I've heard of several cases being thought for months or years to be hypochondria!!!! So...Rev Master Jiyu wasn't unique, and having medical professionals at the Abbey or monks with medical training doesn't necessarily mean that mistakes won't happen.

Why did people say nothing? Because there's a kind of group dynamic that happens in all organisations, not just the Abbey, particularly where authority figures are concerned. People are frightened to step outside it. It's common and well known. I've seen it in other organisations too. There's a famous psychological experiment, in which people were asked to apparently give electric shocks to volunteers, and they went on doing as they were told, even though the 'shocks' appeared to be at a dangerous and painful level. It's often held up as an example of how people will behave when told to do something by a figure of authority, and when everyone else is doing it.

At the Abbey, you could step outside of things; I know because I did it. I'm not saying this to prove I'm anything special, as I'm not - I just don't pick up on group dynamics and the done thing very well. In behavioral psychology terminology, I have the type of personality that conditions badly - sorry, my long ago psychology degree coming to the fore. It's not always an advantage; criminals also have that type of personality! Anyway, I occasionally argued with Rev Master Jiyu - and there were consequences, but the world didn't come to an end. That was actually a good learning experience for me. I've been a whistle blower at times since then; I don't get thanked for it, but...it's something I have to do, if I'm to live with myself. But we shouldn't be too hard on those who don't do it; they're just normal.

Now I'm going to bed, so you too can have a break from this thread. :-))


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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 12, 2010 5:00 pm

Gotta love ya, Jimyo. Good night.

PS Is there one monk out there that has a higher standard for themselves than the one Jimyo provided for you who will speak up?
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 12, 2010 6:21 pm

Jimyo wrote:


Why did people say nothing? Because there's a kind of group dynamic that happens in all organisations, not just the Abbey, particularly where authority figures are concerned. People are frightened to step outside it. It's common and well known. I've seen it in other organisations too. There's a famous psychological experiment, in which people were asked to apparently give electric shocks to volunteers, and they went on doing as they were told, even though the 'shocks' appeared to be at a dangerous and painful level. It's often held up as an example of how people will behave when told to do something by a figure of authority, and when everyone else is doing it.

Here's what I remember about the experiment.

That famous experiment was done by Stanley Milgram in the 1960's. An astonishing 65% administered a full lethal dose, even when the recipient of the shocks appeared to in great pain, and was "known" to have a serious heart condition. Before the experiments. psychologists had predicted only a sadistic 2.5% would have done what 65% did.

The experiments also showed the power of individual influence. The 65% who would administer an obviously painful, apparently lethal shock increased to 90% if the subject being tested knew the confederate just before him had done so. The 65% dropped to only 10% if the the subject knew the confederate just before him had refused to administer shocks that were apparently causing serious pain.

To me that shows how heavy an influence social conditioning is. It would in Buddhist terms explain the heavy burden of seeing conditioning, let alone escaping it. The whole continuing episodic trauma of the OBC seems just a continuation of the conditioning passed from one generation to another -- no freedom or liberation at all. It is sad cycle that is all too similar to abused children growing up to become abusers.

It baffles me how anyone who has read much of Buddhism beyond OBC material can ignore Jiyu's behavior and conclude she was an arhat or Buddha because she claimed it.. Jiyu seems to be nearly everything I do not want to be -- under any circumstance - even secular ones. We Westerners seem particularly prone to worship strong personalities -- even when they are evil. The "self"-impoverished are the most likely to be worshipers.

If you read the sutras, the Buddha simply said all the things we think are a self are not a self. There is no permanent self any more than there is any permanent flame or permanent river. It's all flow and process, though that flow sure seems to be a self.. That is his teaching. That is what he asked people to understand. The essence of his teachings are a relentless attack on the roots of harmful behavior -- the twisting and hurt inflicted on other beings that come from a deluded view of the world. That we humans have the capacity to see the endless process we are rather then being caught in our ideas about about the process is a basic cornerstone of freedom.

I recall one monk stating (a bit smugly it seemed to me) in a dharma talk, that if he were in Japan, his title of Master would entitle him to practice professionally as a psychologist. Zen monk masters, he asserted, were recognized there as knowing that much and that deeply about the workings of the mind. That seemed to me to be an aggrandized claim to self-respect born of profound ignorance and a seriously impoverished "self" image.

In relative contrast here are some excerpts from a Vipassana meditation course FAQ. It seems to understand the connection between meditation and reasonably good mental health.

Is there anyone who should not participate in a course?

Obviously someone who is physically too weak to follow the schedule will not be able to benefit from a course. The same is true of someone suffering from psychiatric problems, or someone undergoing emotional upheaval. Through a process of questions and answers, we will be able to help you decide clearly beforehand whether you are in a position to benefit fully from a course. In some cases applicants are asked to get approval from their doctor before they can be accepted.

Can Vipassana cure physical or mental diseases?

Many diseases are caused by our inner agitation. If the agitation is removed, the disease may be alleviated or disappear. But learning Vipassana with the aim of curing a disease is a mistake that never works. People who try to do this waste their time because they are focusing on the wrong goal. They may even harm themselves. They will neither understand the meditation properly nor succeed in getting rid of the disease.

How about depression? Does Vipassana cure that?

Again, the purpose of Vipassana is not to cure diseases. Someone who really practices Vipassana learns to be happy and balanced in all circumstances. But a person with a history of severe depression may not be able to apply the technique properly and may not get the desired results. The best thing for such a person is to work with a health professional. Vipassana teachers are meditation experts, not psychotherapists.




Last edited by jack on Fri Nov 12, 2010 10:28 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : misspelling)
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Fri Nov 12, 2010 10:30 pm

jack wrote:


Here's what I remember about the experiment.

That famous experiment was done by Stanley Milgram in the 1960's. An astonishing 65% administered a full lethal dose, even when the recipient of the shocks appeared to in great pain, and was "known" to have a serious heart condition. Before the experiments. psychologists had predicted only a sadistic 2.5% would have done what 65% did.


I just read a detailed description of this experiment and it is certainly disturbing. Apparently it was replicated in other parts of the world with similar results. One thing I didn't see was a reference to the age of the participants and whether an attempt was made to test across different age groups - I'd like to think that more mature people would fare better than college age young adults. Regarding the OBC though I think the boot camp analogy you used earlier is more apropos. More generally I think organizations are inherently antithetical to self-realization. A lot of good learning can occur in spiritual groups, but the very nature of the learning makes one less dependent on authority and less interested in conformity. Perhaps it the natural arc of successful learning that people eventually move on from groups and simply live as individuals.
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PostSubject: Re: After the Conclave: First Steps   Sat Nov 13, 2010 3:49 am

"A lot of good learning can occur in spiritual groups, but the very nature of the learning makes one less dependent on authority and less interested in conformity. Perhaps it the natural arc of successful learning that people eventually move on from groups and simply live as individuals."

That's a really interesting point to wake up to.....

(I really must leave this site alone and get on with life.)
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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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