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 What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?

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Lise
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PostSubject: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sun Mar 02, 2014 9:19 am

I'm starting this thread in hopes we can eventually post the material, by which I mean the written output produced by the Work Groups in regard to their various remit, and also the most recent suggestions regarding the Lay Initiative. Those who were part of those Work Groups know best what happened, but they aren't likely to post publicly about it for obvious reasons. Apart from the general knowledge that their work was tossed into the bin, not much else is known.

For reference I've copied over the posts from Enida's thread, "Ethical Standards in the SZBA", as the precursor to this discussion.


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H Enida



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Subject: Ethical Standards in the SZBA   Fri 21 Feb 2014 - 12:21


http://sweepingzen.com/ethical-standards-in-the-szba-a-potential-model-for-others/

A link to a post of interest.  Seems many folks are working on requiring ethics as part of the mix....

I believe the Order and Shasta, Throssel and other temples technically could implement ethical safeguards pretty easily -- if one could get the various members of the organization to agree


Last edited by Lise on Fri 21 Feb 2014 - 18:15; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : fix typo, per request)
 
maisie field



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Subject: Re: Ethical Standards in the SZBA   Sat 22 Feb 2014 - 10:20


I agree H Enida,if only:

folk I meditate with would even want to talk about it;
We could then create a framework for discussion and consensus.

I have read and enjoyed the SZBA document.
I have suggested we look at it, us being a lay sangha group.
It seems I am a lone voice, so I stop for a while.
There is inertia here, and until people get "stung", I believe that inertia will continue.

I have been practicing more or less within the OBC nexus for over forty years,  and I have seen behaviour and culture develop in ways for which I think there needs to be a framework of regulation, such as we have in advanced civil societies, in professional bodies and in other churches.
Ethically and constitutionally the OBC  will wither and die ,or spiral into further corruption, as demonstrated by the Michael Little debacle, if this doesn't change ,and these little fiefdoms, their temples and groupings, remain unaccountable to the rule of law, and to  the mores of normal society.

The organisation is a cult, not because it is particularly bizarre or extreme,  but because its priesthood refuses to participate in society.

So what is next, do you think?



best wishes
maisie
 
gnorwell



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Subject: Re: Ethical Standards in the SZBA   Sun 23 Feb 2014 - 0:40


Hi Maisie,

Does your lay sangha group know about this:

http://obcon.org/blog/2013/06/30/18-month-public-statement-review/


which I think is the latest output from the OBC since the Faith Trust Institute report.

Best wishes,
George
 
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Subject: Re: Ethical Standards in the SZBA   Sun 23 Feb 2014 - 1:51


Thank you George,

I have taken note of this

Best wishes
maisie
 
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Subject: Re: Ethical Standards in the SZBA   Sun 23 Feb 2014 - 20:47


gnorwell wrote:Hi Maisie,

Does your lay sangha group know about this:

http://obcon.org/blog/2013/06/30/18-month-public-statement-review/


which I think is the latest output from the OBC since the Faith Trust Institute report.

Best wishes,
GeorgeThank you for posting this. Good to hear that something is in the works for dealing with ethical issues.
 
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Subject: Re: Ethical Standards in the SZBA   Mon 24 Feb 2014 - 10:30


The date of that posting was May 2013; soon it will be a year on.  What actual progress, concrete steps, have been taken?

Haryo Young reportedly shut down most of the Interim Board's worthwhile suggestions and their valuable work output that was presented to him, leading to individuals departing the Board in 2013 as a consequence. If this isn't correct, I hope someone will comment here.

From that SZBA link that Enida posted, I like the idea of an Abbott/Abbess signing a contract. That would be a good way to show followers their sincerity and acceptance of their own accountability to others.
 
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Subject: Re: Ethical Standards in the SZBA   Mon 24 Feb 2014 - 12:10


Lise,

I believe you are correct in that there have been no formal changes, just talk of them.  As it stands now, the OBC and many of the temples are still the same, i.e. separate corporate entities that are corporate soles (run by only one board member), and have no ultimate responsibility or accountability to anyone, and no required transparency.  There is an ethics committee at Shasta, but it is not independent with non-biased members.  It is made up of a few Shasta monks and dedicated lay people, some of whom I have taken refuge in in the past and have not taken me seriously.  I don't see that that really fulfills the FTI suggestion that the whole organization try to interlace accountability and transparency in the various factions of the institution.

A monk recently told me changes have been modest, and that whatever is done in the future will not be motivated by mistrust.  My question in response would be, how can you be certain that your nonaction is not based in mistrust?  From what it sounds like to me, there is probably no way to gain consensus by all the monks for what is good to do, so modest changes are all that can be accomplished at this point.  I imagine they aren't at all interested in making radical changes as suggested by the SZBA as good safeguards -- it would just be too much change.

I trust that the monks in charge right now won't abscond with money, act inappropriately sexually or grab for power.  But the monks in charge are over 60 and I don't know what the next batch is capable of, some of which haven't even appeared yet.  This isn't a condemnation of the current monks, this is a concern for the future of the organization and whether I can invest in it, either with time or monetarily.  I just can't imagine throwing good money and effort after bad.  Until there are more safeguards in place to protect people from abusive seniors in the future, I will simply beware.
 
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Subject: Re: Ethical Standards in the SZBA   Tue 25 Feb 2014 - 10:24


That makes sense to me, Enida.  If an organisation's leaders will not own and support practices that protect the well-being and safety of everyone, why hang around them. The world has many places to train, and there are so many people who seem to be quite a bit farther along in their understanding of ethics and accountability than the Shasta monks. 

Hopefully time will correct what's wrong at Shasta. There likely isn't time for the generation of younger monks to absorb the degree of indoctrination that will allow the dysfunction to continue flourishing. As the oldies pass away and some younger monks come in, and others leave, won't this nearly ensure that improvement happens whether anyone wants it or not? Newly-entering monks will be in more equitable position as well, as the older monks become increasingly dependent on them to run the monastery, see to their needs, deal with laity. The locus of power will shift. And yet I understand what worries you -  what will be the ethical compass of the person who eventually takes over there? Will they come up through the ranks with the same narcissism and sociopathic traits of a Michael Little?

It's interesting to consider that laity in meditation groups have it completely within their power to craft their own Ethics Code and keep harmful teachers in check; does anything prevent this? If, as some OBC monks maintain, "there is no OBC", then no need to ask for their agreement or even bring them into it.  It seems to me that at least within the lay realm, these practitioners have a wide-open opportunity to support and live up to accountability, transparency, appropriate exercise of authority, as it applies to everything the lay people do and to those who wish to practice with them, which includes teaching. If a monk doesn't agree with the trainees' Code, they don't need to have contact with them; instead of going out to give teaching, better to stay home in the monastery and meditate.

Wouldn't it be interesting to see the effect over time, if monks were first thoroughly grounded in ethics and responsibility as lay members, before they ever got near to postulating?
 
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Subject: Re: Ethical Standards in the SZBA   Tue 25 Feb 2014 - 17:32


It would make sense to me for the OBC to commission an audit of their of their progress from the FTI. It would not have to be big, or expensive, but would certainly allay (or not) any fears that matters are not being addressed or even as some have suggested swept under the carpet.
 
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Subject: Re: Ethical Standards in the SZBA   Tue 25 Feb 2014 - 21:18


Mark, it would make sense, but with Daishin Morgan out of the picture, who could put this idea forward and get any traction with it? The Shasta group didn't want Faith Trust involved at all, so not likely they would seek out a progress report from them at this point.

The laity of the OBC are entitled to know what's been done and they should ask for an audit, and not stop asking until it happens. But they won't -
 
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Subject: Re: Ethical Standards in the SZBA   Wed 26 Feb 2014 - 1:01


Mark, Lise,
Your comments about feedback from the FTI are well made. So I have asked on the Brightmoon site whether there are any plans to get feedback from the FTI. I'll let you know if anyone out there answers.
 
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Subject: Re: Ethical Standards in the SZBA   Wed 26 Feb 2014 - 7:02


Mark,

The OBC never engaged FTI.  Shasta did, and the scope was very limited.  I would doubt very much that the OBC or Shasta would engage them again, as they are now in move on mode.  Basically, the Rules haven't changed much for the Order as a result and the Abbey has no current rules to speak of (they are so antiquated as to be completely inadequate).  Somewhere I think I have a copy of the Shasta rules.  If so, I can try to post them at some point.

I appreciate your thoughts Lise.  I too think the next generations will make radical changes....if the organization survives intact.
 
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Subject: Re: Ethical Standards in the SZBA   Wed 26 Feb 2014 - 7:14


If the SA organisation does survive let's hope the younger ones can create something free of the current cultic mindset and behaviours.  

George, thank you, it will interesting to hear what happens with your question.
 
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Subject: Re: Ethical Standards in the SZBA   Wed 26 Feb 2014 - 10:03


Lise wrote:If the SA organisation does survive let's hope the younger ones can create something free of the current cultic mindset and behaviours.  

George, thank you, it will interesting to hear what happens with your question..
There is a current discussion about this on Bright Moon to which George added his question.  It can be found here:

http://brightmoon.org/forum/faith-trust-institute-report

I don't know if this page can be viewed without a user account.  One thing of interest is Rev Meian Elbert responded on the thread and in particular mentioned the "18 Month Public Statement Review" which is published here:

http://obcon.org/blog/2013/06/30/18-month-public-statement-review/

Note that that review was posted in May 2013.  It was also stated that the thread would be replicated in the OBC Facebook group but so far I'm not seeing it there.
 
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sun Mar 02, 2014 9:31 am

I am not a member of Bright Moon now, but I've been copied on some of the recent discussion -  Meian's statement, etc., and someone's followup question about the Work Groups. It will be interesting to see how Meian or anyone else in the OBC decides to answer.

Seeing the actual end product of the Work Groups' efforts would probably be the most straightforward and honest way to address this.  Presumably the people identified to these teams were not crackpots or extremists, they spent a lot of time trying to fulfill the responsibilities they'd undertaken, yet it all disappeared with barely a whimper. Why?

If anyone has the materials that were sent to Haryo and promptly placed in File 13, please feel free to post them here. Or send them to me and I'll post them in confidence.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sun Mar 02, 2014 12:35 pm

After I left the monastery in 2010, I asked to be included in the lay initiative to be involved with what I considered a good goal - to develop a venue where the laity could exchange ideas and news and discuss training issues amongst themselves.  We had several initial members and a lay minister who would report back to the interim board.  We forged forward as a group having several online meetings cultivating ideas on lay sangha projects and the Bright Moon website.  The process was to throw out as many ideas as we could for lay sangha building and create a space to share ideas.

The lay minister who was the contact for the interim board dropped out just as we were beginning to get the website up and deciding on its name and working on topics and organization of the website.  The interim board had lost its contact with the lay initiative because of the lay minister's resignation and the board heard we were forging ahead and creating ideas and immediately we were contacted by monks and told the lay initiative was never meant to be without oversight and a monk would like to come to our next online meeting as a representative of the interim board.  At that next meeting it was skillfully suggested maybe a monk should be on the lay initiative committee, since it was a result of the lay initiative created by interim board, and of course we agreed - what else were we going to do?

Once that monk was installed on the committee, the whole focus became much less lay initiated with more input by the monks.  It was not really a lay initiative anymore so I resigned. Our whole thinking at that time as an initiative was a venue for lay people to enhance their practice with other lay people.  There is an independent quality to training between the laity that, I feel, loses something when you know you are being watched.  But, of course, this made the monks very uncomfortable and it was apparent when they took back the lay initiative that it wasn't going to be autonomous.

There was still some confusion recently that the Bright Moon site is a lay website.  I asked Ayse directly on the sangha facebook page and she said that monks are in the background running things too.  Therefore, it is not really a "lay" website as its intention has changed.

This forum is the only place I know that we are not influenced by monks on what we say, even though they read every word.  Smile
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sun Mar 02, 2014 2:48 pm

Hi Enida,

It`s interesting that you say that the monks "read every word" on this forum.  For some reason or
another, I was under the impression that they never read this forum`s postings.  Personally, it
doesn`t bother me one way or the other.  In fact, I think it`s preferable that they do.  I`m all for
transparency and openness for all.
Could you say how you know that the monks read every word ?  If that doesn`t breach any
confidentialities , that is.
I also had the impression that the SOBC on Facebook was independent of the monks` influence.
Certainly the discussions there seem to be open and influence free....quite lively in fact.  Do you
have the same view about the Facebook site ?
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H Enida



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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sun Mar 02, 2014 4:02 pm

Hi Stan,

OBCC was established before I left the monastery, and monks were reading it then.  After the Eko debacle, it was confirmed again that monks could read the forum.  In fact, several of the most senior monks have posted on here in response to certain threads in the past.

I have had many recent conversations with monks about the forum's contents.  And, I have heard through a few sources that some of the monks are quite upset at me for posting here (I turned to the dark side Smile).  I am aware that some keep track of this site, and some monks don't read it at all (which is too bad I think) .  I imagine the admins here would be able to tell you more here if they could.

The Facebook page is a closed group which has admins that limit the conversation.  There is a lively discussion right now about this very thing on their page and whether to allow others not associated with the OBC to become members of the group.  If you look at the members list, there are several monks who are members, but who rarely say anything on the page.  At this point in time, it is a closed members-only forum consisting of laity, lay ministers and monks of the Order.

Personally, it doesn't bother me either, it is free choice.  I simply want to know something for what it truly is and was responding to Lise's question of the interim board and my experience with it.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sun Mar 02, 2014 4:29 pm

Thanks for your reply Enida.

I`m pleasantly surprised to know that the monks aren`t banned from reading the OBCC forum.
That some object to you posting on this site is their problem,really.  Nothing stopping them from
replying to your posts here !  I wish they would.  perhaps they are unable to logically defend their
own views....who knows what they think if they`re not willing to communicate.  Usually if someone
is unwilling to communicate, it`s because there is something that one is unwilling to face up to and
deal with. pity really....there`s no need for it.  `Dark side Enida`.....that`s funny  :-)
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sun Mar 02, 2014 5:10 pm

Hi Enida,
Could you clarify what you were told about the Brightmoon site, namely "that monks are in the background running things"? I too was under the impression that it was a lay site with monk guests.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sun Mar 02, 2014 7:17 pm

H Enida wrote:


The lay minister who was the contact for the interim board dropped out just as we were beginning to get the website up and deciding on its name and working on topics and organization of the website.  The interim board had lost its contact with the lay initiative because of the lay minister's resignation and the board heard we were forging ahead and creating ideas and immediately we were contacted by monks and told the lay initiative was never meant to be without oversight and a monk would like to come to our next online meeting as a representative of the interim board.  At that next meeting it was skillfully suggested maybe a monk should be on the lay initiative committee, since it was a result of the lay initiative created by interim board, and of course we agreed - what else were we going to do?  . . .

I wish I'd been at that meeting, as a stealth representative from the Dark Side. If I had been, my fantasy runs like this:

Monk:  "It seems good to do that a monk should be on the Committee since this came into being due to the Interim Board."

Me:  "Hey, we're good, thanks though. We'll let know you if we need anything."  (Subtext: "You can log off from the meeting now. And don't let the screen door hit you in the [banned term] on the way out.")

I still remember that stifling deadweight of group pressure to agree with monks, always agree - no lay person ever gainsaid one of them in my presence, during the time I was around Shasta. Far more critical to always conform and do what you know everyone else expects. I saw that and experienced it. My flippancy isn't directed as a criticism of those who couldn't "just say no" to a monk, because I certainly never did. But in looking back, I wish I had. Sometimes "no" is an answer too, and all of us laity would be better off if we learned to recognise that and own it for ourselves.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:18 pm

Hi George,
I want to make sure it is understood that monks were involved "too" in setting up and running Bright Moon initially.  Not in charge, but along with the laity working on it, which was different than we initially thought it would be during my time in the lay initiative group.

I looked way down the facebook string and could not locate the conversation I mentioned above, but she did speak of how difficult setting BM up was and it had been a challenging and bumpy road getting there and that was my experience too.  How was it going to interact with the monks and how would refuge be accomplished within it were considered and hashed out.  BM was also looking for input as to how the Bright Moon Board would be set up and who would be elected to the Board.  The last time I was involved, one of the members of the Board was to be a monk.  

Do any members here know if there is an active Board now on Bright Moon and who are its members?  Is that information readily available on the site?  I don't find it problematic if there are monks, lay ministers and others running things together in the background, as long as that is transparent and understood by the participants.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sun Mar 02, 2014 11:51 pm

Hi Enida,
Have a look on the Bright Moon site under the tab About Bright Moon. As I read it the site is completely independent of any monastic admin input. Is that how you read it?
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Mon Mar 03, 2014 1:13 am

Hi again George.  I can't answer that for you at this point.  I am a public member of Bright Moon and don't have access to the BM private pages to give you an answer.  The public pages do not say anything about the Board from what I can tell, but when I was involved there was a Board and it was made up of several OBC members, including a monk.  Like I said, I can't access to confirm or deny the information you are seeking Smile
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Mon Mar 03, 2014 2:40 am

Hi Enida,
This is what it says on the PUBLIC part of the Bright Moon site.

About Bright Moon

Bright Moon  was initiated by members of the lay community connected with the OBC temples and meditation groups, and is managed by the Bright Moon admin team.
Bright Moon website is offered to those who might feel that it’s helpful to extend their network of Dharma friends beyond the circle of people that they know personally through face-to-face contact within their own temple and group, as well as to those training without the benefit of a local sangha. It is intended as an additional means of communication.
We hope the website will grow to cover many aspects of Buddhist training, and its practical expression in daily life. People with shared interests and concerns can discuss these within a broader group, and understand the perspective of trainees in other parts of the world. An important benefit for those who can’t get to a temple or group in person very often, will be to help us keep in touch with fellow Buddhists in our particular ‘family’.
The Relationship between  Bright Moon and the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives (OBC)
The relationship with the monastic Order is one of friendly and supportive cooperation based on shared goals and interests within mutual practice. Bright Moon is an independent website; it does not fall under the administration of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives, and the OBC is not responsible for its contents. The views expressed on the website are those of the participants and do not necessarily represent those of the Order as a whole, or those of the Bright Moon admin team.


Me again. All the admins are lay people, 3 from UK, 2 European, 1 from North America.

This sounds pretty independent.

What do you think?
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PostSubject: some helpful info?   Mon Mar 03, 2014 8:43 am

Hi there - this is my first time posting on the forum here - I practice within the OBC tradition and have done for about 12 years now - always as a lay person.  I am very grateful for the teaching and the practice and overall I have found training in the OBC sangha wonderful; however - and it is a big however - there are some issues I came across gradually in my training in terms of there being certain unhelpful aspects/dynamics of the tradition which can become harmful/confusing/alienating etc (I am not referencing abuse here, although clearly that has gone on, I am just referencing certain aspects of our training paradigms within the tradition and their effects etc).  The real problem though for me is that there is not really a space there for collective reflection and healing for the lay sangha (I understand many feel the same regarding the monastic sangha however I couldn't speak on that as I have never been a monastic), and as a result it has been impossible to resolve or indeed really even address any such issues and allow healing to take place for many of us - and as a result I kind of train with one foot in and one foot out as there is a sense of alienation which cannot be assuaged like I say without there being some kind of resolution - even if that is simply in the form of having the space to reflect together in a meaningful way that could work towards some kind of helpful change....

I mention all of this just to give a sense of the background for myself, but also because I wanted to work with other lay people in the sangha towards creating this kind of space for ourselves, as the more I conversed on forums such as the FB group etc the more I saw that there was the need for this kind of collective way to both address ourselves and engage ourselves - and like I say reflect and respond; I also saw that many others saw this too.  Forums are not enough for this as firstly what we write is published so this puts certain limits on what we can actually say at times, then in addition these only engage people who make the effort to reach out themselves and feel that they can, and lastly they also don't necessarily lead to anything meaningful beyond what helps us individually through sharing and discussion etc, because without any sense of structures in place to also communicate what we find collectively in a meaningful way to others who can actually make/help to make changes, then it can end up not going anywhere beyond the personal level; so whilst forums are an incredibly helpful refuge, they are not enough if we really want things to change on a sangha level and this is why I and others got together to work on the link project - which was a grass roots lay initiative to work on building connections with each other to help create all sorts of possibilities for the lay sangha in terms of how we can communicate/share/reflect/engage etc, and yes even identify our needs and wishes for change in certain areas and communicate them; we felt also by creating a space we were also giving permission to communicate in this way in the first place and thus assuage some of the fear there may be around this for folks and encourage them to connect - not 'us' giving permission to others, but the space itself doing this simply by virtue of the fact of its being there.  It sounds much like the lay initiative Enida speaks of but it had nothing to do with any of the working groups and wasn't initiated by monks at all, and in that sense did not have the endorsement of the OBC.  I worked on this for about six months and we did have an initial consultation paper we sent out to many in the monastic sangha, however it seemed that much of the feedback was not particularly favourable (although some of it definitely was) and it ended up having to go in a very different direction and move away from what for me was the main reason for working on it in the first place - i.e. creating this kind of space as described - and so I could no longer justify working on it and left the project.  I had intended on helping with Bright Moon as the two sangha sites BM and SBC kind of merged and I had been an admin for SBC and the teams kind of merged too, which I feel was a very good thing and they worked hard to make BM work better and be more user friendly etc.  The team was all lay people and I even though I stepped down in the very early stages I understand that this is the case now still.

I also understand that the link project is still there in the minds of those who are working on BM etc and its much more organic now it seems, in that it seems more of a general sense of looking out for making connections across the sangha/facilitating this in all the ways that seem helpful to do as they come up; however I have commented on BM I still feel there needs to be the kind of space for healing and possibilities for change as said above, and that still this is not really there and thus it is very difficult for lay people outside of our 1:1 relationships or any form of group discussions to be able to really address anything collective at all/i.e. more than just about our personal training.  I think a lay association of some kind would be a good way forward but I very much doubt it will happen unfortunately - I think to happen it would initially need the endorsement of the monastic community but I am not sure that would happen - certainly if the lay project couldn't do it in a very loose sense then I am not sure something more structured would be welcomed at all; although i do hope something like this happens in some form because until it does we really don't have what we need to fully heal and progress as a sangha, in my opinion.....
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Mon Mar 03, 2014 9:15 am

Thank you for posting Kimberley and welcome.  I appreciate your concerns. One of the tasks of the lay initiative as it was initially set forth was to look at developing a lay arm of the OBC and how that might look.  As far as I can tell it has been put away as an ongoing goal as the interim board and lay initiative are now no longer in existence.  I agree that something is lost in communication somehow, even with the power of community through the internet - how do we find the space for healing you are speaking of?  I look forward to more of your thoughts.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Mon Mar 03, 2014 10:36 am

kimberleyc1 wrote:
Hi there - this is my first time posting on the forum here - I practice within the OBC tradition and have done for about 12 years now - always as a lay person.  I am very grateful for the teaching and the practice and overall I have found training in the OBC sangha wonderful; however - and it is a big however - there are some issues I came across gradually in my training in terms of there being certain unhelpful aspects/dynamics of the tradition which can become harmful/confusing/alienating etc (I am not referencing abuse here, although clearly that has gone on, I am just referencing certain aspects of our training paradigms within the tradition and their effects etc).  The real problem though for me is that there is not really a space there for collective reflection and healing for the lay sangha...as a result I kind of train with one foot in and one foot out as there is a sense of alienation which cannot be assuaged like I say without there being some kind of resolution - even if that is simply in the form of having the space to reflect together in a meaningful way that could work towards some kind of helpful change....
.
Hello Kimberley and welcome to OBC Connect.  Many of the members here are former monastics and laity, so we understand very well what you are talking about.  I think of OBC Connect as "pirate radio" for the OBC - we talk openly and frankly about those issues which, sadly, there is no permission to discuss within the OBC.  This forum doesn't constitute the space you're describing - I hope one day it will be possible to create it - however it has facilitated healing for many people. 

There's a lot of information here.  Take your time and check it out, and above all feel free to talk about whatever is on your heart and mind.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Mon Mar 03, 2014 1:55 pm

Stan Giko wrote:
Thanks for your reply Enida.

I`m pleasantly surprised to know that the monks aren`t banned from reading the OBCC forum.
That some object to you posting on this site is their problem,really.  Nothing stopping them from
replying to your posts here !  I wish they would.  perhaps they are unable to logically defend their
own views....who knows what they think if they`re not willing to communicate.  Usually if someone
is unwilling to communicate, it`s because there is something that one is unwilling to face up to and
deal with.  . . .

My speculation on why current monks don't communicate here -  I think the majority don't know how to engage in an exchange with lay people who don't follow their script for talking with OBC monks. By script I mean the requirement that lay people don't challenge them, press for a direct answer, disagree, "talk back" or call them out on their statements that are incorrect or otherwise don't make sense. Inside the monastery, most lay folks follow the script because we're visitors to their home and it feels inappropriate to be as honest and direct as we'd like. Outside the monastery, we're most likely to encounter a monk who's been invited to give a dharma talk somewhere, therefore another standard of politeness applies - they are a guest, and no one wants to be rude to a guest. So these monks become dependent, inside and outside the monastery, on the absence of challenge/correction from laity. I think they don't come here because they just don't know how to deal with either one and have no desire to.

This forum puts people more or less on an equality -  anyone can challenge anything and no one has to accept a non-answer simply because the respondent has chosen to finesse the issue. Meian's recent posting on the BM forum was pretty much a non-answer. She said quite a bit about herself, but didn't come close to addressing the heart of the question that was asked, re: structural changes and safeguards -   structure has to do with reliable guidelines and consistent processes, and nothing to do with the person who currently holds a role. And then several people thanked her for her statement, which is part of the script for lay people when a monk doesn't respond to what was asked.

I do think Daishin Morgan was an exception as far as posting here - he didn't seem to expect special deference because of his role, or expect that people would accept a dismissive response. Not saying I agreed with or accepted everything he said, but his approach to communicating is not like any I have seen from the Shasta group.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Mon Mar 03, 2014 2:21 pm

kimberleyc1 wrote:

". . . 
I think a lay association of some kind would be a good way forward but I very much doubt it will happen unfortunately - I think to happen it would initially need the endorsement of the monastic community but I am not sure that would happen - certainly if the lay project couldn't do it in a very loose sense then I am not sure something more structured would be welcomed at all; although i do hope something like this happens in some form because until it does we really don't have what we need to fully heal and progress as a sangha, in my opinion.....  "
hi Kimberley, and welcome.

Your first post raised a number of questions for me which will be fun to return to and ponder. I'm esp. interested in the idea of a lay association as you describe it, because I know of similar things here where I live.  I question when/whether an arrangement like this does need a monastic community's endorsement. What if lay people just came together in the way you visualise and trained together, discussed change and healing, supported one another, and didn't make an issue of OBC affiliation? In other words, is there a need to put their name (or anyone's) on your group? The lack of an explicit "brand identity" needn't interfere with anyone's connection to OBC practice or their own sense of affiliation with that tradition. By the same token, those who connect with other traditions (instead of or in addition to OBC) might still feel they fit in.

Maybe this line of thinking is too simplistic, but I'm wondering -  if a group foregoes labeling themselves as an OBC Sangha group, I'm not clear as to how OBC monastic approval would ever be required -
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Mon Mar 03, 2014 2:45 pm

H Enida wrote:
Hi again George.  I can't answer that for you at this point.  I am a public member of Bright Moon and don't have access to the BM private pages to give you an answer.  The public pages do not say anything about the Board from what I can tell, but when I was involved there was a Board and it was made up of several OBC members, including a monk.  Like I said, I can't access to confirm or deny the information you are seeking Smile

Without knowing anything about this myself, I can see how there could be a crew of lay admins who are the public managers of the forum, AND an advisory Board, formal or informal, who guide and shape policy behind the scenes without interacting with all of the admins or even making themselves known to them, necessarily.

Maybe the question is not completely addressed by the public info posted on Bright Moon. I would ask the site's founders to clarify whether any monastic advisors are involved or have been involved in setting policy (formally or informally) and what their participation looks like.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Mon Mar 03, 2014 3:01 pm

Lise – In the case of the Bright Moon site’s early beginnings, the Order did not want any part of the name Order of Buddhist Contemplatives used in the website name (for liability reasons as I understood) but did insist that the site be within the purview of the interim board.  The lay initiative members were looking for a name that could be easily found in an internet engine search and identifiable within our tradition.  Apparently, OBC and Serene Reflection Meditation labels belong to the Order as far as I can tell.  It was an unsolvable puzzle in our efforts to create a “lay arm” and it became incumbent upon the lay initiative to abide by the Order’s input.

I don’t know how we can be independent of the OBC and claim to train within it at the same time, particularly since the Order has claim to the words and practices we use.  Seems like an infringement issue might arise to me – a conundrum for sure.

[size=14.66]FYI – if you Google Serene Reflection Meditation or Order of Buddhist Contemplatives, Bright Moon and the Facebook page do not pop up on the first few pages……[/size]

[size=14.66]Re: your points about the public vs. private aspect of Bright Moon-I can't confirm today (because I dont' have access anymore) that there is a private Bright Moon Board who are there to take refuge in re content, direction, etc., but that was envisioned in the beginning and what it sounded like was being proposed awhile back.  The admins of that site would have to answer that question. Smile[/size]

(Sorry about the font size change Lise - I can't seem to correct it.)

Postmark:  It looks like the admins have answered the question about who is running the Bright Moon site.


Last edited by H Enida on Mon Mar 03, 2014 3:06 pm; edited 3 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Mon Mar 03, 2014 3:04 pm

Re: Bright Moon

I am one of the admins of Bright Moon.  There is no advisory board other than the admins.  We have forums on the site where users can provide input to the administration of the site.  gnorwell's post summed up the situation perfectly.  The site is run by a volunteer group who are all lay people. 

Rob
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Mon Mar 03, 2014 3:18 pm

hi Enida, I get the same thing with fonts sometimes, no idea why. If it doesn't fix itself one of us will work on it.

hi Rob - thanks for confirming there is no advisory board. How about monastic interaction with Bright Moon in general, feedback to the BM forum admins, etc., that is not visible to your forum community - would you say this is or is not common within your experience as an admin?
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Mon Mar 03, 2014 3:28 pm

Lise.  Speaking only for myself I would say that the vast majority of our interaction with those outside the admin group, as it relates to Bright Moon, is through the forums.   All of us have relationships with monastics of one type or another as one would expect of a group that includes individuals with many decades of experience with the OBC.   But we are a very independent minded group - and represent a fair diversity of views and backgrounds.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Mon Mar 03, 2014 3:57 pm

There we are, then. Thanks for that, Rob.

About  lay sangha groups and independence:

Enida wrote:
I don’t know how we can be independent of the OBC and claim to train within it at the same time, particularly since the Order has claim to the words and practices we use.  Seems like an infringement issue might arise to me – a conundrum for sure.


I don't know what constitutes infringement, so can't comment, but here on this forum we refer to OBC phrases, practices, publications, staff, all kinds of things, all the time, without incident. Even the forum name has "OBC" in it. Actually I don't know how the Order can claim a word such that others have limited rights to use it -  words themselves aren't anyone's property, are they, unless it's a brand name like Coke or Nike, that has had legal paperwork filed on it? Maybe Carol will comment, I think she's a solicitor.

My point to Kimberley's comment is that I don't see an obstacle to lay people training together as a sangha without getting OBC endorsement first. People meet and connect informally all the time, to get coffee or go for a walk, and maybe their talk includes mention of last week's dharma talk, an OBC Journal article, even their distress at being treated badly by a monk. Nobody needed monastic permission for them to schedule time together and share those things, right? And yet they would say they are still following OBC teaching and consider themselves affiliated with the Order. Or maybe they'd say they are trying to learn more about the Buddha's teaching and at the moment they are involved with the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives, which is how I would have described my own involvement during those years. 

If I wanted a lay sangha of the type Kimberley describes, I'd reach out to like-minded people and just work to create the safe and healing gathering space I had hoped to find, and not worry about the name or anything else. If anyone from the OBC became concerned and raised questions or objections, I'd invite them to an open gathering to address the issues directly and try to find out what worries the monks, or frightens them, about lay people doing this. What would be wrong in that approach?
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Mon Mar 03, 2014 7:16 pm

Thanks Rob that clears up my doubts about direct influence on BM by OBC. It did look like this the intent of the forum but the wording seemed to me to allow for other interpretations.

However Enida's statement: 
Quote :
In the case of the Bright Moon site’s early beginnings, the Order did not want any part of the name Order of Buddhist Contemplatives used in the website name (for liability reasons as I understood) but did insist that the site be within the purview of the interim board.
seems to imply that the OBC wanted their to have their cake and eat it. That is that they wanted apparent independence of BM whilst maintaining a say in matters via the interim board. As  to the particular forms and practices of the OBC I don't see how they can control what others do except to decide whether they can call themselves members of the OBC or not. Nearly everything else is in the public domain.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Tue Mar 04, 2014 12:12 am

I wanted to jump in here and address what kimberleyc1 called the "Big However."  First, welcome to this forum where the rules are minimal and people are encouraged to share their experiences, feelings, openly, honestly, fully... as they are comfortable.

For people who have been through the OBC/Shasta/Kennett tradition or experience, whatever you want to call it, it is extremely important to openly address your experiences - without suppression or censorship or fear.  You are not in Shasta anymore.  Yes, anyone can log on here and read the posts.  Good.

Every organization, tradition, religion has its culture - and the word "cult" is part of the word culture.  Every group creates its own distortion field - whether its the Catholic Church or the U.S. Marines or the tea party or a Zen group.

What are the parameters of this particular field?

What is the big story that everyone follows?

What is the belief structure that holds it all together?

What can't be discussed or questioned?

What are the sacred cows?

Who has the power and who doesn't? 

Who can speak and who can't?

What are the rules of this particular game?

And what happens when you break the rules?

What happens when you question? 

What happens when you challenge?
What happens when you wonder?
What is off limits? 

How does this community treat the questioners, those who disagree, those who leave?

What is going on when you look directly at the behavior - not the words - but the behavior of the organization, its leaders, its representatives?

(Words mean next to nothing - actions / behavior in daily life / behavior in this moment - is the only reality.)

So what do you see, when you drop "the story" and just look?


So why would OBC / Shasta be so resistant to honest and open communications, self-reflection, interaction, accountability?


There are many spiritual groups like Shasta / OBC, many dozens or even hundreds of various western Buddhist and Zen groups where community interaction, dealing with issues and concerns, is handled very differently.  Every group is unique in that respect.


Why is this the culture of this distortion field?  This particular distortion field?  For those who spent years in this Kennett/OBC/Shasta field, who have gained / benefited greatly AND at the same time - experienced harm / pain / confusion.  These experiences are not simple - not simple stories - but more complex - more nuanced - more light and dark - there are shadows - unacknowledged shadows.


So what is going on?


This is part of the pain and confusion and contradictions of so many people who have been with so many groups and teachers and traditions.  That mix of benefit and pain, that play of enlightenment and endarkenment - at the same time.  I am so grateful... AND I am so angry / disappointment / betrayed.  This AND That.  With both eyes opened, with no ignoring, what is going on?


This forum is the place to explore the many sides of this dance - all aspects of the experience.


OK, so why is OBC and Shasta so resistant to what I would call basic, simple, communication?


What is the root causes of this institutional behavior?  And is change possible?

For more discussion.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Tue Mar 04, 2014 12:46 am

Kimberley, good to see you here--and welcome to the Forum!


I have many more thoughts in response to your wonderful comments, which I hope to post soon.


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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Tue Mar 04, 2014 1:19 am

Josh, like you, I've been pondering the question, which you've distilled down here, for decades.

The essence of my conclusion is that the OBC--at a collective level--simply cannot comprehend the existence of a collective institutional culture.

Buddhist teaching recognizes the consequences of collective culture, but never (as far as I have been able to tell) has been able to articulate the existence of collective culture, or describe its causal dynamics.

RM Jiyu (not surprisingly) had little basis for understanding the dynamics of institutional culture either, even though her life, growing up and living through WWII and its aftermath, was shaped almost entirely by our collective global culture.

In consequence, I think that she unconsciously created an organizational culture without any conscious awareness that she was doing so.

And, as I think we've already agreed here by substantial consensus, she (again, unconsciously) projected her own unrecognized, unhealed, existential fear and trauma into the collective psyche and culture of the OBC--where it continues to this day.

My own personal interest, at this point, is to arrive at a description of all of this that resonates in some way, with all of us, on all of our shared internet forums.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Tue Mar 04, 2014 1:03 pm

very well put.  I think you hit the nail on the head. 

This organization is living out Kennett's shadow - that's the organization's "self" - it's personality.  And it is totally unconscious.  They have no idea they are doing this dance.  They think that it's dharma or Soto Zen practice - the ritual forms may be modern or "reformed" Soto Zen, but the heart and soul, the daily life, the minute by minute behavior of the OBC - that has nothing to do with Zen, but everything to do with Kennett's unresolved issues and fears and reactions - which have been institutionalized, internalized, rationalized, and even glorified by the members.  

And because of the process where everyone in this field submitted fully, surrendered, became spiritual children, and Kennett became the "larger than life" great mother/father/guru, she was so dominating and loud and uncompromising in her demand for total compliance - her shadows were deeply imprinted on her devotees.

And going against this programming, stepping out on your own, having your own feelings or insights, that feels to them like betrayal, like they are killing their Buddha or violating the Dharma or precepts.  So adulthood becomes too painful and unthinkable to consider as an option.  And so everyone is locked into this mind-set, like an iron cage, inward looking, contracted, defended.  Sounds like a prison to me.

And of course, we all have our own issues to deal with - but with such an organization, there is this overwhelming additional overlay of this institutional "self" / "ego" - that permeates nearly everything.  And if you can't see it, when you deny that it even exists, well that makes it an incurable problem.  (Not unlike Kennett - who denied she had an ego / self / shadow).

If you go back and read the personality descriptions I wrote about Kennett and the Enneagram Eight dynamic, that description of her personality is actually very close to how we can describe the personality of the OBC - maybe not in every detail, but there are so many aspects that are the same.  That's why I have said that Kennett is alive and well in the behavior of her devoted followers - and until they face this shadow, they are stuck, bound hand and foot, to the past.  They can kick out Eko, write up all the ethics rules they want, and that won't touch what the core issues are. and so they  live in a constant state of denial, willful ignoring and thus ignorance.  Meditate until the cows come home, chant the names of your ancestors, dedicate all the merit, and you are still sitting in the mud puddle that you pretend is a buddha field. 

The Buddha once described dharma as the untying of knots... which we all must do in our practice.... So for OBC/Shasta, they have this big ball of knots that was transmitted by Kennett - along with the Soto Zen she learned in Japan - and this ball of knots is their collective, inescapable koan, that shows up in daily life over and over again.  No way around this.  The only way is through. 

end of my babble for the day.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Tue Mar 04, 2014 2:09 pm

Thank you Steve and Josh for your points. 

Conversations of this nature bring me back to the simplicity of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave

(see for a very  basic explanation, although the full allegory is much more explicit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_Cave#Imprisonment_in_the_Cave)

It makes sense that any institution has the propensity to fall into a trap of self-denial and self-promotion – perhaps that is inherent in institutions per se.  After all, what are institutions based on anyway except common ideals that become antiquated by impermanence and outdated by their inability to shift with change?

I think Plato’s analogy of confusing the shadows on the wall as the reality very apropos.  When realizing the shadow exists, he goes on from there to the next stage by turning around and seeing what is casting the shadow, and finally experiences that which is actually creating the shadow.  How difficult it is to see something that we cannot admit…..Maybe enlightenment on a collective level is no different than on an individual level?

I am inspired by Ryokan who gave up the institution and abbacy to find his own sitting place in a hut, with simple beauty as his inspiration and frolicking with children for hours in the present moment.

[size=14.66]Speaking of which, my granddaughter has a tea party set up and waiting to pour her mint tea.  sunny [/size]

[size=14.66](Sorry again about the text size)[/size]
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Tue Mar 04, 2014 2:51 pm

This thread started a little thread in my head....

Going into a spiritual group is like the dating/mating process.

At first there's the attraction. Then you get to know each other.

Here's where it can get sticky. As you weigh out certain "dealbreakers" like shared values, the ability to remain autonomous, compatibility, short and long-term life goals, etc..., you either decide to stay in or get out. Sometimes you stay in a little too long because he's just too darn handsome. Or you get stuck because you made a "commitment." The worst case scenario is you get manipulated over time because every time a boundary issue came up and you let those lines get crossed for one reason or another, you ultimately lose yourself and change who you are to stay with this person. 

I think if people went into spiritual life looking at it this way, they might be able to take a little more of their own personal power with them on the path to help protect themselves.

If anyone enters a spiritual community and can't ask direct questions and get direct answers, they should run the other way. It's like dating the guy who says he "doesn't believe in long term commitments;" if your goal is a long term commitment, is that something you are willing to just give up so that he gets his needs met while you feel shame or guilt for letting one of your boundaries get kicked to the curb?

If you're not getting what you need out of a relationship, you should break it off. I know break ups are hard, but we've all been through it. Sometimes you find "the one," and sometimes you don't. It doesn't mean you can't date or even date several people at the same time, right? It's not a disaster if it doesn't work out. It's a process of finding out who you are and being your true, authentic self. If you find someone who can accept and love who for who you are, can look out for your best interest, be emotionally close and create safety and security, and can openly and directly communicate with you, then bingo! You've made a good match! Go for it! 

As a couples counselor, I've seen some people stay in bad relationships for way too long. I stayed in the OBC too long and it was a very rocky relationship. It's like looking back at an old boyfriend; I have fond memories, there were some good times in there too, I gave it my best shot, but ultimately, it was an unhealthy relationship; my needs were not met and I could never feel like I could communicate or feel safe and secure. I let my boundaries down enough to create some damage. But now, years later I have found what I've been searching for my whole life and it fits me perfectly and I've never been happier.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Tue Mar 04, 2014 7:38 pm

Enida I too am very fond of the cave analogy, but have a slightly different interpretation. I feel that many of the overweening egos of the spiritual world may have turned and looked out of the cave onto the reality beyond but got bored with it and then turned back to the shadows cast on the wall and used their imaginations to conjour all sorts of wiered and wonderful, and much more exciting and interesting, fantasies. These they use to garner followers, something they also crave in order to fill their emptiness. Of course those who once had real insight are better placed to put forward their shadow interpretations in a convincing manner. It is often true that this is not even done cynically. They have slowly convinced themselves that their interpretation of the shadows is the truth, the only truth. Practice and training are never ending simply because there is no interpretation of the truth. Words miss the point and are about and about, not the real thing itself (though of course they have their own reality as words). All interpretation and description misses and is just a personal view; which I interpret as another reason why there are so many religious viewpoints. At their best they are all fingers pointing at the moon, at their worst they fingers pointing away from the moon towards someone's personal shadows.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Tue Mar 04, 2014 7:55 pm

This is of course just my interpretation of things!
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:58 pm

Hi Mark –

            I appreciate your interpretation.  It sounds narcissistic and/or downright manipulative in its worst form.  But, giving the benefit of the doubt towards compassion, would you not say that the ‘turning back to the shadows’ ‘fantasies’ ‘garnering followers’ and ‘craving in order to fill their emptiness’ are not simply other forms of Plato’s shadows on the wall?  That’s what makes this whole collective institution culture that Kozan describes so veiled – it does not realize the cause and effect of its actions and gives good reasons for them.  The narcissist is one of the hardest mental diagnoses to treat, because a narcissist does not admit they have any difficulty – it, them, outside has the problem – not the narcissist.
            I am not asking for a perfect organization – just one that can admit it should always be wary of its motives and members’ propensities to be human, setting up safeguards for its sangha, and analyzing, communicating and instituting real change when it makes mistakes.  Ultimately, I would trust an organization that knows it’s unenlightened over an enlightened one any day, one that expects mistakes and offers every part of its whole an ear and a voice.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:22 pm

In terms of "perfect organizations"  -- they don't exist, not in my experience ... but what is more sane and sustainable are organizations where there is some degree of self-awareness, humility, where there is a living easy process of of honest communicate, where the sacred cows can be challenged or called out, where people can be spiritual adults and can say NO, and where problems can be addressed in the open.... and even this process can at times be complicated or painful, but there is some way through where members are respected and treated with kindness.  Of course, there will be issues, problems, disputes, misunderstandings, politics - human nature - but a healthy organization is one where these can be addressed and not be suppressed.  Toxic organizations are not healthy, viable or sustainable over the long haul.  I don't care if you dress them up in gold brocade, and chant in Sanskrit, it's harmful......

Shasta is really a rather severe example of a personality cult - and I don't care if you call it Soto Zen - that's a minor aspect of what was / is happening there.  

For this group to wake up, i think they must address the shadow legacy of Kennett.  If they don't, they will be trapped in this shadow realm and their Zen will be a kind of make believe, more theater than reality, more hope and wishes, but under the surface, denial and fear, contraction......... these old unacknowledged knots must be seen, understood and untied.  What a wonderful practice that would be... for the brave........
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Wed Mar 05, 2014 12:01 am

Just bumped into this quote:


"There's the story, then there's the real story, then there's the story of how the story came to be told. Then there's what you leave out of the story. Which is part of the story too." 

— Margaret Atwood, author of MaddAddam

THEN THERE'S THE REAL STORY......  terrific insight.  So what's the real story?  What is left out and why?  And who are you when all the stories are seen through?  That's the buddhadharma - the end of all stories, the untying of all knots.  The end of the personal stories, the end of the collective stories, the undoing........

So, for all of us on the site, and actually for all the Zen students in the West, we have all these complex stories, myths, fantasies, illusions that came through our various teachers, that came from Japan and China and even before that, along with underlying dharma and insight and wisdom.  The trick is - from my experience is to sort it all out.... for yourself... in your own way and time... with some help from teachers and spiritual friends and various practices and methods... when they are helpful - and when they aren't, you move on.  You are the buddha on the altar, you are the spiritual adult, you have the innate buddha nature / wisdom mind to figure it out, to see clearly, to wake up.  You have the original integrity and power that is your mind stream, to bring all of your experiences to this path.  So no ignoring... we can bring everything to this path, make it our koan -- AND we can see clearly what is what, what is harm and what is beneficial, what is going on.... what is the story and what is left out and why.  
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Wed Mar 05, 2014 12:04 am

Jcbaran wrote:


For this group to wake up, i think they must address the shadow legacy of Kennett.  If they don't, they will be trapped in this shadow realm and their Zen will be a kind of make believe, more theater than reality, more hope and wishes, but under the surface, denial and fear, contraction......... these old unacknowledged knots must be seen, understood and untied.  What a wonderful practice that would be... for the brave........

Josh, now I have to say, you've nailed it.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Wed Mar 05, 2014 12:18 am

H Enida wrote:
Hi Mark –

            I appreciate your interpretation.  It sounds narcissistic and/or downright manipulative in its worst form.  But, giving the benefit of the doubt towards compassion, would you not say that the ‘turning back to the shadows’ ‘fantasies’ ‘garnering followers’ and ‘craving in order to fill their emptiness’ are not simply other forms of Plato’s shadows on the wall?  That’s what makes this whole collective institution culture that Kozan describes so veiled – it does not realize the cause and effect of its actions and gives good reasons for them.  The narcissist is one of the hardest mental diagnoses to treat, because a narcissist does not admit they have any difficulty – it, them, outside has the problem – not the narcissist.
            I am not asking for a perfect organization – just one that can admit it should always be wary of its motives and members’ propensities to be human, setting up safeguards for its sangha, and analyzing, communicating and instituting real change when it makes mistakes.  Ultimately, I would trust an organization that knows it’s unenlightened over an enlightened one any day, one that expects mistakes and offers every part of its whole an ear and a voice.

Enida, I think that your observations are right on the mark. The crux of the matter, in our case, may be the process by which the OBC actually becomes able to acknowledge that it is not an "enlightened organization".

I think that this is where we may need to focus some attention and effort.

Just to be clear, I think that this effort is worth while because, in spite of its culturally institutionalized dysfunction, I believe that the culture of the OBC also embodies an effective teaching and practice that goes far beyond RMJK's shortcomings.

At the same time, in line with Mark and Josh, I likewise feel that this will make no difference unless the OBC, at a collective level, can actually wake up and understand its own cultural dynamic--as the essential prerequisite for healing and transforming its own shortcomings.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Wed Mar 05, 2014 7:23 am

Hi everyone - thanks for the lovely welcome and for all your responses! 

I would like to respond to Lise's question regarding the need for endorsement - basically the link project didn't have OBC endorsement or indeed any kind of official ties at all, it was just a group of us who had been conversing on FB and a shared goal emerged of working on this kind of area and gradually the project developed.  We were all clear that this was a lay-only grass roots working group and wasn't anything connected to the interim board/other working groups which had been OBC initiated etc.  Once we got to the point where we had developed a consultation paper we send it out for feedback and like I say at that point the comments given by monastics and certain events around that gave many in the group pause for thought and the sense that what we had been working towards would have to change quite a bit in order to work at all as it was clear that even though we were not seeking any kind of official affiliation to the OBC, that to even be welcomed and supported for what it is it would need to change direction (part of OBC feedback was the point that we would need to be clear that this was not an OBC initiative, not least because this then meant we were not held in to any kind of rules etc, and the OBC couldn't be held accountable for anything we did etc - it was all in good spirit..).  I would say as well that I took the feedback quite differently to many others in the group in that I didn't take it to mean that we needed to change to the degree some of the others did, but we were working collectively as best we could and all points of view taken into account and we moved forward with the best sense of consensus we found and it was all handled and worked on with people really doing what they felt was best and like I say it just got to the point where it moved too far away from where I had been coming from and so eventually stepped back.  But this experience has shown me that even when we try to do something a lot less structured than a lay association would have to be, and with a group of people who are very progressive, and a project without any official ties to the OBC - we still could not do very much except for in the end creating more accessible contact lists for groups/websites etc and perhaps more ways to do emeditation and requests for merit etc - which are all great and worthwhile but not the kind of thing we set out to do (for one thing we were trying to provide ways for people to have conversations in person in their groups on certain areas that could be done across all the groups, to enable more collective reflections etc - we didn't want the way people engage to just be website based etc) .....so even doing this Lise it did not get very far and part of the reason in my opinion (others from the group may disagree) is that as soon as any monastics create a sense of doubt, even if this was not their intention, the sense of doubt can diminish our sense of what is good to do, indeed our sense of intention, and having experienced this in the group it only has to happen to a few people in the group for the whole thing to kind of collapse and that is why now I feel that for a lay group in the OBC to work towards a similar goal they would likely need some kind of monastic endorsement to feel confident enough about what they were doing, even if it was never going to be part of the official OBC; so maybe if this is possibly on the backburner for the OBC as Enida said then it might still happen one day - but don't get me wrong I do think that lay people could certainly do it on their own if they felt clear enough on what they were doing and why, and that it was good to do in and of itself, and that whilst it's great to get guidance on certain areas from others including monastics, it won't change the goal itself, then I think it could happen; but if such an endeavour would fall at the first sight of remote criticism then it won't have a chance.......again I will say others may have a different view to me about what happened with the particular project I was working on so I want to be clear I am not speaking for anyone else but myself - but I just wanted to be clear about where I am coming from, what we tried to do, and why I think it didn't work.....
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Wed Mar 05, 2014 11:13 am

Kimberley1c wrote:
Once we got to the point where we had developed a consultation paper we sent it out for feedback and like I say at that point the comments given by monastics and certain events around that gave many in the group pause for thought and the sense that what we had been working towards would have to change quite a bit in order to work at all...


The thing is once someone in the OBC realizes that they need to follow their own sense of what is right for them even when it goes against what they are being told to do by "seniors" they have essentially outgrown the organization, and there is not much else for them to do but leave.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Wed Mar 05, 2014 2:12 pm

Isan, I agree totally that people must follow their own sense of what is right, and being able to recognise what that is even if a monk says otherwise.

And, I wonder if there may be other choices than separating -  I would like to know if any lay folks have tested the theory of simply going forward with their own ideas and plan, even in the face of doubts expressed by monastics?  A monk's doubts aren't the same as a direct prohibition, right? Or does the unspoken culture in the OBC dictate that they are the same thing? Can anyone on the forum speak to this?

I had no ties strong enough to Shasta Abbey to make me want to hang around once I'd seen enough of the harm they cause, but for those who do get something beneficial from Shasta, Throssel, a priory, whatever, I can understand the ambivalence about dropping away from the sangha and its familiar structure. It's hard to find a community to fit into and people get tired of starting over, trying to connect with new people. Easier sometimes to just rationalize to oneself and let things slide, instead of taking a clear look at what's going on. So I do get that.

Kimberley, thanks for explaining more about what happened, that does help me to understand. One thing I am curious about is the actual writeup that your group sent round for feedback.  If at some point you'd like to share that here, I for one would be very interested in reading about what you guys wanted to do. (And I would not use your posting as a chance to take shots at the OBC for whatever they said in response; I'll promise right now not to say a word about them, should you decide to post the proposal here. All my remarks will be directed to the content of your document only.)

This suggestion may sound odd, but I think sometimes it's best if one person steps forward and launches whatever it is they're trying to do. Group input is great, but as often as it's helpful, it can also paralyze those who would otherwise take sensible and positive action, but for the objections of others.

I have an example of this:  for a short time in 2009 I belonged to the first forum that arose re: OBC matters. It wasn't a good fit for me and I didn't think it would succeed as a discussion venue, so I started OBC Connect. For quite some time I didn't ask anyone what they thought about rules, even after traffic built up here, we got more admins, etc.  To a degree, it was "my way or the highway" and I fully admit that. No time spent in getting input, agreement, etc., from anybody in the early days. It's a lot different now and I would expect the other admins here to have fully as much control as I do (except if they ever wanted to shut this down, which I very much doubt would ever happen and I wouldn't let it), and we do have private exchanges about how to handle things. But to have gone through all that "group stuff" initially, when I was thinking of starting this? There's no way. Had I contacted the few people I was still in touch with at Shasta, we'd have gone round and round endlessly and never agreed on how to start this or run it. It would have ended up with me doing my own thing anyway and ticking them off, or I might have been paralyzed by the weight of group inertia.  Sometimes one person just needs to take charge. If others can tolerate what that person is doing and how things are run, that's when an authentic group really forms, in my opinion.

I wonder if lay people understand what they have to offer, in terms of offering help and teaching of their own to monks in situations that would seem to need it.  The concept of the four-fold sangha, people helping each other, well, it doesn't just run in one direction from monastics to lay. We can help them too, if we're determined enough and have the nerve to just move forward when help and change is needed.

time for a coffee, I need to get recharged after that sermon -
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Wed Mar 05, 2014 2:47 pm

Lise wrote:
Isan, I agree totally that people must follow their own sense of what is right, and being able to recognise what that is even if a monk says otherwise.

And, I wonder if there may be other choices than separating -  I would like to know if any lay folks have tested the theory of simply going forward with their own ideas and plan, even in the face of doubts expressed by monastics?  A monk's doubts aren't the same as a direct prohibition, right? Or does the unspoken culture in the OBC dictate that they are the same thing? Can anyone on the forum speak to this?
 
That's a good question Lise.  My comment about there being "not much else to do but leave" comes out of my personal experience with Jiyu Kennett. When she was in charge no monk at Shasta Abbey could disagree with her about anything she deemed significant and remain there.  While it sounds like the leadership is not as harsh now, I've not heard anything that makes me believe there is any more tolerance for dissent in the monastic sangha.  The lay people are another matter.  Since they do not reside in monastic communities and are not dependent on them the monks do not have the same degree of leverage.  The monks appear to use the same tactics though, e.g. judgment and exclusion, to try and keep them in line.  I could be wrong though :-) and look forward to what others have to say.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:29 pm

Thanks for your responses Isan and Lise; and yes you are pretty much summing up my place right now which is that I more or less practice on my own; I sit every day at home, I sit retreats at home; when I go through experiences where a more ceremonial offering feels good to do I do this at my home alter - I did this recently with a simple incense offering in memory of my closest friend who suddenly passed away a few months ago - in the past a more ceremonial memorial at my local priory would have been what I did but this time this felt enough, and it felt right......I engage with others mainly through forums like this, or BM, or Facebook or email or indeed Skype....I know I can email teachers if I wish but to be honest if there's ever anything I need clarification on I read RM Daishin's 'Buddha recognises Buddha' and somehow the question is moved/clarified in some way; and I really don't mean this in any kind of magic way - it is just the way it is - the book itself is very encompassing in terms of the teaching it offers and without it I think I would have reached out to teachers a lot more, but as it is so far its always been enough......so whilst I still see myself as part of the sangha because I am in many ways and hope to get back to throssel sometime soon-ish too for a wee visit, I am by and large practicing on my own but this also works well for me....I think it is possible to do things that monks perhaps don't approve of or have specifically told you not to do - also there are times I have been told not to do one thing by one monk but told by another they see it as fine so there is a sense of a kind of fluidity; but that is not to say that certain relationships may not change as a result of doing something someone doesn't approve of, and of course if this happens it can be painful...for me the issue is when we are told we shouldn't do something rather than simply warned of possible pitfalls etc, so it becomes a kind of prescription rather than spiriutal guidance; a fairly uncontroversial example is of a retreat a few years ago we were advised as a group on the last day not to mix practices and to do only zen, and the teacher had said this was in response to many on this particular retreat doing other practices which he felt had compromised the integrity of our zen practice (for me it was qi gong).  Again it is areas like this where subtle differences can mean the world of a difference; for example if this teacher had said to be careful because mixing practices may lead to this, then it leaves the door open for us to still feel that we should feel this out for ourselves and we are not basically being told what to do no matter what our own life and practice is showing us/throwing up.  This subtle difference allows for a very different space of receiving advice but still feeling the onus is on us to check it out for ourselves and do what comes as good to do, vs cutting off our own life to do what someone else thinks we should.  That for me actually is the main issue with the dynamic when it comes to how it can go wrong - the way I have been helped in my practice is when I have been moved towards ever deeper trust in my own life and practice, and the sufficiency of it all and to be still with it all, and also to feel out what is good to do - not as some absolute golden jewel which is more likely to be found the deeper the understanding we have - but rather as the offering of this moment that only our own life can throw up by virtue of our direct intimacy with our very own clinging in this very moment; so in a way as long as we are letting go we are doing the work.  But times when my own sense of what is good to do has been discounted because a teacher felt it should be different, has actually been discouraging and then eventually alienating because I have to make a choice between them or my own practice, and I have to follow my own sense of what is good to do.  And even if it is not so cut and dry, to even feel this kind of expectation can be very off-putting and can also diminish people's sense of trust in their own life and this is the worst that can happen as far as I can see. I have noticed over the years that I find it just as problematic being around lay people who feel the need for approval in these ways borne from the sense that as we are not living from deep enlightenment our lives can't really be trusted, and I just feel a disconnect at such times......so yep the example I gave is a small thing in many ways but it is a part of our dynamic which can be unhelpful and ultimately damaging, and thus is still something I feel needs addressed in the sangha and lay people really have no way to do this outside of 1:1 relationships or discussions of this kind (as far as I can see anyway) and oftentimes may not even feel confident enough to do so - although hopefully that is changing somewhat with online forums etc making more possible in terms of conversation and reflection/understanding...but i will think about what you have said Lise about sometimes we have to move forward in the ways we can on areas we feel are important, even if it is on our own; I am not sure how I could do that but I will certainly reflect on this - my sense is that with a certain space for lay and monastic reflection, the lay sangha together and then together with the monastic sangha, so much could easily be addressed and moved on from, at least in many ways; but as it is things get stuck so easily because there's no real room for this kind of reflection.  The last thing I will say is that, as Enida said there was to be a lay initiative which has fallen on the back burner, but in the 18 month report published last year I read the following:
"12. We welcome the formation of the Lay Initiative which we believe will facilitate greater links between lay and monastic sanghas, and will further two-way communication and teaching in the future.
Implemented and continuing long-term:
The Order continues to be encouraging of any sangha-building initiatives on the part of the laity. To date most such efforts have occurred in the UK, such as the formation of Sangha walking groups, the holding of regional day and weekend retreats, in-home intensive training months, and trial on-line efforts at sangha building."

Now for me it is great that a lot has been done by many in the sangha to build connections and events etc and also with BM etc - but for me the furthering of 'two way communication and teaching' between the lay and monastic sanghas is not being facilitated by the things mentioned, at least I took it to initially mean something more than what has been referred to here.  The fact that statement hasn't said anything about any plans for any further efforts, or the need for this, is something I find concerning - but I don't know if this is indeed the case and I am in the process of trying to find out....
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Wed Mar 05, 2014 4:16 pm

Thanks Isan, Lise and Kimberley.

My experience was the same as Kimberley’s when the lay initiative was working to create its ‘own initiative’.  The response from the monks when we started making independent decisions (i.e. even simple things like the name of the website and its potential and how we were going to network) was to bring the effort back into the Sangha, and many of our first attempts at organizing were then reassessed. 

Isan - I heard tell of ‘rogue’ monks and lay people from the present and past while I was at Shasta, whom were usually seen with suspicion and censure.  We even had some discussions at monk’s tea regarding a few of them and the seniors’ suggestions on how to address things.  I will say that this was under Eko’s abbacy and his preferences, but it was pretty blatant when things were not approved of by some of the other seniors too, not just Eko.  I don’t know how it is now, as I am not there to hear input at private community teas or meetings anymore, but my experience of the monks’ reaction on the lay initiative still looked the same to me so I quit, as Isan suggested.

I am sure most churches (and any organization for that matter) does what is necessary to keep the congregation on course – otherwise it could be wayward in my thinking.  I don’t have a problem with that per se (even if teaching otherwise about the goal of uncomplaining all-acceptance), but please just give me the truth outright.  As I tried to explain above, I was disappointed that the initial purpose of the lay initiative was to look at the possibility of forming a “lay arm” of the Order (which is now no longer being pursued from what I can tell) and then gaining control of the our efforts when we appeared to be moving forward without them.  As someone said here recently, actions do speak louder than words……

As an aside, I would like to get more information (as Lise’s original post suggests) on how the remaining work groups of the Interim Board fared as far as trying to make changes.  This may be hard to do since all the other groups only had active lay ministers or monks assigned to them and I imagine wouldn’t post here.  I would like to know if participants were really listened to and then what action was recommended on the part of the leadership.  Did they have similar experiences as we did on the lay initiative when it came to taking action?  Will the whole of the Sangha be able see the questionnaires that were passed out to monks and lay ministers and returned with their input and hear what their thoughts/suggestions were?  Why weren’t the questionnaires passed out to the laity?  From what I understand, the Interim Board had no clout really – but was formed to investigate and make recommendations to the Order, and RM Haryo in particular, who is the only one with the authority to initiate any changes.  Will all those efforts actually go any further to address the structure and safety for its members as the FTI report recommends?
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Wed Mar 05, 2014 4:47 pm

....just in response Enida regarding the interim board and working groups - it says in the 18 month report that the Interim Board findings were due to be put on the IB website but that was May last year, and it said that the expectation was that the website would be around another year but that would be May this year and I cannot see any posting on the website - however it has not been unknown for me not find things lol!  So I am double checking this just to see when and where this will be made available.  It also stated that summaries were being prepared by the working groups but it is not clear whether they will be made available to the general sangha - again I am trying to find this out as it would be good to know.  I know one of the working groups sent out a question to priors for the laity in their sanghas and I think as a result most of us received emails asking for our feedback; I can't actually remember what it was on, but besides this I think some priories discussed other questions and fed info back so there were some efforts to involve the laity for sure, but perhaps not enough.  I am hoping that we will soon have access to at least some of these findings, if not all...
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Wed Mar 05, 2014 5:41 pm

Thanks Kimberley and I look forward to hearing any response you might get.

The section of the 18-Month Public Statement I was referring to follows:

“2. A working group was authorized to review the Order’s structure and function and to make recommendations in areas where there was seen to be room for improvement. This group will work directly with the Head of the Order.

Work in progress:

In March 2013 the Structure & Function Working Group completed the writing and editing of the survey that they had been working on for some time. The survey, together with a cover letter from Rev. Master Haryo, was sent out to monks and lay ministers at the end of March. The group is currently considering how to process and collate the responses they receive, with the intention of writing a summary report of the survey results. It is intended that this material will be the basis for some discussions at the Monastic Sangha Gathering at Shasta Abbey this September.”

As it says, only monks and lay ministers were consulted in March of 2013.  The laity didn’t even see the actual survey itself, and what it contained.  This is a vital aspect of the review post-Eko, i.e. the Order’s structure and function, and I don’t know why every member of the four-fold sangha wasn’t included in the survey.  Perhaps someone will answer that too…..
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Wed Mar 05, 2014 5:56 pm

...I managed to find this in my inbox Enida - as you say in March 2013 no-one beyond monks and lay ministers had been asked, but in response to lay ministers and others pointing out that others in the laity would like involvement/the chance to feedback - this question was sent out to the laity:

Question: In reflecting on your day-to-day practice as a lay person, what aspects of your association with the Order and its temples do you find most valuable, and what might we do differently that would better help you fulfill your spiritual aspirations?


As this was a general email sent out to those in the sangha I see no issue sharing the question here; so from what I can gather this was sent out and some other points were discussed in some priories too - possibly all in response to lay people expressing the wish to participate.  So this means for me that I am very interested in what was made of it all as I know there were many helpful suggestions put forward (some of us discussed what we were planning on saying, also as a way of sharing our reflections).  However it was made clear that this was not part of the official survey given to monks and lay ministers, but would be considered along with their findings.  What I am not clear on from the excerpt you copied above from the 18 month statement is whether or not the plan is to make the summary report for this and any other working groups available to the whole sangha - I hope to find out......but anyway I hope this is at least a little encouraging! Smile
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Wed Mar 05, 2014 8:01 pm

This document, as the title indicates, was made available to (at least some) long term lay practitioners, after it was observed that sending it only to monks and lay ministers was too restrictive. I think that it clearly shows the excellent work that RM Saido and the rest of the Interim Board did, in the face of no small resistance. The Order did not renew the Interim Board's mandate in 2013.


From: The Interim Board
To: Long-Term OBC Lay Trainees December 2012

Dear friends,

Summary of Comments, Concerns and Proposals Made to the Interim Board
We hope you are all well and prospering. This note represents a significant “next step” for all of us on the interim board in carrying out the responsibility that you all entrusted to us at the 2010 & 2011 General Meetings to “receive comments, concerns and ideas (submissions) about any aspect of the functioning of the OBC, and to facilitate more effective communication”. The approach that is described below was developed in consultation with Rev. Master Haryo at various stages as the work progressed.

Beyond what we have proposed in the Next Steps section of this note, we have no further plans for this particular aspect of our work, and whether there is a further role for the interim board in relation to these items will be determined through further discussions with Rev. Master Haryo in 2013. Whilst the work described in this note does not have a specific outcome in view, the Structure and Function working group will shortly be sending out a questionnaire to gather views to help them with their task of reviewing the Order’s structure and function and making recommendations.

Since the 2011 Conclave and General Meeting, the interim board has spent most time establishing and supporting the working groups that are implementing the actions from the 1Public Statement. In addition to the concerns described in the Public Statement, there is a substantial body of comments, concerns and proposals made to the interim board, that have not yet been shared with the sangha. These cover a wide range of issues, and at our meeting in Pine Mountain in April one of our main tasks was to try to put this material into some kind of order. The purpose of this note is to let you know how the interim board approached this task, to give you a summary of the issues raised, and to invite you, should you wish to do so, to join in discussions that the interim board will be facilitating.

Since many of these comments, concerns and proposals covered a wide range of issues, at Pine Mountain we started with lists of the individual points, extracted from the various source documents. We identified items that we can pass to existing working groups, and others that are already being taken care of in some way. We identified items of a very general nature that we thought could most fruitfully be clarified through discussion within the Order and/or wider sangha (Note: These are not included here as we thought it best to await the response to this note before deciding if anything further was required). We then prioritised and grouped together all the remaining items into 7 bundles” of similar and related topics. Since then we on the interim board have discussed the contents of each bundle with Rev. Master Haryo and have worked on further boiling down the contents and considering the actions that could be taken if the Order were to decide to follow up on a particular item.

We found this to be an extremely difficult task and have faced many dilemmas in deciding how best to proceed. Following the 2010 Conclave and the establishment of the interim board, many individuals took time to make submissions or raise less formally, matters that they considered to be important. Some of these cover difficult topics about which there may be quite different perspectives. We feel that the interim board has a responsibility to share this material so that the order can reflect on it, and in due course, decide if any action is required.

Given below is a very concise summary of each of the seven bundles, together with some examples of the practical steps that could be taken, if it were decided to follow up on this item.

1) Prevention of Harm
Serious harm was caused by the former abbot of Shasta Abbey. It is unlikely that the causes and conditions which led to this are entirely specific to that situation, and it is possible that there are vulnerabilities within our approach to Buddhist practice that we need to understand better. This raises questions for us all, about whether our Order has looked deeply enough to discern and address the underlying causes. This includes looking at whether there are aspects of how we practice together as a community that worked against us addressing this harm earlier. In particular, whether the authority that heads of temples have in their communities and whether the master/disciple (including lay disciples) relationship has potential vulnerabilities that have not yet been addressed and whether there is sufficient support and oversight of monks in these positions. Are the actions initiated so far, within individual communities and by the Order (as described in the Public Statement), sufficient, or do we need to do more?

2) Lay Training and Meditation Groups
The central question that runs through all this material is: what is the place of lay training within the OBC?

Some of the suggestions for strengthening and clarifying the place of lay practice within the Order are mentioned for the purpose of opening up discussion, and to give an indication of the range of possibilities that have been suggested. They are not put forward as recommendations. At this stage it is not clear whether these concerns and suggestions represent the view of only a small part of the sangha, or whether they are widely shared.

3) Preservation of the Tradition, Lineage, Core Teachings and Forms
The following are areas that could be addressed: to create material that gives an explanation of current forms, the formation of a liturgy and forms working group (to provide a process to review suggested changes to the liturgy, gender inclusive language, vestments, and so forth), questions for discussion on the preservation of and passing on the Transmission of RM Jiyu's teachings and lineage.

4) The Purpose of the Order
There are a number of questions regarding the purpose and role of the Order in relationship to individual temples, masters, and practitioners, regarding a culture within the Order, its role in today’s social context, and its use of and relationship with modern ways of communication.

5) Confidentiality
There can be some consequences when information is shared inappropriately. There are particular concerns around our common understanding and practice of confidential communications in a spiritual context. A related area arises as more people in the Order are involved in working groups and the sharing of sensitive information. The wide use of digital media and the ease with which information can be copied and shared, would benefit from some consistent guidance in good practice.

6) Communication
The core issue is whether as an Order we should we do more (or less) to promote communication and dialogue between members of the fourfold sangha, and between temples. Are there factors that make it seem hard for appropriate discussions to be initiated across different locations in the Order? Would an environment which encouraged more open communication within both the lay and monastic sangha create distractions from training? Is there enough direct communication between temples, particularly in NA, to create opportunities for sharing experience, learning from each other and nurturing the sangha? There is a specific suggestion that NA priors and temple heads carry out a trial of a monthly informal get-together via GoToMeeting.

7) Items for Rev. Master Haryo
Some items were passed directly to Rev. Master Haryo for consideration. These included: support for monastics in various roles and generally, some financial, structural, legal matters and their implications, and aspects of the master/disciple relationship, both lay and monastic.

Note: the interim board is not planning to facilitate discussions on this topic, which is included here for information only.

Next Steps
All recipients of this note are invited, should they wish to participate, to join in a series of discussions that will be arranged by the interim board. The purpose is to help all deepen their understanding of this important information, and to hear the thoughts of others. It is not intended that the views expressed in the meetings will feed into any decision making process, and it is seen more as a way for the whole Order to reach a better collective understanding of the various matters that have arisen.

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H Enida



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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Wed Mar 05, 2014 9:02 pm

Thank you for posting this Kozan.  I really appreciate the effort that went into this document.  

Just a couple thoughts.  

1) the choice to include Long term lay practitioners seems arbitrary to me.  Why not allow all laity associated with the order if they are interested in commenting, it was simply a comment request after all.  I am glad to see some were included - I am just wondering how those practitioners were determined.

2) We don't have the benefit of a lot of background material, including what was done with this information afterwards.  Did a series of discussions ensue as suggested in the next steps?

3) You stated the Order did not renew the Interim board's mandate in 2013.  I take that to mean the work was considered over before action could be taken on the summary, correct?  

Wow, hard to believe.  It is even more disturbing when many of the monks and laity faced no small resistance in getting to this point.  Doesn't this concern anyone else?

Sigh....I hope someone can fill in the rest of the blanks.
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Kozan
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Wed Mar 05, 2014 11:47 pm

Enida, in response to your excellent thoughts:

"1) the choice to include Long term lay practitioners seems arbitrary to me.  Why not allow all laity associated with the order if they are interested in commenting, it was simply a comment request after all.  I am glad to see some were included - I am just wondering how those practitioners were determined."

I suspect that the IB did want to include all lay practitioners, and "long term" lay practitioners was the compromise.

"2) We don't have the benefit of a lot of background material, including what was done with this information afterwards.  Did a series of discussions ensue as suggested in the next steps?"

There were indeed some online discussions that resulted from the 'Next Step' proposal. I participated in the first (and only as far as I know) online discussion around the first two IB discussion topics on March 12th, 2013, with RM Saido (the only monk present) and six other lay practitioners, two of whom are also former monks.

Saido was supremely supportive. It was also sad, for me, knowing that his IB work was subtley but irrevocably being edged out by the Order. (I would say, on this point, not so much by RM Haryo by personal choice (IMO), but by pressure from 'first generation' (i.e. ordained by RMJ) conservative monks.

"3) You stated the Order did not renew the Interim board's mandate in 2013.  I take that to mean the work was considered over before action could be taken on the summary, correct?"


Exactly correct. The IB had permission to send out this document and 'encourage' discussion--but had no mandate to support the discussion as an 'official' body--or to continue the discussion in any official capacity. In consequence, all group discussions (again, as far as I know) never made it beyond the first one or two on line meetings.  

"Wow, hard to believe.  It is even more disturbing when many of the monks and laity faced no small resistance in getting to this point.  Doesn't this concern anyone else?"

Indeed, very disturbing. I know a fair number of lay practitioners who are disturbed by this, and a number of monks as well including (but not limited to), I would say, RMs Saido and Seikai.

I think that supporting progressive and beneficial change within the Order will require:

1. A framework for recognizing and discussing our collective unconscious OBC culture.

2. An ever expanding discussion of this issue within the lay sangha on all of our wider sangha internet sites (beginning here) and within the meditation groups and temples of the Order.

I've been focused on number 1.

Kimberley and myself, together with the rest of the Link Project team, have spent months of work on number 2.
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kimberleyc1



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Join date : 2014-03-01

PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Thu Mar 06, 2014 6:25 am

Wow thanks for sharing this Kozan - I was just asking about this on BM!  I think I did come across this at some point through others on the link project and I remember now also being included in one of those discussion groups but beyond the first few emails, which were more introductions and some initial thoughts, nothing else happened; I remember some of us on the link project being in the same group and thinking that it might help to get that proposal finished first before working on the working group, but alas that probably in the end contributed to the demise of the group itself as it never was picked up again (I actually remember not being sure if I had just somehow come out of the email thread but now I see that wasn't the case...); yep the lay project was about trying to create links across the whole sangha to help with communication across the sangha which I had hoped, and i think some others too, that this would (among other things) allow us to reflect on areas where we feel things could be more helpful and be able to discuss this between ourselves and with the monastic sangha, with a view to effecting progressive and helpful change in the ways we found was good to do so.....

I wonder if you know if the working group that emailed out the above question I posted (it was the OBC structures and something or other) will be releasing anything on their findings at all?  On the 18 month statement it referred to the survey findings being used in the September 2013 conclave but it wasn't clear to me what happens/happened after that - do you know at all?

And last question I promise! - in the IB statement, no.2 - it refers to suggestions that were put forward by the sangha but does not say what they were - do you know if they were ever sent out as well at all? 

Many thanks as always Kozan _/\_
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