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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

First topic message reminder :

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?



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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?   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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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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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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maisie field



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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Thu Mar 06, 2014 12:58 pm

Jcbaran wrote:
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.

Great questions Josh-Have you read a wonderful little book called "Teaching as a Subversive Activity" by Postman/Weingartner?
The authors employ a similar method, an approach to giving young people survival skills.
It has inspired my work, and helped me a lot.

So everybody needs to do this with every group/business/institution they encounter.

eg.: Who runs the garage where you take your car? How do they treat their employees?

When I started work on a psychiatric ward ,I was told how wonderful was the clinician in charge. I asked "How does he treat his wife?"

How does your family function? Who holds the power?
etc.,etc., etc.,

If we don't ask these kinds of questions, we duck responsibility and adulthood.

And we need to keep asking them. Laws change and cultures change.

More later. Think I will look at "Teaching....." for a more accurate comparison.
Great post.

maisie
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Thu Mar 06, 2014 1:25 pm

Kozan thanks as usual for sharing. I find the disappointment that I have with all of this so severe that I am going to have a rant. (So if anyone disagrees please ignore). I am going to pick on one particular point. These documents are all totally inward looking at the OBC. But the sangha is not limited to the OBC, the B after all is 'Buddhist', the sangha is at least the whole of the Buddhist community, and to my mind actually includes all those 'seeking the truth'. There is no mention ANYWHERE of the wider community and the way that the actions of the OBC and it's members may impinge or reflect on the the sangha as a whole. The same seems to be true of many of the other western buddhist scandals. The actions of the OBC are treated in complete isolation from the wider community. Well given the comment that the laity could not use the term OBC in their groups without oversight from the.OBC, perhaps the OBC should drop the term 'Buddhist' from its title unless it consults fully with the wider sangha. It won't of course because the tenor that I get from much of what I've read is that many of the seniors think that Buddhism is the OBC, the sangha is the OBC and the OBC is the sangha  - end of rant.

Enida's on your point about shadows I quite agree. But in some sense all the explanations, institutional forms, etc. are the shadows on the wall. Like the story itself only of any value if they help us toward seeing things correctly, if they don't they are just pastimes. Better to read a book or watch the TV, etc. at least you know where you stand then.


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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Thu Mar 06, 2014 3:50 pm

Thank you Kozan for your post, and Maisie and Josh for your great questions.  Really informative....

It appears from your answers Kozan that activity was ongoing until something happened (whether by RM Haryo and/or first generation monks).  Then the information was forumalated and taken to the September 2013 Order-wide Sangha Meeting at Shasta (where the laity was excluded, even though lay ministers had attended in the past) and it was decided, only by the monks, to affirm that the Interim Board and its work was finished and the monks are now able to just "go back to doing their training."

Just a couple thoughts:

First, this tactic sounds alot like some of the other Buddhist organizations where there was initial concern and commitment to action, but for lack of consensus, or by deliberate resistance, things just went back to business as usual. 

Second, the word on the street is that "the two year statute of limitations has run and that the Order/Shasta can no longer be sued."  I know that the Abbey consulted attorneys at the beginning of the process.  The timing makes it look like a "cya" action and now that the statute has lapsed, everyone can just get back to running their temples.  Maybe not the only motivation mind you, but an element of it of which I am sure they were aware.  This makes the whole exercise "PR" work and of no real substance.

That being said, it does not surprise me that the Order and Shasta Rules will not change much or be modernized.  In fact, I don't believe it ever was their intention as the FTI review was specifically limited to Eko.  At this point, there is nothing forcing change.  If the whole Eko debacle only inspired "modest change" within the Order, it will inevitably take a concerted and very serious effort on the part of the laity to motivate real transformation.  Or another very serious breach of the Rules where a lawsuit is filed - one that could be more damaging because the Order now knows about the weakness and did nothing to effect safeguards for its members.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Fri Mar 07, 2014 1:14 pm

Thank you everybody for the discussion.
I am enjoying it, and share Mark's frustration that the questions and answers tackled by the Interim Board are all inward-looking. There is an absence of awareness that the "sangha" is also part of a community, and I would say ,country, international community(or more accurately ,communities).
Where is the reference to working alliances with police, social and mental health services, local government, other faith groups, third sector organisations,etc., etc.,
All of the above communities are represented by sangha members, to my knowledge. These other memberships enrich the sangha, and enable it to be more knowledgeable and more effective.
When I have a dilemma about which I lack knowledge, I don't gaze at myself, I have conversations with
other people. We all do that don't we? 
 

Here are some questions we could ask about the questions asked so far:

What are the purposes of the OBC?

What roles are people assigned?

What rules must be followed?

What rights and restrictions are given and imposed?

What are some of its critical, underlying assumptions?

What are its key words?

To what extent do the problems of the OBC require decisions? choices? solutions?

To what extent is the OBC changing?

What are the mechanisms for change within the OBC?

To what extent is the language of the OBC obsolete?

What are the critical, non-verbal symbols of the OBC?

To what extent are these changing?

What is the actual effect of the OBC on people?
To what extent is this different from the ostensible purpose of the OBC?
Are there alternatives to the OBC?
Can we do without it?
How is the OBC related to other systems of knowing and behaving?

I copied these questions from a book called "Teaching as a Subversive Activity", substituting OBC for the word "system".

Another thought, a reality that hovers behind and within our discussion, is that I, and others who feel they are merely "associated " with OBC, and don't care about being "inside "it, have no place from which to ask these questions. The lay sangha is linguistically, merely NOT the monastic sangha: it doesn't exist in any definable way. To me, it's me and some people ,some of whom are friends, who sometimes meditate together.
We know some other people who also meditate together, and who follow an arcane system within a peculiar hierarchical club. There is no constitutional link between the two groups. I speculate that most of the "lay sangha" fits this description. What do you think?

maisie
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Fri Mar 07, 2014 7:48 pm

I got an interesting PM today asking
Quote :
Would the OBC exist without the financial support of the non-monks?
I replied
Quote :
Your absolutely right. The sangha is a self help group with the lay sangha supporting the monastic establishment. No laity, no support, no monks. But the OBC seem to blissfully ignore this and sail on regardless. If the lay OBC sangha loose faith in this then the ordained OBC sangha will be without support and the whole system will collapse. In many cases, and to me it seems in the OBC case, in order yo preserve the status quo the ordained lord it over the unordained implying that without them there is no gateway to the truth. In fact the gateway is always there and other members of the sangha, both ordained and unordained, can hep, which is what the sangha is about, or sometimes they can hinder particularly when they are self-serving.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sat Mar 08, 2014 9:29 am

Remember also, there is a huge variation in Western Buddhism regarding monks and lay people.  Shasta is at one end of the extreme divide due to Kennett's approach.  Some groups, there is very little or even no difference between lay and monk.  Also, many groups have much more democratic participation, open communication, accountability.  I agree that by Shasta/OBC isolating itself this way, they really do run the risk of alienating their support base, unless they luck out and find one or more big donors to carry them through.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sat Mar 08, 2014 10:05 am

Maisie asked
What are the purposes of the OBC?
answer
To spread the teachings of it founder Jiyu Kennett
 A more pertinent question  is what is the purpose of Buddhism
answer 
To help us see things as they are
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sat Mar 08, 2014 10:54 am

Hi Chisan-

I see where you are coming from, I think, with your answer to the first question.

(The questions I posted, aren't "mine", by the way, they are a series of questions linked to a process of critical thinking about institutions, groups, human systems generally. I read these questions in a book, and I find them very useful.)

The answer you gave is "To spread the teachings of its founder, Jiyu Kennett"I agree this is the ostensible purpose of OBC.

I have another answer, no more or less valid:

"The purpose of the OBC is to maintain its own existence".  Now this is rather trite-you could say that about anybody, any group, any country, any government, any business.

But I looked at these two questions:

What is the actual effect of the OBC on people?
To what extent is this different from the ostensible purpose of the OBC?

And I had this response:
The actual effect of the OBC on people is to infantilise them.
The ostensible purpose of the OBC is ,as you said,to spread the teachings of its founder.
Now the teachings of the founder, as I saw them ,were in her actions: she inspired me to be fearless, to take Buddhism seriously, to learn ownership of its teachings, which, as a woman in the nineteen-seventies, I had thought impossible.
So to me there is a huge dissonance between the ostensible purpose of the OBC ,and the effect it appears to have on people. It is a long imaginative journey from the notion of a brave(reckless and crazy too), woman who breaks through prejudice and opposition to found a religious organisation, to the sleazy little story of yet another sex offender taking advantage of his claimed authority and the infantilising effect of the institution on its participants.

As for the purpose of Buddhism - no idea!

thank you for your reply

Josh-which Western Buddhist groups are more democratic?


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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sat Mar 08, 2014 11:25 am

maisie field wrote:

The actual effect of the OBC on people is to infantilise them.

Now the teachings of the founder, as I saw them ,were in her actions: she inspired me to be fearless, to take Buddhism seriously, to learn ownership of its teachings, which, as a woman in the nineteen-seventies, I had thought impossible.
So to me there is a huge dissonance between the ostensible purpose of the OBC ,and the effect it appears to have on people.

maisie
 
Maisie this is well said.  What impressed and attracted me to Jiyu Kennett in the first place was her fierce independence.  I was inspired by the fact that (not unlike the Buddha) she was willing to risk being an outcast of the establishment in order to follow her heart.  It was such a profound disappointment to me to ultimately realize that she would never allow her students to find their own way as she had done.  IMHO her best students were the ones who eventually said no to her and left.  Ironies abound!
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sat Mar 08, 2014 12:39 pm

"The purpose of the OBC is to maintain its own existence".
Yes I agree,and I have to add that this is incredibly far removed from why I was initially involved,

I do not always agree with Isan but I agree with everything he says. And Zen should help one cut through our concepts and views, see through emptiness of institutions, and see practice and enlightenment where we are  , here and now, in any circumstances,without props and paraphernalia.

In the dense undergrowth
of daily living
I still bow to Buddha
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sat Mar 08, 2014 1:28 pm

chisanmichaelhughes wrote:

I do not always agree with Isan but I agree with everything he says. And Zen should help one cut through our concepts and views, see through emptiness of institutions, and see practice and enlightenment where we are  , here and now, in any circumstances,without props and paraphernalia.

In the dense undergrowth
of daily living
I still bow to Buddha
 
Michael it's only that Jesus/Bodhidharma thing that we go around on - otherwise we're generally in agreement :-)

Love that haiku...

In the dense undergrowth
of daily living
I still bow to Buddha
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sat Mar 08, 2014 1:38 pm

The Haiku is a comment,or reply, or is inspired by, a poet friend of mine,  a zen monk, who in the midst of serious illness wrote,

Coughing up blood
& out of touch with the world
I still bow to Buddha
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sun Mar 09, 2014 12:49 pm

Jcbaran wrote:
Remember also, there is a huge variation in Western Buddhism regarding monks and lay people.  Shasta is at one end of the extreme divide due to Kennett's approach.  Some groups, there is very little or even no difference between lay and monk.  Also, many groups have much more democratic participation, open communication, accountability.  ...

In thinking about this thread I keep coming back to Josh's comment above, and also Diana's, in regard to moving on from a relationship or a connection that isn't positive or beneficial. I guess each person knows how to long to stick with something and hope it gets better, while trying to offer improvements.

For those who find they do need to belong to something, I hope they'll keep in mind that the OBC is not the only game in town, truly.  Visit other centres, spend some time getting to know people, be cautious always and don't pledge allegiance to anybody too soon, but do look around and see what else is out there in this wide world. It would be a sad use of one's life if too much time was spent trying to force someone else to treat you better than they are willing to do.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sun Mar 09, 2014 5:05 pm

Lise wrote:

For those who find they do need to belong to something, I hope they'll keep in mind that the OBC is not the only game in town, truly.  Visit other centres, spend some time getting to know people, be cautious always and don't pledge allegiance to anybody too soon, but do look around and see what else is out there in this wide world. It would be a sad use of one's life if too much time was spent trying to force someone else to treat you better than they are willing to do.

Nicely stated, Lise. At my age and at this stage of the journey I experience much less need to belong to something external and don't have the needs for spiritual support I once had, or thought I had, but if I were starting out now in my present circumstance, within an hour's drive I have access to at least three fairly good Zen Sanghas that I know are healthy, respectful, and well led,  and many other Sanghas of the Vipassana or Vajrayana mode that seem promising. No reason not to shake the dust off your feet and affiliate in healthy relationships if you have the need. But everyone, at any stage of the journey, needs to have enough maturity to be discerning and incremental about commitments to communities or teachers, or any relationship for that matter. The important thing for me after 40 plus years on the conscious journey is to commit to  the practice and cultivating trust in your own inner light, not human beings or institutions.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Mon Mar 10, 2014 12:20 pm

"It would be a sad use of one's life if too much time was spent trying to force someone else to treat you better than they are willing to do"

"The important thing for me after 40 plus years on the concious journey is to commit to the practice and cultivating trust in your own inner lilght, not human beings or institutions."


The last two sentences, respectively, from both Lise and Bills last two posts above sum it up quite nicely, yet it often takes a long and tortouus joourney to finally come to that conclusion, as many of us have experienced.  The Inner Light has never been absent from any of us yet is often obscured by consequences of circumstances and/or our own negative actions that compel us to go and look for it elsewhere.  A quote of Dogen comes to mind:  "If you can't find the Truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?"
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Mon Mar 10, 2014 5:08 pm

Isn't this just the heart of zen,
Don't carry around an institution or person on your shoulders,let go of religious form ,dont depend on clever words ,dont be fooled by pomp and ceremony. however wisdom is deep and all of these may very well point to ones heart,but zen surely teaches to drop and let go of all things.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Mon Mar 10, 2014 5:25 pm

Michael, I remain hopeful that here in the states, and perhaps in the West in general, after we have worked through all the abuse, power, and institutionalization issues, patterns of practice in Zen  that are liberating and healing rather than oppressive and injurious will be increasingly the standard and the norm.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Mon Mar 10, 2014 6:05 pm

Bill
The sound of the sea
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 2:38 am

lovely response breljo
and then the subsequent postings , thank you .
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:33 am

I personally find it easier to find life's essence in seeing the first burst of a spring flower,rather than trawling over a production sheet of an impossible days work

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To sand itself
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Wed Mar 19, 2014 2:13 pm

Hi everyone,

I haven't had the time lately to read all of the posts concerning the Interim Board and what they tried so hard to accomplish.  I have friends that were on the board during the entire life of the board.  

One of the members, I think has agreed to be interviewed. This person is willing to tell about their experience on the Interim board and talk about their perceptions and experiences. I have permission to post the interview on OBCC. So if this person doesn't change their mind, I will be posting it shortly.  It's always beneficial to hear the truth directly from the source.  Not an easy thing to accomplish when dealing with the OBC.

Sophia
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:20 pm

Thanks Sophia that sounds great. As you say much better from one of the horses mouths rather rumour and speculation.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:51 pm

 Good idea I agree and it inspires me to add
Direct from the source, yes I like that very zenlike or 'zenspeech'

personally I do no think there is a source for the truth,nor a source for the teaching,I dont believe we have a journey to make nor our meditation anywhere to go.I dont believe our meditation can make us anything we are not,and any experience that we like to call important is only who we already are. In zazen here are no rules no pure zazen no teaching,no Buddhism, there is.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:57 pm

chisanmichaelhughes wrote:
 Good idea I agree and it inspires me to add
Direct from the source, yes I like that very zenlike or 'zenspeech'

personally I do no think there is a source for the truth,nor a source for the teaching,I dont believe we have a journey to make nor our meditation anywhere to go.I dont believe our meditation can make us anything we are not,and any experience that we like to call important is only who we already are. In zazen here are no rules no pure zazen no teaching,no Buddhism, there is.
 
Are we reading Hui Neng again? :-)

Looking forward to Sophia's interview...
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Thu Mar 20, 2014 12:54 am

Even the Tokushima ferry
Doesnt lead to
The Pure land
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Thu Mar 20, 2014 2:03 am

Well, even if chisan is quoting hui neng - whoever he is ,  it was  a refreshing moment ,i liked reading it .
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:36 am

Nicky it is not Hui Neng of course who ever he is but it is what I believe we are drawn to experience or 'zen' outside of the the teaching. in other words it is taking our coat off and hanging on it a hook
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Thu Apr 10, 2014 11:24 am

THE VICTIM/SURVIVORS OF THE ABUSES AT SHASTA ABBEY

I have been thinking about the victim/survivors of the events that led to the FTI Report.
It is a tragic irony that we know more about the pathetic little offender who was allowed to get away with his predations for so long, than about the good people whom he victimised.

I cannot know, and can only imagine, how it feels to have been in such a situation,and how it might feel now.

My heart and mind go out to these good people .
I hope one day there will be justice for them.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Thu Apr 10, 2014 3:07 pm

Thank you Maisie for your thoughtful post – it touches so much more than simple words can express.

Justice for me today is the ability to speak the truth about what happened and to heal.  You have all kindly lent your good ear and encouragement here to do just that which has summoned me to move forward over time.  Friends of mine that went through the abuse with me are also healing – all at their own pace and path, based on their unique experience of the pain.  For those I didn’t know or have not been able to stay in touch with, my heart and mind go out to them as well with kindness and well wishes.

Eko told me on more than one occasion that justice and forgiveness aren’t really Buddhist concepts.  I assumed at the time he was speaking to levels of karma and how karma is resolved that was beyond my understanding.  Today, I can see the denial and justification that allow someone to harm others and have no compunction about it.  The consequence on the perpetrator of that harm is justice in my mind, not my justice – but the karmic retribution for actions that caused harm.

Justice is also laced with compassion for the perpetrator, knowing they must live with themselves and who they are based on their choices in the past (whether they acknowledge it or not): i.e. acting out harmful sexual karma that creates an inability to be honest and open about their own sexuality; denouncing someone without compassion that creates an inability to have compassion for oneself or one’s mistakes; lying to others which excuses lying to oneself; or blaming others for their plight that creates an inability to take responsibility for their own actions, just to name a few.  The 500 lives of Hyakujo’s Fox. J  To see this type of compassion has helped me immensely from being a victim to all of the things we went through at Shasta.

Justice today is about my living in a way that attempts to act and be the best person I can be, despite others’ actions.  I guess that is what the whole mess has shown me, be true to myself and be kind to self and others.  I am no longer a doormat and will speak up if someone is suppressing the truth or trying to get away with something.  I also understand thoroughly that others must atone for their own actions and I can have compassion for that process, even if I don't like what they did.  That is what being a chaplain for the Abbot taught me! J
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Fri Apr 11, 2014 12:42 pm

Thank you H Enida,
I am relieved to have a reply which links justice to training as a buddhist,because of the wrongs I feel are ignored by the bland teaching that justice and forgiveness aren't buddhist concepts.
I feel it must be extremely taxing to live with the outcomes of such a situation,and find it in your heart to express compassion.benevolence
Of course,we have to allow karma to take its course for other beings,and be patient.And it is also necessary to see harmful action for what it is,and not try to dress it up with ideas about benevolence,just ideas,not clean honest spiritual work.
Yes,all that is will work through each of us-there is no hiding place.Sange too is a natural law!We are met by ourselves and the consequences of our actions at every turn-and this is never predictable-we aren't in control.

I am so glad you have the composure and courage to think and write about this,and I am relieved that you know of other people who shared similar experiences and who are also finding some closure.

warm thoughts
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Fri Apr 11, 2014 2:24 pm

H Enida wrote:

Eko told me on more than one occasion that justice and forgiveness aren’t really Buddhist concepts.  

It's hard to let these words pass without comment. It has occurred to me that some persons indoctrinated into the institutional monastic lifestyle have come to use pathological dissociation as a substitute for the practice of compassionate detachment. I don't know if justice and forgiveness are Buddhist concepts. But I do know they are human concepts that have a reference to something very real in the human experience. Humans who experience injustice know what it is. Humans who experience forgiveness know what it is. Humans who participate ini restorational justice know what it is. And I should also say that when injustice and one's participation in it, is ignored, when restorational justice is denied, those who have been injured, and even those who bear witness to injuries and align themselves with victims, recognize what is going on. When the same conditions persist that promote injury and injustice, when the causes of injury are intentionally overlooked and denied, when the promises made for restorational justice are not kept, then we all recognize what is going on. That is a human concept.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sat Apr 12, 2014 10:58 am

Yes Bill
Thank you for your powerful response.
The human who has been unjustly treated craves justice,and the search for justice,the work that it takes,is the great human project.
Justice,like freedom,must be created and forged anew in every action.
And as you say,we all know this,because we are all human.

I hope the victim/survivors of the abuses at Shasta Abbey will one day know justice.

All the best Bill
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sat Apr 12, 2014 11:58 am

And as the saying goes......

 Justice not only needs to be done, it needs to be seen to be done.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sat Apr 12, 2014 1:17 pm

Contrary to Eko's bombastic pronouncement about the irrelevancy of justice in the Buddhist world, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, co-founded by Robert Aitken and others, seems to have put a very high value on the concept of social and ecological justice:  http://www.buddhistpeacefellowship.org/category/eco-justice/
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sat Apr 12, 2014 3:12 pm

When buddhism gets in the way let it go,when buddhists concepts get in the way say goodbye,
I do believe that with true teachers we share insight, and teaching is passed on somehow with out words,this type of insight,does not come with words, labels and isms attached, As human beings we have a huge reservoir of human kindness, there is no need to look anywhere else
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cmpnwtr

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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sat Apr 12, 2014 4:08 pm

chisanmichaelhughes wrote:
When buddhism gets in the way let it go,when buddhists concepts get in the way say goodbye,
I do believe that with true teachers we share insight, and teaching is passed on somehow with out words,this type of insight,does not come with words, labels and isms attached, As human beings we have a huge reservoir of human kindness, there is no need to look anywhere else

Thank you, Michael. As always you bring it down so well to the direct and human level.  At age 65 I'm pretty well fed up with isms and their promoters.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sat Apr 12, 2014 4:29 pm

I thought about you last week Bill as we did a 7am drop to Fore Street Port Isaac (Portwenn) where they film Doc martin
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cmpnwtr

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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sat Apr 12, 2014 4:43 pm

chisanmichaelhughes wrote:
I thought about you last week Bill as we did a 7am drop to Fore Street Port Isaac (Portwenn) where they film Doc martin

Oh, lovely. It is such a marvelously beautiful place. Still hoping we can come to beautiful Cornwall. I'm sure my wife would love it. I'm watching Doc Martin every Sat. PM now on the latest installment.
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mstrathern
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sat Apr 12, 2014 8:13 pm

Maise wrote:
I cannot know, and can only imagine, how it feels to have been in such a situation,and how it might feel now.

I fear I can have an inkling about how the victims felt. I volunteer for a confidential telephone helpline and because it is confidential and we won't report people and the majority of our volunteers are women there are quite a number of people, mainly men, who make what we refer to as pest calls, a la Eko. I have seen even old hands sometimes quite upset and shaken by them. New volunteers, even after training, can find it so upsetting they leave.

On top of all this the shock when it comes out of the blue and it is your priest/teacher who you trust and hold in high esteem must sometimes be akin to a bereavement, and then there is all the confusion and sense of loss.

As for justice and forgiveness, from his statements and even more clearly from his actions Eko showed no understanding of the core buddhist doctrines of karma and compassion, which are the mirrors of justice and forgiveness.
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cmpnwtr

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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sat Apr 12, 2014 9:15 pm

Restorative Justice and Forgiveness- Karma and Compassion

Speaking as one who endured sexual abuse from a religious monastic as an adolescent in a monastic seminary, I can empathize greatly. In my case healing did not happen fully until much later as an adult, I was able to confront the monastic authorities with the abuse, and in this case, the crime, of what had been done to me at a more vulnerable time in my life. And this is where restorative justice matters. In confronting the monastic authorities from a position of strength, and having them accept responsibility for the psychological and spiritual damage caused, and to pay for the psychotherapy I received, and to insist that the senior monk involved accept responsibility and  go to be evaluated for his problem in a  treatment center for clergy sexual abusers.

 When I was ready, after he had been evaluated and treated,  I did confront him directly, face to face, and state the damage that was done, the suffering it caused, and for him to acknowledge his injury and apologize. At that moment I could say for the sake of compassion for myself, that I was ready to forgive, that is, let go of any desire for retaliation or vengeance, because the injury had been acknowledged, the responsibility accepted, and restorative actions taken. I felt free and have ever since. 

That is what restorative justice  and forgiveness looks like. It is not an abstraction. It involves actions and decisions. Clearly this is what Shasta Abbey and Eko have avoided doing. And in that sense the karmic consequence of these injuries is more likely to live on in the lives of the victims and of Eko. In their cowardice they have avoided an opportunity to heal the karma that was created by them.I have to say also that the monastic institution involved, a Benedictine Monastery, had a strong financial and public relations incentive for me to handle it in this way. They were mighty grateful that I didn't want to sue. But I was ready to in the event they did not accept responsibility. The threat of litigation gave leverage to help this happen. I should also say that I had a strong advocate, an Episcopalian woman priest and spiritual advisor who had specialized in restorative justice with victims of sexual abuse. Such a resource should be developed in the Buddhist world, since we know very well there are numerous victims of abuse from Buddhist teachers and monastic communities, not only sexual abuse but also other forms of emotional  and psychological abuse as we have heard from the stories here. 

I would add one more important element of restorative justice. Part of my demand to the monastery in question, was that they write to former seminarian alumni inviting all who had suffered similar abuse, and to contact directly those who had been abused by this monk, to come forward with the commitment that they would receive independent advocacy like I had, and the full range of restorative services, such as I had. So with the help of the woman priest who had been my advocate, the abbot and the community set up a system of restorative justice for all victims who might come forward. For myself it gave me great peace that out of my personal suffering and healing that mechanisms could be put in place to help others, and hopefully prevent other abuse from happening. And again, the leverage I had, aside from the assistance of an expert advocate was, the option of litigation if the abbey did not respond accordingly. Already facing other lawsuits they were happy to comply out of the selfish motive of avoiding further financial loss, and public shame, but I would like to think in part out of a desire to amend their own community and make things right. 

I think what I have described here is an example of Mark's reference to karma and compassion, and how they are actualized through the human processes justice and forgiveness. (You might note what I said, that forgiveness flows out of the victim's own compassion for themselves in large part, the recognition of how carrying the unhealed injury around and the desire for retribution is such a burden that causes suffering to oneself.)
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maisie field



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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sun Apr 13, 2014 9:49 am

mstrathern wrote:
Maise wrote:
I cannot know, and can only imagine, how it feels to have been in such a situation,and how it might feel now.

I fear I can have an inkling about how the victims felt. I volunteer for a confidential telephone helpline and because it is confidential and we won't report people and the majority of our volunteers are women there are quite a number of people, mainly men, who make what we refer to as pest calls, a la Eko. I have seen even old hands sometimes quite upset and shaken by them. New volunteers, even after training, can find it so upsetting they leave.

On top of all this the shock when it comes out of the blue and it is your priest/teacher who you trust and hold in high esteem must sometimes be akin to a bereavement, and then there is all the confusion and sense of loss.

As for justice and forgiveness, from his statements and even more clearly from his actions Eko showed no understanding of the core buddhist doctrines of karma and compassion, which are the mirrors of justice and forgiveness.

This is interesting Mark.You mention a confidential telephone support line,and that some people who volunteer have been verbally abused.
What does the organisation do about these events?
How did they change their conditions of work for volunteers?
What did the other volunteers do to support the people who were verbally abused?
Did the organisation promote a campaign about appropriate communication,respect for others and the prospect of legal action?
Do you still work for the organisation?

This is interesting because it could help us with a template for how a healthy organisation is structured and how its culture reflects its values.


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mstrathern
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sun Apr 13, 2014 7:15 pm

Maisie this was written in 1997, things haven't change much sib=nce.
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/the-sex-calls-that-drive-the-samaritans-to-despair-1297139.html
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maisie field



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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Fri Apr 18, 2014 12:30 pm

Yes Mark,gender-based verbal aggression is endemic,epidemic,and happens everywhere,to all women born into the patriarchy.
It is not surprising that Samaritans volunteers experience this kind of slime-ball pathetic behaviour,since it is a feature of all our lives,wherever and whoever we are.
What I asked is what you did about it when you found out?
How did you support the volunteers who were attacked?
How does the Samaritans support volunteers?
What needs to change?

The answers are relevant to our quest for a wholesome response to the pathetic low- life behaviour that goes on in our sangha.
There are parallels:
The offender uses the opportunity provided by confidentiality
The offender uses the opportunity provided by the victim's kindness and availability.
The offender is hard to track.
The offender is doing something that it is difficult/impossible to prosecute.

Sex offending is like this.It ranges from verbal harrassment and aggression through harrassment,stalking,attempted rape, to actual systemic rape ,physical violence ,to murder.

This is what makes Bill's story inspiring.
His story shows it is possible to fight for justice and hold such degnerate bxxxxxxds to account.
And the struggle for this kind of justice is part of the buddhist story,because our buddhism is practiced in a society where these crimes occur,and where we are trying to stay awake,and to cease from evil,do only good and do good to others.



[url=everydaysexism]everydaysexism[/url] is a useful site,by the way

best wishes
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cmpnwtr

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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Fri Apr 18, 2014 6:31 pm

Maisie, thank you for unveiling what is so true about abuser/assaultive people. They do it because they can. In this case anonymity shields them. In the case of the religious teacher with the all the protections of the role and all the deference that it provides,and the shielding and protection of a monastic community,  with all the privacy and the implied trust, they do it because they can. The monastic community, reportedly giving their lives to the cleansing of karma and elimination of suffering, through their complicity contribute to even more injurious karma, and refuse to own their own responsibility for it, or to face what needs to be done to change the patterns of behavior they follow that contribute to this injury and shield the abuser from accountability and exposure. 

They miss the chance to be agents of healing and liberation, and instead lead an inauthentic existence, refusing to practice what they teach, trapped in entrenched patterns and roles. That's my interpretation of this process. Elevating oneself to the special status of Buddhist monk/priest complete with enlightenment credentials becomes itself the obstruction to a life of transformation, liberation, and healing, and a justification for continuing patterns that create injurious karma. They would be better off without the uniform, without the shaved head, without the certification, and the monastic identity, and just be a regular lay person with no specialness, who just happens to sit and follow the precepts.
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PostSubject: Re: What happened to OBC Interim Board Workgroups' recommendations? Or the Lay Initiative?   Sat Apr 19, 2014 8:12 pm

Maisie, the Samaritans is a purely volunteer set of organisations run on a shoestring, no one is paid. Each office is run by their own volunteers although there is a central coordinating body. So each office will handle things such as training and volunteer support slightly differently. 

However people volunteer expecting some distressing, and sometimes harrowing, phone calls and emails. The Samaritans don't give advice they listen and hope to help people discover their own feelings and options. The training volunteers receive before they start actively engaging with callers strongly reinforces this and prepares people for the types of calls they can expect. Those who for whatever reason feel unable to cope with this tend to drop out at this stage. There is a strong support network within the volunteers, both formal and informal. Support does not go outside the organisation, even to family, as there are very strict rules on the confidentiality of callers. When it becomes apparent that a call is abusive it is normal to firmly but politely terminate the call whilst not shutting the door on the service being called in future if it is truly needed.

If someone is upset by a call because it was abusive, distressing or for any other reason then they would normally talk it through with their duty partner, duty team leader and volunteer support, who would in any case normally contact any volunteer who was felt to have had a particularly harrowing/abusive/distressing call to see if they needed any support on an ongoing basis.

I'm not sure that this is entirely relevant to the type of abuse that we have been referring to here. Except in that it highlights the importance of facing the circumstances straight on and not hiding behind the hierarchy or some kind of mythology. And in the importance of consideration and  support for anyone who feels distressed or abused for whatever reason. The main difference in the discussions on this site is the position of power of those concerned; it is about people who have been abused one way or another by those they trust and who have some kind of authority. I don't seem to have noticed a plethora of Zen Masters on this site complaining that they have been abused by those they teach! 

I have said elsewhere on this site that I think we need to take a more proactive stance on all of this and that I have some ideas on an approach to tackling it. I have some issues I have to deal with at the moment but hope to get back to this in the future.

(If you want to know more about the Samaritans: http://www.samaritans.org)
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