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 Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?

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Olly



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PostSubject: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Mon Nov 01, 2010 1:01 am

Hi all!

Haven't posted much for ages - I think because once this forum really got going and people with 30+ years experience of being in the OBC started posting I think there was little I could add to anything. But I'd like to say this is a truly democratic forum with a whole spectrum of views on the OBC and I've thoroughly enjoyed lurking for the past few months.

I thought I'd create this post to see whether anyone who left the OBC but not Buddhism per se has tried other forms of practice (or even other strands of Soto Zen) and chat about how they've got on with this. At a cursory glance, one member practices in the San Francisco Zen Centre tradition, someone else quoted an NKT teacher and I now practice very happily with the Community of Interbeing.

For my two-pence worth, I really recommend Thich Nhat Hanh for people who have been left with the impression that Zen can't be friendly, sympathetic, humane or open-minded. I find him such a kind teacher and I really appreciate the way that he uses many more meditation techniques beyond 'just sitting' (e.g. mindfulness of breathing, guided meditations, meditation on loving-kindness, meditations for helping us heal relationships with our families etc). I truly feel I am making progress now (my wife also vouches for this!). Shikantaza is great, don't get me wrong, but I do feel that for people with alot of personal baggage (especially feelings of low self-worth etc) other approaches are needed to nurture our 'Buddha nature' (or whatever you'd like to term it).

Anyway, hopefully I've gotten the ball rolling. Post away! Smile
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Mon Nov 01, 2010 1:14 pm

Hi Olly
I think because once this forum really got going and people with 30+ years experience of being in the OBC started posting I think there was little I could add to anything.
On the other side you probably have a bunch of ex OBCers with 30+ years experience (official spiritual fuddy duddies) who think what you could add would be a fresher perspective which would be no less valuable.

Nice idea for a thread, by the way.

regards
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Olly



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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Mon Nov 01, 2010 3:58 pm

Hi Howard!

Thanks for the kind comments. Actually you;re right, there are some young 'uns like me lurking about here! But in fact it's great t hear form people who have been practicing Buddhism for so long.

Here in Devon on the face of it we have a great choice - I can think of about 8 forms of Buddhism operating locally. Of the few that I have attended, one was pushy, one was strange (after meditation someone said "right, who's up for a pint?". So much for the precepts eh?) and a couple were rather dry and abstract. I think I have learned most so far from Zen but also from Theravadin practice - if you haven't read anything by Ajahn Chah or his disciple Ajahn Sumedho I highly recommend them. Very down to earth but also gentle and humorous teachers.

Olly
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Mon Nov 01, 2010 8:32 pm

Olly wrote:


Here in Devon on the face of it we have a great choice - I can think of about 8 forms of Buddhism operating locally. Of the few that I have attended, one was pushy, one was strange (after meditation someone said "right, who's up for a pint?". So much for the precepts eh?) and a couple were rather dry and abstract. I think I have learned most so far from Zen but also from Theravadin practice - if you haven't read anything by Ajahn Chah or his disciple Ajahn Sumedho I highly recommend them. Very down to earth but also gentle and humorous teachers.

Olly

It's good that you're exercising discrimination. One of the important things you can takeaway from this forum is the danger of groups that require you to shutdown common sense and choice. Group practice can be intoxicating and it's easy to drink the kool aid instead of figuring out what you're getting into. It's important to stand back and really look at the effect the practice has on people. Then decide if that's where you want to go. One specific thing you can look for is an "exit policy". Does the group actually support members who decide to leave Vs judging and shunning them? It's a healthy sign if they do, but the opposite is pretty common.
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Tue Nov 02, 2010 12:22 am

Hi Olly, nice to see you here again. I will be back before long with a more thoughtful reply but I wanted to say hullo in the meantime.

Just a brief comment, I go to a Tibetan temple now and really like it. I don't understand a word of the chanting nor can I communicate with many of the monks, and I'm not seeking to change either of those things. The colours and sounds of their ceremonies appeal to me, and the quiet peace of the temple, the friendliness of the sangha, the little bit of guided meditation that I understand. I don't know about the theories and dogma of their particular sect, and if I continue to be careful, with luck I never will. I go to retreats sometimes that are run by different organizations. I don't plan to join up formally with any group, although at one time I was enamored of belonging, and willing enough to sip some of the kool-aid that Isan refers to. No longer, though Smile

I have begun reading Thich Nhat Hahn recently and am finding his work to be very approachable and kind. Hope to discuss it with you in time --

Best,
Lise
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Nicky



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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Tue Nov 02, 2010 7:12 am

It's comforting to read this thread , so thankyou . I've been wondering for weeks what you lise had found ever since you wrote something about wanting ' a gentler to the spirit form of training'. Ahhhhhh yes . YES .So now i sort of know, and like the sound of your attitude and experiences .
I'm hovering uneasily , i miss the sense of belonging to the OBC, though I'm profoundly glad I've left . But , Although i told my teacher i wanted nothing more to do with the OBC , that didn't filter back to Throssel , so i continue receiving stuff from them , and they do want to change , i feel a sort of pull . It's only a sort of pull, i couldn't stand to do a retreat , or sit through a holy tea time, or feel the rigidity , its that core i miss. So , i have been wondering ,do i , after all remain on the edge ?
As i write this ,the answer is bobbing around : To be true to myself , i must get right OUT , AND IT SEEMS TO BE A SLOW DEPARTURE. Is it just fear ? Or is there a glimpse of wisdom! ! Am i missing a place to be ?
I don't want to tell my whole story - to sort of ' out' it , this publicly ,( though i am finding doing this clarifying,) but , i realize without saying more about myself its harder for anyone to respond . For 12 years i was very committed to the OBC -An LM - what nonsense , had a special teacher , did many retreats , but, increasingly i realized i was not following my heart , hell, and a beautiful religion was being distorted .
best wishes to you all Nicky

PS. Perhaps needless to say , but ,reading Ollys postings - I never , ever ,want to join another religious group.
I'm 67 ,(long ago terrible guru cult ) always been a painter - vital to discovering - wife , mother ,granny , gardener , 1 hen , 1 dog , in Norfolk UK , near the sea .
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:45 am

Hi Nicky,

I don't know how recently you parted with the OBC, but I think it's not unusual at all to feel as you describe. I was relieved to be away from the Shasta environment but didn't know what I was going on to, if anything. I didn't actively try to fill the void -- my counselor cautioned against trying to replace one thing with another and I think she was right. Eventually something caused me to walk into a temple again & have a look around. I remember looking up at the images of the Buddha and Avalokiteshwara/Chenrezig and thinking, hi, I've missed you. I started visiting different places, not caring what tradition, or which teachers were there. None of that reaches me. I don't care about lay ordination or taking on a new label of any kind. My thought now is to just keep the skandas happy Smile Honestly, that's it. If I feel safe and the people around me seem kind, that's good enough. I can say this, I am glad to be free of the OBC's constant admonition to "go deeper" in my training. And dispense with joy . . . but I don't want this to turn into a rant.

You asked a question in regard to getting out, and feeling that it might be a slow departure, and is this fear . . . I wonder if you could be reacting to something that some of us pick up from the OBC environment. There is (or was, while I was there), a strong undercurrent of disdain for looking at different spiritual paths once you've come across the OBC. It's almost presented as a given that a sincere trainee should recognize OBC teaching as the true and only way, and if you don't, you must be creating obstacles for yourself that prevent you from seeing that. I heard a senior monk speak disparagingly once of a person who had left the Order to follow a different practice. The monk said he told the person before he left, "I don't know what it is you think you are looking for, but I hope you find it soon!" I still remember being shocked to hear such a presumptuous statement being made about someone else, and the public judgment about that person's choice. Some listeners were likely as offended as I was, but maybe for others it reinforced the message that it is sad and pathetic to consider other paths after the OBC. I don't know if any of this resonates with you -- but if so it might explain some of the reluctance to move on and keep going with Buddhism in your own way if you want to.

Long speech, must take a break --

cheers,
L


Last edited by Lise on Tue Nov 02, 2010 5:31 pm; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : not enough caffeine yet to see the keyboard properly / needed to fix a poor choice of words -- they were misleading)
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Nicky



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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Tue Nov 02, 2010 10:38 am

Hi Lise ,
Everything you say resonates deeply , and thank you for giving me a sense of clarity, recognition , and relief .

Cheers for now . Nicky
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Robert
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Tue Nov 02, 2010 1:03 pm

Hi Nicky,

I was struck by what you describe as a slow departure. I too felt frustrated by the slowness of my departure, having to go back a few times after "leaving". I think there were a few reasons for that, but two stick out. 1) Am I mistaken? What am I not seeing here? I guess we are all familiar with RM Jiyu's diaries when she was about to leave, then turned back. It can be difficult to see when it's right to perservere with something and when it's best to let it go and move on.

And 2) Is this really the end of what was once such a promising and deeply felt aspiration? I couldn't quite believe it was over and was not sure I was willing to let it go just yet, so had to try just one last time. I guess if we don't doubt, we never learn to trust and through returning and exploring the doubt, I know now that I trust Throssel to be the wrong place for me to train.

As for joining another group, I have no intention of going elsewhere, I guess every group will have it's own issues. The world is as good a teacher and place to train as any monastery.
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Nicky



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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Tue Nov 02, 2010 2:04 pm


Hi Robert ,
.
I've not thought of putting doubt and trust together like that , of course , of course.
I think I'm a little stunned by how helped i now feel . It's all good , and im appreciating a renewed strength , and trust itself .

I agree too with your 2nd point - all of it ,
thank you very much for articulating all that , best wishes Nicky
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jack



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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Tue Nov 02, 2010 4:42 pm

I felt a bit nervous about my Buddhist future when I left contact with the OBC. I left (as a lay person) giving notice and time to replace my role and position, and continued some transitional activities for a while after I left. The thing that precipitated it for me, among other things, was a realization that promised confidentiality was not really maintained. It became apparent to me that "confidential" information quickly made the talk circuit within the OBC and was then sometimes leaked back to other lay members -- all covered with what seemed to me to be only a fig leaf of "taking refuge in the sangha." If we lay members gossiped, we at least knew we were just gossiping.

My nervousness had much to do with whether or not I could successfully continue the Buddhist path on my own. It had come to have considerable value. After several years, it is very clear that this is possible, and in fact in my case, the practice and insights have strengthened. There really is, in modernity, an abundance of worthwhile teachers and books spread among traditions. It does take personal effort rather than just showing up at the Priory with fork, spoon, and bowl, waiting passively to be fed, but food is abundant.

I do sometimes miss meditation in the Priory setting. But the rest of what would go with that Priory meditation makes it something I don't intend to do again in any near future. I've found another setting for group meditation, but more importantly, I've found confidence in what the Buddha taught, and in my own heart/mind.



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Olly



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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Tue Nov 02, 2010 5:57 pm

Hello all,

Nice to see that this thread has resonated with people! I recognize alot of what is being discussed here in my own experiences, especially Nicky's 'slow departure' and the sense of a 'pull' to go back. I actually did go back for a bit, partly out of a sense of 'failure' - not having tried hard enough etc. Still, it was worthwhile to do just to see that I wasn't reaming the first time!

Isan: I agree about groups, although the only group in which I felt 'intoxicated' in a negative sense was when I sat with the NKT for 3 months (my first experience of Buddhism, as it now is for many). The OBC experience was different - I didn't feel like I was being 'brainwashed' in any way, just that none of my efforts to practise would ever quite match up. Plus they weren't the friendliest bunch!

A recurring theme that several people in this post have mentioned is a sense of suspicion / unease around groups - understandably so given the experiences recounted elsewhere in this forum. I would say if no groups feels 'right' then your sangha is whatever group of individuals or friends - Buddhist or of other persuasions - is nourishing your personal and spiritual development. Perhaps it's this forum Nicky! Smile

I am very fortunate in that I sit with a sangha that is not pushy in any way, contains practitioners of no faith or even other faiths (we count a Quaker among our number and even a couple of people who also sit with the Triratna Order). The most senior person there once told me: "look Olly, it's not like a club. If you want to sit with another group for a few weeks that's fine!" This seems to contrast with the comment the monk said to Lise in her post.

Lise: I'm glad you are enjoying Tibetan practise. I would read a little bit more about it since I always think it's better to approach things with open eyes. It is rather more 'mystical' than Zen (at least I think of it like that) and certainly more colourful! More emphasis on rebirth to, which in Tibetan Buddhism is closer to reincarnation than Zen or Theravada. Would love to hear more about your experiences!

Olly
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Tue Nov 02, 2010 7:06 pm

Olly, I'm sat here wriggling in embarrassment trying to think what to tell you. It's barking mad probably but at the moment I follow what catches my interest on a superficial level. "Oooh, shiny! What's that!" and I go look at it, and it happens to be Tibetan. I like how the light hits it and I'm not done looking at this Tibetan sparkly thing so I go back. There's my depth of training.

I will be back to talk seriously about this at some point which I guess is not today I enjoy hearing bits of conversation about tulkus and rebirths and things apart from the Zen framework. I like to consider that any of these theories may be as good as another . . . none of us really know scratch
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Jan



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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:44 am

I introduced myself months ago under the name “Madge,” but I haven’t posted since then though I’ve been reading most of what has been posted. It’s been thought-provoking . . . and often entertaining! (I’m so superficial.) I’ve decided to post under my real name from now on. I'm not quite sure why I was so hesitant to use my real name before, but there it is.

Before ‘joining’ the OBC in 1995, I went to several of Mr. S. N. Goenka’s 10-day Vipassana retreats over the course of three years in Washington state. I found them absolutely life-changing. My impetus for going on the first one was that my husband had committed suicide (at the age of 37). Six months later, I found myself on a retreat. I cried for almost the whole time, but by the time I left, I knew that there was some chance that I might find some peace or happiness at some point in my future. During the next retreat (the following summer), I did find peace . . . for a short time. The next year, I found myself in an absolutely delightful relationship with an OBCer (which I am still in) and started attending a Priory regularly. As a former Roman Catholic, my initial response to it was, “This is too much like my memories of attending church.” I was totally turned off by the ceremony, robes, priests, etc., but I persisted because I really did (and still do) respect and admire my partner for his long time practice. In 2002, we both decided to leave the OBC . . . it wasn’t a dramatic decision but certainly felt as if it was the thing to do. I haven’t felt that the OBC is a cult. It just feels like an organized religious institution to me. Perhaps those two entities are synonymous (cult=organized religious institution).

Since then, I’ve been back to several more Goenka retreats in Merritt, BC. I feel gratitude for the space in which to just meditate for hours on end . . . without a lot of drama (except in my own head) and absolutely no ceremony. The retreats are hard, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. They bring up a lot of dark memories but, by the end of them, I feel pounds lighter and truly joyful.

I’m 53, and though I’m in pretty good health, 9 hours of meditation a day is physically very challenging. I don’t know if I’ll go back on another Goenka retreat – or maybe I’ll go and serve on a retreat which requires physical work but less formal sitting meditation - but I would recommend that people give it a try if they are of that bent. If anyone is interested, the link to the official site is: www.dhamma.org/ There are also sites and forums that condemn it as a cult which are easy to find if you google.

The thing I still miss about OBC is the social connectedness I had with some close friends in the sangha. You don’t really get that from one of the Goenka retreats, or at least I haven’t. I still miss the friends from that time in my life. It was one of the few times I’ve ever joined an organization, and I felt that I really ‘belonged’ – until I didn’t! Anicca.
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Wed Nov 03, 2010 10:35 am

Lise wrote:
I don't plan to join up formally with any group, although at one time I was enamored of belonging, and willing enough to sip some of the kool-aid that Isan refers to. No longer, though Smile

Best,
Lise

I trust the sarcasm was apparent in my "kool aid" reference. More seriously what I mean is the desire to "belong" and the desire to engage in spiritual practice are both very strong motivators and when you find a community that offers you both it can be hard to turn down even when you see serious problems. As you become involved with the OBC dependence sets in and over time it becomes more and more difficult to leave. While I was there I knew people who no longer believed they could survive in the mainstream culture. The fear they were expressing was not based on economics, but on a perception that the world outside the community was utterly devoid of meaning and purpose. When I left I was completely done with the OBC - never wanted anything to do with them again - but I missed the sense of community and shared practice for years. The mainstream culture is a desert in this regard.

I'm making some broad generalizations here, but to some degree they are true for everyone I know who left the OBC. It's clear that spiritual communities cater to deep human needs and people are often willing to surrender rational thinking and autonomy in general to get those needs met (at least for a time).
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Wed Nov 03, 2010 1:20 pm

Hi Jan, welcome -- nice to have you with us. Great first post. I admire your ability to do full-day meditation retreats. I haven't been tempted yet, having got used to 30 - 45 minutes at a time.

I hope you may find some of your old OBC friends here. Quite a lot of people view the forum and I'm told many register, not because they want to post necessarily, but for the ability to contact others by PM.

@Isan, I knew the kool-aid reference was tongue in cheek. As an aside, the word always bring up an image for me of waiters going round with trays of filled glasses, and newcomers being handed one and encouraged to take a sip. I picture some people politely tasting, then spitting it out behind a cupped hand, whilst others toss back the first glass, snag another off the next passing tray, and so on . . . and maybe some people will nurse one drink all evening and when they're done, that's it. That last one is the right analogy for how I used to interact with a group's norms & teachings (not just the OBC, but them too). Now I don't ever let someone hand me a glass.

But this is what I really meant to comment about:

Isan wrote:
... As you become involved with the OBC dependence sets in and over time it becomes more and more difficult to leave. While I was there I knew people who no longer believed they could survive in the mainstream culture. The fear they were expressing was not based on economics, but on a perception that the world outside the community was utterly devoid of meaning and purpose. ...

I have heard this so often in the counseling group I attend. I know it happens to people and I wish I could understand why. Can they not remember their lives before they chose to buy into whatever theory is being sold? It is so hard to grasp that people are willing to believe the focus and purpose of their lives can only be defined by what a religious group has set before them, as "this is the way to use your life".

Edited to say, my apologies for taking this off-topic from Olly's original question. My practice since falling away from the OBC has been a source of affirmation that Buddhism is still the right magnet that's pulling me along in this world. I didn't leave it and it didn't leave me.
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Wed Nov 03, 2010 2:51 pm

Lise
My practise since falling away from the OBC has been a source of affirmation that Buddhism is still the right magnet that's pulling me along in this world. I didn't leave it and it didn't leave me.

Oh I'm stealing " I didn't leave it and it didn't leave me.
Sidesteps all kinds of tag end guilt, blame & judgements when looking at my Buddhist practise beyond the OBC embrace. Especially when well meaning OBCers give you the " I can't believe you down graded" puppy dog eyes. Guess we've all been there too.

Roberts version (sorry for the bastardizing) that there is no moment, being or place that doesn't carry the exact teaching that is right for me, is the clearest path I've found so far. It put all the onus on me to be open enough to experience it or not.

Thanks Lise & Robert.
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Wed Nov 03, 2010 3:53 pm

Howard, I guess you've hit what I think of as the hub of the wheel when you say, "It put all the onus on me to be open enough to experience it or not." Although it may seem like an obvious thing to say, when you know you're in it alone - with the universe - then there's that tremendously liberating acknowledgement that it's enough to have experienced this moment without needing some sort of mark out of ten from a person assuming to be in position to judge. When there is no one else, physically at least, to train with, then somehow training evolves to be a more open and honest reflection of life. There's nothing to prove, nothing to explain and nothing to fear - how liberating is that?!
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Olly



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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:24 pm

Lise - please don't wriggle in embarrassment and if you must blush, do so proudly in bright saffron and red colours! ;-)

Interesting stuff about group dependency - why is it I wonder that some groups foster dependency and others nourish independence of spirit? Robert: I recognise what you say about how the OBC regards other forms of practice, but one could say at least they don't sell a 'one size fits all' method - 'Shikantaza or bust!'

Jan - well done for doing so many Goenka retreats, I have heard positive things form a friend of mine who did one earlier this year, The only thing that made her wary was the way they told her at the end of the retreat that she couldn't listen to any other teachers now. Of course, like any healthy person she studiously ignores this and continues to attend our sangha because she likes it, and recently took the Five Mindfulness Trainings with Thich Nhat Hanh at his recent retreat in Nottingham.

In spite of a couple of negative experiences briefly detailed above I still believe sangha is important personally, as long as the sangha is healthy. Sanghas can and do become insular, introverted and at worst cliques. Spiritual friendship and support is important, I feel, but I agree we shouldn't dive into the next group just because we don't wish to be alone. Discrimination, as Isan rightly says, is important.
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:43 pm

At age 16 I developed an interest in meditation; specifically going into trances. I had a certain aptitude as it would take me less than 5 minutes to go into a trance.

My fiirst contact with Buddhism was at 17 when after much effort I got hold of a copy of the "Tibetian book of the Dead" which I read every day for about a year.

At age 19, I left my country of birth (Trinidad & Tobago in the West Indies) and went to Shasta Abbey.

My time there overlapped with Isan's; but unlike Isan's experience of community, my stay there was intensly joyful and lonely. Just sitting is the hardest thing I have had to learn to date: Just sitting is like the "car wash" for personal realities. It was hard but rewarding work which brings its own satisfactions.

In those early days every thing was being built ... it was about creating something or getting this stuff to work. There was no it's-a-done-deal attitude. It was all about becoming.: going, going, going on beyond ... Every problem I found with the Abbey, I found within myself.

I sum up my experience, in so far as it's possible, as follows:



at the end of the garden


I fell into a darkness
at the end of the garden of Sundays
and ploughed the rows of hours
until I had been made ready
only to hear that the seasons had been conscripted
to die in an alien land

and when they were brought back home
they were dressed in regimental graves
to glorify the myth of heroes

suddenly I was facing the terrible metaphysics in the hours
so I assassinated my soul
and saw my salvation as a future fade away

it is always a god who drives the innocent heart to journey
on the ocean of its tears

from behind curtains
the god given to me was a malicious gossip ---
suffering
both the weight of divine designations
and a policy of muder and pillage

how difficult it is to say goodbye
to dreams
to a nation of longings
so much a naturalism of place


[II]
I went out on the blue road
to stop dreaming of castles palaces
to let the emeralds and diamonds
even the gold teeth
sink or swim by their own efforts

beneath the Carribean sea
the memory of Columbus Cortez and Raleigh ripples
with dryness ---
my clarity had the feel of canvas
as I entered the mouth of a new horizon


[III]
land
rising like a wall
holding back the sea
a contenient
alive with flocks of planes
chromed magnesium bodies ---
stars in the daylight

like ribbons unfurled
wide concrete roads were woven everywhere:
I searched
and observed birds
painting expressions of life with wings

I found
a mountain from which is built the shapes of life
and discovered[i]

we are tigers
forged in the
furnace of the sun
beaten repeatedly with the hammar of the sea
our eyes breed an incalculable vision
a soft light the brick of our bones
and the sound of the voice furious wonder
not the energy of slaves


Envoi

in the vast privacy of solitude
my allegence is to another sky
where the flowers are beautiful
because of their color



After I left the Abbey in 1989, I joined Temple Kung-Fu. At my first class, there were five masters present. It was incredible.

In kung-fu everything has a physical and mental component, external and internal. After a few months, I met the Grand Master to receive direct instruction in meditation, mnd-following, which specifically involves the technique of Ch'an breathing.

I have been involved with this practice for the last 18 years.

This Art is made up of several systems of kung-fu: the first phase, which can take 6-8 years, is the preparation; then generally some go on to deal specifically with the cultivation and use of energy (more years) ... and it goes on from there. The first phase is public, after this, all further knowledge is not public.

As the years pass, I am driven to more arduously pursue the goal; but living in a context of brother/sister helpng brother/sister upon a foundation of complete trust.

Here is an observation about morality in kung-fu: if you harbor the slightest ill will in regards to the person you are working with, then when you use subconscious recall that ill will, will flow out and you inflict pain/injury. But when there is the absence of ill will, both people can experience a syncronicity as mind tests mind. In 18 years, all my injuries have been self-iinflicted due to being over zealous and ignorant as to how to respect the limits of my body in regards to the exercise I was working with.


a vision

in a vision I saw a forest beneath a sea of stars
travellers moving about with lanterns

they moved cautiously
seeing nothing of the view
they clustered in a small group to speak about darkness

then with the arrival of day
I saw them transform into a spectacle ---
cursing full of outrage
beating the lanterns with sticks

I saw the lanterns
spiritual light of our concrete life
trying to huddle behind their torn skin
their blood seeping out on the path
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Sat Jan 22, 2011 8:42 am

Thank you Albert - that is a beautiful poem. Zen and martial arts is something that tends to get glossed over a bit in the west now I think. My impression is that people tend to associate kung fu etc with aggression / violence and are uncomfortable with its long-standing association with Zen (e.g the legend that Bodhidharma taught the monks at Shao Lin Temple kung fu when he first arrived there). This is a very different take on practice and nice to compare with some of the other approaches people may have tried on this forum.
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:39 pm

I would like to hold up what I'd call more "mainstream" forms of Zen for those who find Shasta Abbey and its order not working.

In a somewhat rambling Dharma talk I outline my spiritual journey including a bit about my time with Kennett Roshi. http://www.thedrinkinggourd.org/james-ford-roshi-s-visit-to-toledo-zen-center It spells out some of what this meant for me.

Regards,

James

James Ishmael Ford
Boundless Way Zen
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Olly



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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Fri Feb 25, 2011 7:05 pm

Thank you James. Could you provide your definition of "mainstream" Zen? I'm just curious about what this means for you.

Olly
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:06 pm

Hi Olly,

I meant Zen unencumbered by Kennett Roshi's visions, which from where I stand has led her sangha pretty far out into the weeds.

James
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Wed Mar 02, 2011 1:37 am

I like what James said. "Unencumbered by visions".

I love the Buddhism that I find in anonymous (or nearly so) scriptures and writings. Things that are not attached to a person/guru/personality/dogma. Those things put me off, make me suspicious before I even get started. I know I'm all right if I'm in a place where no person, no "teacher", is trying to hold forth.

The longer I do this, the greater is my faith that we do not need "a teacher" or "a leader" to validate what we do or where we go, on our paths. It's enough for me to trust my own voice and keep going -
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Wed Mar 02, 2011 8:31 am

I have a slightly different view, Lise.

http://monkeymindonline.blogspot.com/2011/02/for-spiritual-but-not-religious-two.html

Bows,

James
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Wed Mar 02, 2011 2:26 pm

I also have a different view than Lise. But then, James, you and I are teachers, aren't we? But I find the human quality of practice, and practicing with being human, are aided by community. Seeing others practice with their humanity, and seeing how others respond to ours, are deeply instructive. A teacher is part of the community, and is a limited and flawed human being. What I've come to understand is that how a teacher holds the dharma in their flawed way is highly instructive. Either by how they screw up, or how they are honest about their shortcomings. I try for the latter, but sometimes exhibit the former. So my own leaning goes on endlessly.

With palms joined,

Kyogen
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cmpnwtr

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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Wed Mar 02, 2011 2:31 pm

Lise wrote:
The longer I do this, the greater is my faith that we do not need "a teacher" or "a leader" to validate what we do or where we go, on our paths. It's enough for me to trust my own voice and keep going -
***************
Lise, I've made a couple of trials without success at getting a discussion going about alternative models of spiritual community, or group support. I've of a mind that education and support are necessary for practitioners of meditation, but small group models that avoid the elevation of masters or teachers to positions of inordinate authority have merit. If you see merit in that discussion based on your comments here, would you try to lead such a discussion?
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Wed Mar 02, 2011 3:09 pm

Hi cmpnwtr ( Bill )

I have come to observe, over some months of participating in this forum, that you, Bill, not only seem to have a wide range of experience in spirituality, but have also come to appreciate your balanced and respectful posts and views. I think your above suggestion of getting a discussion going in regards to models of spiritual community, group support is well worth the effort and I think would be well received if someone was willing to lead it. If Lise, who is already busy with monitoring this site, does not have the time or thinks it would be too much for her, I would like to suggest and respectfully ask, if perhaps you might be willing to be the leader of such a discussion, (if you had the time)?

With kind regards

Brigitte
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Wed Mar 02, 2011 3:46 pm

breljo wrote:
Hi cmpnwtr ( Bill )
I would like to suggest and respectfully ask, if perhaps you might be willing to be the leader of such a discussion, (if you had the time)?
***************
Brigid, thank you for the kind remarks and for posing this question. I have bombed on two other occasions when I attempted to start a discussion on other threads, so I thought Lise might have more success. Didn't get a single response. And her statements above made me think it is a topic that interests her. There has been so much here about the flaws in current models of spiritual teaching and community but nothing about what might be new directions. But I'm beginning to think there isn't really an interest in the topic beyond myself. Having that conversation with myself is proving to be rather limited in content.
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Wed Mar 02, 2011 7:43 pm

Hello Bill
The most hopeful spiritual meditation structure that I've experienced was technically monk free. It was a vibrant group from a pool of 20 - 25 meditaters that would gather together a few times a week for meditation and tea. Maybe three times a year we would bring up a Shasta monk to hold a weekend meditation retreat and various group members would occasionally visit Shasta.

What stood out for me was the general understanding that each group member was entirely responsible for there own meditative practise. No magic, little ritual, no abdicating ones responsibility, no hierarchy, no robes, no lay ministry, no special teachings, no favouritism, no hoping for another to do ones practise, no soap opera, no monkly love affairs, no treating anyone specially and with nothing to be acquired. Meditation was the guide & teacher. It had much of the Shasta structure such as the meditation instruction, main scriptures, kin hin and the like but was filled with lay folk earnestly seeing where meditation and a diet program for the ego might lead them. It seemed right..

The first change to this was Shasta's introduction of the layministry program.
Later a Shasta monk moved up and led the group whose spiritual understanding & teaching was based on the master/disciple model and so most of group who were meditation oriented left to explore other avenues.

This leaves me with an approach which says to the degree that a person or a group can truely hold meditation above all else, is the degree to which a spiritual community still interests me. The rest I still fear as just another ego construct.
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Wed Mar 02, 2011 8:11 pm

Howard wrote:
Hello Bill
The most hopeful spiritual meditation structure that I've experienced was technically monk free. It was a vibrant group from a pool of 20 - 25 meditaters that would gather together a few times a week for meditation and tea ..... What stood out for me was the general understanding that each group member was entirely responsible for there own meditative practise. No magic, little ritual, no abdicating ones responsibility, ..... This leaves me with an approach which says to the degree that a person or a group can hold meditation above all else, is the degree to which a spiritual community still interests me. What say you?
***********************
Howard,
Now we're talking... Obviously this is doable... This is a peer led, non hierarchical mode of spiritual community. I have had a number of experiences of this, both in Buddhist, Christian, and non-affiliated meditation groups, including one we hosted in our home for a number of years. In truth they were usually the most satisfying for me, and my wife. The main thing here is to have consensus on ground rules to stay out of the thicket of opinon oriented discussions, arguments about theology or orthodoxy, and just sit, some simple rituals of bowing, or chanting, maybe an altar and incense. A minimalist approach works best. Some networks, Buddhist, Christian, and Hindu have groups like this. The tea and chat at the end makes for some nice human bonding. One issue, of course, is the orientation and screening of new members, the host environment, and instruction and support available for people new to a meditation practice.
Thanks for responding to my invitation. And I would welcome other s' models of spiritual practice community, whether theoretical or actual experience.
Bill
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Wed Mar 02, 2011 11:50 pm

hi Bill, and all, this is a topic that interests me very much -- and I would like to talk about it. Sorry to be slow in joining, I'm too swamped at work to log on during weekdays right now.

I may have given the wrong impression in my post above -- I do value being part of a sangha and feeling connected. I enjoy the lay social activities, and I like to go to some ceremonies and just take in the atmosphere, bonhomie, what have you. I have many buddhist friends and we talk about "dharma stuff". All of that helps me feel enriched in my life and my appreciation of the way.

What I don't do, right now (and someday I might, who knows) is that I don't seek out those who advertise as "teachers". I am not saying that there are not wonderful people out there, who help others out of a deep calling, a generosity and compassion of the spirit. I know they do good. It's just that I feel all right in going on, myself, without reaching out to anyone else for help/explanation/guidance. Part of it is a lack of trust, after some dealings with OBC monks, but I wouldn't hang this on them entirely.

I feel that my practise is something so personal, so internal, that I have to deal with it within myself and not turn to external figures to frame it, or explain it, in some way that suits them and me.

I'm struggling with how to say this next thing but I will try. I have seen lay people who are very genuine with each other, turn into the most artificial creatures, performing tricks almost, when a monk is in our presence as a "teacher" or authoritative figure. It is part of why I gravitate toward lay groups exclusively right now. It saddens me to see normal, honest people change simply because a monk is present. They show off, try to please, try to curry favour . . . and I just don't understand why. Maybe I'm missing the microchip in my head that would make me see monks as special people who have a leg up on the rest of us. I see them as people who have a chosen a certain path, and this is laudable if it's the right thing for them, but I don't see it as boosting them above or beyond anyone else. But that is how people seem to treat them. A performance of some kind arises, between a "teacher" and a "student", and it just not something I want any part of right now.

I learn the most by watching and listening to others, esp. when I have no interaction with them. Their behaviour shows me what I need to know, and I learn from it. It isn't tainted by anyone's biases, expectations, internal agendas, flawed personality characteristics, mutual misunderstandings . . . the teaching relationship as I knew it is fraught with these things.

I do have more to say about groups-without-teachers helping each other and finding wonderful ways to practise. I think we really can do a lot on our own, without asking for or needing anyone's oversight or evaluation of "how we're doing". Jeepers, that one still sticks in my craw Rolling Eyes

More later on, sorry I can't drop in to the forum more right now. cheers, L
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Thu Mar 03, 2011 12:09 am

[quote="Lise"]hi Bill, and all, this is a topic that interests me very much --
.. It's just that I feel all right in going on, myself, without reaching out to anyone else for help/explanation/guidance. Part of it is a lack of trust, after some dealings with OBC monks, but I wouldn't hang this on them entirely.
I feel that my practise is something so personal, so internal, that I have to deal with it within myself and not turn to external figures to frame it, or explain it, in some way that suits them and me.

I'm struggling with how to say this next thing but I will try. I have seen lay people who are very genuine with each other, turn into the most artificial creatures, performing tricks almost, when a monk is in our presence as a "teacher" or authoritative figure..

I learn the most by watching and listening to others, esp. when I have no interaction with them. ..
***********************
Lise, thanks for this statement. Rather than demonstrating some aberration it demonstrates for me a level of maturity, and a healthy sense of personal boundaries, boundaries that are transgressed too often in spiritual communities in the "teacher/master" relationship. It affirms a healthy personal autonomy in the spiritual life. The spiritual center or heart, is the core of our inner life and our inner life ought to be treated as an inviolable sanctuary, not to be treaded on or intruded upon by anyone. There is a practice in the ancient desert tradition of the Middle East, called Guard of the Heart. It speaks of the insight that desert monastics and hermits had in their meditation that an important dimension of spiritual practice, especially as much of our conditioned armor around the heart is dissolved into a greater sensitivity, to be a vigilant guardian of the inner life, to keep it secret, sacred and covered from casual view. We therefore assume a posture akin to the guardian deities, temple dogs, or gargoyles that we see in both East and West, of keeping out unsafe and unwelcome influences, especially those who might wish to claim spiritual authority over us and our inner life. It is my belief that great harm can come, and is visible in some of the stories here, when that interior autonomy and sanctuary is surrendered to something alien and unwelcome.

Blessings,
Bill
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Thu Mar 03, 2011 12:17 am

Hello Lise, Bill, Howard, and all,

I feel a little out of place joining this conversation as one who is a priest and teacher. This is obviously a conversation that I rather foul up by joining, so I'll make a couple observations and let this thread move on the way it should.

I was struck by Lise's description of people performing for the monks. A good teacher will not reward this at all. That is probably the first thing any teacher needs to understand, and one of the first things that should be communicated to a student. RMJ really did teach me that when I was first with her. Harada Roshi has absolutely no time for it.

My second comment is that we are developing a program that has elements of what is being described here, but also some more structure. We're calling it the Dao Ren program, or path. "Dao Ren" is an old Chinese term for committed lay practitioners. It means "people of the way." It is lay led and relies on horizontal accountability. They get together each term and decide on a set of vows for practice they will share. These are pretty simple, but connects them. Then they make individual, personal vows to add to the group vows. There are lay leaders that help direct the group somewhat, but it is primarily consensus driven, within a basic structure. That structure was developed by lay leaders. There are projects they do together as part of the service component, and there are retreats and other events they do together. Otherwise they particpate in the sangha like anyone else. Participation in the program is renewable each term. There are no long term vows or commitments.

This is group is rather small within our sangha, but growing. I think the idea of horizontal accountability has tremendous potential. I also like it because I don't have to lead it!

I will now shut up.

With palms joined,

Kyogen
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Thu Mar 03, 2011 12:33 am

Lise wrote:
I have seen lay people who are very genuine with each other, turn into the most artificial creatures, performing tricks almost, when a monk is in our presence as a "teacher" or authoritative figure. It is part of why I gravitate toward lay groups exclusively right now. It saddens me to see normal, honest people change simply because a monk is present. They show off, try to please, try to curry favour . . . and I just don't understand why.

I believe it is caused by a self conscious reaction to perceived celebrity. Many people simply don't know how to be normal around others who have some notoriety.
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Thu Mar 03, 2011 1:05 am

[quote="Kyogen"]
My second comment is that we are developing a program that has elements of what is being described here, but also some more structure. We're calling it the Dao Ren program, or path. "Dao Ren" is an old Chinese term for committed lay practitioners. It means "people of the way." It is lay led and relies on horizontal accountability.
************************************

Thanks for mentioning this, Kyogen. Seems like a healthy development. I was involved in some of the discussions of this through the Salem group when the idea was first introduced.
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:27 am

Kyogen
I feel a little out of place joining this conversation as one who is a priest and teacher. This is obviously a conversation that I rather foul up by joining, so I'll make a couple observations and let this thread move on the way it should.

For this thread only, I offer Kyogen Carlson the full title of honorary lay person to present what ever observations he may wish unencumbered by his priestly & teacher duties.
Do I hear any seconds?

All joking aside, your presentations of training with ones foibles as a teacher are pretty inspiring.

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:16 am

Yes, I second the motion Kyogen, I hope you will comment as much as you like, and James too, it's good to have everyone's thoughts. And James, thank you for the blog link, I've been prowling your site quite a bit.

I guess the teachers among us here already know they might not be, ahem, treated as teachers usually are, so if that doesn't chase anybody off, we're good. I don't feel conflicted when I think of respecting teachers, yet wanting them at a distance. I'm sure it can be a good connection, and I don't want it for myself.

Bill, thanks for distilling the essence, for me: ". . . to be a vigilant guardian of the inner life, to keep it secret, sacred and covered from casual view."
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Thu Mar 03, 2011 1:46 pm

Lise, in regard to the "missing microchip" and your observation about people turning into some strange artificial creatures when a monk is present, I have observed that very same phenomenon many times, and I actually think most monks see through that, see it for what it is, and are probably a bit sickened by it themselves when it goes overboard. This is not to say that respect should not be given where respect is due, yet when adoration and adulation sets in and you may even begin to observe falling prey to it yourself at times, then it is high time to head for the exit and preserve some self respect.
Also Bills reply to you quoting a bit from the "Desert Fathers" is very beautiful, thank you.
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Thu Mar 03, 2011 3:53 pm

Thanks for the honorary lay designation, Howard. I am deeply honored! Now that I think about it, it's less of an issue here than in a temple, for example, as most of us are of equal status as "ex-OBC." In my work at DRZC, however, I've learned the great value of staying out of things. Giving new teachers and committee heads the room to make their own mistakes, and to learn from them, and letting the Dao Ren program be free of ordained input is very important. One ordained person here is interested in and attends some Dao Ren events, but only as a guest.

I would add that with regard to the discussion of lay groups on this forum, I really have much less to offer. I don't have the same experience, so y'all go at it. At the same time, if there is something I could add, I would feel welcome to do so. Thanks.

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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:43 pm

I guess I might have something here....

I started studying Vipassana and working with Noah Levine soon after deciding to break from the Abbey. Studying the Theravadan way was a huge breath (literally) of fresh air for me. I was super excited about everything I was learning. There was part of me that wanted to share it with my friends at the Abbey.

Noah got the blessing from Jack Kornfield to train two types of teachers: the first group were to be Dharma teachers and the second group, the one I was in, was trained to be "meditation instruction and group facilitators." I spent a year with Noah and an awesome group of young-ish people who I still keep in contact with. Many of them have "Dharma Punx" groups all over the country and in Canada. It was an awesome experience and I'll never forget it.

So, armed with my new training and Noah's slogans ("Meditate and Destroy!"), I started my own group. I have a lot to say about this, but I'll keep it short. First off, my group was my absolute favorite meditation group I have ever been to!, and being a "teacher/leader" was one of the most challenging and difficult things I have ever done. I was a reluctant leader. I formed a group that I wanted to be in and part of me wished I didn't have to do all the work! I learned more about the Dharma teaching it than I ever learned "just sitting" or going to the Abbey. I had to prove the teachings true for myself and honestly, there were some things that I had such a difficult time with. But all-in-all it was an awesome group and I would probably go to a group like it if I could find one.

Peer-led groups are awesome! The level of honesty in my group blew me away. For me, I had to look at things from a completly different level. I loved having the floor open to anyone and we all got to say anything we were having a hard time with or anything that was going on. There was no judgement. Just writing this makes me miss it terribly.

I guess the key thing is, if you can find a group that you can be completly yourself and bring your "self" to the table and be truthful/honest, etc..., then you have found a true gem. That is when the Sangha is a sacred thing. One thing I loved about Noah was he did show his "human-ness" very well! I always appreciated that. Sometimes he would say a jerky thing, but later on he would correct himself and use that as a teaching. Having that one thing taught to me helped me to see that one can practice or teach the Dharma no matter what they have on their plate AS LONG AS they can keep their "self" in check and call out their own ****. I related to Noah the best because I guess I am a rebel at heart.

One thing missing in (IMHO) Buddhism in America is a "realness" or an honest and open and curious dialogue. I think peer groups are a better venue for really hashing out the Dharma. We all have our **** and I think the most important thing is to realize that this really is not a problem. It is a problem in some groups though, as we all have learned here on the forum! If we were not perfect little Buddhist's, we were ostrasized, punished, humiliated, thrown out of the Zendo, shunned, or dissmissed. I can't practice in that way ever again. I can't conform, it's not in my nature. I have to deal with what I have on my plate, right here, right now.

Okay, that's enough:-)
Peace,
Diana
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Thu Mar 03, 2011 11:51 pm

@ Diana
Thanks for sharing your experience with the Vipassana network of groups, and your own service and leadership in that process as a model of spiritual community. With regard to discussion and honesty, how do you facilitate the sharing in the group so that it doesn't degenerate into a clashing of opinions rather than an honest and safe sharing of experience. AA groups and some other spiritual groups have had a structure of no cross-talk, or having something like the native "talking stick" approach.

Also, do you have a dimension of ethical or precepts study and training in your groups?

I have admired from afar how the Vipassana movement has shed the oppressive cultural baggage (sexism, authoritarianism, etc.) from Theravada and transformed it into an egalitarian, peer led experience. And women seem to have emerged into valued teaching roles. How has the Vipassana movement escaped the abuses that have been documented here that frequently result from inequalities of power and inappropriate assertions of authority over others, or has it?
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:36 am

Hi Bill,
To start, the group model that I learned had a basic set of rules such as "no cross-talk" and respect for others. We also had a standard format for the group: we'd start off with a guided meditation, then a "topic" to teach and discuss, and end with a check-in/check-out where we could talk about anything coming up. One thing though, we did not have a strict code of things like dress or dialogue (swearing) and we all tried to just frame things as our experience (we could say anything as long as we framed it as "this is what is going on with me"). Letting people "own" their own feelings and opinions took the ego out of it- it let people express themselves and not repress anything while at the same time it allowed people to really explore things. We didn't use a talking stick, but we did try and let people have time to say what they needed to say. Our topics of discussion and the type of guided meditation was all decided by the group. We all decided to do "breath meditation" followed by a teaching and discussion of the Four Noble Truths and we would go with that for while until it was decided to move onto something else. We also would pick a book to study from, but this was generally very fluid as we would all tend to study what was going on with us personally. It was a Dharma dance in a sense in that the group reflected our lives.

The preceptual part was not focused upon as it wasn't really a "problem" for anyone. We all knew the precepts and we were all adults. The precepts were personal. If anything we focused on the Noble Eightfold Path not the precepts. This always seemed more progressive to me to focus on what to do rather than what not to do. There is something more responsible about looking at what to do that to give some sort of spiritual rules for people to follow. I didn't want to infantilize or come across as authoritarian at all- I gave the group the respect they deserved.

I think maybe the way the Insight Meditation Society (Spirit Rock, etc...) has circumvented any "problems" is that they have honestly looked at all the trappings of Buddhism and have been heavily influenced by psychology and the study of human behavior. We all know that it doesn't do any good to repress our human nature and it doesn't do any good to teach coming from a place of severe delusion. I'm not saying that the Theravadan tradition is perfect or doesn't have it's own challenges, but I do believe they have an advantage in that they are both realistic and weary of the trappings of spiritual "leaders." Taking the human nature part into practice is ideal and essential for living as a Buddhist in America. As far as I can tell, they also have the largest poor of "young" teachers and practitioners which says something.

I still have problems with some of the weird things that happen in religious groups- for example I was really miffed when I heard that Jack Kornfield was throwing $5,000 a plate dinner parties, but I do understand fundraising and know how important it is. I know that organizations have to find funding, and I also understand all that is involved with that. I know it must be hard for teachers because they do need money and they need support. I went through this too. For me, I would rather work and pay for the expenses myself than ask for money- I don't know how teachers do what they do without it getting "weird." And the difficult part of this for me was I didn't want to come across as "not having it together" as a teacher and so I kept a lot of my stress to myself. This was hard because I again felt like I was separating myself from the Sangha. Teachers have a different role, but navigating that is really hard. I get the same feeling when friends ask me for advice knowing that I am a psychologist in training; it puts me in a bad spot because I can't really go there- I can't be a friend and a psychologist to a friend.

Hope this helped.

Peace,
Diana
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cmpnwtr

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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Fri Mar 04, 2011 1:04 am

Thank you, Diana. Very helpful responses to my questions. I have led meditation groups of various stripes over the years and across traditions, Buddhist, Christian, No-affiliation, and the issues and dynamics you describe are pretty much part of the territory and the landscape of every spiritual practice group. Seems like what you are doing is working out well for the participants from your description and the methods of structuring the group are appropriate and helpful to the goals of the spiritual practice.
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cmpnwtr

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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Fri Mar 04, 2011 1:08 am

@ Diana

Another question...
I'm interested in what younger people are drawn to spiritually at this point, as many are reportedly rejecting the institutional models presented to them in our culture. Are there many young people in the Vipassana groups? I would like to think there is great potential among younger people with a meditation based spiritual practice.

Blessings,
Bill
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Sun Mar 06, 2011 1:24 am

Still waiting to hear back from Diana, but in the interim since the topic has come up of 12 Step groups as a model of spiritual community/practice, I wanted to pass along a marvelous book I am reading The Twelve Steps of Compassionate Living by Karen Armstrong. Connected to it is an international effort to unite humankind around a universal ethos of Compassion. It's called the Charter for Compassion, and was formulated of spiritual leaders across the globe.

Here's the website: http://charterforcompassion.org/site/#

And here is the simple, straightforward charter:

Charter for Compassion

The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all
religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat
all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to
work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to
dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there,
and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being,
treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and
respect.
It is also necessary in both public and private life
to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act
or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to
impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite
hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common
humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and
that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of
religion.
We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to
restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to
the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds
violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are
given accurate and respectful information about other traditions,
religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of
cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with
the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.
We urgently need to make compassion a clear,
luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a
principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break
down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of
our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships
and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and
indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global
community.
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deweyboy



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Age : 68
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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Wed May 11, 2011 12:23 am

Hello Nicky, and Olly, good to see you again. My name is John, BTW, DeweyBoy was my cat(a really good one). Ive said this before somewhere else in here but I think it bears telling again. I was raised as an American Irish Catholic. I was the first son and groomed to be a priest from birth. Most of my aunts and uncles were nus and priests.
Holidays at our house looked like the Vatican and we were the only ones in our school who knew that nuns actually went to the bathroom!!!! I entered the Jesuits at 17 and stayed for 2 years. I rose immediately to be Head Novice and I'm sure I would have been sent to Rome for my education. After a while, none of it made any sense and I left for many different reasons, not the least of which was my 19 yearold libido that I wanted to take for a trial run. It was very very very difficult to leave and I deeply grieved for the loss of it. Just like many of you and I can hear what Nicky is saying.
I am going on 63, have a wonderful Career as a Registered Nurse, I am highly compensated. Am legally married to my husband of 35 years, have a beautiful house
in San Francisco and a cabin and land in the Mountains north of here, I want for nothing, but still have a felling of sadness at the loss of a dream. To compound this, I got fired up about Kennett back in the 80's and then woke up and grieve for that loss.
Now I have found Korean Buddhism that offers me the chance to be a House Holder Priest in 3 years
and am very hesitant because of my past experiences. To sum up, as John Kennedy said, "Life is messy."
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Machik



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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Fri May 27, 2011 1:09 pm

I just wanted to share that I have a lot of interest in the transmission of the buddhist teaching to the west. I am interested in how these teachings can be made accessible to Westerners by books explaining the teachings free of cultural assumptions and poor translation. If anyone is interested in this topic, perhaps we could start a new thread.

There are a lot of really intelligent, compassionate writers on this forum. I have found many of the posts very thought-provoking. I think that part of the problem may lie around the fact that many of us haven't found or connected to accessible teachings ( teachings that make sense to Westerners) due to inadequate translations of texts, not finding or connecting with accessible teachers, and not having a basic grounding in the fundamentals. Therefore, these problems of not being able to distinguish between false and genuine teachers, teachings, communities arise.

I have been doing my best to practice for over thirty-five years now. Recently I completed a series of teachings by Bruce Newman which have transformed my understanding. I'd like to recommend his excellent book: A Beginner's Guide to Tibetan Buddhism to those interested in pursuing their understanding of the Tibetan approach to the Buddha's teachings. It is a really thorough roadmap of the path based on Bruce's extensive practice for over thirty years in India and Nepal and as a teacher here in the U.S.

Machik
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bellclaire



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PostSubject: Re: Have you tried a different practice since leaving the OBC?   Fri May 27, 2011 2:53 pm

The only practice I've tried is attending Roman Catholic Mass with my 18 yr. old daughter.
A little background here is necessary to understanding where I'm coming from. We didn't raise our 2 children in any religion although they both had Buddhist naming ceremonies when they were infants and from time to time I'd haul the 2 of them to Buddhist pot luck dinners.
Sometimes I would visit for tea during the week and I'd again bring along one or both my children. They have memories of seeing our Buddhist alter, talking to the Priest a little, the pot luck dinners and a couple dinners out at Vegetarian restaurants with our Priory & Priest.
My daughter read a small book about the Buddha`s life which was done in comic book style.
Their father doesn`t identify with any religion. We`ve not pressured our children either way, towards or away from religion.

When our daughter was 12 yrs. old she asked me if she could become Catholic. I told her she could become whatever she likes when she`s 19, legally an adult. I took her a few times to a local Unitarian Church since I thought they were the most tolerant church. After a few visits there, my daughter said she didn`t want to go back. Then she asked me again if she could become Catholic and attend a Catholic High School in our area. I gave her the same answer as before. She cried for 3 days, didn`t go to school and begged me to allow her to become Catholic. I told her she`d have to take Catachism for a yr. if she wanted to do this; we enrolled her for Junior High in a Catholic School. She was over-joyed and she began private classes with a Catholic Nun at our local Parish.

She went regularly to these classes for a yr. I met and talked with the Catholic Nun a few times; I felt trusting of her. My daughter did a big project on a Saint. After completing this, she became Catholic at Easter and both my husband and I attended her first Communion. Over the past 6 yrs. I have accompanied my daughter to Mass numerous times. Every time I went, I enjoyed the service. I find it peaceful with a sense of holiness in the church building. I enjoy Mass and go up to be blessed since I`m not Catholic so I can`t take Communion there.

I don`t agree with many of the Churches political stands for eg. when it comes to Gays, Women, reproduction, and politics in general. Funny thing is my daughter agrees with me on these matters. She no longer goes to a Catholic High School. She belongs to the Gay, Straight Alliance club at her high school. She still considers herself Catholic despite her disagreements with many of her Church`s stands.

I don`t attend Mass very often now. I go if it feels right to go. That`s it for now Folks!
Claire bowing
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