OBC Connect
Would you like to react to this message? Create an account in a few clicks or log in to continue.
OBC Connect

A site for those with an interest in the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives, past or present, and related subjects.
 
HomeHome  GalleryGallery  SearchSearch  RegisterRegister  Log in  

 

 Pensive, but feeling like I want to post.

Go down 
3 posters
AuthorMessage
Dhammadad



Posts : 6
Join date : 2021-01-27

Pensive, but feeling like I want to post.  Empty
PostSubject: Pensive, but feeling like I want to post.    Pensive, but feeling like I want to post.  EmptyMon May 10, 2021 1:13 am

Hi, I have limited experience with the OBC and none of Shasta Abbey. I did however stay over on a self led retreat for a week in an OBC centre here in the UK and I have to say, it was a most unpleasant experience. As there was only myself and the resident teacher present I didn't have anyone to bounce my experiences off as a litmus test of sorts. Do you think it would be prudent to speak of my experiences as although some years ago now it left me feeling co fused and a little phobic of the OBC? The latter I think a pity as having now read some of the reports in here my aspirations to become more involved with the OBC are definitely taking a back seat. 

What do you think?
Back to top Go down
mstrathern
Admin
mstrathern

Posts : 609
Join date : 2010-11-14
Age : 77
Location : Bedfordshire, UK

Pensive, but feeling like I want to post.  Empty
PostSubject: Re: Pensive, but feeling like I want to post.    Pensive, but feeling like I want to post.  EmptyMon May 10, 2021 3:13 am

Yes, that is exactly what this forum is about. At the very least we can offer a sympathetic ear whilst you get get stuff off your chest and support you whilst you work through it.
Back to top Go down
Dhammadad



Posts : 6
Join date : 2021-01-27

Pensive, but feeling like I want to post.  Empty
PostSubject: Re: Pensive, but feeling like I want to post.    Pensive, but feeling like I want to post.  EmptyMon May 10, 2021 5:57 am

mstrathern wrote:
Yes, that is exactly what this forum is about. At the very least we can offer a sympathetic ear whilst you get get stuff off your chest and support you whilst you work through it.


Having read some of the stories in here mine is really innocuous, to the extent that I hesitated to bother if I am hones

I spent many years (probably about 25) studying different tradition - practicing all the time through these times - but never settling on one specific school. This is likely due to seeing the inherent truths and benefits of all. Having spent years in the Vajrayana I felt a real need to simplify my practice. I spent years immersed in the Theravada before ultimately finding my way to the Soto zen tradition, I was given a cassette (remember those things!!) of Daishin Morgan talking about Death and Dying. It was remarkable, he was alluding to the Tibetan Book of the Dead in his talk. Wow! Zen AND they factor this in.....I have landed! 

Fast forward.......having spent many a retreat in a small hut in the woods in the (Theravada Tradition) I decided t was time to spend some time with a Zen teacher and maybe a retreat in that tradition. I made contact with an OBC centre. I arranged a stay some weeks later for what I hoped was to be an introduction into the forms used by the OBC - I was already familiar with Shikantaza. 

Having arrived and from the onset I noticed a palpable coolness, almost aggressive stance towards me for reasons that were beyond me as I had never met the monastic before. The looks, the constantly being made to feel cumbersome, oaf like and generally feeling like I was in the way was horrible. I remember asking if I might have a glass for some water and being told "I would very much appreciate it if you drunk water from the tap whilst staying here please"! So not allowed to drink the bottled water I had brought??? I offered to help with the washing up......the response was a VERY harsh look accompanied with "...no, and if you could refrain from being in the kitchen for anything other than eating please...". You have to appreciate that these comments were MASSIVLEY over calibrated

Anyway, you get the gist. I won't even go into the painful experiences of being in the main zendo other than the example of when I asked "Which way do I face initially when bowing"? being told sternly to "....just bow please...!" - again, I felt like I had done something really very wrong - I should add I am FAR from a wilting daisy and pretty think skinned as a rule!

It was awful, the subsequent few days were filled with an oppressive atmosphere, stern looks, a tense mood and terse comments dictated that I decided to leave a day early as it was really starting to upset me. I packed my bags, respectfully made my excuses and left. 

I never went back nor corresponded with the centre but started to recall how many of the other people I met there before staying myself were overtly submissive and treated their 'teacher' with kit gloves clearly treading carefully....there was one young man in particular who I recall feeling really sorry for as he looked manifestly scared. 

I should add I remain knowing VERY little about the OBC now having become a little phobic of it all.....I do still enjoy listening to RM Daishin Morgan's talks and feel instinctively that he has always come across as a good man and reliable source of teachings....I hope I am right and hesitate to read a response to that point.

I hope I haven't trodden on any toes or upset anyone with this.....I just felt like I wanted to articulate what my experience was.

Thanks for reading an big bows to you in whatever direction you'd be happy to receive them!

So, there it is.....I mean......what was THAT  all about???
Back to top Go down
mstrathern
Admin
mstrathern

Posts : 609
Join date : 2010-11-14
Age : 77
Location : Bedfordshire, UK

Pensive, but feeling like I want to post.  Empty
PostSubject: Re: Pensive, but feeling like I want to post.    Pensive, but feeling like I want to post.  EmptyMon May 10, 2021 6:44 pm

It is difficult to know exactly what was going on, but this sounds very familiar. Unfortunately we have heard too many similar stories emanating from parts of the OBC over the years But in the end the test has to be were you directly or indirectly, deliberately or undeliberatly being pointed towards the truth. In this case the outcome seems to have been not a pointing towards the truth but confusion and disillusionment, that lingers even now years later. Many of us here were in similar positions and have found that talking about what happened and how we feel about it has helped us dissipate the confusion and get past the difficulties allowing us to more freely get back to the path. So we would love to hear if there is any more you want to get of your chest.

tufsoft likes this post

Back to top Go down
mstrathern
Admin
mstrathern

Posts : 609
Join date : 2010-11-14
Age : 77
Location : Bedfordshire, UK

Pensive, but feeling like I want to post.  Empty
PostSubject: Re: Pensive, but feeling like I want to post.    Pensive, but feeling like I want to post.  EmptyFri May 21, 2021 11:33 am

Dammadad wrote:



So, do you think that experience was reflective of a wider issue somehow? Has it been addressed internally? I'd still like to see the OBC as a possible conduit to learn more about Dogen and Soto Zen but I am hesitant.

In a private message which he gave permission to quote Dhammadad asked the above. I thought the answer might be of wider interest so I’m posting it here.

You ask two questions, first do I think that the problems with the OBC are endemic, secondly have they been addressed. A third question is implied by your hesitancy about the OBC as a conduit for learning.
 
The first question is answered by this forum itself. Yes the  problems are, or at least were, endemic. The same authoritarian behaviour, lack of explantation and transparency, and denial are reported over and over again in various guises throughout the posts here.
 
Have they been addressed? Ostensibly, yes. The 2013 FTI Report on Shasta certainly laid bare much of the problem and was initially, if not welcomed, apparently accepted. Organisational changes were muted and an Interim Board setup. However it was apparent at the time that there was considerable resistance within hierarchy, particularly at Shasta. 
Was there also a cultural change? This of course is less easy to tell but again this forum gives some hope. The lack of recent posts here talking of bad behaviour is somewhat encouraging. On the other hand I also note from reports here that at least some of the victims felt that when the Interim Board was disbanded, the FTI report was shelved. And after that they felt a culture of ‘blame the victim' developed, so maybe not much significant cultural change.
The third, implied, question is in some ways the most interesting. Good training and practice have over the ages been done by those in the most awful institutions from all religious denominations. But these were a lucky few who managed to overcome the obstacles, and often were quite damaged in the process. The unlucky many were just damaged. 
Undertaking serious long term practice is like undergoing extended physical training. Neither should be undertaken lightly and both can bring great benefits but along the way there are likely to be difficult times, setbacks and even serious damage if mishandled, especially for the vulnerable. You would be unwise to undertake a course of heavy weightlifting just after a heart attack! So embark on spiritual practice with care and with your eyes open.  You will be lucky if you escape the spiritual equivalent of sprains or pulled muscles over years of practice. Few will escape what are called in Christian practice periods of aridity. Many will pass through Bunyan's ‘slough of despond’ or  St John of the Cross's ‘dark night of the soul’ and a few will even do themselves lasting damage. Don't get me wrong, for most the journey will be life enhancing. It's just wise not to set out wearing rose-tinted spectacles.
Now we come to my concerns about practice within the OBC. It has been reported by a number of people that many senior monks are suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. The monks within the OBC say that it is a stage on the road to enlightenment. But to me it sounds like the Soto disease decried by Dahui in the 12th century and by others since then. It is called accede in western monasticism where it was described by Cassian and said by Aquinas to be rife in many monasteries.
This leads me to say with great sadness that I could not recommend the OBC, at least for the moment and not until it has overcome the organisational trauma that it suffered, and so often inflicted on others. And  has openly faced up to its past and reformed.
If you are looking for Dogen and Soto Zen teachings there are many fine teachers and organisations perhaps look in the Soto Zen Association and the Lay Zen Teachers Association but as always 'caveat emptor’
Back to top Go down
Dhammadad



Posts : 6
Join date : 2021-01-27

Pensive, but feeling like I want to post.  Empty
PostSubject: Re: Pensive, but feeling like I want to post.    Pensive, but feeling like I want to post.  EmptySat May 22, 2021 1:46 am

Thanks Mark, that's really helpful and I think fair. I wonder though what the connection between Soto practice and CFS is though, what are the mechanics of that link?
Back to top Go down
tufsoft



Posts : 67
Join date : 2011-06-03
Age : 72
Location : ireland

Pensive, but feeling like I want to post.  Empty
PostSubject: mechanics of that link   Pensive, but feeling like I want to post.  EmptySun May 23, 2021 9:47 am

Dhammadad wrote:
what are the mechanics of that link?
There's a thorough discussion of that problem in "The Zen Doctrine of no-mind" by DT Suzuki
Back to top Go down
http://www.tufsoft.com
Sponsored content




Pensive, but feeling like I want to post.  Empty
PostSubject: Re: Pensive, but feeling like I want to post.    Pensive, but feeling like I want to post.  Empty

Back to top Go down
 
Pensive, but feeling like I want to post.
Back to top 
Page 1 of 1

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
OBC Connect :: OBC Connect :: OBC Experiences-
Jump to: