Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western Zen

Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby shel » Wed Feb 20, 2013 5:24 am

Dan74 wrote:A number of us tried to show that there is a great deal in Pali Buddhism, in Mahayana Buddhism and in Chan and Zen that speaks of doing no harm and of reigning in desires. It begs a very reasonable question of whether an individual who is exposed as a manipulative lecher and a liar can in fact be an enlightened Zen master. Just how far can the doctrine of skillful means be taken? Just how far can we trust someone with credentials?


Of course the laughable part of the situation is that only a Zen master is authorized to approve or disapprove a Zen master. :rolleye:
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Simon E. » Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:57 am

In the UK there is a body called the British Medical Council, this is the body that holds the register of those who are legally able to operate as medical doctors.
From time to time people on that register are found to be sexual predators. In one case they were found to be a mass murderer.
However that does not undermine the legitimate nature of the B.M.C. Or reflect on its essential role.
Despite the fact that it is doctors exclusively who regulate and recognise doctors.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby dzogchungpa » Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:16 pm

Another fine example of Christianized thinking from Zen master Kyogen Carlson, http://sweepingzen.com/sex-in-a-sacred-space/comment-page-1/#comment-9928:
A principle that needs to be make [sic] completely clear is that a priest, teacher, or therapist is responsible for the space they are working in. They need to hold the boundaries for the protection of the student and the tradition. If a student comes on to a teacher, it’s the teacher’s reasonability [sic] to kindly hold the boundary and let the student know that is not the purpose of the relationship.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Yudron » Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:50 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:Another fine example of Christianized thinking from Zen master Kyogen Carlson, http://sweepingzen.com/sex-in-a-sacred-space/comment-page-1/#comment-9928:
A principle that needs to be make [sic] completely clear is that a priest, teacher, or therapist is responsible for the space they are working in. They need to hold the boundaries for the protection of the student and the tradition. If a student comes on to a teacher, it’s the teacher’s reasonability [sic] to kindly hold the boundary and let the student know that is not the purpose of the relationship.


There are all kinds of value-laden words in that article like "violate" and "take advantage of" in that article about sexual contact between teachers and student that I have to say do sound like they came from Christianity.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby dzogchungpa » Thu Feb 21, 2013 12:02 am

Yudron wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote:Another fine example of Christianized thinking from Zen master Kyogen Carlson, http://sweepingzen.com/sex-in-a-sacred-space/comment-page-1/#comment-9928:
A principle that needs to be make [sic] completely clear is that a priest, teacher, or therapist is responsible for the space they are working in. They need to hold the boundaries for the protection of the student and the tradition. If a student comes on to a teacher, it’s the teacher’s reasonability [sic] to kindly hold the boundary and let the student know that is not the purpose of the relationship.


There are all kinds of value-laden words in that article like "violate" and "take advantage of" in that article about sexual contact between teachers and student that I have to say do sound like they came from Christianity.

I agree. Going back to the OP though, Kyogen is a master from Sara H's lineage so I think it's appropriate to point out that she may not be representing her own school that well.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Sara H » Thu Feb 21, 2013 8:18 am

dzogchungpa wrote:I agree. Going back to the OP though, Kyogen is a master from Sara H's lineage so I think it's appropriate to point out that she may not be representing her own school that well.


Kyogen is not a member of "my own school". Nor does he represent it.

Kyogen left Shasta Abbey by way of stealing the Portland Buddhist Priory.

He and his wife disagreed with the decision that was made to become full monastics.

They wanted to stay more of the Japanese route and do Lay Priest training.

This was after they had already been transmitted, so you could say they had the right to make that decision for themselves, however they way they left was highly unethical.

They had been the resident priests of the Portland Priory for little more than about 2 years if my memory serves me correctly.

When they left, they arbitrarily decided that they were going to take the Portland Priory with them.

Obviosly, this caused quite a stir, and there were some in the Shasta congregation who felt like they (Shasta) should sue.

But Rev. Master Jiyu was like "no, just let it go."

But nevertheless, the way they left was quite unethical.

They certainly had the right to make a personal decision to leave, and build their own congregation up from scratch.

But they didn't have the right to do it the way they did.

There are certain legal boundaries they crossed.

Imagine if a priest wanted to leave a Christain church because he disagreed with a policy. Ok, that's fine, there's nothing wrong with that.
But he can't legally take the church he was in with him.

It became more complicated due to ownership issues over the space they were using, etc.

And as I said, some people at Shasta felt the best course was to file charges.

Jiyu-Kennet I think just felt like the best thing was to let them go in peace.

But they did this of course, while she was still alive, and she lived for many more years.

While they are transmitted, yes, in a real way they stopped listening to her as a teacher.

There were other Priests who were also in their position, and who either went the monastic route with the OBC, or became Lay Ministers.

The Carlson's couldn't give up the position. They wanted both, and so in their group, they have followed the Japanese route. That's their choice.

But while they are transmitted, they did their own thing.

They even consider Koho Zenji to be the founder of their temple.

But Koho Zenji, was RM Jiyu Kennett's teacher, he was installed as the founder in the traditional way when it was still the Portland Priory.

It isnt anymore, the Portland Priory is in a different location now, what they have is a different temple in a sense, one that they founded.

It was a big mess. And a pretty big shock and slap in the face to their Teacher.

I have a lot of empathy for them, I know what it's like to find one's natural mate. When somebody finds that person you come together like glue, like magnets that cannot be kept apart.

But I don't agree with the way the Carlson's handled things.

It was unethical, and breaking a Precept. They stole. Big time. In a big way. They didn't have to do that.

And they havn't been entirely honest about that to say the least.

And I don't agree with that.

I do have compassion for them, and I also can't support that kindof behavior.

Every time they bow in front of that shrine, they know in their hearts it's something they stole.

It's just not Right Action.

And they are going to have to live with the consequences of that.

I offer them merit.

In Gassho,

Sara H.
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Dan74 » Thu Feb 21, 2013 10:10 am

Sara H wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote:I agree. Going back to the OP though, Kyogen is a master from Sara H's lineage so I think it's appropriate to point out that she may not be representing her own school that well.


Kyogen is not a member of "my own school". Nor does he represent it.

Kyogen left Shasta Abbey by way of stealing the Portland Buddhist Priory.

He and his wife disagreed with the decision that was made to become full monastics.

They wanted to stay more of the Japanese route and do Lay Priest training.

This was after they had already been transmitted, so you could say they had the right to make that decision for themselves, however they way they left was highly unethical.

They had been the resident priests of the Portland Priory for little more than about 2 years if my memory serves me correctly.

When they left, they arbitrarily decided that they were going to take the Portland Priory with them.

Obviosly, this caused quite a stir, and there were some in the Shasta congregation who felt like they (Shasta) should sue.

But Rev. Master Jiyu was like "no, just let it go."

But nevertheless, the way they left was quite unethical.

They certainly had the right to make a personal decision to leave, and build their own congregation up from scratch.

But they didn't have the right to do it the way they did.

There are certain legal boundaries they crossed.

Imagine if a priest wanted to leave a Christain church because he disagreed with a policy. Ok, that's fine, there's nothing wrong with that.
But he can't legally take the church he was in with him.

It became more complicated due to ownership issues over the space they were using, etc.

And as I said, some people at Shasta felt the best course was to file charges.

Jiyu-Kennet I think just felt like the best thing was to let them go in peace.

But they did this of course, while she was still alive, and she lived for many more years.

While they are transmitted, yes, in a real way they stopped listening to her as a teacher.

There were other Priests who were also in their position, and who either went the monastic route with the OBC, or became Lay Ministers.

The Carlson's couldn't give up the position. They wanted both, and so in their group, they have followed the Japanese route. That's their choice.

But while they are transmitted, they did their own thing.

They even consider Koho Zenji to be the founder of their temple.

But Koho Zenji, was RM Jiyu Kennett's teacher, he was installed as the founder in the traditional way when it was still the Portland Priory.

It isnt anymore, the Portland Priory is in a different location now, what they have is a different temple in a sense, one that they founded.

It was a big mess. And a pretty big shock and slap in the face to their Teacher.

I have a lot of empathy for them, I know what it's like to find one's natural mate. When somebody finds that person you come together like glue, like magnets that cannot be kept apart.

But I don't agree with the way the Carlson's handled things.

It was unethical, and breaking a Precept. They stole. Big time. In a big way. They didn't have to do that.

And they havn't been entirely honest about that to say the least.

And I don't agree with that.

I do have compassion for them, and I also can't support that kindof behavior.

Every time they bow in front of that shrine, they know in their hearts it's something they stole.

It's just not Right Action.

And they are going to have to live with the consequences of that.

I offer them merit.

In Gassho,

Sara H.


Have you heard their side of the story, Sara?
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby so-on mann » Thu Feb 21, 2013 11:00 am

So much has been left out of this story...

Kyogen and Gyokuko, who had both been in at Shasta for many many years, were allowed to marry- soon after, they were sent together by Roshi Kennett to run the Priory in Portland after Chishun Burckhardt (who was abbot in portland at the time) was forced by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to go back to Switzerland.

Later, Roshi began to lean more toward the teachings of her ordination master's Malaysian tradition of celibacy, and told Kyogen and Gyokuko that they would be separated, and sent to separate centers. Rather than essentially dissolve their marriage, they chose to break from Shasta, and start their own center. They asked those who had been participating with them for the past four years if they wanted to stay... some chose to stay, some did not.

Today Dharma Rain Zen center is a highly respected temple with a vibrant sangha and active kindergarten and prison program.

Let's let Kyogen tell the story:

(http://sweepingzen.com/kyogen-carlson-interview/)
Then one day, out of the blue, we heard that Roshi wanted to make the OBC a fully celibate order in order to conform to the Chinese Buddhist Association of Malaysia. She was ordained in Malaysia and then went to Japan where she entered the Sotoshu. Why she wanted to do this was never entirely clear to me. I know she wanted to solidify some kind of relationship there, but from what I could understand, they did not care about anything that went on over here. It seemed to me that part of the motivation was to establish firmer and more rigid control of the OBC, and I have my theories as to why that happened. There had been discord at Shasta Abbey that we were not aware of until much later. An iron fist was coming down, and I think this could have been part of that strategy. In any case we were told that one option for us would be to take our robes off and no longer be priests, but stay at the Portland temple as lay ministers. With the Abbey taking control of the temple, it would mean that they could send someone else to take it over and we would be out. Our other option was to “disband” our marriage, as they called it. We would not have to divorce, but we would have to separate. For one of us to remain in the Portland temple, the other would have to return to the monastery. This struck us as totalitarian control of the temple and of our personal lives. My feeling at the time, and I still see it this way, is that we had never agreed to any such authority over us as disciples. We were ordained under a very different set of rules, we were transmitted under those rules, and we were running the temple under those rules.

While I did not understand why she thought all this was necessary, I said, in effect, “Okay, I can support the OBC being a celibate order but, you know, there should be some way to grandfather us in.” There are married priests in the Catholic Church for crying out loud. Anglican priests, when they convert to Catholicism, are not required to divorce, so we thought they would be at least as tolerant as that. But they wouldn’t accept that, so then I said, in effect, “Okay, we will resign from the order but remain connected to you to allow the OBC to adhere to the standards of the Chinese Buddhist Association of Malaysia.” Things calmed down for a bit, but in the end this was not acceptable, so we were basically expelled. After that some of our students were told that they had to make a choice. If they were to continue attending events at Shasta they would have to break their relationship with us, and if they continued coming here they would not be allowed to go there.

SZ: I am sure that caused a schism.

KC: Well, yes. As it became clear how far this was going I thought we might have to leave the temple here and start over again. But most of the members had supported us. But as the pressure built up it became clear that a split between us and the Abbey was inevitable. At that point a split within the Portland sangha opened up. I would say that well over half the members stayed with us, but a number did leave. There is another temple here in town now affiliated with Abbey because of that split.

SZ: Well, because by that time, I mean, you had been their teacher for how long?

KC: About four years.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Simon E. » Thu Feb 21, 2013 1:03 pm

Thats interesting.
So what I take from that is that far from being an imposition of " Christianized thinking " what was occurring within the OBC was a movement back to the Vinaya for monastics.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Yudron » Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:46 pm

On the face of it, it's pretty bizarre for the teacher to send a couple to run a center, then decide years later that it is inappropriate for non-celibate people to teach. Also, pretty bizarre for teachers who were sent to run a branch center, then were "fired" by the head of the central organization, to think they can split off and take the center with them.

Sounds like there is a huge back story to this. Its all pretty unseemly.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Jikan » Thu Feb 21, 2013 4:02 pm

Yudron wrote:On the face of it, it's pretty bizarre for the teacher to send a couple to run a center, then decide years later that it is inappropriate for non-celibate people to teach. Also, pretty bizarre for teachers who were sent to run a branch center, then were "fired" by the head of the central organization, to think they can split off and take the center with them.

Sounds like there is a huge back story to this. Its all pretty unseemly.


There is a huge backstory to this. Kyogen Carlsen, who leads Dharma Rain Zen Center with his wife Gyokuko, is someone I've met and have had very positive interactions with since about 1998. I'm inclined to trust his testimony on this based on what I've seen and heard from trustworthy sources. (the OBC Connect website is worth exploring in this regard as well... I'd rather not rehearse what's already been discussed at length in public fora). My cousin is also a member at Dharma Rain presently, and I do not hesitate send friends there to practice.

Kyogen also has relations with other Soto Zen teachers in support of his center and students; he credits one Japanese master (I've forgotten his name now unfortunately) for taking off a few of his "rough edges" and rounding out his understanding. Dharma Rain is institutionally independent but still very much in the mainstream of Soto Zen.

here's a relevant link (at least a place to start):

http://obcconnect.forumotion.net/t34-introducing-myself
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Simon E. » Thu Feb 21, 2013 4:54 pm

Well as an interested neutral I am reaching my own conclusions about whose testimony to trust in all this.
I see calmness and fairness pitted against semi-hysterical ranting.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Jikan » Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:16 pm

I should add that Sara is correct in stating here and elsewhere that one should not consider only one side of any story as authoritative, Kyogen's or anyone else's.

putting on my moderator's hat: If anyone would like to discuss the specifics around Dharma Rain and its relationship to the OBC, please do so in a separate thread. Thank you.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby uan » Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:51 pm

Sara H wrote:

But Rev. Master Jiyu was like "no, just let it go."

But nevertheless, the way they left was quite unethical.





From the topic of this post, one would think Christianized thinking is related only to sex. However, our entire legal system is infused with Christian thinking, in fact, the fabric of our conceptual thoughts in the West, no matter how much Buddhism/Zen we do, is full of Christianized thinking. It goes very very deep - hence how hard it is to break the bonds.

So when it comes to sex, we should follow the Zen masters and "just let it go", but when it comes to these matters, and when Rev. Master Jiyu says "let it go" (and I'm assuming he's a Zen master), we shouldn't just let it go?

When someone reacts against a dominant viewpoint in a paradigm, it doesn't mean that someone is outside of that paradigm or uninfluenced by it, it shows how much we are still trapped within that paradigm.

From a Zen pov, and many other Buddhist traditions, the real question is "so what? let it go". Ultimately it's not important. The importance being attached to what happened with these people leaving and stealing a priory and a congregation too (how do people steal other people?), and the possible remedies, are very "Christianized," or at the minimum, heavily influenced by conceptual thought that something meaningful actually occurred.

I'd bow to the wisdom of Master Jiyu and any issues I had I would use for further contemplation of where I am on the path and how much further I need to go.

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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Simon E. » Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:59 pm

Define " Christianized " please.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Jikan » Thu Feb 21, 2013 8:32 pm

Ultimately, nothing ever happens or has happened. But in the provisional world of samsara, meaning is made. Events are meaningful. The meaning of events, of situations, is what makes teaching and learning happen, for instance. Upaya is situational.

What is the meaning of Buddha holding up a flower? What is the meaning of the Patriarch's coming from the West?

I'd say that the origins and divisions of sanghas is very meaningful indeed for those involved, and further, that such meaning matters when it comes to practice.

I keep recommending Peter Hershock's book Liberating Intimacy. It makes a strong case for Buddhist conduct, particularly in a Ch'an/Zen milieu, as the basis for practice--and conduct as the practice of making certain kinds of meaning in shared environments. I just reread it recently and I remain impressed by it.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby uan » Thu Feb 21, 2013 8:36 pm

Simon E. wrote:Define " Christianized " please.


I'll pass on trying to, it's not my thing or concern. You can read through the topic though, it's only 11 pages :rolling: (but it's been defined in an overly broad and somewhat shallow way, in the same way the term "Western" is tossed around on Buddhist forums.)

I guess my observation is somewhat ironic, in that we don't really get to pick and choose (well we can and do) where and when we want to apply admonitions or conceptual thought, especially along the lines of "chill out it's only sex" then basically not chill out when it comes to the other dramas in our lives. Why filter sex (the topic of this thread) through "Zen eyes", but not this other stuff?

If "Christian" thought influences our attitude towards sex, it certainly influences our attitudes to a whole lot of things. And if we shouldn't let our hang ups about sex brought to us by Christian morality color our views on some things, why allow our hang ups about legality, etc. color our views on other things?

Clearly Master Jiyu is unbothered.

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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby shel » Thu Feb 21, 2013 8:48 pm

Jikan wrote:Ultimately, nothing ever happens or has happened. But in the provisional world of samsara, meaning is made. Events are meaningful. The meaning of events, of situations, is what makes teaching and learning happen, for instance. Upaya is situational.
Rather, meaning can be derived from situations or events, to suite specific purposes.

What is the meaning of Buddha holding up a flower? What is the meaning of the Patriarch's coming from the West?

I'd say that the origins and divisions of sanghas is very meaningful indeed for those involved, and further, that such meaning matters when it comes to practice.

I keep recommending Peter Hershock's book Liberating Intimacy. It makes a strong case for Buddhist conduct, particularly in a Ch'an/Zen milieu, as the basis for practice.


So do you see a Zen master's habitual drinking or illicit sex as exhibitions of expedient means or as bad conduct?
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby shel » Thu Feb 21, 2013 9:03 pm

uan wrote:And if we shouldn't let our hang ups about sex brought to us by Christian morality color our views on some things...


It doesn't sound particularly Buddhist to indulge any kind of desire, actually. Sex is only one desire among many.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Simon E. » Thu Feb 21, 2013 9:04 pm

uan wrote:
Simon E. wrote:Define " Christianized " please.


I'll pass on trying to, it's not my thing or concern. You can read through the topic though, it's only 11 pages :rolling: (but it's been defined in an overly broad and somewhat shallow way, in the same way the term "Western" is tossed around on Buddhist forums.)

I guess my observation is somewhat ironic, in that we don't really get to pick and choose (well we can and do) where and when we want to apply admonitions or conceptual thought, especially along the lines of "chill out it's only sex" then basically not chill out when it comes to the other dramas in our lives. Why filter sex (the topic of this thread) through "Zen eyes", but not this other stuff?

If "Christian" thought influences our attitude towards sex, it certainly influences our attitudes to a whole lot of things. And if we shouldn't let our hang ups about sex brought to us by Christian morality color our views on some things, why allow our hang ups about legality, etc. color our views on other things?

Clearly Master Jiyu is unbothered.

Maitri

I think we need caution in deciding what Jiyu Kennet was or was not bothered by. She ( for example ) deliberately introduced many elements of Christian monasticism into the structure and rituals of the Sangha she founded.
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