Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western Zen

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

Postby Simon E. » Fri Feb 22, 2013 10:27 am

uan wrote:
Jikan wrote:
uan wrote:So did that whole episode happen 20 years ago or something?


The Dharma Rain split from OBC? 1986-87.


Thanks Jikan. The way it read it sounded very recent with lingering wounds.

There are positives and negatives about online communication. The absence of voice tones and body language means that subtleties are often missed. I suspect ( perhaps wrongly ) that you assumed that Rev Master Jiyu was an old Japanese guy..in fact she was an English woman from a posh background who was the first woman to be recognised as a Soto teacher.
She was loud and very authoritarian in the way that educated Englishwomen of that era often were. She had a strong and slightly scary physical presence.
In her twenties she considered the prospect of being a Christian nun.
Her break with Christianity was in part because at that time Anglicans ( Episcopalians ) could not be ordained into the priesthood. Now of course they can.
I think its worth knowing all of this because of the light it sheds on the debate.

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

Postby Jikan » Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:12 pm

Simon E. wrote: Her break with Christianity was in part because at that time Anglicans ( Episcopalians ) could not be ordained into the priesthood. Now of course they can.
I think its worth knowing all of this because of the light it sheds on the debate.

:namaste:


I think Kennett's views on gender equality are of central importance to understanding the OBC. I think she made an important contribution to Buddhist culture generally in this regard as well, and her teachers as well for empowering her to teach. She taught that spiritual practice generally and meditation in particular are of great help to women as a means of discarding the limitations of conventional gender roles and internalized nonsense that goes with it because in meditation one discovers one's "true self." If you know your nature is Buddha, then you're no longer "just a woman," you have much wider horizons... that's her reasoning, and I think it still has value. It was certainly groundbreaking when she first began teaching.

This can also be seen in the unorthodox practice in the OBC of referring to female and male renunciants as "monks." It's an attempt at gender equality.

Apropos of "Christianized thinking," the above material is summarized from a book entitled (ahem) Zen is Eternal Life. This is an equation: Zen practice is fungible into Protestant discourse. So you get the "Soto Church," liturgies, and so on. From the preface to the third edition:

After seventeen years in America, much of what has been said in various places in this book, concerning Japanese temples and Japanese ways, is no longer relevant for we have found complementary equivalents that preserve the spirit of the teachings of Dogen and Keizan whilst not being bound by their ethnic traditions [...] I believe it was Koho Zenji's fond hope that, when Zen came to America, it would come as a pure bride, uncluttered by attachment to its former ethnic connections.


This is Protestant thinking down to the metaphor of the "pure bride": we are looking for the purest original form of the practice, unencumbered by superstitious folk ways and (implicitly corrupt) ecclesiastical hierarchies. Eisai and Dogen are appealing figures to Kennett as alternatives to the status quo in twelfth century Japan: "The Buddhist hierarchies had enjoyed political support in return for mysterious and beautiful ceremonies which were seemingly more or less devoid of genuine spirituality" (xi). There's the line of thought: just as Dogen brought a purified and recognizably spiritual "church" back to Japan, so will she bring the same to the Western world. In this respect also, Kennett is certainly a product of her Protestant cultural background, the content of which filled in the gaps where Japanese material had been cut away.

If we're going to discuss Christianized thinking in Buddhist practice, and if the OBC is to be our test case, we might as well go to the heart of the matter (or the Belly of the Beast, depending on your view).
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Simon E. » Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:31 pm

I wonder if realistically there was much choice at that point ?
It seems to me to be possible that for anyone of her generation encountering Buddhism there was a likelihood that they would view Buddhadharma with a lens coloured to some degree by Christianity or Judaism..even if that view took the form of a rejection at the conscious level.
Christmas Humphreys said one or two things worth considering, and one of them was that any Buddhist who did not come to peace with their Judeo-Christian heritage was condemned to constantly recapitulate it in negative terms.
I am not speaking rhetorically when I say that I do not know whether Jiyu Kennet came to that peace vis a vis her Christian heritage.
These were pioneers after all.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby uan » Fri Feb 22, 2013 3:55 pm

Simon E. wrote:There are positives and negatives about online communication. The absence of voice tones and body language means that subtleties are often missed. I suspect ( perhaps wrongly ) that you assumed that Rev Master Jiyu was an old Japanese guy.
:namaste:


only partially wrong and only to the extent I would have said Jiyu was a Japanese guy if you had asked me to guess (masters seem timeless to me in some sense, neither old or young). I mostly thought RMJ was alive and this was recent. So my view of Jiyu when I responded was more of the "if one should listen to the master's instructions, or use it as a guide, why apply it when it comes to sex, but not life's other dramas?" kind.

What threw me off initially was your description of her being from another "era" which feels much much much older and longer ago in my mind, not someone who lived until 1996 (1886 maybe, lol).

Simon E. wrote:
I think its worth knowing all of this because of the light it sheds on the debate.

:namaste:


It's fascinating, and it's reminded me a little of Alan Watts as well, with the attraction to Zen among some of British society of an "era".

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

Postby Jikan » Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:07 pm

Simon E. wrote:I wonder if realistically there was much choice at that point ?
It seems to me to be possible that for anyone of her generation encountering Buddhism there was a likelihood that they would view Buddhadharma with a lens coloured to some degree by Christianity or Judaism..even if that view took the form of a rejection at the conscious level.
Christmas Humphreys said one or two things worth considering, and one of them was that any Buddhist who did not come to peace with their Judeo-Christian heritage was condemned to constantly recapitulate it in negative terms.
I am not speaking rhetorically when I say that I do not know whether Jiyu Kennet came to that peace vis a vis her Christian heritage.
These were pioneers after all.


Yes, certainly. She did her best with what she had available. And much good came of it too. Kennett was an effective teacher for many. I suspect many of her later innovations came as a consequence of serious health problems; just speculating, but if one's diabetes gets out of control, does one's judgment not also become uneven? and might not one also experience visions and so on?

Anyway, I quoted one of her students at length in a different context on this subject here...

viewtopic.php?f=69&t=11893

uan's comparison to Watts is apt.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Simon E. » Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:54 pm

A very insightful article imo. I guess it was an instinctive reaction to the other side of her that kept me on the periphery..possibly to my loss.
So I became a student of Trungpa Rinpoche instead...pause for irony. :D
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby uan » Fri Feb 22, 2013 5:38 pm

Simon E. wrote:A very insightful article imo. I guess it was an instinctive reaction to the other side of her that kept me on the periphery..possibly to my loss.
So I became a student of Trungpa Rinpoche instead...pause for irony. :D



well you certainly have experience with crazy wisdom :lol:
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby dzogchungpa » Fri Feb 22, 2013 5:48 pm

Simon E. wrote:A very insightful article imo. I guess it was an instinctive reaction to the other side of her that kept me on the periphery..possibly to my loss.
So I became a student of Trungpa Rinpoche instead...pause for irony. :D

I think you made the right choice.
Note that, in the higher tantras, there is talk of a self and an I, even though in the lower teachings the absence of self and the absence of I is what is always proclaimed. - Tony Duff
If we have to have a soul, it might as well be vidya, it is after all, permanent, unconditioned, a knower, stainless, and free from the three realms. But If we don't have to have one, vidya still has these characteristics. It is our essenceless essence. - A certain Gemini
To educate the educated is notoriously difficult. - Jacques Barzun
སརྦ་དྷརྨ་དྷཱ་ཏུ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby dzogchungpa » Fri Feb 22, 2013 5:53 pm

Jikan wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote:
Jikan wrote:There is a huge backstory to this...

I must say, it sounds like Reverend Master Eko Little is a real piece of work.


I've never met him, and everything I know about him is second hand or third-hand apart from some old audiotapes of his teachings I have someplace, which were helpful to me as a beginner (when people still listened to audiotapes). The backstory I alluded to was from before 1996, when Jiyu Kennett was still alive.

I think the material quoted below is of interest in understanding Little's conduct, his intentions, and so on...

I haven't read much of the OBC connect site, but it seems like the statement quoted is unlikely to be the whole story:
http://obcconnect.forumotion.net/t338-additional-info-on-michael-little
I was trying to figure out what actually went on, but I gave up. Does anyone know?
Note that, in the higher tantras, there is talk of a self and an I, even though in the lower teachings the absence of self and the absence of I is what is always proclaimed. - Tony Duff
If we have to have a soul, it might as well be vidya, it is after all, permanent, unconditioned, a knower, stainless, and free from the three realms. But If we don't have to have one, vidya still has these characteristics. It is our essenceless essence. - A certain Gemini
To educate the educated is notoriously difficult. - Jacques Barzun
སརྦ་དྷརྨ་དྷཱ་ཏུ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Sara H » Sat Feb 23, 2013 8:17 am

Jikan wrote:
It seems to me that his departure was an admission that he was incapable of bringing about the kinds of institutional, procedural, or even cultural changes that he wanted to put forward in the OBC. So he left to avoid a split in the sangha. I don't think this is at bottom a "sex scandal" or an abuse scandal, although it became one later.

Little was not allowed to leave on his own terms, as the above material outlined. He was shown the door instead. As near as I can see, sexuality and not the direction of the institution became the rationale for that decision.

I dunno. The thread I linked above is worth reading in its entirety.


No, that's not true.

Eko left of his own accord.

He probably honestly felt like it was good to do from a place of sitting to not be a monk for himself anymore.

He had a "romantic relationship" with two or so laypeople. There was no sex involved. I'm not exactly clear on what "romantic" means in this sense, but my mind it means either kissing or "making out" at the "worst" or could simply be that he was pursuing a relationship with people that was obviously a courtship.
Something that as a celibate monk, goes against his vows.

Now, this sortof thing does occasionally happen, and Shasta and the OBC have procedures for this. I'm not clear on exactly what the wording of those procedures are, but basically they involve honesty, on the parties involved, and I would imagine introspection and a choice: Do you really want to continue being a monk, celibacy and all, or do you feel it's more appropriate for you to become a layperson, and maybe have a family?

That's not a bad thing either way.

I think in his case, he just kindof got trapped in his position, kindof acting on some feelings he either didn't know were there, or was trying to push them away somehow until they just surfaced and he acted on them. Then, I think because he was the abbot, he probably panicked and lied about it to try to press for time, rather than confront the issue head on. Things continued, and it surfaced eventually that it was going on and that he had not been entirely forthcoming about it to say the least.

It was more the dishonesty that got him in procedural trouble, but even that could have been resolved.

I think, personally, it kindof made him realize something about himself, and he simply felt it was better in his heart to be a layperson.

I was, incidentally sad to see him leave, as I know that when one makes a mistake, the continued training afterward can greatly deepen it, but, I realized later that he is continuing training, that being a layperson might honestly be the best way for him to continue training as a Buddhist.

I really wish him the best in that, he was my Precepts Master, and that's a very important thing.

Regarding the 'reforms' he wanted to make. I say those in quotes, because they actually wern't.

Eko wanted to go full vinaya.

And, as I've stated elsewhere on a different thread, for reasons disclosed there, the OBC does not, nor has any intention of becoming vinaya.

Along the lines I think he proposed, may have been segregating the congregation etc.

This, may incidentally have come about due to his own tensions coming up with women.

Obviously, if he was freaking out about having a beautiful woman around, as a layperson, he may have wanted to go more along the lines of the vinaya's restrictions on gender mixing for that self-same purpose, to help him with his own problems, and let him continue to do monastic training.

But the truth is, he honestly may be "meant" to be a layperson anyway. Not everyone is cut out to be a monk, and not everyone should be a monk. There is very good training of a different sort to be had as a layperson. He may be well have been getting kindof a sign from the Eternal that he needed to face something in himself and all this happening may well have just been the final catalyst of something that had been been simmering on the back burner of his own training for years.

Stuff like that happens.

I don't bear him any ill will.

He certainly did the best he could as an Abbot,
he had some very big shoes to fill.
I think he did very well under the circumstances, and within the context of his own training, and the karma that he carries and inherited from previous lives.

I wish him all the best in his training and with all the love I can send him.

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 tigerdown » Sat Feb 23, 2013 9:56 am

dzogchungpa wrote:
Simon E. wrote:A very insightful article imo. I guess it was an instinctive reaction to the other side of her that kept me on the periphery..possibly to my loss.
So I became a student of Trungpa Rinpoche instead...pause for irony. :D

I think you made the right choice.


Oh, now there is going from the frying pan into the fire!

http://www.katybutler.com/publications/ ... sa_new.htm

This thread makes me glad to part part of Treeleaf, a rather dull and ordinary place with no scandals, no guru complexes, and the like. Just Practice.

But I should not comment on some Sangha or type of Buddhism outside my own tradition. It seems to be okay here though, because many people are doing so in this thread.

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

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:17 am

tigerdown wrote:This thread makes me glad to part part of Treeleaf, a rather dull and ordinary place with no scandals, no guru complexes, and the like. Just Practice.
Many would disagree with this statement. But hey, who are they to tell you not to toot your own horn?
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Jikan » Sat Feb 23, 2013 2:52 pm

dzogchungpa wrote:I was trying to figure out what actually went on, but I gave up. Does anyone know?


Nobody I know claims to know the whole story, many of the people who would know, aren't talking; and I don't know those who claim to have the whole story. So it's a mystery.

I hope Mr Little is alive and well and practicing Dharma.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Jikan » Sat Feb 23, 2013 2:58 pm

tigerdown wrote:This thread makes me glad to part part of Treeleaf, a rather dull and ordinary place with no scandals, no guru complexes, and the like. Just Practice.

But I should not comment on some Sangha or type of Buddhism outside my own tradition. It seems to be okay here though, because many people are doing so in this thread.


Are there indeed no scandals at Treeleaf?

It's perfectly permissible to offer informed comment on any topic at DharmaWheel. For instance, Simon E above has some exposure to the OBE, which is useful knowledge to the rest of us, even though he isn't a member of that community at present. If you had at one time been involved with the Muppet Show, I'd be disappointed not to have your perspective on the negative dialectics of Pigs In Space, even though you've moved on to other things.

Take Treeleaf's leader for example. Does Mr Cohen refrain from commenting on the practices of schools and traditions not his own? (I mean that as a rhetorical question. You don't need to answer it, because we all know the answer from his participation here at DharmaWheel and elsewhere.)

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

Postby HePo » Sat Feb 23, 2013 4:18 pm

Sara H wrote:

Jikan wrote:

It seems to me that his departure was an admission that he was incapable of bringing about the kinds of institutional, procedural, or even cultural changes that he wanted to put forward in the OBC. So he left to avoid a split in the sangha. I don't think this is at bottom a "sex scandal" or an abuse scandal, although it became one later.

Little was not allowed to leave on his own terms, as the above material outlined. He was shown the door instead. As near as I can see, sexuality and not the direction of the institution became the rationale for that decision.

I dunno. The thread I linked above is worth reading in its entirety.


No, that's not true.

Eko left of his own accord.

He probably honestly felt like it was good to do from a place of sitting to not be a monk for himself anymore.

He had a "romantic relationship" with two or so laypeople. There was no sex involved.
....



The Public Statement by the OBC regarding Eko

Public Statement from the General Meeting of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives 2011

Dear Friends,

As many of you know, in May 2010 Rev. Master Eko Little was asked to resign as abbot of Shasta Abbey by the Shasta Abbey community when it was discovered that he had lied about having a romantic relationship with a member of the congregation. For a monk practising celibacy, any romantic relationship is inappropriate and unethical, and to then lie about it is a violation of both the Buddhist Precepts and the Rules of our Order. After his departure, there were further disclosures of what was considered to be his misuse of power and authority, betrayal of trust, and violations of sexual and ethical boundaries, often in the guise of spiritual teaching. We take these matters very seriously and deeply regret and apologize for the harm that has been caused.


The full statement can be found here
http://obcon.org/blog/2012/03/02/264/


Sara
Eko left of his own accord.
He had a "romantic relationship" with two or so laypeople. There was no sex involved.


Sara, I am curious why you disagree with this formal OBC statement.
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby dzogchungpa » Sat Feb 23, 2013 6:25 pm

tigerdown wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote:
Simon E. wrote:A very insightful article imo. I guess it was an instinctive reaction to the other side of her that kept me on the periphery..possibly to my loss.
So I became a student of Trungpa Rinpoche instead...pause for irony. :D

I think you made the right choice.


Oh, now there is going from the frying pan into the fire!

Tig


Seems like Simon E. emerged from the fire relatively unscathed.
Note that, in the higher tantras, there is talk of a self and an I, even though in the lower teachings the absence of self and the absence of I is what is always proclaimed. - Tony Duff
If we have to have a soul, it might as well be vidya, it is after all, permanent, unconditioned, a knower, stainless, and free from the three realms. But If we don't have to have one, vidya still has these characteristics. It is our essenceless essence. - A certain Gemini
To educate the educated is notoriously difficult. - Jacques Barzun
སརྦ་དྷརྨ་དྷཱ་ཏུ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby dzogchungpa » Sat Feb 23, 2013 6:27 pm

Sara H wrote:he was my Precepts Master, and that's a very important thing.

I think I'm beginning to understand.
Note that, in the higher tantras, there is talk of a self and an I, even though in the lower teachings the absence of self and the absence of I is what is always proclaimed. - Tony Duff
If we have to have a soul, it might as well be vidya, it is after all, permanent, unconditioned, a knower, stainless, and free from the three realms. But If we don't have to have one, vidya still has these characteristics. It is our essenceless essence. - A certain Gemini
To educate the educated is notoriously difficult. - Jacques Barzun
སརྦ་དྷརྨ་དྷཱ་ཏུ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby shel » Mon Feb 25, 2013 12:41 am

uan wrote:So why not let it go? (which is kind of the point about this whole thread :focus: when it comes to sex, to just let it go).


Sex is easy to let go of, actually. Betrayal, broken promises or vows, infidelity, and stuff like that is not easy to let go of. Should it be?
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby uan » Mon Feb 25, 2013 6:04 am

shel wrote:
uan wrote:So why not let it go? (which is kind of the point about this whole thread :focus: when it comes to sex, to just let it go).


Sex is easy to let go of, actually. Betrayal, broken promises or vows, infidelity, and stuff like that is not easy to let go of. Should it be?


yes (at least as easy as sex)
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Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby shel » Mon Feb 25, 2013 6:29 am

uan wrote:
shel wrote:
uan wrote:So why not let it go? (which is kind of the point about this whole thread :focus: when it comes to sex, to just let it go).


Sex is easy to let go of, actually. Betrayal, broken promises or vows, infidelity, and stuff like that is not easy to let go of. Should it be?


yes (at least as easy as sex)


And this is true for you?
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