Article on Sexual Abuse & Harassment in Buddhist Communities

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Re: Article on Sexual Abuse & Harassment in Buddhist Communi

Postby shel » Wed Mar 27, 2013 9:49 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
What exactly are those qualities and abilities?
You are a zen practitioner right? So know the answer to this. So why are you asking? Oblique again?


How can anyone describe what no one has ever seen? Remember this started with me saying that a 'Zen master' is a myth.
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Re: Article on Sexual Abuse & Harassment in Buddhist Communi

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Mar 27, 2013 9:52 pm

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Re: Article on Sexual Abuse & Harassment in Buddhist Communi

Postby shel » Wed Mar 27, 2013 9:59 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:My point is that sexual abuse is a big problem
and occurs more often in marital situations than in Sanghas.
But when it happens in a sangha, some people are quick to say
It's a problem with Buddhism.
They say it is an inherent part of the master-pupil structure.
But the same people don't say
domestic abuse, or date-rape
is an inherent part of the heterosexual relationship, of that structure.
There, it is just an abnormality
but otherwise, dating and marriage is okay.

So, That is why I think shel's argument is based on faulty reasoning.


I don't think anyone has said it's a problem with Buddhism. I've addressed issues with Zen masters, transmission in Zen, and other specifics.
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Re: Article on Sexual Abuse & Harassment in Buddhist Communi

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:18 pm

shel wrote: Am I the only one who sees the irony of the 'modest Zen master'?

Apparently,
because such a species does exist.
.
.
.
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Re: Article on Sexual Abuse & Harassment in Buddhist Communi

Postby shel » Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:22 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
shel wrote: Am I the only one who sees the irony of the 'modest Zen master'?

Apparently,
because such a species does exist.


Yes, Eido Shimano (http://www.shimanoarchive.com) is a transmitted Zen master and spiritual authority in Zen Buddhism.
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Re: Article on Sexual Abuse & Harassment in Buddhist Communi

Postby Jikan » Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:26 pm

There are ways in which the title of Zen master is not only an honorific. It has institutional meaning. It is a means of authorization, and hence authority and legitimacy as a source of knowledge or instruction.

It's not empty of practical import.
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Re: Article on Sexual Abuse & Harassment in Buddhist Communi

Postby shel » Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:49 pm

Jikan wrote:It [the title of Zen master] has institutional meaning.

Unicorns have meaning. That doesn't mean that they are more than mythical creatures.

It is a means of authorization, and hence authority and legitimacy as a source of knowledge or instruction.

I don't understand, how is a mere title a means of authorization?
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Re: Article on Sexual Abuse & Harassment in Buddhist Communi

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Mar 28, 2013 1:11 am

shel wrote: I don't think anyone has said it's a problem with Buddhism. I've addressed issues with Zen masters, transmission in Zen, and other specifics.

But you haven't explained why the problem is specifically with Zen, or with Zen masters,
or why it is especially the result of the master-pupil (or teacher-student) arrangement per se.

All you are saying is that
because a situation arose in a zen center in which sexual abuse occurred,
that therefore sexual abuse is a byproduct of the master-pupil (or teacher-student) arrangement itself.
You don't see the problem in this reasoning.
.
.
.
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Re: Article on Sexual Abuse & Harassment in Buddhist Communi

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Mar 28, 2013 1:12 am

shel wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:
shel wrote: Am I the only one who sees the irony of the 'modest Zen master'?

Apparently, because such a species does exist.

Yes, Eido Shimano (http://www.shimanoarchive.com) is a transmitted Zen master and spiritual authority in Zen Buddhism.

Are you saying he was a modest Zen master?
Then, where is the irony that you speak of,
in being both modest, and a zen master?

It is, of course, contradictory that one is a Buddhist master and also engaging in sexual misconduct.
Nobody is arguing otherwise.
Is that what you meant?
If that is what you meant by irony,
it isn't what you said.

Apparently, yes, you are the only one who sees
the irony of the 'modest Zen master',
except that then you provided an example of one.

That's irony!

Are you even paying attention?
.
.
.
Last edited by PadmaVonSamba on Thu Mar 28, 2013 1:34 am, edited 10 times in total.
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Re: Article on Sexual Abuse & Harassment in Buddhist Communi

Postby Namgyal » Thu Mar 28, 2013 1:21 am

shel wrote:Unicorns have meaning. That doesn't mean that they are more than mythical creatures

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Re: Article on Sexual Abuse & Harassment in Buddhist Communi

Postby shel » Thu Mar 28, 2013 2:45 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:If that is what you meant by irony, it isn't what you said.


I meant this:
shel wrote:Am I the only one who sees the irony of the 'modest Zen master'? Modesty is practiced to avoid getting too high an estimation of oneself. In other words, there's a real and ever present danger of becoming egotistical. So, apparently, whatever Zen mastery means it doesn't seem to include mastering oneself or ones ego.
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Re: Article on Sexual Abuse & Harassment in Buddhist Communi

Postby shel » Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:01 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
shel wrote: I don't think anyone has said it's a problem with Buddhism. I've addressed issues with Zen masters, transmission in Zen, and other specifics.

But you haven't explained why the problem is specifically with Zen, ...

I never said that. I've limited by comments to the Zen tradition, because I know little about other traditions.

... or with Zen masters, ...

I've offered the opinion that the title of Zen master is archaic. Why not drop it and just say what they are, priests or teachers of the Zen tradition?

... or why it is especially the result of the master-pupil (or teacher-student) arrangement per se.

Because too many abuse the "master" position, simply. If they were seen for what they really are, priests and teachers of a religious tradition, they would have far less influential power to abuse the naive.
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Re: Article on Sexual Abuse & Harassment in Buddhist Communi

Postby Yudron » Thu Mar 28, 2013 4:49 am

Follow-up: The day after I mentioned that there were only male monks and lamas up front and holding the empowerment substances, the nuns appeared en masse up in those positions. Tonight, Lama Tsultrim Allione was up there, too. Hey, maybe I have more power than I thought!
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Re: Article on Sexual Abuse & Harassment in Buddhist Communi

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Mar 28, 2013 5:04 am

shel wrote: Because too many abuse the "master" position


Really? How many?

Yes, it happens. I am not sweeping that fact under the rug.
My only argument with you is in pinpointing the cause.
You say it's rooted in the master-pupil relationship itself,
because you suggest that this method is archaic,
the concept of an expert (master) is nonsense,
that there is no such thing as "transmission"
(what that word means is yet to be defined here)
and one is better off with no teacher at all.

Now, you say too many abuse the "master" position.
That's quite an accusation.
So, How many?

So far, you've only brought up Eido Shimano.
That's 1.

Likewise, I provided a link to a statement concerning sexual misconduct in Zen Sanghas
which referred to a case involving Joshu Sasaki:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/12/world ... =all&_r=1&
which is what also inspired the first post in this thread, by Ren Jender.

So far, that makes 2.
Ren Jender also mentions Chogyam Trungpa
So, you can count that as 3 if you want to.

So, How many is too many?
Of course, 1 is 1 too many.
But that doesn't mean the problem is prevalent.
Considering that it makes headlines when it does happen
perhaps it is quite rare.

How many "Zen masters" are there in the world?
How many "master-pupil" or "teacher-student" arrangements are there in the world?

You mentioned Jonestown, but I don't think we can count that in with Buddhism.

And even though you are only familiar with Zen,
if the problem is indeed rooted in the master-pupil relationship, as you assert,
then it really should be commonplace not only in more Zen sanghas,
but in some form or another, any place where a Buddhist teacher has students.
There should be a lot.
You have expressed all sorts of reasons why you think the master-pupil arrangement is bad
but you still haven't made a case for the assertion
that this arrangement itself is the source of the problem of sexual abuse.

If you make statements such as "too many abuse the "master" position"
please back this up with some data.
.
.
.
Profile Picture: "The Foaming Monk"
The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
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Re: Article on Sexual Abuse & Harassment in Buddhist Communi

Postby shel » Thu Mar 28, 2013 6:04 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
shel wrote: Because too many abuse the "master" position


Really? How many?

Yes, it happens. I am not sweeping that fact under the rug.

Cool.

My only argument with you is in pinpointing the cause.
You say it's rooted in the master-pupil relationship itself,
because you suggest that this method is archaic,

It may have been suitable to it's time, I don't know. What I do know is that the paradigm of the "Zen master" is in the very least no longer necessary. At worst it is toxic in this day and age.

the concept of an expert (master) is nonsense,

I said that Zen masters are a myth. I didn't say that the concept is nonsense. I don't regard unicorns, for instance, as nonsense. The concept or purpose of unicorns makes sense to me. Myths have a purpose. But myths can outlive their time and usefulness.

that there is no such thing as "transmission"
(what that word means is yet to be defined here)

Zen mastery has yet to be defined also. Perhaps a good topic for another thread.

and one is better off with no teacher at all.

I did not say that. In fact I've explicitly expressed the opinion that there is nothing inherently wrong with teacher-student relationships. How could there be?

Now, you say too many abuse the "master" position.
That's quite an accusation.

Lol, have you ever heard the expression that 'power corrupts', Padma? Why in hell would a "Zen master" be immune to corruption? Please, I'd really like to know. Aren't they "only human"?

So, How many?

PadmaVonSamba wrote:1 is 1 too many.


But that doesn't mean the problem is prevalent.
Considering that it makes headlines when it does happen
perhaps it is quite rare.

Lol, oh my dear Lord! You cannot be serious. It took FIVE DECADES for the Shimano case to make newsprint, for example.

You mentioned Jonestown, but I don't think we can count that in with Buddhism.

Now you're just being petty.

And even though you are only familiar with Zen,
if the problem is indeed rooted in the master-pupil relationship, as you assert,
then it really should be commonplace not only in more Zen sanghas,
but in some form or another, any place where a Buddhist teacher has students.

Why would that be. If all traditions were the same then why are there different traditions? Apples and oranges...

There should be a lot.
You have expressed all sorts of reasons why you think the master-pupil arrangement is bad
but you still haven't made a case for the assertion
that this arrangement itself is the source of the problem of sexual abuse.

Sexual harassment is defined by an imbalance of power.

If you make statements such as "too many abuse the "master" position"
please back this up with some data.

Perhaps we should first define all the ways in which power can be abused. The list may be long.
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Re: Article on Sexual Abuse & Harassment in Buddhist Communi

Postby Sara H » Thu Mar 28, 2013 8:43 am

I think you've gone too far Shel.

There are vast amounts of people in the west and other countries who benefit from the Master/disciple relationship.

People will plainly say so, including people on this forum.

If you don't like it, it's not for you, then fine, don't do it.

But it's clearly beneficial for other people, and while that remains true, it's certainly not "obsolete" or some bygone relic of an ancient age.

Other people have a right to their practice too Shel.

This is not the world according to Shel, where you get to dictate the terms to everybody, and decide what is spiritually helpful to all people.

I've found having someone to help teach me things and keep an eye on my training has been quite helpful to me.

The difference in my practice has been noticeably huge, with having someone to keep an eye on it, and to whom I can go to and trust for advice. Like shifting from riding a lawnmower, into a gas powered, high performance vehicle/car.

It's been a whole 'nother level for me, and while you may not appreciate that, it's been my experience.

If you're gonna insist otherwise, you're basically denying people's firsthand experience who are telling you otherwise. You're calling people liars or delusional for saying something is helpful to them.

If you don't want to believe this is helpful for some people then don't. But I assure you, for many people it is.

In Gassho,
-Sara
"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: Article on Sexual Abuse & Harassment in Buddhist Communi

Postby Sara H » Thu Mar 28, 2013 9:13 am

The First Noble Truth is that Suffering Exists, and is intrinsic to human existence.

The Second Noble Truth is that the cause of suffering is ignorance rooted in clinging/craving, the "I must have".

The cause of the suffering here, (and in all things Shel), is not the "Master/disciple relationship",

It is ignorance, as it always is. Ignorance on the part of one or both parties involved.

Greed, Anger, Delusion in one or both. Rooted in clinging/craving, the "I must have" tendencies inherited from previous and current past lives.

Compounded, or helped based on our own choices of actions.

That's what it always is Shel. That hasn't changed.

The Buddha identified this over 2500 years ago.

Master/disciple relationship are not immune to greed, anger and delusion, the same as any other relationship.

It happens, and suffering exists.

It's a flawed world Shel. We do the best we can within it.
"With the ideal, comes the actual."

In Gassho,
Sara
"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: Article on Sexual Abuse & Harassment in Buddhist Communi

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Mar 28, 2013 9:27 am

shel wrote:Sexual harassment is defined by an imbalance of power.
True. But in the teacher-student relationship there is more than one imbalance at play. There are other contributing factors. Apart from the "imbalance" caused by intellctual/spiritual authority there is also a power imbalance caused, for example, by gender. If it was purely the teacher-student relationship causing the imbalance then all students (regardless of gender) would be sexually harassed. They are not.

On a more general level, power imbalances are impossible to erradicte completely anyway. There will always be somebody that is smarter, more informed, more skilled, stronger, faster, etc... than "me". But it is not necessary for a power imbalance to be a cause for authoritarianism. It is not necessary that a power imbalance will always lead to abuse.

I can use my ability in order to benefit, or I can use it in order to abuse. In the specific examples we have some (very few) individuals using their authority to abuse. We also have countless examples of people using their authority in order to benefit others. As long as just a single example exists of Zen masters using their position of authority to benefit others, then this renders shel's sweeping generalisation regarding Zen masters as abusers, or the teacher-student relationship as noxious, irrelevant.

So the fact that countless (it would seem the vast majority of) Zen masters exist that utilise their position in order to benefit others leads me to ask myself: What is shels objective here? Why do they continually press this point given that their reasoning has been shown to be flawed? The first answer that comes to mind is "troll".

But maybe these are questions that shel needs to put to themselves (in private).

So given that the student-teacher relationship is never going to disappear, then really the only thing we can ask ourselves is: "How can we (given human incapacity for perfection) keep instances of abuse to a bare minimum?

So let's keep the thread on topic shall we?
"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: Article on Sexual Abuse & Harassment in Buddhist Communi

Postby Sara H » Thu Mar 28, 2013 9:37 am

For the record, a "Zen Master" has a very clear established definition.

A "Zen Master" is a person who has met the following criteria:

1) They have chosen a Zen school or lineage to practice in, and receive training in.

2) They have taken the Precepts as either a Lay person or a novice Priest Trainee, or Monk.

3) They have undergone Novice Training as a Zen Priest.

4) They have spent a few years (usually around 5 or so, but can be less, depending on how far along the person is) training as a novice, and then senior novices, etc.

5) They have had a first, initial Kensho, the glimpse of the Eternal, that allows them to begin to understand the Teachings (and all other things) in a whole new way they didn't before.

6) They have completed all necessary priest training in their lineage. Ceremonies, etc.

7) They have had a few years of follow up training under the guidance of their Master, and have then received Dharma Transmission.

8) They have undergone instruction and mentorship by and from their Teacher, on the basics of how to instruct others in the Dharma.

9) Having completed all other things, if they have at least one disciple of their own, they are now considered a "Master".

That's it.


Here, is a few things a Zen Master is not, or not necessarily, simply in lieu of the title.

1) They are most likely not a Buddha. A person who has cleaned up all Karma from this and previous lives. Buddha's are very rare in any lifetime, though some Zen Masters occasionally are Buddhas.

2) If they are not a Buddha, (and they most likely are not) then they are not free from Greed, Anger, and Delusion, and therefor, still have greed, have anger, and have delusion.

3) As it's highly likely that they still have greed, anger, and delusion: everything they do is not necessarily enlightened action. They are still human beings, even if they are wiser, and more advanced in their Buddhist training. They make mistakes.

4) People can make mistakes even without greed, anger, and delusion. Humans are not all-knowing, and so sometimes we have to use trial and error, or just plain get something wrong.

5) If they are not a celibate monk, they may be a Lay Zen Teacher, and thus may be "in the market" relationship-wise technically speaking. (I don't approve of this, Japanese habit, but it is what it is)

6) If they are "in the market" they may be dating, or seeking a gf, bf, or some other relationship, etc.

7) All Master's are not equal. Training begins in earnest once one has had a kensho, and continues a long time after. And so various different Masters may be in different stages of advancement or wisdom, even though they all share the same title of "Master". They all have the qualifications for sure, but beyond that, some are still more advanced than others. Some are much more advanced.

8) Cultural differences still apply. If a Zen Master is from (or was trained in) another country, they may act according to that country's cultural norms, and not fully understand your own. One culture's norm, may be another culture's insult or cause to take offense.

If I can think of anything else, I'll add that, but that pretty much covers it for now.


-Sara
"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: Article on Sexual Abuse & Harassment in Buddhist Communi

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Thu Mar 28, 2013 12:28 pm

Sara H wrote:For the record, a "Zen Master" has a very clear established definition.

Thank you. What I meant was that in the context of this conversation "Zen master" had not really been defined.
up until your excellent post.
:thanks:
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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
Original painting by P.Volker /used by permission.
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