Karma Dorje wrote:
I don't disagree that some collaborative arrangement is preferable at a local level, yet I do think that senior practitioners should take a leadership role.
Whether they should or shouldn't is aside the point that not everyone will make a good leader and administrator.
If you spent much of your life devoted to meditation, for example, then you might not have much of a grasp on mundane reality, money, politics, government and so forth. A good yogi might not be all that sociable either, which is necessary when dealing with a public which supports one's operations and practice. A leader will have to deal with everyone's BS and know how to address it.
So, having the community elect someone who they feel is fit for the task is probably a good idea. They need to lead a community and represent it to the outside world. This is preferable to having title given to someone by virtue of their master, retreat qualifications or apparent past life activities.
This is the way things are done in the ordained sangha and I think it works well.
I guess it depends on the community. Some communities would never question their chief and hence they get away with utterly stupid decisions and everyone just follows along. Questioning him or her would be seen as a sign of spiritual immaturity and self-grasping.
There's a good article about organizational stupidity and it applies to Buddhism as much as it does elsewhere:http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2013/04/u ... idity.html
This is what we need to especially consider:
Reflexivity refers to the ability and willingness to question rules, routines and norms rather than follow them unquestioningly. Is your corporation acting morally? Well it doesn't matter, because “what is right in the corporation is what the guy above you wants from you.” The effects of this attitude tend to get amplified as information travels (or, in this case, fails to travel) down the chain of command: your immediate superior might be a corrupt bastard, but your supreme leader cannot possibly be a war criminal.
Justification refers to the ability and willingness to offer reasons and explanations for one's own actions, and to assess the sincerity, legitimacy, and truthfulness of reasons and explanations offered by others. In an open society that has freedom of expression, we justify our actions in order to gain the cooperation of others, while in organizational settings we can simply issue orders, and the only justification ever needed is “because the boss-man said so.”
Substantive reasoning refers to the ability and willingness to go beyond the “small set of concerns that are defined by a specific organizational, professional, or work logic.” For example, economists tend to compress a wide range of phenomena into a few numbers, not bothering to think what these numbers actually represent. Organizational and professional settings discourage people from straying from the confines of their specializations and job descriptions, in essence reducing their cognitive abilities to those of idiot-savants.
In the absence of these qualities, an organization falls prey to its own internal stupidity. The leadership needs to be frequently challenged and criticized when it is merited.
But then they might introduce some religious idea that questioning the chief is a sin for which you'll go to some terrible hell. This is a good way to silence internal critics. Either that or you just create a culture where it is taboo to criticize the chiefs. Then peer pressure does all the work.