Author Topic: Aftermath  (Read 805 times)

Offline Chaz

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Aftermath
« on: December 13, 2019, 05:53:52 pm »
With all the talk about the damage done by teachers who, for various crimes or shortcomings, fall from grace, the attention is given to those directly harmed by the teacher.   What doesn't get talked about is what happens to those students and sanghas left in the wake of events.

Some years ago, I was a member of a Shambhala center in Denver, CO.  I spent about three years there and while I never really connected with Shambhala, but made a lot of friends and after I moved on I kept my name on the "friends" email list.

I got an email the other day.  The directors had sent a plea to friends and members to increase their offerings to offset and unsustainable deficite.  The aftermath of last year's scandal surrounding the Sakyong has resulted in reduced program revenue.  This threatens the center's future and this has an effect on the students that gather there.  This is the center of their community of study and practice and it could very well go away.

It's not their fault and there's little more they can do.  They're caught up in the aftermath of events beyond their control.  It's tragedy exceeded by the harm done to the Sakyong's victims.

Maybe they're all victims.

Thoughts?

Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: Aftermath
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2019, 03:58:28 am »
That's a difficult one, isn't it? I feel for those who are the 'secondary' victims, if you like. The problem of funding is constant in a society where such centres are on the margin and rely on the good will of people who are interested but not particularly wealthy and who do not have a lot of spare time for things like fundraising. The bigger picture is whether the whole thing is worth while if run on a lie, where teachers talk the talk but don't walk the walk.

I stopped going to 'my' Buddhist centre for a number of reasons. One was that I didn't like some of the writings of the founder of the organisation- misogynistic ramblings being decidedly un-Buddhist like. Other reasons centred around the problem of numbers. There needs to be enough people who give their whole energy to the organisation, and so the centre was really designed as a conveyor belt to produce ordained members to run the show.

To get back to your post, any organisation needs checks and balances to police itself but especially those which primarily deal with people, some of whom may be vulnerable and more open to abuse. If these are not in place then the organisation either has to change and show that such things can't happen again or it sadly has to fold.

“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Chaz

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Re: Aftermath
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2019, 08:02:47 am »
That's a difficult one, isn't it? I feel for those who are the 'secondary' victims, if you like. The problem of funding is constant in a society where such centres are on the margin and rely on the good will of people who are interested but not particularly wealthy and who do not have a lot of spare time for things like fundraising. The bigger picture is whether the whole thing is worth while if run on a lie, where teachers talk the talk but don't walk the walk.

I stopped going to 'my' Buddhist centre for a number of reasons. One was that I didn't like some of the writings of the founder of the organisation- misogynistic ramblings being decidedly un-Buddhist like. Other reasons centred around the problem of numbers. There needs to be enough people who give their whole energy to the organisation, and so the centre was really designed as a conveyor belt to produce ordained members to run the show.

To get back to your post, any organisation needs checks and balances to police itself but especially those which primarily deal with people, some of whom may be vulnerable and more open to abuse. If these are not in place then the organisation either has to change and show that such things can't happen again or it sadly has to fold.

Another way to describe the plight of these sanghas is that they've had "the rug pulled out from under them" as a result of the departure of their leader and/or a shake-up in the broader leadership structure. The Shambhala community was hit by both.  Not only did the Sakyong step  down, the leadership council went with him.  That's both good and bad, but for those innocents left in the wake of all that, it's particularly bad.

This is what happens.  People become focused on the leader for guidance and comfort.  Their present and future well-being are all tied up in a spiritualy materialist attachment.  When the ground of that attachment is suddenly gone, everything is turned upside down

The Sakyong's father had a training for moments like this.  He taught his students, buy doing or saying something that would challenge their materialistic habitual patterns. In effect, he was creating an environment of groundlessness.  Nothing to "stand on" as it were.  IOW, he would pull the rug out from under them.  This training made his students resilient to catastrophic change.

It would appear that the Sakyong's students have forgotten those teachings, if they ever got them.


Offline stevie

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Re: Aftermath
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2019, 07:40:59 am »
Dharma pursuit should be open. it is not good to identify with a school or a center or a teacher who's attainments one cannot assess. And if one can assess the attainments of a teacher then one does not need a teacher anymore. Buddha Dharma is independent of worldly organizations and persons and titles. However one may make use of worldly organizations and be grateful for support and give in return. One may listen to teachers and be grateful for their teachings and appreciate their help and give in return. However Buddha Dharma is independent of worldly organizations and persons and titles. Self identification is delusive.
That is my perspective.

Offline Chaz

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Re: Aftermath
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2019, 05:34:04 pm »
it is not good to identify with a school or a center or a teacher who's attainments one cannot assess. And if one can assess the attainments of a teacher then one does not need a teacher anymore.

Paradoxical, don't you think?

At any rate, it's idealistic at least, and not an ideal you find on the ground in the Buddhism of today or of centuries past.

So, I wonder just how you came to something that 2500 years of enlightened masters missed?

And for the record, I didn't choose my teacher because of his attainments


Offline stevie

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Re: Aftermath
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2019, 03:22:52 am »
it is not good to identify with a school or a center or a teacher who's attainments one cannot assess. And if one can assess the attainments of a teacher then one does not need a teacher anymore.

Paradoxical, don't you think?

At any rate, it's idealistic at least, and not an ideal you find on the ground in the Buddhism of today or of centuries past.

So, I wonder just how you came to something that 2500 years of enlightened masters missed?

And for the record, I didn't choose my teacher because of his attainments

There is a difference between 'choosing a teacher' and 'identifying with a teacher.'

Therefore I don't think my perspective is paradoxical.

Offline Chaz

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Re: Aftermath
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2019, 06:09:19 am »
it is not good to identify with a school or a center or a teacher who's attainments one cannot assess. And if one can assess the attainments of a teacher then one does not need a teacher anymore.

Paradoxical, don't you think?

At any rate, it's idealistic at least, and not an ideal you find on the ground in the Buddhism of today or of centuries past.

So, I wonder just how you came to something that 2500 years of enlightened masters missed?

And for the record, I didn't choose my teacher because of his attainments

There is a difference between 'choosing a teacher' and 'identifying with a teacher.'

Therefore I don't think my perspective is paradoxical.

Ok.  What's the difference?

Offline stevie

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Re: Aftermath
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2019, 02:56:58 am »
double

Offline stevie

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Re: Aftermath
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2019, 02:57:28 am »
it is not good to identify with a school or a center or a teacher who's attainments one cannot assess. And if one can assess the attainments of a teacher then one does not need a teacher anymore.

Paradoxical, don't you think?

At any rate, it's idealistic at least, and not an ideal you find on the ground in the Buddhism of today or of centuries past.

So, I wonder just how you came to something that 2500 years of enlightened masters missed?

And for the record, I didn't choose my teacher because of his attainments

There is a difference between 'choosing a teacher' and 'identifying with a teacher.'

Therefore I don't think my perspective is paradoxical.

Ok.  What's the difference?

E.g. If I am attending a teaching I have chosen a teacher. Next time I might choose another teacher. Thinking and cultivating the thought "This is my teacher." is identifying with a teacher.

Offline Chaz

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Re: Aftermath
« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2019, 06:29:53 pm »
it is not good to identify with a school or a center or a teacher who's attainments one cannot assess. And if one can assess the attainments of a teacher then one does not need a teacher anymore.

Paradoxical, don't you think?

At any rate, it's idealistic at least, and not an ideal you find on the ground in the Buddhism of today or of centuries past.

So, I wonder just how you came to something that 2500 years of enlightened masters missed?

And for the record, I didn't choose my teacher because of his attainments

There is a difference between 'choosing a teacher' and 'identifying with a teacher.'

Therefore I don't think my perspective is paradoxical.

Ok.  What's the difference?

E.g. If I am attending a teaching I have chosen a teacher. Next time I might choose another teacher. Thinking and cultivating the thought "This is my teacher." is identifying with a teacher.

Great.

Now whether or not that bit of yours is paradoxical, it does fly in the face of centuries of Buddhist practice and tradition, so how does it offer any sort of support to groups whose leadership had fallen?

Offline stevie

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Re: Aftermath
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2019, 03:31:18 am »
double
« Last Edit: December 19, 2019, 03:38:44 am by stevie »

Offline stevie

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Re: Aftermath
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2019, 03:38:13 am »

it is not good to identify with a school or a center or a teacher who's attainments one cannot assess. And if one can assess the attainments of a teacher then one does not need a teacher anymore.

Paradoxical, don't you think?

At any rate, it's idealistic at least, and not an ideal you find on the ground in the Buddhism of today or of centuries past.

So, I wonder just how you came to something that 2500 years of enlightened masters missed?

And for the record, I didn't choose my teacher because of his attainments

There is a difference between 'choosing a teacher' and 'identifying with a teacher.'

Therefore I don't think my perspective is paradoxical.

Ok.  What's the difference?

E.g. If I am attending a teaching I have chosen a teacher. Next time I might choose another teacher. Thinking and cultivating the thought "This is my teacher." is identifying with a teacher.

Great.

Now whether or not that bit of yours is paradoxical, it does fly in the face of centuries of Buddhist practice and tradition, so how does it offer any sort of support to groups whose leadership had fallen?

you've asked for thoughts and I have expressed my thoughts. If you don't like them so be it.
My thoughts may help to prevent to fall  into the trap but if one is already in that trap   :shrug:

Offline Gibbon

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Re: Aftermath
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2019, 02:26:36 pm »
I don't have any knowledge about this beyond what I read in the news.  But the mere loss of a center does not have to be the end.  If there is enough pure motivation, the Dharma activity will go on.  People could get together in private houses and rent space if there is the will and the demand. 

Question is, is there enough pure faith and connection with the lineage to make that happen?  If the faith is gone, things will just fold or become profoundly polluted.  Could the people ask other Kagyu lamas for help and support and maybe be guided to form a connection with another branch of the Kagyu tradition?

I definitely wish these practitioners, and especially the beginners, all the best of luck.  The Dharma is too precious to be trifled with like this.  And anyone, teacher or not, who destroys a person's faith and connection with the Dharma will end up in vajra hell for a very good reason.

 


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