Anyone know the skinny on the closing of the Soto Zen section at e-Sangha? Is it regular maintenance or were there other circumstances that led to its closing for now? :?:
Anyone know the skinny on the closing of the Soto Zen section at e-Sangha? Is it regular maintenance or were there other circumstances that led to its closing for now? :?:
:mrgreen:Originally Posted by HezB
I just ax because two posts (including mine) were closed down with non-answer answer (maybe that's apropo to the location :shock: ). A PM I sent to the mods were met with same response.
It's a good place to discuss Soto Zen.
I had a really inappropriate joke I wanted to follow up with on this, but I'll let you all use your imaginations instead. I don't want to force Jundo's hand into banning me for life.Originally Posted by HezB
Not only do I know about this, I am likely the immediate cause.
As many of you know, E-Sangha has been the subject of fire for a long time, from many quarters. For those not familiar with the issues involved, I hesitate to repeat them, and if you are interested in reading a bit more you can look here. It is very sad.
http://www.arcanology.com/2008/03/17/e- ... continues/E-sangha is a web forum that promotes itself as being for all Buddhists of all traditions of practice. It has a large base of users and, in fact, its number of users is large enough, over time, that the very number and amount of activity acts to pull in online Buddhists who hear about the site. In reality, E-sangha is a very unfriendly place for many Buddhists. It is run by a small junta of moderators with a bit of an iron fist (not even with the velvet glove!). This group brooks no disagreement with their beliefs or methods. Members of the forum who don’t toe the line with great alacrity for this collective are quickly and quietly banned from the site.
Members of the moderator junta claim that they do what they do for the sake of Buddhism and the spread of the Dharma. In their opinion, incorrect beliefs or doctrines lead to trouble and confusion so their discussion is not allowed, even to show that they are wrong. At least one Zen priest has been banned [Jundo], for example, for saying that he did not literally believe in or teach the reality of literal reincarnation as a Buddhist.
Why should anyone care? Well, there are very few decent places for Buddhists to gather online that have enough people to really sustain themselves. E-sangha has the potential to be one of these but not as it is currently operated. We live in a golden age, realistically, for Buddhists in many ways. People of a variety of traditions of practice have the means to communicate with each other in a manner which has not happened for many centuries, if ever. Every surviving tradition of practice can talk to and learn from all of our fellow Sangha members because of the combination of low-cost communication and a more globally connected culture. We should be taking advantage of this opportunity to communicate and not to use it as a mechanism for sectarianism, personal glorification, or politics.
Several Soto Zen Buddhist clergy and I felt that there has been a long history of sect bashing, discriminatory actions, impositions of punishment, disparagement and the like, by the non-Zen Buddhist administrators (mostly Tibetan Buddhist practitioners and various priests from conservative traditions) directed specifically at Zen Buddhist practitioners and clergy ... especially those expressing what the administrators see as Buddhist teachings conflicting with their own views of Buddhism (for example, the administrators would regularly pop into the "Soto Zen" forum, delete postings explaining Soto Zen doctrine by various Soto Zen clergy, substitute their own interpretations of Buddhist doctrine as "correct" in place of views that were not "the Buddha's teachings" as they see them ... and ban or censor anyone protesting).
The situation became so bad that it was felt some action should be taken, and some discussion began among some of us as to what was possible. All attempts at reasonable discussion failed, our emails were not answered, any suggestions to fix the problems were not even responded to.
I am now a retired lawyer. I am a Buddhist priest. Truly, I do not believe in most any kind of dispute, and I believe that very little in life is worth fighting about … but when it comes to matters of free speech, racial or religious discrimination, sect defamation and the like, well, that is a different story and goes right to the heart of what is still worth defending in our society … even by Buddhists. In this post-911 age, people do not believe in standing up for religious equality and freedom from discrimination, but some of us say it is still important. In fact, it may be the most important philosophy to uphold for many of us, right up there with Buddhism itself. I believe that those issues may be important enough for even a Buddhist to take action on, and that doing so would constitute "Right Action" in certain situations.
So, to make a long story short, we discovered that Singapore, the home base of E-Sangha and of its owners, happens to have some of the world’s most aggressive legal protections against religious intolerance. For example, they possess a licensing authority for the internet, not unlike the FCC for broadcast stations in America, and E-Sangha’s actions can be challenged there as an act "causing feelings of enmity, hatred, ill-will or hostility between different religious groups and sects." We decided to file a petition there and with certain other civil authorities in Singapore as our one available, effective avenue of protest. There will also be a civil claim filed to accompany this.
And that is why the administrators of E-Sangha, instead of talking with us about these issues, took their usual stance ... they simply shut down the "Soto Zen" forum altogether in an attempt to fully silence all discussion.
It is with a very, very heavy heart that some of us feel forced into these extreme measures. It is my belief, as a Buddhist, that there should always be peace in the Sangha, that Buddhists should always be willing to communicate with each other and work out their small differences. Always. The present course was selected only after long consideration of the issues involved and the true meaning of “Right Action” and the Precepts. It is not being done out of anger and, hopefully, not ego … but out of a belief that some things are worth standing up for.
PS- We have no secrets around Treeleaf. If anyone has any question about any of this, please feel free to post them here and talk about them, or write me privately at any time.
Thanks for the informative and honest response. I was aware of the back & forth in the forum, but was not aware of the behind-the-scenes occurrences. I think a good number of Zen posters and readers are a bit baffled about it. I know that two of us posted an open inquiry in the forum, but got our posts locked. A PM response to me was one sentence response basically stating that they were working on it and could not tell me more.
Thanks for the response!
Jundo & sangha;
I also became aware of the situation earlier this week and sent the following e-mail to “Teyes”, the founder of E-sangha. There has been no reply to my e-mail.
I write you with sincere admiration for your determination and efforts to fulfill your vow of spreading Buddhism, but with concern that some actions and policies of E-sangha may not be in the best interests of spreading Buddhism – specifically those actions and policies which exclude people, teachers, and teachings which express understandings and views not approved by E-sangha, and the demeaning attitude of some officials of E-sangha to members who hold so-called ‘non-traditional’ views. I am especially disheartened to see that the Soto sub-forum has been closed.
When I initially joined E-sangha I was expecting that the moderators would insure that Buddhist topics were discussed in appropriate forums and that civility (Right Speech) would rule. But it seems that E-sangha has taken it upon itself to determine who is and who isn’t a ‘true Buddhist’, and it seems that I am not a Buddhist because my understanding and views are not in sufficient conformity with E-sangha’s approved views. I write this based on forum posts by officials, both moderators and administrators, of E-sangha who have explicitly written that I am not a Buddhist and my practice (of 40 years) has been a waste of time.
Does the fact that I hold some views which E-sangha deems wrong cause you suffering, other than the suffering of your believing that I am wrong?
Does my expressing my views cause you suffering, other than the suffering of hearing/reading what you believe are my wrong expressions?
I have read that E-sangha wishes to protect the beginners (the innocents) from confusion and wrong views. There are already a multitude of traditions, sects, and teachers, each with a unique view; so another view is simply another view. And who is actually being protected; that is, who doesn’t know that other people have views, some right, some wrong? Isn’t it sufficient to merely point and say, “That is not my understanding. That is not the view of my tradition. Here is my understanding, here is my tradition’s view . . .” to protect people?
I sincerely hope you will reconsider your position and the policies of E-sangha. I am open to discussing my concerns which I know are shared by others with the intention of resolving them while supporting your vow to spread Buddhism.
Do no harm,
Deep gassho to all of you who have questioned and stood out against E-sanga's religious intolerance. For my own part I have smply choosen not to even go there after comments I have heard here and else where.
In gassho, Kev
i agree. somethings are worth fighting for, and free speech is one of them
I had noted that the Soto Zen forum had been suspended & that Jundo had been suspended (again - jeez ) from E-Sangha.
Jundo good luck with your endeavour - I hope you don't hold on too tight to this & know when to let it go. You have my full support, of course.
I think it is worth it.
Erik you look a lot like Taisen Deshimaru Roshi.
Thanks for the intro to Freeganism.
:mrgreen:Originally Posted by will
I usually get the following question when I visit the local businesses owned by Chinese immigrants.
After staring at me for a while, they'll ask:
"Are you Chinese?"
"oh. no. Mexican."
Yar welcomed.Thanks for the intro to Freeganism.
It's detailed, honest responses like these that make me glad that Treeleaf is my home sangha. Thanks for explaining Jundo - I had a bad feeling about whatever reason E-Sangha had for shutting down the Soto forum.
I'm not sure what your purpose is here, Jundo. Are you attempting to have E-Sangha shut down? Unless E-Sangha was promoting hate speech, I'd be really surprised if that would happen. The only guilt of the owners is being a bunch of sectarian fundamentalists. They say that other sects are not real buddhists but they don't say that the other sects are not human beings (or lesser human beings). That's a big difference, IMO. But let's say there are legal grounds and the board gets shut down. There are a number of people who post outside the zen forum. Those people won't have a place to gather anymore. I honestly don't see the Right Action here.Originally Posted by Jundo
When I first moved here I began searching for a zen community online after finding none nearby. I found e-sangha first, and if I had just begun practicing, I would have run from Buddhism as fast as I could. To many innocent threads were locked, to many people ganged up on by moderators. I was never brave enough to post and had my account deleted. If the wrong speech by e-sangha is capable of affecting others who may not be yet as comfortable in their practice as I was at the time, then yes, it is proper to try to stop them or at the very least make sure warnings about e-sangha rank higher than they in a google search so that those new to zen do not feel marginalized or pushed away from the path.What I witnessed on e-sangha was a slur campaign. It gave me that same sickly feeling as when I was ten and called an "idol worshiper in league with Satan" by a friends grandmother when I mentioned I was born into a catholic family. No one needs to feel that.
Though I did see a post by Jundo on e-sangha, and that led me here for which I am grateful.
I was one of them that got kicked out during a "reincarnationincident" a while back.
since then i haven't visited E-sangha, until a couple of weeks ago (a friend told me to check out an discussion), and lo' and behold, i was logged in. But all my previous posts had been erased. When i asked the administrators about it, i got no answer. but i did get a lot of "welcome to E-sangha messages from alot of people...
My question is, has this happened to any one else?
May the force be with you
Just another worthless opinion here. Do most of the official E-sangha statements sound extremely orthodox/conservative and sometimes not very open-minded? IMHO, Yep.
Do I get the feeling that there is still a lot of "my tradition is holier than thy tradition" stuff around on e-sangha. Yep.
However, the way I see it, even if they are constantly "dissing" and even censoring modern forms of Soto-Zen and similar approaches, e-sangha is not the UN governing body for Buddhism in general. If I understand its history correctly, it started with one person's vision and comes down to loads of time and resources being put into it. It's their birthday party, if we're not invited, well....tough.
If one doesn't like what they are saying, well, nobody is forced to log on to e-sangha. They are successful and they deserve to be successful in the sense that they put loads of blood, sweat and tears into building this whole thing. If the Soto-school of zen buddhism had allocated some real funds to spreading Soto-Zen via the internet, we wouldn't even have this discussion, because we wouldn't care about e-sangha, we'd have another general buddhist playground with our own rules and the Shobogenzo and all of Dogen's teachings as a PDF and ten thousand subtitled videos by leading Japanese scholars etc.
To be totally honest, in a sense I love the fact that E-Sangha is so conservative, beacause that allows me to know what they are about, and in turn, where I beg to differ with regards to Buddhism.
Shinnyo-En, Soka-Gakkai and a thousand other organizations make much more radical claims when it comes to who or what represents the true dharma, yet nobody is trying to step on their toes too much, because they are very powerful.
With all due respect Jundo, I can relate to what you seem to be doing, but I am just wondering about the priorities here. But then again as you well know I have very peculiar ideas about religious tolerance etc. because to me it is always about the world view being propagated, and the details of that particular world-view. IMHO nothing and no one deserves carte blanche tolerance just because the label religion is attached to it....however that's a different topic.
Well, I disagree with you, Hans. Regardless if whether or not there is a choice, e-sangha is a "de facto" authority by the virtue of it being the top result when you search for, ie "buddhist forum". If they are misrepresenting the Zen tradition, that is to me, defamation, and it would be better if they did not have Zen forums at all.
Tracy, I highly doubt the legal action's purpose is to shut down e-sangha completely. More likely it is to review and follow their own site policies, or to stop representing themselves as an authority on the Zen tradition.
At this point, they have the fastest mods in the Internet. Any post that asks about the Soto Zen foum is quickly locked. Ping! :mrgreen:
I hope that as part of this action the plaintiffs will 1) subpoena "deleted" -- which might just mean "disappeared from public view" -- threads and all other archival records for relevant content and evidence of objectionable activities on the part of e-sangha staff, and 2) consider expanding this action to include other aggrieved parties, i.e., a "class-action" suit.
It might prove worthwhile to attempt to notify the internet community of this action so that others who wish to be involved may participate.
Thank you for your consideration and your courage.
Hi Hans,Originally Posted by Hans
I wish to disagree with you in that I think E-sangha is blatantly misrepresenting itself. I looked on the website and it says:
"E-Sangha’s main objective is to provide those who are interested in learning more about Buddhism a meeting place where participants can learn through discussions, and come to a correct understanding of the various aspects involved in Buddha's teachings. E-Sangha's intent is to keep the tradition alive and flourishing, and to help bring peace, harmony and happiness into everyones lives. One does not need to be a Buddhist to benefit from the teachings, the benefits are available to everyone.
E-Sangha Chat & Forum provides forums for participation in discussions which includes all the main traditions such as Mahayana, Vajrayana, Nichiren, Theravada and Zen. There is also a facility for general Buddhist discussion where members are able to engage in exchanging various aspects of this ancient tradition.
Topics discussed at E-Sangha range from meditation techniques, problems encountered in meditation, vegan and vegetarian issues, history of different traditions, fake dharma, understanding the various aspects of a particular traditions and their respective Masters, practices and beliefs, Nirvana, issues relating to Re-Birth and Re-incarnation, Buddhist cult, concept of mind, Buddhist theory of knowledge and causation, issues relating to karma and much more."
In this I believe it is representing itself as an open discussion of all viewpoints and traditions. What they add is "We (the moderators) of e-sangha are very concerned to protect people from being deluded by false views of Buddhism and incorrect understanding, therefore we will, from time to time, delete any posts which espouse incorrect ideas. We do this, not out of any animosity to any particular person, but in the best interests of people who are new to Buddhism and might be led astray by non-Buddhist ideas."
Me sick (cold). I did not notice in the e-sangha intro that they mention correct understanding, and a discussion of "fake dharma". However, they still don't say they will pull posts that they deem to be incorrect.
back to the kleenex (washcloth actually since it is washable)
That doesn't sound much like Buddhism to me, though - and that's the problem. They set themselves up as an authority and then they act very badly to other sects.Originally Posted by Hans
The behavior by the mods of that forum have forever turned me away from Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhists. I no longer even read Tibetan Buddhist books or scriptures of any kind because no one from the Tibetan community has reigned in the bigotry on that site.
The last thing Buddhism needs is sectarian censorship by a site that is ostensibly there to serve the ENTIRE Buddhist community.