Tugas Gunadarma Gunadarma Tutorial VB.NET Download OST Anime Soundtrack Anime Opening Anime Ending Anime OST Anime Japan Download Lagu Anime Jepang

Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: What to look for in a sangha?

  1. #1

    What to look for in a sangha?

    Hi there,

    even though I like the atmosphere here I am still searching for a real life sangha in my area. I recently discovered that there is a "dharma sangha" group that has weekly practice and was very happy about that. I read that they are affiliated with Richard Baker Roshi (dharma heir to shunryu suzuki, former Abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center), and that gets me into a little trouble. I don`t know how many of you heard about the "scandal" he was involved in. It is a part of his wikipedia entry and there is a book called The Shoes Outside the Door that describe the process of his "detachement" from SF Zen Center and the circumstances surrounding this.

    Of course I do not know Richard Baker and of course people can change. It might also be true that everything didn`t happen as described by his former students but nevertheless I feel a little uncomfortable about this. I wouldn`t bother ususally but it would be much easier for me to practice in a group in my area. None of this is meant to put this wonderful sangha at treeleaf down but the web and modern communication are kind of a barrier for me. I will visit one of their regular sittings but I think it would be very rude to ask about all this straight away.

    Whats your opinion about this? Any advice?

    gassho,
    Alex

  2. #2

    Re: What to look for in a sangha?

    Hi,

    I used to be a big Richard Baker critic, the dastardly evil villain of "Shoes Outside the Door".

    Then, realizing that those events happened about 25 years ago ... and then, realizing that the heart of his evil doing was that he had an affair with a friend's wife ... and then, talking to folks who said that the book was a bit unbalanced in its presentation ... and then, talking to some other folks who described a bit of a peasants with pitchforks "off with his head" tar & feathering complicated reaction at SFZC at the time ... well, it is long ago. The guy had an affair with a friend's wife, consenting adults, and they covered it up. He was also an organizational genius who built SFZC into the large place it is today, but he had a way of stepping on some toes as he did it.

    He fell down. It is long ago. He then got back up, dusted off, and I have not heard another scandalous story anywhere near him in 25 years. That should say something positive.

    He is a gifted teacher. He has had several students who are gifted teachers (you said the center is affiliated with his Lineage, and he is not the actual teacher there). Go, give it a try! Let us know how it goes.

    Gassho, J

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Montgomery Illinois USA
    Posts
    512

    Re: What to look for in a sangha?

    Hello Alex,

    If you are looking for perfection in a human society you will always be disappointed. I am not clear on what Baker Roshi's fall was about, but I am reasonably sure it would have had to do with "sex, drugs or rock and roll"; the usual foibles we are all subject to. That would not a reason to abandon any or all groups he may have been associated with, unless we ascribe to the "sin of the father is visited upon the children" conclusion. I am sure there would be honorable people in the associated sangha, and probably also some who I would not invite to dinner. I think we all have to consider why we seek fellowship with others. Certainly it could be that we want support in our practice; but the practice is really the important thing and not necessarily the club we join to enjoy that practice in, And any club we join will have some members we cannot see eye-to-eye with, and it certainly doesn't mean we have to sleep with them, or smoke with them or listen to same music.

    Give people the benefit of the doubt that they are honorable, just as they will be giving it to you. Do not defeat yourself before you begin, you may be surprised.

    Gassho,

    Kyrill Seishin

  4. #4

    Re: What to look for in a sangha?

    Personally, as a Buddhist, you should be part of a community. There are times for being by yourself in your meditation practice. But there are times when you need a community. After all, even the Buddha was part of a community. Treeleaf Zendo is part of my community as my local group is.

    But. I digress. I think there are two threads going in your post. Your title is asking something different from what you posted. I sense from your post that you seem to be looking for someone to "justify" your participation in Richard Baker's group, specially with had transpired in the SFZC and Baker. My advice: that will have to be your decision. :wink:

  5. #5
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    2,906

    Re: What to look for in a sangha?

    Hi Alex,

    I don't know Baker roshi but I am sure that he is a fine teacher and all this fuss and mess 25 years ago has long gone...
    I red a few interviews of him where he is very clear about what took place, his responsability in the scandal and the unskilled ways he used to run the Sangha with.
    That bloke is the real deal.

    And yes, nothing stops you to have two communities, this real-virtual one and the other, the virtual-real...

    gassho


    Taigu

  6. #6

    Re: What to look for in a sangha?

    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    I sense from your post that you seem to be looking for someone to "justify" your participation in Richard Baker's group, specially with had transpired in the SFZC and Baker. My advice: that will have to be your decision. :wink:
    No. I don`t look for justification, I am just asking people who probably have more experience in a very specific field than me. I don`t think you have to make all the mistakes of life yourself. If you ever want to do martial arts for self defense and ask me for my opinion about a certain style that you are not sure about I am happy to help :wink:

    The group is part of the DharmaSangha Community, the main teacher for Vienna is Ryuten Paul Rosenblum Roshi.
    Thanks everybody for their input. I will tell you about my experiences.

    gassho,
    Alex

  7. #7

    Re: What to look for in a sangha?

    We have had this subject come up before ... but, on life's bumpy road where we are all bound to trip in the mud here and there ... I would rather learn Buddhist lessons from a master who falls down once in a very long while, but then knows how to rise up and dust herself off with grace when she does ...

    ... I would rather learn from such a teacher than from someone who falls down all the time or too often (for that shows just a lack of balance and grace and control) ... or from someone who claims never to fall down at all (beware of such claims!).

    Just as in the martial arts ... it is vital to know how to fall and bounce up, and not how "never to fall".

    Please look over here, if you have a moment ...

    Sit-a-Long with Jundo: Zen Idealists and Imperfect Masters

    This is a special talk for all the Zen idealists out there, looking for perfect Zen teachers without a fault or failing, who think that “Enlightenment” means never making a mistake in the words out of one’s mouth, and never having a “bad hair day” again. TIME TO COME DOWN FROM THE CLOUDS! Bring it down to this mud-covered earth which, if we open our eyes, is the “Pure Lotus Land” right here.

    http://www.shambhalasun.com/sunspace/?p=15407

  8. #8
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: What to look for in a sangha?

    Best to go into any sangha with both skepticism and a willingness to try what is suggested there. No point in going if you're not willing to try on the local wardrobe and customs, but that doesn't mean you should unskeptically start wearing a bacon suit because that's what the people in the local sangha do. Be willing to trust your own experience if you begin to get uncomfortable with what is asked of you or if the style of the sangha just doesn't feel right. Some basic common sense goes a long way; it's surprising how quickly I've thrown my own away when it comes to 'spiritual pursuits'!

    The way I see it, a sangha is both vitally important and nothing special. The sangha is a container and support for practice, a way to connect with people who share your commitment to the Dharma, a place to learn, both through the forms and through the inevitable tensions with other sangha members. But at the same time it's no big deal; a sangha need only be a "good enough" sangha, to borrow a psychoanalytic idea from Winnicott, not a perfect one. As long as there's not egregious power abuse or mutual destructive delusion going on, as long as people are involved in effort to make the sangha work, it will work. And as for when it's not "good enough": again, common sense and trusting yourself go a long way. If you're asked to throw $5 in the bowl, cool; if the teacher asks you if you want to help him put a down payment on a new Jaguar as his "new supreme teaching vehicle," well, you can cross that sangha and teacher off your list and never go back.

  9. #9

    Re: What to look for in a sangha?

    Quote Originally Posted by Randori
    No. I don`t look for justification, I am just asking people who probably have more experience in a very specific field than me. I don`t think you have to make all the mistakes of life yourself. If you ever want to do martial arts for self defense and ask me for my opinion about a certain style that you are not sure about I am happy to help :wink:
    I am not sure what you mean with "style." To me "style" in Buddhist teachers could be about how a teacher's approach and personality (funny, ironic, serious) conveys her/his knowledge of Buddhism. Also, certain traditions emphasize certain aspects of practice thus their "flavor" or "style."

    Your OP was about Baker and his fall from grace.

    I read that they are affiliated with Richard Baker Roshi (dharma heir to shunryu suzuki, former Abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center), and that gets me into a little trouble. I don`t know how many of you heard about the "scandal" he was involved in. It is a part of his wikipedia entry and there is a book called The Shoes Outside the Door that describe the process of his "detachement" from SF Zen Center and the circumstances surrounding this.

    Of course I do not know Richard Baker and of course people can change. It might also be true that everything didn`t happen as described by his former students but nevertheless I feel a little uncomfortable about this.
    Re-reading your OP you don't ask whether Baker is a Soto teacher who "mixes" koans or whether he includes Vipassana in his practice or does Baker include chanting or is he a "Just Sit" kind of teacher or.... is he even still someone close to Soto Zen? Is he serious...or funny..? These are "styles" of teaching. Your OP zeroed in on his past (26 years ago in his past) and how that makes you feel now.

    Baker's past is kinda well known in so far as the SFZC "scandal in the American Zen millieu. I think a better quest is to find out how he is as a teacher in this moment. :wink:

  10. #10

    Re: What to look for in a sangha?

    I have often heard the experience of "Sangha" group practice compared to the polishing of rocks in a rock tumbler, each stone with its sharp edges and rough points rubbing and bouncing against each other. "The friction of the rocks grinding and bouncing against each other is the very thing which turns them into beautiful, smooth stones. Each is rough in the beginning, each has value, and each comes to flow smoothly with the others". I think we just saw an example.

    So, we learn and are changed in Sangha when we roll smoothly together, and we learn and are changed when we momentarily rub each other in ways that cause sparks. 8)

    If we can be tolerant of each others' faults, cracks and sharp elbows here, why not any place in life?

  11. #11

    Re: What to look for in a sangha?

    When I first joined a brick-n-morter Sangha, I had this feeling that I needed to show the utmost respect to the members. Then, I would go out in the "real" world and be frustrated with the "jerks-interfering-with-my-life." At some point I realized that everyone around me could be a member of my Sangha. After all, I simply filled out a paper form and, now, I'm a member of the Sangha. Then I asked "why would I treat everyone around me with any less respect than the member's of my Sangha?, at which point I concluded that the whole world IS my Sangha.

  12. #12

    Re: What to look for in a sangha?

    Wow! JamesVb = what a cool and "enlightened" view of this! The entire world is our sangha!

    -Jim

  13. #13

    Re: What to look for in a sangha?

    hellos to those posting here

    just look for a sangha

    no need to look for anything 'in' it

    fitting or not fitting, all of it, the easy and the difficult is helpful for practice

    different groups do things differently, so 'when in Rome' follow with what that particular sangha is doing

    you have no idea what you are looking for, for that matter, no idea as to who is looking

    just sit with the sangha/sitting group (s) you find

    the rest becomes self evident over time

    (at least this has been/is my experience)

  14. #14

    Re: What to look for in a sangha?

    in similar spirit to James' posting: from a long time ago thread "Sanghas, Sanghas everywhere, or All the World's a Zendo"

    Similarly to 'everyone has buddha nature, just not everyone has Realized it yet' I think we step in and out of zendos all day and practice with an multitude of sanghas: we exit one zendo only to enter another: the zendo of the coffe shop, the zendo of the farmers' market, the zendo of the elevator, the zendo of the operating room. In each one, we practice with the sangha there--the sangha of the coffee shop, the sangha of the elevator, the sangha of the surgical team.

    Sangha members are numberless I vow to practice with all of them:
    zendo's are infinite I vow to practice in all of them;
    Delusions are like weeds: continuously abundant, I vow to be thorough and vigilant in removing them, their seeds and roots.
    Dharmas are boundless I vow to know them all by heart;
    The Buddha Way is without beginning, without end, in starting it I vow to complete it.

    So I will bow out of this sangha, and enter the city bus zendo of the bus riders' sangha--while I head over to the doctor's office zendo and the sangha of office staff and patients. (You lose your car keys, you get to visit other zendos on wheels!)



    my writing style has changed somewhat
    If I were writing it today, I think I'd leave out the 'we do this/that' 'we practice' etc, it would be more first person singular, I mean, I can't say what 'we do' now, really! I can only say what I have done/what I do...

Similar Threads

  1. Being of value to Sangha
    By Daizan in forum TREELEAF COMMUNITY: Topics about Zazen, Zen, Buddhism & MORE ZAZEN!
    Replies: 32
    Last Post: 06-30-2012, 03:10 PM
  2. Who is NOT my sangha?
    By pinoybuddhist in forum TREELEAF COMMUNITY: Topics about Zazen, Zen, Buddhism & MORE ZAZEN!
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 03-17-2012, 11:54 PM
  3. Sangha Map
    By Skye in forum TREELEAF COMMUNITY: Topics about Zazen, Zen, Buddhism & MORE ZAZEN!
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 03-28-2008, 11:57 AM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •