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View Full Version : (NOT QUITE) PEACE IN E-SANGHA: Need your advice



Jundo
12-09-2007, 07:15 PM
Dear All,

I need the advice & wisdom of everyone at Treeleaf regarding the best course to take.

Just prior to my re-joining E-Sangha, I received a list of rules and warnings that I am expected to abide by at all times if I am allowed to rejoin their forums. A few of these are extremely restrictive and, I believe (and many other Zen Buddhist teachers I have spoken to today in the Western Zen world firmly believe), are intolerant and discriminatory. Some are based on false information and narrow (biased) historical interpretations. It is sad. It is silly!

For example, based on an ancient historical interpretation, I would be forced to admit that certain Tibetan, Chinese and Vietnamese lineages are superior, and more historically "true", than any lineage of any priest of any school of Buddhism in Japan, including Zen Buddhism of course. This is based on a old historical interpretation that the only lineages authorized to "officially" ordain died out or were never present in other countries. To give you some context, it is much like Catholic believers asserting the superiority or greater legitimacy of catholic clergy over Anglicans or other Protestants based on historical events during the 16th century Reformation.

Oh, so silly! It is basically a step short of a claim of national and racial superiority for Tibetans and Chinese.

For a second example, I would be forbidden from challenging, in anything I write for their Forum, the "official" interpretation at E-Sangha, and the infallibility of the content of, certain early Sutta's that they have selected. This is not only limited to the question of "post mortem rebirth", but that is one among the central issues. Again, this is just like my being forbidden as a Protestant to challenge the Catholic interpritation of the Book of Daniel.

And you may have thought that Buddhists were beyond arguing over the Trinity and the Virgin Birth?

Oh, if they only realized that this wide and grand universe is big enough to hold everybody!

I do not believe that it would be right for me to rejoin. I do not believe that I can, in all good conscience, agree to these things (it is not that I deny other people the right to believe in them, but they would deny me the right to not believe in them in the way they do). I also think it likely that I will end up saying something, at some point, that they will object to and they will soon kick me out again.

So, I have decided not to rejoin. I am sad.

However, I also believe that certain forms of social intolerance and discrimination can be met with peaceful, non-violent, passive resistance and protest. Therefore, I am doing more than just letting this matter drop (they are entitled to what they believe, but they are very powerful as a source of information in the Buddhist world). I am considering (with some others) initiating a peaceful campaign regarding E-Sangha, uniting several Buddhist schools, under the slogan "Religious Intolerance is Un-Buddhist - PLEASE BOYCOTT E-SANGHA, An Intolerant Buddhist Community".

The campaign would be publicized and organized and talked about across Buddhist Schools, and would include placing banners on homepages, blogs and such that read as above.

I do not believe in violence, I do think we are all entitled to our own beliefs however much others may find them strange, I do not like religious tensions ....

However, I think that this is the right thing to do. I believe that it is fully in keeping with the Precepts, especially with regard to "Right Speech" (maybe the slogan needs to be toned down a bit?).

But, it has effects on all of us, and effects beyond us ... what do you guys think??

Gassho, Jundo

Longdog
12-09-2007, 07:35 PM
Hi Jundo

I've never been involved in E-Sanga but I can see your predicament.

Personally I think I would just ignore them and get on with what is important to me.

To start any sort of a 'so and so is un-buddhist' campaign would seem un-buddhist in itself to me. I know you may feel that in your position you can not stand by and let this sort of thing happen, but where would it stop? I'm sure there are more groups/organisations out there that the Buddha police could chase up too?

One reason I came to Soto Zen Buddhism was that it doesn't seem to evangelical in it's approach and people just get on with sitting.

You've told them and others what you think, may be it's up to people themselves to now make their own choices, to activily 'dis' them may come across as you thinking you're infallible.

People on E-sanga are just as responsible for their own training as everyone else is. That's koan of living isn't it?

My two penneth worth anyway.

In gassho, Kev

Komoku
12-09-2007, 08:09 PM
"Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest woman whom you have seen and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to her. Will she gain anything by it? Will it restore her to a control over her own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and yourself melting away." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Leave the e-sangha to the e-sangha. With the treeleaf create light and not heat. I believe the seekers who come here are seeking light. E-sangha will continue to create its own problems.

Rev R
12-09-2007, 08:09 PM
Jundo,

I am inclined to support this endeavor. However, I would like to see the actual stipulations to your return. Not as a matter of distrust mind you, but rather because I would prefer to see the evidence with my own eyes.

Is this an issue that is solely related to e-sangha, or is it a common line of thinking in schools that e-sangha's interpretation are tied to?

Jundo
12-09-2007, 08:22 PM
Hi Rev,

I will put the offending sections below ... the rest are not controversial.

I am still leaning toward taking this step. Perhaps "Please Boycott" "Kindly Boycott" "Avoid" or "Beware" of E-Sangha??

I feel that religious intolerance and discrimination, in such a powerful and influential forum, must not be allowed to go unchecked. This "looking the other way" would have effect on the poor old lady. THAT WAS A QUOTE BY GANDHI, for gosh sakes. Not exactly a "take no action" guy, was he?

Scholars I have contacted today in the Zen community, of course, do not concur in many of the following historical interpretations ...

Gassho, Jundo




FROM THE ADMINISTRATOR OF E-SANGHA:

Fifth: E-Sangha is not democratic, never has been, and never will be,
no more so than any private corporation operating in the United
States is a democracy or is run as a democracy. Neither is E-Sangha a
business, though the owner of the site does accept donations in
Singapore to pay for the server. Nor is E-Sangha a non-profit or any
other kind of corporation at all. It is a strictly volunteer, at-your-
own risk venture.

Sixth: Regarding the question of your ordination and ordinations in
general: the position of E-Sangha is that ordinations such as yours
are lay ordinations, and that you are a member of the Buddhist lay
clergy. This means, that as far as we are concerned, you are not a
monk of any kind.

The point of view of E-Sangha is that the only monks and nuns
existing in Buddhism today are those men and women who have been
ordained into one of three three surviving Vinaya lineages i.e.
Theravada, Mula-sarvastivada [Tibetan] or Dharmaguptaka [China,
Vietnam and Korea]. The Tendai and Shingon priests who are presently
members of E-Sangha cede that this is so, they agree with this
assessment, and in fact they helped us formulate it.

...

Eighth: In terms of doctrine: the base level of Buddhist teachings we
assert as properly Buddhist, canonical and acceptable are those found
in the Pali Canon and the Sanskrit Agamas. This is why such things as
dependent origination, rebirth [punarbhava] and so on are non-
negotiable items at E-Sangha.

E-Sangha is _Buddhist_ before it is Tibetan Buddhist, Chinese
Buddhist, Japanese Buddhist, Theravadin, Zen or anything else. Given
that this is the case, the basic criteria by which we, the moderating
staff, judge any Buddhists' statements on E-Sangha is whether it
accords (or not) with the basic teachings in the Nikayas/Agamas. The
heuristic we then apply depends upon sect and what the founders of
those sects state.

I have never found a single founder of any sect who denies literal
rebirth categorically, and in fact, found that they all uphold it as
a basic tenet, including Dogen.

Any objection that Soto does not agree with rebirth in a literal
sense will be met with citations where Dogen without questions
affirms the Agamic position on rebirth i.e. that without rebirth, one
could not have the four fruits of shravakas, i.e. stream entrants,
once-returners, never-returners and arhats. The first three are
defined precisely by the Buddha in the Agamas/Nikayas in terms of the
number of actual rebirths they experience as well as places where
they experience rebirth in the desire realm and form realm before
they become Arhats i.e. seven lifetimes, one lifetime, rebirth in the
form realm etc, and then there are various categories within these.

My point is that Dogen explicitly affirms these and condemns those
who reject rebirth as those who also reject the four types of
Shravaka realizers. You may read this in Englightenment Unfolds
around page 263, towards the end. Whatever Modern Soto Buddhist may
claim, it is very clear what Dogen's position is.

Of course I am also aware that in Mahayana Buddhism there are two
truths, relative and ultimate; two types of teaching, definitive and
provisional and so on, and I am extremely familiar with all the
discussions around these issues.

It is not my intent to go into these issues with you in this email, I
am merely providing these for the sake of clarity and so you know
where I am coming from.

Ninth: the E-Sangha middle way is to reject the existence of any
permanent identity [the extreme of permanence] and to reject the
assertion that there is no rebirth [the extreme of annihilation].
This is the middle way to which we expect all members on E-Sangha
will adhere. I hope you will find it possible to tread this middle
way as well.

Best wishes,

Malcolm Smith

Jundo
12-09-2007, 09:03 PM
Is this an issue that is solely related to e-sangha, or is it a common line of thinking in schools that e-sangha's interpretation are tied to?

Yes, it is part of a wider "holier than thou" thing in the Buddhist world. Some Chinese, Tibetans etc. tend not to think of any Japanese lineage (Shingon, Tendai, Jodo, Nishiren, Rinzai or Soto Zen Buddhist) as Kosher.

Gassho, Jundo

Rev R
12-09-2007, 09:05 PM
Ok forgive my French but that sounds like total bullshit to me.

Since my last post I've been thinking that perhaps singling out e-sangha as an organization maybe going a bit far. As the others have mentioned it could be taken as just an attempt to bad mouth e-sangha and the vinyana traditions. But in essence, they disregard anything but the vinyana traditions as having any merit. To censor anyone who disagrees with this view is a terrible thing. Particularly with the status as a large resource for Buddhist thought.

Perhaps something along the lines of "Be Lamps Unto Yourselves: Encourage Free-thought in Buddhism!" as a broad stroke with the behavior of the e-sangha administration as an example (since it's not the entire community being indicted here).

Eika
12-09-2007, 09:17 PM
Jundo wrote:
Yes, it is part of a wider "holier than thou" thing in the Buddhist world. The Chinese, Tibetans tend not to think of any Japanese lineage (Shingon, Tendai, Jodo, Nishiren, Rinzai or Soto Zen Buddhist) as Kosher.

Gassho, Jundo

I vote to drop it as well unless a much more positive way of countering their ignorance can be envisioned. I find a most all of the e-sangha terms objectionable, but I see very little chance of resolution or peace coming from a campaign against such beliefs. Jundo's statement above leads me to believe that this is an issue that will survive any website because it is about fear, ignorance, even racism, and self-elevation by discounting others' views (which by the way are mostly metaphysical questions that are unanswerable by the living). I see nothing but divisive speech and anger coming from any conflict with e-sangha.
Like Jim, I would prefer us to lead the way positively, though I understand Jundo's reluctance to leave such baloney unchallenged. Ideally, e-sangha would remove any discussions that fall outside of lineages they approve of/respect. That is a pipe-dream I'm sure.

Sorry, no solutions from me.

Bill

Komoku
12-09-2007, 09:19 PM
On the Internet many things can appear legitimate that are illegitimate, and these things can appear legitimate for long periods of time. E-sangha questions (even attacks) your legitimacy because you are a threat, but I see nothing to provide proof of their own legitimacy. Who are they to write such things to you about Soto Zen? The boycott or campaign will make them appear legitimate to some and they do not deserve the recognition or exposure the campaign would provide. Nameless Tendai and Shingon priest name dropping, bah!

Therefore, I'm still sticking with my first post and instinct however wrong I might be. E-Sangha is not some powerful foreign government, and we've done far less as a Sangha in response to other causes that impact more people in more significant ways.

Eika
12-09-2007, 09:19 PM
Perhaps something along the lines of "Be Lamps Unto Yourselves: Encourage Free-thought in Buddhism!" as a broad stroke with the behavior of the e-sangha administration as an example (since it's not the entire community being indicted here).

Yes, this is closer to what I had in mind . . . you're on the right track Rev.

Bill

Eika
12-09-2007, 09:22 PM
Jim has a great point.


Therefore, I'm still sticking with my first post and instinct however wrong I might be. E-Sangha is not some powerful foreign government, and we've done far less as a Sangha in response to other causes that impact more people in more significant ways.

We are not getting worked up over the millions of other issues that are world-changers but we are spending a lot of time worrying about a group of folks who have offended us. We can't fix everything, but we CAN ignore the people who run e-sangha.

Bill

Jundo
12-09-2007, 09:31 PM
Hi Guys,

Well, this organization is already one of tremendous influence, with a larger readership than magazines such as Buddhadharma and Tricycle. I cannot easily turn away from religious intolerance in my own back yard. Passive resistance, and a campaign with a positive theme of "Tolerance" should not be easily rejected. Is not to ignore the problem, and to take no action, the same as countenancing the problem? All I wish to do is get the information out, and this seems like the best way.

You know, I cannot easily solve the problem of Darfur or wars on foreign shores, but I can do something here. That does not mean that we are not equally concerned with intolerance wherever and however it appears (I think a Darfur ribbon should be put on the blog, by the way, and I will do so ... unless someone disagrees?).

My heart is telling me that this is the right thing to do. Okay, it is not the March in Thelma Alabama, or Burmese monks refusing to accept alms, or Gahndi taking on the British. It is a small thing, but the same steps are required. I do not think that I should remain silent, and that a "call to boycott" is a legitimate, Buddhist step ...

http://neatplates.com/TIBET_SAVE-TIBET-BOYCOTT-CHINA.jpg

Gassho, Jundo

Longdog
12-09-2007, 09:44 PM
Hi, me again. I'm still of the 'forget 'em and get on with my own practice' school of thought for all I think that what they say stinks.

Any proclamaition on your own site homepage or that of others critising E-Sanga is not a good first impression for you to make. Surely it falls under the precepts of critising others and also saying that we're better than them.

If the question is of up holding right speech then that has already been done hasn't it? Hence the 2 threads on it here and I pressume some mention on E-Sanga?

Listening to todays talk again (before the zazen) made me think of this issue.

In gassho, Kev

Jundo
12-09-2007, 10:04 PM
Hi Guys,

As I have always said, the Precepts are made for living in a life/world with many ambiguities and gray areas. We must try to do, as we can, that which (from our available vantage point and educated guesses) reduces harm and increases benefit ... But some actions, like the one we are discussing, have mixed results.

All we can do is try to stand back and choose, as best we can, the "right" course. "Right Speech" is the same.

So, if there is so much feeling in the Sangha that we should do nothing more, then we shall do nothing more on this.

I will let other people in the Sangha chime in and express their opinions over the next day. But, if the consensus is this, I will limit my actions to writing E-Sangha a letter expressing my objections, and leave it at that.


Gassho, Jundo

TracyF
12-09-2007, 10:16 PM
I am considering (with some others) initiating a peaceful campaign regarding E-Sangha, uniting several Buddhist schools, under the slogan "Religious Intolerance is Un-Buddhist - PLEASE BOYCOTT E-SANGHA, An Intolerant Buddhist Community".
Something doesn't sit right with me in the bolded part, Jundo. Seems to kind of stoop to their level. I'd prefer if you found a way to use this as an education tool. I asked a few questions in the other thread on this. I'm sure there's lots of people out there who would benefit from some answers to those questions from the Soto Zen point of view. Maybe your campaign should be simple: something along the lines that people new to Buddhism should be forewarned that not all Buddhist sects are properly represented at e-sangha (particularly Zen, Tendai, etc.). Then link people to legitimate texts on the internet that are considered mainstream Soto Zen. You could even bullet point some of the points of contention: rebirth, other earthly realms (and associated beings), etc. Stress that the main point of Soto Zen is zazen, etc. etc.

I hope I'm not being too demanding for a new person. :lol:

KvonNJ
12-09-2007, 10:35 PM
Hey Jundo
I applaud your decision not to return. I think the fact that you were considering it and the fact that you're even now asking for advice show tremendous humility, which in turn I find humbling.
However, a return there, in my opinion, would be wrong. I've got a few reasons, chief among which are these:
A return and a submission to the arbitrary rules they've established would indicate tacit approval of their fundamentalist stance, which, in tyour position as a Sensei would be wrong. you cannot give the appearance of supporting something you just don't, and can't submit to someone you believe to be wrong.
Secondly, such a return would indicate to those people that their errors are actually correct, and you might be the cause of further wrongful action on their part by appearing to agree with them. The Bible offers the advice, "As much as it lies with you, be at peace with all men." But that doesn't imply that you just roll over and accept the supposed authority of just anyone who wants you to submit.
Lastly, we are Soto Zen bcause we believe this to be the right path for us. How could a teacher submit to a "rule" that says basically that we're okay, but essentially wrong, and more correct and "better" buddhists ought to hold sway over us?
If I'd wanted to be a Tibetan Buddhist, I would be. But I'm not. I'm a Zen Buddhist. I'm Zen because it's what I believe and feel in the depths of my soul... not because someone from another tradition who beieves himself and his beiefs to be superior to me and mine said I was allowed to.
I'm not going into a long list of why I find Soto Zen superior to other forms of Buddhism, or why even within the Mahayana community I find Zen to be the best approach. But I will say tha I DO, and I don't need the approval of a Lama, Monk, or anyone else to feel what I do.
If you return to E-Sangha under the conditions they demand, you'll be giving tacit approval to the superiority they already seem to believe they have, and while no fight or debate is really necessary, your submission to people who are in no way in authority over you would be wrong. And it would be an even worse mistake because in your position, it's assumed that in such matters you also speak for your students. Unless you'd feel comfortable telling one of us here to submit to those bizarre regulations, I don't think you going back yourself is a good idea.
Lastly, those rules are COWARDLY. Unless you want to teach that fear of the "other" is a good thing, the example they're setting isn't one you ought to be a representative of.
These are just my own thoughts, but I've been through something similar and had to reason this stuff out myself in the past.
I hope something I said was written so it made some sense.

Jundo
12-09-2007, 10:37 PM
I am considering (with some others) initiating a peaceful campaign regarding E-Sangha, uniting several Buddhist schools, under the slogan "Religious Intolerance is Un-Buddhist - PLEASE BOYCOTT E-SANGHA, An Intolerant Buddhist Community".
Something doesn't sit right with me in the bolded part, Jundo. Seems to kind of stoop to their level. I'd prefer if you found a way to use this as an education tool. I asked a few questions in the other thread on this. I'm sure there's lots of people out there who would benefit from some answers to those questions from the Soto Zen point of view. Maybe your campaign should be simple: something along the lines that people new to Buddhism should be forewarned that not all Buddhist sects are properly represented at e-sangha (particularly Zen, Tendai, etc.). Then link people to legitimate texts on the internet that are considered mainstream Soto Zen. You could even bullet point some of the points of contention: rebirth, other earthly realms (and associated beings), etc. Stress that the main point of Soto Zen is zazen, etc. etc.

I hope I'm not being too demanding for a new person. :lol:

Hi Tracy,

Thank you for your scientific mind and analysis of the problem. :-)

Maybe a "A PUBLIC CAUTION REGARDING E-SANGHA BUDDHIST COMMUNITY" webpage would be a good public service, doing what you say: Providing a description of the problem and various alternatives. It would be a service to people who are, for example, new to Buddhism and are not aware of problems with the information available there?

Gassho, Jundo

Steve
12-09-2007, 10:44 PM
I believe that individuals and organizations that practice wrong speech and take wrong action will eventually author their own failure.

I do not believe that anyone's immortal soul will be in peril by participating in discussions at e-sangha. I also do not think that many people will turn their backs on finding a path to practice if they are frustrated by an experience with e-sangha.

What is at question is how much time someone may waste before deducing that some representatives of e-sangha follow a narrow path.

As such, I tend to echo Rev's statement..."Be lamps unto yourselves". We can best shine a light on intolerance, wrong speech and wrong action through continued open and honest discussion. Signs and slogans calling for boycott serve to entrench sides.

Jundo: Please continue to do your work. The universe needs examples of intolerance to teach tolerance. I second Harry's motion. If any of us see an intolerant post from e-sangha, yell "SPLITTER!"

In laughter,

Steve

Jun
12-09-2007, 11:47 PM
Hello Jundo,

Honestly I would have to say, "why bother?" and agree to what Rev. has said.

In earlier days I had many a heated argument with Tibetan and Chinese followers - and it got nowhere. They believe they are right - let them be. If "Buddhism" to them is all about who is a "real" Buddhist by way of which precepts they have taken then they have lost the plot as far as I can see.

Who cares which precepts Saicho had all later Japanese sects adopt? Are the precepts solely what constitutes Buddhism? They are getting their kesa all knotted up over which monastic rules one follows! How silly, how childish.

Let them be. Nothing can be gained by arguing with them. Tell them why you disagree with their attitude and let them be.

To them Buddhism is a fixed and unchanging teaching - I say that Buddhism is not a finished product. It is being constantly re-evaluated and modified to fit the cultures and followers it encounters.

As for boycotting E-Sangha - I would have to say no, don't stoop to their level.

In the Suttanipata the Buddha says, "Live in the world relying on the self alone as foundation, be freed from all things, depending on nothing." In the Dhammapada Buddha says, "The foundation of self is only self."

Monastic types with all their bickering and arguing over who is truly "ordained" and who is truly "Buddhist" should be locked away to let those of us more concerned with PRACTICE get on with it.

Rev R
12-09-2007, 11:57 PM
An old saying is that one has to learn to crawl before one can walk. Sure we haven't taken a stand as a sangha against any of the major problems of the world, but we have taken stands as individuals. Now we have been asked to take a stand as a group against an intolerant mindset and it seems that people are just looking at it as "ho-hum" maybe as Jundo's petty vindictiveness.

Sure e-sangha is an internet forum, but it is an influential group and reflects a mindset in the international Buddhist community that I feel very strongly is against the values that we claim to uphold. You can accuse me of seeing things in black and white all you like, but I see no degrees of intolerance.

I see no difference in the mindset that certain Buddhist methods are second class (this includes Jundo, Nishijima, me and each and every one of you), and the mentality that caused man to commit atrocities throughout history. It establishes that certain people are inferior to others based on what they believe. While e-sangha may not be using bullets and death squads to silence the "inferior" belief, they are using censorship and censorship is the enemy of the free-thought that I feel is the core of the Buddha's teaching.

Jundo so far has not asked us to do anything but support him in this course of action. Is this going to solve the world's problems? Not in the slightest, but it is doing something to help make the world a better place starting in the larger Buddhist community.

As an avalanche starts with the movement of a single flake, drawing attention to the ugly face of intolerance within the greater Buddhist community can only lead to attention paid to intolerance elsewhere. We have to start somewhere our own back yard is as good as any.

Rodney

Rev R
12-10-2007, 12:02 AM
oh before I forget...good to see you back online Junpei old friend.

Komoku
12-10-2007, 12:36 AM
An old saying is that one has to learn to crawl before one can walk. Sure we haven't taken a stand as a sangha against any of the major problems of the world, but we have taken stands as individuals. Now we have been asked to take a stand as a group against an intolerant mindset and it seems that people are just looking at it as "ho-hum" maybe as Jundo's petty vindictiveness.

Sure e-sangha is an internet forum, but it is an influential group and reflects a mindset in the international Buddhist community that I feel very strongly is against the values that we claim to uphold. You can accuse me of seeing things in black and white all you like, but I see no degrees of intolerance.

I see no difference in the mindset that certain Buddhist methods are second class (this includes Jundo, Nishijima, me and each and every one of you), and the mentality that caused man to commit atrocities throughout history. It establishes that certain people are inferior to others based on what they believe. While e-sangha may not be using bullets and death squads to silence the "inferior" belief, they are using censorship and censorship is the enemy of the free-thought that I feel is the core of the Buddha's teaching.

Jundo so far has not asked us to do anything but support him in this course of action. Is this going to solve the world's problems? Not in the slightest, but it is doing something to help make the world a better place starting in the larger Buddhist community.

As an avalanche starts with the movement of a single flake, drawing attention to the ugly face of intolerance within the greater Buddhist community can only lead to attention paid to intolerance elsewhere. We have to start somewhere our own back yard is as good as any.

Rodney

I, for one, don't think Jundo is being petty or vindictive. What happened to Jundo would get to anyone because it is unjust. However, look around, has Jundo commercialized his site, is he setting up not-for-profits? Is there a motivation to get Jundo's goat (may be a southern expression)? This isn't about intolerance as much as power and materialism. There I said it, Bud told me to.

The response needs to be proportionate.

KvonNJ
12-10-2007, 12:53 AM
Is there a motivation to get Jundo's goat (may be a southern expression)? This isn't about intolerance as much as power and materialism. There I said it, Bud told me to.

Oh, I think there's a motivation, all right. Same reason that in the Christian world, certain high profile ministershave to hack and slash at anyone who's not just like them... but under their authority.
Basically, it's a case of bad diamonds.
Ever see a Zircon? It's a man-made diamond. Same basic thing... carbon under pressure yeilds pretty, shiny crystals. Zircons just happen to be pressurized by man instead of millions of years of geology.
Now, a zircon may look pretty, flash the light nicely, and all that good stuff. You might even find it beautiful.
Until you see a zircon next to a real diamond. When THAT comparison is made, only the real diamond seems to shine. No jeweller will display the zircon next to the real diamond; the diamond will outshine it and make the zircon look cheap and fake every time.
that's the same reason people like Pat Robertson had to speak against Mother Theresa. It's the reason the Chinese are so afraid of his Holiness the Dalai Lama. And it's the reason the folks at E-Sangha want to silence Jundo. they talk a good game about exploring faith and adhering to Buddhist ideals, but when push comes to shove...
Nothing makes a counterfeit stand out like the presence of the genuine article.

Komoku
12-10-2007, 01:17 AM
Speaking of pretty rocks...I wonder if the word "Zen" sells more T-shirts than the word "Loppon"?

TracyF
12-10-2007, 01:26 AM
Maybe a "A PUBLIC CAUTION REGARDING E-SANGHA BUDDHIST COMMUNITY" webpage would be a good public service, doing what you say: Providing a description of the problem and various alternatives. It would be a service to people who are, for example, new to Buddhism and are not aware of problems with the information available there?
Perfect! The problem with e-sangha is not their views per se (although they don't work for me), it's that they write as though they speak with authority for all Buddhism. That's very misleading for impressionable new people. Some people may think those views fit theirs but a lot of people (like me) would look at e-sangha and say to themselves, "That's Buddhism? Fuhgetaboutit!" :wink:

Kelly M.
12-10-2007, 02:10 AM
Jundo, for what it is worth I agree with and stand behind your discision to turn down E-Sangha.

As for your campain, I agree with Rodney:


An old saying is that one has to learn to crawl before one can walk. Sure we haven't taken a stand as a sangha against any of the major problems of the world, but we have taken stands as individuals. Now we have been asked to take a stand as a group against an intolerant mindset and it seems that people are just looking at it as "ho-hum" maybe as Jundo's petty vindictiveness.

Sure e-sangha is an internet forum, but it is an influential group and reflects a mindset in the international Buddhist community that I feel very strongly is against the values that we claim to uphold. You can accuse me of seeing things in black and white all you like, but I see no degrees of intolerance.

I see no difference in the mindset that certain Buddhist methods are second class (this includes Jundo, Nishijima, me and each and every one of you), and the mentality that caused man to commit atrocities throughout history. It establishes that certain people are inferior to others based on what they believe. While e-sangha may not be using bullets and death squads to silence the "inferior" belief, they are using censorship and censorship is the enemy of the free-thought that I feel is the core of the Buddha's teaching.

Jundo so far has not asked us to do anything but support him in this course of action. Is this going to solve the world's problems? Not in the slightest, but it is doing something to help make the world a better place starting in the larger Buddhist community.

As an avalanche starts with the movement of a single flake, drawing attention to the ugly face of intolerance within the greater Buddhist community can only lead to attention paid to intolerance elsewhere. We have to start somewhere our own back yard is as good as any.

Rodney

E-Sangha was the first forum I joined when I began practicing. Not knowing much about any particular tradition, I would post many questions in the non-sectarian sections such as 'Beginner Buddhism'. Of course, I would never get a straight answer. One reply would be from a Tibetan monk, the next a Zen practitioner, the next could be a new-age person who only read a few chapters off of Buddhanet.net. I found this to be very confusing :? .

Then I began to notice the arguing. Constant bickering about a rebirth, vegetarianism, sutras etc. etc. etc. Again, I could not understand at that point why there was so little consensus (neither could many of those doing the arguing I suspect).

Then I began to see the useless chatter (people using E-Sangha as a dating service etc) and the never-ending attachment to opinion (each person trying to out-meta the next; each trying to be more profound than the last).

Now I see this in-bred attachment to religion leading to this blunt discrimination. And this is not the only example. Even the vegetarians Buddhists in the vegetarian forums will bash meat eating Buddhists.

I was lucky as I became disenchanted with E-Sangha rather quickly. But I believe that website has the potential to do harm to beginners. And it has a lot of beginners! It seems to have a never ending flow of newbies (myself included) asking the same old questions, seeking the same advice, and many (from my observations) seem to get sucked into the same stagnant waters of misinformation, over-opinionism and discrimination.

I personally don’t think that I smear campaign is in anyone’s best interest (as gratifying as a little piece of me thinks it would be :twisted: ), but I can vouch from personal experience that an education program warning of the 'Three Stagnant Waters’© (that’s right Jundo, I’m coining my own term here :wink: ) would be a great service- not just with regard to E-Sangha, but Buddhism as a whole. Especially now with the popularity of on-line Buddhism.

That my opinion anyways, as someone used E-Sangha extensively as a raw newbie.
Gassho,
Kelly

PS- I once purchased a book titled “Buddhism for Beginners” expecting that such a broad title was probably going to provide a broad introduction to the subject… nope; it was exclusively an introduction to Tibetan Buddhism. Us newbies need to know what they are reading!

Shohei
12-10-2007, 02:19 AM
ill chime in late here. I personally dropped e-sangha after Jundo's ban. not because they banned - thats thier own thing.. let them have at it. I have witnessed overzelous use of admin power and watched it ruin a great thing...The same will happen for that matter, it was the behaviour AFTER the ban.. the admins took a TAKE THAT PUNY ZENNIE! stance. not very "Right" speech or actions.. shit i know kids that play nicer than that
Many good points raised and i have a list of stuff i have issue with but Ill keep it short and sweet. Although I owe some one @ esangha 1 favor and that is posting about treeleaf, I do not think we need a presence there that is censored and constantly under threat of some form of punishment... im with the rev on the above, BTW. on all points.

Gassho
one great big flake :P

Dirk

will
12-10-2007, 02:27 AM
My post was a little preachy, so I deleted it. From your experience and practice J, do feel this is the right thing to do?



G,W

Jun
12-10-2007, 04:02 AM
"The problem with e-sangha is not their views per se (although they don't work for me), it's that they write as though they speak with authority for all Buddhism."

Hate to say it, but that is the Tibetan attitude speaking there. How many Websites, books, DVD's, and talks by the Dalai Lama and other lama-dama-ding-dongs posit that THEIR version of "Buddhism" is the TRUE™ and CORRECT™ Buddhism - nearly all.

But this attitude is not just within e-sangha - it is right across the board and can be seen within and between all sects of Buddhism from the earliest days to now. (Saicho's pointed criticisms against Shingon-shu, Kegon-shu, Sanron-shu, and Hosso-shu and his opinion that Tendai and the Lotus sutra were the MOST SUPERIOR teachings of Buddhism come to mind.)

I've been called a "fundamentalist Buddhist" a few times for trying to point out what are clearly cultural trappings within various Buddhist traditions. I've tried pointing out that much of the religious regalia that many cling to is against the teachings of the Dharma only to be told that I should shut my heretical mouth!

Some take the outward cultural trappings and the outdated views of the ancient teachers as being THE teachings - not to be questioned or criticised.


Oh, and thanks for the welcome Rodney. :D

Jun
12-10-2007, 05:12 AM
My post was a little preachy, so I deleted it. From your experience and practice J, do feel this is the right thing to do?

G,W

Not sure if you are asking me Will, but I'll hazard an answer.

As practising Buddhists I believe it is the right thing to correct misconceptions and untruths about our practice. I offer a caution however from my own experience.

For quite a while I tried to correct the commonly held misconceptions and untruths that abound about Buddhist practice. But it comes with a price. Sometimes those commonly held misconceptions are hard for others to give up, and some would rather not know that what they have come to believe in is perhaps a perverted or incorrect version. Some will get hostile when they find that what they have believed in is being questioned or corrected.

My (typically Japanese) teachers advice - "Better to shut up and know that what YOU do is correct."

Jundo
12-10-2007, 08:32 AM
Dear Everybody,

Thank you again. These types of decisions should be made by discussion and consensus of the Sangha, I think. (In fact, they always have been in Buddhist history ... It was one of the Buddha's first rules he set out)

There were pros and cons on both sides, and the old card carrying ACLU retired lawyer in me had his trigger tripped. I do not care for social intolerance in its many forms. "Right Action" can have so many gray areas, and that was the case here. As Buddhists, we always need to ask ourselves when to keep quiet, when to voice opposition, when to undertake a boycott or a sit-in (or call Kung Fu Kane to clear the room). Based on the wise input from you guys, this seems like a case for the former, with a little bit of the middle ... but not the latter boycott and such. (Tracy's idea, however, really is good and sensible ... I need to think about that one).

A couple of comments really touched me ...

Kev said ...

One reason I came to Soto Zen Buddhism was that it doesn't seem to evangelical in it's approach and people just get on with sitting.

We have to keep that spirit.

Jim said ...

Leave the e-sangha to the e-sangha. With the treeleaf create light and not heat. I believe the seekers who come here are seeking light.

Yes, let's keep trying to do just that.

Tracy wrote ...

I'd prefer if you found a way to use this as an education tool. I asked a few questions in the other thread on this. I'm sure there's lots of people out there who would benefit from some answers to those questions from the Soto Zen point of view. Maybe your campaign should be simple: something along the lines that people new to Buddhism should be forewarned that not all Buddhist sects are properly represented at e-sangha (particularly Zen, Tendai, etc.). Then link people to legitimate texts on the internet that are considered mainstream Soto Zen. You could even bullet point some of the points of contention: rebirth, other earthly realms (and associated beings), etc. Stress that the main point of Soto Zen is zazen, etc. etc.

and

The problem with e-sangha is not their views per se (although they don't work for me), it's that they write as though they speak with authority for all Buddhism. That's very misleading for impressionable new people


There is something positive (not aggressive, and very constructive) about this idea, and I will give it thought.

a return there, in my opinion, would be wrong. I've got a few reasons, chief among which are these:
A return and a submission to the arbitrary rules they've established would indicate tacit approval of their fundamentalist stance .... you cannot give the appearance of supporting something you just don't, and can't submit to someone you believe to be wrong.

That is why I told them I am not coming back.

Steve said ...

What is at question is how much time someone may waste before deducing that some representatives of e-sangha follow a narrow path.

As such, I tend to echo Rev's statement..."Be lamps unto yourselves". We can best shine a light on intolerance, wrong speech and wrong action through continued open and honest discussion. Signs and slogans calling for boycott serve to entrench sides.

Jundo: Please continue to do your work. The universe needs examples of intolerance to teach tolerance.

Steve and Rev, let's keep the lamp lit on our own windowsill.

Jun wrote ...

Let them be. Nothing can be gained by arguing with them. Tell them why you disagree with their attitude and let them be.

To them Buddhism is a fixed and unchanging teaching - I say that Buddhism is not a finished product. It is being constantly re-evaluated and modified to fit the cultures and followers it encounters.

Very nice, Jun.

Kelly said ...

Then I began to see the useless chatter ... and the never-ending attachment to opinion (each person trying to out-meta the next; each trying to be more profound than the last).

It is so very fine that we have avoided this at Treeleaf. Let's do everything to keep it so.

You know, guys: This is the first time we made a "familial" decision like this. I think we did good. I think this is how we best should have handled this..

Now, let's get back to our sitting.

Gassho, J

Hans
12-10-2007, 10:47 AM
Hi Folks!


That's what happens when one doesn't log on to Treeleaf for a few hours :)

Although the decision has been already made, please allow me to add some of my own brief thoughts on the subject.

Before I became a Zennie and took refuge in the three jewels, I had been very much involved in a different religious sub-culture for almost a decade (I still am involved, but for cultural, not for theological/religious reasons anymore). To cut the long story short, situations like the one described above by Jundo surfaced there as well, and not only once but a few times during my "active" time there. I learned one lesson: No matter how justified any kind of boycott or (for lack of another word) negative/defensive strategy is, it won't get you anywhere in the long run, unless you are prepared to put loads of time and resources into it (and even that can still lead to sometimes dubious results). Through making the Treeleaf tree stronger, we can accomplish a lot more than to try and pool resources in order to oppose something outside our own gates.

Leading through example. Whatever you want to call it. Just my experience for what it's worth.

Gassho,

Hans


P.S. Conan! What is best in life? Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women. ... :)

KvonNJ
12-10-2007, 11:45 AM
Hate to say it, but that is the Tibetan attitude speaking there. How many Websites, books, DVD's, and talks by the Dalai Lama and other lama-dama-ding-dongs posit that THEIR version of "Buddhism" is the TRUE™ and CORRECT™ Buddhism - nearly all.


Tibetan Buddhism is our own, Buddhist version of Roman Catholicism.
Heavy on regalia, ceremony, and dogma, and light on personal experience and deep meaningful personal practice. Get the words and ceremonies right. who cares what kind of THOUGHT goes into it?
That said, I loved John Paul II, and I love His Holiness the Dalai Lama. But though I do, I feel no need to submit to the absolute authority of eithr, nor do I feel a need to subscribe to the denominations they represent.

Jun
12-10-2007, 12:28 PM
Hate to say it, but that is the Tibetan attitude speaking there. How many Websites, books, DVD's, and talks by the Dalai Lama and other lama-dama-ding-dongs posit that THEIR version of "Buddhism" is the TRUE™ and CORRECT™ Buddhism - nearly all.


Tibetan Buddhism is our own, Buddhist version of Roman Catholicism.
Heavy on regalia, ceremony, and dogma, and light on personal experience and deep meaningful personal practice. Get the words and ceremonies right. who cares what kind of THOUGHT goes into it?
That said, I loved John Paul II, and I love His Holiness the Dalai Lama. But though I do, I feel no need to submit to the absolute authority of eithr, nor do I feel a need to subscribe to the denominations they represent.

Remember, the Dalai Lama WON'T be reincarnated into an area under Chinese control (he claims) as the People's Republic recently issued a proclamation banning tulkus from reincarnating without government permission! :shock:

Bansho
12-10-2007, 01:14 PM
Hi guys,

Sorry for the late reply, my wife is feeling a bit under the weather and requires my attention.

Those conditions posed to Jundo by E-Sangha are simply ridiculous. (BTW, after having posted that thread 'Free Speech in Soto Zen Buddhism' I was also banned from E-Sangha and that thread was deleted). I guess for me the question is, what is more beneficial and less harmful, action or non-action? It’s not an easy question, but I think the latter may be the best route. I think people who are drawn towards highly idealized world views filled with myths and legends will ultimately seek out places like E-Sangha where they can live out their fantasies. If E-Sangha were to suddenly disappear, those people would simply go someplace else. On the other hand, people who reject the rigid dogmatism, supression of free speech, misconceptions and fairy tales propagated by those folks at E-Sangha will quite soon run into trouble there and leave (or be thrown out...) anyway. The universe has it’s way of sorting itself out. :D

Gassho
Ken

Mensch
12-10-2007, 02:22 PM
Maybe I'm just inexcusably naive, but I used to care rather little about different traditions and practices. After all they're "just the finger" ... yadda yadda. That doesn't mean one shouldn't stick to one's preferred tradition's forms and methods but it does mean I looked at the quirks and magic of Tibetan practice for example as just some kind of "very elaborate bowing". This does of course not include abuse of power and religious chauvinism which no tradition is safe from.

Ironically, the Dalai Lama himself contributed greatly to my understanding of religious fundamentalism. During a lecture in Hamburg he answered a listener's question on religious fundamentalism (roughly): "What religious fundamentalists have in mind is obviously not religion." Simple, isn't it?

Jundo, I think that "offer" from E-Sangha is really a shame, unworthy of anyone who considers himself Buddhist. Any kind of public opposition or campaign would attribute an authority to E-Sangha that it obviously does not deserve. To beginners it might even nourish the misconception that Buddhism once more is about "believing the right things". I don't say this as a Buddhist only but also as an advertising professional.

I am not yet convinced that E-Sangha's conduct resembles the attitude of the Buddhist schools involved but I'll gladly learn if someone cared to guide me to further online sources of "Buddhist" intolerance. Thanks.

Off for sitting now,

Mensch


PS: It's nice to be among reasonable people. Really.

Mika
12-10-2007, 02:57 PM
E-Sangha was first (foreign) Buddhist forum I stumbled into. I noticed many of the same things people have mentioned here and also got myself a little trouble when I tried asking precise questions about rebirth (after reading Nishijima's take on it for example). They practically threw that "Dogen writes so, so you must believe it too" to my face.

One of the Soto Zen moderators (Anders something...?) was kind enough to discuss the issue with me a little further through private messages (though I was left unsatisfied with his explanations of why we should believe in literal rebirth), but anyway I stopped visiting the site soon after that (and fortunately found my way here a little later, it's always nice to have more people with different cultural backgrounds).

Even though Jundo has made the decision against an outright boycott I still think that some kind of a "warning" for newbies might be in order. Like for myself E-Sangha is the first place many people seek out when they start googling for Buddhist discussion forums and even though some see the truth about them sooner or later it certainly wouldn't hurt if there was a website out there that told the other part of the story and discussed a bit of the many shortcomings of E-Sangha (and showed that there are indeed other views out there too that are just as legitimate as what they proclaim).

It doesn't have to be (directly) linked to Treeleaf, but if anyone is willing to take it upon themselves to build such a page I'm sure this sangha could contribute to it's contents.

I would volunteer but I already have too many "to be done soon" projects underway. 8)

And even though we won't as a community go into war against E-Sangha then individuals who want to take up actions against their intolerance could point people to that "Learn the Horrible Truth About E-Sangha" page. :twisted:

Ok, just kidding with the name. I think the "Lamp" metaphor would be really good to use for this kind of cases. :)

..::walter::..
12-10-2007, 04:13 PM
under the slogan "Religious Intolerance is Un-Buddhist - PLEASE BOYCOTT E-SANGHA, An Intolerant Buddhist Community".

(maybe the slogan needs to be toned down a bit?).

... what do you guys think??

Gassho, Jundo

i think that "PLEASE BOYCOTT E-SANGHA" is too strong.

i suggest a banner (linked to a page whre all this sad things are explained) with the words of the slogan but without the boycott advice, if someone wants to join them after he has read what happens in that community he is free to do it.

i am happy to be here and do not be there :)

for you, i'm sure your zendo and forum will become more known and your words of wisdom will be listen worldwide :wink:

and.. don't be sad, because your sadness is also mine!!!

louis
12-10-2007, 04:14 PM
Nice to see that we can come to a reasonable opinion here (and without my input! imagine that (0_^) ). I am not a fan of confrontation, at least not until one's preferred options are exhausted, and an educational FAQ here sounds like a good idea.

will
12-10-2007, 04:53 PM
Jun
Not sure if you are asking me Will, but I'll hazard an answer.


Sorry. That was for Jundo Jun. I guess I'll use full names next time. Thanks for the answer though.

Gassho Will

Rev R
12-10-2007, 05:13 PM
So I guess it's settled.

The solution is: Let this one be. Fair enough.

With second place: education
A few words: I liked Tracy's idea. It's something that I think should be implemented across schools and lineages. A unified front of the more "progressive" ideas if you will. It doesn't need to be in opposition to anything nor does it need to be an endorsement of one tradition over another.


Junpei,
You're quite welcome for the welcome. Also I would like to apologize for not catching your back during the last round of "fundie Buddhist bashing" at that other place. Though two voices probably wouldn't have done a bit of good since the knee-jerk response was already in high gear by the time I got to the discussion. Once again, apologies.

Eika
12-10-2007, 05:50 PM
I love the idea of being more proactively educational on the forum. Some of these topics are confusing and a bit of clear explanation on them (even if the explanation is "we're not sure") would help newcomers as well as vets.
I think maintaining a positive voice, even in opposition to e-sangha, is critical. Their knowledge of the world is incomplete and so is ours. We, with our particular collection of faults, should forgive them for their particular collection of faults, while simultaneously being vocal about our views when they are challenged or misunderstood.

Bill

Kukai Myoe
12-10-2007, 06:18 PM
Hi everyone. Jundo, I must admit I was saddened to hear of your new problems with Darth Namdrol & e-sangha. Myself, a few days back, I quit the place over personal insults. But was asked to reconsider my decision. I did so, partially because I heard peace had been made. Now I'm reconsidering my reconsideration. lol

I actually feel a boycott is a good idea. The reason why I don't agree with just ignoring them is that it does not work. Everybody who has been banned from there, or left over their hyper-orthodoxy, has ignored them. In the meantime, their internet clout has increased. A lot of new Buddhists are getting some rather warped ideas about Buddhism.

I agree that any boycott must have a positive message, otherwise we might see this backfire. Something such as "Celebrate Over 2500 Years of Buddhist Diversity."as a slogan, then a description of the boycott.

I realize that this is apparently over & done. However, I hope this issue would be reconsidered at some point in the future.

Gassho,

Kukai


p.s. As a lay follower of Shingon-shu & a Zen newbie, I find Namdrol's comments on Japanese lineages to be a crock of BS (Please excuse my Tibetan :lol: )

Jun
12-11-2007, 03:37 AM
Junpei,
You're quite welcome for the welcome. Also I would like to apologize for not catching your back during the last round of "fundie Buddhist bashing" at that other place. Though two voices probably wouldn't have done a bit of good since the knee-jerk response was already in high gear by the time I got to the discussion. Once again, apologies.

Ah, not to worry my friend. All is good. :D

I like this idea suggested by Walter -


i suggest a banner (linked to a page where all these sad things are explained) with the words of the slogan but without the boycott advice, if someone wants to join them after he has read what happens in that community he is free to do it.

I do believe education is the best cure. Misinformation can be destructive.

Keishin
12-11-2007, 03:46 AM
Hellos to all:
I'm late to the party here, but I did have a few comments, more like a post script, I guess:

Narrow interpretations-- I've always found them to be very helpful for me. I've watched myself get all caught up in the 'smallness' and the obvious 'wrongness' of someone elses limiting/limited view but I've come to see the self-made trap that it is.
After all, precisely what is a view?
When I have time and energy seems like there are no end of windmills to tilt.
I'm sure here in cyber space, there are umptillions of odd places where people post authoritatively about every religion under the sun.
As far as I know, cyber space is big enough to handle it all.
As far as rebirth goes....I ask myself "OK, what if it's true?" What if I can remember my most recent previous life? So? So what! And what if I can remember dozens of them? So? So who cares anyway? It still comes down to this rightnowmoment, righthere, rightnow. Like having a dream in which certain things were understood and realized, and then you wake up, and can't remember the dream, but you do remember how the dreamfelt.
When exposed to narrow mindedness I get to experience again what narrowness feels like. Someone else's narrow views stifle, but my own narrow thoughts--feel so 'right' I can see the seduction of them--why people spend time and energy defending them--they get more 'real' when defended--but it's like pretending to have something in your hand to entertain your child--when the fingers are finally pryed open and there in the open palm is nothing--that there always was nothing there...there is the wondering about all the intensity and all the excitement--just where did it come from?

So much to catch up on, I'll just leave this thought here....

keishin

Murah
12-11-2007, 04:09 AM
Hello Jundo and everyone....Long time no see :)


I've been hovering around the blog and forums , just kind of looking and enjoying the posts that come up from time to time. However, I feel I must respond to what has happened recently and put in my two cents.

I believe the main argument with posting a banner or whatnot is whether we should alert people new to Buddhism ( like myself) that the E-sangha forums are a bit one sided in their views and re-direct them to more helpful websites . However, it must be said that without the E-sangha Forums, I would have never found Jundo and the treeleaf zendo! I just don't want to see something so simple blown out of proportions.

In the end, people really don't need a banner or a sign or anything..they'll just eventually find wonderful places like this on their own. Just go with the flow

If you build it...they will come :)

P.S. This is just an opinion of an 18 year old...nothing more , nothing less. ha ha

-Murah (Rcc)

Gregor
12-11-2007, 05:41 AM
I'm so late in chiming in here, but I'll go for it anyway. . .

that "offer" from E-sangha was disgusting, it's pretty sad to see such intolerance being demonstrated by "Buddhists"

I think I have to agree with Kukai, ignoring this issue does not work, we ought to raise our voice over this a little and shine our light.

I'm very concerned about the the dearth of misinformation that is affecting Buddhism. I'm all in favor of attempts to educate people about this. Perhaps a full blown anti e-sangha campaign would be a bit much, but I do like Harry's idea of a regarding E-sangha sticky.

In closing Jundo, keep doing what your doing here, shining your light it's having a bigger impact and doing greater good for the dharma than you imagine. Don't let the close mindedness of a few "Buddhist" jerks get you down.

KvonNJ
12-11-2007, 10:50 AM
Instead of harsh wording about boycotts, or even naming anyone specific on the "banner," how about something like, "Buddha is as Buddha does. Any time someone tells you what Buddhism 'HAS to be,' put one hand over your wallet and back slowly toward the door. Love your faith. Beware people selling a religion."

KvonNJ
12-11-2007, 11:43 AM
OR, even more simple:



http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2293/2103319064_43daa15e7a.jpg
LOVE YOUR FAITH!
REJECT RELIGION!

Martin
12-11-2007, 06:36 PM
I've been "away" for a couple of days due to work and looking after my son after his operation (he's doing really well) so I’m adding my thoughts late.

I think the consensus reached here is spot on. It's difficult, because many newbies to Buddhism do visit e-sangha first, so e-sangha do have the potential to mislead and scare people off Buddhism altogether.

Like many others here, I went to e-sangha first, but was soon scared off by the bickering, posturing and intolerance. And whilst, by definition, no one who made it here was put off permanently, there may be others who are put off Buddhism permanently. But even if so, who is to say they didn't find a path outside Buddhism that leads to the same place? And if, as a newbie, I'd come across a Protest or Movement to boycott e-sangha, I might just have viewed that protest as further evidence of Buddhism being divided and that might have made me go elsewhere outside Buddhism to join the church of the Invisible Pink Unicorn, or whatever.

Whereas by maintaining Treeleaf, Jundo, you are making a difference. What a contrast to e-sangha! I think it was Gandhi who said that if you want to change something, you must first be the change you wish to be.

Gassho

Martin

KvonNJ
12-11-2007, 07:04 PM
I keep coming back to the slogans taught by Atisha Dipankara, who brought the complete Bhodichitta teachings to Tibet in the eleventh century.
Among the precepts he taught were these:
1) FIRST train in the preliminaries
2) Regard all Dharmas as dreams.
and # 19) All Dharmas agree at one point.

It seems to me that the very man who brought Tibet the teachings they've embraced taught in no uncertain terms that we should major in the majors and minor in the minors, and that any time the teaching becomes the object of veneration rather than its subject, one has traded Dharma and truth for a "religious" counterfeit. If that was the goal, Bussha could have achieved enlightenment through his austerities rather than through nothingness.
THEREFORE, Tibetan Buddhism (as presented by E-Sangha) has utterly missed its own mark. Their own earliest teachings taught the core of Zen... which they've rejected in favor of religion.
Amazing.

Rev R
12-11-2007, 07:22 PM
I'm reminded of a story that is so fitting to both sides of this situation.




There were two monks who were forbidden from having contact with women. Whilst out walking one day a woman approached them and asked if they could help her across a river.

One of the monks hesitated, but the other one picked her up and carried her across the river and put her down on the other side. The monks continued on their way.

After a few hours, the monk who didn’t assist the woman was unable to hold his silence any longer and spoke out in anger. “Brother, our spiritual training teaches us to avoid any contact with women. What you did has bugged me for hours and I can’t stop thinking about it. You shouldn’t have done that, you know it is forbidden”.

In reply, the monk said “I put that woman down hours ago, why didn’t you?”

If we continue to harp on the flaws of the e-sangha administration, do we not fall victim to the same flaw?
:twisted:

Jundo
12-11-2007, 11:19 PM
Oh, are you guys STILL talking about E-Sangha? I put that subject down a couple of days ago. :wink:


(we may go ahead with the 'educational webpage' suggestion though)

KvonNJ
12-12-2007, 01:49 AM
I still think, though, that there's got to be a way to post the "educational" thing by saying something positive abiut Zen and our expression of it rather than saying something negative about theirs.

Jun
12-12-2007, 04:03 AM
I still think, though, that there's got to be a way to post the "educational" thing by saying something positive abiut Zen and our expression of it rather than saying something negative about theirs.

I absolutly agree there.

Jundo
12-12-2007, 04:58 AM
I still think, though, that there's got to be a way to post the "educational" thing by saying something positive abiut Zen and our expression of it rather than saying something negative about theirs.

Well, I hope that is precisely what Treeleaf Zendo is and shall continue to be for some time. :D

Gassho, Jundo

Rev R
12-12-2007, 05:54 AM
I still think, though, that there's got to be a way to post the "educational" thing by saying something positive abiut Zen and our expression of it rather than saying something negative about theirs.

Not to mention that an extended hand to the newbies from those who have been around the block a few times (900 each in the case of the two Juns) says something very positive.

Lynn
12-15-2007, 01:47 AM
Been away at my vacation home in Oregon but still need to just say my peace and I ain't gonna go for touchy feely.

Jundo, I'm very glad you have decided to simply walk on from further participation.

As for the "educational website"...bah!!! Smells of "sour grapes." A la, getting divorced and feeling that it's "only right" to "warn" women off the guy you just split from based on your sense of some kind of "justice" and "just wanting to help." :roll: Do not couch this in the package of "right speech." That's a crock. If you put that up you are just perpetuating the situation and looking for right points, not helping anyone. Put up a newbie FAQ regarding what it is you do here at Treeleaf, but forget mention of what anyone else is getting up to.

Let it go, Jundo. Really and entirely. Open the hand of thought and LET IT GO. Get on with the examination and liberation of what is going on in your own mind. The universe is self-correcting.

My $0.02, MNSHO, YMMV &c.

In Gassho~

*Lynn

enchentez
01-04-2008, 05:07 AM
Sorry to dredge this business up again so late, I only just now discovered this website. I ran into the blog of Yuttadhamma, apparently a Theravada monk who has also been expulsed from eS under rather curious pretense, and I thought it might lend a bit of perspective to the issue, and also offer another contact point to bounce ideas off of.

The blog is at:

http://yuttadhammo.sirimangalo.org/post ... -e-sangha/ (http://http://yuttadhammo.sirimangalo.org/posts/beware-the-esangha-e-sangha/)

The text of the blog is:


Beware The Esangha (E-Sangha)

Aug 7th, 2006 by yuttadhammo

Here’s a funny story.

I’ve been involved for the past few years with the Esangha, an Internet forum claiming to represent all accepted schools of Buddhism. Since it attracts such a large number of visitors, I was happy to get involved in what seemed to be an accepting sort of environment.

Of course, I restricted myself mainly to posting in the Theravada forum, but soon found that though it claimed to be a forum for “discussing the teachings of Theravada Buddhism”, it was being used by the administrators as a means of pushing Mahayana Buddhist doctrine on those not otherwise so inclined.

Upon complaining, I was told privately of how the majority of the admin are Mahayana, they’ve been threating the few Theravadin moderators with expulsion whenever they disagree with the way things are run, and are completely unconcerned with how their actions are perceived by the forum members. Indeed, my complaints were replied to with statements like “Administrators have power over life and death.”

Expressing concern over this, and the potential for legal action against the Esangha forum as a result of their fraudulant use of the Theravada, I was accused of threatening the administrator and promptly suspended from the forum. :D

What a funny thing. Luckily there are other good Buddhist forums out there:

Web Sangha:
http://www.websangha.org (http://http://www.websangha.org)

Sirimangalo Forum:
http://forum.sirimangalo.org/ (http://http://forum.sirimangalo.org/)

The latter is Theravada-only… it’s always quieter that way :)


------------------------
(Me again)
I also thought it significant that Malcolm Smith denigrates the ordination of Zen priests with respect to the five lay precepts in light of the pointer that can be found on Bhikkhu Pesala's page warning about eS ( http://www.aimwell.org/Forums/forums.html (http://http://www.aimwell.org/Forums/forums.html) ) showing an eS thread in which Smith admits to imbibing in alcohol. My own experience has shown no evidence of an effort to abstain from harmful speech, as well, in his interactions with those he disagreed with on doctrinal terms.

Jundo
01-04-2008, 06:36 AM
Hi,

I apologize to everyone who offered such good advice a few weeks ago, when this issue bubbled up. I rather just let this matter sit for awhile, seeing what time would bring and letting the storm die down.

To make a long story short, the administrators were eventually persuaded (by some outside pressure, I believe) to re-invite my joining, and I decided that the best course of action would be to go back to E-Sangha (otherwise, there would be no Soto Zen voice there at all). However,my doing so has a twist: I vowed that I would continue to speak my mind and present Soto Zen teachings in an honest fashion, but I would oh-so-narrowly thread their rules of behavior. When I get to a controversial topic, I do it in a way by which my meaning is perfectly clear without need to say so (for example, when I hit upon some sacred cow, I start talking about "sacred bunny rabbits", and everyone gets the picture. Remember, folks, I was a lawyer before I was a Buddhist priest!). So far it has worked on some very delicate discussions (although, granted, we are only talking about a couple of weeks and I may someday be kicked off again).

Anyway, better to be there and speak the truth, then to have nobody there to do so. I think.

Gassho, Jundo

Jun
01-04-2008, 07:18 AM
Excellent news Jundõ.


Anyway, better to be there and speak the truth, then to have nobody there to do so. I think.

Absolutely.

paige
01-04-2008, 07:19 AM
Hello Enchentez,

I, too, have often been quite unpleasantly surprised with the tone of Mr Smith's posts. However, I don't believe that his consumption of alcohol violates his precepts. Tibetan Buddhists (at least Mr Smith's sect, and some others) include alcohol in some rituals.

Not sure why I felt the need to defend Mr Smith here (I really don't like him).

I'm glad you managed to work out a reconciliation, Jundo.

enchentez
01-04-2008, 12:23 PM
Good luck in that, Jundo.

My experience has been that the admins make up and break their own rules as they go along, and don't care whether one is careful to not cross the line when speaking the truth. They just move the line closer and call it a foul anyway.

They also will act as agents provocateur and post baiting questions or statements in the forum or privately under aliases or by proxy. Be careful.

enchentez
01-04-2008, 06:03 PM
Hi, Paige,

The context I remember Mr. Smith's mentioning his use of alcohol in the forum was not as a part of ritual forms -- though any such rituals would not have been something that the Buddha taught, encouraged, or engaged in -- rather, Smith was expressing his love for wine for personal enjoyment. I normally wouldn't give something like this a second thought, but Mr. Smith and those of his cadre hold themselves out to be in a legitimate position to judge others' practice and understanding, and to judge what is and is not Buddhism.

At work, gotta run...

Jundo
01-04-2008, 09:45 PM
For purposes of personal disclosure, I see no problem with moderate wine and beer consumption, if in moderation and not anywhere near Zen sitting time (or while operating heavy machinery). I believe that a glass of red wine or two is healthful. We can get to this in greater detail when we get to our discussion of the Precepts. There are various interpretations on the degree of strictness there, and the meaning of the Precept. Of course, if someone has a problem with alcohol, they should not imbibe at all.

Gassho, J

paige
01-05-2008, 07:35 AM
Hi Jundo,

I'd heard that Japanese Buddhists, in general, tend to be pretty tolerant of moderate consumption of alcohol. I'd also heard that this was largely due to rice wine being a sacrament in Shintoism. Does that sound right?

Jundo
01-05-2008, 08:20 AM
Hi Paige,

Yes, it sounds right to me. I have filled the beer glass of the "Pope" of the Soto sect at a New Years party at Soji-ji head temple, and also shared drinks with other Zen priests in Japan. I am not sure about the direct "Shinto" connection, but there is no hard rule about alcohol in Japan. (My own teacher, Nishijima, does not drink, and opposes drinking).

Interestingly, the Precept is often literally translated with amphasis on --selling-- wine or alcohol or other intoxicants, not personally imbibing. However, it is also interpreted to mean selling any "line of baloney" that deceives or "intoxicates" the mind. Here is a typical example of this reasoning if you are interested, although a little long (it is from Austin Zen Center) ...

http://209.85.165.104/search?q=cache:oD ... d=28&gl=us (http://http://209.85.165.104/search?q=cache:oDXiszYomWcJ:www.austinzencenter.or g/azc/people/Kojin/ShohakuPrecepts/11_Major5.doc+precepts+sell+wine+zen&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=28&gl=us)

Gassho and Bottoms Up, Jundo

Jun
01-05-2008, 08:20 AM
In our "tradition" we don't consume alcohol at all - zero, zip, zilch, nai - not even sakẽ.

KvonNJ
01-05-2008, 01:17 PM
Interestingly, the Precept is often literally translated with amphasis on --selling-- wine or alcohol or other intoxicants, not personally imbibing. However, it is also interpreted to mean selling any "line of baloney" that deceives or "intoxicates" the mind. Here is a typical example of this reasoning if you are interested, although a little long (it is from Austin Zen Center) ...


Don't you sort of figure that it just... means what it says? Like... where it says it's a vow not to use intoxicants, that's really all it is- a vow not to ue intoxicants?

Jundo
01-05-2008, 04:05 PM
Don't you sort of figure that it just... means what it says? Like... where it says it's a vow not to use intoxicants, that's really all it is- a vow not to ue intoxicants?

Have to run today (I am in a retreat), but wanted to say quickly that I agree that it probably means "do not use intoxicants". I also think, though, that the Precepts are not Commandments from on high, but arrows or frameworks for a healthful, helpful and harmless life. So, there is some flexibility to interpret these things within moderation. Some schools of Buddhism are strict constructionists, and also emphasize a degree of denial of the senses more than others (expecially in a monastic setting where, of course, it is appropriate). We had a couple of nice threads on this in the past, and will go into all this in great detail when we begin our study for Jukai in the coming weeks.

viewtopic.php?t=127&highlight=precepts (http://http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=127&highlight=precepts)

viewtopic.php?t=169&highlight=precepts (http://http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=169&highlight=precepts)

viewtopic.php?t=40&highlight=precepts (http://http://www.treeleaf.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=40&highlight=precepts)

Gassho, Jundo

KvonNJ
01-05-2008, 05:21 PM
Have to run today (I am in a retreat), but wanted to say quickly that I agree that it probably means "do not use intoxicants". I also think, though, that the Precepts are not Commandments from on high, but arrows or frameworks for a healthful, helpful and harmless life.

Of course. I see it more as advice, (except that there is a vow involved in some instances) than unbroachable law, and of course it's open to interpretation. I just figure if it says that if you want good results from your experience with meditation, don't drink, then that's pretty much what it means.
If I tell my kids, "Don't run headlong into the brick wall behind the garage," and they do it anyway, or find ways to do it that minimize the resultant damage, then I'm not going to despise, abandon or (usually) punish them, I'm going to look at them after they ram the wall and say, "Well, that was really stupid, wasn't it?"
I see this particular vow more or less the same way.

enchentez
01-05-2008, 06:02 PM
I'm not sure if I was clear about my empasis on this issue -- it's not at all the interpretation of the precept itself, but the selective literalism that is applied by the administrators of that forum as they deign to decree by caveat and enforce their rather arbitrary and self-serving interpretations of what Buddhism is and is not upon unfortunates who wander into their territory.

Another example is that several moderators, including a moderator-bhikkhu, in that forum have admitted -- word for word -- to ascribing to Sati's heracy that "consciousness transmigrates from life to life, and is that which thinks and feels and receives the fruits of previous deeds", for which the Buddha soundly thumps him in MN 38. I find it rather disturbing that this group is attempting to shape the face of Buddhism in their own image by force through their presence on the internet, even as they ascribe to speculative beliefs that are not even in line with what the Buddha actually taught.

BTW, I was under the impression that moderator Lisa Mann was a Soto practitioner -- was that mistaken...?

Jundo
01-07-2008, 04:36 AM
Hi,

Malcolm [Namdrol] wrote and asked me to post the following. No reason to criticize. Gassho, Jundo




Dear Jundo:

How are you and happy new year.

Please correct this misperception:

"To make a long story short, the administrators were eventually persuaded (by some outside pressure, I believe) to re-invite my joining"

There was no outside pressure to readmit you. Zero. I decided to readmit you myself against all protest of all moderators at E-Sangha. No one else expressed an interest in having you reinstated apart from your supporters at e-Sangha.

The reason you were reinstated is that I have shown clemency to others and personally felt it would be unjustified not to extend that clemency to you. In short, as a Buddhist, I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt until they prove to be utterly recalcitrant.

As far as wine goes-- I happen to like very good wine-- wine that is far too expensive for me to afford on a regular basis. You may please clarify on your forum on my behalf that in general, in the Tibetan Buddhist view, it is only intoxication that leads to mindless behavior which involves an infraction of one's lay vows. Even so, drinking in general is considered a non-virtue, even if it is not a breakage one's vows. So yes, I like a _good_ glass of wine on occasion, and would never pretend to anyone that it is a virtuous activity, even if drinking wine does not involve a necessary infraction of lay vows.

Best wishes,

Namdrol

______________________

P.S. I would also add it has never happened that any moderator or admin at E-Sangha has used a sock-puppet account, that is posted anything under a false account for any reason, Whatever people may think of the management policies, or my person, at E-Sangha, none of us would ever do such thing. If I ever discovered that such a thing was happening, that moderator would be immediately banned per our policiy against dual nicknames.

Have a great new year,

N

Longdog
01-07-2008, 09:56 AM
:lol: Well it doesn't surprise me that people are watching the conversations it is the great world wide web after all and you can read the threads here without sanga membership (can't you?), only have to be a member to post. I know e-sanga you can't even read the treads if not a member, cos I'm not (or planning to be) and I can't.

May be you'll be proved to be utterly recalcitrant yet with your sidewinding 'lawyer speak' :lol:

Good on you for posting his message to you anyway and good on him for clearing that one up.

And a very good and clement new year to all (even on e-sanga :D )

Kev :D

KvonNJ
01-08-2008, 01:26 AM
The reason you were reinstated is that I have shown clemency to others and personally felt it would be unjustified not to extend that clemency to you.

...did anyone else find this "I have shown clemency" bit to be a little... over the top? Like... someone did something wrong, everyone agreed, and it was just mercy that allowed continued conversation?
Images of Papal inquisitors...

No one actually said or did anything wrong. I think it's important to keep that at the forefront.
HAVING DIFFERING OPINIONS IS NOT WRONG, IS NOT A "SIN," AND CANNOT BE "JUDGED" BY ANYONE IF WE'RE ALL EQUALS.
...and we ARE.
Ugh. Just gross.

will
01-08-2008, 02:46 AM
I don't know much about the Tibetan tradition myself. It seems to use different methods to achieve pretty much the same thing. However, I'm not really sure about that. Not an expert. Really my first exposure to it.

Here are a couple of links related to Malcolm. For your comment. I listened to Samadhi and part of Prajna (while typing, might relisten).

Keep sitting and don't forget Dogen. :)

Gassho Will

http://dharma.org.ru/board/topic343.html (http://http://dharma.org.ru/board/topic343.html)

http://www.luckymojo.com/esoteric/relig ... isdoms.txt (http://http://www.luckymojo.com/esoteric/religion/buddhism/nl200107foursealsfivewisdoms.txt)


[Re-Edit]

enchentez
01-08-2008, 03:29 AM
KvonNJ,

Not for Agent Smith, it's not. He seems to consider himself the be-all-end-all authority and judge of what is and is not Buddhism. And the comparison to the Papal Inquisition isn't off base at all; that is basically how they run things over there in their little fiefdom.

Which would be just fine if they kept it to themselves, but they advertise and promote themselves heavily on the internet as being a "Buddhist" forum and lure many unsuspecting people who don't know that they have a hidden agenda -- those who have seen a little bit of the teachings of the Buddha, who can see the truth beyond all the superstition and want to know more, for example -- into their little fascist snake pit and proceed to use cult-indoctrination tactics and manipulation on them to push their own extremely narrow interpretations of the Buddha's teachings onto them.

They do a terrible disservice to the Buddha's Dharma and to everyone who unknowingly falls into their trap. Many people get sucked in and leave there with a bad taste in their mouth and a warped misconception of what Buddhism is. They see the dogmatic tyranny, the abuses of "authority", and the demands for blind obedience and submission, and get the impression that this is what Buddhism is, what Buddhists are about. Too bad, because the Buddha's Dharma is a philosophical, psychological, and religious system whose time has come in the post-Enlightenment world of today. It's just a travesty that unsuspecting people wind up Googling "Buddhist forum", click on the first link they see, and come away with the sad impression that Buddhists are more like Fred Phelps than Thich Nhat Hanh.

Jundo
01-08-2008, 04:40 AM
How about we let this matter just settle down again? Keep to positive speech and thoughts?

Let's talk about other things better?

Gassho, Jundo

Jun
01-08-2008, 05:08 AM
How about we let this matter just settle down again? Keep to positive speech and thoughts?

Let's talk about other things better?

Gassho, Jundo

Agreed, I see no point in discussing this at all. Just leave it be.

enchentez
01-08-2008, 05:25 AM
Fine by me. At one point there was some discussion of possible solutions, which is really where my interest lies.

What needs to be said has been said. I agree that further discussion of the problem is not really necessary here.

will
01-08-2008, 11:28 AM
I just posted that as a matter of interest and to possibly learn something.

I don't really know too much about that tradition.

Anyway, Have fun guys.

Gassho Will