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Thread: It is Vital to Hear Your Story: Turned from Considering Priesthood by Health/Age?

  1. #1

    It is Vital to Hear Your Story: Turned from Considering Priesthood by Health/Age?

    Dear All,

    I need your help if you are someone who, even for a moment, was ever considering pursuing the Path of Ordination as a Zen Priest, but gave up the idea of Ordination because of a health condition, disability or advanced age, or what you perceived as potential obstacles in doing so due to such conditions.

    I need you to tell your stories (anonymously, if you wish) in the following survey being conducted by the Soto Zen Buddhist Association. It is vital, and now is the time to speak up! Your story will help others have a chance in the future, and knock those obstacles down.

    The Soto Zen Buddhist Association, the organization of Soto Zen priests primarily outside Japan, has a long history of discrimination against the aged and disabled in their training requirements for priesthood and membership, throwing obstacles in the path of such individuals because of requirements for various residential and other physical acts of training, even if with often good intentions. This has rendered it difficult, and often impossible, for such people to become members of that organization. Furthermore, member Zen Sangha have placed like barriers on the path by their own physical requirements of ceremony, residential practice, labor and priest training. In many cases, persons have been dissuaded from even seeking ordination for fear that they could not meet the physical requirements. For years, some of us have raised challenge to such policies, but have been silenced or even punished and threatened with possible expulsion for doing so.

    Finally, the SZBA has formed a committee that may be a first step to dealing with these issues. It is conducting a survey that may (we can only hope) be a first crack of light to rectifying these issues. If you are someone, or know someone, who has encountered difficulty in considering Ordination, even as a passing consideration for a moment, or who met difficulties that discouraged you in completing your Zen training, please kindly respond to this anonymous survey that they are conducting. They have created the survey to find out more about the experience of Soto Zen priests, or those who had difficulty becoming or thinking about possibly becoming so, who have physical/mental disabilities or who identify as neuro-diverse.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Please take a look at the survey and fill it out if you have or have had a disability OR self-identify as facing a psychological/emotional challenge, with or without an official diagnosis.

    Please complete the survey by: February 14, 2022

    This survey is intended for both SZBA members with disabilities and Soto Zen practitioners with disabilities who are not SZBA members. If you know someone who is a Soto Zen priest or has considered priest training and has/has had a disability, please share this survey with them.

    https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1F...cGnpa5W2ZpWNxY

    THANK YOU! We need you to tell your stories to help many others in the future!

    Also, please spread the word about the survey!

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-10-2022 at 01:52 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Jundo this questionnaire is so long, it became difficult for me to focus. In the future warning the person.
    Gassho
    tai Shi


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Lay member, be loving kindness; just a guy. sometimes Calm supportive and hopeful. Ubasoku

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Tai Shi View Post
    Jundo this questionnaire is so long, it became difficult for me to focus. In the future warning the person.
    Gassho
    tai Shi


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Hi TS,

    Let me write them and ask if I, or one of the priests, can help you respond.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  4. #4
    i participated



    aprapti

    sat

    hobo kore dojo / 歩々これ道場 / step, step, there is my place of practice


    Aprāpti (अप्राप्ति) non-attainment

  5. #5
    I filled out the questionnaire. I found it interesting how the questions were oddly worded; e.g., using phrases such as "atypical minds" seemed strange to me. Also the limited palate of choices in types of disabilities and/or mental health issues; e.g., depression was not mentioned expressly but anxiety was. Anyway, I thought I would share the gist of my answers to the questions to see if others had similar thoughts and want to share/discuss. As a deaf student, it is quite difficult to understand dharma talks or to participate in dokusan. Thus I turned to online training and dharma talks when those became available online - prior to the advent of the internet things were quite challenging! Also reading many books by zen teachers from various traditions. Mental health issues such as trauma, anxiety, general social anxiety and severe depression can and have impacted my ability to participate in group settings such as sesshin. Again, I have turned to "online Sanghas" in order to meet my needs. Physical impairments make it difficult to take the traditional lotus posture and many teachers seem vexed by my need to sit in a chair - as if enlightenment was limited to the very flexible.The real issue is the culture of SZBA - resources should be devoted to diversity training with emphasis on accommodation of and adaption to an individuals needs - this is not to say the requirements should be modified into nothingness but many of the requirements are seemingly not dictated by dharma but institutional culture. Changing the culture will be challenging in practice but certainly not impossible if approached with an open heart and desire to spread the Dharma to all - including those practicing with disabilities, atypical minds (?) or trauma. Richard -sattoday-
    Last edited by rqrusseth; 01-10-2022 at 06:50 PM. Reason: typos

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by aprapti View Post
    i participated



    aprapti

    sat
    Yes Jundo. First, I give you my permission to look at my response. I got too caught up in history and qualifications. I believe I can simply respond with the way I feel.
    Gassho
    sat/lah


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Lay member, be loving kindness; just a guy. sometimes Calm supportive and hopeful. Ubasoku

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Tai Shi View Post
    Yes Jundo. First, I give you my permission to look at my response. I got too caught up in history and qualifications. I believe I can simply respond with the way I feel.
    Gassho
    sat/lah


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    I suggest that I or someone helps by asking you the questions one by one, putting your responses together. Then, the SZBA said that your responses can be emailed to them. Would that help, TS?

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  8. #8
    I've also responded.

    They might be doing this but it would be good if they had a similar project to look at those who feel ordination isn't an option due to socio-economic reasons - like not being able to take time away from work to attend residential practice periods. Or those with caring/family responsibilities who similarly can't attend extended/residential practice periods.

    Gassho,

    Heiso

    StLah

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Heiso View Post
    I've also responded.

    They might be doing this but it would be good if they had a similar project to look at those who feel ordination isn't an option due to socio-economic reasons - like not being able to take time away from work to attend residential practice periods. Or those with caring/family responsibilities who similarly can't attend extended/residential practice periods.

    Gassho,

    Heiso

    StLah
    Tell me about it.

    If only there were a Sangha that might Ordain such folks.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10

    It is Vital to Hear Your Story: Turned from Considering Priesthood by Health/Age?

    If I can offer you my apology. I am doing so. Sometimes I must say I am sorry. I’m sorry.
    Gassho
    sat/ lah
    Tai Shi


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Lay member, be loving kindness; just a guy. sometimes Calm supportive and hopeful. Ubasoku

  11. #11

    It is Vital to Hear Your Story: Turned from Considering Priesthood by Health/Age?

    Do I write or do I speak? I do not want to be a bother and what part of the survey yo need to know about? I am wondering if it is the written portion or the whole thing. What do you want me to talk about? I’m really confused about everything! Sorry all the pain is mine. Not true. Everyone has something.
    Gassho
    sat/ lah
    Tai Shi


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Last edited by Tai Shi; 01-14-2022 at 04:21 AM.
    Lay member, be loving kindness; just a guy. sometimes Calm supportive and hopeful. Ubasoku

  12. #12

    It is Vital to Hear Your Story: Turned from Considering Priesthood by Health/Age?

    Yes the young man/ woman before me spoke of a concern I have. The questions themselves are insensitive to folks with disabilities as schizophrenia, bipolar, ets, etc. also brain disorders which are biological although a case is made tha all physical and so called mental illness are the same. This is simply not true. Each person must be treated individually and not lumped in to the derogatory term mental illness and brain damage and brain disorder etc. each case is separate and even then medicine does a disservice by lumping brain disease such as AVM with mental illness and disorders. I have many friends in my my experience as board member of NAMI South Dakota and IOOV coordinator in South Dakota. The SZBA opens up some serious problems with the way statements are made about people with my diagnoses and my physical condition. We cannot lump all arthritis the same. Osteo arthritis is simply not the same as rheumatoid conditions but as this questionnaire does not begin to address some of these issues. I think this questionnaire must only be a rough draft for a more detailed form.
    Gassho
    sat/ lah
    Tai Shi


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Lay member, be loving kindness; just a guy. sometimes Calm supportive and hopeful. Ubasoku

  13. #13
    Have filled in - but unless the organisation is completely divorced from the average person's reality it was a bit like stating the obvious.
    I think the problem is they really only address standards set out for a bricks and mortar sangha that operates in a traditional manner - although
    I can see that it could be argued that many of those principles are on offer and practiced here.
    I don't feel they address how online communities function and with Covid pushing things even further in that direction I would think some kind of radical
    reform is needed. At the level of diversity its an important issue but maybe what really needs to be redefined is what it it to be a priest in the Soto Zen tradition -
    particularly no 3 on their list of standards - ministerial training. That's a muddy area for me because they strongly affirm pastoral care and leadership. What if one simply isn't able
    to fulfill that role because of disability. Is it acceptable to fulfill a calling in a different way? As for all the formal Practice Intensives - nigh impossible with certain disabilities.

    Sorry to go over,

    Gassho,

    Jinyo

    Sat Today

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Jinyo View Post
    Have filled in - but unless the organisation is completely divorced from the average person's reality it was a bit like stating the obvious.
    I think the problem is they really only address standards set out for a bricks and mortar sangha that operates in a traditional manner - although
    I can see that it could be argued that many of those principles are on offer and practiced here.
    I don't feel they address how online communities function and with Covid pushing things even further in that direction I would think some kind of radical
    reform is needed. At the level of diversity its an important issue but maybe what really needs to be redefined is what it it to be a priest in the Soto Zen tradition -
    particularly no 3 on their list of standards - ministerial training. That's a muddy area for me because they strongly affirm pastoral care and leadership. What if one simply isn't able
    to fulfill that role because of disability. Is it acceptable to fulfill a calling in a different way? As for all the formal Practice Intensives - nigh impossible with certain disabilities.

    Sorry to go over,

    Gassho,

    Jinyo

    Sat Today
    Jinyo, this sums up the problems so nicely, may I quote you other places? (I won't specifically mention your name, just that "one of our members")

    It would be a big help.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  15. #15
    I talk too much. I sit more and look for Shikantaza which I will review for Jukai on Jundo’s videos for the newcomer.
    Gassho
    sat/ lah


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Lay member, be loving kindness; just a guy. sometimes Calm supportive and hopeful. Ubasoku

  16. #16
    Jundo I trust you to help me with these words that I will pick. I am happy just to be finished with this. Back to one day at a time. Friendship is not worth straining with some stupid questionnaire or anything that might come between friends.
    Gassho
    sat/ lah


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Lay member, be loving kindness; just a guy. sometimes Calm supportive and hopeful. Ubasoku

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Dear All,

    I need your help if you are someone who, even for a moment, was ever considering pursuing the Path of Ordination as a Zen Priest, but gave up the idea of Ordination because of a health condition, disability or advanced age, or what you perceived as potential obstacles in doing so due to such conditions.

    I need you to tell your stories (anonymously, if you wish) in the following survey being conducted by the Soto Zen Buddhist Association. It is vital, and now is the time to speak up! Your story will help others have a chance in the future, and knock those obstacles down.

    The Soto Zen Buddhist Association, the organization of Soto Zen priests primarily outside Japan, has a long history of discrimination against the aged and disabled in their training requirements for priesthood and membership, throwing obstacles in the path of such individuals because of requirements for various residential and other physical acts of training, even if with often good intentions. This has rendered it difficult, and often impossible, for such people to become members of that organization. Furthermore, member Zen Sangha have placed like barriers on the path by their own physical requirements of ceremony, residential practice, labor and priest training. In many cases, persons have been dissuaded from even seeking ordination for fear that they could not meet the physical requirements. For years, some of us have raised challenge to such policies, but have been silenced or even punished and threatened with possible expulsion for doing so.

    Finally, the SZBA has formed a committee that may be a first step to dealing with these issues. It is conducting a survey that may (we can only hope) be a first crack of light to rectifying these issues. If you are someone, or know someone, who has encountered difficulty in considering Ordination, even as a passing consideration for a moment, or who met difficulties that discouraged you in completing your Zen training, please kindly respond to this anonymous survey that they are conducting. They have created the survey to find out more about the experience of Soto Zen priests, or those who had difficulty becoming or thinking about possibly becoming so, who have physical/mental disabilities or who identify as neuro-diverse.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Please take a look at the survey and fill it out if you have or have had a disability OR self-identify as facing a psychological/emotional challenge, with or without an official diagnosis.

    Please complete the survey by: February 14, 2022

    This survey is intended for both SZBA members with disabilities and Soto Zen practitioners with disabilities who are not SZBA members. If you know someone who is a Soto Zen priest or has considered priest training and has/has had a disability, please share this survey with them.

    https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1F...cGnpa5W2ZpWNxY

    THANK YOU! We need you to tell your stories to help many others in the future!

    Also, please spread the word about the survey!

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    Okay thanks I mentioned it to Kyousui and he was curious . I am happy just to do it again if I got it done before? I’m sorry but I am just doing something wrong with the inflammation.
    Gassho
    Tai Shi


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Lay member, be loving kindness; just a guy. sometimes Calm supportive and hopeful. Ubasoku

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Jinyo, this sums up the problems so nicely, may I quote you other places? (I won't specifically mention your name, just that "one of our members")

    It would be a big help.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    Absolutely

  19. #19
    Hi all

    I just completed this with reference to my own training and pointed out that inclusion is happening in places, and will continue to happen. I noted that the SZBA has championed inclusion and their work with respect to race, gender identity and sexual preference is very welcome, but the lack of progress regarding those with physical, mental or neurological challenges is noticeable.

    In the section about what the SZBA could offer to others I pointed out that the process needs to start with listening to the people who are affected, for which this survey is a start, and then needs to include those people to advise and develop material and policy. Doing this without them is unacceptable and relates to how able-bodied, mentally healthy and neurotypical people have made decisions on behalf of the disabled community.

    I said that the questionnaire is very welcome and I hope it is a springboard for future action and will be waiting to see what happens next. I also asked them if they knew any priests who were, for example, a wheelchair user such as myself. I cannot think of any but there may well be some.

    To conclude, I am incredibly grateful to Jundo for allowing me to ordain when pretty much every other Zendo would not have done, and the continuing efforts here to include people who might not otherwise be able to practice with a genuine Soto Zen sangha, let alone ordain.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    Last edited by Kokuu; 01-15-2022 at 02:58 PM.
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  20. #20
    I have problems with typing. My intelligence is not be in question. I earned a BA in literature at Grinnell College and earned three degrees, MA English, EdS higher education, and MFA creative writing. My GPAs show excellence in writing. I have written two self published books of poetry both in two college libraries, Grinnell College and Central Community College--Platte Campus. Another book of poetry is in progress. I have been married to my wife Marjorie for 39 years. In October 2021 she and I met with a Palliative doctor before my AVM surgery who said my intelligence after my AVM surgery would remain the same as before surgery.This AVM was located in a shallow area of my brain and was type one. It was intact and had not ruptured before and during surgery on October 29, 2021. My above average intelligence test is on file with Sanford Hospital Speech Pathology. I will require a private interview with an unbiased medical authority aware of the nature and type of sensitive information. This multiple choice and narrative test would be conducted in writing by the examiner at a private location, and at a private time, with all medical and personal information kept private. Medical experts at SZBA and Jundo may know the medical nature of this interview. I will write informally to Jundo on January 17th. I believe my information important to the SZBA research project.
    Gassho
    sat/ lah
    Last edited by Tai Shi; 01-16-2022 at 11:41 AM. Reason: grammar correction
    Lay member, be loving kindness; just a guy. sometimes Calm supportive and hopeful. Ubasoku

  21. #21
    I completed the survey.

    Don't know if they'll listen, but since I have a very complicated background (which I did not explain), I gave lots of suggestions, some rather specific ones.

    My background and my suggestions were all targeted to the survey -- because my health does not interfere at Treeleaf, but it caused me to leave at least one other sangha, and has prevented me from trying other sanghas and sangha activities. (E.g., sesshins, retreats, etc.)

    I also explained -- where relevant to the question -- how Treeleaf is doing it right, with general examples of how (as a lay member, for now) I am able to serve Treeleaf regularly without concern for my physical or mental health being an issue. I also explained that the tasks assigned to me for service at Treeleaf don't involve physical labor at all, and are completely within my abilities and capacity to fulfill every week -- something that I have been barred from elsewhere. We are all equal here, and that is a big part of the disconnect, even in their questions, they don't understand it. But, they seem to be making an effort to learn .... so I told them where to start and what it requires.

    Given their physically/mentally demanding and highly specific membership requirements, I could never be a member of the SZBA. At this time, I don't want to be.

    Sorry for running long, felt I should explain.

    , meian stlh
    Last edited by Meian; 01-16-2022 at 01:36 PM.
    迷安 Mei An

  22. #22
    Thank you so much for taking the time to do that, Meian

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  23. #23
    I will require a private interview with an unbiased medical authority aware of the nature and type of sensitive information. This multiple choice and narrative test would be conducted in writing by the examiner at a private location, and at a private time, with all medical and personal information kept private. Medical experts at SZBA and Jundo may know the medical nature of this interview. I will write informally to Jundo on January 17th. I believe my information important to the SZBA research project.
    Tai Shi

    It may be that we need to help you with filling in the survery. I do not think that the SZBA is likely to go to the trouble of giving you a private interview.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Tai Shi View Post
    I will require a private interview with an unbiased medical authority aware of the nature and type of sensitive information. This multiple choice and narrative test would be conducted in writing by the examiner at a private location, and at a private time, with all medical and personal information kept private. Medical experts at SZBA and Jundo may know the medical nature of this interview. I will write informally to Jundo on January 17th. I believe my information important to the SZBA research project.
    Hi Tai Shi,

    I have messaged you about this. Please check your PMs here on Treeleaf. I am happy to help you complete the survey.

    Gassho2, meian

    Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
    迷安 Mei An

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Meian View Post
    Hi Tai Shi,

    I have messaged you about this. Please check your PMs here on Treeleaf. I am happy to help you complete the survey.

    Gassho2, meian

    Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
    Oh, thank you Meian. It would be a big help. Tai Shi, is that okay?

    The SZBA had mentioned a skype meeting, but I have not heard back to set it up. So, the best is that Tai Shi gets some help to finish the written survey.

    Thank you, and let me know if you need my or anyone's assistance.

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  26. #26
    Meian don’t mind me. I’m officious and full of myself. You can help me if you want to. Is that okay?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Lay member, be loving kindness; just a guy. sometimes Calm supportive and hopeful. Ubasoku

  27. #27
    Kokuu, I know I am a very small person in the eyes of SZBA be honest I must be neutral in the future and you have always been nice to me. You soon to be a priest and I have no hope for you said I might need extra time for the good fellowship of another in filling out the document. Take all messages to Jundo and forge a single document. Meian has conditions like mine, and she might help me if I ask her nicely. Or you can pass it along to her.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Lay member, be loving kindness; just a guy. sometimes Calm supportive and hopeful. Ubasoku

  28. #28
    Jundo, I don’t need a Skype meeting. Meian has volunteered to help and I appreciate her. She has a grace few can claim. She may already know I have found in her, a strong advocate.
    Gassho
    Tai Shi


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Lay member, be loving kindness; just a guy. sometimes Calm supportive and hopeful. Ubasoku

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Tai Shi View Post
    Jundo, I don’t need a Skype meeting. Meian has volunteered to help and I appreciate her. She has a grace few can claim. She may already know I have found in her, a strong advocate.
    Gassho
    Tai Shi


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro


    Thanks to you and Meian.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  30. #30
    To be honest I know what I want to say. It’s getting it said.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Lay member, be loving kindness; just a guy. sometimes Calm supportive and hopeful. Ubasoku

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Tai Shi View Post
    To be honest I know what I want to say. It’s getting it said.

    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  32. #32
    I have never been discriminated for trying to be a priest because I wasn't even allowed to sit on a chair and practice as a lay follower to begin with. It was either on a zazen cushion or it wasn't considered zazen. Fortunately, a place such as Treeleaf exists. Thank you Jundo

    Gassho, Tomás
    Sat

  33. #33
    Never discriminated sitting on a 4 legged straight back chair. My sitting time is limited at 70. Before Treeleaf I meditated with a Theravada group. Then a group at our U U church, CDs of Kornfield, PhD. advised some folks sit on a chair. Perhaps some traditional older Zen believe lotus necessary. In my experience chairs are okay. Please look at Thich Nhat Hanh.
    Gassho
    sat/ lah
    Last edited by Tai Shi; 01-20-2022 at 01:09 PM. Reason: concision
    Lay member, be loving kindness; just a guy. sometimes Calm supportive and hopeful. Ubasoku

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