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Thread: BLOWING THE WHISTLE on the SZBA

  1. #1

    BLOWING THE WHISTLE on the SZBA


    I have been told that I might be booted out of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association just for writing this (an organization, by the way, that has never even kicked out a priest for sexual abuse or other improprieties toward students.) There may be pressure on moderators from influential SZBA members to have these posts taken down, or they may suddenly disappear. Some will say that we should not say bad things publicly, or that we should be 'beyond' all this, or that it is just a matter of 'Tradition' and thus cannot be challenged. Still others will say, "who cares about the SZBA?" I disagree, will take the risk, because good people are being hurt, turned away, denied recognition of what they are, discriminated against.

    The fact is that sincere people who would make excellent Soto Zen priests are facing closed doors because the SZBA refuses to recognize them as priests simply because they are physically or otherwise unable to meet the demands of in person, physically demanding residential priest training that the SZBA continues to insist upon year after year. It is not just the SZBA, but most or all of our major monastic training centers in America, Europe and Japan.

    Some will point to a few wheelchair ramps, added railings or small adjustments and loosenings of training schedules in defense: However, I am speaking of individuals, some fully confined to bed or to home, with fragile and dangerous conditions, in need of nursing care or constant treatment, people who otherwise would risk serious injury if attempting residential training. Nonetheless, these are people having the calling to be good and dedicated priests while truly understanding the impermanence of the body and the meaning of suffering.

    The SZBA is an organization which prides itself on how supposedly "woke" it is with regard to racism, social injustice and discrimination, regularly advertising such fact, and yet it continues to look the other way to its own discriminatory behavior. It studies minor adjustments, a few cut corners and small accommodations to its training standards, nothing more, pleading that it be given time, that some things cannot change or that things change only slowly. It points to some of its members who have degrees or kinds of disability which allowed them the demanded training as an excuse for its exclusion of disabled individuals who simply cannot.

    Well, now is the time, and for many individuals (some already ordained and excellent priests, but whom the SZBA would refuse to recognize because their disabilities and other conditions required alternative means of training) it is time to push back. I and others will speak up about this tragedy in the coming weeks and months until this injustice, which has continued for decades, even for centuries in Zen Buddhism, is left behind in history, even if the threatened hammer of the organization comes down on some of us.

    It is time to open the doors to such individuals who do not meet the "standard" definition of what is a Soto Zen Priest.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatTodayLAH
    Sorry to run long.
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-06-2022 at 10:15 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    PS - By the way, I almost never ask something like this, but I could use a few "likes" where it is posted on Facebook, and tweets and such, if you agree with it ...

    You will find it if you scroll down here ...

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/SotoZenGlobal/
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-16-2022 at 04:16 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    PS - By the way, I almost never ask something like this, but I could use a few "likes" where it is posted on Facebook, and tweets and such, if you agree with it ...

    LINK
    Jundo can you check the link? I tried to use it to show my support but it lead me nowhere.

    Perhaps on my end only but I tried several browsers.

    Sent from my SM-N981U using Tapatalk
    Jukai '09 Dharma Name: Shinko 慎重(Prudent Calm)

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Gregor View Post
    Jundo can you check the link? I tried to use it to show my support but it lead me nowhere.

    Perhaps on my end only but I tried several browsers.

    Sent from my SM-N981U using Tapatalk
    Maybe it is a closed group. Hmmm. You will find it if you scroll down here ...

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/SotoZenGlobal/

    Thanks for the alert, Gregor.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    Jundo, thank you, requested to join.

    Thank you for your voice on this issue, certainly raised my awareness about the needs of people with different abilities and the unfortunate ways they have been excluded due to unconscious bias. Loss for everyone as good people are not able to serve and help share the dharma.

    Gassho,

    Greg
    STlah

    Sent from my SM-N981U using Tapatalk
    Jukai '09 Dharma Name: Shinko 慎重(Prudent Calm)

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    PS - By the way, I almost never ask something like this, but I could use a few "likes" where it is posted on Facebook, and tweets and such, if you agree with it ...

    You will find it if you scroll down here ...

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/SotoZenGlobal/
    Hi Jundo,

    I can't access the link. It says I have no app to access it. I appreciate your bold move on this and fully support it.

    Gassho,
    Guish.

    Sent from my M2101K7BNY using Tapatalk
    Has been known as Guish since 2017 on the forum here.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Guish View Post
    Hi Jundo,

    I can't access the link. It says I have no app to access it. I appreciate your bold move on this and fully support it.

    Gassho,
    Guish.

    Sent from my M2101K7BNY using Tapatalk
    A quick button click got me the same result on Android but I was able to hold down the link and pick open with facebook.



    Sent from my SM-N981U using Tapatalk
    Jukai '09 Dharma Name: Shinko 慎重(Prudent Calm)

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Gregor View Post
    A quick button click got me the same result on Android but I was able to hold down the link and pick open with facebook.



    Sent from my SM-N981U using Tapatalk
    Thanks Greg. I will try from my laptop now.

    Gassho,
    Guish.

    Sent from my M2101K7BNY using Tapatalk
    Has been known as Guish since 2017 on the forum here.

  9. #9
    The Facebook link made me take a quiz, and after I submitted my answers it refused to admit me to the group.

    Gassho,
    Juki
    sat today and lah
    "First you have to give up." Tyler Durden

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Juki View Post
    The Facebook link made me take a quiz, and after I submitted my answers it refused to admit me to the group.

    Gassho,
    Juki
    sat today and lah
    That should not be. I know the folks, it is a good group. Did you give a strange answer?

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Thank you, Jundo

    ------------------------------------
    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.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    That should not be. I know the folks, it is a good group. Did you give a strange answer?

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    Maybe it takes some time for review and it is not an automatic process. And maybe they’re trying to control “spam” coming in ..

    Sat Today
    Bion
    美音

    -------------------------
    Please consider whatever I might say as my own ideas, experiences and understanding, and not zen doctrine.
    Join me on Insight Timer
    Help me feed those in need by joining my Share The Meal team HERE

  13. #13
    I believe the quiz is intended to filter out bots, and applicants need to be accepted by a moderator. So it can take a second or a day or two depending on the activity of the mods! But sit tight you should be in in due time.

    Gassho
    Mark
    ST
    浪省 - RouSei - Wandering Introspection

  14. #14
    Thank you for speaking up, I find this action is nothing but compassionate

    Gassho, Tomás
    Sat&LaH

  15. #15
    I don’t do social media so I’ll just have to “like” it here.

    Thank you for giving a voice to this issue.


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    That should not be. I know the folks, it is a good group. Did you give a strange answer?

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    Not at all. I think that maybe there was no administrator up at 545 am. Maybe they will admit me later.

    Gassho
    Juki
    sat today and lah
    "First you have to give up." Tyler Durden

  17. #17
    Sometimes it does take time to be admitted, Juki. If you haven't actually been declined as a member I suspect it is just a delay with approval.

    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.

  18. #18
    One of only a million reasons why I find in Treeleaf the place I've always belonged but only recently found.

    Gassho.

    st
    東西 - Tōsei - East West
    there is only what is, and it is all miraculous

  19. #19
    Member Seishin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    La Croix-Avranchin, Basse Normandie, France
    I have added my support in Facebook.
    Deep bows Jundo.

    Sat


    Seishin

    Sei - Meticulous
    Shin - Heart

  20. #20
    Add a like on Facebook.

    Gassho, Shinshi

    SaT-LaH
    空道 心志 Kudo Shinshi
    I am just a priest-in-training, any resemblance between what I post and actual teachings is purely coincidental.
    E84I - JAJ

  21. #21

    BLOWING THE WHISTLE on the SZBA

    Quote Originally Posted by Juki View Post
    Not at all. I think that maybe there was no administrator up at 545 am. Maybe they will admit me later.

    Gassho
    Juki
    sat today and lah
    My request was approved in half an hour or so..
    Did you fill everything out properly and clicked accept rules at the end?

    Sat Today
    Bion
    美音

    -------------------------
    Please consider whatever I might say as my own ideas, experiences and understanding, and not zen doctrine.
    Join me on Insight Timer
    Help me feed those in need by joining my Share The Meal team HERE

  22. #22
    I asked to join Jundo.

    Thanks for showing us that sometimes "fighting" for what is right is indeed an integral part of our practice. I'll like after the accept (hopefully you're not removed)

    Gassho,

    Ippo

    SatToday
    一 法
    (One)(Dharma)

    Everyday is a good day!

  23. #23
    I was admitted after a suitable period of "online Tangaryo," and gave a heart emoji and left a comment.

    Gassho,
    Juki

    sat today and lah
    "First you have to give up." Tyler Durden

  24. #24
    I'm very happy to support this, and hopefully things will change.

    Gassho,
    Gareth

    Sat today, Lah

  25. #25
    I have found that the facebook "Soto Zen Buddhism" group is private, so hard to share. However, the post is available other places to share. Please use the following link and THANK YOU for doing so:

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/soto...8995326666934/

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  26. #26
    Thank you, Jundo. I'm glad to be a part of a very inclusive community. I responded to the post with a heart. I hope your message will be heeded.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    Sat/lah
    美道 Bidou Beautiful Way
    恩海 Onkai Merciful/Kind Ocean

    I have a lot to learn; take anything I say that sounds like teaching with a grain of salt.

  27. #27
    Change is the only constant in the Universe! Fight against it, and vanish.

    There are certainly some aspects we should find ways to allow change to happen in less contrastive ways than others, and others that perhaps should be regularly revised to more accurately reflect the times. Otherwise we run the risk of excluding the very beings we want to save.

    On your post Jundo, I noticed some people both perhaps in your target audience and others not, not supporting the movement. However, reading their posts just left me feeling that perhaps their image of a priest, like the reflection of the moon, is not really what priests are. Beyond just trying to pin point what kind of priest we're talking about, what school of Buddhism, country, or target audience, their roles and "job" seem to be as diverse as the people that follow them. People seem to often point out that perhaps some people would have difficulties holding certain ceremonies, but I wonder if all priests do said ceremonies. If we accept that the possible roles a priest can fulfil are so wide and varied that no one priest fulfills them all but a selection of them, then we can more easily understand the importance of accepting and promoting diverse peoples into said roles. This is before we take to considering the ceremonies themselves, have they not changed over time in some sense or another?

    I'm sure there are some ordained priests out there that don't accept disciples, and/or don't manage a temple, and/or don't hold dharma talks... but represent the way in their own manner.

    Perhaps my perspective is too open? I'm sure some might think so, but change is the only constant.

    Sorry for running long!

    Gassho
    Rousei
    ST
    Last edited by Rousei; 01-18-2022 at 07:04 AM.
    浪省 - RouSei - Wandering Introspection

  28. #28
    I'm sure there are some ordained priests out there that don't accept disciples, and/or don't manage a temple, and/or don't hold dharma talks... but represent the way in their own manner.

    Thank you Rousei, I feel this is the crux of the matter but its tricky. If things are going to be truly diverse then its probably not realistic to have one governing body of accreditation like the SZBA. Certain things might be held in common - like a code of ethics which is perhaps top of the list of what needs to be agreed upon globally - but actual training programs could differ. This is what happened over the years in the area of psychotherapy which I'm most familiar with so now there are many offshoots and declared ways of 'being a therapist'. However we have ended up with two dominant regulatory bodies in the UK which guarantee a standard of efficacy.

    In a way it feels strange - possibly alien - to think in terms of a specific course content for priest training - but I think it could be done. This is just me throwing out ideas but I think we could recruit members from within Tree Leaf to deliver course content as we have members with many different skills. It would take a lot of organisation but with commitment it might work. Or we could just stay as we are (perfectly fine) as a place of 'sitting' with informal interest groups, etc. and not worry about the whole accreditation issue.

    I'd love to hear what our Unsui feel about these issues,

    Gassho

    Jinyo

    sat today

  29. #29
    Jundo

    I believe that your problem here is not one of doctrine, dogma, fairness or ethics - it is a political problem. And, you need to find a political solution. You want to change an existing SZBA policy and practice. I have found that a direct boardroom assault rarely works. The organization will resist and you will isolate yourself. I might suggest the following approach:

    1, articulate what you want to change. I think you have done a good job here.
    2. explain how this change furthers the organization goals. What is SZBA trying to achieve? Reach more practitioners? Expand the reach of the doctrine? What benefit does ZSBA get from your proposed change?
    3. what are the obstacles to what you propose? I can think of a big one - quality control. You don't have to look long on the internet to find all manner of "masters" offering all kinds of Buddhism mixed with mumbo-jumbo. I suspect SZBA wants in-person training so they can ensure candidates meet their quality standards. They probably are very afraid of having charlatans operating under their name. You need to present a way that online training will maintain their quality control standards. Perhaps, you need to volunteer to run an online training and certification program, with review by a SZBA reviewer.
    4. sell the program. Do you know any of the SZBA board members personally (or do you know someone who knows them), so that you can talk privately with an individual board member to explain ands "sell" your program, and also to find out who really makes decisions on the board. If you can get a "junior" board member to endorse your program, then maybe he will help you sell it to a "senior" board member. At this point, board approval of the change is basically a rubber-stamp.

    I hope my thoughts are helpful

    Gassho

    Zenkon (Dick)

    sat/lah

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Zenkon View Post
    ... I might suggest the following approach:
    Hi Dick,

    Sadly, been there, done all that now for several years. No luck.

    So, time to shine a light, to march and take some peaceful public action. If they resist and isolate, as they likely will, it is fine.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-19-2022 at 04:36 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  31. #31
    Title 3 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits commercial organizations such as schools from discriminating against individuals with disabilities, and requires organizations to make "reasonable accomodations". SZBA is based in Calif. I "think" a case could be made that they are subject to the act. At least, it might be worth having a lawyer look into it. Often, just the threat of such a lawsuit is enough to generate change.

    Gassho

    Zenkon

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by Zenkon View Post
    Title 3 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits commercial organizations such as schools from discriminating against individuals with disabilities, and requires organizations to make "reasonable accomodations". SZBA is based in Calif. I "think" a case could be made that they are subject to the act. At least, it might be worth having a lawyer look into it. Often, just the threat of such a lawsuit is enough to generate change.

    Gassho

    Zenkon
    It is not a legal matter, just Dharma and ethics and a compassionate heart.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  33. #33

    BLOWING THE WHISTLE on the SZBA

    Quote Originally Posted by Zenkon View Post
    Title 3 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits commercial organizations such as schools from discriminating against individuals with disabilities, and requires organizations to make "reasonable accomodations". SZBA is based in Calif. I "think" a case could be made that they are subject to the act. At least, it might be worth having a lawyer look into it. Often, just the threat of such a lawsuit is enough to generate change.

    Gassho

    Zenkon
    This is a difficult issue. If priests could be thought of as doctors, then the practice of medicine has a model in place to ensure only qualified professionals practce their trade.

    In the case of medicine, there is a long world wide tradition where students compete fiercely for a few covered spots to become a doctor. Those that are lucky get accepted to medical school after many years of study and continue their training and may eventually become general doctors and then further specialize. After becoming doctors and finishing several years of specialization, doctors begin their trade independent of supervision from other doctors.

    When doctors have finished all of their academic training, they are monitored by a medical board constituted by other doctors and members of the general public appointed by the government whose function is then to protect the public by ensuring that doctors are capable of continuing their duties as physicians. For example, a doctor who develops a hand tremor may no longer operate or one that develops mental illness or an addictve disorder may no longer work due to their disability.

    This is as it should be. A job has to be done regardless of ability or disability. No reasonable accomodations can be made for a doctor in the operating room who can not utilize the operating instruments safely. Reasonable accommodations can not be made to any doctor who is unable to practice medicine safely due to mental disability.

    Other professions such as law, accounting, engineering, nursing, professional sports, etc. all have standards that must be met by it's practitioners.

    Because I am not a priest or have intimate knowledge of the education system of priests, I don't know what the appropriate standards should be in educating priests but I can easily understand why changing the system would be difficult given all the complexity involved in determining who is ultimately fit to do the job.

    My 2 cents,

    Gassho, Jishin, ST, LAH
    Last edited by Jishin; 01-19-2022 at 12:16 PM.

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post

    Other professions such as law, accounting, engineering, nursing, professional sports, etc. all have standards that must be met by it's practitioners.

    Because I am not a priest or have intimate knwledge of the education system of priests, I don't know what the appropriate standards should be in educating priests but I can easily understand why changing the system would be difficult given all the complexity involved in determining who is ultimately fit to do the job.

    My 2 cents,

    Gassho, Jishin, ST, LAH
    Hi Jishin,

    Yes, I thought about this, but it is a little different. A visually impaired or quadraplegic surgeon is one thing, but there are many things that a disabled Zen priest can do well and beneficial to others despite and often (because of their window on human suffering) because of their disability. This includes priests who need special paths of training. There is no reason that an excellent priest cannot be trained even if unable to perform certain skills, for there are many priestly skills.

    Furthermore, I have even known visually impaired and paraplegic doctors, and they can often find a good place ...





    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-19-2022 at 07:39 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  35. #35
    I haven’t been added to the group yet...though I haven’t been declined either. I guess it can take a few days sometimes.

    Gassho,
    Gareth
    Sat today

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