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