OBC Interim Board and Working Groups News – May 2013

Interim Board

So, the last remaining business of the interim board is the writing of an “end-of-term” report, and ensuring that the information we have assembled over the last two and a half years can be made available to whoever may need it in future. To this end, we are envisaging that the interim board website will continue to be online for at least a year.

Rev. Alicia

 

Lay Communications

This group (Sally Brown and Rev. Master Meiko) dissolved in February. We thank Sally and Rev. Master Meiko very much or all the work they put in to this project.

Rev. Alicia

 

Structure & Function

In March the Structure and Function Working Group completed the writing and editing of the survey that we have been working on for some time now.  The survey, together with a cover letter from Rev. Master Haryo, was sent out to monks and lay ministers at the end of March. We have asked that responses be returned to us by 15 May.  We are currently considering how we will process and collate the responses that we receive, with the intention of writing a summary report of the survey results.  It is intended that this material will be the basis for discussion at the Monastic Sangha Gathering at Shasta Abbey in September.

Rev. Vivian

 

Resource Sharing

The Resource Sharing group received research done by Mo Henderson and Dan Brodribb. It gives an oversight of unfortunate incidents/situations between Buddhist masters/teachers and disciples in recent years and the responses given to this by the respective sanghas. We are presently editing the research so that it will be easy to read and compare – and hope to post this on the Resource Sharing web page for monks. We also will upload a second talk by Rev. Master Daizui on Preceptual behaviour.

Rev. Master Hakuun

 

Publications

We have been fairly active in recent months, as we now have four documents that we are preparing for publication. They are all in the Rules Awareness category. The first of these, a leaflet titled ‘An Overview of the Rules of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives’ has been sent out to monks for their feedback and we have received many encouraging comments, which we are in the process of collating. Once we have gathered all the suggestions we will, in consultation with Rev. Master Haryo and the monks who originally drafted the text, finalize the wording and layout before deciding on how to distribute the end product.

The second publication ‘A Digest of the Rules of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives’ is also ready to be circulated with an invitation for monks to offer comments. This will go ahead in about a month, once the deadline for submissions in response to the survey by the Structure and Function working group has passed. It was thought that it would be better to send out requests for feedback sequentially rather than concurrently, so that monks do not have too much of this kind of work to do at any one time.

There are two other publications in the works: ‘An Index of the Rules of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives’ and ‘Related Keywords Used in the Rules of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives’ These will be circulated for comments once the other material has finished the feedback stage of the process.

We are aware of one other document that will be created; we will start work on it when we receive the text. The (provisional) title is: ‘Guiding Principles for Spiritual Counseling and Teaching Relationships’.

In other developments: Our working group is now only two members since Marianne decided to step down. We are very grateful for the help she has given this group and wish her well. This leaves just Chris Loukes and Rev. Roland in the group, though after some reflection and consultation with the interim board we did, on their suggestion, ask Rev. Master Zensho if he were able to offer help, as it was felt his greater familiarity with American conventions in publishing could be very helpful. He generously agreed to act as an advisor when needed.

Rev. Roland

 

Ethics

We created a Recommendations Document that contained suggestions and ideas concerning the Rules, from an ‘ethics’ point of view. This document was sent out to senior monks and lay ministers on 3rd February 2013 for feedback by 15th March.

We also considered it to be appropriate to put down on paper what we considered the overall priorities should be, again with our ‘ethics’ hats on. So we prepared a list of ethical priorities with a suggested timeline. This was sent out to senior monks and lay ministers on 8th March 2013 with a request for feedback by 25th March.

We then forwarded a synopsis of the feedback to Reverend Master Haryo on 26th March 2013. To allow some identification of the respondents, we noted on the synopsis whether they were lay or monastic and by whether they were European or North American. So, all comments contained within the feedback found their way into the synopsis.

We received two pieces of feedback after the due date and after the synopsis had been sent. Reverend Master Haryo asked that this feedback be included in with the original replies. We have amended the document to include these latest comments.

Andi Sinclair

 

Rules Awareness & Education

The group produced a new version of the leaflet entitled “Guiding Principles for Spiritual Counseling and Teaching Relationships” incorporating the comments that the group received from selected monks and lay ministers in the various countries where the OBC functions. This draft is being circulated to all senior monks and lay ministers for comment. We hope it should only need minor changes before it is sent to the publications working group.

The new leaflet “An overview of the Rules of the OBC” produced by the Rules Digest and Cataloguing working group could become the principal way that lay trainees are introduced to the rules. However, the group surveyed some of the priories to find out how postulants become familiar with the rules. This survey will extend to all priories where postulants train.

Tony Loyd

Reverend Master Chushin Passmore

(Revised, 3/24/2013)

It is with sadness that we let you know that one of the monks of our Order, Rev. Master Chushin Passmore, recently died in his home in Wales. He died of a brain hemorrhage while he was resting and probably was unaware of what was happening. A funeral was held at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey in the UK on Monday March 18th. R M Chushin’s sister and niece were able to attend, and several monks who had trained with him in the 80’s and 90’s at Shasta and Throssel, came up and joined us as we said farewell.

The day before the funeral the monastic community and visiting monks sat with the body in the ceremony hall during the traditional vigil for a monk.
On Monday, Rev. Master Daishin was celebrant for the Funeral and burial ceremony. As we circumambulated the Hall and offered incense to R M Chushin we sang two of the invocations he was closely involved with: ‘Crossing the Bar’, and ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’.
R M Jiyu asked R M Chushin to write a final verse to Tennyson’s poem ‘Crossing the Bar’ before including it in our Liturgy. Here is what he wrote:

Dawnlight and morning star
He gently calls me forth;
And may there be no doubt to dull my prayer
When I reply, “My Lord!”
How pure the fountain of His love doth flow!
How deep its treasures are!
All clouds and fears dissolve, as glad I go,
When I have crost the bar.

Rev. Master Chushin was ordained in 1977 by Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett, and had been a monk for 35 years. He was one of the original group of British monks who traveled to Shasta in the 1970s to train as disciples of Rev. Master Jiyu. Many of our congregation in the US and UK have fond memories of him during his time at Shasta and Throssel. Amongst the various positions he held over the years were guestmaster at Throssel and the OBC Journal editor.  More recently he set up the Dharma Cloud trust in Newport, South Wales (his home town) in 2001, and for some time a meditation group met once a week there.

Many have sent cards and  email messages of condolence via Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey, for which we thank you.  The way he encouraged people through his sense of humour seems to be a common thread running through the many cards, emails and posts on various websites, that offer their appreciation for his teaching and life.

 

OBC Interim Board & Working Groups News – February 2013

Interim Board

In December the board emailed members of the Order with the collection of topics of concern that had been in our basket, suggesting a next step of forming discussion groups on each of the topics. Due to the rather small response, we contacted the interested people to suggest they might form their own discussion groups if they so wish, without further involvement of the interim board, unless they need any technical support.

This being so, after talking with Rev. Master Haryo, it seems good to start a process of winding up business for the interim board, and not take on any new issues. Together with the working groups we will work out arrangements to provide any support they need to get their projects completed or ready for discussion at the Monastic Gathering. When we committed ourselves last September for another year, there was the possibility of our arranging for the organising of the upcoming Monastic Gathering, but the present understanding is that Rev. Master Haryo will make those arrangements himself.

We will take time in the coming months to write a report on the interim board, its development and lessons learned, and will seek contributions from those who have been part of this effort over the past several years.

Of course we are still around for a while and we continue to be happy to talk if there is a need.

 

18 Month Public Statement Review

Rev. Master Haryo has asked Rev. Master Leandra and Richard Potter (lay minister) to prepare a report of our progress with the 17 points we agreed to undertake at the 2011 General Meeting. They have contacted the groups who agreed to work on particular areas as well as the chief priests of our temples, and have asked for feedback by 23 February hoping to have a review of our progress by the end of March. This is seen as a fact-finding task.

 

Structure & Function Group

The Structure and Function Working Group has been working hard for some time finalizing the questions for the survey it hopes to send out soon to members of the OBC asking for their thoughts on the current structure and function of the OBC and if or how it might be improved to meet current conditions. Those questions have finally been completed and we have turned our attention to refining the Preamble, which serves as an introduction to the questions. We have done much of that work, and when it is finished we will send the completed survey to Rev Master Haryo for comment. After that it will probably be sent to a focus group, which might include Rev Master Haryo’s Advisory Council and several other monks. Once this has been done it will be distributed to members of the Order.

In addition we have discussed issues related to confidentiality and anonymity of the responses we receive to the survey and how to go about analyzing those responses so that they can be written up into a report.  Progress is being made on all fronts, and we hope to have the survey out soon.

 

Publications

The Rules Digest is nearly ready, the Overview of The Rules leaflet and webpage are almost ready and the Rules index is just being started. Marianne Florian has stepped down from the group and we are hoping for a replacement.

 

Ethics

Following a meeting with Rev. Master Haryo to discuss ethical recommendations outlined in two documents, the Ethics Working Group has revised these accordingly. The first has been circulated and the second will be circulated when it is confirmed whether Rev. Master Haryo wishes his comments and annotations to be included. The group continues to meet regularly, in the interim. Karen Richards intends to retire from the group once the circulation of the documents is complete.

 

Rules Awareness & Education

The working group first met on 24th March 2012 and has now met 9 times. Mo Henderson and Tony Loyd, who were originally “researchers” for the group, have now agreed to become full members, joining Rev Masters Shiko and Ando, Rev Chandra, and Chris Hughes.

The group produced a draft leaflet, entitled “Guiding Principles for Spiritual Counselling and Teaching Relationships”. A focus group consisting of 7 monks and 4 lay ministers provided comments on the draft, and some of these comments are now being clarified. Assuming agreement to a draft text can be obtained within the focus group, the next step will be to send the draft to all senior monks and lay ministers for comment.

The group was tasked with producing an introduction to the OBC Rules. However, the pamphlet “An overview of the Rules of the OBC” produced by Rev Master Zensho and the Rules Digest and Cataloguing working group provides such an introduction.

The working group has also started work on a survey of how OBC temples make the OBC rules available to those who practice there, and whether the monk(s) in charge take any particular steps to make new members and others aware of the rules.

OBC Interim Board & Working Groups News – November 2012

Interim Board

In September we welcomed lay minister Linda Stevens to the interim board. Linda practises with the Lions Gate Buddhist Priory in Canada. We are extremely pleased to have her on the board, replacing Pam Hunter Johnson. Both Pam and Rev. Master Jigen are stepping down after two years of invaluable service to the Order through their roles on the board. We would like to thank both of them for their generous giving of their time and experience and skills to this work – we will miss them.

We have been unable to find a European monk to replace Rev. Master Jigen on the board so we are looking at other ways that people can help us. One way would be by helping on one particular project or piece of work. If you are willing to be approached to help in this more specific way do please let us know.

Much of our time continues to be devoted to supporting the working groups. We are also concentrating on a way of presenting to the Order all of the outstanding concerns that have been brought to us so that it can be decided what (if any) further work needs to be done.

The interim board has been in contact with Rev. Master Haryo about the organisation of the 2013 Monastic Sangha Gathering and our possible role in helping with that. Rev. Master Haryo will first be putting together something to inform everyone of the nature of the gathering and after that a group will be formed to organise it.

We have created a resource document on confidentiality classification of documents, which has been made available to the working groups, and we are writing a document on methods of consultation with guidelines as to how, why and when to use them. We have been involving working group members in our board meetings once a month, which has proved to be very helpful to all attending. We continue to look at ways to involve more people in the work of the board.

Rev. Alicia

 

Structure & Function Group

Most of our energy has recently gone into creating a questionnaire for distribution to monks and lay ministers. The areas to be covered have been largely agreed and we are starting to finalize the questions themselves. There will probably be some multiple choice questions as it is felt that this format makes the questionnaire easier to answer. Most questions will also have space for comments and ideas, since multiple choice answers don’t provide detailed or specific information. There will be a question written by Rev. Master Haryo and probably an open-ended “do you have any other thoughts, comments, etc.,” question. We are also carefully considering confidentiality so as to ensure that people feel able to respond freely. There will be a preamble to the questionnaire describing its aims and the remit of the working group.

Neil Rothwell and Willie Grieve kindly wrote an initial questionnaire after the Wiki page we were all working on got too confusing, and that has given us the possibility of discussing each question one by one until we get it into a form acceptable to all. It is surprisingly hard to draft good questions that say what we mean and are not leading. The process is, however, generally harmonious in spite of our diverse points of view, and we are cheered to find how often consensus can be reached. The preamble and the issue of confidentiality will also require big chunks of discussion, and it can be sobering to realize how long it can take to come up with something that appears so simple as a questionnaire. In addition we are working on how to analyze the responses when they come in. The whole process is a wonderful opportunity for training in patience and close listening, and within that we find in ourselves a wonderful respect for each others’ views. It seems good to take the time needed, rather than to rush, in the hope that the results will be better grounded in wisdom and compassion.

Rev. Vivian

 

Publications

Since our invitation to help move along any documents which are in the preparation stage last month we have not yet received any requests for help or information on projects pending so we remain in a state of keen anticipation and readiness.

Having heard that PDF documents are often not compatible with e-readers (e.g. the Amazon Kindle) we have been researching how to create e-books so that we will be ready to supply these as an option when finishing publications.

Rev. Roland

 

Ethics

Earlier in the year, we welcomed Rev. Master Koten to the group, who brought much welcomed insight to our work. Rev. Koten has recently resigned from the group. We are very grateful for his input.

The Ethics working group recently met with Rev. Master Haryo to discuss our ongoing remit of reviewing, clarifying and strengthening the ethics and grievance rules, policies and procedures for monks and laity training within the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives, following which we submitted recommendations to Rev. Master Haryo and the interim board which we consider will strengthen our current rules and procedures for raising an ethical concern. We have also submitted a document containing our perspective on priorities and future work. We consider this to be the completion of the first phase of our work and are now awaiting feedback.

On completion of these two documents, lay minister Doug Carnine, who has been with us since the formation of the Ethics Working Group, in spring 2011, has stepped down. We are very grateful for all Doug’s hard work. We have found him a very knowledgeable and grounded presence and his contribution will be missed.

Karen Richards

 

Lay Communication Working Group

Following the break taken by members of the Lay Communication Working Group over the summer, Jim Gore-Langton decided to step down. We would like to thank Jim for all the energy and creativity he has brought to the work of this group. The remaining members of the group, Sally Brown and Rev M Meiko, together with Mary Neinast, met with the interim board for an open discussion of how they might restart working on developing methods that can underpin communication and networking within the OBC lay sangha. They are now boiling down their ideas into a proposal that can be discussed with Rev. Master Haryo. Depending on the specifics of the proposal, the group may be asking for more volunteers to get involved.

Bob McGraw