A summary report for the OBC of progress with the Public Statement’s 17 steps it was agreed to undertake at the September 2011 General Meeting.
The purpose of this report is to review and make public the progress with the 17 steps in the Public Statement that the OBC agreed to undertake at the 2011 General Meeting. The review has been carried out by Richard Potter (Lay Minster, Cambridge UK) and Rev. Master Leandra, with input from the Head of the Order, Rev. Master Haryo. It has also been dependent on the help of many others in replying to requests for information.
The Working Groups set up by the Interim Board were contacted as well as the Chief Priests of Temples asking for information relevant to the 17 steps and what follows is a summary of the replies received. As the nature of the replies has been varied in terms the detail written and also the audience for whom they might be intended, in summarising the replies we have borne in mind the report is intended for circulation as a whole within the OBC. Rev. Master Daishin’s extended response which was offered to give a wider picture of how the Order has been developing than might be understood from the responses focused solely on the 17 steps can be found in the Appendix.
The report is only a snapshot of a particular period of time and by the time you, the reader, are reading this what has happened “on the ground” may well have changed. That many areas are still works-in-progress reflects the complexity of some of the issues and the time needed to come to generally agreed upon solutions. We would like to acknowledge the enormous amount of work that the Interim Board and the various Working Groups have so readily offered to the Order. The work of the OBC Website Development Group has contributed significantly towards fulfilling aspects of the 17 steps.
Review of Progress in implementing the 17 Steps
1. The Interim Board of the OBC which was established at last year’s General Meeting (www.obcinterimboard.org) will be continued for another year, its purpose being to facilitate better communication within the Order, and to address concerns as they arise.
At the end of April 2013 the Interim Board completed the handover of the working groups to Rev. Master Haryo. They will be writing an “end-of-term” report, and ensuring that the information they have assembled over the last two and a half years can be made available to whoever may need it in future. To this end, they are envisaging that the interim board website will continue to be online for a least a year.
2. A working group was authorized to review the Order’s structure and function and to make recommendations in areas where there was seen to be room for improvement. This group will work directly with the Head of the Order.
Work in progress:
In March 2013 the Structure & Function Working Group completed the writing and editing of the survey that they had been working on for some time. The survey, together with a cover letter from Rev. Master Haryo, was sent out to monks and lay ministers at the end of March. The group is currently considering how to process and collate the responses they receive, with the intention of writing a summary report of the survey results. It is intended that this material will be the basis for some discussions at the Monastic Sangha Gathering at Shasta Abbey this September.
3. The Order’s Ethics Working Group will work on developing new rules, or additions to existing rules, to make it clear that sexualized behaviour within teaching relationships is completely inappropriate. The Group is also working towards the implementation of improved procedures for raising ethical concerns within the Order.
Work in progress:
Rev. Master Haryo has written an Ethics Statement with a list of who can be contacted in order to raise an ethical concern. This has been posted on the OBC website and Rev. Master Haryo has asked for it to be posted on notice boards in Temples of the Order.
At American temples there were meetings with the congregation both in groups and privately as individuals to talk about the situation at Shasta Abbey with Rev. Eko’s conduct and subsequent disrobing. At Shasta Abbey there were many meetings of the community to talk about what had happened and what they had learned, partly in relation to the rules and Precepts. They also set up an Ethics Refuge before the meeting in 2011 which is up and running, though it is still working on some of its procedures and finalising a leaflet.
The Ethics Working Group 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 and a synopsis of the feedback was sent to Rev. Master Haryo in March 2013. The Group sent out a second document, which contained a suggested timeline for implementation of these recommendations.
4. The Order’s Ethics Working Group identified that in the rule on abuse of power (Section IV Rule 11), the warning to disciples to be careful in applying this rule to the behaviour of their master detracted from the intent of the rule. This wording has been removed from the rule. (FTI also pointed this out)
Wording has been removed.
5. We will produce a publicly-available brochure or leaflet outlining what behaviour is considered appropriate, and what is not acceptable, in the relationship between a teacher and a disciple or student, whether monastic or lay, with reference to the rules of the Order which address this area.
Work in progress:
The Rules Awareness and Education Working Group is producing a leaflet entitled “Guiding Principles for Spiritual Counseling and Teaching Relationships” incorporating comments received from a focus group of monks and lay ministers. This draft is being circulated to all senior monks and lay ministers for comment. It is hoped that it should only need minor changes before it is sent to the Publications Working Group.
6. We will ensure that in each temple of the order specific teaching is offered to increase awareness and understanding of the Rules and their relationship to monastic practice.
Work in progress and continuing long-term:
At all Order temples postulants read and sign a copy of the rules before they join the community. They are encouraged to ask about any rules they don’t understand. Generally, the Rules of the Order are referred to and discussed whenever questions arise about matters those rules address. At Shasta, after the former Rev. Eko left there were a number of meetings with the congregation and many meetings of the monastic community to talk about what had happened and what had been learned, particularly in relation to the rules and Precepts. At Throssel, over the last couple of years a number of key discussions have taken place about the responsibility that all senior monks hold in common for the nature of the practice and the ethical conduct of the monastery.
At smaller temples the chief priests have, for example, notes on their main bulletin boards pointing the congregation to where to find the OBC Bylaws and Rules and well as the templeBylaws. One priory has recently re-evaluated their Bylaws and updated them to reflect current practices . The Confidentiality guidelines are also prominently displayed on temple bulletin boards. Chief Priests have begun discussing the rules with their congregations but on the whole are waiting for more guidance from the OBC before taking this further. It has been commented that a digest of the rules will be helpful.
Shasta Abbey and Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey have their own in-house rules as a way of preserving some important collective experience and a means of passing on good practice. Both temples are currently reviewing these rules with their communities.
7. We will make our rules more accessible at temples of the Order by drawing attention to them on websites, and we will also produce a leaflet introducing the rules to those unfamiliar with them. We will produce a digest of those rules which are most relevant to the safety of all who train with our Order, so that these important rules are easier to find. There will also be a subject index to the rules, so that it is easier to locate those relating to a particular area.
Work in progress:
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 trainess are introduced to the rules. The group also surveyed some of the priories to find out how postulants become familiar with the rules.
A second publication ‘A Digest of the Rules of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives’ is ready to be circulated with an invitation for monks to offer comments.
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.
Most chief priests of temples have replied to the email regarding Step 7 by indicating that they are drawing attention to the rules in a variety of different ways. At some temples there have been discussions with the congregation in relation to the rules of the Order and the Precepts. Here are two examples: (1) “for lay practice we have the precepts and temples rules which are brought to people’s attention when they are here for a longer period, or become regulars” and (2) “we have had sangha sessions/discussions linking some of the rules to daily practice, drawing out their relevance to our interaction at the temple”
Temples of the Order have a set of OBC rules easily accessible for lay people to read. At Throssel there has in addition been a short digest alongside the Rules since the late 1990’s detailing those matters of particular concern to lay people.
8. Monks are encouraged to consult available resources on the topic of “healthy boundaries”. In particular, the Head of the Order has asked that all monks watch a series of DVDs and read some material recommended by FTI, and have an opportunity to discuss this subject with each other.
The Order’s Executive Secretary has been responsible for coordinating and facilitating the passing around of the material recommended by the FTI so that all monks can avail themselves of the opportunity to make use of this material and to discuss the subject of “healthy boundaries” with other monks. A second set has been purchased for circulation in Europe. Both Shasta Abbey and Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey have held community discussions after viewing the videos. Rev. Master Haryo intends that these materials be required viewing for those taking on an Order temple.
9. A provisional rule allowing for lay discipleship in the Order was clarified and finalized (Section II, Rule 14). A meeting of masters who have lay disciples was held, initiating a discussion of the issues relevant to that teaching relationship.
Both Implemented in 2011.
10. Ongoing education in the area of counseling and teaching for monks and lay ministers of the Order is under review.
Work in progress and continuing long-term:
There is an article from Lay Minister Neil Rothwell “Recognising Your Own Feelings in Spiritual Counselling” that has been posted on the OBC website on the Resource Sharing web page for monks.
Ongoing education needs further discussion so that sensible decisions can be made as how best to implement this step more fully. Appropriately addressing this area is more of a long-term matter than it is with other steps.
11. We will assemble a resource of talks and information on various subjects relevant to monastic life and lay training. Topics addressed would include sexuality, celibacy, teaching, counseling, and healthy boundaries
Work in progress and continuing long-term:
The Resource Sharing Group are editing the research on the oversight of unfortunate incidents/situations between Buddhist masters/teachers and disciples in recent years and the responses given to this by the respective sanghas. This will be posted on the OBC website on the Resource Sharing web pages for monks.
Also posted on the OBC website for monks are:
The Vinaya Talks by Rev. Master Daizui and there will also be a second talk by Rev. Master Daizui on Preceptual behaviour.
A talk by Rev. Master Meian on “Being a Spiritual Adult”.
(2) Unpublished articles by senior monks:
“The Value of Rev. Master’s Eko’s Departure: Lessons Learned Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws”
“Celibacy in the Serene Reflection (Soto Zen) Tradition”
“Vertical and Horizontal Aspects of Training”
(3) Books and articles senior monks have recommended as useful reading for seniors, or have been recommended at meetings of the Order; for example “Relating to a Spiritual Teacher: Building a Healthy Relationship”
(4) Additional resources, such as publications by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation offering guidance on inclusion and respect of transgendered persons in our communities.
12. We welcome the formation of the Lay Initiative which we believe will facilitate greater links between lay and monastic sanghas, and will further two-way communication and teaching in the future.
Implemented and continuing long-term:
The Order continues to be encouraging of any sangha-building initiatives on the part of the laity. To date most such efforts have occurred in the UK, such as the formation of Sangha walking groups, the holding of regional day and weekend retreats, in-home intensive training months, and trial on-line efforts at sangha building.
13. To help our collective understanding of the master-disciple relationship, monks of the Order, and particularly masters, are invited to write and submit articles on their understanding of this relationship. We will compile a resource of these and other existing articles on this subject, and references to other relevant works.
Work in progress and continuing long-term:
There are articles and books recommended as useful reading for seniors posted on the OBC website on the Resource Sharing web page (see step 11). In addition one article has been submitted entitled “The Value of Rev. Master’s Eko’s Departure: Lessons Learned Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws”
14. There will be annual meetings for all masters who have monastic disciples, together with the Head of the Order. (In years when there is no General Meeting, these will be separate meetings in North America and Europe. In years when a General Meeting is scheduled, there will be a single combined meeting.)
To be implemented:
The first of such face-to-face meetings is scheduled to be held in September 2013 at Shasta Abbey.
15. In recognition of the fact that the isolation of any temple or individual has a detrimental effect on religious training, we will strengthen collaborative relationships between temples by encouraging monks to spend periods of time at other temples of the Order. One way that we hope to facilitate this is through a programme of exchange visits.
Implemented and continuing long-term:
Collaborative relationships between temples has been occuring with monks from the two large temples visiting each others’ temples for short or longer stays (from 6 months up to a year). Visits to smaller temples have also been occuring regularly though usually for shorter stays. However, when the need arose this past year, a monk stepped in to take over at the Portland Priory to allow the prior to take a break.
Senior monks are trustees for other temples and although a board of trustees may legally be regarded as having an administrative function it is understood that they also have a spiritual role to support the resident monk or community, as well as the congregation. Trustees regularly visit the temples they have this relationship with and they are available for congregation members to contact if needed. In addition, temples are visited by the Head of the Order, The European Advisor, and the Lay Ministry Advisor.
0rder officers have increased communication via Order News emailing, Rev. Master Haryo’s mailings to monks, and distribution of the OBC’s financial statement. Also, we have added monks to Order News: all mailings now go to “all monks”, including novices and postulants, and we now include Transmitted monks in with Seniors.
The Advisory Council is meeting more regularly (monthly) with more discussion from various points of views. A number of temples have brought items to the meetings for advice: such as the establishment of the Field of Merit; the exploration of starting a priory in East Anglia; the relocation of the German temple, postings on the internet, membership in other Buddhist groups etc. The Advisory Council is not a decision-making body but one from which the Head of the Order seeks advice as needed.
16. We will also explore how we can encourage collaboration by sharing resources between temples.
Implemented and continuing long-term:
Sharing of resources between temples has been happening for many years. Senior monks regularly talk on the phone to each other and there is a wide network of spiritual friendships amongst monks that is expressed through emails, phone calls and visits to each other’s temples. Larger temples attend and help out at ordinations, transmissions and funerals. Also, help is offered to smaller temples by the sacristy of larger temples when special ceremonies are being prepared. Further help is on offer when needed and this has regularly included financial help from larger temples. In addition, there is helpful collaboration in terms of Dharma material/themes/ideas/ recorded liturgy and practical temple business; technical support for computer and website issues; and advice on legal requirements in relation to such areas as accounts.
Where interactions on an Order level are concerned, monks from different temples have been directly involved in Order working groups over the last two years. Thus there is considerable interchange between temples and with lay people. These collaborative efforts have brought us (monks and lay people) together in a new way not available before. Recent events have highlighted for us all the importance of these interactions and there is a wish on the part of many to continue to develop them.
17. To help enable wide-spread refuge-taking within the Order, we will have a General Meeting of the Order every other year, the third one of which will be a Conclave to review the rules. (Conclaves may also be convened at anytime). These meetings will alternate between North America and Europe.
Implemented and continuing long-term:
The next of these will occur in September 2013 at Shasta Abbey.
Response from Rev. Master Daishin Morgan (UK)
Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey
The following is a contribution to the 18 month review of our progress in implementing the undertakings made in the 2011 Public Statement. As requested I will focus on those undertakings that engage closely with Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey, in particular Nos 6, 7, 15 and 16. I am assuming that the review will be published and so my remarks are composed for a public audience rather than fellow monks. As I worked on this it became clear to me that a great deal has changed and continues to change within the Order. It is not easy to separate out those changes that were already underway and those that have been a response to what we all became aware of in 2010. When we publish the review of our progress in implementing the Public Statement I think it wouldgive a false impression if we did not include the wider picture of how the Order has been developing. The developments that have happened here at Throssel in the last 18 months have not really been led or defined by the Public Statement as such but primarily by our best efforts to sit within our situation and respond from that perspective. This has lead to a lot of useful developments. In addition, if the review is allowed to be more inclusive it would respond to the concern voiced by some within the Order that “nothing is happening”.
Step 6: As in all Order temples postulants read and sign a copy of the rules before they join the community. They are encouraged to ask about any rules they don’t understand. The Rules of the Order are referred to and discussed whenever questions arise about matters those rules address. In particular, over the last couple of years a number of key discussions have taken place about the responsibility that all senior monks hold in common for the nature of the practice and the ethical conduct of the monastery. Throssel has the legal structure of a charitable trust. The community of senior monks comprise the Chapter or membership of the trust and are responsible for appointing the trustees on an annual basis. As a body, the Chapter holds real responsibility and if things were to go wrong they have a duty to exercise it, if all else fails, by not re-electing certain trustees and or in extreme circumstances withdrawing support from the Abbot, who can only act with their support.
We have re-affirmed that the abbot’s role is to sit in the centre of the monastery and from a perspective of meditation to hold the community, collectively and individually within a loving regard and offer whatever help he or she can. The community is successful when, most of the time, the wish to hold each other in that same loving regard underpins our interactions. It is understood that the purpose of the community arises from the commitment of the individual members. The Abbot seeks to be responsive to the various understandings that community members have and to shape the overall direction of the life of the community through his or her leadership. In the end the basis for this is the depth of practice, not only of the Abbot, but of all community members.
We have reviewed the make up of our board of trustees and clarified that while they are responsible for the administration of the charity, the day to day running is done by the abbot and monastery office holders. The trustees are responsible for ensuring the money raised is used for the purposes of the charity and must approve individual items of expenditure in excess of £1,000. More than that, they have a role to be informed about the life of the community and if it becomes necessary to raise issues of concern with the Abbot. We have two external trustees and three trustees who are members of the community in addition to the Abbot, making six trustees in all.
It is understood that the Chapter delegate to the Abbot the responsibility for the leadership of the community. He or she in turn is then responsible for appointing monks to look after specific areas of responsibility. The abbot takes refuge with the community and the community, as individuals and collectively, take refuge with the abbot. The interwoven nature of these circular relationships is what constantly remakes the community. The abbot has a council of six monks that includes the vice abbot. The role of this council has been extensively discussed and clarified over recent years as it has evolved. For example, since 2009 we have not had a vice abbot but the council as a whole acted in place of the abbot when matters were delegated to it or when the abbot was away. That structure helped to increase the sense that responsibility is shared and council members have their own voice. Recently a vice abbot has been appointed once more as a helpful means of drawing matters to a decision once discussions have taken place. Such experiments have formed part of community life since we began. A further example is the development of means through which the whole community can be involved in certain decisions. Business used to be conducted by a small group whereas today there is a weekly business meeting with the abbot and principle monastic office holders to which any other monk can come, especially if they have an interest in the matters to be discussed. Usually more than half the community attend these meetings.
In addition to the Order rules, Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey has its own in-house rules as a way of preserving some important collective experience and a means of passing on good practice. They include the election procedure for a new abbot; matters of monastic conduct when varied to suit local conditions; some legal and financial matters, and the safety of monks and guests. Over the last year these rules have begun to be extensively revised and their relationship with the OBC rules checked to avoid any conflict. Community discussions have taken place concerning the principles behind the rules and how in the future they should be made or revised. These discussions have required a familiarity with the OBC framework within which we work. Over the last year eight monks have been involved in preparing a draft revision of our in-house rules which the community are now considering.
Throughout our existence our forms have not been cast in stone. Experiments have been one means through which people learn what being a monk means and the responsibilities that go with it. Even the most junior members of the community are fully aware of the recent upheavals in the Order and the steps taken in response. We regard it as important that those entering the community as postulants are aware of the criticisms we have encountered on the internet. Discussions of the rules have naturally formed part of all this.
Step 7: Copies of the OBC rules are prominently visible for visitors and congregation members to see in the lay common room library. Each monk has their own copy. Because they are not an easy read, a short digest was prepared detailing those matters of particular concern to lay people. That digest has been available here alongside the Rules since the late 1990’s. The Order is currently working on an updated version. When visitors come for an introductory retreat it is explained that we are part of a wider Order. Recently some guidance was posted on who to contact in the event of concerns arising about ethical behaviour or practice and that was accompanied by the reassurance that such complaints will be taken seriously.
It is regularly taught that our ethical foundation is rooted in direct experience of the interconnectedness of all beings. The entire purpose of the monastery, our life together as community and congregation is to awaken to the reality of this interconnection and come to see how that gives rise to the Precepts. This has always formed a key part of the teaching at all our temples across the Order.
Step 15: From the perspective of those of us at Throssel Hole, collaborative relationships between temples and priories in Europe continue to develop. For example, temples have the legal structure of a charitable trust or equivalent and have a board of trustees. Six senior monks from Throssel are trustees for other temples and as mentioned above two monks from other temples serve on our board of trustees. As other temples develop these relationships are increasing. Although a board of trustees may legally be regarded as having an administrative function we understand trustees as having a spiritual role of support to the resident monk or community as well as the congregation as one aspect of the Sangha refuge. Trustees regularly visit the temple they have this relationship with and they are available for congregation members to contact if needed.
In addition, temples are visited by the Head of The Order, The European Advisor, and the Lay Ministry Advisor. There is a wide network of spiritual friendships amongst monks that is expressed through emails, phone calls and visits to each other’s temples. A monk from Shasta Abbey in the USA and one from Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey in the UK have been on an exchange visit during the last year. A US born monk who was ordained in the UK and practised here since 1997 has in the last year been appointed as the priest of the Eugene Buddhist Priory in Oregon. Since July 2006 a monk from the US has been resident here. It is also common practice for novices from other temples to stay here. Other examples of interchanges are the help offered to smaller temples by our sacristy when special ceremonies are being prepared. Further help is on offer when needed and this has regularly included financial help. Where our interactions on an Order level are concerned over half the community has been directly involved in Order working groups over the last two years. Thus there is considerable interchange between temples. Recent events have highlighted for us all the importance of these interactions and we wish to maintain and continue to develop them.
Report submitted June 28, 2013
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.