Saturday, September 19, 2015

Avalokiteshvara and the Gospel According to Mark

Brad is preaching tomorrow, and, as is our custom, I ask what the gospel is for this Sunday. (They rotate on a yearly basis in the Episcopalian church; this year is the gospel according to Mark.)  Brad said it is Mark’s story of the disciples traveling to Jerusalem with Jesus. He has told them that he is going to be killed.  They are in denial and disbelief because, according to the Jewish tradition at that time, the Messiah will reign supreme – literally, on this earth as a king.  Not metaphorically or metaphysically as the king of heaven. The disciples further argue among themselves who will be first in the new reign of the messiah. (Kind of like, I think, arguing over who will be chief deputy or prime minister.)

To use Buddhist language, Jesus is telling them to accept things as they are, and, in effect, to turn toward his suffering. I asked Brad what would have happened, hypothetically, if the disciples did believe Jesus, did experience the deep pain of his eventual death. 

Brad said, “Jesus would not have been so alone and isolated.”

When Brad said this, I had an insight into the first line of the Heart Sutra:

Avalokiteshvara when deeply practicing prajna paramita clearly saw that all five skandas are empty and thus relieved all suffering.

This teaching, I think, is not something that a mystical bodhitattva has done, that by her perceiving that all five skandas are empty of own-being, has relieved or removed our suffering.

No, we are each Avalokiteshvara practicing seeing that every constituent of individual being – form, feeling, perceptions, thoughts and the container of consciousness – are not fixed and separate from all other beings.  Inter-being is all that there is.

The suffering part is that we see ourselves as separate and alone.  This is, perhaps, the fundamental basis of suffering.  When turning toward our suffering in the light of the reality that we are, in fact, one body of being, we could begin to remove the suffering of isolation.

And when we don’t turn toward our own suffering, we increase the suffering of others, just as Jesus had to face the horror of the destiny of his crucifixion alone.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Notes from Rev. Okumura's Commentary Hokke Ten Hokke

Hokke Ten Hokke: Dharma Flower Turns Dharma Flower

This essay contains selected notes on Shohaku Okumura’s commentary at GGF August 2015, but the gems of his commentary, for me, are the following ten statements. 

  1. ·      We practice as bodhisattvas not to become Buddha but to stay in the world as Buddha. To become a Buddha is not the goal, but the starting point.
  2. ·      Our practice IS the Buddha (interesting!  Buddha is a verb)
  3. ·      Bodhisattvas are the 5 skandas. [my note: we tend to think of them as disembodied, magical beings.]   We are bodhisattvas.  Bodhisattvas are ordinary beings and work through embodied interconnection.
  4. ·      Prajnaparamita is the five skandas. (We were amazed!)
  5. ·      Buddha’s “desire” (see paragraph 2) – “Desire” as sickness or malady. Buddha appears in Lotus Sutra because he wants all beings to know reality – to practice.  Bodhisattvas have this desire and have to practice. Keep making VOW to walk to Buddhahood with all beings.
  6. ·      Freedom (from identification) from skandas is liberation. Skandas themselves are suffering. We are free from suffering when we see the skandas as empty.  (first line of heart sutra.) Dogen: “dropping body and mind” is dropping the 5 skandas.
  7. ·      Dogen’s practice is not to stop thinking,. Thoughts are who we are.  Thinking and not thinking are both there. This is why Dogen is unique.  Only one to say you don’t have to stop thinking, just let go.
  8. ·      Dogen: taught everyday mind. (not some special mind.)  Don’t [need] supernatural world. Dogen talked about the phenomenal world, nothing beyond this world and its emptiness.
  9. ·      Practicing in delusion (ours) is bodhisattva practice. (Not some pure bodhisattva practicing in someone else’s delusion!)
  10. ·      For Dogen, doesn’t matter if the mind is agitated. How we relate to others is what matters. Our mind becomes distorted when not relating well.  When relations are good, our mind calms.


Hokke Ten Hokke is a unique fascicle: written as a letter to his student Etatsu on the occasion of his ordination. Dogen wrote the fascicle in both Chinese and Japanese, making translation more difficult.

comments re Mahayana (condensed):

That the Buddha practiced as a bodhisattva is the gem of the creation of the Mahayana.

There are two sets of buddha’s teaching: Do good and do not do evil; otherwise, a person could go to heaven or hell.  (practice offerings, etc) The second set of teachings was to go beyond good and evil: beyond discriminatory mind and enter nirvana. Going beyond means no clinging to good deeds or afflictive emotions (like anger). Mahayana combined both sets of teachings. 

Central tenet of Mahayana: samsara and nirvana are one. Prajna paramita sutras were the insight of emptiness. Basic goal is to become a buddha and stay in samsara AS A BUDDHA.

Not crossing over [from one plane of existence to another] results in samsara and nirvana being one.  With this attitude itself, we discover nirvana (in the middle of samsaric world)

Dogen and the Lotus Sutra

Dogen became a monk in the Tendai tradition, and its main text was the Lotus Sutra [LS]

Buddha’s first statement in chapter two of the Lotus Sutra:  Sho ho ji so: all dharma beings are true reality.

All people have a unique expression of Buddha’s life.  Each one of us expresses the dharma.

Body and sound are one thing. Dogen’s realization: no separation subject and object. Everything (sentient and insentient) expresses the dharma when our eyes and ears are open.  Those who hear the dharma are rare.

Main topic of LS chapter 2– 13: prediction that all bodhisattvas will become a buddha. Bodhisattvas will not enter nirvana, but stay in samsara.

To become a Buddha is not the goal, but the starting point.

Chapter 15 of the Lotus Sutra: buddha’s infinite lifetime

Nirmanakaya: Buddha’s human body and lifetime
Dharmakaya:  Buddha’s teaching

Buddha: if you see dharma, you see me
BUDDHA IS YOUR PRACTICE.  Must study and practice. Dharma body is always present, manifests when you practice

Commentary on Hokke Ten Hokke – Dharma Flower Turns Dharma Flower

( paragraph 1)

“Within the buddha lands in the ten directions” [direct quote from Lotus Sutra] is “only being” of the dharma flower.

Dharma flower is the flower of emptiness and refers to the Lotus Sutra.  A lotus grows in muddy water. (symbol of samsara and nirvana)

“ten directions”  everything, everywhere. Where you are.

All beings are turned by dharma flowers and turning dharma flowers.
Reality and awakening are within the same One Vehicle

“Within these buddha lands are “original practices within the bodhisattva path” [quote from Lotus Sutra] without backsliding or deviating [we cannot go backward], the wisdom of the buddhas that is extremely profound and beyond measurement and peaceful and calm samadhi that is difficult to understand and enter.” [the entire universe is in samadhi and cannot be observed. There is no way to know the dharma, because there is no separation into subject and object]

Practice for a bodhisattva: not to cling to change/impermanence.  Shohaku: bodhisattvas are the 5 skandas. [my note: we tend to think of them as disembodied, magical beings.   We are bodhisattvas.

Paragraph (2) Hokke Ten Hokke

This [Buddha’s Appearance ch 15 of LS] is nothing other than the one time he desires to “open” and “display [the Buddha’s insight] and “enable living beings” to “realize” and “enter” saying “I and the Buddhas in the ten directions are able to know this matter.” [Quotes are from LS]

LS says only Buddha can fathom reality. Dogen:  ALL BEINGS. The entire universe is in samadhi.

Buddha’s “desire” Desire as sickness or malady. Buddha appears in LS because he wants all beings to know reality – to practice.  Bodhisattvas have this desire and have to practice. Keep making VOW to walk to Buddhahood with all beings.

To find our own, unique activity is to share the dharma.

Paragrah: Dialogue between Huineng and Fada

Dharma in LS and Zen tradition are in the One Vehicle. It appeared in the world; “indeed it has appeared right here..”  The dharma is right here, right now, in your life, not in some distant buddha land.

“Lifespan of Tathagatha” one  seamless moment. Reality in seamless time and space.

“bestowing of the prediction.”  In LS, Buddha’s prediction was that all beings will be Buddha.  In Dogen, not about the future. Not in time.  The actualized self is the prediction itself.


You must now believe that the Buddha’s insight is nothing other than your own mind.”
Shohaku spent time talking about mind:

Senika teaching:  atman (essential self) is pure and unchanging and undefiled.  Must do ascetic practices to mortify body to realize the atman.  Buddha did these practices. This is a non-Buddhist idea. (a permanent, unchanging essence}

Senika influenced Huineng (6th ancestor) (Nanyo Echu] whose lineage led to Southern school and sudden realization. (Rinzai) (The philosophy changed through the generations.)

Buddha taught anatman -  no self.  There are 5 skandas and nothing else.

When asked “what is buddha-nature?”  Shohaku said “I don’t know.” Idea of  buddha- nature appeared with Nagarjuna.

“Mind itself is Buddha” was not in Indian Buddhism, but Chinese Chan, crafted by Baso

150-250 ad:  Madyamika appeared. Idea of tathagarbatha.  Womb nature, tiny golden buddha within a person.  Not “the owner of the skandas as with the atman idea.”   This idea needed to show a person could become a buddha. There must be the possibility of Buddhahood.

Dogen: mind is grass, trees, tiles and pebbles. See Dogen fascicle: Mind Itself is Buddha

Our mind is all dharmas, the reality of all being. Not beyond the phenomenal world.

For buddha, the 5 skandas are Mara.  Buddha did not conquer mara, but lived with her/him.  We identify with the 5 skandas, and this is the cause of suffering. We identify with the “I” of suffering, but no one is actually suffering.

Freedom (from identification) from skandas is liberation. Skandas themselves are suffering. We are free from suffering when we see the skandas as empty.  (first line of heart sutra.) Dogen: “dropping body and mind” is dropping the 5 skandas.

Everything:  prajna paramita, bodhisattvas, us are the 5 skandas.

Southern school:  only sentient beings can have buddha-nature. Dogen, not so. This highly debated point and separated northern and southern schools.

Dogen: insentient beings can expound the dharma: pebbles, rocks, tiles, a stream.

See Dogen fascicle: Mountain Streams Chant  Hearing with eyes.  Subject and object one, unmediated.

Dogen’s practice is not to stop thinking,. Thoughts are who we are.  Thinking and not thinking are both there. This is why Dogen is unique.  Only one to say you don’t have to stop thinking, just let go.

Yakusan – Tozan – of northern school mixed with southern school teachings – intertwined like fibers of a rope.  Can find idea of original mind or face in both.  He did not reject Baso.

Dogen: everyday mind. Ordinary world.  Don’t [need] supernatural world.  Bodhisattvas are ordinary beings and work through embodied interconnection.

Dogen talked about the phenomenal world, nothing beyond this world and its emptiness.

Paragraph (12)

“You should know that all beings without exception are rare treasures.” 

Relates to famous story of son who ran away and becomes impoverished.  His father the king is wealthy, and when his son returns, he puts him to work in the cowshed, because the son was not ready for the knowledge that he was the king’s son.  After the son gradually learns to manage the kingdom, the king reveals to the son who he really is and that he is the owner of great wealth.

We are buddhas. We are the rare treasure. This is the message of the Lotus Sutra, of Buddha’s appearing in the world and his infinite lifetime.

Our treasure is interconnection: Indra’s net. Each node is a unique individual (five skandas) but Shohaku went on to say there is no being (because always changing), just connection.  You are the entire network: therefore, everything is yours. (your treasure.)

   (16) Dogen’s Dharma Flower turning

Shohaku: “having a question is practice”

Before Dogen: one practiced over time.  One heard the teaching and put it into practice. Cause and effect. Then there was verification of satori based on evidence.

Dogen: not a matter of cause and effect. Practice/enlightenment is one word. Cause and result are one. Practice itself is the evidence. 

Shohaku related this to the Genjo Koan:

When we carry ourselves to the dharma, we are in delusion. Satori comes to us is realization.  It is a matter of direction.

When we try to control others and our life, we are in delusion.  (discriminatory mind) When we are receptive to the world, we are in enlightenment.

For Dogen, doesn’t matter if the mind is agitated. Practice is not to stop the mind.  How we relate to others is what matters. Our mind becomes distorted when not relating well.  When relations are good, our mind calms.

A bodhisattva cannot escape from the world. Must make decisions in the world. Discriminating mind is important, therefore, delusion is not bad.


“Because [the dharma flower’s turning] is only the one Buddha Vehicle, and because it is the dharma flower as forms of suchness…Whether it is turning or being turned, it is the one Buddha Vehicle and the single great matter.” 

Realization and delusion are one vehicle. Turning and being turned. Turned by both mayori (delusion) and satori (realization.)

We practice and put forth effort, and at the same time, all dharmas come to us and support us in our practice.

“Therefore, do not regret having mind delusions. Your activities themselves are bodhisattva practices.”

Practicing in delusion is bodhisattva practice.

 “The phases of opening, displaying, realizing and entering are all instance of being turned by dharma flowers.”

Burning house metaphor: in order to get the children out of the burning house, the Buddha promised toys. This could be pictured as the house, the gate, and the open field. So through the Buddha’s teaching, one could travel out of the house, through the gate, and into the open field.

According to Dogen, we are in both the burning house (samasara) and the open field (nirvana.)  Our minds are always in delusion.  But delusion does not have the bad connotation that it has in English.  We are always inquiring.

We are not trying to escape the burning house.

 “right at the gate” Whether inside the gate, at the gate, outside the gate: we are at the place of “coming and going.”  Right where we are; each moment of our lives.

Although called delusion, we are always walking toward the dharma (which is my own particular way and best way for me.)

We need “opening and displaying” by the teacher.

We should know that within the carriage there is the turning [of the dharma flower] enabling buddhas to “open” and “display” and [enabling living beings] to “realize” and “enter” the burning house. And on the open ground, there is turning which causes us to open, display, realize and enter the burning house.

Bodhisattvas choose to enter the burning house.

Outside (nirvana) and inside (samsara) the burning house is practice: One Vehicle, one practice.

Our practice is to enter the gate [to the burning house or to the open field] right were we are. There are boundless gates, and the gate we enter is the universal gate.


“Giving the prediction [of future Buddhahood in the Lotus Sutra] is nothing other than opening the Buddha’s insight within the self; it is the dharma flower’s turning that cannot be bestowed by others. This is exactly what is meant by “mind in delusion” is turned by the Dharma flower.”

When we practice Buddha’s teaching, our practice here and now is the prediction. Not some future event. [see Dogen’s fascile Juki, prediction]

(23) Mind in realization turns the dharma flower

“The dharma flower in turn manifests the energy of suchness that enables us to turn the dharma flower.”

Shohaku calls this energy of suchness,  “the life force.” This energy allows us to practice and, in turn, manifest the life force.

Shohaku offered an analogy to the lines in Genjo Koan:

“To carry yourself forward and experience myriad things is delusion. That myriad things come forth and experience themselves is awakening.”

How can we practice two seemingly different things?

T The first sentence is being turned by the dharma flower. Our individual life force goes out to practice.  D   e  Delusion is not necessarily a bad thing. The second sentence is that myriad dharmas allow me to p  ractice. When we practice with the attitude that we are being turned by myriad dharmas is realization.  The attitude corresponds to Uchiyama’s famous expression, “opening the hand of thought.”

These two approaches happen at the same time. [see Dogen’s Zenki, Total Function.]

Buddha’s eternal life is manifested through our practice.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Form IS form. And Emptiness IS emptiness

We chant in the Heart Sutra “Form is emptiness. Emptiness is form,” as if the truth of these statements is as obvious as the sun coming up in the morning. We could easily think that “emptiness” – no isolated, separate being-ness – is exactly the opposite of form.  But the Heart sutra teaches that this opposite is the description of reality as it is: form is emptiness and emptiness is form.

One big contradiction for our logical minds. How can we understand this? (How could we logically understand the illogical!)

In “Western logic” we believe that truth must be expressed in non-contradictory terms. According to this logic, the law of excluded middle (or the principle of excluded middle) is the third of the three classic laws of thought. It states that for any proposition, either that proposition is true, or its negation is true….but not both.

In Mahayana thought, however, this is not the case. Both a proposition and its negation are true. In Buddhist logic, when something is defined, it includes its opposite. All relative events and things, and all absolute events and things, are shot through with contradictions, with paradoxes. 

Edward Conze, in his book, Buddhist Thought in India, notes: “We cannot make the statement “A is A” unless not-A is presupposed.” (Page 261). The thing contains its opposite in itself. The presupposition of “no form” is contained within “form.” As an example: to say that a sentient being is human assumes that there are sentient beings that are not human.

Why do all things contain contain their opposite?  Because, according to Conze, of “tathagatha.” This term is often thought to mean either "one who has thus gone" (tathā-gata) or "one who has thus come" (tathā-āgata). The opposites are contained: coming, going, and both. In other words, the name of the Buddha. This way of thinking helps me understand the fundamental teachings of great, Buddhist teachers that the absolute (love, compassion) contains the difficult: suffering, war, poverty.

So, this is a world in which opposites are true. Things coming in and out of existence, both at the level of atomic particles and our moment to moment experience, are dazzling and agonizing at the same time.

This is tricky, however. In speaking about Buddhist teachings, it is easy to put the emphasis on the good part, the absolute, forgetting that life can be, in fact, agonizing. When I read Pema Chodron, and other great teachers, it seems that if we just understand the transcendent, then we can be light and relaxed in the face of our day to day struggles. She says in The Places That Scare You, “But the flexible mind of prajna (wisdom) doesn’t draw conclusions of good or bad. It perceives the sound without adding anything extra, without judgments of happy or sad.” (page 94.)

I am becoming increasingly wary of this teaching. Maybe life is like a teeter totter: the more both sides are balanced the better it works. Too heavy on the side of suffering, and we sink into despair. Too heavy on the transcendent, we are out of touch with our lives and the lives of others.

So, besides saying, “Form is emptiness. Emptiness is form,” we can say form is form, and emptiness is emptiness.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Reb, With All Due Respect: Practice Matters

I appreciate Reb Anderson’s dharma talks. I feel that he approaches the dharma from the point of view of the emptiness teachings. I am always delighted by his teachings and endearing (to me) idiosyncrasies. But sometimes I just have to disagree.

In a recent talk, he spoke about one of my favorite topics: what is a Zen master? As I have thought about this over the years, I have increasingly come to the opinion that there can be no Zen master because there is nothing to master. 

In the talk, Reb described – at least as I understood it – a Zen master as not being a particular person, in a particular state, but the actual meeting between two people. I understand this to mean that the unfolding of the dharma, the teaching of the dharma, is a kind of formless, enlightening energy that can occur in a face to face meeting. The implication is that this meeting can occur between anyone.

He told the story of his being introduced to a famous Zen master in Japan, only to meet a very old man who was drooling. He had asked himself if this old man was a Zen master. He then realized that the Zen master was the meeting between him, this young (earnest) man, and an old Japanese teacher.

So I was excited to be listening to Reb’s teaching. But I still felt that there is a reason we are all sitting in front of Reb, listening to his teachings. Or sitting in front of other great teachers like Norman Fischer. So I thought that a person who has practiced for a long time has something, some Zen, to offer us.

I raised my hand. (One is always somewhat at risk when you ask Reb a question, something anyone knows who has attended his talks for a while.) Our exchange follows:

Me:    It seems to me that in a meeting between two people, if one of the persons has practiced for a long time, the dharma is more likely to manifest between them.
Reb.    No. What exactly are you saying?
Me:    Practice matters.
Reb:   No. Practice doesn’t matter. I will repeat this again. (In a louder voice) Practice doesn’t matter!

I was irritated and vexed. Not simply because I was contradicted, and almost scolded, but because I don’t believe this to be true.  After the talk I turned to one of his young disciples and said, “Why don’t you sit up there instead of Reb?” He laughed.

I haven’t decided whether his pronouncement that practice doesn’t matter is a very profound teaching, or whether it was just a pique of ego, that somehow I was being reprimanded for contradicting him. Perhaps both.

So this morning I was interested to read Chapter 16 of the Flower Ornament Scripture (The Avatamsaka Sutra) called “Religious Practice.” The enlightening being Truth Wisdom describes how all the usual ways we think about practice are not really practice at all. “Body” practice is not practice because, according to the sutra, the body is “unclean” and becomes a corpse. “Physical action” is not practice. (This rules out bowing and sitting posture.) Speech is not practice, since mere breathing in and out is not practice. (Ruling out following the breath). Verbal activity is not practice, because this would include all sorts of extensive explanations and criticisms. Mind is not religious practice, because this would include various thoughts and explanations and dreams. The Buddha is not religious practice because what is the Buddha anyway? Our conceptions of him/her?

And so the enlightening being, Truth Wisdom, continues in the same manner to rule out teachers, the teaching, the community, and even the Precepts as practice. (“Putting on monastic garb,” etc.)

However, Truth Wisdom says that contemplating the question of what is practice, where it comes from, by who is it performed, whether it is form or not form, consciousness or not consciousness leads to the reality that religious practice cannot be apprehended; that the mind has no obstruction, that the sphere of operation is nondual. 

In effect, “…because of knowing the Buddha’s teaching is equanimous, because of fulfilling all qualities of Buddhahood, is such practice called pure religious practice.”

In other words, I think this means that all the usual practices that we consider to be religious practices – bowing, zazen, reading sutras, listening to talks, precepts – is not practice. Practice is an act of faith: knowing that the teaching of the Buddha is reality. And if you can manage it, living as a Buddha.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

There really is nothing to stand on

The Perfection of Wisdom teachings say, over and over again, that a bodhisattva must be fearless. This is a liberating, but daunting, theology. 

[Caveat: what follows may be difficult to hear, and you might not want to read further.]

The jubilant side of the Perfection of Wisdom teachings is that if there is nothing to stand on – no teacher, no teachings, no doctrine – we are free. If the formations of our mind, rising and falling, have no own being, then the mind can, indeed, be far beyond hindrances and fear.

Starting with yogic gurus in the late 70's, to the present time of studying with Zen teachers, I have had great devotion and also, I suppose, high hopes. But, in general, gurus and roshis have often betrayed us with sexual crimes or abandonment. Teachers, like all of us humans, seem to be just as broken and as full of suffering, as I am. So it is with great doubt that I now question whether anyone can actually guide me or teach me or help me.  Or do anything more than point at the moon. (And I do see the moon.)

Recently, when I realized, with some flash of clarity, that “teachers” have nothing to stand on, that they are one more “karmic construction,” I felt liberated. With no clinging to this deep seated need to be pulled up to a higher plane by another, I felt free. “Yes! It is over, I thought.” This decades-long entanglement with gurus and teachers.

But the shadow side to the Perfection of Wisdom teachings is the realization that there is actually nothing to stand on. Instead of the fuzzy feeling of interconnection, we are ultimately alone, in the same way that when we are dying, we are ultimately alone. We may have dharma friends who offer love and consolation and support – to the extent possible – but ultimately we are alone. We may care deeply for each other as spiritual friends, but, in the end, we are alone.

And that is very scary. That is why the Perfection of Wisdom teachings say, over and over again, that a bodhisattva must be fearless. This is a liberating, but daunting, theology.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

“Ryushin Sensei stepped down as abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery after it became known that he had been committing adultery for the previous six months.”
A response from a priest friend of mine was “Shit. Another one.” And mine has been “Why does this keep happening over and over again?”
I am beginning to think that “spiritual bypassing” may be a root cause of the rash of sexual misbehavior in Zen communities. It occurs to me that this tendency in all of us may contribute to priests breaking the precepts and our unwitting perpetuation of this problem. I highly recommend the book, Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters by Dr. Robert Augustus Masters.
Spiritual bypassing is defined by Dr. Robert Masters as “the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with our painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs… Because this preference has so deeply and thoroughly infiltrated our culture that it has become all but normalized, spiritual bypassing fits seamlessly into our collective habit of turning away from what it painful, as a kind of higher analgesic.”
It is a kind of “metaphysical valium.”
As I read a Facebook string based on the announcement of Ryushin’s stepping down as abbot, I see that there are several comments to the effect that we shouldn’t judge him, the implication being, I think, that judgment is not spiritual. One comment, ironically, judged the judgers: “Underneath any holy vow there is just a person. The judgment being held against those who break their vows for one reason or another is as scary as what they are accused of.”
When one judges within a spiritual community, one risks being censured for being unspiritual. Spiritual people should be compassionate – and I agree! – but the underlying belief is that compassion is incompatible with judgment. But we do judge, and we should call out wrongdoing. Yes, judgment can have the negative aspects of condemnation or moral superiority, which we should eschew, but we should name behaviors we know are wrong: adultery, betrayal, lying. I think compassion and naming wrongdoing go hand in hand. They are not mutually opposed to one another
On the subject of judgment, Dr. Masters says:
“Much of this behavior (spiritual bypassing) has to do with the popularized notion that we shouldn’t judge others. There are some very serious problems with this kind of thinking: First of all, we do judge others. To make it wrong – that is, to judge our judging – only drags us into guilt’s domain, splitting us into “good” (read: not judging) and “bad” (read: judging) factions.
The second problem with the notion that we shouldn’t judge others is the fact that judgment per se is not necessarily a negative phenomenon. Strip away the hostile, condescending, or mean-spirited elements that often characterize judgment, you may find a kernel of valuable insight. Judgment is not necessarily equivalent to condemnation!
For in not bringing people face to face with the consequences of their actions, we are actually depriving them of something they might sorely need. Furthermore, in letting them off the hook, we are doing the same for ourselves.”
Since we are interdependent and co-create ourselves, especially in religious groups, we are all responsible for our collective habit of bypassing what is painful, of spiritualizing or ignoring our shadows. And we are all responsible for all the group dynamics that contribute to the confusion a teacher might feel when confronted with his or her very human behaviors – sexual or otherwise. It's bad enough when we do spiritual bypassing vis a vis our own problems, but it can be really destructive as a group mentality.
If we were all – priests and lay people alike –supported and encouraged to honestly examine our shadows like lust and greed and anger, we would have healthier selves, healthier sanghas, and we wouldn’t read, “…after it became known.”
We need, of course, to be gentle with our spiritual bypassing. Understanding our tendencies to do this can only deepen and mature our practice.