Meeting of Oshos, Representatives of Ordained Sangha, and Members of Board of Directors of Rinzai-ji | 5, 6 January 2013
Organizers: Eshin John Godfrey, Gento Steve Krieger, Myosho Virginia Matthews
Facilitator: Egyoku Wendy Nakao
Also in attendance: Eko Cheryl Schnabel, Gido Richard Schnabel, Giko David Rubin, Hosen Christiane Ranger, Kigen William Ekeson, Koshin Chris Cain, Koyo Charles Engennach, Myokyo Judith McClean, Seido Larry Clark, Seiju Bob Mammoser, Sokai Geoff Barrett, Ginsei Ginger Calloway, Sohan Noah Youngleson, Soko Paul Humphreys, Jack Williamson (Saturday morning), Bill Flynn (Saturday).
Mount Baldy ordained staff (actively supporting, though not in attendance at the meeting): Dokan Charles Martin and Genkai Dan MacKinnon.
Facilitator introduces the three principles for Council Circle: 1) not knowing / no-self—being open to all that arises, thereby giving up fixed ideas about myself, others, and the world; 2) bearing witness by listening and speaking from the heart—deep listening to all that arises within the circle without judgment or blame, thereby becoming one with what is shared; and 3) healing action (also called liberating action, or loving action)—allowing an action that serves the whole to arise from the practice of not-knowing and bearing witness.
Convening of the circle is preceded by a short period of silent meditation. Both morning and afternoon sessions begin with a brief check-in, a witnessing by each member of the circle as a way of “taking the temperature” of the group.
The facilitator introduces the guidelines for Council practice. These include: return to not-knowing (being open); bearing witness by speaking leanly and, at the same time, saying what is important for one to say; listening without judgment; speaking only from one’s own experience using “I” statements; holding silence as an option; no preparing of one’s sharing, simply plunging.
We used a talking piece (held by each person while speaking) and had an agreement of confidentiality.
Both morning and afternoon sessions end with a brief witnessing reflection by each member of the circle; many remark on the value and effectiveness of the Council circle.
Facilitator offers her list of Guiding Questions based on what has arisen on Day One. These will be distributed to all those present to use/or not use as we wish.
Facilitator communicates specific objectives for action suggested by the planning committee: 1) create a Bearing Witness Council which can design and execute a process by which those who have been hurt may come forward; 2) create a Statement of Response to the current situation about concerns about sexual conduct that has brought about harm; and 3) draft a report of the meeting to Kyozan Joshu Roshi, oshos not present, ordained sangha, and members of boards of directors of the Rinzai-ji sangha.
Before addressing these objectives, the circle hears three letters that had been submitted to the planning committee with the request that they be read during the meeting.
The facilitator invites individuals to choose one of three objectives and work with others in the group so-formed. From recommendations arrived at through small group discussions and discussion within the larger circle that follows, the circle arrives at the agreements that are given below.
Agreement One. Establish a planning circle with Ginsei as steward, the responsibility of which is to define and create a plan to respond to those who have come forward to Rinzai-ji and the Witnessing Council with their grievances and deeply felt concerns. The Council Circle has called for this plan to include the formation of a Bearing Witness Group with members who can commit to facilitate this process over a long period of time.
Agreement Two. Establish a writing circle with Koshin as steward to revise and disseminate a statement of response from the Oshos. Koshin will contact Marie Fortune of the Faith Trust Institute for her expert feedback of the current draft. Target date for posting and distribution is January 11, 2013. This Circle will determine how and where the statement is posted, on which sites, etc., after having received input from the group.
Agreement Three. Draft a summary report of the weekend. Soko Paul H. will draft the report and, together with Seiju and Gento, present it to the Roshi on or before 9 January 2013. The report will posted to rinzaijioshos.org and sent to all Oshos (including those not present), presidents of the Boards of Directors, and all ordained members of the larger Rinzai-ji Sangha.
Agreement Four. Contact members of the Witness Council to 1) thank them for their work, 2) request that an invitation to dialog with the Bearing Witness Council be conveyed to individuals who have reported first-hand experience of harm, and 3) request delay of posting of the summary report until the statement of response from the Rinzai-ji Oshos is posted on January 11. Myosho is designated person for this task. (Note: Myosho has done this and the Witness Council has agreed to this request.)
Agreement Five. Contact Kobutsu Malone to request that he change the name of the “Sasaki Roku” website to “Sasaki Archive.” Giko will do this. (Note: this is Giko’s personal action; the group did not object.)
Agreement Six. Begin planning for a second meeting. The Planning Group of Eshin, Gento, and Myosho agreed to plan a second meeting to convene within two months to continue the momentum of the weekend. The primary focus will be reviewing the culture and structure of our organization with a commitment to constructive change.
A brief witnessing is offered by each member of the circle; many remark with thanks on the skill of Egyoku Roshi as facilitator for the meeting.
The meeting ends with all present chanting the Four Vows of a Bodhisattva.
Submitted with nine bows by Soko Paul Humphreys
7 January 2013 with minor editing on 9 January