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Buddhadharma : Winter 2014
winter 2014 buddhadharma: the Practitioner’s quarterly 55 to the vigor of the practice. It’s been an exhausting time, but now there’s a great sense of optimism. BUDDhADhARMA: Is the structure of your sangha less hierar- chical now that Eido Roshi has left? ShINGE ChAYAT: My leadership style is very different from Eido Roshi’s, just as his was very different from his teach- er’s, Soen Nakagawa Roshi. The feeling about a teacher’s role is going to change depending on those different ways of being. My style is much more relational. I check in with people; I don’t make decisions autonomously. People feel that they are gaining a sense of responsibility, that they’re contributing to the way decisions are made. BUDDhADhARMA: Lama Palden, what can you say about how these major upheavals change a community in the long term? LAMA PALDEN: There’s often a huge divide that happens and a split in the sangha, but on the positive side, if traumatic events can be turned to the path and handled in a con- scious, compassionate manner, changes can lead to a much more mature community, one with more resiliency and transparency. As has been said, some people are not going to heal, either because they don’t want to or because they lack the capacity to do so. This is why I think so much focus needs to be on preventing these situations from aris- ing in the first place. But our Buddhist practice is to turn all of life’s circumstances into the path of the bodhisattva, so if we’re each able to do that, and if communities can do that, then these traumas can lead to more maturity and awakening. BUDDhADhARMA: I think it’s also important to point out that the degree to which people heal or don’t heal largely depends on the skillfulness or unskillfulness of the commu- nity in relating to the abuse that has occurred. LAMA PALDEN: Absolutely, and more specifically it depends on to the leadership of that community. BUDDhADhARMA: For people reading this—across the tradi- tions and in different communities, some big, some small— what’s the takeaway here? If they’re sitting down with their sangha members next week or if they’re on a board, what should they be thinking about in terms of address- ing ethical issues within their community? What kinds of guidelines need to be in place? ALAN SENAUKE: I wrote a small book about this in the late nineties called Safe Harbor. I was just rereading it, and I feel like it’s still completely relevant. A central point of the book is that you have to have clear ethical guidelines, perhaps more explicit than the community would like. The bodhisattva precepts already include all such behaviors, The antidote to misconduct is ethical training. I’m not talking about guidelines and procedures—I’m talking about actually studying the precepts from early on. — Alan Senauke PHOTO megumi yoshida ➤ continued page 81