Saturday, 21 August 2010

Examples of administrative techniques in various monasteries quote "Later he was elected unanimously by the monks as a new administrator of Gaden Shartse Monastery, along with nine other eligible candidates, where he served with sincerity for 6 consecutive years. He and all other administrators were allotted suitable duties for limited periods of time, with a rotation of the duties yearly."

This is an interesting approach whereby one has to do a good job to stay in office. Also the rotation of jobs ensures that things do not get 'stuck' in such a way as one person being blamed or remaining in the same position if their strategy is not working well. Quote Historian Webster G. Tarpley "This was feudalism. It was the minorial system that you had in Europe in the dark ages. One monastery had 25,000 serfs. It was a monstrous system of theocratic desperatism and tyranny, not at all spiritual. It was probably the closest thing to hell on earth you would have. Again with any minor infractions, just lopping off the hand of the offended. And if you protested against this, you'd be told if you're a slave, if your a serf or even if your just a woman, that was your own fault because that was your misdeeds in your earlier lives that were coming back to haunt you, bad karma. So therefore social reform was impossible. It would have been frustrating divine retribution to give anyone a better deal."

This is interesting because although we claim to only take the teachings and to use Western culture, nevertheless we can see that on a much smaller scale this culture is influencing us. There is a wrathfulness within, a fear to say how you feel and a clash between people who want a better deal and the impossibility of reform. We do not lop off hands but we cut peoples heart strings with our punishments, threatening or administering expulsions or bans. And often it is for very minor infractions. So my question is - is the culture of tyranny well and truly removed in modern western Buddhism or is it still there? And if we are strict and hard is it because it is right and beneficial? How can Tibetan culture not be within our organisation? Everything we have comes from Tibetan people. Therefore we can makes requests and prayers that we will be allowed to practice these holy teachings whilst using our own western democratic style administration techniques, so that they feel comfortable with our culture.
Administration thus can be more with people setting up a system, seeing if everyone is comfortable with it, listening to feedback, being unafraid if someone is finding it uncomfortable and encouraging them to speak. Then revising the system. Slowly modifying it over and over with various open debates. This is the normal western way. Many businesses have meetings where everyone can speak freely and even debate quite passionately with no fear of punishment or reprisals. They dont lose their job for pointing out problems. Many good ideas come up and the organisation evolves into something that works for everyone. This is western administrative style. Quote re Dalai Lama "(5) his sanctioning or instigation of many violations and abuses of human rights, including threats, coercion, intimidation, excommunication, physical violence and even murder.
But the fundamental factor underlying the present crisis lies within the very nature and function of the Dalai Lama's Tibetan government as a feudal theocratic system – with its endemic mixing of religion and politics, its translation of religious ideas into government policy, its deep confusion over the roles of religious leader and head of state, and its retrogressive view of the position of the Dalai Lama as the 'God-King' of Tibet."

I ask here again has this culture influenced us? Are we doing things like this? Are we saying that religion and administration are the same thing? In Tibet the monks could disagree with all the teachings openly in courtyard debates but they would be forced to agree with political positions and silently watch as people are harmed with various techniques of coersion, threats, intimidation, excommunication. Those who didnt conform were booted out of their monasteries and shunned.
When people disagree on administrative issues is it tantamount to questioning Buddha himself? Do we use coersion, threats and excommunication to enforce political/administrative methods or silence people? Why do we not use these techniques when Dharma is debated? Surely the Dharma is far more important than managerial strategies. Surely if we say the Dalai Lama is doing incorrectly we need to show a better way rather than falling into similar patterns. If we are all doing it maybe it is an effect of self grasping. The question is how can we rectify so it doesnt become mixing Dharma with policy.

We need to consider the following - a political system and an administrative system are both techniques for organising running a community of people. Therefore if we say administration is infalliable and holy then we are saying that something that is not Dharma is holy. This is the thing that always leads religion in the wrong direction in history. Geshe Kelsang clearly stated the difference in one of his talks at a festival where he explained that his area of expertise is Buddhas teachings and not other topics such as computers and so forth. He then encouraged people to disagree with him on other topics such as how to use a computer. This saying managerial techniques are infalliable acts of Buddha is like saying that taking the fish from the road and putting it in the lake is infallible through the power of our intention. The intention is the Dharma a perfect wish to cherish others. The putting the fish in the lake is the administrative/political technique - in other words, when it comes to external objects and practical scenarios, nothing is inherently correct. If we hold to the view that administration is not a mixed bag, but infalliable divine decision and the word of Buddha we are creating the beginnings of what led to this system in Tibet. The system that meant that the Dorje Shugden ban could not be questioned and administrative techniques of those leading the Tibetan community could not be questioned, without reprisals. Quote - Such may have been the case in the selection of the 17th Karmapa, whose monastery-in-exile is situated in Rumtek, in the Indian state of Sikkim. In 1993 the monks of the Karma Kagyu tradition had a candidate of their own choice. The Dalai Lama, along with several dissenting Karma Kagyu leaders (and with the support of the Chinese government!) backed a different boy. The Kagyu monks charged that the Dalai Lama had overstepped his authority in attempting to select a leader for their sect. “Neither his political role nor his position as a lama in his own Gelugpa tradition entitled him to choose the Karmapa, who is a leader of a different tradition…” As one of the Kagyu leaders insisted, “Dharma is about thinking for yourself. It is not about automatically following a teacher in all things, no matter how respected that teacher may be. More than anyone else, Buddhists should respect other people’s rights—their human rights and their religious freedom.”

So we can see we follow the teacher in Dharma but when it comes to administration it is different. This is because the teachers area of expertise is the Dharma. Our understanding is that we view the teacher as having omnicient wisdom, clairvoyance etc. But we have to remember they are also as an ordinary being because Je Tsongkhapa said this is our traditional way, to demonstrate how to live from the point of view of an ordinary human being trying ones best. Also the reason why they become an emanation of Buddha himself is because they speak Buddhas words. However when it is time to discuss other topics it is different. When a teacher is reading out a Sutra you can feel as if you are there...2500 years back in time sat before Buddha himself, and recieve the same power of blessings that those people did who actually attended. However when you are sat with your teacher discussing if to put the fish in the lake or not there is no lineage for this activity. At this time they are representing the Sangha and demonstrating how to live as a human being. Therefore at this point they will be showing a mixture of abilities in administration and so forth. If it comes to the point where the slightest comment on administrative topics is seen as disagreeing with Buddha then we are saying administrative policy (and then if Buddhism comes to dominate our country, political policy) is equivalent to the Sutras.

In all our future lives when we encounter Dharma we will also encounter these situations. Our main issue therefore is to prepare for our future lives so that we ourself resolve the connection between the meditation session and the meditation break as well as the connection between Dharma and administration of a community or country. The simplicity of meditation and the complex scenarios that develop outside of it. And most importantly how we will deal with these situations we see in the future Dharma communities and Dharma countries. If we are seeing the karma of our current approach we can learn and move forward.

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