Photo: Kobun Chino Roshi (far left) and Mu Deung Sunim (far right) pose with Trudy Goodman and George Bowman at their wedding reception.
This past year, we’ve witnessed several Buddhist communities reeling from reports of serious teacher misconduct. When you’ve been around as long as I have, you remember that every decade there’s a spate of sad news about respected teachers being unable to uphold the basic vows of non-harming central to Buddhist life. Often confronting middle age, intoxicated by sitting in the power seat, and isolated from peer support or feedback, these men abuse the trust of their students.
Slammed by the reality of being forced to step down, some retreat for a while and then begin teaching again, often starting new communities. Very few choose a harder path of sincere, committed work on themselves, guided by specialized and expert psychotherapy. Having taken responsibility and faced their history, they strengthen their character and emerge tenderized and wiser.
Whatever we’ve done, we all want to be forgiven for our past mistakes and unwise choices, and we’ve all made them, haven’t we? Even so, we want to be seen, understood, and appreciated for the overarching good of who we are, not judged forever for past choices that we regret today.
Ten years after our divorce, my “wasband” George and I met here in LA. It was the first time we’d seen each other, let alone talked. We spent easy-going time taking care of grandkids and unburdening. Some of you may remember the Sunday at InsightLA where we shared what we learned about loss and repair. After ten years, what was left of all the trauma and heartbreak I/we went through? Just love, and the humility of our humanness. Love of the teachings that help us live better lives. Love and gratitude for the sure heart’s release. We have all made mistakes in this life. Through the grace of practicing loving awareness, we can cultivate the human capacity for learning and redemption that we share.