How does bullying manifest within the sangha?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

How does bullying manifest within the sangha?

Postby Jaidyn » Sat Dec 01, 2012 7:48 pm

How does bullying manifest within the sangha? Any type of sangha. Any reflections?
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Re: How does bullying manifest within the sangha?

Postby cooran » Sat Dec 01, 2012 9:00 pm

Hello Jaidyn,

Have you personally seen any bullying of ordained Sangha members or of lay sangha members? If so, what do you class as bullying and why?

with metta
Chris
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Re: How does bullying manifest within the sangha?

Postby Jaidyn » Sun Dec 02, 2012 6:46 pm

cooran wrote:Hello Jaidyn,

Have you personally seen any bullying of ordained Sangha members or of lay sangha members? If so, what do you class as bullying and why?

with metta
Chris


No, but I have not looked for it.

A definition I think fit as a starting-point: “Ross outlines an array of nonviolent behavior which can be considered "indirect bullying", at least in some instances, such as name calling, the silent treatment, arguing others into submission,manipulation, gossip/false gossip, lies, rumors/false rumors, staring, giggling, laughing at the victim, saying certain words that trigger a reaction from a past event, and mocking. ” / wikipedia bullying

and “Typically, the bullying-cycle [a process repeating itself] must include both an act of aggression on the part of a potential bully, and a response by a potential target that is perceived by both as a certain sign of submission. “ / wikipedia bullying
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Re: How does bullying manifest within the sangha?

Postby Jaidyn » Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:51 am

Because this sub-forum is described as "An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation", I take the chance to investigate, and I hope your definition of investigation does not exclude any areas – this one for example.

Some physical Sanghas have very specific policies against harassment. I think those policies have been created to address reoccurring problems. The problems would consist of behavior that easily can turn into bullying if systematized. Having a policy is an indication the physical Sangha can have those problems.

I had not expected silence from you upon this important issue.

You leave me to conclude that:

It is because bullying does not manifest within any Sangha. Or it is because you have never seen anything resembling indirect or direct bullying, and you think it can not manifest.

I am uncomfortable with the first alternative.

If I go to a physical Sangha and bring up the topic of how bullying possibly can manifest, I can imagine something of the following can happen:

  • The inquiry will be regarded disruptive by others because they feel offended.
  • People feel it is embarrassing to consider because they actually have had experiences of (indirect) bullying within the Sangha in general, and it is especially not supposed to happen in an organization proclaiming itself to value high moral standards.
  • It is hard to reflect upon this issue because it will look like I suggest bullying can happen, and that the Sangha in general does not like to be associated with such inquiry (weather bullying does happen or not).
  • I may be the one polluting the image of the revered Sangha by even expressing reflections, experiences, and concerns.
  • People will ridicule me, and everything I say will be denied and whitewashed and I will not only appear to be wrong, but maybe even appear to not be a real Buddhist. Maybe I will be accused for not having understood that everything I experience is because of my own attachment to the self?
  • People may think disciplinary actions (supported or unsupported by Buddhism) in the name of the Buddha can never be systemized wrongfully by someone against someone else.
  • People think that it can never happen in their Sangha, because everything is working fine, and the particular Sangha is regarded to have high standard (which may be true).
Last edited by Jaidyn on Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How does bullying manifest within the sangha?

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:07 am

Hi Jaidyn,

I think that the lack of response may be because we are confused about what exactly you are referring to.
Do you mean:
  • Sangha in the sense of fellow lay practitioners; or
  • Sangha in the sense of the Monastic Sangha?
Clearly most of us here would find it difficult to comment on the latter.

:anjali:
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Re: How does bullying manifest within the sangha?

Postby James the Giant » Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:09 am

Jaidyn wrote:I had not expected silence from you upon this important issue.


Uh, Jaidyn, perhaps if anyone here had seen any bullying in the sangha, they would have contributed to this topic.
Until anyone contributes even the tiniest example of bullying, it's all hypothetical and kinda pointless.

Jaidyn wrote:If I go to a physical Sangha and bring up the topic of how bullying possibly can manifest, I can imagine something of the following can happen:

The inquiry will be regarded disruptive by others because they feel offended.
People feel it is embarrassing to consider because they actually have had experiences of (indirect) bullying within the Sangha in general, and it is especially not supposed to happen in an organization proclaiming itself to value high moral standards.
It is hard to reflect upon this issue because it will look like I suggest bullying can happen, and that the Sangha in general does not like to be associated with such inquiry (weather bullying does happen or not).
I may be the one polluting the image of the revered Sangha by even expressing reflections, experiences, and concerns.
People will ridicule me, and everything I say will be denied and whitewashed and I will not only appear to be wrong, but maybe even appear to not be a real Buddhist. Maybe I will be accused for not having understood that everything I experience is because of my own attachment to the self?
People may think (supported or unsupported by Buddhism) disciplinary actions in the name of the Buddha can never be systemized wrongfully by someone against someone else.
People think that it can never happen in their Sangha, because everything is working fine, and the particular Sangha is regarded to have high standard (which may be true).


Have you ever been to a physical monastery and asked the monks about this? How do you know bullying is a problem? Since you seem to have clear opinions on the subject, it sounds like you have some examples. Personally I have no doubt there may be bullying among ill-disciplined members of the sangha, but I've never seen a trace of it. I'd be interested in hearing of your experiences.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: How does bullying manifest within the sangha?

Postby Jaidyn » Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:25 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hi Jaidyn,

I think that the lack of response may be because we are confused about what exactly you are referring to.
Do you mean:
  • Sangha in the sense of fellow lay practitioners; or
  • Sangha in the sense of the Monastic Sangha?
Clearly most of us here would find it difficult to comment on the latter.

:anjali:
Mike


Hi!

People may have been involved with the Monastic Sangha. Other people may have been involved with a group of some kind resembling a monastic Sangha where the aim is to live as In a Sangha. People may have had experiences from retreats. The question can actually be expanded to any Buddhist group with some kind of mission and practices like the Thich Nhat Hanh plum village (I do not say they have had any such behavior, I just highlight the possible type of organization to look at).

But I also think of Sanghas in the less strict sense, like people visiting a temple and live there practicing for a year or two (I do not know about other Sanghas, but in there are Zen-temples/organizations you can visit and stay practicing for a longer time with a group of people).

So yes, "Sangha in the sense of fellow lay practitioners" too.

But people must not necessarily to tell their private experiences, just wide reflections.
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Re: How does bullying manifest within the sangha?

Postby cooran » Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:33 am

No, Jaidyn, I haven't seen any bullying in lay or monastic sangha. I have been involved in lay sangha groups for nearly 15 years. I have been involved on committees, been secretary of the committee for a Forest Monastery, and have had five years worth contact with the local monastic Sangha. I have never seen bullying.

with metta and karuna,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: How does bullying manifest within the sangha?

Postby James the Giant » Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:52 am

I've seen bullying by laypeople, against other laypeople, who were on the trust board of a monastery. Psychological manipulation kind of bullying. It was dirty dirty politics.
But the monastic sangha stayed well clear, and in the end voted to change the trust board to one that was more committed to honesty, transparency, and good will, because they saw what was going on.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: How does bullying manifest within the sangha?

Postby Jaidyn » Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:57 am

James the Giant wrote:Uh, Jaidyn, perhaps if anyone here had seen any bullying in the sangha, they would have contributed to this topic.
Until anyone contributes even the tiniest example of bullying, it's all hypothetical and kinda pointless.


Not at all! I find it very interesting and pointfull. Hypothetical discussions would be very welcome. Theoretical processing too. Examples and reflections too. Allow yourself the widest speculation bordering to the ridiculous and back again!

I think people contribute a lot about things they have NOT seen, nibbana for example, but nonetheless they have much to say. Joking aside. People need not to discuss a particular case, they may as well discuss general tendencies they have perceived and how these can aid the wrong things. But it is all up to you.

James the Giant wrote:Have you ever been to a physical monastery and asked the monks about this? How do you know bullying is a problem? Since you seem to have clear opinions on the subject, it sounds like you have some examples. Personally I have no doubt there may be bullying among ill-disciplined members of the sangha, but I've never seen a trace of it. I'd be interested in hearing of your experiences.



I would love to have a honest inquiry made by monks. Just saying it does not happen hold no substance at all. I would rather get peoples perspective on why it does NOT happen. It happens in all organizations (a very large number at least), and therefore I assume it does happen in the Buddhist organization.

So I wanted to understand more of why it happens, or why it does not happen.

I would recommend reading the article at Wikipedia on the subject just to get in to it.

But no, I have no experiences. Is it important to have experiences to ask the question (because I get that feeling)? I am very curious and have questions. If there is "bullying among ill-disciplined members of the sangha", why does it happen, and how is it resolved, and how is it prevented, I may wonder.
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Re: How does bullying manifest within the sangha?

Postby Jaidyn » Fri Dec 07, 2012 10:05 am

cooran wrote:No, Jaidyn, I haven't seen any bullying in lay or monastic sangha. I have been involved in lay sangha groups for nearly 15 years. I have been involved on committees, been secretary of the committee for a Forest Monastery, and have had five years worth contact with the local monastic Sangha. I have never seen bullying.

with metta and karuna,
Chris

Thank you. It is very interesting and worth asking why it does not happen (if it has not happened). Maybe it will reflect the unique qualities of the Buddhist-Sangha. Consider the fact that bullying happen in almost all other kinds of organizations. (wikipedia on bullying)


James the Giant wrote:I've seen bullying by laypeople, against other laypeople, who were on the trust board of a monastery. Psychological manipulation kind of bullying. It was dirty dirty politics.
But the monastic sangha stayed well clear, and in the end voted to change the trust board to one that was more committed to honesty, transparency, and good will, because they saw what was going on.

I think transparency is one of the most important aspects in maintaining a good environment, and I think it aligns particularly well with the Buddhist teaching as the teaching empathizes honesty both internally and externally. It is interesting to know how transparency is created within the Buddhist organizations.
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Re: How does bullying manifest within the sangha?

Postby Jaidyn » Fri Dec 07, 2012 10:17 am

James the Giant: on a second reflection:

The Monastic Sangha could be seen, in this case, to have had some kind of right grasp as they detected the misbehavior and they also knew how to resolve it. As an organization they had the ability to detect it and the flexibility and the competence to respond to it. I say these steps are not self-evident. I wonder if the success of the Monastic Sangha in dealing wit the case was due to general organizational wisdom (they did what any corporation or sports-club would have done), or if the wisdom gained from their Buddhist practice was influential in the process. ... and how and to what degree was it influential, and was it critical, I may ask myself.
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