All of HS2021's Comments + Replies

Why I Define My Experience At the Monastic Academy As Sexual Assault

First of all, I want to express appreciation for your acknowledgment of how heartbreaking this situation has been and the suffering involved. This comment is a response to both of your comments. 

As you've highlighted in your comments are reflective of your views - and not of my own. In some ways, it feels like you are putting a lot on me about what to do and what my views of sexual assault and punishment do or do not mean. I don't think that's intended. I sense that your goal here is to be reflective and helpful but it's worth noting that my post was ... (read more)

Why I Define My Experience At the Monastic Academy As Sexual Assault

Thank you for this response and for so clearly pointing out these issues. I also found this comment offensive and hostile - and do not think I could have better or more concisely articulated these points as you have or that they would have been as well-received coming from myself. I appreciate the clarity, awareness, and directness in your response. 

Why I Define My Experience At the Monastic Academy As Sexual Assault

This might be a good invitation to examine the "wiring" we've received about sexual violence and how it may both support and/or limit our ability to engage with these issues. Perhaps what you are picking up on is that my views hold more complexity and nuance than what you've attempted to reduce them to here - and yet I think you are picking up on and highlighting some important things.

I do think the violation of sexual consent( I.e sexual assault or rape) is a serious crime and an act of violence that causes real harm. It's worth noting that rape victims s... (read more)

8Dagon3d
Use of the phrase "sexual assault" in the title, and describing very clearly an uninvited, unexpected, and nonconsentual penetrative sex act is indicative to me that this is impactful to you, that you feel attacked, and that your attacker committed a crime. Whether that's "a serious crime that must be punished severely" is a much harder question. Or really, two questions. It sounds like a serious crime to me. Whether it must be punished and how is a question of your model of his responsibility, your need for closure and/or retribution, and your ideas about signalling to the world just how acceptable or not this action was. I'd advise first to take care of yourself - whatever you need to minimize long-term harm on your life. For some, that's prosecution, for some, that's just moving away and living well. For very few, I contend, it is talking about it on message boards while staying involved in the same communities where you're either reminded of it all the time or feel like it's being ignored or suppressed. The effect on him ("destroy his life") DOES affect you - you care about him as an individual human, not just as a criminal. You absolutely should take that into account. But also the effect on the world - his assault is NOT incredibly rare. It happens somwhat often in intense quasi-religious relationships, and it doesn't appear from outside that there have been significant consequences to him. "rape culture" is the default when such harms are not normally punished. That sucks, and it's not your responsibility to change it, but it is a factor you should consider. I led my comment with an acknowledgement that my comments say more about me than about you. I repeat that, and I hope none of this has increased your pain. Your first duty is always to yourself, and whatever you think best is probably right.
An Open Letter to the Monastic Academy and community members

Worth noting that I reached out directly to Soryu by email at the time of the events and that I requested conversations with Soryu multiple times in 2021 prior to any public acknowledgment of these issues to discuss these issues and specifically his role in these incidents. Soryu had a direct role in instructing others on how to respond to and treat me in these events. These requests for conversation were entirely ignored and Soryu has not been willing to speak to me about any of these events in the year and a half since they happened.  I still have not had a direct conversation with any member of MAPLES leadership since these events - which goes to show how "seriously" they are taking these issues. 

Why I Define My Experience At the Monastic Academy As Sexual Assault

Thank you for sharing this reflection. I straightforwardly agree with you - and have also felt conflicted re: different definitions and laws and the limited language we have to describe these experiences about what term to use. Part of the motivation for sharing is that I know I'm not alone in this kind of experience, even if the specific details differ across the experiences of many different people. Thank you for witnessing.

Why I Define My Experience At the Monastic Academy As Sexual Assault

Razied, what you have written here and in Alex's comments is indicative of rape culture - and the reality of "human courtship" is that women are tired of being sexually assaulted. Almost every single woman and probably most men will recognize this as a straightforward description of sexual assault or rape. What you are describing may be a common approach people take but also often leads to situations in which people, usually women get hurt. Even the scenario you described in your comment does not at all fit my experience with Alex. One should never go fro... (read more)

-1Razied4d
Well, I can already see that nothing productive would come out of a discussion between us, I suspect we'd be talking past each other too much. In any case, I apologize for posting that comment here. I wish you a happy life, and hope you'll continue intensive meditation, its effects on moral improvement are greatly overstated, but those on happiness improvements are not.
An Open Letter to the Monastic Academy and community members

You are right, others also need to be accountable for their actions and participation. I do think, that there is a dynamic at the MA in which Soryu has a lot of power over people in the space in ways that are unique to this kind of group that needs to be accounted for and that Soryu and the board need to be accountable for maintaining a program design that is known to cause serious harm. I suspect that if everyone involved in causing harm or in acting unethically to cover harm up in this organization were held accountable there wouldn't be any or there would be very few core leaders left. Nearly everyone has been complicit, and there is a lot of deep learning and healing needed between many community members.

An Open Letter to the Monastic Academy and community members

Actually Matt you don't seem to understand what the actual definition of what responsibility is.

Here are a few links:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/responsibility

https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/responsibility#:~:text=1[uncountable%2C countable] a,responsibility for the European market.

https://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/responsibility

I personally think it is extremely problematic for people to be given positions of greater responsibility in a role without behaving responsibly or being... (read more)

-4Matt Goldenberg4mo
It's the state of being the person who caused something to happen, it's a causal definition. E.g., Merriam Webster on this: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/responsibility [https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/responsibility] I clearly stated that I see Soryu as responsible as he could have counterfacrually caused something else to happen. Of course, everyone else in that situation is also responsible. Accountability and responsibility are two separate things of course, both useful concepts. At this point though this conversation isn't feeling truth seeking or mutually respectful/loving to me so I'll quite likely stop responding in this thread.
  • Does the program structure significantly differ from OAK? Is there separation between staff and participant roles? Is MAPLE practicing informed consent? What about oversight and accountability? What is the onboarding process?
  • I would like to know what the organization is doing to "investigate" and improve based on my post and other feedback. The last "investigation" conducted by this organization consisted of Soryu sending his girlfriend to sort things out during which she never spoke to me about the events in question. The organization's recent public stat
... (read more)

Hey HS2021,

I want to acknowledge that I have multiple competing goals in engaging here.  I want to engage with you with compassion and understanding.  I also want to do my best to answer honestly and clarify what I see is happening for both you and others, and finally I want to personally understand what did happen and clarify if I'm seeing the organization clearly and if we need to make changes (or in the extreme case do I need to distance myself from the organization).

So  I likely won't make anyone completely happy with this response, incl... (read more)

I am curious as to why you feel you can "provide context" for my experience and for events that you were not present for?

4Matt Goldenberg5mo
I don't think I can provide context for that, but can certainly provide context for people who are considering training here or have concerns about the organization. From personal experience I can speak to * The training at the Vermont branch MAPLE, and how it matches your experience at OAK. * The things the organization is doing to investigate and improve based on your post and other feedback. * The new container and leadership at OAK, and how it's different and similar to what you describe.
An Open Letter to the Monastic Academy and community members

I can tell you how it played out from my perspective. The man I was in love with came to me and said Soryu asked me to do write this letter stating that this was loving and consensual and we are abiding by the rules of the Monastic container ( all of which was true except for the consent piece) because the board of directors is worried you might sue the organization or speak up publicly (something I had no intention of at the time); he then repeatedly brought this up to me despite my hesitancy and tried to get me to sign this letter. Finally I was told not... (read more)

An Open Letter to the Monastic Academy and community members

That maybe your understanding. But that's actually bullshit on so many levels.

An Open Letter to the Monastic Academy and community members

I would like to see them take responsibility for their organizational negligence and/or ethical misconduct of it's leaders - and be honest about knowing about these allegations in their public statement. Their public statement is appalling for many reasons - but their lying about not knowing about these allegations is especially upsetting when I shared my grievances in an email exchange in May. I would also like to see 3rd party investigation and a 3rd party nonprofit evaluation of their systems and program - if they are serious about integrating feedback ... (read more)

An Open Letter to the Monastic Academy and community members

The reason why I was being pressured to sign a letter (which is another seperate document then the agreements) so that "everyone can relax and feel safe" was in the context of that the organization was afraid I might attempt to sue them or speak up publicly. To me this indicates that they were aware to some extent of serious ethical breeches. It is difficult for me to know to what extent the board and Soryu were aware of these breeches; were they covering things up because they realized the breech between an ED and student in the program was a serious ethi... (read more)

5ChristianKl5mo
That makes sense as a motivation, but to me, it seems clearly unethical without further justification of why you owe them signing such a letter. I would like to see from MA either a statement of why they believe, pressuring you into signing the letter was justified or a statement that they believe it wasn't justified.
An Open Letter to the Monastic Academy and community members

The problem with what you just said is that the proper ethic code and agreements were never shared with me until after this incident occurred, were not reviewed with me when I arrived as was supposed to happen, and were never signed by me. All major organizational oversights. The definition of sexual misconduct that I was aware of when I entered the training was that sexual misconduct was defined as sexual harassment and sexual assault. I'd be more than happy to share a copy of the agreements I received; though according to what Unreal has posted those agr... (read more)

An Open Letter to the Monastic Academy and community members

Thank you Unreal for acknowledging that OAK and MAPLE messed up in some big ways.

  • OAK shutdown in March of 2021 several months later

  • It is my understanding that the Acting Director spent much of this past year on tour in collaboration with the MA's mobile tour and recruiting potential participants for the MA. I recently learned that OAKs teacher has since left the organization. I had also heard that he is still active in the community, supports it, and intends to build a cabin as part of MAPLEs village. As you have addressed OAKs former director is t

... (read more)
5ChristianKl5mo
Without having access to the ethics code myself, I would expect that going swimming together and then lying on the beach together while having romantic feelings for each other would have been already enough to be in violation of the policy.
An Open Letter to the Monastic Academy and community members

Thanks for your response.

For the record I think people usually do recieve these documents, ethics code, and are asked to sign a liability waiver for all risks associated with training (without being informed of the specific risks and some of the negative outcomes which also becomes an issue of informed consent) before and apprenticeship and residency. This is definitely a specific case where OAK dropped the ball on providing the correct documentation and orientation to the training. I would not be surprised if others may have encountered similar issues. I ... (read more)

An Open Letter to the Monastic Academy and community members

Thank you Lukas; it was incredibly hurtful and it is my experience that the organizations unethical response to this incident caused far greater harm and retraumatizion to myself than even the original incident.

You bring up a good point about intent vs. "cluelessness". These are my thoughts. It is difficult to me know how much of this was a result of inexperienced leadership trying to cover up what they may have thought was a consensual experience at the direction of their head teacher (who no doubt was well aware of the risks this posed to the organizatio... (read more)

An Open Letter to the Monastic Academy and community members

I have since updated this account with more detail about the incidents. Thank you for your feedback. 

As someone who upvoted ChristianKI's above comment, I want to state that when I read updated version, the behavior you describe seems indefensible to me and morally bad. I'm sorry this happened to you!

(I really hope it was indeed comparatively more forgivable cluelessness rather than malicious intent or the more sinister type of "cluelessness" that comes from certain people not having any empathy, high impulsivity, and no fear of bad consequences.) 

8ChristianKl5mo
Thank you. The updated version does make it clear to me that there are serious problems with MAPLE.
An Open Letter to the Monastic Academy and community members

Thanks for sharing. There is a big difference between clarification and denial of claims. Based on my own experience and that of many other former residents I've spoke to I find this response appalling and misrepresentative of the events and the organization.

It also does not address or list the specific risks of the training either here or on the website. Without which statements such as " We expect people who come here to take personal agency for their mental and emotional well-being" are unreasonable.

For the record, Kenshin Dee who recently joined the bo... (read more)

An Open Letter to the Monastic Academy and community members

Thank you for sharing this. Yes, this public awareness is needed. I am sorry that you also had a highly adverse experience with the center. Sending you well wishes for support and integration ๐Ÿ™

1goodwill_kindness5mo
Thank you!
An Open Letter to the Monastic Academy and community members

The letter could probably use greater clarity on events. There however is a substantial amount of information in the letter regarding recruitment practices, lack of informed consent, training risks and impacts, and lack of teacher/"staff" experience that I am guessing you didn't have a few days ago. You are right that it can be helpful to think in public about organizational issues and that strategic focused documents can be helpful. You have stated your preferences for more detail and thorough documentation about what the environment is like are noted and... (read more)

An Open Letter to the Monastic Academy and community members

Re: my familiarity with high intensity training. I am primarily familiar with nonprofit structures, nonprofit leadership, organizational development, common and best practices, common challenges, and the solutions and practices that would be vital in such a space. From this viewpoint I can see many things that are creating issues that impact individuals and the organization that could be addressed with 3rd party input and guidance but overall I think the organization lacks an appropriate level of training and experience collectively to be able to be able ... (read more)

An Open Letter to the Monastic Academy and community members

Here is a Facebook response posted by the former Assistant Director, whom previously was a part of MAPLE for 3 years and a core leadership member https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10109115376589050&id=900287&m_entstream_source=timeline

An Open Letter to the Monastic Academy and community members

In response to ChristianK, I hear that you would like more details and feel strait accounting would be useful. You are right that there is a difference between kissing someone without consent ( would also be messed up to get thrown out of a monastery for being kissed without consent) and the legal definition of rape. I believe my statement was that "consent was assumed without the practice of consent in a sexual encounter" which would indicate more than say being kissed. I will sit with whether or not I wish to give more details about this account. Thanks ... (read more)

6ChristianKl5mo
It's quite typical to assume in normal society consent based on implicit cues in many situations. There are people who would say that having sex with someone on a first date after the person being really drunk would be a consent violation. I don't think it's possible to discuss broader concerns well without grounding them in hard facts. You for example write "I experienced this environment as being designed to break me and as seriously impairing the agency and judgment of those involved. " This is again a layer of abstraction that doesn't allow the reader to form his own view to what extend the enviroment is designed well but only allows the reader access to your judgement. As I said I appreciate that you put the information in the open that you did (and personally weakly upvoted the post). If you intent is however I disagree. I would appreciate more details out in the public. In the Leverage case having Zoe's very detailed account out in public was very valuable for facilitating a good discussion about the harms of Leverage. Thinking in public about organizational issues is also helpful to people to the broader community. There are other organizations that could face similar issues and publically talking about issues helps create common knowledge about what patterns are important when it comes to running organizations.
An Open Letter to the Monastic Academy and community members

Thank you for your earlier response. Re: Soryu's ability to safely lead these trainings which I think is a much bigger question that impacts many people. Multiple accounts from others studying at Sogenji with Soryu also raise red flags and conflict with Soryu's own account. There is not really a way I can prove this to you other than asking others if they are willing to converse with you about this. The training Soryu is teaching does not even closely resemble Shinzen Young's system who has given him permission to teach within his system and to my knowledg... (read more)

3HS20215mo
Here is a Facebook response posted by the former Assistant Director, whom previously was a part of MAPLE for 3 years and a core leadership member https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10109115376589050&id=900287&m_entstream_source=timeline [https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10109115376589050&id=900287&m_entstream_source=timeline]
Frame Control

For anyone whom would like to know more about my personal experience and the concerns I have regard patterns of negligence and abuse at the Monastic Academy I have recently shared an open to the organization: https://medium.com/@shekinahalegra/dear-monastic-academy-and-community-members-49c25d9646a4

Frame Control

Yes this. Reframing the recipient of violence as a threat or an aggressor when theyve mistreated and/or attacked them is a common frame control tactic.

Additionally, manipulating events through PR and telling stories about the person harmed to others that demonize them so that others won't believe that you harmed them or will justify any harm you've caused is a common tactic used to frame events and your role in them as being different then what actually happened. (I.e. demonizing and excluding women who've been on the receiving end of sexual misconduct fr... (read more)

Frame Control

PITW #159 "This is hard, Be strong"

Fellow former City Year Member here who served in Columbia, SC. Reading your comment definitely brought up memories and makes me feel like I need to go back over that experience with a new lense now. City Year was definitely challenging to ones sense of individuality and had a very rigid structure. Yes they have very specific ways of building culture (red jackets, morning chants, PITWs, ect.) That could described as culty and definitely focus on instilling a particular view/set of values - hadn't quite thought about it th... (read more)

0[comment deleted]6mo
Frame Control

Someone shared this link with me re: group conversations about interactions with the Monastic Academy. So much resonance with the examples of frame control you share re: lack of reciprocation and vulnerability, refusal to collaborate with other perspectives, reframing or dismissing harm, controlling parameters of engagement in a way that creates unequal power dynamics, so on and so forth. Your example of making claims that exclude 98% or people (re: save the world narratives) but highly effective on the other 2% is especially relevant!

Some examples of fram... (read more)

3HS20216mo
For anyone whom would like to know more about my personal experience and the concerns I have regard patterns of negligence and abuse at the Monastic Academy I have recently shared an open to the organization: https://medium.com/@shekinahalegra/dear-monastic-academy-and-community-members-49c25d9646a4
โ€œPRโ€ is corrosive; โ€œreputationโ€ is not.

Yes! Reputation/Honor vs. PR management is the difference between being known for adhering to good principles/values/standards of ethical conduct especially in difficult situations and makes amends when neccasary vs. the effort made to maintain one's image and appearance of doing so while not operating from one's stated principles/values/standards of ethical conduct and/or violating these by engaging in PR efforts that are in and of themselves dishonest and unethical. 

Three enigmas at the heart of our reasoning

I understand your desire to make a distinction about your identity and clear up confusion about your thoughts, actions being confused with statements I've made. Here you note that you state that "I'm leaving out my last name so I'm not trivially googled" and then you go on to disclose personally identifying information about me and the names I go by apparently without regard for how others may choose to use this information.  While I am generally not interested in hiding my identity, my involvement in activities, and thoughts please consider both the ... (read more)

Three enigmas at the heart of our reasoning

I think you have a good point Gunnar - these two things could be better separated. In light of such, I have decided to share some thoughts inspired by the Monastic Academy about organizational practices and how that relates the "big picture" separately. 

The Colonization of Cults, Nonprofit Organizations, and Society - LessWrong

Three enigmas at the heart of our reasoning

I belong to a small group of ex-residents and former apprentices that have been interviewing other community members, have made attempts to create space for dialogue with leadership about issues, have requested a mediation process with a third party mediator be opened for the organization to hear the feedback of current and former program participants, and are now looking at what steps to take to address concerns for safety and well-being of current and future members. There have been fifteen accounts given (12 being within the last 2-3 years) in which peo... (read more)

6hrs7mo
Apparently there's been some confusion, I'm Herschel (I'm leaving out my last name so I'm not trivially googled), the author of this comment is a different person [I've removed their name for their privacy]. I was a resident for two years at MAPLE but I haven't written anything about it publicly, besides a couple brief things on my facebook account.
Three enigmas at the heart of our reasoning

" In order to let go of those defense mechanisms, we need to put ourselves in a place that demonstrably will take care of us in an ontological crisis."

While I agree with statement by itself. In relationship to the Monastic Academy which is here called the monastery, this is laughable at best and at it's worst deeply untrue and dangerously misguided. This does not track with my own experience; or over a dozen other testimonies from former residents and apprentices that have left the monastery over the last 2-3 years in traumatic states whom have not been ca... (read more)

2Gunnar_Zarncke8mo
We have to be careful to separate the school from the insights. Whether the school has problems seems almost entirely unrelated to the philosophical questions posed. It does provide some context for the proposal to have safe spaces though. Indeed, I think these two topics should probably be separated more clearly.
4Ben Pace8mo
Have you personally talked to over 12 people who have left the monastic academy in the past 2-3 years and they each reported their experience was strongly negative or overall negative?
8Alex Flint8mo
Yes it's true, there are people who have spent time at the Monastic Academy and have experienced psychological challenges after leaving. For me, I enjoyed the simplicity and the living in community and the meditation practice as you say. The training style at the Monastic Academy seemed to really really really work for me. There were tons of difficult moments, but underneath that I felt safe, actually, in a way that I don't think I ever had before. That safety was really critical for me to face some deep doubts that I'd been carrying for a really long time. But there are also people who have left Monastic Academy feeling very hurt. I guess sometimes it's good to push through doubt and pain in order to get to the other side, while other times it's better to listen to doubt and pain because it's telling you that something isn't working for you. I do think it's worth finding somewhere that can provide deep sanctuary. I definitely did find that at the Monastic Academy. There are others who seem not to have. Hmm. Since you refer to "writing about enigmas without getting anywhere" and the title of the post is "three enigmas at the heart of our reasoning", I understand this to be a critique of my character (?) or perhaps just a personal attack. Was that your intention?
MIRI location optimization (and related topics) discussion

Background: I am a full-time student at Bellingham's (unimpressive) university who has lived in the Bellingham area and will soon be moving back as classes resume in person. My partner is also an AI safety researcher (previously from the Bay area) who would certainly be interested in building AI research and rationalist community here.  

Notes on Bellingham:

  • Yes, there is a much stronger Uber presence during non-COVID times. The absence of students living in Bellingham has impacted rideshares here and will likely pick up again when in-person classes ret
... (read more)
5kdbscott1y
How are the mosquitos on e.g. mushroom hunts?