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 Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......

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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Wed Feb 09, 2011 7:20 pm

This was just posted on the Tricycle Blog site. They gave me permission to re-post it here. James Shaheen, the editor of Tricycle, told me about this today.

Genpo Merzel Disrobes

From Tricycle Magazine's Blog: 07 Feb 2011



Dennis Genpo Merzel has announced that he will disrobe as a Zen priest and step down as an elder in the White Plum Asangha, an extensive group of Zen communities practicing in the lineage of Maezumi Roshi.

Merzel writes:

I have chosen to disrobe as a Buddhist Priest, and will stop giving Buddhist Precepts or Ordinations, but I will continue teaching Big Mind. I will spend the rest of my life truly integrating the Soto Zen Buddhist Ethics into my life and practice so I can once again regain dignity and respect. My actions have caused a tremendous amount of pain,
confusion, and controversy for my wife, family, and Sangha, and for this I am truly sorry and greatly regret. My behavior was not in alignment with the Buddhist Precepts. I feel disrobing is just a small part of an appropriate response.

I am also resigning as an elder of the White Plum Asanga. My actions should not be viewed as a reflection on the moral fabric of any of the White Plum members.

He expresses sorrow for hurting those close to him with his sexual misconduct. Read the complete statement here.

The White Plum Asangha has accepted his resignation, posting a Special Announcement on their site:

The White Plum Asanga Board of Directors has accepted the resignation of
Genpo Merzel from White Plum Asanga membership as well as an Elder of
the White Plum. This resignation is a result of his recent disclosures
regarding sexual misconduct with several of his students. Please see
the Big Mind website for their statement. On behalf of the White Plum organization, I extend
our support for Genpo's efforts in recovery and treatment and to the
teachers and members of the Kanzeon Sangha in their efforts in healing
and realigning their communities. --- Roshi Gerry Shishin Wick,
President, WPA

We join with the White Plum Asangha in wishing the
best for all the members of Genpo Merzel's sangha and personal circle
hurt by this announcement and the actions that preceded it.
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Wed Feb 09, 2011 7:44 pm

Here is the Genpo's full statement

Owning My Responsibility
A Personal Statement from Genpo Merzel


I have chosen to disrobe as a Buddhist Priest, and will stop
giving Buddhist Precepts or Ordinations, but I will continue teaching Big Mind.
I will spend the rest of my life truly integrating the Soto Zen Buddhist
Ethics into my life and practice so I can once again regain dignity and
respect. My actions have caused a tremendous amount of pain, confusion, and
controversy for my wife, family, and Sangha, and for this I am truly sorry and
greatly regret. My behavior was not in alignment with the Buddhist Precepts. I
feel disrobing is just a small part of an appropriate response.

I am also resigning as an elder of the White Plum Asanga. My
actions should not be viewed as a reflection on the moral fabric of any of the
White Plum members.


As Genpo Merzel, I will continue to bring Big Mind into the
world and to train and facilitate people who wish to study with me. I will
not give up on, and will still be available for people who wish to continue
studying with me as just an ordinary human being who is working on his own
shadows and deeply rooted patterns.


With great humility I will continue to work on my own
shadows and deeply rooted patterns that have led me to miss the mark of being a
moral and ethical person and a decent human being. I appreciate all the love and
support as well as the criticism that has been shared with me. Experiencing all
the pain and suffering that I have caused has truly touched my heart and been
the greatest teacher. It has helped open my eyes and given me greater clarity
around my own dishonest, hurtful behavior as well as my sexual misconduct. I
recently entered therapy and plan to continue indefinitely with it. I am in
deep pain over the suffering I have caused my wife, children, students,
successors and Sangha.


With Sadness and Love,
D. Genpo Merzel
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Wed Feb 09, 2011 8:10 pm

I think incident is worth discussing. Reality check.

Another example of a Zen "master' - someone who was officially awakened in a major Zen lineage, who was a "dharma heir," received transmission, was named a Roshi who turned out to be.... very human. Surprise, surprise. And he would have been very human even if he hadn't slept around. He is human, we are human, that' s not the problem. The problem is when we deny, pretend that we are super human, divine, perfect, more enlightened than we are.

At least, in this case, for whatever reason, he willingly or unwillingly admitted his human nature, rather than trying to deny it. He acknowledges his shadows and rooted patterns that lead him to "miss the mark of being a moral and ethical person and a decent human being."

Kennett never faced or acknowledged her shadows or rooted patterns and so she was in time completely taken over by them, believing them to be garments of light. And she passed this approach, this path on to her disciples -- denial, self-blindness, self-aggrandizement. Yes, she also shared meditation as well as her blend of zen, monotheism, and fantasy - but her shadows were equally part of her transmission.

It is worth re-thinking this whole "master" story, the big fantasy that revolves around the concept of the master, the roshi, the "fully" enlightened teacher, the transmission, the lineage. It is worth reading Stuart Lach's essays that I posted elsewhere on this site - or read them on line - where it will be easier to read......

For more discussion -- for those who are interested in this topic
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Wed Feb 09, 2011 8:49 pm

Josh, thanks for this -- interesting stuff.

I've read through it quickly and will read it again (after work), but wanted to share the first thoughts off the top of my head:

I wonder why this man isn't taking time off from teaching, for reflection, repentance, etc. Isn't it presumptuous to carry on lecturing to lay people and holding himself out as a teacher? I'm not saying he should never teach again, but it seems like he could put himself in time-out for a bit, at least act a little ashamed to be in disgrace. Once upon a time, people stayed home with the curtains drawn and kept their heads down for a bit, you know? Whatever happened to that?

Also wondering about the persons he was sexually involved with. Not that they should be the focus or have their privacy at risk in any way, but I'm wondering what kind of help or outreach they will get from the White Plum organisation. Those who were victimised seem to get overlooked in situations like these. (On a related note, the last time I looked through the OBC's Rules of the Order (the year 2000 version), I couldn't find much at all, process-wise, about what the OBC should do for someone who is or may be the object of a monk's non-celibate behaviour. I wonder if the 2010 version speaks to that?)

Last thought, which you've alluded to, Josh -- it really doesn't matter what pedigree these Roshis have, or who approves them as teachers, or where or when they've studied, or if they claim an august lineage -- none of that matters at all. How they behave to others is the only thing you can trust to tell you who they really are.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Wed Feb 09, 2011 9:17 pm

Hello Josh

I'm not sure of what you are meaning when you say "re think the Zen Master story".
I don't have a problem with the existence of Zen Masters, just putting them on a pedestal.

It may seem a little hard line and the translation might be a bit mangled but I was once told about 2 surprising "entering" rules that a good zen temple should have over it's main gate.

(1) Anyone treating anyone less respectfully than the master will be asked to leave.

(2) Anyone treating the Master more respectfully than anyone else will asked to leave.

It made me think that perhaps I didn't know what a good temple or a Master was.

It not like these rules would sort everything out but God they sounded like a breath of fresh air.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Wed Feb 09, 2011 9:31 pm

Hi Howard great entering rules. It puts me in mind of a Trappist monk who told me that on joining the order the abbot had discussed at length with him the Cistercian rule that he must treat all people as if they were Jesus Christ, Oh and by the way would he mind nipping down to the guest house and throwing out a guest who had outstayed their welcome!
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:38 pm

Hello Josh, and all,

This announcement was also posted over in the celibacy thread, and I posted a reply. This is the same post, with some additional information.

Just to let you all know, the AZTA is beginning to address the situation with Genpo. We were pretty active behind the scenes, sometimes more publicly, in addressing the problems with Aido Shimano Roshi at Zen Studies Society in New York. I am quite certain that we had a positive effect in moving their board into taking decisive action. Things may still go wrong, but members of ZSS are part of the AZTA community, and getting support from us is beneficial to them in taking difficult stands.

I'm not entirely sure what effect we can have on Genpo and the Kanzeon Zen Center, as they have avoided connecting with organizations that have taken stands in opposition to sexual misconduct and other types of abuse. I think the way things played out in New York, however, has influenced events in Utah, where Kanzeon is based. I can only hope that be effective in this situation as well.

@Howard - the matter of stepping down from teaching is precisely what is needed. This has happened with Genpo several times before. Gyokuko and I were part of an intervention with him years ago. We managed to get stop him from setting up shop in Oregon, gut it was clear to me that he was not going to stop this deluded pattern until something made him stop. I hope we can have enough influence on their board, particularly after all the publicity surrounding the Eido Shimano. We'll see.

With palms joined,

Kyogen
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:01 am

Yes, I heard about Genpo many years ago also. Obviously, things came to a head and his students confronted him strongly enough and said NO. When this kind of behavior is secretly going on for years, but many people are nonetheless aware of it and it is covered up, we know what kind of untenable and unhealthy situation this creates.

There could be much more back story posted on the web somewhere.

Genpo though has two hats. He is clearly out as the Zen teacher, but continues as the creator and proponent of this Big Mind training that he created - a kind of guided meditation. This is where he makes quite a bit of money. I don't know if that is his own company or a non-profit or what. He has also been doing these very expensive private retreats with groups of people -- I was told that he does this with 5 people who get to hang out with him for 5 days for $50,000. Of course, that does not really fit into the Buddhist model - to say the least -- but it does fit into the self-help, high-priced executive coach world. Some people in the Buddhist world were quite critical of this.

Actually, by leaving the Zen world, he can do the Big Mind work on his own. Frankly, don't know much about him or how this will work - not really that interested -- but there are things we can learn from how organizations deal with these kind of issues.

And perhaps as Kyogen points out -- other Zen groups can have a positive effect on what happens. Those that remain in the organization always need compassionate counseling, honest and open communication now since they probably had little of that for years. Also, no doubt many people left the organization over the years.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:00 am

I feel the same as Lise, why continue with all guns blazing? I suppose as he has resigned his Soto zen connection he feels he can do what he likes,which I suppose he can,it feels creepy to me. 50,000 eh that hits my rather English puritanitcal streak (sorry for that) and really it throws into question the whole of the teaching of the group over the last 40 years.
I am slightly speachless,despite knowing this was going on, but wanted to say something. For now I will go along completely with Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:06 pm

It definitely hits my puritanical streak too! I would have a lot more respect for Genpo if he gave up teaching/leadership altogether ('business interests' included) and simply practised as an ordinary member of his sangha...
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:23 pm

This was from a Zen blog:

"Perhaps the most important part of his statement is that he, like the
rest of us, is "...just an ordinary human being who is working on his
own shadows and deeply rooted patterns." No amount of meditation will
free any of us from our shadows. They, like all other aspects of our
being, have the potential to be exposed and dealt with as we work on our
cushions, but there's no guarantee. This is especially true, and a
cautionary tale, for those of us who teach and are blessed with spouses,
children and sanghas.

"May we all have the courage to continually explore where our light
gets blocked, where our shadows are and what they can teach us."
I appreciate the point that it does take courage to face our shadows, deeply rooted patterns and stories - and that meditation by itself does not really do this - at least, not from my experience. These aspects of our minds need to be encountered much more directly and not when sitting on a cushion, but through our interactions with our loved ones, friends, associates, sangha members - through honest communication. Every day. In the present moment.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:53 pm

What? No consequences?

Spiritual teachers who have harmed their students should by no means be teachers or leaders of any kind. What are the standards of Buddhist teachers and monks? What are the consequences?

There is a power-differential between a spiritual teacher and a student; much like that between a therapist and client, doctor and patient, mother and child...These are relationships that have a sacred trust and when that trust is broken, there are serious consequences, and I mean SERIOUS. Why do Buddhist teachers get off the hook? I have no compassion for Genpo, especially because he continues on with his shadow. I have no respect for this man. He is using the "I'm human" defense? Come on! Eko used this too. There is no excuse.

The lack of legal presidence when dealing with spiritual abuse just goes to show how destructive and debilitating it really is. These students are victims of abuse. They should take legal action to start setting presidence for some kind of standard to be set. Having other Buddhist teachers or organizations get involved wreaks of conspiracy, much like what has/is happening in the Catholic church. The fact that Kyogen and Josh have both admitted to knowing about Genpo's history of abuse is case-and-point. Why was nothing done to protect these poor victims?

Amailia's case still sits untouched- no consequences. Eko and others get off so easily- no consequences. It's ridiculous and sad. The fact that people pay thousands of dollars to sit with a teacher- absolutely ridiculous. And yet people blame the victims. And teachers say it is the responsibility of the student to pick a good teacher? How does one know who is a good teacher? At some point, a student must be vulnerable and try to pick someone, so they are wide open.

As far as I'm concerned, Buddhism is sitting right up their with the Catholic church. Buddhism in America is totally out of control. I stopped listening to Jack Kornfield after hearing about the $5,000 a plate dinner parties that he was throwing. You know, "parties," like with music and wine. You get to party with the famous teachers, but it'll cost ya. Buddhism is worse than Christianity in this regard. "Doing retreats" at Spirit Rock or Tassajara is just another materialistic ego-feeder. And I'm sick of it. And I'm really sick of teachers complaining that they are not bringing in enough money, or how hard it is to be dharma teacher or that they are "just human" like the rest of us. "The myth of the Zen Roshi" goes beyond Zen; it applies to all Buddhist teachers.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Thu Feb 10, 2011 1:16 pm

The celebrity culture and money making evidently surrounding some teachers in Western Buddhism is fairly sickening; and must damage it's ability to offer a counterpoint to dominant, capitalist society, or an effective mirror or critique to its values, inequalities etc. I can't help but agree with you Diana - at least at Benedictine monasteries for e.g., you can simply pay what you can afford, they generally don't even list a 'suggested donation'. I must admit, at least the OBC, other issues aside, doesn't seem to charge through the nose like an awful lot of Dharma centres, monasteries etc do...it does stick in the throat....
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Thu Feb 10, 2011 1:41 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:06 pm

A brief reply to Diana. There was an intense intervention with Genpo that I was involved with years ago. The sad fact is that there are limits to what we can do. Enough people support and defend him so that he starts up again. The temple he ran at that time collapsed, but he just set up again. We now have the SZBA, which can ban him from the SZBA, but religious freedom in this country means he can set up an independent church and do what he wants. Now he will teach as a secular life-coach guru, where there are no constraints that I am aware of.

Publicity and "buyer beware" are what we have to rely on. I sympathize with you. So now you know about his issues too, just like I have known. Can you devote yourself full time into picketing him? I don't have time for that. I suspect you don't either. In addition, for the past ten years he managed to keep this quiet. During that time the story was that he had learned his lesson. I think he did mind his manners for a while, but I never really bought it. He has a very deeply rooted problem and he shouldn't be teaching others in the intimate way spiritual practice requires. But in this country we can't force mentally ill people into treatment, and we can't seem to stop this either. Only his karma will do that. Perhaps lawsuits will set the precedent. Until recently the courts have treated these issues has matters between consenting adults.

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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Thu Feb 10, 2011 6:13 pm

I am sure there were serious people going to ZCLA in the very beginning,but there were undercurrents of this type of behaviour.I went there a year or so after leaving Shasta, there was serious sitting and some very loose living. Grass was smoked there,Maezumi did not approve,but he had an alcohol problem. I remember he admitted it to everyone in the zendo and apologised,and said he would keep it under control,just drink at the weekend. Unfortunately alcoholics can not do this ,when one reaches this point ,it is over with ever having the next one. Someone I know visited a Japanese temple,and in a celebration,had a nip of sake,it was a red light,he had to have more ,and quickly turned aggressive,and the police had to take him away.
The under currents of todays events at the centre were there,people in our sitting group had letters from there talking of the great sexual time to be had. My personal stories of confrontation with Maezumi remain private,but I had them they were serious.
A lot of people though would say it was a great place and lifestyle.
look at Shasta. Quite a few of us left,when these live of Jesus and Bodhidarma that were being experienced at Shasta were going on. If it had been publically announced that Kennett Roshi was Bodhidharma in a previous life,and Eko was Jesus there would have been an uproar.The Christian communities would have been appalled. It was kept under wraps, less harmful stuff was told, and everyone else was discredited and shunned. People that stayed clearly felt it was OK to stay,for what ever reason they did not leave.but this strange point of practice permeates down the line, and now 30 odd years later the next in line is asked to leave.and now people tell of more unacceptable stories of more shunning and bullying,but people stay and have stayed through it all so for them it is OK they have no problem with it.
The issues are serious,Mokuan said a month or so ago,that he had to realign his life and go through difficulties after investing a large percentage of his life in a spiritual situation,that was a commitment for him, The people that left throughout Ekos reign,most probably will not return to spiritual practice. That is the problem, that is the start of harm being done,even if the big abuses we have read about here caused havoc,the smaller issues,that stopped a persons practice are no less harmful. It is not a linage to be proud of at the moment. I go on a bit about Gensho saying all those years ago about the Sange that did not happen,but Mark told me someone asked Kennett Roshi in the middle of all the previous life experiences,'What would Koho Zenji have made of it' her reply was a belittling,'He would not have understood' That highlights the problem. I mean What would the Buddha have made of Gempo and his Big Mind 50,000$ retreats
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Fri Feb 11, 2011 4:25 pm

this was posted on RELIGION DISPATCHES:
February 10

Does Ameican Zen Need Reform?

  • Post by Lisa Webster
  • Although Eido Shimano Roshi will no longer be teaching under the auspices of the Zen Studies Society (as covered in RD recently), the effect of the scandal that led to his forced retirement is rippling throughout the larger community of American Buddhism.

  • At issue, as in any case of clergy abuse, is the question of
    authority. In the case of the Catholic Church, it is easy to see how
    power plays out, whether it is temporal or spiritual. But many Americans
    looking for eastern enlightenment have hit up against a cultural
    confusion that makes discernment almost impossible.
    Over at Sweeping Zen, Erik Storlie has written a strong critique of the unexamined aspects of the east-west teacher-student relationship, while lamenting this "old and discouraging story."
    In forty-six years of Zen practice I’ve observed Asian (and
    now Western) swamis, tulkus, roshis, rishis, dharma heirs, lineage
    holders, and masters of various stripes, as well as their disciples,
    explain that the master’s fiscal extravagance, alcoholism, cruelty, sex
    addiction, violence, and even rape is – of all things – “a teaching!”
    [...]
    This is a Mad Hatter’s tea party, where hierarchical robes and
    titles, sadomasochistic austerities, and subterranean libertinism mix
    together in incestuous “spiritual communities” filled with distrust and
    rivalries – all this in a scramble for the summit of some distant
    “spiritual” mountain. This would be comic if it weren’t tragic.
    Storlie goes on to dispute the legitimacy of the idea of "dharma
    transmission," the idea that spiritual power has passed, "mind to mind"
    in an unbroken chain from the time of the Buddha. He likens it to
    Catholicism's apostolic succession, insisting that it bears the same
    dangers, and says that "Zen must undergo its own painful Protestant
    Reformation" if it is going to truly thrive.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Fri Feb 11, 2011 5:02 pm

I don't see anything that is needed ... certainly not reform!

There is talk about organizations and problem-people (or as Kyogen calls it poeple who are in need of "intervention"). But all I see is people. And people are just people: so they have a story; everyone's got a story.

It is suffering that exists.

Two days ago, my son asked my if high definition (HD) is superior to reality. After recovering from my amazement, I had to shyly admit that if it were the case we would not be able to see it. Think hi-fi equipment with sound features you pay for that go beyond the range of human hearing: I have a cousin for whom this type of equipment is a must have; aparently/maybe he can tell the difference.

I view organizations as just interactive role playing games. And as in all games the rules are abribrary (without foundation) but achieve their power through an agreement/enforcement complex.

I think people need to play more games (don't let my son know I said this) so that they can be more farmiliar with the inner structure of games, more farmiliar with their own creations: because it is only then they might have a chance to win entry into reality.

Oops! Maybe you can only leave one game for another game.

In the old, old days, they called it illusion (Maya).

So, as I like to say .... if you can't love peace, then feel the love.

Your move!
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Fri Feb 11, 2011 8:31 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 12, 2011 4:22 am

To be honest Brad did not do it for me ,I do not agree with brads view that the sex part is OK,
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 12, 2011 5:20 am

i should have posted a note with that link. when i post links like this, I am just adding to the conversation. I don't necessarily agree with everything that writer might be saying, but think that he/she might have some insights or even provocations that might be useful to consider.

Just in the last few months, two major Zen organizations in the U.S. are in crisis, having been exposed on the web and in the media, are wrestling with the many issues we are addressing on this board, in these dialogues -- abuse of power, spiritual authoritarianism, addiction to hierarchy and tradition, blind faith, years denials by students and disciples, infantalizing students, the challenges of speaking out, challenging the sacred cows, wishful thinking, group mind and enchantment, and so on.

Just because these two recent scandals with Shimano and Genpo involved sexual misconduct does not mean that they are not excellent mirrors to see similar reflections regarding our experiences with Kennett and Shasta.

Spiritual leaders, heads of non-profit organizations, are accountable in many ways. And in the new media age, they will be called out, challenged, confronted. The days of suppressing information, silencing and isolating your critics is well over. Honest self-awareness makes this process far less painful.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 12, 2011 5:46 am

Kyogen, at this point, since so much is coming out about Genpo, would you be willing to share any more insights about your awareness and actions around his previous misconduct? Some of it might be confidential or was confidential, but since much information and details are now on the table and on the internet, perhaps you could share something that would be useful.

I would think that in terms of sexual misconduct, secret affairs and so on, the morality / ethics of the specific sexual behavior is often just a centerpiece for all kinds of other unhealthy personal, interpersonal and group dynamics that are the unintended and direct consequences of this behavior - self-delusion, grandiosity, secrecy, hypocrisy, frequent lying or covering up, denial, manipulation of situations and students, sexual prowling and predation, arrogance,selfishness rationalized, expelling and shunning of critics, emulating other gurus (Trungpa, Maezumi did it, so it's ok) and so on.

I understand that some people can make a case that monogamy is western and moralistic and open marriages or mistresses should not a big deal, but such relationships and behavior do not exist in an isolated protected vacuum especially in these relatively small Dharma / spiritual comm unties, there are all kinds of effects and consequences, sometime severe consequences, especially when truth is suppressed and denied and there is little honest communication.

And the guru / roshi / master is still constantly involved in the stress of maintaining his absolute authority, his / her need or even life addition to be loved and adored and worshiped, keeping the holy image intact no matter what, and putting his students in their place. They are keeping the grand drama going, built their own isolated stage, surrounded themselves with the acolytes that play all the right and devoted parts in the "spiritual" narrative, keep to script and their characters and so on.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 12, 2011 7:07 am

I personally think I as said the sex issue with Gempo is a very important issue,I did not realize that he was having sex with a lady he was grooming to be his vice Abbot.To me it is very sick,and very repulsive.
It shows an incredible lack of real understanding,and seems that the basis of his order is rooted in egotistical actions,with complete disregard for any one else.
I think we all have different views on sex, and what is acceptable. Personally, what is right for me is sex within a good relationship, it is a personal thing that is the only type that works for me. For me I base a good relationship on friendship intimacy love,companionship and being turned on by that person.
Having said my view there are many different types of relationship,which are far more aceptable than they were. In the UK it is completely acceptable,to live together when 50 years ago it was not. Gay relationships, are out in the open now,not having to be secretive any more or indeed outlawed.
I think sex does mean different things for different people, when power comes into it it goes into different realms of personal behaviour,I do not know but a lot of rape is based on power,power over someone else.
The problem with all of these stories Shasta too,is we were very young and very inexperienced, and really had our voices denied by, the discrediting and shunning.
Interesting for me is the photo on Brads blog of gempo shows a lob sided hand posture, I do not think you will like me for saying it but that shows a lob sided practice
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 12, 2011 11:26 am

It is all so sickening. Everything we thought we were avoiding by becoming Zen practioners is all there. And it is excused by saying organizations are organizations. How convenient. How irresponsible. People are people: Why meditate? Why look within? Why be aware? Organizations are organizations. Why look deeply at deeply rooted interrelational patterns that cause harm? Families are Families. Why go to family therapy to see how family members can bring the best out of each other rather than the worst? Zen Masters have flaws. Why then hold them accountable? When will people value awareness over being church members?

I am tired of the disdain for psychological health. How often at Shasta did I hear how deeper the spiritual goes than the psychological. Talk about duality! Regardless of psychological health, awareness beyond ego can be experienced. But psychological health is the cleaning up of karma. There is no difference. How can you separate these two things as one being important the other--not so much. As I said in a previous post, spiritual experience without psychological health is a dream within a nightmare.

I'd like to look at Meian as Zen Master. I would like to examine one aspect of the psychological health of the head of Shasta and one of the most important Zen Masters in the OBC. I would like to do this for the purpose of examining how capable she is of cleaning up the intstitutional trauma that remains a potent force at Shasta. Before I go there, I would like to say that I don't care what the Zen scandal of the day is. They all sicken me. They are all about sex and finances. What nonsense. This is what the super self aware Buddhist community is about? The hierarchy in these communities notice scandal when it reaches the most external levels of human behavior possible? Meditative awareness is supposed to catch things earlier and earlier, before it is manifested in its most gross forms. That is the message we've all heard. But what is the truth? The hieracrchy in these Buddhist communities (supposedly the most enlightened) do nothing, are aware of nothing, until trouble manifests in its most gross forms. That is what happened at Shasta. All was well until Eko had sex. Well, he didn't have sex sex. He just...whatever it was he did. But it was related to sex, so now all of a sudden there is a problem. Sickening, truly sickening.

So why do I question the psychological health of one of the most important Zen Masters in the OBC? Certainly not because I have anything against her personally. In fact I always liked Meian a lot and there was never any significant friction between
us I was aware of. In fact I hate what I am doing now, but I hate even more the myths, the denial, the rationalizations, the minimizing and justifying that lead to delusion and harm. So I write this for anyone to judge for themselves if what I have
to say has value.

Rev. Kennett could be and was emotionally abusive. This was hidden by the Zen Master myth Josh has presented here so well. The myth where all the psychologically unhealthy ways of treating people are exalted to the level of spiritual teaching. Where those who criticize are just seeing things through the ego. Meian, however, has always been, as far as I could see, a True Believer. As I've written before, Rev. Kennett was far more abusive to women than to men (I'd appreciate comments from Kyogen, Gyokuko (both former jishas) and others on what they saw). Meian, as a Jisha, was a frequent target of Rev. Kennett's wrath. She always, as far as I could see, internalized the abuse: It was she that was wrong; it was she that needed to learn; it was she that was privileged to get Rev. Kennett's teaching. Meian herself stated in a recent lecture that EVERYTHING THAT REV. KENNETT DID WAS FOR THE BENEFIT OF OTHERS. No qualifiers. Absolute--just as the myth states. So as a good Zen practitioner, she took the abuse as teaching. How is this different from the good wife who follows the Bible and as long as she isn't beaten with a stick wider than her thumb, her husband is just being a good husband doing his duty of leading her out of her female foolishness. How many women have internalized this message to one degree or another. What Meian has done, to my mind, is not, on the most basic level, any different. It is taking someone elses unresolved issues that manifest as emotional abusiveness, and taking the blame onto oneself: I was wrong. I deserved it. I should be grateful for the harsh treatment. This is what passes for enlightenment. All you women out there who are rushing to Buddhism to get away from the Christian notions of male supremacy, please take note. ALL THESE BUDDHIST SCANDALS SPEAK NOT ONLY TO THE ABUSIVENESS OF THE ZEN MASTER BUT ALSO OF THE WILLINGNESS OF THE FOLLOWERS TO INTERNALIZE THAT ABUSE, BLAME THEMSELVES, GLORIFY THE MASTER AS ALWAYS DOING THINGS FOR THE BENEFIT OF OTHERS NO MATTER HOW ABUSIVE IT APPEARS, AND DEMONIZING OR DISCREDITING THOSE WHO SEE THERE IS SOMETHING PSYCHOLOGICALLY VERY UNHEALTHY GOING ON. The internalizatioin of the abuse is the key to the whole problem. It is what occurs in every one of these scandals, be it Shasta or elsewhere. Without the WILLINGNESS of the students to
internalize the abuse and blame themselves, none of this can occur. Meian was, and so it appears, still is, a master of this sad and misguided mistake. I will let the women out there decide for themselves how different this is from the wife who makes
excuses for her abusive husband.

The truth of the matter is that there is some truth in this delusion. Buddhists do need to handle abuse differently. We do need to use every suffering to come our way to examine our own reactions. In that regard, all abuse and misfortune is an opportunity to look within. There is nothing like abuse and misfortune to bring out the worst in us, and its occurance is an opportunity to see unvarnished, our most angry, vindictive and even sadistic tendencies. And when they arise it is an opportunity to meditate within it all and act in ways that create the least suffering and do the most good. That truth exists for all who value awareness.In that sense we need to be grateful for the misfortune that creates these opportunities to see all of who we are, including the worst.

However, to do this we do NOT have to take the next step into delusion. We do not have to glorify the the one engaging in emotionally abusive behaviors. We do not have to rationalize their behavior. We do not have to minimize its affect on others.
We do not have to demonize (or at least discredit) those who stand up and say that that is not enlightened action but just the opposite. DOING THAT IS THE PROBLEM: Taking the step from utilizing emotionally abusive behavior and suffering as part of
developing ones awareness of oneself to glorifying the person's mistaken, misguided, and harmful behaviors as being enlightened action.That is what I see continuing to occur in the OBC, and that is what I see Meian perpetuating in spades.


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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 12, 2011 12:16 pm

I know I am not better than anyone I am criticising. I have my own problems. I have made many mistakes and done things I'm not proud of. However, at work I am accountable to others. If a client goes to administration and complains about something I did, I better have a good explanation. There is no assumption that I am more enlightened than the client, therefore I can't be questioned. I get pulled to the curb. An important tenet of therapy is that the client's issues will bring up your own issues, and you need to be aware of your issues so you know you're not harming the client by acting them out, or blaming the client for them. In other areas of my life, I do my best to see my mistakes as mistakes and not blame my anger on others. In this too, I've made my share of mistakes, but believe I've done better over time.

But it is my belief that in the OBC there is an organizational and religious belief system that supports rather than minimizes these errors. From all I saw when I was there and all I've read on this site, the very fact that one is a "master" gives a false assurance that it's the student's issue, not the master's. This is how it most often, perhaps almost always, plays out. This is neither self awareness nor accountability. That I have my own issues is undeniable. That I don't have an organizational structure and a religious belief system to protect me from that truth is my good fortune.


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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 12, 2011 12:38 pm

Henry, I couldn't agree with you more. There is a level of deliberate self-blinding that goes on at Shasta Abbey in order to maintain the fantasy of the master's perfection. This is done in order to be a "good" disciple; it is done in order to be "spiritually successful" within the organizational structure. It engenders such paradoxes as the oft-quoted saying "Being cruel in order to be kind". This is frequently how the Zen masters behavior is described with the added explanation that the "wordly-minded" are unable to comprehend the spiritual intent of the master.

My personal opinion is that after many years of brainwashing oneself in this way, a person is no longer able to distinguish between compassion and cruelty, nor to recognize that the ends do not justify the means. Meian would never even listen to complaints about Eko's behavior. Oh, she would hear the complaints with her ears, but she refused to believe there was any substantial basis to the complaints apart from the "junior's delusion". What she did not see was how her own delusions about Eko's purported spiritual superiority blinded her to the truth that was being told to her over and over again for YEARS by one monk after another. His cruelty was always justified as being for the sake of helping the misguided, deluded junior to enlightenment, and was never recognized as cruelty at all. As far as his romantic involvement with women was concerned, she used the same mechanism of denial. She did this right up to the end, as she continued to deny any possibility of Eko having a romantic relationship with the lay congregation member he ultimately ran off with. She was being told about this particular problem for over a year, and her response was the same as always, to castigate the junior as being deluded and a "bad disciple". It's hard to understand how she was so shocked when it was proven true, but shocked she was, which is a testament to the level of blindness she had inculcated.

All of this is sad enough, but when coupled with a religion whose purpose is to help people find the truth, this unwillingness and eventual inability to recognize what's going on right before one's eyes is truly pathetic. It is a classic example of the blind leading the blind, with blind faith extolled as the highest virtue. My advice to anyone seeking a teacher is simply this. If you hear the words, "You must trust the master absolutely", run for your lives.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 12, 2011 12:55 pm

Laura wrote:
My personal opinion is that after many years of brainwashing oneself in this way, a person is no longer able to distinguish between compassion and cruelty, nor to recognize that the ends do not justify the means. Meian would never even listen to complaints about Eko's behavior. Oh, she would hear the complaints with her ears, but she refused to believe there was any substantial basis to the complaints apart from the "junior's delusion". What she did not see was how her own delusions about Eko's purported spiritual superiority blinded her to the truth that was being told to her over and over again for YEARS by one monk after another. His cruelty was always justified as being for the sake of helping the misguided, deluded junior to enlightenment, and was never recognized as cruelty at all. As far as his romantic involvement with women was concerned, she used the same mechanism of denial. She did this right up to the end, as she continued to deny any possibility of Eko having a romantic relationship with the lay congregation member he ultimately ran off with. She was being told about this particular problem for over a year, and her response was the same as always, to castigate the junior as being deluded and a "bad disciple". It's hard to understand how she was so shocked when it was proven true, but shocked she was, which is a testament to the level of blindness she had inculcated.

This is surely a classic descrition of self-delusion. Wev'e all done it on occasion to a greater or lesser extent, and the only path out is through shame, self-acceptance and contrition, which is why I'm so sad and depressed about the OBC. I see no sign of any true facing of reality, which is after all the only purpose of the sangha and the dharma, truth and reality, without being open to these an organisation can only misguide and delude.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 12, 2011 1:09 pm

Well said everyone
I would love to tell you all a good joke here,or say something funny, It is a very rare occasion because I can't too gut wrentching
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 12, 2011 1:25 pm

Laura,

The truth of the matter is that Meian is probably incapable of leading the OBC out of this crisis in any meaningful way without udergoing her own therapy. Years of twisting her own thinking and perceiving in order internalize the verbal and emotional onslaughts by Rev. Kennett as her own fault, I believe have had its psychological effect. As you pointed out, the clear and obvious errors Eko was making COULD NOT be recognized by Meian. She was psychologically incapable of making that leap from her fantasy of who she thought Eko was (which is really just an extension of her Rev. Kennett fantasy) to the reality of who he was and what he was doing. This misperceiving, this habit of convoluting and denying reality so it conforms to her ideals, is very unlikely just limited to Rev. Kennett and Eko. I believe she needs help untying this knot.

This inability to perceive the obvious is the typical effect of internalizing blame for someone else's faults. Meian did this for years, decades. This is not psychologically healthy. This is not how one cleans up karma. Before she can clean up the OBC karmic mess (if they even see it as beyond Eko's sexual trist) she needs to deal with her own psychological issues, which are totally enmeshed with the whole way the OBC does business.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 12, 2011 2:46 pm

Henry and Laura and Josh and Michael -- thank you, thank you, thank you. You speak with such truth and eloquence based on your experience.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 12, 2011 4:31 pm

I think this may be one of those postings that demonstrate why someone struggling with a mind numbing flu should stay away from the "Enter" key on the keyboard but...

Are we working ourselves down the Shasta food chain? Jiyu, Eko, Koshin and now Meian. Perhaps an endogram expose of other major Shasta players is next?
The recent Meian postings seem to have a bit more oommph than to say this is just an interesting conversation or a place to learn a little about ourselves.

It's not that I disagree with what is being said but it does seem like like we are flogging a dead horse in the hopes that it will stand up on it's own.

Meian is a figurehead. An easy target for being one of Eko's main lobbiest's and for representing a Shasta conditioned mind set that resists any real change. Does anyone think that her position has anymore autonomy than the collegial will of the Shasta collective? Does anyone think that she would be tolerated anymore than anyone else if she tried to initiate any changes?

Oh well, back to the Kleenex
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:04 pm

Carol,
You're most welcome.

Howard,
I might be flogging a dead horse, but I might not. Ignoring the psychological state of the abbot is something done at one's own peril. As Kyogen said on another thread (or maybe this one) in the religion biz it is buyer beware. If I were a woman (or a man for that matter--guess that makes no sense) looking for a monastery to train in, I'd be interested in at least considering the perspective I provided. My present belief is that things are changing very little, very slowly at Shasta. If anything, my best guess is that the wagons are only circling tighter. Like I say, buyer be aware and make your choice.

I think it would have been very useful for me to have heard the perspective of former monks on the psychological state of Rev. Kennett before I entered Shasta. Perhaps I would have gone elsewhere, Though sadly, from what is coming out, it might have just been more of the same. But to educate oneself on the psychological state of those we place so much trust in and have so much authority over us is something I would no longer dismiss so easily.

I was just conversing with someone about what a despicable act it was for me to post what I did about Meian. Unfortunately, I felt it would have been more despicable not to post it. I'd be interested in whether the referred to post was helpful to people reading this or not. Private or public messages are fine for those willing to give me feedback. If it is not helpful, I would much rather refrain from such posts in the future.


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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:07 pm

Hello all,

I am dismayed to hear this about Meian. When I knew her she was, and I believe still is, a person of good heart and intention. I'm sorry to hear she has this history of denial as she had a feisty side to her back in the day. I have been trying to start a dialog with her, and sent her an e-mail ten days ago. I just this minute found a reply (to my resend sent today) acknowledging my message. She says she will reply more thoroughly in a few days. I have some hope that something will come of it, but these recent posts are not encouraging. Most likely I will not reveal anything about our process until there is some clarity and it is appropriate to do so.

Along those lines, and in reply to Josh's question, I have been quite involved in an AZTA discussion about a response to Genpo. It is difficult to get such a disparate group of people pointed in the same direction, especially because they (we) are all used to being leaders in our own communities. Also, AZTA does not have a governing body. It is very informal. I would like a response from the organization, but that may not happen. We are discussing individual responses and coordinating those. That should have some impact, if not on Genpo and Kanzeon Zen Center, then on public perception of how other Zen teachers view this.

As to my knowledge of Genpo and past problems, here is a brief description of the sexual escapades: Genpo has admitted in a public talk in Holland, to "cheating on my wife and then cheating on my lover (his successor KC)." A week ago in a public talk at Kanzeon, he raised the number of recent lovers to three. Genpo has admitted publically to affairs at ZCLA with at least six students, while married to his first wife, and to an affair with his personal attendant when the Kanzeon Center was subsequently moved to Maine. That event ended his first marriage. He says he was faithful to his second wife until a few years ago.

This is what Genpo has admitted. I'm pretty sure there are others as well. Gyokuko and I were asked to mediate a difficult situation between him and another person, the details of which I cannot go into. Through that experience I found him to be manipulative and dishonest, and in my view he has serious character flaws along the lines of a personality disorder. He took actions against his critics that I found shocking and inexcusable. I confess I am of strong opinion on the subject of Genpo Merzel, and in this post I had to edit some of my personal reactions. Nonetheless, it's good to have this off my chest.

With palms joined,

Kyogen
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Laura

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:29 pm

Sorry to hear that you're sick Howard. Hope you feel better soon.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:30 pm

Kyogen,
I also have no doubt that Meian is a person of good heart and intention. Unfortunately, those characteristics alone do not protect anyone from doing harm that is avoidable. It is my belief that all who subscribe to the "Rev. Kennett did everything for the sake of others and those who don't see that are deluded" myth are at great risk of continuing the procession of harm described here on this site. At the very least, they will force people to doubt the clear perception of the obvious, thereby doubting themselves and creating untold internal confusion. Laura's post attests to just how recent this harm has extented to.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 12, 2011 7:28 pm

How nice to see you after all these years Carol! You look positively fantastic. Thanks for loading up your profile picture. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 12, 2011 8:26 pm

I started to add my two cents and then realized that everything I had to say has already been said. Henry's all-caps statement summed up my experience perfectly. Laura spoke for me, as did Diana and Josh and just about everybody else above.

It just breaks my heart. Yesterday I got a OBC Journal in the mail, and wierdly, someone sent me a copy of Tricycle. I read the news from "my" sangha and wept. I was once so very happy to be a part of that, to be able to finally chew over my spiritual questions to my heart's content with my beloved teacher. To feel that I was solidly on the path that was taking me in to more and more light. To trust that I was loved. The fact that the Zen Master morphed into Godzilla now and then was something I could accept because I had been raised in a violent, abusive family and it was familiar. I was willing to accept when I was told that I had, because I was so deluded, misunderstood or misconstrued harsh words and acts, that it was my "self" that I needed to get rid of, not my doubts. Heck, I thought that accepting it meant I was making progress.

And yet, I don't know if I wouldn't still be there, feeling lucky and special and wise, if my teacher hadn't gone a step too far in a fit of anger and told me to go away. I don't know. But since my later discussions with senior monks regarding the situation just pointed to the same thing, that the problem was mine, I have no hope for any resolution. Especially since when I challenged them with that point, they brought it right back to how I yet again misunderstood what had been offered.

Looking to the Order to redress past wrongs reminds me of a time when my Dad shot a dog for killing chickens. He didn't kill the dog and the dog tried to crawl to Dad for help. So he shot it again. I'd be pretty careful about looking for healing from the party who harmed you. Especially when they consistently deny having done so.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 12, 2011 9:39 pm

Hey Henry
I'd be interested in whether the referred to post was helpful to people reading this or not. Private or public messages are fine for those willing to give me feedback. If it is not helpful, I would much rather refrain from such posts in the future.

I think some people may judge the helpfulness of a post by the emotions that it elicits. Many posts may make us uncomfortable and yet are exactly the truth that was needed to be shown. I would not limit yourself (or us) to the posting that people say are helpful or unhelpful.


Your recent Rev. Meian posts are helpful but I do feel awkward about all the OBC problems being dumped in her ball court. If she exhibited more courage, or strength of conviction or even followed through on some of her stated hopes for healing, then I could see the point in presenting a personal analysis of her Shasta conditioning.

If she was willing to question her own conditioning or was willing to loose her job over it, then I'd be more hopeful but most of the us only evolved beyond the Shasta conditioning after being disconnected from the OBC machine.

The fact is that we have seen no evidence of Rev. Meian doing anything else but maintaining the OBC status quo. While I find this to be sorrowful I also doubt that it is just a product of the upper echelon Shasta management. Maintaining the present Shasta status quo is part of the fundamental practise that all Shasta participants either embrace or reject at the cost of their Sangha.
The only reason I can see to specifically single her out as the abbot to criticize would be to show others where the present Shasta practise inevitable leads one to.

I would prefer to find a way to demonstrate Shasta's folly's as the collective force of like blinded devotees that it is, rather than as the fault of the last abbot standing.


Thanks Laura for the flu sympathy. You're a sweety.

Polly..That awful father/gun/crawling dog image is going to stay with me for a while.
I wondered if you have thought of cancelling the OBC Journal when you consider the full costs to you of the Sangha fairy tales found within it.

Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 12, 2011 10:14 pm

dear Howard,

Good advice. I thought my subscription had run out. Your "entering rules" were great, by the way. Glad you passed them along. Be well.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sun Feb 13, 2011 12:38 am

Polly

The gun/dog crawling image got to me in a big way too, something from another religion came up (for they know not what they do)
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sun Feb 13, 2011 1:08 am

Stepping back to a psychological understanding of Kennett's inner patterns and shadows, some additional insights from respected psychologists might be of interest to some people, especially in understanding why Kennett was especially abusive, wrathful towards her female devotees. Kennett's negative feelings towards the feminine and towards women is part of her neurotic pattern, unconsciousness, the shadows in play.

Now, for those who don't care for the Enneagram system, these insights are from Karen Horney and her book, Inner Conflicts: A Constructive Theory of Neurosis. Horney was a famous German psychoanalyst and neo-Freudian. Of course, some people on this site are not interested in putting Kennett "on the couch" so to speak, so then skip this. Also I've added here some insights from Wilhelm Reich.

Kennett fits into what Horney describes as the openly aggressive vindictive personality type.

"The appeal of life lies in its mastery. It chiefly entails its determination, conscious or unconscious, to overcome every obstacle-- in or outside of himself -- and the belief that he should be able, and is able, to do so. He should be able to master the adversities of fate, the difficulties of a situation, the intricacies of intellectual problems, the resistances of other people, conflicts in himself. The reverse side of the necessity of mastery is his dread of anything connoting helplessness; this is the most poignant dread he has.

Horney describes the main motivating force in life: "the need for vindictive triumph is a regular ingredient in any search for glory. Our interest therefore is not so much concern with the existence of this need but with its overwhelming intensity. How can the idea of triumph get such a hold on an individual that spent all his life chasing after it? Surely, it must fed by a multitude of powerful sources. But the knowledge of this source alone does not sufficiently elucidate its formidable power. In order to arrive at a fuller understanding we must approach the problem from another vantage point. Even though in others the impact of the need for vengeance and triumph can be poignant, it is usually is kept within limits by three factors: love, fear, self-preservation. Only if these checks are temporartily or permanently malfunctioning can the vindictiveness involve the total personality -- thereby becoming an integrated force as in Medea -- and sway it altogether in the one direction of vengeance and triumph...it is the combination of these two processes, powerful impulse and insufficient checks -- that accounts for the vindictiveness."

(With Kennett at Shasta, there were no checks whatsoever....so her checks didn't exist, so they were permanently malfunctioning ).

"In his behavior towards others, he's openly arrogant, often rude and offensive, although sometimes this is covered with a thin veneer of civil politeness. In subtle and gross ways, with and without realizing it, he humiliates others and exploits them. He may use women for the satisfaction of his sexual needs with utter disregard for their feelings. With a seemingly naive egocentricity, he will use people as a means to an end. He frequently makes and maintains contacts exclusively on the basis of serving his needs and triumph: people he can use as stepping stones in his career, and influential women he can conquer and subdue, followers who give him blind recognition and augment his power. He is a past master in frustrating others -- frustrating their small and big hopes, their needs for attention, reassurance, time, company, enjoyment. When others demonstrate against such treatment, it is thier neurotic sensitivity that makes react this way."

According to Horney, another expression of his vindictiveness is that "he feels entitled both to having his neurotic needs implicitly respected and to being permitted his utter disregard of others needs or wishes. He feels entitled for instance to the unabridged expression of his unfavorable expression and criticism but feels equally entitled never to be criticized himself. "

(This is precisely Kennett, isn't it? I want to keep pointing out, for the record for for future people that may find this site, to point out the obvious -- that her behavior was entirely, completely an expression of her unresolved psychological issues, past conditioning, unexamined feelings and upbringing. Zen has little or nothing to do with it. Her rage, her harsh treatment of her followers, her outbursts, her demands -- were not dharma, not teachings. I know it is obvious to most people on this board now, but i want to keep noting this.)

Horney continues .... "whatever accounts for the inner necessity of such claim, they certainly express a contemptuous disregard of others." When their claims are not fulfilled such people assume a punitive vindictiveness " which may run the whole gamut from irritability to sulking, to making others feel guilty , to open rages....the undiluted expression of these feelings also serves as a measure to assert his claims by intimidating others into subdued appeasement."

(Again, very clear description of Kennett's behavior.)

"For a person as isolated and as hostile as he, it is of course important not to need others. Hence, he develops a pronounced pride in godlike self-sufficiency."

"Needless to say, he is neither honest, fair nor just and cannot possibly be so. On the contrary, if anybody is determined-- unconsciously-- to bluff his way through life with a disregard for truth, it is he. .... also, not questioning the validity of his claims, his anger, and the expression of it must appear to him as entirely warranted and frank."

(This highlight the qualities of self-enchantment or self-delusion - experienced by many gurus, teachers, masters.)

Horney goes on to speculate that the lack for sympathy for others and his callousness towards others comes from envy. He sees this as a bitter envy, a pervasive envy that stems from his feeling of being excluded from life in general, of being cut off from everything that makes life worth living, from joy, relationships, love, warmth and connection.

Wilhelm Reich defines this personality type as the "phallic narcissistic character." The aggression in this character is expressed less in what he does and does than the way he acts. The most pronounced types tend to achieve leading positions in life and are ill-suited to subordinate positions among the rank and file. Their narcissism....is expressed not in infantile but in blatantly self-confident way, with a flagrant way of superiority and dignity, in spite of the fact that the basis of their nature is not less infantile than that of the other types." Wilhelm also noted that " relationships with women are disturbed by the typical derogatory attitude toward the female sex."

(It does not matter that Kennett was a woman, she had a pronounced negative view towards the feminine, women - which stems from this over compensation to be strong, not soft or weak.....)

In the classic psychology text DSM III, this personality is often called the anti-social personality which is defined by hostile affectivity, assertive self-image, interpersonal vindictiveness, hyperthymic fearlessness and malevolent projection. I could say a lot more about these terms, but have said enough for now.

End of this couch session.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sun Feb 13, 2011 2:11 am

I find psycological things a bit difficult to read to be honest I think you are trying to say
She had very few interpersonal skills, very limited experience in running an energetic monastry ( with associate problems) her way of dealing with it was setting up a fierce(Egyptian) style dictatatorial regime to control the masses. Imprisonment was the dreaded goat shed( I am starting to dream about that now) and she carried on a shunning process and had her secret police reinforce it as some punishment system
That sounds like it for me, wish I had looked inside myself at the very beginning
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sun Feb 13, 2011 3:48 am

Kyogen,

I hope your process with Meian goes well. Please do let us know how things turn out once it seems ok to do that.
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john

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sun Feb 13, 2011 6:42 am

Henry and Josh.
Love the psychology its great for holding up a mirror to oneself, and brings up things for me that I have never considered looking at. I think I have always been led to believe that do your own training and all will be well, doesnt work very well in reallity does it. I now see psychology almost as important as awareness training it self.
Henry your attack on Rev Meians denial if thats the right word, could be potentially freeing. Also my heart goes out to anybody that has recieved the abusive anger and damage and then internalizes it to be of their making. My question would be where does it go from there, does something die within. Unlike the comedian who goes on stage an dies on the night, he can only blame himself for wanting the spot light.
And Josh, when you speak of RMJK rageings and abuse as percieved spiritual and helpfull by some of the monks at Shasta. Zen has little or nothing to do with it,
simple words but very freeing. Zen is there for all who wish to follow and I do believe
no one can truely grasp it, if they think they can then where is it.We all follow a trail that leaves no trace. I know I am an old sentimentalst but simply doing the best we can and allowing love to arise and soften our harden hearts seem key,
rambling on a bit. Thank you guys for your insights.
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sun Feb 13, 2011 11:45 am

John,
Glad my post was useful to you.


Josh,

When I was first studying psychology, I found Karen Horney's Our Inner Conflicts very useful. She has an incredible insight into human nature and her views on how our inner life and personality type forms the way we interact with others seems very accurate to me.

With this whole mess with Buddhism in the US and the OBC coming to light I am becoming much more drawn to the reality that these authoritarian gurus and zen masters actually attract people, of which I was one. As I wrote in a few posts back:

ALL THESE BUDDHIST SCANDALS SPEAK NOT ONLY TO THE ABUSIVENESS OF THE ZEN MASTER BUT ALSO OF THE WILLINGNESS OF THE FOLLOWERS TO INTERNALIZE THAT ABUSE, BLAME THEMSELVES, GLORIFY THE MASTER AS ALWAYS DOING THINGS FOR THE BENEFIT OF OTHERS NO MATTER HOW ABUSIVE IT APPEARS, AND DEMONIZING OR DISCREDITING THOSE WHO SEE THERE IS SOMETHING PSYCHOLOGICALLY VERY UNHEALTHY GOING ON. The internalizatioin of the abuse is the key to the whole problem. It is what occurs in every one of these scandals, be it Shasta or elsewhere. Without the WILLINGNESS of the students to internalize the abuse and blame themselves, none of this can occur.

The zen master is, in a sense, just a bit player on the stage of those with the very human need to be led. Unfortunately, I have to place myself in that category. There is something about the personality type you describe regarding not only Rev. Kennett, but many of the gurus, etc. that end up in the endless stream of scandals coming out now and have over the past 30 years: What is amazing is that the very personality types people cringe at when reading about them, are the very personality types people are so drawn to. There is something about human nature that craves certainty, that craves an external something to lead us out of our own confusion. Even Buddhism, so based on just the opposite, is full to the brim with people with the same need. It is that need to be led, that need to trust something external that exudes certainty, that we have to be very aware of in ourselves.

Monastics often go on and on about celibacy being essential to truly giving up attachment, because the sexual impulse is so strong that without forgoing the indulgence of it, it is all but impossible, or impossible, to let go of attachments. So greed is the stumbling block of the world, that monastics do their best to remove from their daily environment.

However, the monastic enviroment, along with any self sustaining Buddhist community environment, with its obedience to the zen master, with the virtue of surrender of one's own views (supposedly to "empty" oneself, but how obvious is it how many simply replace their views with the monastic community view) has its own built in stumbling block, which is more in the realm of delusion. With all that the community provides to protect them from greed, the delusion of finding certainty in something external is built in to the structure of such communities. I know those within those communities would raise their voice to high heaven in denial. But what is it that we actually see over and over again, be it in Shasta, the OBC, or all these communities in which scandals come out (plus all the scandals we don't see and all the abuse of power we never hear of because it's not sexual or financial in nature). Those who rise to the top in such communities are those who most buy into the beliefs that are the community norm, the beliefs espoused by the very personality types that, once we isolate them from the near blind obedience given to them by their followers, we cringe at. I would posit that this need for certainty, this need to look externally for a solution to our problems, this need find this embodied in another human being, is as strong an impulse as greed and as sex. It is more subtle, but it pervades our life equally. This is why every culture has religion. Every culture worships something external. What I am beginning to perceive is that Buddhism, which works to redirect that impulse, has built community structures and millenia long myths that actually support that delusion, as much as hanging out in a whore house will arouse sexual desire. Perhaps all we can do is pick our poison, realize the nature of the choice, and be aware.

In the end, the authoritarian zen master/guru is no more to blame than those of us who submitted ourselves to the certainty they peddled. The one can't exist without the other.

Guilty as charged.


PS In some other thread, I inquired if there were any other monks in the OBC other than Rev. Kennett, Eko, and Koshin that were acknowledged arahants (by the OBC anyway)--no sense in using the third kensho designation used only by the OBC. This was not just idle curiosity. This whole authoritarian personality type being acknowledged as the most spiritually advanced is quite interesting to me. So I will ask the question again for any who can provide that info--were there more acknowledged arahants in the OBC, or only these more authoritarian types? I would think there is more hope for the OBC if there are some other personality types they view as arahants.


Last edited by Henry on Sun Feb 13, 2011 12:06 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sun Feb 13, 2011 12:00 pm

john wrote:
My question would be where does it go from there, does something die within.

Zen is there for all who wish to follow and I do believe
no one can truly grasp it, if they think they can then where is it.We all follow a trail that leaves no trace. I know I am an old sentimentalist but simply doing the best we can and allowing love to arise and soften our harden hearts seem key.

Well, there's no need to give up. You just have to start looking in the right direction for help. After i left Shasta Abbey one thing I did was start seeing a psychologist. I was fortunate to find someone who had previously been a catholic priest, so he could relate to my dilemma. It was initially very hard to let go of wanting something from RMJK and the community - justice, understanding, validation...whatever. That had to be let go of. What I needed to understand better were my own needs and expectations, and how they drove my choices. When the focus is placed exclusively on the "other" it's easy to forget that the drama is of our own making. I chose to participate and I needed to take responsibility. I also needed to not turn the anger and blame on myself, but instead look dispassionately at the drama and see how it tied into the dynamics of my "family of origin". It didn't take very long to understand the patterns, but it took years to unwind the emotions. A friend of mine used to say "emotions have no IQ". It gradually got better and now I can look at the whole experience rather philosophically - after all the universe has a sense of humor.

And Yes, Zen is still here. Allowing love to arise and soften our hearts, yes.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sun Feb 13, 2011 12:21 pm

I've been an infrequent lurker for some time since I posted for a bit back in last summer as I felt I no longer had anything of value to contribute. I want to comment, however, on this thread. As a (now retired) psychotherapist of 30 plus years, and as a recovering survivor of clergy sex abuse when attending a monastic seminary as an adolescent, as a former lay minister with the OBC, and as a trained spiritual director in a Christian Contemplative tradition I have lived many of these dilemmas of authority, trust, surrender, and healing from harm.

The Roman Catholic priest, Protestant minister, Christian or Buddhist monk, or psychotherapist can be elevated to positions of authority in the indoctrination process that make these power differentials open to abuse. Yet any kind of teaching or healing role requires an element of trust and trust building. When done properly within clear ethical guidelines where no degree of omniscience or inordinate authority over the person of another is claimed those roles can be healthy and helpful. The demand for the surrendering of one's inner integrity and autonomy to another is the occasion of harm with this problem, and it is fed by the cultivation of beliefs of absolute authority invested in another human being whether that authority be religious or otherwise.

It is all a difficult dance, regardless of the spiritual tradition in which you find yourself. What helped me magnificently in my growth and healing process was the teaching from early on both from my Buddhist and Christian teachers that there is an inviolable place in the heart of a person that is trustworthy, and the source of integrity in our lives, and that any spiritual or ethical teaching of merit and value simply must support that essential truth. So, yes, the false myth of the "Zen Master" and its continuance in the West in various forms has been one manifestation of this source of great harm, but it is not the only manifestation, as we well know. And when it it results in injury through sexual means, it is particularly harmful. Our sexuality is a physical doorway to intimacy. And intimacy is at the heart of our spiritual nature.

I read an article some years ago, I believe it was in Tricycle. It was called I believe, "Enlightenment and the Perennial Philosophy". In it the author effectively called out the false myth of enlightenment itself, as conferring on persons a quality of omniscience and ethical/spiritual perfection, pointing out some obvious imperfections of the historical buddha himself. I found the article quite helpful in helping me sort out my experience with Shasta Abbey and the OBC.

At the time several years ago Genpo was reportedly contemplating a move to Oregon I was aware of the sexual misconduct allegations and concern that Zen practitioners in Oregon, (both through Dharma Rain Zen Center and Seven Thunders) had about this prospect and was happy that this scandal was not visited on Oregon in such a way as to cast an undeserved taint on other authentic and healthy communities. But there is one benefit in exposure of these scandals, in that they deconstruct the false myths about anyone who makes claims of authority over others and treats ethical treatment of others with contempt for the sake of their own personal gratification with the excuse that it is an exercise of spiritual guidance. The enabling of spiritual/religious teachers in their abuse of others, sexual, emotional, and otherwise has been too long tolerated. It took the courts to really flush out the Roman Catholic problem. The case of Chogyam Trungpa was too long tolerated and enabled in the Buddhist world, as well as the case of Richard Baker, and now Genpo. With the efforts of the peer review organizations cited by Kyogen and a change in culture there will be less enabling of this kind of abuse.

I congratulate Kyogen and Gyokuko Carlson for the way that they have successfully upheld the proper role of teacher, but not laying claim to the attributes of "Master" and all the ill and distortion that can arise from that. The Carlsons, like other spiritual teachers I have had the grace to know in my later adult life, have kept the primacy of safety and sanctuary in their spiritual communities and teaching relationships as uppermost, and that has remained uppermost for me in the little spiritual work I have done with others. I am of an age and a time in my life when I can enjoy a liberation from many, if not most, of the roles which have had some transitory necessity in my earlier life. The role of spiritual teacher who gives instruction, support, and guidance to those seeking to learn the disciplines and practices of a particular tradition is an honorable role, but a transitory one, that is of passing value, like everything else. Perhaps over time a truly educational process can happen in our culture about the limits, boundaries, and goals of giving and receiving education and support in spiritual practices. I hope for a day when the goal of adult spiritual maturity is understood to be a living out of the process of inner communion with the deep heart while claiming a life long responsibility for the healing and conversion of every dark and hidden place in our consciousness and behavior.

Sincerely,
Bill Ryan
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sun Feb 13, 2011 12:36 pm

Bill,

Beautiful written and deeply appreciated.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sun Feb 13, 2011 1:23 pm

Isan,
Your last post was especially helpful to me. Thanks.
Polly
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sun Feb 13, 2011 4:30 pm

Henry & cmpnwtr

I very much appreciate your points. So much said and expressed. I feel that so much of what has been said in this tread transcends the people under discussion (Genpo, Kenneth, etc.) As I see the issue is not merely the issue/problem of leadership (and its abuses) but the profound trust that is brought to the table by the student -- the real and genuine gift that is put upon the altar. And it is this gift that has to be clearly seen and handled with compassion and wisdom.

The spiritual relationship it seems is very much here in this "larger context" of insight (Henry you have said it so well in so many ways). To me it seem that these discussions are not merely problem-and-criticism but is part of the larger exposition of Buddhism, as Buddhism establishes itself in the West.

For me when I read of the various problems I keep thinking of the phrase, "I am enlightened simultaneously with the universe" and, for me, the various problems come down to the abandonment of the simultaneity with the universe.

Clearly, the "ending of self" or the profound beginning that is essentially beyond self is more challenging than could have been imagined.

But I keep returning to this thought: I hope that any growth is as authentic as suffering.
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