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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

First topic message reminder :

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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Henry



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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 19, 2011 6:24 pm

Carol,
I've read your link and am totally aghast. Could you please post the full text from that link onto a new thread specifically on North Cascades? I believe that information needs to be directly on this site. Since reading Amalia's posts I've had a sick feeling about what's been going on up there. Koshin seems to have taken his playbook completely from the absolute worst of Rev. Kennett. The same obsessive need to control every detail. The same demeaning behavior towards those who do not carry out things in the most minute detail. The same need for special treatment way beyond what anyone else receives. The same fear mongering--obey the master or suffer the consequences in hell.

And of course the OBC found nothing wrong at North Cascades. Perhaps they are all playing out the same sick playbook. And on top of all this, only Koshin is able to have such a close relationship with a female, but of course it is only spriitual, whereas anyone but him would not be able to sustain a spiritual relationship with someone of the opposite sex. And of course the same was true for Eko. He must have close relationships with women to aide him as an arahant, whereas no one but him can be trusted.

It is the same, same, same. Eko and Koshin becoming [admin delete], little (worst of) Rev. Kennett. And the OBC wonders why OBC Connect is not going away. I hope you do copy that information to this forum so it will serve as a record. And thank you very much for your willingness to be open about your experience. It is our silence that allows these things to continue, just as it was our silence and obedience that allowed it to continue when we were part of the OBC.


Last edited by Watson on Sun Feb 20, 2011 9:02 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : forum rules violation / namecalling)
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Carol



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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 19, 2011 7:44 pm

Thank you to everyone who responded. Bill's advice is sound, indeed. It's disheartening to see an organization we once place our trust in refusing to admit wrongdoing unless the courts are slamming them with judgments. Very disheartening indeed . . .Thank you all again for your support and for the wisdom that comes out of this forum. And yes, Henry, thank you. I will post this on the North Cascades thread.
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Jcbaran



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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 19, 2011 8:39 pm

Unfortunately, it is a sad fact that many such "religious" organizations only pay attention when they are sued. The Catholic Church is of course the ultimate example of this. They did nothing about child abuse until the lawsuits started flowing and the juries started awarding huge settlements. When lawsuits come, they can't be ignored or swept under the rug.

But as far as I know, no one has sued Shasta or North Cascades of any of their satellite groups. Believe me, if that happened, they would have no choice but to pay attention.

These stories about what happened in the Cascades underscore the fact that Kennett's shadow become completely institutionalized and glorified and is alive and well. Talk about reincarnation. Monkey see, monkey do. She trained these "masters" and they learned many lessons that were not in Dogen or Shasta's book of chants and ceremonies. THIS is what "Zen masters" do. THIS is how they behave. THIS is enlightened activity. THIS is all nonsense, at best.

From my experience with Sorting It Out - and hearing the tales of people who had been followers of all kinds of gurus / masters / charlatans / cult leaders, none of this is surprising. Sadly predictable. Human nature and clearly the darker side being played out.
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cmpnwtr



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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 19, 2011 8:53 pm

Along this theme of overstated "Master" status, a friend of mine who is still active in the OBC, and who was living in Shasta at the time, told me that in the period following the death of Jiyu Kennett a "Proclamation" of sorts was being circulated and adherents of the OBC were being asked to sign it, proclaiming Jiyu Kennett as the "Buddha of the West." I was quite shocked at that news and it confirmed for me that things had clearly gone over a cliff there, if true. But perhaps someone who has more direct knowledge can confirm it or not for me. I would wish that it weren't true.
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Jcbaran



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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:08 pm

There are literally thousands of cults / religious organizations that feel and proclaim that their leader is exclusively the true savior, the ONE, the most enlightened person EVER, the only true messiah of the age, the avatar, God's true prophet, the second Buddha, Maitreya, the new Christ.

So Kennett is the "Buddha of West' - whatever that means...... again, this is not surprising, human nature in operation, grandiosity, inflated religious thinking, self-enchantment - especially prevalent in isolated communities.

My God is better than your God. My guru is the best EVER. and if we just keep saying and proclaiming it over and over again, first we will talk ourselves into it as long as we keep suppressing doubts and any contrary thoughts or evidence, and the we hope that everyone will join us in our story. As long as no one comes and says, "What, are you out of your mind????" And they need to believe this, why?

Sounds like a lot doubt is being buried alive.....
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:36 pm

Jcbaran wrote:


So Kennett is the "Buddha of West' - whatever that means...... again, this is not surprising, human nature in operation, grandiosity, inflated religious thinking, self-enchantment - especially prevalent in isolated communities.

And they need to believe this, why?

I've had one person in the OBC who I trust say the "Buddha of the West" story isn't true. I would like there to be corroboration before that story gets past around as fact.

Regarding the question of why people need to believe, one reason is after someone has invested virtually their whole life embracing a belief system and practice the thought that it might be "wrong" must be terrible to consider. The way I helped myself deal with my monk years was to carefully parse my experience at Shasta Abbey so I could see and keep the good while I discarded what had been bad.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 19, 2011 10:36 pm

Isan, thanks for posting this response with clarification about the this report. It relieves me to think the information I had been given may be wrong. When I was told this, it disturbed me greatly but I put it on the back burner. One function of this forum is to assist with correcting what may be false report.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sun Feb 20, 2011 3:35 am

There is a need on clarification, on the basis that
I have been told kennett is regarded as the Buddha of the West
The portrait painting done of kennett that Mokuan ( I think ) posted , to show me the stained glass windows of kennetts Kensho , clearly paint a religious aura around her,
A truthful artist should one way or another paint what they see.

real clarification is need as these words third kensho,Arahant Buddha are being banded aroud.

Remember the Third kensho for kennett Roshi straight away made her control the message of previous lives for the English and greater sanga, and also attempt tp control other peoples lives . This means that from that point the sanga was built on foundations that were not clear open and traansparent,there was something hidden in the corner

The ararhants Eko and and Koshin it is alleged seem also to have left a trail of hurt behind them.

I doubt very much if these words are the official line, but there is a need for some clarification.
Has anyone actually approached Rev Mein
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sun Feb 20, 2011 9:16 pm

This is an open letter, so I re-post it here. I have no first-hand confirmation of any of these details. I have no idea what is true and what is not in this matter. One point. It seems that this "Zen" that Kirsten is talking about is somehow separate from daily life, from our everyday behavior, from the way we treat each other. This behavior is clearly part of the transmission. For more discussion:

To Whom it may Concern,

I am the eldest daughter of Maezumi Roshi and I am writing in regards
to the situation involving Genpo Merzel Roshi and Kyozen sensei, former
vice abbot at Kanzeon Zen Center in Salt Lake City.

First of all, it has been brought to my attention that the woman
spearheading the aggressive involvement of the American Zen Teachers
Association and the White Plum Sangha is Jan Chozen Bays. This woman and Genpo were both students of my father and I remember them both well from my childhood at ZCLA.

It may or may not have been brought to your attention that Chozen had
affairs with both my father and Genpo in the 70′s and 80’s. This was not the only affair that each of these people had, but the only relevant one in regards for this letter.

The fact is, her 5 year long affair with my father, from 1978 through
Dec of 1983, was what caused the separation of my parents and was the
reason my mother left the Zen Center of Los Angeles with my brother and I
in 1983.he was pregnant with my little sister. My mother felt especially betrayed by Chozen. She says she hurt her most.

She was our pediatrician; my mother trusted her with her children and opened up to her on a personal level. They were friends. She was also my father’s doctor, my mother’s doctor, Genpo’s doctor
and his wife Hobai. It made no difference to her that she was married
and my father was married with 2 small children.

I was only 4 when we left the final time, but I remember the despair and confusion I felt at our family being torn apart.



We went to live with my grandmother, and she never forgave my father and I
have spent many years deprogramming myself from the utter distrust of
men that took root in this formative time of my life.

I remember my mother often crying and could feel her sense of abandonment, betrayal and loneliness.At ZCLA there was uproar and a strong contingent that wanted my
father out of the position as abbot, and another wanted him to stay.
After much ado, the vote was cast, and by the thin margin of one vote, he stayed on as Abbot and Roshi at ZCLA. I think the validity of that decision speaks for itself.

It has taken me the last 7 years of intensive meditation and therapy
to make any sense of the toll that “Zen” took on our family, and I
realized that my suffering was caused by my expectation of him as a
father.

He wasn’t perfect, not by a long shot, but that did not need to limit
me in my life the capacity for forgiveness and understanding. He was not a good father, or a good husband to my mother, but he was an outstanding teacher with a love for the dharma and a vision of
liberation that took precedence in all he did.

As an adult, in my travels and own seeking, I hear testimonials to
his awakened Buddha nature and hear and see the proof of it in the
difference it has made for so many other gifted beings to step into
their place as teachers and facilitators of peace and consciousness.

It is a lineage spanning continents and decades and I am very proud
of him. It is the best consolation I can have; seeing and hearing his
students teach. Now I see history repeating itself.

Yes. Of course what Genpo Roshi did was wrong and caused a great deal
of hurt and pain to his wife Stephanie, his children and the sangha. Does this mean as punishment he should be cast out and not allowed to teach or be recognized as a senior Zen successor? To do this is throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Genpo Roshi is a wonderful teacher and humanitarian, and I feel that
his contributions to Zen in America and the raising of consciousness now
and in the future are of great importance to continue on my father’s
work and his own personal vision as an American teacher of Zen.

I think to deny what he can offer in the evolution of Zen in America
would be a travesty. And for me at this point in my life, I wish not to
focus on the aspects that cause separation and discord, but the larger
picture and really accepting and transcending the fact that we are
fallible.That we are human. That we exist in wheels with in wheels of karma that I don’t understand, but that the ultimate lesson seems to be forgiveness.

My intention behind this letter is to express that in my experience
there is a mysterious way that meditation, therapy and Zen Wisdom make
sense of the dichotomies that cannot be explained by the mind, but felt
with the heart.


If I can forgive Jan Bays for making a my childhood a sordid, rootless
existence and shattering my sense of a father figure and family, I think
the same compassion can be applied here. Please consider an appropriate atonement.

I have no quarrel with the fact that what he did was deceitful and
devastatingly hurtful to many, and but to disregard this teacher from
the great lineage of Zen in North America is a mistake.

I also feel that a decision like this, based in puritanical
righteousness is not Zen. There is no compassion or understanding in a
verdict like this and the punishment exceeds the crime, as well as
depriving the community of a valuable, gifted teacher. Personally I
think this is between him and his wife. And him and his sangha.

I think they need to decide what needs to be done, but I understand
this casts a shadow on our whole community and many other concerns need
to be brought into consideration.

I also would like to add that all motivations for writing this and
feelings that are expressed here are my own, but that I have the full
support of my mother and sister. As my father’s life mission was seeing
Zen in America flourish, you can understand my concern.

I thank you for your time and consideration and for all that you are
doing to perpetuate the light of this dharma torch we are passing on
from generation to generation.

In Gassho,

Kirsten Mitsuyo Maezumi
http://sweepingzen.com/2011/02/19/a-letter-from-kirsten-mitsuyo-maezumi/
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sun Feb 20, 2011 9:28 pm

Some additional comments on the letter:

Yusan Yushin Zanshin says: Your strength in looking back, moving on with your life, examining
this current situation, then looking forward is an exemplary, reflecting
the Zen Spirit and teaches a living lesson. You sharing your story is
both touching and reminds me how one small thing, act, even and decision
carries on like a ripple in a pond, reminds me how I should act and
repsond; I am not a member of the Sangha in L.A. just a member of the
Zen community here on Earth, you have my respect..

Michael Carpenter says:I’ve been studying Zen and Taoism from books for about seven years
now. I am obviously acquainted with the admonition that I must have a
teacher and a sangha to really learn Zen. For that to happen, I am going to have to be persuaded that the
sangha (and teacher) is less crazy than my everyday life, not moreso.I’m not seeing much evidence to support that.


Al Fusho Rapaport says: As someone who was a resident of ZCLA during the time in question, I
feel this woman is highly deluded. Maezumi was a self-admitted
alcoholic who had affairs with dozens of women, some underage, and he
came on to many others, including visiting girlfriends of some of us. To
say Chozen, a student, was responsible for her family breakup seems
absurd. Maezumi was responsible for that happening. As far as Genpo goes, the issue many of his peers and ex-students
have with him is the cult-like atmosphere he engenders in his
organization, as well as many former abuses of power. Many do not feel
he is fit to lead others in working with their “shadow” issues when he
is, by his own admission, not clear on his own.

Andreas Soshin Wisniewski says: Dear Kirsten,your wisdom puts a great many teachers to shame. You embody one of
the great strengths of Zen, i.e. to turn adversity into growth.Thank you.Love, respect and deep gassho,Soshin

Andrew Sharratt says: LOL!!!!!!! You can say that again brother!

Ml says: It’s obvious Al didn’t read this letter, or get much out of his 35
years plus of practice. This letter isn’t about mud slinging, it’s
about compassion. Your comments may be factual, but I am sad to even
have to suggest to you, that they are just adding to the dog chasing its
tail.

bob bunryu watkins says:i was amazed that so many are making a judgement about Genpo.Thanks Kirsten for telling it like it is!

Al Fusho Rapaport says: Actually I did read the letter. However, as a member of the AZTA
(American Zen Teachers Association) I can tell you that Chozen is not
spearheading anything as the letter implies. The letter sent to Kanzeon
Sangha came from 44 Zen Teachers in our organization, from all lineages
and styles. By the way, I am a former student of Genpo’s for 25 years
and a former Kanzeon Zen Center Board member. If telling the truth is
considered mud slinging these days, then so be it. But ML is correct in a
sense. After all these years of Zen, I’ve learned nothing.

Stephan Bodian says: As a teacher of Zen myself and a fellow monk and Dharma brother of
Genpo’s at the Zen Center of Los Angeles, I would like to offer a few
observations and comments. They’re based not only on my personal
experience with Genpo, but also on my years as a psychotherapist. (I’m
not a member of the White Plum Sangha and have had no involvement in
their recent decisions.)

I commend Mitsuyo Maezumi for her compassion and her willingness to
forgive. But I would remind her that Zen teaches not only compassion,
but also prajna, wisdom, or discernment, the ability to assess a
situation clearly, based on the facts, and act accordingly.

The facts are that this is not the first time Genpo has had a sexual
relationship with one or more of his students, lied about it repeatedly
to his wife and sangha, then subsequently confessed his transgressions
and vowed to change. (I think it can be helpful to stop for a moment and
consider the ramifications of this ongoing deception–how it affects
relationships at every level in the sangha when a teacher is living a
lie and acting out of integrity.) In the process he has left two
previous Zen centers struggling to come to terms with feelings of hurt,
betrayal, anger, and possibly doubt in the Dharma, which is perhaps the
most significant concern. He has repeatedly failed to follow through on
his promises to change.

While we can have compassion and even forgiveness for Genpo as a
person, we need to see that this is a recurring pattern that has shown
no sign of changing. If someone keeps shooting others with a gun, the
only compassionate response is to take the gun out of their hand. If
someone keeps abusing their power, the only remedy is to divest them of
their power. It is in this light that we can understand the decision of
the White Plum Sangha.

As for Mitsuyo’s insistence that Chozen destroyed her life, I can
only remind her that both Maezumi Roshi and Chozen were responsible for
their affair, and Roshi’s skill as a teacher does not exonerate him in
any way. In fact, as a psychotherapist who has written extensively on
the power differential between teacher and student, I would argue that
the teacher, the one in a position of authority and power, bears the
greater burden of responsibility because he’s taking advantage of the
vulnerability of the student, who comes to him with so much openness,
trust, and devotion.

As Robert Aitken Roshi, Maezumi Roshi’s Dharma brother, has written,
this trust and openness are a sacred part of the intimate relationship
between teacher and student in the Zen tradition, and when they’re used
to gratify the teacher’s self-centered needs, the transgression cuts
very deep and threatens the very foundations on which Zen teaching and
transmission are based.
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sun Feb 20, 2011 10:22 pm

From Tricycle Magazine - blog - from the editor, James Shaheen, reposted here with permission:

Sex in the Sangha: Apparently, we still haven't had enough

Posted by James Shaheen on 20 Feb 2011

The sex scandals that have rocked the Zen communities in recent
weeks are pretty depressing. First it was Eido Shimano, whose exposure
on the internet was followed up by a New York Times report. Zen teacher John Tarrant is now under fire
for writing an obit of the late Aitken Roshi. Aitken had disowned
Tarrant for what Aitken considered Tarrant's sexual indiscretions with
students, and also criticized Tarrant's teaching style and conduct as a
therapist. So Tarrant didn't win any points with Aitken's Diamond Sangha
for what they considered a veiled attack on their teacher. Now, Genpo
Merzel, among the dharma heirs of Maezumi Roshi, has publicly apologized for breaking his marriage vows by having sex with students.

None of this is new. People have talked of Eido Shimano's behavior for
years. Once, as my predecessor prepared to publish accusations against
Shimano, his accusers withdrew their names and the story never saw the
light of day. Another, non-Buddhist publication made the same decision
about the story for the same reasons. Discussions of Tarrant's alleged
relationships with students are old news, too, and Genpo Merzel has had
like trouble in the past.

It's easy enough to judge others' actions. Plenty of times we have seen the damaging results of the
sexual, financial, and other professional indiscretions that have torn
dharma communities apart. Usually, following revelations that rival our
political sex scandals, the pile-on begins, and perhaps it is well
deserved. But a whole new dimension is added when the teachers' sexual
partners have been called out for their part in creating the very
suffering they condemn. One of the 44 signatories to the American Zen
Teachers Association's open letter to Kanzeon Zen Center regarding his unacceptable behavior was Jan
Chozen Bays, abbot of the Dharma Rain Center, in Portland, Oregon, who
was given inka by Genpo Merzel. In a letter posted at Sweeping Zen today, Maezumi's daughter Kirsten Mitsuyo
Maezumi writes of the damage and pain her father and Bays brought to her
family by having a secret affair. Both Maezumi and Bays were
married—and not to each other—and both had small children at the time.
Bays, a pediatrician, was the Maezumis' family doctor, confidante to
Maezumi's wife, and doctor to Genpo Merzel, according to Kirsten
Maezumi.

Another signing the AZTA open letter was Roko Sherry Chayat, heir to Eido Shimano. Shimano's behavior has been known about
for years, and yet it continued with the full knowledge of many of his
students. It is almost impossible to imagine that Chayat herself did not
know given her position as Shimano's heir and the length of time she
studied with him. Yet it was pressure from without that forced the
issue, one that had otherwise continued for years.

But better late than never. It's just that since Kirstin Maezumi has spoken up,
both Bays and Chayat might want to shed some light here and discuss
their respective parts in these matters if any. We haven't heard from
Tarrant publicly; perhaps, disagreeing with his former teacher, he feels
he's done nothing wrong. Shimano stepped down last year in the wake a
string of revelations online, after which the Times article appeared. And of course, there was Genpo Merzel's public apology.
I don't know what to say about sex between teachers and students. In
almost all cases we hear about, it's consensual (or at least physical
force was not involved), and it usually falls to the student to
determine whether the relationship was appropriate or not. But the power
differential is real, and should be acknowledged. Some regret their
actions, feel taken advantage of, and grapple with a deep sense of
betrayal and shame; others claim to be unaffacted—or even positively
affected—by such relationships. It's really for the student to decide.
But it always seems to end poorly when teachers make a habit of it,
especially when a lot of secrecy and denial come into play.

When it comes to sex, regulations are necessary but in the end they are not
really an answer. Desire doesn’t obey one’s wishes; in fact, it is often
quite at odds with one’s wishes. If that were not the case, it would be
much easier to be a good person. But it isn’t easy. Still, regulations
are there so that when abuse of any kind does happen, people can be
called to account. But that it happens and will continue to happen is
certain. Sex can make a fool of anyone and often does.

How we deal with desire is a pretty good indication of where we are on the
path, but that we're tripped up by it is nothing that should surprise
any of us. I think there is a good question we could be asking ourselves
right now: What about the way our dharma communities are organized
supports and creates situations in which our leaders act in ways that
are damaging and undermine our, and their, best intentions, and how do
we go about creating community structures that discourage damaging
behavior and allow us to deal with it effectively when it occurs? And
let’s not wait for our teachers to do it for us. They have as much to
learn here as anyone. We should know at least that much by now.
As for those for whom relationships between students and teachers are
acceptable—fine, and you have no reason to hide it. If you don't think
it's all right, ask your teacher about his or her own experience with
this and how they feel about it. Make your own decision.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sun Feb 20, 2011 11:30 pm

What a sad and confused letter from the daughter of Maezumi Roshi. We are asked for compassion and forgiveness for Genpo, and of course we should have compassion, we have little to forgive it was not the wider Zen community that took the brunt of his behaviour. But first we must have compassion and forgiveness for the victims, included in them is the letter's author. It is a terrible act take advantage of and abuse those within your care and to drive those who you are teaching the dharma to away from compassion and towards anger and hate. It takes many years often of great suffering to overcome, particularly where there is emotional involvement sometimes intimate, as family, friend or lover, and sometimes spiritual, as teacher and spiritual guide. Many have borne witness to that on this forum. Bill bravely telling us of the sexual abuse when he was young, how long did that take to overcome, and even now many years later aren't there still scars and pain despite his having forgiven? Henry, Amelia, Carol, John who where dreadfully treated, how long will it, or at lest in Henry's case did it, take them to recover and get back to normal lives? They need our understanding, compassion, forgiveness and help to find their way through the wrong turns, confusion, desolation and anger caused them. How much has this cost them? It may not have cost us who suffered less as much but it has clearly cost even some of us dearly, taken years to come to terms with, and left permanent scars.

Yes, we must have compassion for Genpo, he is almost certainly suffering, but he does not need some form of mawkish, Disneyland compassion and forgiveness. If a child steals sweets it is not compassionate to lock them in a sweet shop. And similarly Genpo clearly needs to be kept as far as possible from sources of temptation. If not he is likely to spread more confusion, hurt, doubt and pain. His are not the actions of an enlightened Bodhisattva who leads all beings into enlightenment too but the actions of a greedy deluded man with some spiritual experience who leads money into his coffers and disciples into his bed. Compassion for him and others in the sangha is to keep him well away from those he can exploit. Even if there are some he has helped I would imagine that the exposure of his actions has caused suffering, doubt and despair amongst many even of these.

As for the writers attack on the AZTA, it is not that they have done too much out of spite, but that they done too little and too late. Not out of sympathy for Genpo and his congregation but out impotence and probably a certain diffidence about causing a public scandal without all the facts. Kyogen has elsewhere in another thread spoken of the behind the scenes efforts made by the AZTA over a number of years to have the situation brought under control.

This is not an isolated incident as we can see from the previous posting, everywhere you look you find masters and teachers abusing their positions with apparent impunity whilst wreaking havoc and harm amongst those within their care. No, the AZTA does not have too few powers but rather not enough. In this day and age we do not need teachers whose only qualification is at best the endorsement of their own sometimes flawed teacher. Rather we need leaders qualified spiritually, doctrinally, and in spiritual direction who are bound by a code of ethics overseen by an independent body. The obvious choice for such a body would be the AZTA. I am sure that they could come to agreement on an enforceable code of conduct and over time develop the necessary qualifications. Yes, over time it would tend to become bureaucratic, but better a fight against creeping bureaucracy than against the present and real harm and damage of abuse. What we have now is a mediaeval system which is clearly not fit for purpose in this day and age. If a successful modern replacement fit for the 21st century is not developed it will all go the way of the dinosaurs as increasingly the public at large come to view Zen, at least in the west, as an un-policed playground for tyrants, charlatans and abusers.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Mon Feb 21, 2011 12:20 am

@ Mark "No, the AZTA does not have too few powers but rather not enough. In this
day and age we do not need teachers whose only qualification is at best
the endorsement of their own sometimes flawed teacher. Rather we need
leaders qualified spiritually, doctrinally, and in spiritual direction
who are bound by a code of ethics overseen by an independent body. The
obvious choice for such a body would be the AZTA. "
**********************

Good analysis, Mark. I agree.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Fri Feb 25, 2011 10:31 pm

http://sweepingzen.com/2011/02/24/response-to-kirsten-mitsuyo-maezumi/

Long stream of responses to this letter. Worth reading......

Response to Kirsten Mitsuyo Maezumi - from Jan Chozen Bays.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 26, 2011 2:21 am

yes very sad. 2 of the present teachers connected with ZCLA sat with me in London and Cornwall,I know the situation there or at least did.

The words compassion and forgiveness are the correct words to use, but there is an underlying issue, which is the mixture that it is is okay to bring rampant sexuality into the religious equation,with out regard for the consequences.

For me the ox herding pictures are good for describing the spiritual way. Each picture depicts a stage,and of course they are constantly fluid, as we are all experiencing many stages most of the time, one sees the footprints throughout ones life.

Zen quite beautifully shows us a path to peace and union with ourselves,and most important is the coming back to the market place of daily life.

All stages are difficult, insight is not without certain difficulties. We have talked a little about Irmgard, she explained the Rinzai way to me,of being given another koan straight away at point of insight or awakening , so the mind or ego,has little time to analyse, and relate to an experience of some degree of unity of body and mind.

The returning to the market place can be done with great irresponsibility,as responsibility and irresponsibility have previously been transcended, and can leave in these sorts of instances a feeling that any behaviour is indeed the way. Personally the letters I received from the zen students at ZCLA mixing practice with rampant sex completely put me off the whole place.

The core of Maezumi,is questionable, purely on the basis,of his admitted behaviour. Genpo who I knew, is a very charismatic man, is sending out a non Buddhist answer to the market place, which will will lead to hurt of his students. Having sex with vice abbots,is spiritual incest for me and a strong sign that the dream of enlightenment has crashed and burned on the way to somewhere else ,and really one again is simply staring at the traces of the footprints.

One must be strong , sit strong, don't be fooled by oneself, the true directon always come from zazen not someone else
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 26, 2011 4:28 am

Thanks for this post Josh. I've read Chozen Bays' response and was very taken by her description of a spiritual organization in trouble. Here is what she says. I find it to be an excellent description of the situation at Shasta Abbey.

She says:

"I decided to educate myself about what can go wrong in spiritual communities, and I did a lot of reading, for example, about the Rajneesh group – which was then making headlines for all kinds of misconduct – and other communities. From that study I concluded that early warning signs that a group is headed for trouble are these.

over-adulation of the teacher
too much power residing in the teacher, with lots of “yes” men and women, and no checks and balances
believing that the ends justify the means (as in having healthy young people go on welfare at ZCLA so they could be on “staff”)
talking about us “inside” who know the truth and the “outside world” who do not
resultant loss of outside perspective
lack of clear ethical guidelines, maintained first and foremost by the teachers
resultant misuse of power – monetary, sexual, etc.
secrecy
manipulation, intimidation, coercion or threats."

I would change one of the examples when talking about Shasta Abbey in that Shasta did not have people going on welfare in order to be on staff, but they did believe in "being cruel in order to be kind", which to me is a very good example of the ends justifying the means.

Could Chozen's description be used as a pretty good guideline for identifying cults or is it just a good guideline for describing most religions in general nowadays? Any thoughts?
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 26, 2011 7:32 am

Well good guildlines Laura

I feel to have taken so long to get to this positon does not sy too uch for the depth of meditation of the students
As Chozan freely admits it was rampant sex going on at the temple,clearlt with Eido,this type of activity ought to sound rather large alarm bells.The words of these teachers were very poetic,but their actions come from their delusions of grandeur.

With our own more pertinant situation with Shasta. We were not llowed to question kennett Roshi,if she interpreted the visions and previous lives as the third kensho and makes her self an arahant,those close by have a responaibility to question. I asked Carol on the thid forum if she had known about the previous lives from the start of her involvement,would she and Amalia got involved. She would not have. I am not sure if many would have. Something inside them before they were involved would have sent a warning signal.

I think this is a issue for many here, that we were denied a voice. I was not even allowed to write to Josh
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sun Feb 27, 2011 9:54 pm

This was posted on the sweeping Zen site, worth reposting here:
Stephan Bodian says:

February 27, 2011 at 8:18 pm

In late 1981 I left the Zen Center of Los Angeles and set aside my
monk’s robes because I felt personally stifled by the power structure
and hierarchy. Roshi was the unquestioned authority in all matters, at
times warm and generous, at times angry and vindictive, and there were
enormous expectations, especially for monks/priests, to act in certain
preordained ways and withhold certain observations and feelings.

I had heard about Roshi’s affair with at least one student, the
15-year-old daughter of one of his senior students, and I watched with
some concern as he occasionally stumbled in to the zendo drunk to give
dokusan, not knowing that he would sometimes proposition female students
while playing the role of teacher. In the light of these experiences, I
decided that I needed to understand my own psychology better before I
could presume to teach others.

Two years later I helped organize an informal weekend conference for
Zen psychotherapists in Sausalito to discuss the integration of Zen and
the practice of psychotherapy. Several weeks before the meeting, the
Roshi-Chozen affair came to light, and the conference quickly devolved
into an opportunity for these Zen therapists, many of them senior
students with decades of practice under their belts, to share their
tales of betrayal and pain. But no one was willing to go on record,
often for fear of reprisal or damage to their reputation, and the tapes
of our conversations were subsequently destroyed.

Here we are nearly three decades later still dealing with the same
issues. I would like to suggest that the primary problem here is not the
human failings of some Zen teachers. Yes, we all make mistakes,
transgress boundaries, betray our friends, etc. The primary problem lies
in the traditional structure of the Zen establishment and in the
unwillingness of some Zen teachers to take responsibility for their
mistakes. In the case of Genpo, for example, he didn’t merely have an
affair with several of his students; he lied about it to everyone
involved for years. This is not a simple human slip-up (especially given
that it’s happened again and again for decades), this is calculated
deception over an extended period of time, with no apparent sense of
accountability, empathy, or remorse (at least, not while the deception
was occurring).

Unlike vipassana, where teachers are primarily spiritual friends
(kalyana mitra) with no special claim to privilege or power, Zen sets
the teacher up on a pedestal as an exemplar of enlightened behavior and
the holder of spiritual secrets we’re eager to share. All the koans and
Zen stories just encourage this view. In the dokusan room the teacher is
the expert who has the power to confer approval or dismissal, and he or
she is often the person in charge of assigning status and power within
the community.


As human beings, we tend to project our own best qualities onto
people who feel comfortable accepting the mantle of authority, and our
Zen teachers have often been all too willing to accept and then
manipulate these projections. Once they’ve received the projection, they
have a vested interest in maintaining a certain image or façade (and to
avoid admitting their shortcomings) in order to hold on to the
authority we’ve conferred on them. To suggest, as some have done in this
forum, that we’re all adults after all and can take care of ourselves
just fine despite the very real power differential is, in my view,
psychologically naïve. (For more insight into the psychological
complexities involved, I recommend Sex in the Forbidden Zone by Peter
Rutter, M.D.)

I suggest we need to examine and reconsider these institutional
structures and possibly replace them, as some Zen communities and
teachers have already done, with structures that are more egalitarian
and democratic and that encourage honesty and self-disclosure for
everyone, teacher as well as student, rather than secretiveness and
deception. If we’re devoted to truth, as we must be if we practice Zen,
we need to be devoted to truth and truth-telling at every level, and we
can begin by noticing the subtle and not so subtle ways we withhold the
truth, not only in the zendo environment but in other areas of our lives
as well.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sun Feb 27, 2011 10:39 pm

"Newsflash: I am special, and I will never be one of you!” -- actor Charlie Sheen, melting down last week

"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." -- Genpo's statement on disrobing
“Muammar Gaddafi is not a normal person that you can poison.” -- said by Muammar Qaddafi in his ranting tirade last week.

Some human beings don't think they are human. At some point, they begin to believe that they are incredibly special, super human, divine, perfect, God incarnate. They become incapable of honest self-reflection. They begin to believe their own inner PR, their inner stories about who they are, and also who everybody else is.

So here are three examples above. One from a celebrity, one from a religious leader, and one from a dictator. Basically, it is the same mind set, the same belief. They all belief they are divine, not like everyone else.

And the consequences are since they are not ordinary, but super ordinary, the ordinary rules don't apply to them. Laws don't apply to them, common sense doesn't apply to them, precepts and agreements don't apply to them, ordinary ethics and morality have nothing to do with them. They don't need to tell the truth, whatever they say is by definition truth itself. They are the truth. So if you disagree with them, you are by definition false. They don't have any faults -- just little quirks that are ever so charming. Everything they do is so extraordinary, special, divine, pure dharma / teaching or examples of truth.

Now, to Genpo. He says now that he is an ordinary person. As my friend Stuart Lachs asked, "What was he before?" Some years ago, he was involved in a sex and financial scandal. Didn't he realize at that moment that he was a quite an ordinary human being? Apparently not. Even with no scandals whatsoever, when does a Zen teacher stop being a human being?
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Mon Feb 28, 2011 12:07 pm

"I suggest we need to examine and reconsider these institutional
structures
and possibly replace them, as some Zen communities and
teachers
have already done, with structures that are more egalitarian
and
democratic and that encourage honesty and self-disclosure for
everyone,
teacher as well as student, rather than secretiveness and
deception." -Stephan Bodian
********************

This is an intriguing essay. This forum is dedicated to the healing of wounds received when sincere seekers and trainees have subjected themselves, and given portions of their life to authoritarian structures and communities. The practice of meditation and an ethical life does not require such structures or communities, or the financial arrangements that support them. For my money the most transformative and successful spiritual movement has been the world wide 12 step program, which is a network of small groups that is egalitarian in nature and lay-led, and has no institutional structure to speak of, and no financial empire.

I've come to a point where I view the religious structures and systems of the world, and their monastic expressions as largely a failure and in a state of decline. I do believe that meditation based practice combined with ethical training is the best hope of humanity. Gandhi said that if 1% of human beings meditated,the world would be transformed.

I am not familiar with the Vipassana model except that it is lay led, and there are no ordained leaders. But I am interested in learning more and would welcome someone posting about their network and how it works. I have had some experience with the Mindfulness Communities of the Interbeing Order and admire their egalitarian structure and the fact they have many members from other traditions or no tradition.

I also have experience with the Christian meditation networks of Contemplative Outreach and the World Community of Christian Meditation founded by John Main, an English/ Canadian Benedictine monk who was inspired by his contact with a Hindu teacher early in his adult life. I also have some knowledge of the Christian Vipassana movement in this country. I did some collaborative work with Thomas Keating, the Cistercian monk who co-founded Contemplative Outreach with a group of lay leaders. Their model has some shortcomings but it is sustainable and worldwide and growing. It has many Roman Catholic ties but is non-deminational in scope, and has formulations of method that make it accessible to non-Christian, unaffiliated people.

The central ingredient of these small group meditation networks is that they provide instruction/education and mutual support. They have a largely democratic/egalitarian model of leadership and function. And they have an accessible, easily understood model of meditation practice that can readily be integrated into lay life.

Perhaps we are coming to a state of consciousness in this world where democratic networks of community, spiritual, cultural, and political, are the direction of our evolution and through the practice of meditation, in the spiritual realm, " enlightened Masters" and priestly/pastoral intermediaries are the autocrats who are going to be left behind.

On this forum we discuss what hasn't worked for us. Without staying stuck with that, it might good to discuss what would work, and learn from our painful experiences enough to take the next step. I'm 62 and at a point in my life where I'm grateful for the home-based practice I have, and I'm grateful to have transformed much of the pain of the journey into an integrated learning. But I'm soon to be a grandfather, and I wonder about the generations to come and what can emerge for them. It seems that large numbers of the younger millenials in our country have rejected the institutional models of religion and my hope is that networks of meditation practitioners can engage in a creative process of creating small group meditation communities of education and mutual support, while leaving behind the authoritarian and financial abuses of the past.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Mon Feb 28, 2011 5:39 pm

Kirsten Maezumi posted a reply to Chozen's response her (Kirsten's) letter to Chozen:

KIRSTEN MAEZUMI says:
FEBRUARY 24, 2011 AT 8:18 AM

Dear Chozen,

I was so happy to talk with you the other day and I appreciate the candid way you answered my frank questions.

Honestly the most helpful insight I got out of our illuminating conversation, is the one into the nature of the affair you had with my father as you say, ” It was mostly an affair of the heart, taking intimately about dharma and translating Dogen Zenji.”

That you didn’t feel her victimized you, or that your vulnerability was preyed upon, or that sex was the only reason for the affair.
I think that is important… NOT that it makes it right, or appropriate, but that it was not, in its nature, an abuse of power.

It was a love of the dharma.

I think this could be the case in many of the consensual affairs that happen in sanghas between teacher and students.
Again, NOT that it makes it right at all! ; it is just another shade of grey in the black and white of right and wrong…and of being human.

It makes the line so much more complicated.
That there are other reasons than abuse of power, desire of position, lust or addiction, that cause these lines to be crossed.
How will these be judged?

I am saddened that many responses seemed to think that I thought forgiveness was all that was asked of us in this situation concerning Genpo Roshi.

I was just a shocked and devastated as his family and the Kanzeon sangha, and absolutely something should and is being done.

I was also very happy to hear about your “reformation”, spiritual re-awakening, and the work you are doing at your Zen Center with your husband.
And although it is healing to hear, what compelled me to write my letter, was not a personal attack on you.

It was the fact that I knew no one who was involved in this investigation who was not at one time directly involved in a similar situation. I am not saying they do not exist, just that I don’t know a single one.
And yes, times change, thank god! but could there be something else at play?

Jealousy? Fear? Resentment? Guilt?
Or like a reformed smoker, more sensitive and intolerant to smoke?

It is just such an ironic, dark corner to shine light into.
I am sorry it was seen as a bitter attack on the messenger.

I cannot blame you for my fathers drunken bad behavior, or many affairs, which were the cause of mother to taking us and leaving, but the affair between you and my father stands out in my mind because of the close personal ties you had with our family and the length of the relationship.

I honestly don’t know that names of anyone else.

The point I was doing my best to make was, if my father had been removed from any position of teaching from that time on, indefinitely, and you stripped of your titles as well, even the Inca received from Genpo Roshi, that would not have been justice either.

I am also very happy that you addressed the fact that many of the women that have affairs with teachers also receive transmission.
This is of course a VERY VERY dubious, irresponsible and almost always hurtful way to establish a link in a lineage, but coming back to what you described as the “heart connection” you shared with my father, it may be one of the reasons.
I of course have no answers, its just knowing some of the “victims” myself, well, they don’t seem like victims at all.

It is great that you outline your own reformation for others to consider.
And your safeguards for your delusion and rationalizations.
We all need that, and I think that is the role of the Sangha in its truest sense.

I know, with all my heart, that when a person is ready to accept responsibility for their behavior, and have seen where their ego and self will take them, they can change.
Most of the time it seems to take a rock bottom to have this opportunity.

I wish we could have had this conversation years ago; its true as Al Rappaport said in the sweeping zen thread, “Maezumi is dead and gone”, yet this karmic knot is something we are left with to unravel.

I thank you again, all of you, for your time and for listening to my “curious, open mind”. (as Chozen called it)
I am very impressed with all the insights and tangents, and concerns and colors that I have been able to share by reading your comments about this very interesting, very heated, and much needed conversation in our community.

with love and in gassho,
mimi
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:17 pm

Until the behaviour that Stephan Bodian describes is seen for what it is, what it would be called in any other walk of life, pedophilia and in the UK at least statutory rape, the longer it will continue and as the Catholic Church has learnt to its very considerable cost both financial and reputational. The only way that this can be ended is by us facing up to it, it's our religion and at the moment it's being turned into a mockery by mountebanks, tyrants and abusers - they should all be treated with the contempt they so richly deserve and where the law has been broken reported to the appropriate authorities. If we don't clean out our own Augean Stables sooner or later it will redound on all our heads. Those who did not speak out will be tarred with the same brush as the perpetrators, as has happened in the Catholic Church right up to the level of the present pope.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Tue Mar 01, 2011 1:49 am

Yes I remember vividly the letter I got from someone at ZCLA telling of sexual activities.He was in a room above the zendo making out in time with the inkin , during kinhin. The letter ended with an....Oh by the way I passed Mu yesterday
Great stuff this enlightenment business
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Tue Mar 01, 2011 1:54 pm

"Business" being the operative word.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Tue Mar 01, 2011 7:42 pm

I have found the following book quite helpful in regard to the path of psychological and spiritual health and how one first achieves the former in order to progress on the later. This book is entitled: How To Be An Adult by David Richo, a Jungian psychotherapist. From my experience, it is a very dangerous thing indeed to be in any way involved with intense spiritual Buddhist practice while at the same time having serious mental health issues. The reason is this: many people assuming this role of Western Buddhist "teacher" have no training in group dynamics, team building, and conflict resolution. Nor do many of them have training in helping those with psychological problems which often worsen in intense retreat situations. For this reason, those with this type of background can be invaluable leaders in the Western Buddhist development now occuring in Western countries.

Thanks to you all for exploring these issues. However, it is true, we must examine the teacher and our own motivations as is always recommended by the Buddha. And in the end, we must be a light unto ourselves. Dear friends, beware. Machik
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Wed Mar 02, 2011 5:17 am

Very interesting point Machik,for which I really do not know the answer.
I think Buddhism attracts all types of people for all different reasons. People have different views on what to expect and indeed hope for by sitting.
Since I first started sitting and sitting in groups or centres, I have been very aware of issues regarding mental health,as there has always been a flow of people with mental health issues making enquiries. Very recently someone made contact with me who clearly had some issues or saw things differently,I really puzzled over what to say to him,

Actually I came to feel that he was seeking refuge in Buddhism in a very sincere way,Buddhism meant a lot to him,as such he needs as much positive encouragement as possible. I think that is the Buddha's way. When in intense situations like you describe,it may well be the Buddhas way to suggest to take a breather and come back in on a different tack.

Personally the words group dynamics, team building, and conflict resolution,tend to make me squirm a bit, as I sit on my own and also with friends of 30 years, luckily we are able to laugh at our own idiosyncrasies. Strangly we seem to always be laughing.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Thu Mar 03, 2011 10:24 pm

[quote]"This forum is dedicated to the healing of wounds received when sincere seekers and trainees have subjected themselves, and given portions of their life to authoritarian structures and communities. The practice of meditation and an ethical life does not require such structures or communities, or the financial arrangements that support them. For my money the most transformative and successful spiritual movement has been the world wide 12 step program, which is a network of small groups that is egalitarian in nature and lay-led, and has no institutional structure to speak of, and no financial empire.

I've come to a point where I view the religious structures and systems of the world, and their monastic expressions as largely a failure and in a state of decline. I do believe that meditation based practice combined with ethical training is the best hope of humanity. Gandhi said that if 1% of human beings meditated,the world would be transformed.

I am not familiar with the Vipassana model except that it is lay led, and there are no ordained leaders. But I am interested in learning more and would welcome someone posting about their network and how it works..."[cmpnwpr]


From what I've read the Western Insight Meditation tradition is worth exploring. The center is North America on the West Coast is Spirit Rock (Jack Kornfield is their founder I believe) and on the East Coast the Insight Meditation Society (one teacher being Joseph Goldstein). There is a clear code of ethical conduct for Insight Meditation Tradition Teachers which is posted in Goldstein's book A Path With Heart.

In regards to the emerging Western Buddhism which is of interest to some on this Forum, one might take a look at Rebel Buddha by the Dzogchen Ponlop. However, I think that the AA model is unique and most interesting to me. I think this is the model which has such tremendous potential for us to use as a guideline for our local, lay-led egalitarian commjnities which could potentially inspirt all of us who have been disillusioned by the status quo.

Machik
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:02 am

@ Machik

Thanks for responding to my 2/28 post. I was hoping someone might. There is a bit of a discussion going on about alternative spiritual community on another thread, including one post by a Vipassana group leader.
here: http://obcconnect.forumotion.net/t97-have-you-tried-a-different-practice-since-leaving-the-obc

The keen thing for me about 12 step is that it has a simple body of teaching, and a structure that is peer led, and a tradition that is transmittable, and a community in which mentors emerge to companion and support initiates. My father's life was saved by AA, likewise for my sister. My father through 12 step work went on to be a counselor in the VA for other messed up veterans suffering from alcoholism and PTSD from combat. I taught my Dad later in life about meditation and he said it completed what was lacking in the 11th step in terms of having a real methodology. 12 Step groups are definitely spiritual community and a meditation practice can fit right into it.

And thanks for the references on Vipassana and western forms of Tibetan Buddhism.
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Machik



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Join date : 2010-12-17

PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Fri Mar 04, 2011 6:29 pm

Bill,

I think the problem with spiritual groups is that everyone has his or her own stuff that tends to get in the way. However, since meditation and precepts are our spiritual refuge we are joined together in what Joseph Goldstein describes in his beautiful little book, entitled One Dharma.

I have been sitting with a small group in my town. Some of the people who come have been through the AA program. One fellow is a Zen student and there are a few new people who come. We are mostly middle-aged and young people don't seem to come.

I used to think that this group isn't working for me because of the variety of practices, opinions, experiences of the people. I tried going up to a Tibetan center, which is a wonderful space for practice. But the formality of it all somehow turned me off. It's like what Lise described about people being so phony around the Lamas. It's tiresome at best. In fact, Dzogchen Ponlop also talks about how diffficult it can be to connectwith each other in a temple. He says he can often connect with people better outside of these formalized atmospheres where people are behaving according to some form of "correct" temple behavior. It's one thing to be in a sacred space and another to think you have to behave like everyone else...

I think that the basis of sangha needs to be trust, loving-kindness, and compassion. Most of us don't have much more to give than that. What has been so disheartening for me in my life in Dharma communities is when that trust is betrayed by gossip. Gossip is just so toxic and unacceptable to me. It destroys trust, friendship, everything...

As to the financial aspect of the Dharma...that is the worst yet. I was sorry to hear Diana mention about Kornfield's fundraising activities. One of the things I really admire about the Shasta Abbey community is the fact that they DO NOT CHARGE for Dharma events. I don't know how they do it, but for me, that's the only way to go. I just can't stomach any other way anymore.

Let's keep this discussion going. Thanks to all of the contributors.

Machik

Machik
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cmpnwtr

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Fri Mar 04, 2011 8:08 pm

Machik wrote:
Bill,

I think the problem with spiritual groups is that everyone has his or her own stuff that tends to get in the way. However, since meditation and precepts are our spiritual refuge we are joined together in what Joseph Goldstein describes in his beautiful little book, entitled One Dharma.

I have been sitting with a small group in my town. Some of the people who come have been through the AA program. One fellow is a Zen student and there are a few new people who come. We are mostly middle-aged and young people don't seem to come. .

Machik

Hi, Machik,
Thanks for the response. Small groups can be quite powerful, but they do require a structure, a discipline, and an intentionality that is shared by everyone. They also require a skilled facilitator. When the focus is on the sitting itself, not allowing cross talk, and some time for review of core teachings and ethical practice, things can go well. When there is unstructured opinionizing or worse, then it doesn't go so well. It helps if there is a mature core group.

Another factor of course is where people are developmentally in their journey. In the beginning having group support can be extra valuable in establishing a daily home practice. As time goes on the group support can be less important. At this time in my life I don't participate in a group as I find it unnecessary and I live mostly a hermit life, which is in keeping with where I am in the life cycle and where I am in my own particular spiritual disposition.

Thanks again for sharing your experience.
Blessings,
Bill
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Ilo



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Join date : 2011-02-11
Location : Portland, Oregon

PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:37 am

I always enjoy the photo you have provided Bill. You, a tent, and a splendid mountain that looks a little like Shuksan. A "teacher" in that little sangha would be like a fifteen page staple-bound instruction manual, fished out of a rain puddle, with one staple missing.

Self-proclaimed "masters" are such. America had many people rushing to teach before they had truly reached maturity.... A lot of on the job training went on and is still going on. But it was part of our history and the abuses and sorrows that came out of it and still emerge from time to time are painful side effects of the establishment of the Dharma on these shores.

We are genetically wired to want to teach, especially we males. Something about letting our little sanghas know where the food to be found is. We are always dancing like honeybees.
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Kyogen

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:58 pm

Hello Ilo,

You are a natural poet, something you share with Albert. I admire that. I love poetry, but the gene for creating it is deficient. It comes out sometimes, to my great surprise.

With palms joined,

Kyogen
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Ilo



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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Mar 05, 2011 9:33 pm

Not to be too poetical Kyogen, but in my small estimation, your whole life as a Buddhist has been a poem of great beauty- one that has entered the hearts of so many people.

Remember what you told Phyllis and me so long ago at the time we held our candles? I still hold those words in my heart.

Bowing,

Ilo
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Fri Mar 18, 2011 1:09 am

A posting on Genpo.

on Genpo's personal webpage - www.genpomerzel.com, I noticed that he is back to fully running his Big Mind scheme. Although his webpage says he is now a "retired Zen priest," he proclaims that he is a Zen Master and uses the title Roshi. So "disrobing" meant what exactly? His letter from three weeks ago specifically says he was leaving Zen behind because he had made such of mess of things.

in that same letter, while on his way to Paris -- i guess on a two-week vacation -- he talked about just being an ordinary person, grandly referring to himself as a "man or no rank." Well, that lasted two weeks. Now he is all about rank.

He wrote last week: "As I carry Big Mind forward to open it up to a wider public, I know thatit has the capacity to transform lives, as it already has for thousands of people throughout the world."

What? Isn't there some bizarre disconnect here - between his recent admission of wrong doing and now his mission to transform lives -- when he has hardly transformed his own? Three weeks ago, he wrote about only working with small groups and individuals -- not trying to save the whole world - but now he talks about being on a wider public mission.

You can barely find the earlier letter of contrition on the website - it's there but almost invisible.

He has moved on.

And he is still doing his small intensives where presumably a lot of money is charged. This is how he describes it:

"These two days are to go deeper into to discovering your true self, who you are and who you are not. Genpo Roshi will focus on each individual’s barriers and turn those unhealthy and negative qualities into healthy and positive attributes. The time spent will equal years of sitting in meditation because you will be guided to the exact places where you are stuck. You will work from morning till night for two days directly with Roshi. There will be six hours both days guided by him as well as three meals a day of healthy food talking informally with the creator and master of Big Mind/Big Heart."

Isn't this bizarre? Am I missing something? He is helping people focus on their unhealthy and negative qualities when he has not done this himself?
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