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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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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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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sun Feb 13, 2011 8:44 pm

Isan, thanks for the supportive words and the sharing of your own dilemma.Good that you found someone to help you with the difficulties after leaving Shasta, and that you kept your faith in Buddhism.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:07 am

Lineage
Delusions: Eido Shimano Roshi, Dharma Transmission, and American Zen


By Erik Fraser Storlie - reposted here by permission of the author - sorry about this formatting issue, but i can't figure out how to cut and paste this in a way that the formatting is improved.
http://sweepingzen.com/2011/02/08/lineage-delusions-eido-shimano-roshi-dharma-transmission-and-american-zen/

In August 2010 The New York Times exposed the persistent failure of both the Zen Studies Society of New York and
the larger American Zen Buddhist community to address Eido Shimano Roshi’s
forty year history of sexual abuse of women – and the desire, even now, to
excuse or “explain” him. Equally distressing were Robert Aitken’s
posthumous letters, recently made available, revealing that Aitken, a deeply
respected founder in American Zen, had lied for decades about Shimano’s
misconduct in order to protect, as Aitken explained it, “the American Dharma.”



Were this an isolated case, it would not matter very much, except, of course, to the victims. But it’s an old
and discouraging story in American yoga and meditation communities. 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!”



We are told that the master “dwells in the absolute,” or is a lineage holder in “crazy wisdom,” or can raise the
kundalini energy, or read our chakras and past lives, or help “burn up” our
karma, or is offering to share our wife, husband, girlfriend, or boyfriend so
as to assist us in breaking our unfortunate attachments – all of this, of
course, to stretch us beyond our parochial notions of right and wrong and bring
us to the ultimate attainment enjoyed by the master himself (the master almost
invariably being male).



We have seen some dwellers in the absolute require absolutely better automobiles and accommodations, while their
disciples labor at low wages in community businesses; we have seen some destroy
their health with alcohol, while another infected students with AIDS, deluded
that his spiritual “power” would block viral transmission. Shockingly,
governing members of his organization knew his secret, yet did nothing to warn
potential victims.



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.



And it is tragic.
It is tragic because countless Americans hunger for genuine meaning – meaning unavailable in the toxic mimics
offered by game shows, professional sports, “reality” TV, ugly politics,
“free-market” competition, and unimaginably wasteful wealth accumulation at the top.



Yet meaning is available – above all in the penetrating explorations into the mysteries of consciousness we
undertake in meditation and yoga. And the most important thing we can
bring to these inquiries – and to those we hope to further in these inquiries –
is our sincerity and selflessness.



The Shimano scandal reminds me of why, some years ago, I refused the opportunity to become a Zen “dharma
heir.” I refused, knowing that, without this title, despite forty years
of training and practice, I would never be a recognized Zen meditation teacher.
The offer was generous. But to have accepted would have been tacitly to
endorse a credential that conferred great authority – yet was given at the
pleasure of a single person and based on a fantasy.



The doctrine of dharma transmission
hangs on four overlapping assumptions, all of which must be true to establish
its credibility. The first two are beyond proof, and the third and the
fourth obviously false.



The first, that the historical
Buddha attained a mind of absolute perfection, is pure poetry – fascinating,
mysterious – and if accepted, accepted simply as an article of faith. Did
the Buddha have such a mind? A wonderful question! Maybe he
did. Or maybe, somewhere in the cosmos, he’s still exploring, expanding,
and perfecting his infinite wide-awake seeing. Or maybe all of us are,
exactly at this moment, his eyes opening again and again – and wider and wider
as our practice deepens.



The second, that the Buddha’s
disciple Mahakasyapa also attained this perfect mind and that the Buddha
recognized it, depends upon the first. Perhaps, indeed, a perfect being
could recognize and attest to the perfection in another perfect being.



The third, that an unbroken chain of
such “mind to mind” transmissions has descended, generation after generation,
in a known lineage, down to today’s living dharma heirs, is simply false on
historical grounds. As Edward Conze, the great scholar of Indian Buddhism
noted, “much of the traditions about the early history of Ch’an are the
inventions of a later age” – inventions befitting a Chinese culture that deeply
honored family lineages traced through renowned ancestors.



The fourth, that every such
transmission from master to disciple over the last 2500 years was genuine, is
contradicted by the behavior of Shimano himself – and, sadly, of any number of
Asian and American teachers.



Stated simply, the doctrine of
dharma transmission is just one more among the many attractive delusions held
by human beings. Unfortunately, adherence to it gives the dharma heir a
very powerful – and potentially dangerous – authority within the community of
Zen practitioners, much as does the doctrine of the Apostolic Succession in the
Roman Catholic Church, where the recent child abuse scandals illustrate the
dangers of priesthoods that claim an authority beyond the ordinary and
human. Those in such positions are sorely tempted to protect each other,
ignoring or covering up the harm done by their colleagues.



So long as American Zen relies on
dharma transmission as a credential, there will be one Shimano after another –
and dharma heirs who will go to great lengths to protect the master that
conferred authority upon them. For if the master who has declared me
awakened has erred, if he does not, indeed, “dwell in the Absolute,” then my
own credential is called into question – along with my prestige and authority
in the community and my ability to confer this power upon others.



Even if the magical claims of dharma
transmission are discarded and it is recognized as an ordinary human
institution, it still should not be retained as a method of training Zen
meditation teachers. No truly meaningful credential can be conferred
simply at the pleasure of one person. Indeed, as a method, it creates
toxic interpersonal dynamics in communities, for the future recognition or
preferment of a student is entirely dependent upon pleasing a dharma heir, or a
presumptive dharma heir. If I wish to rise in this hierarchical system, I
must pay court to the dharma heir and his or her favorites, and as a courtier
in such a system, I can never openly acknowledge my self-interested pursuit of
attention, for my goal is always, theoretically, “spiritual” development.
Yet, of course, my ability to please a dharma heir and receive, in my turn,
recognition and/or authorization will give me status and even employment
opportunities. The dynamics of court, courtier, and courtship create
endless distortions of human behavior even in ordinary institutions – a
business, political party, or college. These run wild when the king,
queen, pope, or dharma heir has imputed “special” powers. Anyone
connected for a length of time to a Zen Center can cite examples.



Of course, many Zen teachers will
refuse to discard this false credential. Those with the courage to act
can take comfort from the Buddha’s words in The Mahaparinibbana Suttanta,
words that E.A. Burtt suggests bring out “one major and authentic note” among
the various presumed “final” teachings attributed to the Buddha.



As the Buddha prepares for death,
Ananda begs him to leave “instructions as touching the order.” The Buddha
responds that he has nothing more to offer. He has taught freely to
everyone, his teaching is complete, and the community must now find its own way
forward.



“What, then, Ananda, does the order
expect that of me? I have preached the truth without making any
distinction between exoteric and esoteric doctrine; for in respect of the
truth, Ananda, the Tathagata has no such thing as the closed fist of a teacher,
who keeps some things back.”



Then the Buddha hints at the
possibility of a coming power struggle, suggesting wryly that if any person now
thinks he should run things, he should just go ahead and try. “Surely,
Ananda, should there be anyone who harbors the thought, ‘It is I who will lead
the brotherhood,’ or, ‘The order is dependent on me,’ he should lay down
instructions in any matter concerning the order.”



To illustrate the absurdity of such
thinking, the Buddha even goes so far as to insist that he, himself, does not
“lead” the order. “Now the Tathagata, Ananda, thinks not that it is he
who should lead the brotherhood, or that the order is dependent upon him.
Why, then, should the Tathagata leave instructions in any matter
concerning the order?”



The Buddha is said to have said many
things. But these words ring true. Monks seeking to establish
governing hierarchies modeled upon patterns of royal or imperial lineages must
have lamented their inclusion in the canon. These words were, to the
hearers, most probably unforgettable – told and retold in the community too
many times to be expunged. If they are indeed authoritative, the Buddha
himself never had any notion of the creation of a lineage of dharma heirs.



We must move beyond dharma
transmission and construct approaches by which teachers of American Zen Buddhist
meditation can be prepared effectively – and transparently. There are
many models in a myriad of professions, both religious and secular. I
would suggest that for Zen in America to speak to people, to become more than
an odd, idiosyncratic subculture, it must draw sustenance from America’s deep
roots in the democratic and egalitarian. English Dissenters brought the
first churches to these shores. Their polity was congregational, where
the minister served at the pleasure of the congregants. The minister was
understood to be as susceptible to error as any in his flock.



Having moved beyond the fairy tale
of dharma transmission, Zen communities can begin work on truly thorny
questions. Why did so many of the Asian “masters” who came to America,
especially during the Sixties, behave in ways that to the objective beholder
seem narcissistic, even sociopathic? What was their experience coming to
maturity in monasteries and ashrams? Were they damaged in some way as
children? And how, today, can the traditional Hindu and Buddhist emphasis
on “non-attachment” be meaningfully taught in an America where many suffer
“attachment disorders” – an inability to receive or return love?



To matter much in America, Zen must
undergo its own painful Protestant Reformation – the deconstruction of
lineage. This will free practitioners to learn from trained and
accountable teachers in the spirit of the Buddha’s final admonition:
“Therefore, O Ananda, be ye lamps unto yourselves. Rely on yourselves,
and do not rely on external help. Hold fast to the truth as a lamp.
Seek salvation alone in the truth. Look not to assistance to anyone
besides yourselves.”



Front
page photo by Mark Zastrow



___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Erik Fraser Storlie
(Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 1976, M.A., University of California,
Berkeley, 1965, B.A. University of Minnesota, 1958) began a practice of sitting
meditation in 1964 with Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. He studied with Dainin Katagiri
Roshi, helping to found the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center. His publications
include Nothing on my Mind (Shambhala 1996)), “Zen On Ice” (Quest Winter 1998),
“Earth’s Original Face” (Shambhala Sun March 2001), “Sawtooth Sesshin”
(Shambhala Sun March 2002), and “Notes on a Friendship with James Wright,”
(Five Points: A Journal of Literature and Art vol. II, no. 3, 2007). He
currently leads retreats and teaches meditation and mindfulness for the Center
for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota.
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Mon Feb 14, 2011 12:26 pm

Josh
Thank you for providing some very interesting food for thought. My first reaction to the author's arguments are positive. What he says makes a good deal of sense. At minimum for me worth giving it serious thought. However,I can't imagine anyone in the OBC and other Buddhist institutions where lineage is everything, especially in their hierarchies, doing anything but rejecting it offhand. It will be interesting to see how things evolve. Perhaps in the end both systems will co exist. I think the human tendency to seek certainty in someone external to oneself will not be disappearing any time soon. It's kind of a celibacy of worship and celibacy is a hard sell.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Mon Feb 14, 2011 1:15 pm

The article is a good critique of the magical thinking that leads to great harm in spiritual communities with an unhealthy model of teacher. Perhaps lineage can still have value if the magical properties are removed, and the reality of a teaching relationship consists in the transmission of an authentic practice leading to growth in compassion and understanding, where the teacher is an elder companion who walks for a time with a student. Such an understanding of transmission can be real when the real fruits of spiritual maturity are not the attribution of an unmerited absolute authority, or supernatural powers, or a license to set aside ethical behavior and accountability.

For myself I have benefited from such a soul-friending relationship from several teachers in my life, and it can be said that a quality of lineage was present in each which involved not only the transmission of a tradition of practice, but also a transmission of true generosity and loving kindness. The Celtic tradition of Anam Cara (literally translated as "dear soul" or "soul friend") has some elements of this. I think what we have inherited from the East that is problematic are the authoritarian power differentials that lead to abuse and feed the delusion that many of us have about gurus. I have seen this phenomenon in all traditions I have encountered. (I should like to add that handing over our spiritual autonomy to a priest, rabbi, pastor, imam, shaman, or other is fairly universal.)There seems to be something in us that looks for a super saint who will bring us home, someone who has "it" when we don't.

I would like to see an educational process in our culture of a model of spiritual maturation which relinquishes the idea that we can "hitch our wagon" to another human being on the spiritual journey, and somehow appropriate some portion of their magic to get us along the way. The most powerful and benefitial teaching relationship I have had in my life came in the form of such a soul-friend, an elder spiritual brother, a companion on the journey, who was accessible and present to the unfolding of my own inner life of the heart, who had done the inner work of facing his darkness, understanding it is never finished, and who shared my practice and could offer encouragement and support in that journey of growth. I am naive enough to think that such a model can exist across traditions.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Mon Feb 14, 2011 3:06 pm

It is clear to me, having listened to Jiyu-Kenneth over some years, that the unrecognized assumption of the "spiritual community" is fudalism and that the master/desciple relationship is essentially (in her eyes) a fudal relationship: that the desciple is in servitude to his/her liege Lord: the Lord having an absolute entitlement to allegiance and service.

In this context, it is easy to see -- and I don't imply agreement -- why sexual entitlement (even though there are explicit rules against this) and abuse, physical and emotional (not covered in the rules, except against murder), is not outside this context of complete subservience where one person's opinion/wish is another's obligation.

I have personally heard Jiyu-Kenneth tell a story of a Zen Masters being able to kill their students with impunity (there was an assumption of acceptance by the larger secular community) in the East as it was understood that the Master took on/addressed the karma of the late desciple. The larger point I take from this is that she probably felt that the extent of her power was far greater than what she weilded and that she held deep feelings/sense of benelovence that has largely gone unappreciated.

but pressing on

In the context of cmpnwtr's comments, this fudalistic assumption is "unhealthy" and not legitimate today due to the professionalization of organizational relationships and the feature of dependance they hold (the power imbalance) provided we accept the challenge to develop a view of spirituality that is juxtaposed to politics as power-structured model(s) of organization/community.

But we also need to go further and maintain that it should be illegitimate in principle for any professional realationship to be permanent (lasting to the death of the liege Lord/Master); because this would only establish spirituality as a form of colonialism ... and at this stage of world history who really wants trancendence to be a form of colonialism: really?!!

To move forward, it might be useful to start with Dogen's injunction against "fame and gain" as an injunction against the prioritization of worldless within the spiritual enterprise and as such "power" cannot be omitted from the matrix of fame and gain. With this admission of the inappropriateness of power to having a place in the spiritual enterprise, spirituality can be seen as opening up a genuine alternative to politics, as a way of engaging the world. However, to blend them together is not unheard of (Taoism, Judaism & Islam) which would take you into real complexities which are quite apart from the oversimplified good vs bad that assumes that spirituality must be by definition apolitical.


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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Mon Feb 14, 2011 3:45 pm

Josh a fantastic article, my only criticism is that he drew back from the final step. So I will put on the mantle of heretic and step forward. Gautama Siddartha, the historic Buddha, was an ordinary bloke. He was a bit more skilled in spiritual matters perhaps but fundamentally he was an ordinary fellow just like all of us here. It actually makes nonsense of fundamental Buddhist doctrine to view him in any other way. He had insight into the nature of man and then lived, or tried to live, true to that insight fully in his own true nature. He found many things tended to take people away from the simplicity of their true nature and formulated the precepts, etc., but even these are not God given rules carved in stone. So if the Buddha was just an ordinary bloke his disciples, Ananada, Sariputra and all that crowd, must have just been ordinary blokes too. So where does all this importance and hierarchy nonsense come from. Well my opinion, for what its worth, is that one of the many things we crave is attention and value (ah! attachment, attachment!). So we aggrandise those we follow to fulfil our own sense of worth and importance because we are following the RIGHT WAY and the RIGHT PERSON. It happens in all walks of life: politics, sport, entertainment, academia. etc., etc., etc. Those we aggrandise tend to rather like it and play to it and in the end believe it, expect it, demand it, and in important ways then pass it on, the only real transmission; and so it goes, and so it goes. So what is this training we keep on about? As I see it, it is just to choose to try and learn to live true to our own real nature, which in reality we can never escape. We can get help and encouragement from the others on the path, the sangha, and learn from the teachings of those that have gone before, the dharma. If we organise to do this into monasteries, churches, sects, etc. then naturally we will have those who are in charge of parts of the organisation and those who have been in the organisation longer and have more experience, but this does not make them better.

Here are a couple of quotes from Meister Eckhart the 13th century Flemish mystic that illustrate the point, just leave out God (see the second quote) and translate into Buddhist terminology.

On training:
If human beings think they will get more of God by meditation, by ecstasy or by special infusion of grace than by the fireside or in the stable - that is nothing but taking God, wrapping a cloak around his head and shoving him under a bench, for whoever seeks God in a special way gets the way but misses God, who lies hidden in it. But whoever seeks God without any special way gets him as he is in himself, and that person lives with the Son, and he is life itself

On the nature of truth and sunyata:
If I say, God is good, it is not true; nay more; I am good, God is not good. I may even say, I am better than God; for whatever is good, may become better, and whatever may become better, may become best. Now God is not good, for He cannot become better. And if He cannot become better, He cannot become best, for these three things, good, better, and best, are far from God, since He is above all. If I also say, God is wise, it is not true; I am wiser than He. If I also say, God is a Being, it is not true; He is transcendent Being and superessential Nothingness.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Mon Feb 14, 2011 4:04 pm

mstrathern wrote:
Gautama Siddartha, the historic Buddha, was an ordinary bloke. He was... So if the Buddha was just an ordinary bloke his disciples, Ananada, Sariputra and all that crowd, must have just been ordinary blokes too.

Actually he was a prince and although many people from all classes joined him, he stayed close to home and enjoyed royal patronage, with even some family members joining the order.

Buddhism has a strong history of association with the powers that be. Bodhidharma coming to China is imortalized by meeting with an Emperor.

By the time things got to Japan, it's clear that Buddhism bleneded with the aristocracy, with some notable exceptions and with expansion through the cross-section of society.

Zen coming to the West is underscored by Koho Zenji visiting the President of the United States.

In brief, I think there are lots of ordinary blokes who have a deep hankering not to be ordinary: this is my bet on the answer. And I don't gamble if I am not prepared to lose.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Mon Feb 14, 2011 4:12 pm

There is a documentary coming out called CRAZY WISDOM - about Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. I have not seen it, but the top members of Shambhala participated in the film, so I am relatively certain that it tows the party line.

And in this case, they freely acknowledge in their interviews that Trungpa slept with dozens / hundreds of his women disciples and was frequently drunk out of his mind.......but it was all "crazy wisdom," all enlightened action.

http://www.crazywisdomthemovie.com/trailer

The film will certainly be shown at all the Shambhala Centers and Naropa, but not end up in theaters.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Mon Feb 14, 2011 4:33 pm

@ Josh

I am indeed sorry to hear about a film that aggrandizes and excuses terrible harm in the name of "Wisdom." It is unfortunate that the community and student successors of Trungpa like Pema Chodron have made excuses and rationalizations, and not taken responsibility for what happened and tried to make amends. But to further justify an alcoholic addiction and the sexual abuse and spiritual harm done to so many women in the name of the spiritual attribute of "Wisdom" is utterly reprehensible. Is it not a form of enabling that other Buddhist teachers and communities do not speak about this? At least the Catholic Church after lawsuits and public disclosures is beginning to take ownership for its sex abuse problem. Shouldn't the Buddhist Sangha do likewise?

Bill
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Mon Feb 14, 2011 5:30 pm

If they truly do try to peddle all that as the best Buddhism has to offer, the response they get from American society might not be as they hoped.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Mon Feb 14, 2011 5:59 pm

At age 21 I came close to ending my life in a suicidal depression as a consequence of sexual abuse done to me by persons in spiritual authority when I was ages 14-16. Calling sex abuse by a spiritual teacher in a position of authority, who makes claims of doing no wrong, as "crazy wisdom" is utterly evil and deluded. As a psychotherapist I have been visited with so much pain and so much psychic and spiritual damage from survivors of sexual abuse by spiritual teachers, clergy, and psychotherapists to have any understanding how this kind of behavior can be excused and defended, especially by people who claim to have spiritual knowledge and insight.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Mon Feb 14, 2011 6:56 pm

At the risk of sounding utterly hopelessly childlike and simplistic, could it be that we follow these teachers and gurus and whatever we find to follow because we want to be loved? And we want to be safe?
We can dress our teachers up or down and give them titles and ancestral lines and cool clothes to wear and all the rest that we can then attach to ourselves, but isn't it still because most of us are (just maybe) fearful and lonely and when we join a club with a leader we want to be like, we hope that they will like us too. No, love us too.
And the perpetrators? They must be ravenous. We're all hungry to one degree or another.
It's so tricky, this life business. I think love ought to look like this, or that, and I worry that there might not be enough for me anyway. I want to get closer to the teacher, closest, so that I will get enough. My share anyway. And what wouldn't I give to get that share? We all find the line for ourselves, I guess. I'm so sad to hear that Daizui chose the love and safety for himself rather than for others. But I understand it. Abraham on the other hand, I think he was nuts.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Mon Feb 14, 2011 7:45 pm

@ polly "We can dress our teachers up or down and give them titles and ancestral
lines and cool clothes to wear and all the rest that we can then attach
to ourselves,"

The ethics and responsibility of this are clear. It is the responsibility of the teacher, therapist, or clergy, to provide a safe environment for the student, client, or parishioner to explore their own spiritual life. The providers of spiritual or psychological services have no business hanging out their shingle if they are not prepared to treat with reverence, respect, professionalism, and impeccable ethics, the aspirations and very human projections and longings of the human beings they have offered to serve. The responsibility for the harm committed lies entirely with those invested with the authority and the role to serve others in their care. In the psychological field it is the responsibility of the therapist to help the client resolved their unconscious transference feelings and fantasies. In a similar way it is the responsibility of a spiritual teacher or guide to assist the client or student to resolve the inappropriate projections they may bring into the covenant of service. Those who don't address this responsibility, and worse, encourage those inappropriate fantasies, should be run out of the field they are in by their professional peers, and by legal authorities, if need be, if they are abusing their clients.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Mon Feb 14, 2011 8:56 pm

This was Genpo's audition tape to get his own television show on Oprah's new TV Network -- OWN. Many people sent in audition tapes. He gives self-promotion a bad name:

http://myown.oprah.com/audition/index.html?request=video_details&response_id=20850&promo_id=1
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Mon Feb 14, 2011 9:14 pm

Albert yes you're quite right he was a prince but that's my point it's just a position like guru, reverend master, roshi, etc. Just part of a class hierarchy filled from top to bottom by ordinary people, some who like to think that they are extraordinary people.

cmpnwtr, yes I do so agree, the key here is ethics. These characters are without any ethical principals. Can you imagine any of this behaviour being tolerated in a doctor or a university professor? The ethics committees would have them tossed out in a trice. Should it be any different in a spiritual teaching situation? I think not, even less so. These jokers are just creeps masquerading as saints. There are plenty of fine spiritual people around, but you won't find them parading around extolling themselves or encouraging others to do so. You're right, we need a mechanism to weed out this corruption before Buddhism in the west drowns in it.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Mon Feb 14, 2011 9:31 pm

Letter from Kakuzen Keido Les Kaye, Kannon Do Meditation Center

Website: http://www.kannondo.org/
Dated 2/11/2011

Dear Chet and Kanzeon Board Members -

Chozen Bays has informed the AZTA membership that Genpo’s Salt Lake
City students’ are concerned about AZTA’s failure to respond to Genpo’s
recent admissions.
They asked her:

“Why are all the Zen teachers silent about this situation with Genpo?
” ” Is there some kind of conspiracy to protect any Zen teacher, no
matter what they do to harm others?”

I am writing to let you know that AZTA has not been silent about
Genpo’s behavior, and in fact was quite active several years ago in
trying to change what we felt was an intolerable situation. Following
is part of that history.

In August, 1992 , the AZTA teachers at the time (known in those
early days as the Second Generations American Zen Teachers group) wrote a
letter to Maezumi-roshi expressing our concern about Genpo’s on-going
sexual exploitations and his misappropriation of funds. We asked that
his permission to teach be revoked. That letter is attached.

Those of us who signed the letter to Maezumi received responses from
Genpo’s students, criticizing us and denying that he had created harm.

Here is an excerpt from one of those letters to the Second Generations American Zen Teachers:

The issues of student-teacher relationships and sexual misconduct are
very relevant to Zen in North America. I have seen Genpo Sensei work
personally on these issues and have seen him take responsibility for his
past sexual misconduct. I question and am very much disturbed by your
approach as a group to address such issues. It appears that it has
become somewhat of a personal vendetta for some of you and that a case
has been presented to have Genpo Sensei, a lineage holder and Dharma
successor, stop teaching.

I feel very sad that Zen in North America has come to this. As a
group, would it not be more productive to offer a context of support for
one another, and a fair forum to discuss such issues rather than trying
to slander and undermine one another? I question your integrity as
spiritual leaders to have so irresponsibly signed such a letter without
realizing the implications to the Dharma in the West and without
investigating its accuracy, not to mention the effects it could have on
the hundreds of students that Genpo sensei now has in Europe and
America.

- From a women at Kanzeon Bald Peak Mountain, Hillsboro, OR, August 19, 1992.
Here is a second excerpt:

It seems that those of you who felt so ethically and morally
responsible for signing this letter attacking the ethical and moral
behavior of a fellow teacher do not have the first clue about practicing
such conduct in your own lives.

- From another women at Kanzeon Bald Peak Mountain, Hillsboro, OR, August 25, 1992
The following month, Sept. 1992, a meeting – organized by Chozen
Bays and Yvonne Rand of the San Francisco Zen Center, and moderated by a
paid, professional facilitator – was held with Genpo, Maezumi-roshi,
and others, at Green Gulch Farm, an affiliate of San Francisco Zen
Center. The purpose of the meeting was to help Maezumi-roshi, and
everyone else, understand the situation and to give Genpo a chance to
respond to our concerns. Many of Genpo’s students from Los Angles
attended, as well as his attorney. Genpo was confronted by four women
(actually, three women and the husband of a fourth) who told their
stories of being personally abused by Genpo. The meeting was
respectful and courteous, except at one point when the husband said to
Genpo: “If you touch my wife in the dokusan room again I’ll kill
you.”

(One of the women was Diane Baca, a nurse, single mother of a five
year-old boy, and student at the Los Angles Zen Center, where she was in
contact with Genpo. Diane had been abused by her father as a child,
which left her extremely vulnerable and confused. In her testimony at
the meeting, she described how she had been seduced by Genpo numerous
times and the pain of betrayal that she felt. Several months after the
meeting, she took her own life.)

At the end of the meeting, Maezumi-roshi was asked to comment. I
don’t recall his exact words but they were something like: “Don’t be the
first to throw stones.” He did not accept our request to withdraw
Genpo’s sanction to teach the Dharma.

In sum, AZTA has not been indifferent. Almost twenty years ago, we
tried to curtail Genpo’s behavior and were told that we were in the
wrong. Today we are being told by Genpo’s more recent students that we
are in the wrong for NOT doing something.
If others express concern about AZTA’s lack of involvement, please share this message with them.

Respectfully,
Les Kaye
Kannon Do Zen Center
Mountain View, CA
(650) 948-5020
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Mon Feb 14, 2011 9:38 pm

Sexual Ethics, Zen Scandals, and Cult

By Kuzan Peter Schireson

February 14, 2011


The root of the word “scandal” comes from the Greek skandalon, meaning snare or cause of moral stumbling. Over time “skan
became the word for the stick used to spring a trap. Now its meaning
has shifted from pointing to the cause of stumbling to the stumbling
itself. Every human society and organization is prone to moral
stumbling, and just in case we’re tempted to think our way is above it
all, we should remember that Zen Buddhism is no exception.
Recently, two scandals – I should say two more scandals -
have drawn attention in the Zen world. Both involve male teachers
having sexual relations with their female students. One of the scandals
involves Reverend Eido Shimano, founder of the Zen Studies Society in
New York. Mr. Shimano was one of the first Japanese Zen teachers to
come to America, eventually establishing what became a very active Zen
community.

By reports, Mr. Shimano has been a serial sexual predator for
decades, making uninvited and intrusive sexual advances on female
students, some of whom became involved with him in sexual affairs which
resulted in great psychological suffering. Over the years as reports of
this behavior surfaced, there were attempts to call him to account.
However, he had supporters in the sangha who resisted meeting his
misdeeds head-on and imposing consequences. In some cases, his conduct
was excused by the idea that his spiritual awakening is so profound that
he somehow “lives in the absolute” and that questions of harm or abuse
are matters in the relative world and do not apply to him.

Recently, documentation of Mr. Shimano’s behavior became more widely available to the public with the release (www.shimanoarchive.com) and an article about trouble in his sangha was published in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/21/us/21beliefs.html?scp=1&sq=eido%20shimano&st=cse).
After a kind of public apology, Mr. Shimano tried to refute allegations
made about him in a private letter to the Times, a letter which later
became public. He appears to be unrepentant and, as of this writing,
it’s my understanding he has been barred from teaching in the sangha he
founded. While it’s hard not to have some feelings of anger toward Mr.
Shimano, it’s also important to remember that he has himself been a
suffering being, perhaps in the grip of some kind of sexual addiction.
His sangha and his victims have a long road ahead as they try to take on
the task of healing and reconciliation.

More recently, Dennis Genpo Merzel has apparently resigned from his
his leadership role in the Big Mind Big Heart Zen sangha in Salt Lake.
He has confessed to having sexual relations with students. Mr. Merzel’s
apology sounds heartfelt to me, but of course it remains to be seen
whether and how his promised repentance will be actualized. He says he
will take off his Zen priest’s robes but continue to offer his unique
“big mind” teaching. How this squares with his remorse is unclear to
me. We’ll see. His statement is available at http://www.bigmind.org/Home.html.

What’s the point in bringing up these two situations? As a Zen
priest, I’ve promised to try to encourage people in their practice, and
these two situations, emblematic of others like them, are pretty
discouraging, even heartbreaking. But I think there are good reasons to
look at them carefully. It’s always our practice to keep our eyes on
reality even when it’s painful, and more specifically I believe these
situations can teach us something about how to build healthy sanghas.

What is it that allows these kinds of boundary violations and
misbehavior to arise and continue in environments and communities which
people create and join with good intentions? I’ve considered this in
the light of personal experience. When I was young – im my early 20s – I
spent several years living in a spiritual cult. I didn’t know at the
time it was a cult. I figured that out later. But when I reflect on
the teacher during those years and on the dynamics of the group, I
appreciate something about how sanghas enable things like the Shimano
and Genpo situations to develop.

We bring our deepest hopes and vulnerabilities to spiritual practice,
along with all of our confusion. We also tend to forget that our
teachers, however deeply and however long and hard they’ve practiced,
are no different. This is tough, and many teachers also forget this
about themselves, especially when they are subject to the adulation and
idealized projections of their students. What’s more, sanghas sometimes
tend to mitigate against challenging the teacher or questioning his/her
authority because everyone’s hopes and vulnerabilities are at stake and
so banking on the teacher’s wisdom as a kind of refuge from anxiety and
a hedge against uncertainty becomes a high stakes game. So some
sanghas tend to close ranks around unrealistic ideas about their
teacher, ideas the teacher may encourage, consciously or otherwise. And
in some cases, the formalized empowerments and rituals of Zen practice
may foster a sense that the teacher’s role is sacred and not to be
challenged. I think these kinds of dynamics are intensified in
residential sanghas.

I saw some of this up close in my own early experience of residential
practice with a spiritual teacher. The teacher, not connected to the
Zen tradition, was a brilliant man who had many profound things to say
to the community and to each of us individually. He encouraged others to
see him as a kind of special being and any challenge to his teaching
came to be perceived as evidence of a flaw in the student’s
understanding, sincerity, and/or character. On the surface, the teacher
invited questions, but the flavor of his responses told a different
story and when caught in obvious mistakes, he said he made them
purposely so students would have the freedom to reject his teaching.
Because the community was isolated physically and psychologically,
members depended on each other and the teacher for everything, including
relationship and a sense of meaning and belonging. Persistent argument
with or challenge to the teacher led a kind of ostracism. Everyone
understood you were essentially “out,” a status the teacher would
reinforce using many means, subtle and otherwise. It was a case of “my
way or the highway” and over time the group became a self-reinforcing
hothouse with the teacher at the center. In other words, a cult.

There are many lists of cult characteristics, not all of which apply
in every case, but they are useful tools for analyzing one aspect of a
sangha’s health. In my experience, cults don’t become cults overnight.
They move in that direction by degrees. Alterness to cultish signs and
tendencies is a useful safeguard against the abuses that cult dynamics
enable. I think several points are applicable to how we practice
together in Zen sanghas, including but not limited to those listed here,
which are drawn from the International Cultic Association website – http://www.csj.org/infoserv_cult101/checklis.htm -

  • The group displays zealous or unquestioning commitment to its
    leader/teacher and regards his/her belief system, ideology, or practices
    as “the Truth”
    or in Zen terms, the true Dharma or correct
    understanding. In such sanghas, the head teacher’s words and view
    become the sole teaching or the only teaching paid serious respect.

  • Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished. Discouragement can be subtle and punishment can be in the form of isolation and disapproval.

  • The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members
    should think, act, and feel; for example, members must get permission to
    date, change jobs, etc.
    This may sound foreign to our practice
    tradition, but in fact it really isn’t. Some Zen teachers impose such
    conditions on students who wish to enter into formal discipleship and
    insist on having a say over even small details of disciples’ personal
    lives, even including such things as whether and when they can visit
    with old friends.

  • The leader isn’t really accountable to any authorities.
    While many sanghas may have boards and committees to which the teacher
    is technically accountable, real accountability can erode over time,
    especially when boards and committees are comprised of members who are
    the teacher’s disciples.

  • Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties
    with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and
    activities they had before joining the group.
    Further to what has
    already been said, while the word “subservience” isn’t one we use much
    in Zen, we do place importance on the concept of home leaving and may
    also place spiritual value on the practice of “venerating” the teacher,
    which, combined with a teacher’s insistence on micro-managing disciples’
    lives, can lead to a kind of subservience.

What I’m suggesting is that it might be useful to consider every spiritual community, every Zen sangha, as a cult risk.
Human tendencies in this direction are strong. Societies and groups
develop hierarchical structures and the impulse to endow leaders with
special traits and powers seems hard to resist, arising from deep
socio-biological roots. And these impulses are especially dangerous when
a leader himself (or herself) – often an ambitious person despite other
good intentions – is pulling for adulation and power. When they tore
down the statue of Sadaam Hussein in Iraq, someone commented, “They
should keep the pedestal. They’ll want to use it again in the future.”

We appreciate strong teachers in the Zen tradition and I’m not
suggesting that having a strong teacher always risks turning a sangha
into a cult. However, as distasteful as it may be, sanghas would be
wise to put concerns about cultish tendencies or teacher behavior that
leans in this direction up for discussion sooner rather than later.
It’s a matter of the sangha’s overall health and the safety of its
individual members.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Kuzan Peter Schireson is currently Practice Leader at Empty Nest Zendo in California. He was ordained as a Lay Teacher by Sojun Mel Weitsman of Berkeley Zen Center in 2003 and as a Soto Zen priest by Chikudo Lew Richmond of Vimala Zen Center in 2008. Peter was originally introduced to practice by Joshu Sasaki Roshi in 1964 and has practiced since then primarily in the Suzuki Roshi lineage in California as well as with Keido Fukushima Roshi, the now retired abbot of Tofuku-ji Monastery in Kyoto, Japan. He is the husband of Myoan Grace Schireson
and is especially interested in Zen practice as it arises in and
enlivens everyday life in the world. Peter is also a partner in a
market research company, a grandfather, and a student of classical
guitar. Website: http://kuzanzen.org/
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Mon Feb 14, 2011 10:36 pm

Most of the postings here have already expressed better than I ever could some of my own thoughts and experiences. but then I read a few more posts and think of something else and just can't help to add my cents worth.

Rev. Meian right now is in the unenviable position of not only having stepped into the void left by her predecessor who left behind a trail of disappointment and confusion, but also by having to somehow explain her own inaction in regard to matters that according to what some posters here have stated should have been fairly obvious. I think we can all understand though how extremely difficult it can be to confront someone in a position of power and authority, especially someone that you not only had a deep spiritual bond with but also considered your friend, and how tempting it would be to ignore a situation hoping that it might somehow resolve itsself on its own and go away. Some of these do go away and some come back to bite you later with greater ferocity. In addition to all of that there have arisen all the concerns of people with some rather serious grievances that now need to be addressed and dealt with. To me this all seems to be a nightmare of significant proportion, and I am hoping that she will find the strength and right approach to deal with it and that all here might have the patience and understanding to realize the task she is confronted with and give her the time to work on it.

The few brief encounters I have had with Rev. M. Meian, since I did not do my "training" at the Abbey, left me with the impression that she is a person of good intention, with a good heart and that she has a sense of humor too. It will not be easy by any means, but there is an opportunity here also to not only mend fences and try to bring harmony to all the Sangha but improve the already existing structure of the OBC in a way that it not only retains most of its original intent and "flavor", but that at the same time improves the already existing structure, just like when you remodel a house and throw out some of the termite eaten stuff, rebuild even the foundation if you have to, if the rest is worth preserving. I do very much believe the rest is worth preserving, as I believe is the original intent, which was what I believe originally brought us all to this particular Order, and this original intent I believe was the wish to train with seriousness, integrity and devotion, and to be inspired by those that have the ability to lead with honesty, openness, love, wisdom and compassion.


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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:52 pm

@ Josh

What is shocking about this disclosure of what happened in 1992 with Genpo is that this criminal, masquerading as a zen teacher has been allowed to perpetrate these offenses for the past 19 years without any serious policing from professional peers. I would hope that someone who has been victimized has undertaken litigation, or might still. The denominational churches in this country only took the issue seriously when the courts began to be involved and financial losses were a reality. I'm surprised that the AZTA would really leave this up to Maezumi to resolve when it was clear the abuse would continue. That is really lame. At minimum some public warning might have taken place to shield potential new members from these crimes.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Tue Feb 15, 2011 12:09 am

Brigitte, I feel as you do, that Rev. Meian has a good heart and intent. But I don't believe her will is free. I have exchanged messages with her recently, to let her know about a possible problem with some OBC monks. In her reply she only said that she herself wasn't doing the action in question and hadn't heard of any monk doing it. How would she hear? Who would tell her? She did not ask me for information, did not say she would look into it or investigate in any way. Nor engage the Interim Board. Just denial. "I haven't heard."
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Tue Feb 15, 2011 1:53 am

I believe it is important to consider the implication of Meian currently leading Shasta Abbey. While she may have been earlier anointed to follow Eko as abbot, she was actually recently elected to that position by the monks there. That is, hers is the kind of leadership they want. I am very fond of many of the OBC monks individually, but I have not seen any hint of institutional change.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Tue Feb 15, 2011 2:15 am

This not wanting to acknowledge is a huge issue
Go back to Mark quite clearly leaving Shasta saying he felt it was not working for him,and it was gedo zen.
In the UK I quit,I was running a meditation centre,and Bill Picard quit this is a huge warning,the cover up was instant with the discrediting and not telling the truth,some minor previous life was told but not Jesus. I think people chose to ignore,saying they were getting some good out of it,and who were we to be critical,as we 'had not finished our training'
AS a result kennett Roshi,having seen us off became more powerful,it is a bit like a criminal,or domestic abuser when the they have gotten away with the first act,they get more prepared to violate again. So the reports here of bullying and control ( not Mark or my reports) show the way it went unchecked. With Eko it seemed to continue and again it seemed as far as I can tell ( and I am only just gleaming a picture) that there was denial about his behaviour.
Genpo reeked of something when I met him,there was clearly problems waiting to happen with Maezumi ,because of his alcohol problems.Sexuality was a large part of the ongoing situation there as I was written to by students who are still connected.
The painful thimg is while Mark and I left quite clearly and calmly,many other people saw no problem with the change of practice at Shasta.Did they really think that Kennett was Bodidharma, and The monks were jesus and the deciples,if they did well fine you can argue about all day long,despite the great pedigree of ancestors the situation over the years at Shatsa seemed to get worse not better.
If the zazen was true and really being done,the personal alarm bells would have rung.All these warnings going unheaded unfortunately seems par for the course.The unfortunate thing is there are many sincere people with a genuine good practice,and to all those people I bow and say well done
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Tue Feb 15, 2011 2:17 am

Has anyone considered that the master/disciple relationship is just a hitch-hiker that's too dangerous to invite into ones vehicle. Another practise who's time has passed, like driving without seat belts or driving drunk.

Perhaps folks spiritually evolve in spite of the master/disciple relationship rather than because of it. The talk of regulating the master/disciple relationship sounds a lot like gun controls. (Here I'm pretending everyone on the forum is an urban Canadian).
Guns are made to kill things, anything other than getting rid of guns just continues to supports those killings.

This forum clearly illustrates the dangerousness of the master/disciple relationship. The evidence of harm from this relationship better warrants its timely avoidance than relying on the suggested attempts to try to regulate it at some future time.

I don't know how factual ancient Buddhist history really was but I can see that the simplicity of the meditation under a banyan tree has largely morphed over 2500 years into a half blind religious industry of ego connected careers.

Meditation is a safe path that directly points to the moon and has never spawned the need for a forum like this.

Meditation=safer. Master/disciple relationship= less safe.

OK my little rant is now tired.

Cheers all
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Tue Feb 15, 2011 2:33 am

If you want to see a huge Buddhist cult in action, this is an article / slide show about the Dhammakaya group of Thailand - huge, very cultic:

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/01/20/close_encounters_of_the_buddhist_kind

worth looking at......

Shasta / the OBC - small potatoes....
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Tue Feb 15, 2011 2:59 am

Well Josh you have known me for 40 years you have finally worked out a way of making me speechless....but not quite!
What amazes me about the recent disclosures is Gempo still has a big following,and there are 'famous ' people having big mind experiences of cosmic consciousness, and putting their photos and support on the website.gempo apparently runs retreats over here .
The incredible thing is after the meeting with Maezumi and gempo and the husband threatening to kill Gempo that he still survived as a teacher.
Despite all that and the incrdible photos of Thai people. The difficult path of being moved by ones own zazen is I am sure being done, and it does not matter by how many
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:42 am

Howard wrote:

Has anyone considered that the master/disciple relationship is just a hitch-hiker that's too dangerous to invite into ones vehicle. Another practise who's time has passed, like driving without seat belts or driving drunk.
Yes, this is what I think.

I allow for the possibility of meeting up with teachers during my lifetime; I'm willing to learn from people who have something of value to communicate. But I don't seek them out. If we end up on a park bench together, talking for a bit, that's fine. I have no desire to hand over any power, or proximity to my self (which I value) to one of these "masters".

Howard wrote:

Meditation is a safe path that directly points to the moon and has never spawned the need for a forum like this.

Right you are, my man.

L.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Tue Feb 15, 2011 9:29 am

Two rather separate points have been mulling through my mind. Both concern dealing with abuse within the sangha. First, as I understand it and I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong, in all the main legal jurisdictions that are referred to in the previous posts sexual relations without full consent is the crime of sexual molestation or rape. Being coerced by teachers, etc. into sexual relations is not, I think, considered to be full consent. Where this has happened then there is a criminal activity. Where there is evidence of this it is a citizens duty to bring it to the notice of the relevant authorities, in this case the police, not just a local management board. Where there is such criminality it should be prosecuted, and where necessary the perpetrators spend sent to jail. Where there is a single isolated case it can be difficult prove and in all cases it is extremely distressing to the victim, who all warrant our support, care and help in every way both to bring such criminals to justice and to recover. Where this has happened persistently to many people over many years I feel sure the authorities should be able to build a case. If what appears to be imputed about some teachers was happening in a place of education, hospital or medical practice the prosecuting authorities would rightly be down on it like a ton of bricks. But this is a religious setting and they seem to look the other way; how many acknowledged child abusers within the Catholic Church have been prosecuted by the legal authorities?. We religious, in the widest sense of the word religious, seem to think that behaviour of this nature is not criminal when in a religious setting, and may even be 'teaching', either of which are best dealt within the religious setting by management boards or some such. What twaddle! Would we think this of murder? No. Nor should we of rape, or sexual molestation. The sooner any such criminals are brought to justice and are on the Sexual Offenders Register the better it will be for the victims and the future of Buddhism in the west.

My second point was to address how to overcome the problems that all these reports and this forum have highlighted but I think it needs a bit more reflection so I will post when I have better thought it through.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Tue Feb 15, 2011 12:46 pm

As already said above, not wanting to acknowledge is a huge issue, and how many times do I remember my own teacher(s) saying that they were "only human", and not wanting to be put on a pedestal with unrealistic expectations. One would think that it would be only natural for a religious institution to function ethically and morally on higher ground than the rest of the world, yet it seems that the protection of appearance is sometimes more important than the willingness to admit to any wrongdoing or error. quite possibly by the very fact that society does place an often unrealistic expectation on the reliious institution and the people that run them.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Tue Feb 15, 2011 12:53 pm

Here is my take. When a guru / master / roshi keeps saying, "I am only human" and "don't put me on a pedestal," actually the opposite is really going on. Like Kennett saying, "I am not God." Who says this kind of thing? I have never said that to anyone. Why, because why would someone think i was God?

These so-called "masters" need to stop pretending they are more enlightened and wiser than they are. They need to create an authentic environment where there is honest, clear communication, where criticism is allowed, where the truth is told. Then they wouldn't have to keep saying they were human.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Tue Feb 15, 2011 12:57 pm

@ Howard

There is a time, especially in the beginning, where learning a daily meditation practice,and its extension into daily life and activity really does for most people require instruction and support. In this case a teacher/student relationship can be good and helpful. The real meaning of disciple (from the Latin "discipulus") means student. For me receiving or giving instruction and support is a far cry from the surrender of individual autonomy implied in the imported Eastern model of master/disciple. One can enter into a student/teacher agreement with meditation in the same way one enters into an academic teacher/student agreement, or yoga or fitness, or martial arts student/teacher agreement without surrendering autonomy. In any event whenever a personal services contract is entered into, whether it be educational, medical, spiritual, therapeutic, or otherwise, a contract with a code of ethics is necessary to provide safety for both the provider and recipient of the services. I believe that increasingly spiritual services involved with instruction and support in establishing a meditation practice should properly fall within an educational model of personal services and be governed by the ethics and rules and boundaries accordingly. For those individuals who are leading a religious congregation and providing pastoral support, the rules of religious services and clergy ethics should thereby apply.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Tue Feb 15, 2011 1:04 pm

Good grief, the Genpo 'audition tape' gives me the creeps! I'm amazed at the egotism in his self promotion, without so much as a blush....
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Tue Feb 15, 2011 1:24 pm

The first thirty seconds of the Genpo tape are enough to immediately make you want to run for the hills, but since via the media so much emphasis is placed on "celebrities" there are actually people that are vulnerable to even this kind of "stuff".
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Tue Feb 15, 2011 1:34 pm

I agree, but it's amazing how many people are looking for these kind of self-help leaders. Look how big THE SECRET was. When I saw even a little bit of THE SECRET it was clear to me that is all nonsense and hype and delusional thinking, but it sold millions and millions of copies and Oprah and her followers loved it, etc. So, Genpo's BIG MIND may not go away and could become a bigger self-help movement now that he is no longer constrained by any Zen rules or a non-profit organization.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Tue Feb 15, 2011 2:52 pm

Thanks Lisa & Bill for your thoughtful response


" Bill"
I think meditation is the most basic and important relationship that a student can have with their practise. It is the foundation that continually supports everything above it and is the ongoing means to check the square of the building.

The two legs of Meditation instruction are both the practical nuts & bolts blueprint of meditation and the manifestation by the instructor of that living meditation. Short shift the student on either part and both teacher & student end up hobbled.
It is the inability of instructors to get themselves out of the way of the instruction that seems to be the most common problem and that in itself becomes a transmission that is as durable as any lineage.

I've seen a lot of well meaning, well educated, charming, charismatic teachers continuing to teach as they were taught and in their wake are askew buildings and limping students.

It's not that I don't see the value of a personal services contract, it's better than nothing, its just that I don't think it addresses the more central issue of the teachers own ego. I wonder what a personal services contract would have changed at Shasta. Probably the Shasta Speak would take on a bit more PC flavour that would only add complexity to the standing delusion but "Bill" you may have a different take on this.

If one were to give any credence to the Buddha's timed prophesies for the teachings qualitative decline, I think that looking at all the instructors who have failed to get out of their students way would be all the evidence you'd need to become a believer.

Cheers all
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Tue Feb 15, 2011 4:07 pm

@ Robert

I find no fault in what you say. Getting one's egoic self out of the way is endemic in the human condition in any form of helping. Having these relationships of service in the form of an upfront agreement with guidelines and boundaries does help, something to refer to, but is no guarantee. In the instructional relationships I have had with students of meditation I've always felt good when the "graduation" moment comes, and with it a certain freedom. The student has their grounding in some of the basics of having a practice and from that point on it's up to them.

In like manner since ending my affiliation with Shasta Abbey and the OBC, in those times when I have been a student with teacher/consultants I always felt the freedom and had the agreement that I could touch base and check in as I wanted, and leave it when I wanted, so there was never a problem. Those teachers were a resource but not a binding or controlling relationship.

However, I was always puzzled that Shasta Abbey was a declared seminary of study from which no one was ever allowed to truly graduate, and to leave completely with honor. In retrospect the OBC was an aberration, a creation of a religious structure designed to keep students from ever leaving and having the independence to still share what they know about meditation practice. If they left the order, they were discredited and shamed and lost any recognized standing to be a meditation resource to others, as though their own authority was only valid as an extension of the personal authority of Jiyu Kennett. That speaks volumes about your premise here.

No doubt our views are shaped by our personal experience.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Tue Feb 15, 2011 6:04 pm

My apologies for the frequency of posting as I do find this topic compelling, in part from my personal history, in part from a generalized disappointment with the models of spiritual education we have in this culture, in this world. I do think these are Exhibit A with what's wrong with spiritual education and spiritual community both in East and West. The Eastern Model highlights the authoritarianism based on the "realized master" false myth. The Western Model both in monasticism and in community based structures highlights institutional authoritarianism. Both of them leave room for charlatans, sociopaths, and serial sexual predators to worm their way into positions of power, and both of them cultivate conditions of dependency and discourage spiritual autonomy and the achievement of spiritual adulthood or authentic maturity as a goal.

That said, I would be interested in hearing about any healthy models around in actuality, or in idea, of spiritual education that actually aims at spiritual maturation/autonomy (by spiritual education I mean training and support in the exercise of the meditative disciplines both as an individual and as a group). These examples from Josh on this thread are pretty gross, of what can go really wrong. I'm wondering what is actually going really right, what works or might work. And I would not relegate that to Buddhism since this issue exists equally in other traditions of meditative practice, Christian, Hindu, Islam/Sufi, and Jewish.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Tue Feb 15, 2011 6:42 pm

Bill,

I'm glad to see you back and with such frequency!!! Your posts always provide a healthy serving of food for thought.

Thank you for being here.

Warm regards,
mokuan
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:00 am

Hello friends,

Here is an update on the Genpo situation. Teachers from around the country and the world are responding by sending letters to the Kanzeon Zen Center. These are being archived at the Sweeping Zen website.

I spent most of the day today getting a letter into shape for signatures by forty-four teachers. It is based on the recommendations drafted by my friend and local college Chozen Bays. It was also sent to tricycle in the hope they will publicize our efforts to confront this issue as thoroughly as the announcement by Genpo and his organizations. You can see the letter at:

http://sweepingzen.com/2011/02/16/recommendations-for-genpo-merzel-the-kanzeon-zen-center-board-and-the-big-mind-teaching-organization-regarding-the-status-of-genpo-merzel-from-44-azta-members1/

I realize it's a very long link. Right now it's also at the top of the home page at:

http://sweepingzen.com/

With palms joined,

Kyogen
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:30 pm

A while back, Henry said:

Quote :
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.

I too having been thinking about the authoritarian personality type of the zen master and it seems like a good time to relate my experience with Koshin. I have hesitated to do this because he was once my teacher and a friend. Also I don't like to say harsh words on the internet about someone unless there's a good reason. Anyway, you can now read my story at http://northcascadesbuddhism.org/My-Experience-with-the-North-Cascades-Buddhist-Priory.php

There are several reasons for finally telling the story. First, my experience with Koshin is relevant to the many discussions on this forum about the personality of the zen master and what happens when the authoritarian part takes over. It also shows that the legacy of Jiyu Kennett lives on in a big way today.

Second (and more important to me), Amalia suffered great and perhaps permanent damage under Koshin's watch, yet no one in the OBC seems willing to acknowledge that or apologize. Amalia (with my help) has done everything under the OBC's own rules to bring about a resolution of the thing, but no one seems willing to give anything. You can read about her efforts at resolution at http://insidersguidetozen.blogspot.com/2011/01/is-obc-serious-about-reform.html?showComment=1296780442045#c1935624286043301229

(Thank you, Isan, for the information about not putting periods after the links. I hope these work.)

I wonder if the OBC refuses to recognize Amalia's issues because Koshin is so highly respected due his high-level spiritual experiences. He is also extremely stubborn and I can't imagine him ever apologizing. But the OBC has a responsibility to oversee and guide the conduct of the masters they send out into the world.

Finally, North Cascades is very secretive and little is known about what goes on there. The OBC has a responsibility to oversee what is happening there, especially with the vast amounts of property and wealth that North Cascades is accumulating. Maybe they know and approve of what is being done out there.

Maybe all this is OK with the OBC senior monks. I don't know, but I'd be interested in hearing from the forum on all this.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Fri Feb 18, 2011 10:04 pm

Carol, I think we had a bit of an exchange on another thread on this topic where I shared something of my experience with a Roman Catholic order. I believe the strategy here from the OBC seems to be to hunker down and hope this all goes away. The intelligent and healthy thing would be to communicate with those who have been wronged and make amends, but when you are in a closed system, as Howard has pointed out, opening the doors looks real risky, not only from the standpoint of worrying about litigation but perhaps even more importantly from that standpoint is the risk the "floodgates may open" of doubt and questioning. When you have existed for decades as a system that won't tolerate any doubt or any questioning or conflict, and you deal with it oppressively and punitively, such an acknowledgment of having caused harm to trusting students looks pretty darn scary, beyond looking at the potential for litigation. Can a closed oppressive system even exist when healthy communication takes place and where absolute authority is allowed to be questioned, and where leadership must be accountable? Of course for people like you and me, the more positive assessment of integrity and credibility would occur when the OBC leadership steps up and assumes responsibility and undergoes a thorough self-examination, in other words, takes up the practice of sange, contrition and conversion, seriously. My own assessment of the Roman Catholic authorities is that they did not take the question seriously until they were held accountable by the courts and faced real financial consequences and loss of membership loyalty. Maybe the same holds true for the OBC.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Fri Feb 18, 2011 10:20 pm

Addendum:

Carol, I just took a look at the blog where Amalia speaks about her experience at attempting some justice and healing and the OBC's Kafkaesque maneuvers at denial and avoidance. My admonition as a survivor of abuse at the hands of religious authority is not to be lured into a setting where you are further disempowered by the abusers, which is what precisely the OBC is asking of Amalia. When I went through a process myself, I had serious and professional advocacy on my side, and meetings need to happen in settings of the survivor's choosing with powerful advocacy, and that's what is needed to insure that the abuse is not dismissed or even continued by assigning blame to the survivor and insuring that the power inequality continues. At minimum in my view there has to be up-front acceptance of responsibility and commitment to assume responsibility for the full costs of treatment and healing for any honest communication to happen. I don't see any of that in this matter.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Fri Feb 18, 2011 10:41 pm

Bill, Carol I could not agree with you more on the question of responsibility and owning up to mistakes. If the kind of behaviour described happened in a school it would be closed down or reformed. And the standards in a religious institution should be higher. I like the analogy between organisations like the OBC with a school because there a great many similarities. There is the hierarchy of teacher and pupil in both cases, there is the duty of care, the duty to teach honestly and truthfully, the duty not to exploit or abuse, etc. etc. And just as no school is perfect no religious organisation is either both should measure themselves against their ideals and openly admit their failings and the failings of their members. If we look at an organisation and it falls far short of what we would expect of a school I think we can conclude that at the least it needs reformation. Religious organizations are public organisations both in the sense that they invite in the public but also because mostly they are charities, on both counts they are answerable to the public at large. If as Howard says they 'hunker down and hope this all goes away' they are liable to wake up and find that the only thing that has gone away is themselves. History is littered with thousands upon tens of thousands of similar organisations that are now dead and buried and forgotten. The stage for religious organisations is not large and is often crowded, but the graveyard always has plenty of room.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Fri Feb 18, 2011 10:58 pm

Dear Carol,

I just read your links. It's so distressing. I'm sorry that you and Amalia have suffered so much.

I'm not sure that Koshin is so well respected as much as the OBC is totally complacent and/or impotent to do anything to rein him in. I have a feeling it's more the latter.

The "sticky karma" notion of lay people seems to be the status quo within the OBC. I remember observing purification ceremonies after monks left. I never had to participate in one, but a ceremony full of incense was done in the former monk's living and working quarters to purify the space. I'm sure it was done after I left to relieve the Abbey of the putrid stench of my training.

From what I understand, the ceremony expanded and now the monks at Shasta Abbey purify the Abbey after lay retreats. What this says to me is that as a lay person your money and donations are good; your hard work in the gardens or kitchen or chopping wood is good, but your presence stinks. I wonder what the lay community would think if they knew!

And the "spiritual relationship with MK behind closed doors, well I guess it's okay. The head of the order vacations privately with a female monk for many weeks a year, and it was okay when Eko did it, so...

Today, I'm very angry. Thanks for your story, Carol. And to all here, thank you for letting me spew venom. It's unbecoming I know, but at this moment it's my truth.

mokuan
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 19, 2011 12:56 am

Hello Carol

That is one very creepy story about the North Cascades gulag.
I wonder what more could possibly arise from Koshin's place that would really surprise anyone at this point. If there ever was a place that could use a bit of merit.

I doubt that Koshin is really still within the OBC's control who are probably just holding their breath and looking away.
Just how does this get to be called Buddhism?
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Zen "Scandal" and let's rethink the "master" story......   Sat Feb 19, 2011 1:04 am

@ Mark
If as Howard says they 'hunker down and hope this all goes away'
they are liable to wake up and find that the only thing that has gone
away is themselves. History is littered with thousands upon tens of
thousands of similar organisations that are now dead and buried and
forgotten.
************
Thanks for the comments, Mark. I actually think the model we have had in this country of holding churches like the Roman Catholic accountable in just the recent decade or two is a good one. Clergy have violated a sacred trust and the ethics of their profession. This model holds true for Amalia's case. The lesson of the Roman Catholic Church is that one should always confront religious authority from a position of strength, or you will only experience further victimization. Having been through that process I know how unnerving it can be, but also empowering and healing if it is done with care and advocacy for the survivor and from a position of strength on one's own territory. And yes, they should be shut down if they sanction and promote the kind of actions that took place with Amalia.

(I want to clear up the quote... " hunker down.." that is my interpretation, not Howard's. His interpretation was about the idea of the dam of denial breaking and the resistance to confessing wrong.Our exchange can be read on the Shadow threads under OBC Conclave.)

Actions speak louder than words, and at this juncture ample time has passed without any ownership of responsibility or initiative to assist the survivor. I have to also say personally, as a survivor of abuse from clergy monastics, and as a father of an adult daughter, I experience significant anger just reading about this. I don't want to introject my own experience and reactions into this but offer the perspective of a survivor of clergy abuse in a monastic setting which may or may not have relevance. Sexual and emotional abuse from a person in religious authority have a common denominator of the obsession and compulsion to dominate another for harmful, arrogant, and narcissistic purposes. They are both about power. But I would simply return to the thought that the most powerful advocacy possible is what is needed, and to make this process move forward based on the rightful needs and healing of the survivor and not on the demands and machinations of the perpetrators who can now be presumed to have given priority to the defense of their own institution and its staff, holdings, institutional patterns and behavior, and property, and not the well-being of Amalia.
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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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