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 Caryl Gopfert's Dissertation - Student Experiences of Betrayal in Zen

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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Caryl Gopfert's Dissertation - Student Experiences of Betrayal in Zen   Sat Jun 04, 2011 10:48 am

Caryl Reimer Gopfert was a former long-time Zen student and then a graduate student at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto. For her dissertation, she wrote "Student Experiences of Betrayal in the Zen Buddhist Teacher/Student Relationship." It was submitted in March of 1999. She writes about her own experiences and also interviewed 8 other former members in-depth. She does not name names.

The dissertation was never published as a book, but you can order it as a PDF for $37 from a dissertation service - you can search on line using her name. The UMI number of this dissertation is 9934565. Her dissertation is over 450 pages.

She addresses many of the issues that have come up at this forum - abuse of spiritual authority, group-think, guru worship, projection, suppression of personal integrity and so on.

I bought a printed copy of this many years ago - to add to my collection / library - and frankly have only skimmed it. I think this dissertation is a valuable contribution and would be useful for anyone who wanted to study this subject in some detail, especially since it demonstrates that these issues infect many groups, lineages, teachers.

I think i heard that the author Caryl died of cancer some years after writing this, but don't know for sure.
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Diana



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PostSubject: Re: Caryl Gopfert's Dissertation - Student Experiences of Betrayal in Zen   Sat Jun 04, 2011 11:00 am

I read this dissertation last fall. What strikes me most is it was so similar to what I experienced and what many of us here have experienced. This women's relationship with her "master" had all the same paradoxical and destructive interpersonal dynamics that my relationship seemed to have. I'm sure many of you could relate if you read her story. I was able to download it off a site from my school for free. I'm sorry to hear that she has passed, Josh. It's interesting- when I think of her story now, I recognize the deep pain that she had been through but I also recognize some elements that were still very much raw and still needed healing. So similar to many of us here....

Peace,
Diana
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Caryl Gopfert's Dissertation - Student Experiences of Betrayal in Zen   Sat Jun 04, 2011 11:09 am

Good to know that you can get this dissertation at no charge through a university or college library.
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Caryl Gopfert's Dissertation - Student Experiences of Betrayal in Zen   Sat Jun 04, 2011 11:44 am

This is yet another example of interconnection and how small the world is. Jiyu Kennett had ongoing contact with the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, and in particular with Robert Frager. I don't know if there's any direct linkage though between Caryl Reimer Gopfert's thesis and Jiyu Kennett/Shasta Abbey.
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Caryl Gopfert's Dissertation - Student Experiences of Betrayal in Zen   Sat Jun 04, 2011 12:28 pm

Not clear if there is any connection with Caryl and Shasta/Kennett. This thesis was written after Kennett's death. The author writes about 8 other Zen leave-takers but does not use names, so it is possible that one of them was an ex-Shasta person, but it might not be obvious based on what she wrote. I don't know when Kennett stopped visiting the Transpersonal Institute or if Shasta / OBC "masters" visited in her place or taught there later.

I actually bumped into Bob Frager at a conference some years ago - I can't remember the conference. We had a nice, short chat. As you might know, Frager became a serious student of Sufism and is a sheik / teacher / master in that tradition. He is very much into the "transmission" narrative of spirituality - the concept that there is a perfect pipeline that extends back in time to where the Divine originated - in the Sufi tradition - from the Prophet Mohammad.

This transmission narrative is definitely worth questioning as is the concept that "the Divine" comes down from the past.
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Diana



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PostSubject: Re: Caryl Gopfert's Dissertation - Student Experiences of Betrayal in Zen   Sat Jun 04, 2011 1:03 pm

If there was only one thing that I could suggest to FaithTrust, it would be to read this dissertation as it perfectly outlines what happens in the master/student relationship and according to Caryl's findings, causes PTSD in some students. One of her main themes is "betrayl of trust" and the psychological impact of this on students. I know many of us can relate to that.

Of course, all this IS bigger than the Eko situation and DOES point to all "masters" in the Zen lineage including Jiyu. In my opinion, this master/student relationship is impossible to practice without harm and I can't support it.

~Diana
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Christopher Hamacher



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PostSubject: Re: Caryl Gopfert's Dissertation - Student Experiences of Betrayal in Zen   Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:26 pm

The dissertation has in the meantime become available for free download by anyone. If you don't have the time to go through all 450 pages, I recommend at least reading the student testimonials. Though Gopfert doesn't name names, given all the information that has become available on the internet since she wrote it, most of teachers involved are now quite easy to identify, including Eido Shimano, Richard Baker, Taizen Maezumi and Willigis Jäger.
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Caryl Gopfert's Dissertation - Student Experiences of Betrayal in Zen   Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:51 pm

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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Caryl Gopfert's Dissertation - Student Experiences of Betrayal in Zen   Sun Dec 15, 2013 10:15 am

Student Experiences of Betrayal in the Zen Buddhist Teacher/Student Relationship now free online

Posted by: Adam Kō Shin Tebbe December 10, 2013



Over the past several years when discussing some of the scandals that have come to light in the North American Zen community, you may have seen various writers make reference to a 1999 dissertation by the late Caryl Reimer Gopfert titled “Student Experiences of Betrayal in the Zen Buddhist Teacher/Student Relationship.” Caryl wrote the dissertation while a student at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, California. In it she writes of her own experiences and interviews 8 others.

Previously, this 450 page dissertation was only available as a PDF download for a fee through a dissertation service, but it now available in its entirety at the Shimano Archive with the blessing of Caryl’s family.

Names of teachers and students have been redacted in the original work, though the Shimano Archive (which continues adding new documents) has provided an excerpt in which Shimano is identified.

I’d like to encourage everyone to download the PDF of the full dissertation and read it at your own leisure, as it’s a fascinating read and also as timely as the day it was first published. While it has been available at other sites for some time for free download, the Shimano Archive and Sweeping Zen did not wish to point people to it until the family provided its blessing.

FULL DISSERTATION
EIDO SHIMANO EXCERPT
Photo by Sharon Hoffman.
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