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 Zen Has No Morals

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Christopher Hamacher



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PostSubject: Zen Has No Morals   Mon Jul 09, 2012 7:27 am

[Admin note: this topic was split from the "Some Fundamental Problems With Zen Practice" thread. If anyone has trouble accessing the paper via the link please let us know]

I have just finished a more in-depth paper on this issue which is now available on the web:

http://www.thezensite.com/ZenEssays/CriticalZen/Zen_Has_No_Morals.pdf

I look forward to any comments!
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Mon Jul 09, 2012 11:18 am

Christopher Hamacher wrote:


http://www.thezensite.com/ZenEssays/CriticalZen/Zen_Has_No_Morals.pdf

I look forward to any comments!

Thanks! Will take some time with it and get back to you.

Update: This is well written and deserves the widest audience possible. Is it OK to share it? There may be other websites that would host it as well, such as Sweeping Zen.


Last edited by Isan on Mon Jul 09, 2012 11:02 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Zen Has No Morals   Mon Jul 09, 2012 12:17 pm

Christopher --

First, I want to thank you for writing the paper and getting it out there. You have done an excellent analysis of many of the key issues that affect many Zen and other kinds of Buddhist communities and teachers. This paper is valuable and important. We don't need "good news" - We need truth and insight and accountability.

Of course I knew all about Shimano, but I was unfamiliar with this German groups which sounds very abusive and creepy.

I read through your paper quickly, but I wanted to post something now. I might comment more later on some of the specifics.

I would urge former OBC / Shasta members to read your paper. You define eight types of behavior that infect Zen teachers and their communities. Much of what you address was endemic at Shasta and with Kennett, in one way or another. Yes, there may have been some differences, but the general distortions both with Kennett and with the organization are right on target with what you describe.

Frankly, when I read your paper, I just feel very sad that we can fall into such painful situations.

Some people are astonished that even when all kinds of scandals break or all the abuses of a teacher come to light, many followers still stay. I think we need to understand more about how this deep enchantment functions, how this grand spiritual / dharma / buddha story can so lock into our psyches -- early on in our journey - that reality becomes totally secondary.

Under the enchantment, we deny what we see, what we hear, deny our common sense and our intuition, because the story is just too delicious and we have been repeating it over and over again, swimming in it. We want our teacher to be a "living Buddha" regardless of what the evidence reveals. Frankly, we see some version of this in all religions I suppose. But with Zen and other forms of Buddhism, we have this unique enchantment that can overwhelm common sense and intelligence and lead us down dark alleys. This enchantment is a mix of the buddha story, the concept of the fully enlightened teacher, the practice of "skillful means," the idea of crazy wisdom, the myth of the transmission lineage, and so on. It is quite a brew, this particular enchantment - so seductive to so many.

People really want to worship this "full enlightened" teacher -- "the real deal" - as one of Shimano's disciples describes him even after all the scandals come out. What does that mean -- the real deal? All the evidence contradicts him being "fully" enlightened - indeed, his behavior sounds sub-human, hardly super human. After all, in the original sangha, any teacher that misbehaved was expelled - publicly. Behavior was very important. Just because you were a senior teacher did not mean you were exempt from basic moral behavior. That is such a Japanese Zen idea from a much later time.

I think you make some good points about how even being a sexual predator can be rationalized, justified, glorified - seen as some higher teaching. This is a very old story. Nothing new here. "Let me teach you tantra." "You need to be opened up" - which usually means "I'm the guru, spread your legs" - and of course, it is all to enlighten you, the guru is doing you such a favor, it is a blessing, a transmission of divine energy -- and not what it appears to be. The master is beyond rules, morality, karma. And how can you, a lowly lay person, a deluded human being, judge or understand the actions of a "living Buddha" a "fully enlightened" master? Well, you can't, so just go along with whatever happens, bow down, go with the flow, submit, surrender - any other response is just your ego, your faults, your blindness and projections. What a story!

I am just babbling here. I recommend that people who post on this board read your article. Also, if people haven't read all the Stuart Lachs essays, they are really worth reviewing.
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Ikuko



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PostSubject: temporary thread maintenance   Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:03 pm

Hello Christopher

I have just finished reading Zen Has No Morals.

I very much appreciate the straightforward style you have used.The approach is evidence-based,which is appropriate, when the culture you describe is inimical to the concept of evidence.In fact the way you present the histories of these two "old perves" shows up splendidly how common-sense evidence is reductified for the purpose of perpetuating the decadent little worlds they managed to create for themselves.

Can I ask why you choose to refer extensively to the sexual abuse they practiced,but not include it in your list of organisational characterisitics? Perhaps I have missed something here?Is it difficult to discuss because you perceive a complexity with regard to the quality of the evidence for the behaviour?I would appreciate that this could be the case.Perhaps you hesitate because the abuse appears to have been hetero-erotic ,and male to female,and therefore you feel less qualified to critique it?

The formula for appraisal you propose will be very useful I believe.I find that the "checklist" is a remedy to mystification of all kinds.Your list of organisational characterisitics will help people to appraise the group or individual they may be getting involved with,or at least have access to a tool with which to do so.

I may post again,as I think I will read this a few times.My initial response is hilarious laughter,not at your splendid piece,but at the absurdity of the narrative you present.But I appreciate these people and others like them are also dangerous.

Thank you for the link.

Ikuko
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Mon Jul 09, 2012 7:11 pm

:-) Hi Christopher!

Many thanks for posting, and for your considerable work.

Just a couple of points:
1) Page 25, footnote 134: I think I'm right in saying that OBC Connect was not specifically "created...to discuss abuse by various OBC teachers", though discussion certainly happened. This is a link to Lise's original post on why the forum was created: http://obcconnect.forumotion.net/t4-the-forum-s-purpose
2) Page 37: I realise that you are presenting Ralf Halfmann's view "that Zen's utopian ideal of 'egolessness' is in reality impossible to achieve"--I am not sure if it is also your own. In theory, the liberative insight referred to in Zen Buddhism is that of Buddhism in general, and this is by no means impossible, but it is very possible (and indeed likely at times) to have misunderstandings about it: and I guess that teachers may unwittingly (and, in some cases, wittingly) share the 'benefits of their ignorance' with their students! There's a saying something like, "To reach somewhere you don't know, you must go by a road you don't know", and these misunderstandings are, I think, often the attempts of people trying to make their way to 'somewhere they don't yet know'...but staying at home wouldn't be a solution either! So while the misunderstandings may present "impossible ideals", whether ones own or those one reads or hears (or infers), part of an individual's training is to 'see through them'; but one may be under their individual sways for a while in each case, and releasing will happen only as a process over time rather than in one fell swoop.

I regret that time-constraints have meant that I may not have read your essay adequately, but I shall be sharing it with other Zen practitioners in the UK. (-:
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Tue Jul 10, 2012 4:10 pm

Zen Has No Morals
I cant quite get passed the title,
The title implies that one looks somewhere else for direction and spirituality.
Does the implication mean that spirituality is found in an institution, or a teacher. Does this mean that the only holy place is somewhere else,and one has to live someone else's life to find ones true nature.
This Zen has no place in my life
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Tue Jul 10, 2012 5:20 pm

chisanmichaelhughes wrote:
Zen Has No Morals
I cant quite get passed the title

Did you read the paper?
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Tue Jul 10, 2012 5:25 pm

:-) CMH, the full title of the essay is "Zen Has No Morals!" - The Latent Potential for Corruption and Abuse in Zen Buddhism, as Exemplified by Two Recent Cases. I'm not sure if Christopher has actually seen or heard those words (in that order!) spoken by a 'teacher' or if it's a blunt paraphrase of what seems effectively implicit in such statements as Klaus Zernickow's, "Zen Masters are not holy men or moral apostles [...] since they know: there is only ever a relative view of morality and righteousness" (page 37, footnote 212), when touted as an excuse for injurious behaviour. In other words, they might just as well have said, "Zen has no morals!"

I may be putting words into Christopher's mouth here, but I am just trying to soothe your fevered brow;-)

eek As that may be paraphrased for Christopher's next blockbuster, "It's the Thought that Counts!" - The Latent Potential for Mayhem in Zen Buddhism, I'd better get an alias! (This time I think I've confused me too, CMH!) (-:
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cmpnwtr

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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Wed Jul 11, 2012 3:48 pm

I strongly object to the premise of the title of this piece. I haven't read it and I don't intend to read it. It is a classic straw man argument, however, based on the title alone. The author in a previous thread stated I had no knowledge of Zen when I stated that my training was grounded in the premise that the essentials of Zen practice are Zazen and the Precepts. Instead he has an agenda of promoting his attack on Zen practice everywhere based on his study of a limited sample of toxic teachers and toxic communities. My training in the precepts as the foundation of practice in every day life and meditation in action, was the most exacting approach to ethics and spirituality I have found anywhere, including my training in a Christian monastic seminary. The title is as absurd as saying that "Christianity has no Morals" or "Hinduism has no Morals" or "Islam has no Morals" based on an agenda-laden limited sample of two or three teachers or communities filled with human beings who have run amuck. It is not the fault of Zen Buddhism, Chrisitanity, Islam, Judaism, or any religious tradition that human beings refuse to take their commitment to practice seriously.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Wed Jul 11, 2012 4:20 pm

Well that is it Bill,practice is not bound nor is it for the chosen few. fancy titles and brightly colored robes do not place one any nearer the true way.The muddy waters of our lives is where our faith and belief in the true way can grow strong,by taking a step and saying this is not the right way actually allows one to find further faith and strength in what is the right way
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Diana



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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Wed Jul 11, 2012 6:15 pm

Thank you Christopher, for your most excellent paper! It's a very important piece of work. Well done! I'm sure the ICSA folks loved it. They have been waiting for paper's and research like this for a while now.

It would be a shame if people didn't read the paper just because of the title. The paper reminds me that there are so many victims out there who have suffered and are suffering. It is a great service to all those victims to have information like this; it helps to validate their suffering and helps them to heal. If it helps to reduce or stop suffering and helps to protect the Three Treasures, isn't it Dharma?

Best Wishes,
Diana
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Wed Jul 11, 2012 6:51 pm

Diana wrote:
It would be a shame if people didn't read the paper just because of the title.

Yes, the title seems to implicate all of Zen Buddhism, but the paper is specific and nuanced. I would encourage anyone who is put off by the title to at least give the paper a quick read to understand its true intent. It is quite long and examines two groups in great depth - the more general issues can be appreciated without paying attention to every detail.

Diana wrote:
The paper reminds me that there are so many victims out there who have suffered and are suffering. It is a great service to all those victims to have information like this; it helps to validate their suffering and helps them to heal. If it helps to reduce or stop suffering and helps to protect the Three Treasures, isn't it Dharma?

It's mind-boggling, isn't it? Hard to believe that the behavior Christopher describes passes for Buddhist practice in these groups.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Thu Jul 12, 2012 8:07 am

Well it can not pass as Buddhism as Buddhism is not being lived, if it is not lived it is not taught, if it is not taught is is not realised,if it is not realised it is not lived.

However I bet there was a lot of talk of Kensho....
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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:31 pm

cmpnwtr wrote:
I haven't read it and I don't intend to read it.

I'll stop reading there then...
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Mia



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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Thu Jul 12, 2012 3:40 pm

Perhaps it's Zen of me to skip the details and enjoy the conclusion, "One has to accept that Zen is not in fact immune from its prescriptions. As one student has put it: “we Zennies have to stop thinking of ourselves as special.”" Indeed
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Thu Jul 12, 2012 4:19 pm

Perhaps it's Zen of me to skip the details and enjoy the conclusion

Now that did make me laugh Mia
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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Thu Jul 12, 2012 4:33 pm

wink
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jack



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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Thu Jul 12, 2012 11:20 pm

I read the paper. I found it interesting. I found the continuing behavior of the followers to be as outrageous as that of the "bad" master.

To me, this phenomena has little directly to do with Zen. I am a bit amazed that in religion of all sorts, people pay little attention to the actions of the teacher when those actions clearly and consistently contradict what he/she is teaching. But that's what I've found both in Christianity and Buddhism. It does not seem incongruous to most laity if a monk of 30 years goes nuts over a small inconvenience or nuisance if he sometimes talks in somber tones about he reached enlightened equanimity.

I read an account of a Catholic priest who has being relieved of duties because of child abuse being given a going away party by the parishioners who started to recount all the wonderful work Father Z had done with youth groups -- until one lonely person in the audience, astounded to the point of outburst, called the group to account for its outrageous disregard of the facts and molested children. Blows my mind.

How does that happen? I really don't know. It does. But it makes me believe human beings are mostly incapable of seeing anything -- even if it is devouring them. If one is truly blind, then one can be forgiven for not seeing. But if one deliberately keeps the eyes closed, how can he not be accountable for what he refuses to see?

While children are clearly victims, I'm not at all sure that adults who "spread their legs" or empty their pocketbooks because the "master" asks them to do so are victims. They are perhaps indeed fools, but willing fools aren't necessarily victims.

I do have sympathy for adults who get hurt, but it is the common human sympathy I have for a dead motorcycle crash victim that refused to wear a helmet that could have saved his life, and that teenage friend of mine who died in a head-on crash at night because he was trying to reach some mileage goal of driving at night without headlights.

I'm not a all sure that Zen morality is more lacking than Tibetan morality. I'm not sure about Theravadin; I've read of some problems there also. While I think the title skewers Zen fairly, it also I think infers that this is a "Zen" problem -- something I don't think is probably true..

I don't think the general problem can be solved by outing this or that "bad" master. It has to be changed at the root of blind, gullible faith and hope of the followers that makes "bad" masters possible.

.
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glorfindel

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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:29 am

jack wrote:

While children are clearly victims, I'm not at all sure that adults who "spread their legs" or empty their pocketbooks because the "master" asks them to do so are victims. They are perhaps indeed fools, but willing fools aren't necessarily victims.


.

I've thought a lot about this since discovering OBCC. I'm beginning to think that the concept of adulthood is a fallacy. A person (adult or child) either has knowledge and critical faculties or not. Of course an adult, having had more experience of the world, is more likely to have those qualities, but it's not a Necessary Truth. From that viewpoint anyone can be manipulated, if the perpetrator preys on a victims lack of knowledge.
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Mia



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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:55 am

If you've been primed to do it as a child, you are more likely to do it as an adult. So in a way the adult is still the child victim, for lack of having figured out how to break that pattern. As you suggest glorfindel, if a "willing" adult had known better, they wouldn't put themselves in a position of abuse.

One way of breaking the pattern in others is to hold them accountable for their choices, in a way that we wouldn't do with children. Calling them fools however if they are still acting the pattern of child victim would only serve to keep them in that child role. That's not to say that there aren't also genuine fools who do stupid things for no reason, who should be called out on it, if they survive.

I'm with you jack that it isn't just a Zen problem, although there are specific ways in which it plays out in Zen in the same way that there are specific ways it plays out in Catholicism etc. I also agree that calling out this or that bad Zen master, while of course it should be done as with any criminal case, it doesn't automatically mean that we're getting to the root of the problem. We must be careful to address the whole picture before it happens again.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:52 am

In my opinion child and adult abuse is very complex, fairly wide spread, and tends to happen between people that know each other. Family, friends,and in this case spiritual community.The common theme is trust or broken trust. I do not profess to understand it or even understand how to help. However I do have a lot of experience of victims of abuse. I do not disagree with anything you guys have said. Very fresh in my mind is 2 young people who have stayed with me this year,1 was a young adult and 1 a young girl, both victims of abuse the young adult was out of control and stayed at the suggestion of a judge and social service,the girl requested to stay herself. The issues were complex and beyond me.

Interestingly ( to me anyway) was that both people responded best to me doing absolutely nothing apart from what I normally do.

Get up early , sit zazen, have breakfast shout at them to get up, make them breakfast etc. I think that they both had done all the talking and counseling been through it all,and responded to the security of normal boring life, that always seemed the same, not going anywhere, not asking questions.

Both were wild, I had to take a knife off the girl,now she is calm the adult has moved into his own home with friends and is doing well.
So it is complex some people have to be reprimanded , punished, talked to. Victims have to be allowed to speak, and therapists have to be called in, I know nothing about it,I am sure that there are great helpers and advisers. However amongst the unsureness of what to do I thought I would throw into the pot the success that seemed to happen by not doing anything.
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:22 am

This is a fascinating interview with two ex scientologists, high up the heirarchy. Organization + religion + power by some + willingness to relinquish power by others = much the same.

Well worth watchinig:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/48171079#48171079
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Mia



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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Fri Jul 13, 2012 9:49 am

Thanks Henry, I really warmed to the interviewees. Squirrel Busters?!? Clearly we need to catch up and get slogan T-shirts made.
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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:06 am

Henry wrote:
This is a fascinating interview with two ex scientologists, high up the heirarchy. Organization + religion + power by some + willingness to relinquish power by others = much the same.

Well worth watchinig:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/48171079#48171079

Henry, you ruined my breakfast with this - thanks a lot! Actually I had heard before that Scientology used these tactics. They are poised to become modern day brown shirts.
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:11 am

Isan,

I just had breakfast myself while watching this video. I asked myself, "Why should I ruin just my breakfast when I might be able to ruin others' too? Hopefully Isan's if I'm lucky." And wouldn't you know it. It's my lucky day!!
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:26 am

Chisan,

Enjoyed you story of the kids you've been looking after and how you doing not much a nothin' has worked out well for them. I just wanted to add that as an official "expert" I wish I had appreciated your technique earlier in my career. I find lately that more and more I use my groups with kids to just be me and let them talk. I offer less and less guidance over time (hope my boss isn't reading this). This appears to build trust not only in me, but in their own sense that they can be themselves with adults. I then "use" this trust in their family sessions so that they can be themselves with their parents and help their parents allow them to be themselves. They end up acting much less like little [admin delete] when talking with their parents and they can actually start to repair their relationships.

My one concern is that while I am building trust with them, that you (as a non expert) might actually just be intimidating them with your size and demeanor and that they're only behaving out of fear. Let me know if you need wimpy lessons.


Last edited by Lise on Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:32 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Coarse language.)
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:39 am

jack wrote:
I don't think the general problem can be solved by outing this or that "bad" master. It has to be changed at the root of blind, gullible faith and hope of the followers that makes "bad" masters possible

Mia wrote:
I also agree that calling out this or that bad Zen master, while of course it should be done as with any criminal case, it doesn't automatically mean that we're getting to the root of the problem. We must be careful to address the whole picture before it happens again.

In general I agree with both of you, but as a practical matter how can the "root/whole picture" be addressed? It seems to me that bad masters have to be held accountable one at a time, primarily by the people who are (or were) in their orbits and have realized what is wrong.

Christopher hasn't said why he's specifically following the doings at ZSS and Mu Mon Kai, but clearly he's invested. It can be a hard and painful business bringing these matters to light. I don't see Chris' paper primarily as a critique of Zen. He must have his reasons for wanting to bring to light the wrongdoing of these two groups in such detail.
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Henry

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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Fri Jul 13, 2012 11:39 am

Isan wrote

how can the "root/whole picture" be addressed? It seems to me that bad masters have to be held accountable one at a time, primarily by the people who are (or were) in their orbits and have realized what is wrong.

I think, realistically, that we are simply talking about human nature. There are those who simply are followers. There are those who have dependency needs and find those needs met wherever they can. This phenomenon can't be stopped.

I think, at best, we, and those who think similarly, can be a voice for other alternatives. While I don't think I was ever a "true believer" in the sense that many of these folks with Shimano and the other guy are; or as many in the OBC are who had near delusional ideas of who Eko was are. But I was certainly enough of a believer to remain there for so many years; enough of a believer to discount my own internal warning system.

I think we are doing what we can by speaking of our experience and of what we can be and do instead. Then it is out there for those who are able to be open to other ideas to consider, to match to their own internal experience and wonder if there might be some truth to our point of view.

I just wrote an opinion on Brightmoon in which I ask why was no one in the OBC heirarchy able to see who Eko was. That was written a week ago and no one has responded to that post. Perhaps someone will in time, or perhaps what I wrote does not resonate with people on that site.

There are avid questioners and those who like to go along and belong. Neither of these personality types are disappearing any time soon. Each has their own potential up and down sides. Questioners can become cynics. Belongers can become mindless followers. Questioners can move ideas and knowledge forward. Belongers can help people feel a sense of emotional security and nurturing.

In an ideal world, each personality type can help the other. In the real world, the push and pull can be quite disconcerting. But that doesn't mean that nothing is accomplished.
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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Fri Jul 13, 2012 11:51 am

Henry I did think of you when I wrote further up the page. I think you must do well with the kids you have a great asset of humor,and an ability to be on their side i think.
Don,t worry about the kids here they are tougher than me. (But only just!)
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Fri Jul 13, 2012 11:52 am

Just read your other post you say

I just wrote an opinion on Brightmoon in which I ask why was no one in the OBC heirarchy able to see who Eko was

That is the question isn't it
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Christopher Hamacher



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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:31 pm

Thanks everyone for so carefully reading my paper and for all your replies. A couple of comments and responses from me:

Ikuko wrote:

Can I ask why you choose to refer extensively to the sexual abuse they practiced, but not include it in your list of organisational characterisitics? Perhaps I have missed something here?

I specifically didn't list the sex because I wanted to focus on those characteristics that are easily-recognizable red flags for potential students. Sexual abuse is always more or less hidden, so a student can't be blamed for not knowing what was going on in the master's bedroom or wherever. Hypocrisy, narcissism, autocratic rule, etc., on the other hand, can be recognized by anyone early on, and so a student can leave the group before it comes to sexual advances.

Anne wrote:


Just a couple of points:
1)
Page 25, footnote 134: I think I'm right in saying that OBC Connect was
not specifically "created...to discuss abuse by various OBC teachers",
though discussion certainly happened. This is a link to Lise's original
post on why the forum was created: http://obcconnect.forumotion.net/t4-the-forum-s-purpose
2)
Page 37: I realise that you are presenting Ralf Halfmann's view "that
Zen's utopian ideal of 'egolessness' is in reality impossible to
achieve"--I am not sure if it is also your own. In theory, the
liberative insight referred to in Zen Buddhism is that of Buddhism in
general, and this is by no means impossible, but it is very possible
(and indeed likely at times) to have misunderstandings about it: and I
guess that teachers may unwittingly (and, in some cases, wittingly)
share the 'benefits of their ignorance' with their students! There's a
saying something like, "To reach somewhere you don't know, you must go
by a road you don't know", and these misunderstandings are, I think,
often the attempts of people trying to make their way to 'somewhere they
don't yet know'...but staying at home wouldn't be a solution either!
So while the misunderstandings may present "impossible ideals", whether
ones own or those one reads or hears (or infers), part of an
individual's training is to 'see through them'; but one may be under
their individual sways for a while in each case, and releasing will
happen only as a process over time rather than in one fell swoop.

Thanks Anne, I agree. If the paper ever gets published in a more concrete form, I will change the wording on #1. About enlightenment, I tend to agree with Halfmann, but I agree that nobody's perfect and the teacher may also be unwittingly encouraging the phenomenon instead of actively exploiting it. In any case, one should be aware that it is possible for students to interpret the teachings that way.

cmpnwtr wrote:
I strongly object to the premise of the title of this
piece. I haven't read it and I don't intend to read it. It is a classic
straw man argument, however, based on the title alone.

That"s unfortunate, since Anne is quite correct in pointing out that - as the quotation marks indicate - I didn't come up with the title myself but am simply quoting the two dharma-transmitted Zen masters in question themselves. To be perfectly concrete, it's actually a paraphrase but I did once hear a Shimano dharma heir actually use those words. One can debate ad infinitum whether Zen actually has "morals" or not, but the point is they said it, not me, and as I note in my paper, there is ample evidence to back that statement up.

Isan wrote:

Christopher hasn't said why he's specifically
following the doings at ZSS and Mu Mon Kai, but clearly he's invested.
It can be a hard and painful business bringing these matters to light. I
don't see Chris' paper primarily as a critique of Zen. He must have
his reasons for wanting to bring to light the wrongdoing of these two
groups in such detail.

Indeed I do. As I mentioned in the paper, I did in fact briefly study with Shimano, who is the "dharma brother" of my own late teacher Kyudo Nakagawa. So I do have a personal interest in clarifying that what Shimano is teaching is not Zen. As for Mumon-Kai, I came across that group at about the same time I was looking into the ZSS case, and couldn't help but notice the parallels. And since I speak German I decided that the abuse there deserved a wider audience. And to tell the truth, for me writing the paper was cathartic in working through my own shattered illusions about the infallibility of Zen.

And the icing on the cake was that. as it happens, this year's ICSA conference took place in my home town of Montreal, so I couldn't help but attend and present a paper!
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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Sat Jul 14, 2012 2:57 am

Yes , that expression , 'straw man' that Bill uses is the only thing I'm left with after reading through most of this . But, with a daft obedience I started on the paper ,felt sick and strangely weary and stopped .
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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Sat Jul 14, 2012 7:45 am

Bill and Nicky,

Given that the title "Zen has No Morals" is not the opinion of Chris (I'll take him at his word), but rather a quote from Shimano -- ostensibly expressing his own opinion -- I'm not sure what the objection is there. And while the behavior of the two people spoken of in the paper can't -- and I don't believe this was Chris's intention -- be generalized to Zen teachers as a whole, they do provide good examples of what can happen when the potential misunderstanding of Buddhist doctrine (eg. no self means I can take advantage of you and you can't complain) becomes actualized abuse. For me, it was very interesting to read of distinct patterns I saw played out in my own experience at Shasta: organizing principles to shine a light on destructive behaviors that Zen appears prone to if adherents are not aware of them. That, at any rate, was my take.

One the other hand, I respect your opinions and I'm curious why you both walked away from reading this paper with a very different impression from mine. I'm wondering what you're seeing and what you"re reacting to that I might be overlooking. Hope you have the time and inclination to respond.
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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Sat Jul 14, 2012 8:45 am

Henry ,
i read your bit , and my heart sank , and i thought I'll just go and THINK , so i went into the garden and burrowed under one of my huge potato plants to see what was going on - still only tiny tubers , and lovely , rich black earth .ahhhhhhh. so all that is to say my thinking is not very terrific .
( and incidentally Bills response is a far profounder and more thoughtful one, than my reaction and it moved me- )

I just dont want to go on reading about abuse and pain and messed about religion and then explanations , but i know i know for some of us its helpful and indeed vital , and i should have kept a respectful , indeed compassionate , silence .
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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Sat Jul 14, 2012 8:56 am

I did not read it Henry, I simply did not fancy reading it.

I feel I have overdosed on reading about bad teachers and religions, there was not really much discussion about the article we talked around it and of other things,constantly reading about what is bad tends to be a bit boring,for all the members here not many joined in, and there were not many initial readers of the post.

The interesting thing is what you asked why did people not spot Eko's behaviour. Maybe the answer is they did not want to,maybe they found some good things , and maybe they simply had not seen true zen practiced and did not know, it is very fine lines of what is ok and what is not.

I am sure you know that many people abused in domestic situations stay with it as they actually find some security in what they know,this applies to wives ,husbands and children. Maezumi Roshi was very likable ( certainly early on) but he was a drunk, but he was a drunk when he was Maezumi Sensei. The people with him were very sincere their views on smoking weed and sexual behavior were different to mine.

There is life after spiritual hurt and it is important to remain in touch with ones initial and perhaps quite pure intentions to search for the truth, and not take the path of it's all dark out there.
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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:04 am

Henry wrote:
I just wrote an opinion on Brightmoon in which I ask why was no one in the OBC heirarchy able to see who Eko was. That was written a week ago and no one has responded to that post.
Hi Henry, the admin thought it deserved a thread of its own and it quickly received nine replies here http://brightmoon.org/forum/why-could-ekos-obvious-abuse-power-not-be-seen (link will probably only work if you sign in.) That's funny, I was wondering why you hadn't come back and said more about it, so I'm glad you mentioned it just now.

Isan wrote:
as a practical matter how can the "root/whole picture" be addressed? It seems to me that bad masters have to be held accountable one at a time, primarily by the people who are (or were) in their orbits and have realized what is wrong.
For me it's addressed personally, institutionally and governmentally. Bad masters are held accountable one at a time, but we also put preventative measures in place. Personally this means learning to spot it and developing the [admin delete] to do something about it. Institutionally it means contributing to and pushing through clear procedures which undermine abusive power structures. We've started to make suggestions for this in Henry's thread (link above). It also means watching out for friends and family around us, e.g. teaching kids to be confident in their own intuition about people rather than forcing them to conform at all costs. Governmentally it means establishing places like the Faith Trust Institute, keeping an eye on if they're doing their job, lobbying for their legal clout, maybe joining them as a volunteer, consultant or board member (or if they're not doing their job, establishing bodies that do.) We do it from wherever we are; once we've found the confidence for ourselves, giving it to others e.g. in the way that chisan and Henry do, or if you're a teacher then to students, if you're a writer then to readers, etc.


Last edited by Lise on Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:28 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Removal of coarse language.)
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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Sat Jul 14, 2012 7:54 pm

@Henry
The title was intended to be provocative rather than informative. And in so doing it was deliberately misleading. I've seen enough written that paints human beings and their spiritual practice with broad brushes that are intended to attack and cause harm rather than heal. I want no part of it. I am a survivor of the worst kind of abuse, not from Zen, but from Christian clergy and monks. Yet I do not judge anyone other than those who commit the abuse and those who hide the abuser from accountability. Writing inflammatory articles with horrific details does not necessarily get at any universal truth or judgment. When I see a title that is intentionally misleading, I go no further. I do not need to be convinced that individual teachers and communities can run amok, that is the fault of the human condition and human folly. It is not the fault of a venerable Wisdom tradition, nor those authentic practitioners who find a home there.
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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:05 am

Yes, the title was provocative. I have no problem with that. the sub-title nails the issue and I am grateful for this essay and the questions it addresses. Thank you, Christopher. Thank you for posting it. And when I bump into other essays, articles that also take on these topics, I will post them.

The problems in the Catholic Church are not about a few bad apples or a few hundred bad apples. It is perfectly reasonable to examine in depth the institutional issues and dogmas / teachings that can lead to abuse and blindness that creates the the Vatican hierarchy, corrupt popes and bishops, the Crusades, the inquisitions, the subjugation of entire populations and nations, abuse of women and gays.

Religious stories, myths, beliefs and dogmas can have extensive and very destructive consequences along with some wisdom. No doubt there is great wisdom in some of the Christian teachings AND there is much that can be challenged and debated or reconsidered. Just because St. Theresa said something doesn't mean it should be swallowed whole just because some pope decided she should have the title Saint in front of her name. Just because "it is written" in the gospels does not mean, to me anyway, that whatever is said is faultless or pure. They are neither. There is much in the old and new testaments that I personally find harmful, and not based in some grand wisdom tradition, but in patriarchal tribal behavior. Worthy of challenge.

Now, as to Japanese Zen Buddhism -- I think it is perfectly reasonable to question the ethics and morals of both Rinzai and Soto Zen, their teachings and practices and some assumptions that can have complex consequences - especially over the last few hundred years when Zen became completely part of the imperial system, emperor worships and war promotion. In fact, it can be argued that most of Zen that was lived in Japan certainly from the early 1900s through the end of World War II was not Buddhism at all - for the most part - as the precepts were subjugated to imperial militarism and emperor worship became extreme. Of course, there were no doubt many sincere monks who hid away from the imperial system, but they were the exceptions not the rule.

And it is perfectly reasonable, from my point of view, to question how the teachings were morphed into this mixed Japanese state religion. There are many examples where the teachings of non-duality can become an excuse to believe that when you have a few meditation experience, claim to be a great master, you are now beyond karma and consequences, that whatever you do in a state of no-mind or emptiness or non-thinking is someone perfect - even killing and slaughtering. Even back in the thirteenth century, Dogen was dealing with the then budding corruption of Samurai Zen - and it only got much much worse.

I am not making this stuff up nor am i exaggerating. Read Brian Victoria's two books as well as the recent book - Buddhist Warfare. It is chilling to see how even something as wonderful as the dharma can be systematically corrupted to promote institutional state religion and military power. This happens in every religion and Buddhism is no exception. Yes, it is human nature AND it also implicates how teachings and philosophies and institutions and ancient traditions can also create the context for the abuse. Just because something has been said for a few thousand years and is "traditional", does not make any more true.

But beyond the horrors of war, I think it is a very valuable discussion to explore how certain teachings / beliefs / big stories about enlightenment, the fully enlightened master, the concepts of going beyond good and evil, and the stories about skillful means and crazy wisdom - how these can become mega stories that can justify all manner of authoritarian abuse and excesses. I have seen these extensively not only in Buddhism but other "guru" traditions - and it is fascinating how anything can be rationalized and justified. And I personally think it is not only useful but essential to explore what happens in these situations. and to question, challenge, probe.

I do not think the essay that we are talking about here is inflammatory at all. I totally disagree with Bill on this. I am grateful that the essay was written and posted here. I think Stuart Lachs has also done great work in this area. These stories are not horrific or rare -- they are actually COMMON. Certainly the frames of mind that create the opportunity for authoritarian abuse are common. And the more these issues are openly addressed the better, because there is no doubt that guru abuse will happen again and again in Buddhism in the West -- i know of a few cases right now that have not come to public light - and they are text book examples of abuse of authority, often with ancient wisdom teachings used as justification - but abuse nonetheless.

And in terms of "venerable Wisdom traditions" - i would say this. I am a big fan, as everyone on this board knows too well, of the idea that is fine to question, challenge, debate and wrestle. Nothing is off limits. Just because the Buddha supposedly said something does not mean we can't question it. Just because some sanskrit sutra says you should never question or criticize a teacher -- so what??? Is it true? Is it helpful? How has this teaching be used positively to enhance awareness and harmony or abused to increase institutional blindness and abuse - both in the past and now? It does not matter who supposedly said it.

What is a "wisdom tradition" as opposed to a non-wisdom tradition? Are all major religions by definition "wisdom traditions" and what would that mean? Aren't all religions a complex mixture of myth,wishful thinking, tribal practices, insight, self-promotion, mysticism, and maybe even outright nonsense?

Isn't tradition a complex mix of all kinds of stuff, teachings and history and disputes and contradictions and things change. Frankly I think it is richer and more exciting and useful to engage "wisdom teachings" with some degree of critical thinking. First, you can go deeper with many teachings and secondly, if there is something that is no longer so useful, we don't have to swallow it whole. We can be deeply grateful to Dogen but also accept the fact that in some areas he was dogmatic or extreme or even contradictory. We can appreciate the myths and poetry of the Old Testament while knowing that most of it is pure myth and much of it tribal lore and self-promotion as well as some very harmful instructions with regard to women and children. There is nothing wise in killing disobedient children or selling women into slavery and executing gay men.

Also, from my point of view, there is no pure Wisdom tradition anywhere. What would that be? Where would that be? These traditions are always evolving, changing, adapting. The Buddhism that evolved in China was totally different than what went on in India and the collection of teachings was constantly being edited, re-imagined. Much of the history was pure mythology, fabricated as marketing promotion. Some of the greatest teachings were amazing, some of it dogmatic, some of it contradictory and confusing. Also, even in China, Buddhism became an amalgam of all the other local teachings and practices. And In Japan, all the schools of Buddhism became part of the Imperial system and this changed this wisdom tradition profoundly - as it was practiced. I would say that Japanese Zen in the twentieth century was the absolute darkest period of dharma in history, the most corrupt - by far. The Zen that Kennett came to in Japan in the mid-60s was in its most serious decline in its history - and that decline continues to the present day.

I don't think being excessively critical or fault-finding is useful. And I don't think total uncritical swallowing is helpful either. Not anymore. There is just too much evidence that proves that when we blindly bumble along, following in the old paths without being self-aware adults -- nothing good comes of it and old patterns may surface because we just were not really paying attention to their underlying realities. Blind guru worship, unquestioned devotion to the Zen "master" - that creates the latent issues / behavior / beliefs that can lead to systematic abuse.

enough babbling.
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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:30 am

@Josh
Big difference between "questioning" and blanket defamations of a tradition and its practitioners. We have to agree to disagree on most of what you have said here.
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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Sun Jul 15, 2012 1:30 am

Beautifully articulated Josh. In fact, I think this may be your most compelling post (of many) to date.

Bill, Nicky, and Chisan, I think that your observations are right on the mark as well. I strongly agree that any causal dynamic that results in the harm of others is toxic in its own right. And this toxicity can proliferate just from repeated attention to it.

And yet, without attention, exploitive behavior that has become part of a collectively institutionalized dynamic, becomes self-perpetuating.

Perhaps our responsibility is to find the balance. To call attention to the toxicity, without becoming ensnared by it. To come back, as everyone, has said, in various ways, to our own practice, while doing all we can to highlight exploitation wherever it occurs.
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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Sun Jul 15, 2012 7:10 am

There clearly is a need for positive criticism,what is very often lacking is the balance, if it is just criticism it is one sided , and can be counter productive.

I think with Zen in particular there has always been; the mass religion; and the few that practice; and then less that realize, and the tiny that are regarded as real teachers,in Japan there are very few of the highly regarded spiritual teachers throughout a century .

One of the girls here I sit with, you would have met her in Cornwall Josh years ago, traveled overseas and sat with a Zen group this year that had no temple, no fixed premises,yet they meet where they can, seemed well organized, quietly get on with it, they are very friendly with Tibetan groups and all other Buddhist groups,very much in contact with Japan, a good balance of west and east and very important for them is the Japanese tea ceremony. why...contact communication and friendship.

Practice in daily life is how it is taught and lived,when the daily life is remote and insignificant or irrelevant it is lost.

What we did not have with Kennett was contact communication and friendship, we were cut off from Japan in particular,over here she had fallen out with all the forefathers of Buddhism. Discipline and religious trappings were used to control peoples minds,rather than religion helping to set us free,other groups I believe actually used koans for the same control purpose, you know the answer or acceptance comes from the teacher. I do not believe any of us in the early 70's wanted to be confined, I wanted spiritual realization and freedom.

I am not sure if it is always obvious what is passed on. Is it just a robe and bowl, or is it a mass religion or is it someone else issues. Eko seemed to have been passed on a load of weird stuff. I think Kozan is right Perhaps our responsibility is to find the balance.
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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:32 am

I want to add something about Zen and war and Japan. I think if you really want to understand Zen in the modern age, it is important to read Brian Victoria's books - at least the first one, Zen at War. Until he wrote about this dark chapter, the Japanese Zen world totally, and I mean totally - refused to acknowledge or discuss in any way their involvement in the imperial war machine. Talk about denial!!! It took a westerner to address the issue - and even then, it took years after the book came out for even the slightest recognition from one Rinzai head temple. The Soto school went through a semi-public contrition around the time the book came out. If you aren't able to read the Zen at War, you can find my long review on line - and that will at least give you a flavor for the kind of corruption that took place.

Now, there is a relatively new book called BUDDHIST WARFARE. I posted something about this earlier in the reading section of this forum. There is a chapter in this book by Brian entitled: "A Buddhological Critique of "Soldier-Zen" in Wartime Japan." Unfortunately, the only way to read the book is to buy it - i don't think this essay is posted on line anywhere.

Brian's controversial point: " I come to the conclusion that, by virtue of its fervent if not fanatical support of Japanese militarism, the Zen school, both Rinzai and Soto, so grievously violated Buddhism's fundamental tenets that the school was no longer an authentic expression of the buddhadharma."

He quotes from many Zen teachers and leaders who use the concept of "non-self" or annihilating the ego as a way to become unified with the emperor who is seen as the total and sole embodiment of truth, divine, Buddha. There are so many examples of this belief, how no-self is used in service to military power, to being the true soldier, to killing the enemies of the empire. Practicing zen in this case means no-thought, no hesitation, oneness with killing.

When you read Brian's books, you see clearly that these corruptions of Zen teachings were not just a few isolated incidents, a few wacky renegades. Japan was swept away in extreme emperor worship and many of the leading Zen teachers from all the schools and head temples were part of the war machine. I think it's important to see how great teachings can be twisted. Is is happening now? Of course, nothing like what we saw then. Obviously. But in smaller ways, in communities, with teachers who suffer from various forms of grandiosity, they use ancient teachings as a way to suppress dissent, to justify their own power trips, to support blind obedience, and so on. There is lots of evidence of this.

Looking at this dark history and learning from it - for me - does not negate the great teachings that we find in the zen tradition. It shows us how human nature functions. To me, it always our assignment to know what is real and what is not, what is worthwhile and what can cause harm. and just because we call something Zen or holy or spiritual does not make it so. Ignoring is ignorance. Looking away is a kind of deliberate blindness. Living in the present moment does not mean you should neglect reading a little history now and again.
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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:03 am

The first thing ikko Roshi said to me formally in tea ceremomy was:

We were at war our countries how do you fell about us Japanese?

My uncle was in the special forces and killed a lot of Japanese at close range hand to hand. He lived in New York state and rented his house out to the head of a Japanese bank,when he talked to the banker( I met the guy) he realized he was the son of the General who was in charge of a Japanese operation in Burma and it was my uncles mission to "capture" him. He never did,but used this opportunity to fly to Japan the next day and meet him. The general met my uncle off the plane, he knew my uncle and his mission.

I nursed my uncle through his last years,he struggled with his killing, and I buried him a few years ago.
Ikko Roshi, me, my uncle, many Japanese people did our Sange for things we have done, including killing other people,we were all big enough to say sorry for our deeds and we moved on.

Sorry but I met wonderful people in Japan.
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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:40 am

Nicky, Chisan, and Bill,

Thanks for answering my question. I can certainly understand your views and desire to not wade into that territory. It's certainly not everyone's cup of tea, nor should it be.

From my own view, I find merit in Christopher's attempts to write down the distinct patterns of behaviors he's observed that are indicative of how Zen can morph into more of a cult than a true Buddhist practice. As I wrote previously, these endeavors are tricky. How do we keep legitimate and necessary questioning from becoming a practice in cynicism? Personally, I found Christopher's essay to be more a genuine attempt of the former than the latter.

I guess, in the end, some people like moldy cheese and others don't.
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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Mon Jul 16, 2012 8:31 am

Christopher wrote:
The unspoken assumption in Zen has always been that the meditation alone naturally freed the accomplished practitioner from life’s moral quandaries, without the need for rigid rules of conduct imposed from above.
I've looked at Christopher's paper again and want to address this comment in case Chris returns, as the paper is for some degree of public consumption (it even appears on today's Buddhist Channel http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=70,10983,0,0,1,0!) but I am sure that what I have to say is not news to most current participants of OBC Connect.

If one means by "meditation" the formal practice of zazen, this cultivation is but one aspect of the Noble Eightfold Path. And if one expands the meaning to include the moment-by-moment samadhi of mindfulness practice, this still requires, for example, Right Intention and Right Endeavour for it to be within the fold of Right Mindfulness: perhaps being accustomed to accompany mindfulness with Right Intention* and Right Endeavour*, one does not think to name these latter factors but they must be present for practising with the right approach. I don't think it's accurate to say that the unspoken assumption in Zen Buddhism has always been that the meditation alone naturally freed the accomplished practitioner from life's moral quandries.
* Buddhist lists neatly explain Right Intention as threefold, each sector with two aspects: 1a) intention to renounce ‘unwholesome states’ (these too being neatly listed as covetousness, hatred/enmity, self-dulling/delusion) and b) intention of commitment to the spiritual path; 2) holistic intention of non-illwill/goodwill, including toward oneself; 3) holistic intention of harmless intent/compassion, including toward oneself. Right Endeavour is a dynamic version of the foregoing, being for: 1) non-arising of unarisen unwholesome states (see previous description); 2) abandoning arisen unwholesome states; 3) cultivation of unarisen wholesome states; 4) sustenance of arisen wholesome states. That’s a very rough explanation — but if it starts to make anyone hate themselves, my language is probably conjuring up something impossible, or only possible with annihilation! (My excuse is that I am in a hurry!!)

I am not mentioning the Noble Eightfold Path as if to say that those who actually try to proceed thus would never do what Shimano did — my stray thoughts (from cursorily reading his Wikipedia entry — so you can tell how well I’ve investigated the matter!) are that he may have made genuine efforts but somewhere, as Christopher suggests, got entangled by ‘Zen logic’ from the devil’s cave. As for Zernickow, I wonder if he has tried to bypass the Noble Eightfold Path in pursuit of ‘wisdom’.

More ramblings... Even when one is consciously committed to the spiritual path, I think chances are that one is going to get stuck at certain places, enter blind alleys, mix things up, not see certain things, etc. (That may sound harmlessly bungling but I never said it was!) As ones mind is the path, so these things occur…and what can one do but try to ‘go’ in the right direction, even if it turns out to be a blind alley!?

For example, a person who sees that their prior judgements of right and wrong, good and bad, were considerably governed by a vain need to ‘be right’ — a rather egocentric (than truth-centric) thirst for claiming justification for their preferences by casting these as supported by an indisputable universal standard that (it turns out under close investigation) they themselves conceived for the purpose (you can tell I've been there!) — may then see that, by having claimed authority from this conceived standard ‘out there’, they avoided for as long as they can remember acknowledging related responsibility for their own actions and wills, and in so doing were also throwing away their own power. For this person, recognising their own previously unrecognised motivations at first precipitates a remarkable, joyous and energising sense of liberation because of reclaiming that previously ‘fragmented’ aspect of mind and mind-energy (and they’ve not even seen ‘emptiness’ yet!) It is indeed a progressive step when compared with their previous obliviousness and related self-righteousness, but now they may wonder if there really is a right and wrong — not necessarily for themselves in terms of behaviour (as they are now that bit less able to hide things behind their ‘own back’) — but in others’ conduct. So-o-o…out of one confusion into another...and it all takes time to process authentically (and that’s without the confusion added by "others' conduct" being that of ones teacher).

A first liberative insight into emptiness (‘opening the Dharma Eye’) is also another BIG step, but if one remains stuck there without safe means to proceed, one is prone to horrible perils from ones 'stuff' that hasn’t yet been sorted (fortunately this will not so much apply to those who have some knowledge and practice of the Noble Eightfold Path). However, compared to what a person will need to do, it is not so big: there is a LOT of ‘stuff’ that still needs dealing with and, for the most part, one doesn’t even know what it is...and even when one deals with some of it, there is yet more that one knows nothing about — if one did, one would be halfway to doing it, but sometimes one is entirely barking up the wrong tree, and for longer than one cares to think possible.
...f arf arf arf ar...
ooo
oo
o

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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Mon Jul 16, 2012 11:18 am

:-) I forgot to mention that the quotation above is from the Introduction, on page 2.

Also (as it has been bothering me) Sleep above does not represent unenlightenment, just someone dreaming of dogs barking up wrong trees (as I fancied a bit of a kip). (-:
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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Mon Jul 16, 2012 11:30 am

Anne wrote:
If one means by "meditation" the formal practice of zazen, this cultivation is but one aspect of the Noble Eightfold Path. And if one expands the meaning to include the moment-by-moment samadhi of mindfulness practice, this still requires, for example, Right Intention and Right Endeavour for it to be within the fold of Right Mindfulness: perhaps being accustomed to accompany mindfulness with Right Intention* and Right Endeavour*, one does not think to name these latter factors but they must be present for practising with the right approach. I don't think it's accurate to say that the unspoken assumption in Zen Buddhism has always been that the meditation alone naturally freed the accomplished practitioner from life's moral quandaries.

Anne, thanks for laying this out. I think it's good to make the connection between Zen and traditional Buddhism clear for the record. As Chris documents some groups have the notion that Zen is its own thing and doesn't need to be bothered with such trivialities as the Eightfold Path.

By the way, is there really anything other than "stream entry"?
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Mon Jul 16, 2012 2:46 pm

Isan wrote:
By the way, is there really anything other than "stream entry"?
Wouldst thou expand a little upon thine words, Master Isan? (-:
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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Tue Jul 17, 2012 1:42 am

Michael said "The interesting thing is what you asked why did people not spot Eko's behaviour."

Here is why and it relates directly to Chris' critique. If you read his article, Chris is NOT saying that Buddhism is amoral. He is saying that the two teachers he focuses on as examples were immoral and that they used their standing as Buddhist teachers to hoodwink others into thinking that they were above morality.

Of course they weren't. And of course the precepts are (IMO) the heart of Buddhist practice. I agree with Bill on this.

But Buddhism, at least as taught by the OBC, teaches that the master is a direct,lineal spiritual descendent of the Buddha. I took the precepts from Eko, although he was standing in for RMJK since she was ill. I looked in his eyes and said "I want to become a Buddhist." I received a fancy paper showing that now I was a direct descendant of the Buddha. I heard Eko lecture on the transmission of blood and he said, "look, people, this isn't just a symbol. This is REAL."

And I believed him.

One of the powerful things I have learned from Josh and from some of the books he has recommended is that the so-called ancestors are mostly fiction. But I didn't know that at the time and absolutely believed Eko. He (and by the same reasoning I) was a direct descendent of the Buddha. Fortunately for most ( but not all) of us, neither he nor Rev K abused us sexually or financially, but they could have. The tramsmission myth is that powerful.

So Buddhism isn't amoral or immoral, but the doctrine contains the seed that immoral and amoral people can exploit others under the guise of being masters worthy of unthinking, unquestioning obedience.
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Zen Has No Morals   Tue Jul 17, 2012 10:05 am

Anne wrote:
Isan wrote:
By the way, is there really anything other than "stream entry"?
Wouldst thou expand a little upon thine words, Master Isan? (-:

Well, my comment was "off topic". I'll send you a PM :-)
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