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Everybody Knows - finally this comes out -- from Sweeping Zen
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|Subject: Everybody Knows - finally this comes out -- from Sweeping Zen Sat Nov 17, 2012 1:17 am|| |
First topic message reminder :
Everybody Knows – Kyozan Joshu Sasaki Roshi And Rinzai-Ji
Posted by: Eshu Martin on November 16, 2012
By Eshu Martin - posted on the sweepingzen.com website -- The truth shall set you free.......
Joshu Sasaki Roshi, the founder and Abbot of Rinzai-ji is now 105 years old, and he has engaged in many forms of inappropriate sexual relationship with those who have come to him as students since his arrival here more than 50 years ago. His career of misconduct has run the gamut from frequent and repeated non-consensual groping of female students during interview, to sexually coercive after hours “tea” meetings, to affairs and sexual interference in the marriages and relationships of his students. Many individuals that have confronted Sasaki and Rinzai-ji about this behaviour have been alienated and eventually excommunicated, or have resigned in frustration when nothing changed; or worst of all, have simply fallen silent and capitulated. For decades, Joshu Roshi’s behaviour has been ignored, hushed up, downplayed, justified, and defended by the monks and students that remain loyal to him.
Based on my own experience as a student and monk in Rinzai-ji from 1995-2008 and many conversations during that time and since, it seems to me that virtually every person who has done significant training with him, the Rinzai-ji board of Directors, and most senior members of the Western Zen community at large know about his misconduct. Yet no one to my knowledge has ever publicly spoken out. Certainly, as an organization, Rinzai-ji has never accepted the responsibility of putting a stop to this abuse, and has never taken any kind of remedial action.
For many years, I have struggled with my own part in this calamity; I have known but have not spoken out. I have watched the situations with Eido Shimano and Genpo Merzel unfold, and I have been overwhelmed by the courage of those brave Zen folk who have stood up to speak the truth, knowing that it would be painful, and would have very real repercussions in their lives, and in the lives of those around them. I have been reminded of the strength and courage that is required to speak the truth when it calls into question an individual of such high standing.
I have decided to come forward now because to allow this kind of abuse to go unacknowledged, when so many of us know it has been happening is, in my opinion, inexcusable. I will not be silent any more. I feel that to ignore the damage caused by Joshu Sasaki and the leaders of Rinzai-ji who allowed it to continue is both a huge disservice to those who have been abused, and a lost opportunity for all of us to learn from our mistakes. I feel obliged to speak the truth about this matter, insofar as I am able to know it. I believe that only by doing so is it possible for any healing to begin. I hope that I may be an example for others, so that they may find the courage to speak out about their experiences with Joshu Sasaki and Rinzai-ji. My hope is that by being accountable to each other, and working together, honestly and transparently, we will all be able to proceed more clearly into the future.
In February of 2011, I contacted several Rinzai-ji Oshos personally and expressed my hope that they would begin to address this issue. I received two responses; the first, from Eshin Godfrey Osho that said, “You ask that I make every effort to address the issue you see of ‘inappropriate conduct of Joshu Sasaki Roshi with female students’. This is exceedingly presumptuous of you… not being in the family I do not see you are in a position to expect it.” The second response was a brief reply from Koshin Cain Osho that promised a later response, which has never come.
My own personal relationship to Rinzai-ji has been rocky to say the least, and I am no longer a member of their organization. It would be easy to turn the spotlight onto my relationship with Rinzai-ji, and I fully expect that will happen. I am prepared to discuss openly what I know, and how I know it as we go forward. This article is an opening statement for what I hope will be a much broader conversation. I would like to keep the primary point in focus. Whatever conclusions are drawn about me, and my history with Rinzai-ji, it in no way changes the facts regarding Joshu Sasaki’s sexual abuse of students these many years. I hope that other more well-established members of the North American Zen community, who have also long known about Sasaki Roshi’s sexual misconduct, will step forward to voice their own concerns, so that I do not remain alone in speaking out.
It is my sincere hope that the Oshos and Directors of Rinzai-ji will talk about this issue publicly and accept responsibility for the personal and organizational shortcomings that have allowed this abuse to go on for so long. My hope is that the healing that has been denied to so many victims can finally begin.
All photos provided by Eshu Martin.
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|Subject: Re: Everybody Knows - finally this comes out -- from Sweeping Zen Sun Jan 13, 2013 6:15 pm|| |
Yes Josh I agree.
I have just re- read Giko David Rubin's article from Sweeping Zen.
He has obviously tried to be dispassionate and thorough,and to stick to known facts throuigh first hand accounts.This is very helpful.Because he is trying not to be biassed,and is honest about his emotional state,I imagine this will contribute to the work that needs to be done in the organisation.
I too have listened to many accounts of abuse,through my work in probation service community development and psychiatry.The theme that you mention and that David Rubin incorporates,this theme of collusion with the abuser,feels more to me like sleepwalking.I am not disagreeing with your "indigestion" ananlogy,just pursuing one of my own.
One of the newspaper straplines on the Saville scandal said that he had conned a whole nation for years.We were all "sleepwalking"?
I couldn't stand the bloke myself.He was ugly in all ways,a weirdo.But,and I expect many of his detractors would say the same,I did not speculate about his private life.If asked at the time when he was on tv a lot,I might have said something like "I wouldn't (have sex with him) ,he's creepy".But I wouldn't have thought that he might be raping and abusing girls.Why?It is odd.I thought he was odd and creepy.The corollary is that he is sexually weird.Yet I didn't really really think it.So I denied my true responses.In a way,what I am saying is that I "knew" what he was,but I didn't name my knowlege.
Maybe David Rubin is doing the same thing.He just won't cut this daft old man down to size.He goes all the way to the wire,even writes to the strange old man who he is "sleepwalking" alongside.Even talks to others and takes action,tries again and again.But he doesn't wake up to the fact this is just another sad weirdo who fears intimacy hates and fears women,and lacks empathy attachment and emotional warmth.The person that does this kind of thing is essentially a psychopath.No,so far,he hasn't killed anyone.But he has exploited and emotionally damaged many.This is a kind of murder.And psychopaths,according to Cleckley,and Hare and Neumann,aren't all murderers.But they do all fail in the simplest human task,of loving and being loved .They exploit others and ruin lives,for no reason at all except that they don't know how else to live.
The excitement his old " zen master" generates in David ,and the starnge perverse loyalty he elicits -very scary.
What is that excitement all about?
Perhaps I can help myself understand with an anecdote that has just come to mind.
I was talking to someone about Throssel.She said(I can't remember anything else about the conversation)," I used to think that there was at least one place in the world where I was safe and that was Throssel".I nodded in agreement.
I believe we each told ourselves this infantile story ,the story about the place that doesnt exist and never will,the place that is immune from the laws of the universe.And we had ourselves believe it ,because we didn't want to grow up and face disease old age death and natural and unnatural disaster.
Maybe the excitement generated in his followers by this horrible little man is related to that sense of denial and escapism.
And the sense that we can displace that fear of reality into another person ,he will keep peddling his myths to us and keep us immune from reality,not just about the groping and the coercion and the rape,but also about our transience and frailty.
Well I still feel this guy has done some good work.He just needs to go that bit further and drop all the enlightened master nonsense.
Thank you Josh
Good work you too!
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|Subject: Re: Everybody Knows - finally this comes out -- from Sweeping Zen Mon Jan 14, 2013 5:29 am|| |
It is not possible to teach zen in a non dysfunctional way.
We all have the conscious and non-concious parts of ourselves.
The non-conscious me is very large indeed.
In a battle between my consciousness and non-conscious the non-concious pretty much always wins.
We play out our childhood non-conscious in our adult lives.
The vast majority of the non-concious is there by the age of 7.
60% of children see violence in the home.
1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused. In the vast majority of cases it is familiaral. Some say the true figures are 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys.
Familiaral means by someone familiar to the child, usually the father, grandfather, uncle or brother. Most often the father. It can begin when the child is just a few months old.
It has been said 1 in 2 women who see a complementary medical practitioner have been sexually assaulted as children. I would guess that in Buddhist communities the figure would be at least that many.
In the home the child sees the parents as gods, perfect, to be obeyed, to be loyal to.
The child is trained to not to talk about what really happens at home, to bury it in the sub-conscious.
We act out the ways our parents taught us in groups that we enter as adults. We take on the roles we spent the first 18 years of our lives being indoctrinated in.
We all talk about what's happening in our adult world as causal, as we have been well trained to not talk about our non-conscious childhood world.
The issues of adulthood are generally far easier to talk about than the hidden sub-conscious indoctrination and hidden traumas of childhood. Even in severe adult trauma it is how we deal with the trauma that is the most important thing, and we always deals with it the way our parents taught us to.
The only way the subconcious patterns and traumas can be changed is by bringinging them into consciousness with an attitude of love and understanding.
In the zen community I see a lot of confused people talking very superficially about what's going on in zen groups (families) and virtually no willingness to bring into awareness what's really going on.
Of course past lives play a huge part in all this as well, and take away the "blame" aspect of of all this even more. Just think how big the sub-conscious must be if we have lived past lives. We are all playing out past lives in a huge synchronistic dance.
If we are not willing to bring our "dysfunctional" child inside into awareness we are just locking him or her up, and turning our backs and walking away.
We can only love another person as much as we love the child inside ourselves.
Welcome to beginners compassion class.
Or as the Buddha put it, welcome to the wheel.
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|Subject: Re: Everybody Knows - finally this comes out -- from Sweeping Zen Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:23 am|| |
David -- i think you hit a key point. It is all about willingness to bring into awareness what's really going on - in our lives, with our relationships, families and with all these zen communities. It is so much simpler to believe big holy stories about the lineage, the "master," the history, and so on......
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|Subject: Re: Everybody Knows - finally this comes out -- from Sweeping Zen Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:36 am|| |
jumping back to the Sasaki situation, want to recommend a documentary film that was just nominated for an Oscar.
The Invisible War
You can watch the film in the U.S. on iTunes or Amazon video for a few dollars. Not sure about the UK. Very strong and disturbing film about sexual abuse in the U.S. military - and how the military mistreats women, covers up the sexual abuses, and so on. As I watched the film, I saw many parallels with the Sasaki and Shimano situations.... and what that said to me was that so much of this kind of abuse of power whether it is in the military or Catholic Church or with Jimmy Saville at the BBC or with these Zen teachers --- it is really the same animal, the same dance. Different rationalizations, of course. They tell various stories to pretend what's happening is OK, holy, just the way things are.....to weave this web of myth and illusion and self-protection, bubbles of enchantment, prisons of beliefs.
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|Subject: Re: Everybody Knows - finally this comes out -- from Sweeping Zen Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:28 am|| |
- Jcbaran wrote:
- David -- i think you hit a key point. It is all about willingness to bring into awareness what's really going on - in our lives, with our relationships, families and with all these zen communities. It is so much simpler to believe big holy stories about the lineage, the "master," the history, and so on......
David and Josh, I think that you have both touched on what I consider to be the crux of the matter: bringing dysfunction into awareness in order to heal and transform the causal dynamic that perpetuates existential misunderstanding, dysfunction, trauma, crisis, and suffering.
We all go on at length about both familial and institutional dysfunction--as well we should! And yet, until we get down to the root causal dynamic of existential crisis, I do not believe that healing and transformation are possible.
I have come to believe that this is a huge issue that traditional Buddhist teaching neither addresses (specifically), nor understands.
As our personal and global existential crisis continues to escalate, I would propose that we must understand the root causal dynamic of existential misunderstanding, external failure, trauma, and crisis, before we can accurately understand the nature of its healing and transformation.
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|Subject: Re: Everybody Knows - finally this comes out -- from Sweeping Zen Wed Jan 16, 2013 4:58 am|| |
Thank you for you comments, Josh and Kozan.
We act out what happened to us as children in order to try and find resolution, to tell our story.
The child inside is saying:
"This is my world, this is what my child inside is experiencing right now. Is anybody listening? Please listen"
The subconcious story being re-enacted upon those around us is ALWAYS consciously experienced as hear and now, even though it actually is about there and then.
So we re-enact our childhoods on those around us.
Sexual abusers will almost always have been sexually abused themselves as children, or in war.
The person "abusing their power" in a Buddhist community is just one small cog in the playing out what happened in their childhood. Everyone else in that community is equally as powerfully playing out their childhood.
It is vital to the "abused" person's subconcious that the "abuser" continues to "abuse". So the "abuser" is being manipulated by the "abused" to continue the "abuse".
Part of the proof that what i am saying is true, is the simple fact that children are taught primarily that they are powerless and must obey and be loyal, and in virtually all families not to talk outside the home about what is happening at home.
This explains why every Zen teacher in USA kept quiet about severe abuse (of which a part was sexual) that they knew for 40 years was being carried out openly at ZSS in New York.
Ok people, thank you for staying with me thus far, here comes the punch-line, the kicker for all us Zen-believers:
By keeping quiet in the face of blatant sexual abuse, every top Zen teacher in USA revealed themselves for who they really believe themselves to be, frightened children.
How many zen teachers of USA have even mentioned this fact? How many have owned up? Been brave enough to admit this? One that I've been able to find in 6 months searching.
What this stark reality says is that the Zen teachers of America are struggling to start beginners compassion class, which is learning to love children inside.
The kicker, the punch-line is Zen practice itself is seriously flawed.
Any practice that does not address the the child inside as a principle teaching is going to get absolutely nowhere in working out who we really are and learning love, compassion and wisdom.
Denial and dishonesty about where I'm really acting from teaches nothing other than denial and dishonesty. The blind leading the blind.
Am I being clear?
Am I bugging you?
I don't mean to BUG YOU!!!!!
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|Subject: Re: Everybody Knows - finally this comes out -- from Sweeping Zen Wed Jan 16, 2013 5:29 am|| |
a whole new post for another vital point.....
Everything I have just posted is TOTALLY relevant to sitting practice itself!
Sex can be the most beautiful intimate loving experience of oneness with another.
Or it can be rape, that destroys us in its hatred and violence.
Or it can be a quiet spectator who watches a child being raped and turns their back, walks away, blanks the experience from their conscious mind, talks about something else and pretends that there is no child.
So it's not what we do it's the way that we do it.
So Zen Teachers of the world how come u ain't been doing the intimate loving oneness thing when you sit? How come you've chosen instead to ignore and turn you back on the raped child inside?
It all comes down to how you sit.
In an adjacent thread someone was trying to understand fear, and all the answers were extremely superficial and unloving to the child inside. Please see what my response was there.
What I am talking about here is what has gone terribly wrong with the whole of Zen Practice for centuries (thank you Josh for enlightening me what a kick in the teeth) and the solution.
Everything I am saying was worked out 50 years ago in the psychotherapeutic community, though they have their own just as dysfunctional issues as buddhism does.
This is all very simple and obvious really.
So let's bring it into the open.. Without asking zen mummy and daddy if I'm allowed to first...
So, it's not how long you've sat for, it's how you sit.
You can sit for 50 years, be the most celebrated and peer-praised zen master in USA in charge of the largest most awesome-inspiring Zen monastery in USA and systematically abuse your whole community with hatred and lies.
And you can sit for 50 years in another part of USA, know that the above is going on and publicly praise the abuser and keep very quiet about what you really know is happening.
Or you can sit for 5 minutes and be brave enough to start naming what's going on...
In another part of USA and inside you!
David The Great (age 5) has spoken.
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|Subject: Re: Everybody Knows - finally this comes out -- from Sweeping Zen Fri Jan 18, 2013 11:44 pm|| |
Note what the priests tell their victims -- they are now closer to God. Same circus, different clowns. This is the basically the same story that many gurus and "masters" have spun - having sex with them is an expression of the buddha mind, is tantra, brings you closer to enlightenment, opens your first chakra, blah, blah, blah........ more ducks quacking.
January 18, 2013
German Priests Carried Out Sexual Abuse for Years
By MELISSA EDDY
BERLIN — A report about child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in Germany, based on victim accounts and released by the church this week, showed that priests carefully planned their assaults and frequently abused the same children repeatedly for years.
The report, compiled from information collected from victims and other witnesses who called a hot line run by the church from 2010 until the end of last year, includes the ages of the victims, the locations of the assaults and the repercussions they have suffered since. The accounts were provided in 8,500 calls to the hot line; they are not representative of abuse cases over all and cannot be individually verified. The church said the report contained information from 1,824 people, of whom 1,165 described themselves as victims.
Germany’s bishops have vowed a thorough and impartial investigation into the abuse. Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier, who is looking into abuse cases for the German Bishops’ Conference, told reporters after the report was released on Thursday that it served as an example of that intention.
“I found particularly devastating the perpetrators’ lies to their under-aged victims that their actions were an expression of a loving bond with God,” he said Thursday. Claudia Adams, who said she was assaulted as a child in a preschool run by the church in a village near Trier, works through her trauma by blogging about the abuse scandal. The priest who abused her “told me that I was now ‘closer to God,’ ” she said in a telephone interview on Friday from her home near Trier.
The church’s credibility regarding its commitment to an impartial investigation suffered a fresh blow last week when the bishops canceled an independent study into the abuse scandal amid allegations by the independent investigator, Christian Pfeiffer, that the church was censoring information.
The church insists that it remains committed to carrying out the independent study once a new investigator can be found. Even if the church should produce a report, observers note that it will be a challenge to undo the damage caused by Mr. Pfeiffer’s allegations. “It’s not even about the damage to their image so much as it is to their trustworthiness,” said Andreas Holzem, a professor of church history at Tübingen University.
Many of the victims said their call to the hot line was the first time they had told anyone about assaults that took place decades ago, most between 1950 and 1980, the report said. Many callers broke down in the middle of their stories and, overcome by emotion, simply hung up the phone, it said. Those who told their stories painted a picture of priests who preyed on emotionally vulnerable children, building up their trust and then assaulting them, repeatedly, over a period of several years.
The reported assaults were clustered largely in the country’s heavily Roman Catholic regions along the Rhine River to the west and throughout the south, including Pope Benedict XVI’s home state, Bavaria.
Germans were further outraged by reports this week that two Roman Catholic hospitals in Cologne had refused to carry out a gynecological examination on a 25-year-old suspected rape victim. An emergency doctor who had helped the woman told the newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger that the hospitals cited ethical objections to advise women on unwanted pregnancies and on steps that can be taken to prevent them, like the morning-after pill. The Archdiocese of Cologne denied that the church refuses to treat rape victims. The hospitals blamed a “misunderstanding” and said the matter was under investigation.
Chris Cottrell contributed reporting.
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|Subject: Re: Everybody Knows - finally this comes out -- from Sweeping Zen Sat Jan 19, 2013 2:37 am|| |
this is from the blog:
I have bolded some key sentences and paragraphs that I found of note. He makes some good points here.
Repost: No Sex Scandals in the East?
Posted on November 25, 2012 by Hondo Dave
There’s been a flurry of activity in the last few weeks over at Sweeping Zen and other places in the online Zen world about allegations of sexual misconduct by Joshu Sasaki Roshi. In reading what’s been written, I was reminded of this post from a year and a half ago, during the last round of allegations against well-known Zen teachers, and thought I’d repost it . . .
In the context of the recent heartbreaking tangled situations involving Eido Shimano Roshi and Genpo Merzel Roshi (a good summary of the events are here for those of you who haven’t been following it), I was amazed to read last week about an 18th-century Zen priest sex scandal in Sagami Province (now Kanagawa Prefecture) in eastern Japan.
The whole thing is described in Duncan Ryuken Williams’ The Other Side of Zen: A Social History of Soto Zen Buddhism in Tokugawa Japan, which is a fascinating and useful book. In the convert Buddhist world, we’re really beginning to grow up in our Dharma understanding, I think—and it’s largely through the work of the amazing scholarship that’s been done in English in the last twenty or thirty years. We’re finally approaching a place where we can play fair in talking about our tradition. For too long, I’m afraid, we converts were able to claim the deepest, most beautiful insights of Buddhist philosophy–or what we took Buddhist philosophy to be!–without having to acknowledge the hypocrisy and greed of Buddhist historical institutions. Imagine if all you knew about Christianity was Meister Eckhart or St. John of the Cross. It’d be amazing, right? And it would be a deep sign of maturity once you found out about the Crusades, or the crisis of clergy sexual abuse, and had to wrestle with, absorb, confront those deep failings and limitations. As convert Buddhists, we’re finally there—or beginning to approach it—in the West, I think. It’s a very good sign and I’m very grateful to those working on the academic/historical/scholarly side of the Dharma. May they continue to surprise us.
The story, as Williams unfolds it, takes place in the 1780’s. A Soto priest named Tetsumei, an abbot of the local temple, occasionally had a married parishioner named Towa repair his robes. On one of his visits, he made advances towards her and was rejected. When time came for him to enroll Towa’s family on the Registry of Religious Affiliation, he visited her again and said that unless she had sex with him, he wouldn’t put his seal on her family’s registration.
For context here, we have to remember that anyone who wasn’t registered with one of the official temples ended up on the Registry of Nonhumans (!) and was subject to all sorts of discrimination, both in this life and in the funeral rites that prepared for the next. Tetsumei’s threat, then, was a naked abuse of his power over her and her family, and Towa agreed to sleep with him. On several occasions in the ensuing years, Tetsumei and Towa were caught together by Towa’s husband, Matabee. The first time, Matabee was convinced to let the matter drop, at least partly because reporting the abbot would be insulting to the family’s ancestors. (The logic is sort of skewed there—I confess to not quite following how exactly that would work. But it’s a sign, again, of the power of the temple priest—power to affect the spirit world, the world of the ancestors, and the world of the parishioner’s next lives.) The second time the husband catches them together, though, he threatens to divorce his wife, and in the ensuing chaos, she writes a letter to the authorities (which Williams quotes at length.)
Tetsumei denies the whole thing at first (he eventually confesses) and the abbots of neighboring temples all close ranks and support their fellow-priest. The most amazing wrinkle to me, though, is that the villagers themselves don’t back off. Furious not only at Tetsumei’s transgressions, but also at the fact that he was rumored to be bragging about how he had gotten away with it, they demand his resignation. From a 1786 letter from one parishioner to the Soto authorities:
How is possible that we could trust a man of such character with the abbotship of our family temple, which means he is in charge of memorial rites for our parents and ancestors? Eventually, we too will have our funerals conducted by this man. This is completely unacceptable for we will be the [banned term] of jokes. Even if we ignored what others thought of us, we [would nevertheless] absolutely refuse to accept him [in this position.] (quoted in Williams, p. 33)
Under this pressure from the villagers, the head temple removed Tetsumei from the abbotship, although since he doesn’t seem to have disrobed, Williams admits that it’s possible he was simply moved to another temple. Still, the most interesting part of all this for me is less the scandal—although remembering that people have always been nuts is hugely helpful—than the fact that even in Tokugawa-era Japan, it was the laypeople’s organized, outraged, public response to the abuses and hypocrisy of power that changed the situation. They held their religious leaders accountable. I say there’s a lot of wisdom in taking them as our inspiration.
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|Subject: Re: Everybody Knows - finally this comes out -- from Sweeping Zen Sat Jan 19, 2013 12:29 pm|| |
http://www.thenakedmonk.com/2013/01/14/sick-love/ - posted from this blog
January 14, 2013
Joshu Sasaki, founder of Mount Baldy Zen Center in California and the Rinzai-Ji order of affiliated centers.
Once again, scandal hits the Buddhist press.
Zen master Joshu Sasaki Roshi, described by his cine-biographer Don Farber as a “remarkable living treasure,” has been exposed as another sexual predator. Even more shockingly, his prosperous community knew it for decades and did nothing, all the while recruiting more students. Only now that the 105-year-old Sasaki has retired from public life and the danger of implosion has passed has the community found the courage to speak about it, and even then from the improvised anonymity of the newly-created Osho Council of Rinzai-ji, no personal names mentioned.
What shocks me is the shock. Does anyone still believe that Buddhist communities are inherently different, that their asymmetrical power structures, particularly in the Japanese and Tibetan traditions, should somehow be immune to human failings?
the guru-disciple relationship belongs
to a different time and culture
More to the point, are we only now finally realizing that the guru-disciple relationship belongs to a different time and culture? Sasaki’s students at his Zen Center in California are not untutored feudal vassals but modern educated citizens of liberal democracies, trained in at least rudimentary scientific impartiality and encouraged through years of schooling to think for themselves.
We do not need to wonder why men in positions of unrestrained power behave badly. We know why. What we need to understand more clearly, what should concern us at least as deeply if not more, is how that power is so freely granted to them by the very people they abuse.
My eight years as a Buddhist monk were relatively benign, but I emerged from them shattered by uncertainty. My personal psychology was a factor, but the Buddhist communities in which I lived exerted a powerful social force in which my guilelessness was well nourished.
What led me to Buddhism? I was dissatisfied with my birth culture, which assured me that it was best because it brought freedom, but I knew that was spin, a play on words. It wanted us to settle for freedom of choice as a cheap replacement for freedom of spirit, which is so devilishly elusive.
The truth is that freedom of choice is burdensome
Just making choices is hard enough. Once upon a time your ancestry determined your career, your parents selected your spouse and your geographic circumstances dictated your diet and lifestyle. Today we get to decide all those things, and more. Every day we make a hundred choices, a thousand. Teenage school pupils, few of whom have any notion of what to do with their lives, are forced to make long-term academic choices they barely understand. They know one thing though: that it’s stressful, and that that’s just the beginning.
The truth is that freedom of choice is burdensome. Most people simply submit to the pressure and get on with it. Some of us question the status quo and conclude that this is nuts, that our society is bamboozling us, dressing up fast food as nutritious and advertizing fast life as glorious. Far from bringing relief, these insights compound the stress. No surprise then that some people will go to great lengths to be free of this stress, to find someone else to make their decisions, someone they can trust.
When dispirited, we seek to raise our spirits. The same society that has us trapped in its freedoms offers conciliatory pleasures and distractions. Once we’re through with those however, we turn to pursuits that are more ephemerally spiritual. This deliberately vague word defies definition. It’s more about what it’s not: not materialistic, not conventional, not rational.
Meditation, philosophy, no-mind and non-dual emptiness
are guaranteed to make us feel way cool and special
That’s when things get complicated. It’s when we grow vulnerable in the most unhealthy ways. We’re tempted by communities that embrace us with hugs and gushing love, with namastes and tashi-delegs, by teachers said to be living Buddhas, by systems of meditation, philosophy, no-mind and non-dual emptiness guaranteed to make us feel way cool and special. We’re even promised magical powers and omniscience. Who knows what’s possible and what’s not?
The paradox is that Buddhism appeals to the most educated among us because of its reputation as scientific, objective, atheistic and non-religious. None of these are traditional appellations of Buddhism. They are modern spin, the urgent rationalizations of Westerners who turn to Buddhism after having rejected their own inherited culture and beliefs.
Like self-help gurus, Buddhist teachers today know what we want. To reel us in they promise escape from stress, peace of mind. We want to stop the inner chatter, stop the angst, stop the pointlessness, stop the torment…and to belong.
At some point in this search for refuge we abandon our hesitation and believe that the guru is especially able, both in ethics and in skill. He is wiser. We trust him. The community assures us. We see their sincerity, feel their love for him and are touched by the same love for us. They want us to bathe in it too. They call him a ‘living treasure,’ and assure us of his credentials. If he’s Asian, all the better. All the easier.
Can we really be so simple? I was, but not in isolation. I was desperate, arriving in the nick of time into the friendly, loving arms of the community. They taught me that to doubt is disloyal and unspeakable; that they—that we—were righteous and sincere.
We sometimes slice our awareness into layers. It’s strange. Everyone knows what it is to know at one layer that you’ve sacrificed self-reliance and compromised your integrity, while at another to assure yourself that your decision will have to do; that doubt is unbearable. Believe with the community and you’ll share in their love and security. You’ll also be committed to their righteousness.
In the words of Alan Watts, “When you confer spiritual authority on another person you are allowing them to pick your pocket and sell you your own watch.”
The mentor relationship deteriorates the minute you abandon your discernment, the instant you stop taking your own risks.
The Osho Council of Rinzai-ji, the anonymous group that apologized for Sasaki Roshi and his silent lieutenants, is now committed to, “an ethics policy to ensure that the kind of misconduct that we failed to address properly in the past will not occur again.” It may be well-intentioned, but is it realistic? They’re apparently not too sure, for they append their statement with the following caveat, “—and will be dealt with properly and swiftly if it does.”
Sexual scandals attract attention because the hurt is so great, the damage so indelible, but they are only the tip of the iceberg. Even when sexual propriety is maintained, the asymmetry of the guru-disciple power arrangement sets up loyalties that favor personal fealty over truth and integrity. It is undemocratic. It is illiberal and misguided. This feudal power relationship has been dragged into the modern world in the guise of romanticized Orientalism. It is in profound contradiction to all the Buddha taught about working with your own experience. It takes not just the charisma of a clever teacher but also the active collusion of those who buy into it. The price of admission is a bit of existential doubt and a brief phase of personal weakness. Once you’re in, the door closes hermetically on any lingering doubts.
There is natural community, not contrived to support your fondest wishes but to commiserate with on life’s hard byways
No one is eternally strong. Everyone is at times overwhelmed by self-doubt, sadness, depression, anxiety or angst. When spirits are low and we turn to spiritual solutions, our judgment may be not just poor, but vacant.
I loved the Buddha’s teachings. I found them invaluable and still do. However, I mistook Buddhists for the Buddha and lost my way. Still, I was lucky and my eyes opened one day to the contrived righteousness of communal life. I understood that it was time to move on. Technically, I was free, under no physical and only gentle psychological pressure to stay. However, it took me a full year to extricate myself, to let go of my need for love and validation from this group, to give up the image of myself on a holy and righteous path and return to the plain truth that purity is an illusion, that there is no security and that I had to pursue my mundane way alone.
That in fact, I’d been alone all along.
There is life after a spiritual community. There is such a thing as natural community, not contrived to support your fondest wishes but to commiserate with on life’s hard byways. There is no preexisting group out there waiting for you. Real community forms organically, spontaneously. Prepare yourself for it by traveling light. People of like mind are not found in any particular monastery, school or social group. It’s rare to meet others with whom we truly commune. We know that. You know that. Locking yourself into a gated community, pretending you’re safe and sound, is a sure way to not bump into anyone intimately.
Get out there, vulnerable and honest. Admit you’re alone on your path through life and you’ll sooner or later meet fellow-travelers. You’ll share your insights as equals. Some of them may for a while become mentors or guides. Bear in mind though, that relationship will deteriorate the minute you abandon your discernment, the instant you stop taking your own risks.
Otherwise, how will you know when they’re speaking nonsense, as from time to time we all do? How will you realize that they’re manipulating you, as they might if they see you can’t hold your own? They might even be doing it because they love you.
How would you know what sort of love that is?
Stephen Schettini is a Montreal author and blogger. He offers one-on-one counsel by Skype or by phone to those feeling the need to distance themselves from a community or teacher.
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|Subject: Re: Everybody Knows - finally this comes out -- from Sweeping Zen Tue Jan 22, 2013 1:50 pm|| |
January 22, 2013
Hasidic Therapist Sentenced to 103 Years in Sexual Abuse Case
By SHARON OTTERMAN
An unlicensed therapist who was a prominent member of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn was sentenced on Tuesday to 103 years in prison for repeatedly sexually abusing a young woman, beginning the attacks when she was 12.
Nechemya Weberman, 54, a member of the Satmar Hasidic community of Williamsburg, did not react as the judge sentenced him. The victim, now 18, who delivered an impassioned statement asking for maximum sentence to be imposed, dabbed away tears.
“The message should go out to all victims of sexual abuse that your cries will be heard and justice will be done,” said State Supreme Court Justice John G. Ingram before imposing the sentence, close to the longest permissible to him by law. He praised the young victim’s “courage and bravery in coming forward.”
On Dec. 9, Mr. Weberman was found guilty of 59 counts of sexual abuse, charges that carried a maximum combined sentence of 117 years. He was found guilty of engaging in various sexual acts, including oral sex, fondling and acting out pornographic videos, during therapy sessions that were meant to help the girl become more religious. The abuse lasted three years.
Mr. Weberman, who wore his traditional black suit and head covering, did not speak before the sentencing, but his lawyer, George Farkas, said he was “innocent of the crimes charged.” The defense is planning to appeal.
In her statement, the victim, dressed in a gold shirt and black skirt, said that for years during and after the abuse, she would look in the mirror and see “a girl who didn’t want to live in her own skin.”
“I would cry until the tears went dry,” she said.
The case was closely watched as the first high-profile child sexual abuse case brought by the Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, against a member of the politically powerful Satmar ultra-Orthodox community in his more than two decades in office.
Critics have charged Mr. Hynes with not being aggressive enough in going after molesters in the politically well-connected community, but Mr. Hynes has blamed the lack of prosecutions on the intimidation to stay silent that ultra-Orthodox sex-abuse victims and their families often face from their own community leaders.
Support for Mr. Weberman was strong in powerful circles of the Satmar community after his arrest in 2011, but some in the community say that backing has been waning since his conviction. The courtroom on Tuesday was about equally divided between supporters for him and his victim.
Mr. Hynes has said that he believes the case may mark a turning point for ultra-Orthodox sex-abuse victims. In addition to convicting Mr. Weberman, his office also charged seven Hasidic men with bribery and intimidation of Mr. Weberman’s victim. Prosecutors say they know of more victims who were too afraid to testify.
“If there is one message to take away from this case, it is that this office will pursue the evil of sexual abuse of a child no matter where it occurs in this county,” Mr. Hynes said in a statement. “We must protect our children from sexual predators. The abuse of a child cannot be swept under the rug or dealt with by insular groups believing only they know what is best for their community.”
Marc Santora contributed reporting.
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|Subject: Re: Everybody Knows - finally this comes out -- from Sweeping Zen Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:08 pm|| |
January 26, 2013
Catholicism’s Curse - By FRANK BRUNI - NYTimes
“I HAVE nothing against priests,” writes Garry Wills in his provocative new book, “Why Priests? A Failed Tradition,” and I’d like at the outset to say the same. During a career that has included no small number of formal interviews and informal conversations with them, I’ve met many I admire, men of genuine compassion and remarkable altruism, more dedicated to humanity than to any dogma or selective tradition.
But while I have nothing against priests, I have quite a lot against an institution that has done a disservice to them and to the parishioners in whose interests they should toil. I refer to the Roman Catholic Church, specifically to its modern incarnation and current leaders, who have tucked priests into a cosseted caste above the flock, wrapped them in mysticism and prioritized their protection and reputations over the needs and sometimes even the anguish of the people in the pews. I have a problem, in other words, with the church’s arrogance, a thread that runs through Wills’s book, to be published next month; through fresh revelations of how assiduously a cardinal in Los Angeles worked to cover up child sexual abuse; and through the church’s attempts to silence dissenters, including an outspoken clergyman in Ireland who was recently back in the news.
LET’S start with Los Angeles. Last week, as a result of lawsuits filed against the archdiocese of Los Angeles by hundreds of victims of sexual abuse by priests, internal church personnel files were made public. They showed that Cardinal Roger M. Mahony’s impulse, when confronted with priests who had molested children, was to hush it up and keep law enforcement officials at bay. While responses like this by Roman Catholic bishops and cardinals have been extensively chronicled and are no longer shocking, they remain infuriating. At one point Cardinal Mahony instructed a priest whom he’d dispatched to New Mexico for counseling not to return to California, lest he risk being criminally prosecuted. That sort of shielding of priests from accountability allowed them, in many cases across the United States, to continue their abusive behavior and claim more young victims.
Cardinal Mahony, who led the Los Angeles archdiocese from 1985 to 2011, released a statement last week in which he said that until 2006, when he began to meet with dozens of victims, he didn’t grasp “the full and lasting impact these horrible acts would have” on the children subjected to them. I find that assertion incredible and appalling. It takes no particular sophistication about matters of mental health to intuit that a child molested by an adult — in these cases, by an adult who is supposed to be a moral exemplar and tutor, even a conduit to the divine — would be grievously damaged. The failure to recognize that and to make sure that abusive priests’ access to children was eliminated, even if that meant trials and jail sentences, suggests a greater concern for the stature of clergymen than for the souls of children.
Church officials and defenders note that Cardinal Mahony’s gravest misdeeds occurred in the 1980s, before church leaders were properly educated about recidivism among pedophiles and before the dimensions of the child sexual abuse crisis in the church became clear. They point out that the church’s response improved over time. That’s true, but what hasn’t changed is the church’s hubris. This hubris abetted the crisis: the particular sway that abusers held over their victims and the special trust they received from those children’s parents were tied into the church’s presentation of priests as paragons.
And this hubris also survives the crisis, manifest in the way that the Vatican, a gilded enclave so far removed and so frequently out of step with the rest of the world, clamps down on Catholics who challenge its rituals and rules. Much of what these dissenters raise questions about — the all-male priesthood, for example, or the commitment to celibacy that priests are required to make — aren’t indisputable edicts from God. They’re inventions of the mortals who took charge of the faith.
And yet with imperious regularity, Vatican officials issue their relished condemnations. These officials are reliably riled by nuns, a favorite target of their wrath. And they’ve been none too pleased with an Irish priest, the Rev. Tony Flannery, 66, who was suspended from his ministry by the Vatican last year and informed, he recently said, that he could return to it on the condition that he publicly express his endorsement of a range of official positions that he had questioned, including the exclusion of women from the priesthood. Last Sunday he broke a long silence to say that the Vatican had threatened him with excommunication and to call its approach toward him “reminiscent of the Inquisition.”
Among the Vatican’s issues with him was his stated belief in a 2010 article that the priesthood, rather than originating with Jesus and a specially selected group of followers, was selfishly created later by a “privileged group within the community who had abrogated power and authority to themselves.”
That may sound like an extreme assertion, but the new book by Wills, a Pulitzer Prize winner who has written extensively about Christianity and the church, says that at the start, Christianity not only didn’t have priests but opposed them. The priesthood was a subsequent tweak, and the same goes for the all-male, celibate nature of the Roman Catholic clergy and the autocratic hierarchy that this clergy inhabits, an unresponsive government whose subjects — the laity — have limited say.
“It can’t admit to error, the church hierarchy,” Wills told me on the phone on Thursday. “Any challenge to their prerogative is, in their eyes, a challenge to God. You can’t be any more arrogant than that.”
“We Catholics were taught not only that we must have priests but that they must be the right kind of priests,” he writes in the book, which argues that priests aren’t ultimately necessary. “What we were supposed to accept is that all priesthoods are invalid ones except the Roman Catholic.”
That’s an awfully puffed-up position, and there’s a corresponding haughtiness in the fact that bishops can assign priests to parishes without any real obligation to get input or feedback from the parishioners those priests serve. This way of doing business in fact enabled church leaders to shuttle priests accused of molestation around, keeping them one step ahead of their crimes.
It has also helped to turn many Catholics away from the church, while prompting others to regard its leaders as ornamental and somewhat irrelevant distractions. They cherish the essence and beauty of their religion. They just can’t abide the arrogance of many of its appointed caretakers.
I invite you to visit my blog, follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/frankbruni and join me on Facebook.
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|Subject: Re: Everybody Knows - finally this comes out -- from Sweeping Zen Sat Feb 02, 2013 4:11 pm|| |
This is from an Australian publication. Same circus, different clowns.
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|Subject: Re: Everybody Knows - finally this comes out -- from Sweeping Zen Tue Feb 05, 2013 1:39 am|| |
Zen ‘Master’ Molested Students in N.M.
Mike Gallagher / Journal Investigative Reporter
The Bodhi Mandala Zen Center in Jemez Springs was one of two Buddhist retreat centers, where Joshu Sasaki Roshi allegedly abused female students. It is now called Bodhi Manda Zen Center. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)
A leading Zen Buddhist spiritual leader and teacher sexually abused female students in New Mexico and California for more than 50 years under the guise of Zen teachings, an independent commission of Buddhist leaders has concluded.
The allegations against 105-year-old Joshu Sasaki Roshi (“Roshi” roughly translates to “master”) range from fondling adult female students’ breasts to sexual intercourse during one-on-one study sessions over many years.
The allegations came up time and again beginning in the 1960s and critics, including former followers, say the misconduct was covered up.
Since arriving in the United States from Japan in the early 1960s, Sasaki and his followers established Zen Buddhist centers and retreat houses in Los Angeles, Mount Baldy outside Los Angeles, Albuquerque, Jemez Springs and more than 25 locations throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.
The alleged sexual assaults occurred primarily at the retreat houses at Mount Baldy and at the Bodhi Manda Zen Center at Jemez Springs — which is down the road from the now infamous headquarters for the Servants of the Paraclete, the religious order that treated Catholic priest sex abusers before they were returned to parishes.
The Bodhi Manda Zen Center has been affiliated with the University of New Mexico summer seminar on Buddhism for many years. There have been no formal allegations that UNM students are among Sasaki’s victims.
The UNM Philosophy Department has held a summer seminar at the Bodhi Manda Zen Center at Jemez Springs for 30 years.
But university spokeswoman Cinnamon Blair said the department decided to cancel this year’s summer class when the allegations against Sasaki emerged on a website — SweepingZen — and the senior teachers in Sasaki’s religious order admitted the decadeslong problem.
In the past, more than 30 students would sign up for the seminar and that has dwindled to around seven students.
The Mount Baldy Zen Center outside Los Angeles is one of two Buddhist sites where Joshu Sasaki Roshi allegedly abused students as part of his teachings. (courtesy of flickr user linsu)
“There also seems to have been a drop-off in interest in the program,” Blair said.
Members of the Philosophy Department were informed of one allegation of sexual misconduct in 2007, but there was no lawsuit or official complaint.
“They did inform the staff at the center that no UNM student should have any personal access to Sasaki,” Blair said.
Sasaki attended lectures during the seminar, but in recent years needed aid to physically move from room to room at the center.
Albuquerque’s Bosque School cancelled this year’s weeklong program in which students in grades 9 through 12 could spend a week of “Zen Immersion” at the Bodhi Manda Zen Center in Jemez Springs.
Bosque School Communications Director Marisa Gay said the program was cancelled after the issues surrounding Sasaki came to light.
“The small group of students who attended were accompanied by teachers at all times,” Gay said. “We’ve never had a problem come up.”
Sasaki, who lives in California, reportedly stopped teaching last year following an illness from which he apparently hasn’t recovered.
The first public allegation of sexual misconduct was posted last November on SweepingZen.com, by Eshu Martin, a former student of Sasaki’s and now the abbot of the Victoria Zen Center on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, Canada.
Since Martin’s email post in November, documents posted by others show, and as Sasaki’s own council of senior priests admits, Sasaki’s sexual assaults occurred over five decades.
Martin said he wanted to call Sasaki to account while he was still alive.
“Sasaki is a legend. That is why I felt it so important to talk about it now,” Martin told the Journal in an email. “You really can’t touch a dead legend.”
Martin said he expected vehement personal attacks against him for raising the issue but was surprised by the “many, many” emails and messages of gratitude from victims of Sasaki’s abuse.
In response to Martin’s public letter and many others that followed, a three-member “Bearing Witness Council” of Buddhist teachers from Buddhist organizations not connected to Sasaki was formed in November to investigate.
The council concluded Sasaki’s sexual assaults occurred and his attempts to explain them to students as part of his teachings were counter to Buddhist tradition.
In early January, the senior teachers of Sasaki’s community admitted in an on-line statement that the community “has struggled with our teacher Joshu Sasaki Roshi’s sexual misconduct for a significant portion of his career in the United States.”
In the open letter to “our fellow practitioners and the American Buddhist community,” Sasaki’s council of priests stated, “We fully acknowledge now, without any reservation, and with the heaviest of hearts, that because of our failure to address our teacher’s sexual misconduct, women and also men have been hurt, women and men who trusted us with their Zen practices and whose trust we failed to honor in a fundamental way.”
But Martin and others point out that none of the council members signed the letter and no one close to Sasaki has resigned.
That to Martin indicates a 50-year coverup will continue. “They say Joshu Sasaki is no longer teaching,” Martin told the Journal. “While he may not be doing any kind of temple functions or meeting with students, it is very clear he is still absolutely in control of the operational functions.”
Specifics about abuse
According to the Witness Council, there have been reports for decades within the Buddhist community that Sasaki was involved in sexual misconduct with adult female students.
During one-on-one teaching sessions known as sanzen, Sasaki reached into women’s robes to touch their breasts, drew their hands into his robes to touch his penis and in some cases asked them or forced them to give him oral sex or have intercourse with them.
The sanzen took place during retreats at either Mount Baldy in California or the Bodhi Manda Zen Center at Jemez Springs.
Students were referred to the retreats to further their progress in understanding Buddhist teaching by the Zen centers.
During the retreats, students would meet with Sasaki four times a day in confidential one-on-one sessions.
These sessions with both male and female students could last a few seconds to a much longer time, and it was Sasaki who decided how long they lasted.
During these sessions Sasaki would ask a koan or question of the student to see if their answer indicated they had broken through their ego into enlightenment. A great deal of importance is placed on these private sessions.
At various points in time, monks at the retreat centers or the local centers would warn female students that Sasaki might try to sexually assault them and that it was “okay” to resist.
But there was no general outcry to Sasaki’s behavior and few reports reached law enforcement authorities.
Monk speaks out
In 1997, Brian Lesage was a young monk studying at the Mount Baldy Zen Center in California.
Joshu Sasaki’s sexual abuse of female students had reached a level where younger monks and nuns spent long hours discussing the problem, Lesage said in a telephone interview.
“We reached out by phone to other students and victims,” Lesage said. “It was horrible what happened to these women.”
In December 1997, Lesage and other monks and nuns sent an unsigned letter to Sasaki objecting to his sexual misconduct.
Part of the letter states, “With sadness and confusion we have struggled with your sexual behavior toward women.”
Later the letter states, “We have talked to many of your women students who have told us they suffered for years and suffer still as a result of your behavior.”
The response from a senior priest, Lesage said, “If you don’t like what’s going on, leave.”
“If I was the person I am now, I would have. But I was young and foolish and didn’t leave until several years later,” he said.
The Oshos (priests) told the monks and nuns they would warn female students of Sasaki’s sexual overtures and advise them to resist.
“There was a lot of overly simplistic thinking,” Lesage said. “He (Sasaki) was manipulative, threatening to resign, if people persisted in making him stop.”
Lesage, like others interviewed by the Journal, said Sasaki was a gifted teacher and created what amounted to a personality cult. There was no forum within the community for people who were or felt abused to go to with complaints.
“What he did was illegal,” Lesage said. “It was as simple as that.”
Center head leaves
In July 1992, Kosan Gentei Sandy Stewart, head of a Zen center in North Carolina, declared his independence from Sasaki Roshi in a letter to Sasaki and his board of directors.
Among the reasons for his decision: “my objection to the sexual behavior and sexual teaching techniques of the Head Abbot (Sasaki).”
Among other factors was “the lack of regulations in the organization with respect to inappropriate sexual behavior between teachers and students.”
Assured that Sasaki’s sexual abuse had stopped, Stewart rejoined Sasaki’s community, only to quit again in 2007 when he discovered Sasaki continued his “forceful unwanted sexual behavior with some of his female students.”
He and his Zen Center in North Carolina again cut off all ties with Sasaki’s organization.
In an email exchange with the Journal, Stewart said, “I heard that Sasaki Roshi was reported to the Los Angeles District Attorney in the early 1970s, but nothing came of it. Also, I heard that in the mid-1980s, there were several reports on file at the Rape Crisis Center in Santa Fe. Again, nothing happened.”
Stewart credits the Internet with finally bringing Sasaki’s sexual misconduct into the public light.
His wife was also a student of Sasaki’s and had first-hand experience fending off his unwanted sexual advances and groping.
In a letter to the board of directors of the Rinzai community, she called on them to resign.
“You have also demonstrated your abject lack of understanding of the effect of Sasaki’s sexual misconduct on the lives of the women involved,” she wrote.
The Bearing Witness Council that issued a report concluding the allegations of Sasaki’s sexual assaults were true did not have any investigatory powers.
It received testimonial evidence by way of emails and telephone conversations with female victims and male students, priests and others who were familiar with other allegations.
The Witness Council did not attempt to investigate the individual allegations made by 10 women and 13 men who were at one time or another practitioners of the Zen Buddhist teachings of Sasaki from the 1960s through 2012.
The Witness Council found there were consistent reports of sexual behavior by Joshu Sasaki, often initiated in the formal setting and privacy of face-to-face encounters between Sasaki and female students.
Sasaki allegedly asked women to show him their breasts and other physical advances followed.
The council found that some women repelled his advances, but others were physically overwhelmed and the sexual contact became more physical ending in some cases with oral sex or intercourse.
All of those allegations involved women, but there was one report of Sasaki having a sexual encounter with an underage girl.
The council found that Sasaki framed the sexual contacts as Zen teaching or beneficial.
The council also concluded that Sasaki retaliated against senior students or threatened to resign if they took action to reveal or stop his sexual behavior.
There are no current criminal investigations of the sexual assault allegations involving Sasaki.
A spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office for Sandoval County said the office had no active case files or complaints.
Phil Sisneros, a spokesman for New Mexico Attorney General Gary King, said all his office received was an anonymous letter asking for an investigation of sexual offenses at an unspecified location in Sandoval County.
“Other than a list of people who supposedly have information on the alleged crimes,” Sisneros said, “there was no mention of any victim who would come forward to file a complaint.”
Sisneros said anyone who was victimized needs to contact the District Attorney’s Office in Sandoval County.
Joshu Sasaki Roshi at the Bodhi Manda Zen Center in 1977. (journal file)
Sasaki Roshi Became A Buddhist Rock Star
Joshu Sasaki is a member of the Rinzai lineage of Zen Buddhism that originates in Japan and as a Roshi, or “master,” has the authority to ordain priests or Oshos.
It is one of many lineages of Buddhism that originated 2,600 years ago in Nepal and India.
Sasaki was sent to the United States in the early 1960s by the largest Rinzai temple in Japan in response to a request by a community of Buddhists in southern Californian seeking a teacher.
At that time, Sasaki was not well known and his past in Japan includes allegations of fathering children out of wedlock and getting locked up for mishandling temple funds.
Once in the U.S., Sasaki became something of a Buddhist rock star, traveling across the United States and Canada, establishing Zen Centers teaching the Rinzai lineage.
The type of Buddhism Sasaki teaches is one of the more militant branches of the religion and is associated with the Samurai warrior class of feudal Japan.
The singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen is one of his famous students.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal
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|Subject: Re: Everybody Knows - finally this comes out -- from Sweeping Zen Sun Feb 10, 2013 1:16 pm|| |
Zen abuse: My own painful response
By Leslie Linthicum / Of the Journal on Sun, Feb 10, 2013
Last Sunday on this front page, my colleague Mike Gallagher told the story of a Japanese Zen master, now 105, whose sexual conduct with female students spanned decades.
From the outside, the groping and forced sexual acts look inappropriate, scandalous, indefensible.
Today, I’d like to give you a look from the inside.
My husband was a student of Joshu Sasaki Roshi for more than 20 years after picking up a book about mindfulness meditation during a particularly rough spot in his life and then finding a spiritual home at the Albuquerque Zen Center, one of the Sasaki Roshi’s outposts in New Mexico.
Zen Buddhism was a lifesaver for him, and he found his one-on-one koan practice with the roshi during retreats to be powerful. Five years ago, he took his vows and became a monk. A few months after that, he started to hear rumors that the roshi had groped female students. Later, he heard firsthand accounts from several women.
In September, he was asked to take over the Albuquerque Zen Center as the resident administrator. In November, our moving plans under way, the depth of the sex scandal was revealed on the Internet – a detailed accounting of a pattern of abuse that involved many more women than we knew and more than groping. No one in the organization disputed the allegations, and still the roshi did not apologize or step down.
In December, we canceled the move, unpacked our boxes, and my husband resigned after 23 years with the organization. He is now a monk seeking a new spiritual home, and we are a family searching for answers to questions that seem surreal.
Why did he stay when he knew about a few women and groping but leave when the picture grew to include more than 100 women and more harmful abuse?
How could an organization built around a teacher turn a blind eye to the harm that teacher was doing to women?
How could serious practitioners of Buddhism, which teaches compassion and clarity above all, act so callously and be so blind?
What on earth were we thinking?
In our household these days, there is much debate, anguish, self-reflection, sadness and shame.
I’m a bit of an outsider to the Zen world. Meditation is not my practice, but I’ve seen it up close and understand quite personally its power to transform. When I learned about the roshi’s uninvited touching years ago, my reaction was disgust and an end to my financial donations. But when I talked about Zen practice and Sasaki Roshi to family and friends, I didn’t tell the full story. Somehow, I thought that was a suitable response.
I never would have imagined I would be associated with one of the newspaper’s big front-page investigations. This one, like many, started with an anonymous tip. And when I read the story last Sunday and saw the scandal spelled out in nauseating detail, the inadequacy of my own response over the past few years became painfully evident. When the clouds part, it’s easier to see your shortcomings.
I’ve wondered recently what it must have been like to be among the first families in the Catholic Church to stand up and report abuse at the hand of a priest. Terrifying and lonely, no doubt. And I’ve wondered about those who resisted the truth of the scandal in the Catholic Church even as its enormity became clear. Mustn’t that have been lonelier still?
In this Buddhist clergy abuse scandal, the victims weren’t children, they were adults, and that allows for layers of nuance that doesn’t exist with child abuse.
Many of the roshi’s female students reported no inappropriate conduct, only good Zen practice. Some of the women who were grabbed told him no and he stopped. Some of those who were molested left and never came back. Others understood it was inappropriate but still believed the roshi to be a great Zen master and continued to practice with him. Others say the roshi reaching into their robes and touching them sexually or asking them to touch him was exactly what he told them it would be – a path to deeper teaching.
A hundred people; a hundred truths. But also one truth: When we cause another pain, we say we’re sorry and we don’t do it again. Why was this so hard for a community of Buddhists to understand? Why didn’t they demand that of their teacher?
For many people in Albuquerque, I suspect geography helped to cloud the thinking. Sasaki is a larger-than-life character who lives in Los Angeles. Although the Albuquerque Zen Center is under his spiritual direction, he has little to do with the day-to-day activities there. It was easy to ask what any of this had to do with us.
More questions for the face in the mirror:
If we ignore the harm done by others (so convenient), are we also practicing harm?
If we’ve hidden some of the truth, isn’t that the same as lying?
If we put the teacher before all else, have we really learned anything? If the teacher allows that, does he have any business calling himself a teacher?
What stories do we tell to let ourselves off the hook?
If you’re wondering why I’ve chosen to spill out my disquiet to you on your peaceful Sunday, well, I wonder too. I suppose it’s because writers try to make sense of things by writing. And because 50 years of secrets are what is tearing this organization apart. I think it’s time to stop keeping them.
UpFront is a daily front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Leslie at 823-3914 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Go to www.abqjournal.com/letters/new to submit a letter to the editor.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal
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|Subject: Re: Everybody Knows - finally this comes out -- from Sweeping Zen Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:40 pm|| |
The Sasaki story hits front page of the Times:
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|Subject: Re: Everybody Knows - finally this comes out -- from Sweeping Zen Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:45 pm|| |
February 11, 2013
Zen Groups Distressed by Accusations Against Teacher
By MARK OPPENHEIMER and IAN LOVETT
Since arriving in Los Angeles from Japan in 1962, the Buddhist teacher Joshu Sasaki, who is 105 years old, has taught thousands of Americans at his two Zen centers in the area and one in New Mexico. He has influenced thousands more enlightenment seekers through a chain of some 30 affiliated Zen centers from the Puget Sound to Princeton to Berlin. And he is known as a Buddhist teacher of Leonard Cohen, the poet and songwriter.
Mr. Sasaki has also, according to an investigation by an independent council of Buddhist leaders, released in January, groped and sexually harassed female students for decades, taking advantage of their loyalty to a famously charismatic roshi, or master.
The allegations against Mr. Sasaki have upset and obsessed Zen Buddhists across the country, who are part of a close-knit world in which many participants seem to know, or at least know of, the principal teachers.
Mr. Sasaki did not respond to requests for interviews made through Paul Karsten, a member of the board of Rinzai-ji, his main center in Los Angeles. Mr. Karsten said that Mr. Sasaki’s senior priests are conducting their own inquiry. And he cautioned that the independent council took the accounts it heard from dozens of students at face value and did not investigate any “for veracity.”
Because Mr. Sasaki has founded or sponsored so many Zen centers, and because he has the prestige of having trained in Japan, the charges that he behaved unethically — and that his supporters looked the other way — have implications for an entire way of life.
Such charges have become more frequent in Zen Buddhism. Several other teachers have been accused of misconduct recently, notably Eido Shimano, who in 2010 was asked to resign from the Zen Studies Society in Manhattan over allegations that he had sex with students. Critics and victims have pointed to a Zen culture of secrecy, patriarchy and sexism, and to the quasi-religious worship of the Zen master, who can easily abuse his status.
Disaffected students wrote letters to the board of one of Mr. Sasaki’s Zen centers as early as 1991. Yet it was only last November, when Eshu Martin, a Zen priest who studied under Mr. Sasaki from 1997 to 2008, posted a letter to SweepingZen.com, a popular Web site, that the wider Zen world noticed.
Mr. Martin, now a Zen abbot in Victoria, British Columbia, accused Mr. Sasaki of a “career of misconduct,” from “frequent and repeated non-consensual groping of female students” to “sexually coercive after-hours ‘tea’ meetings, to affairs,” as well as interfering in his students’ marriages. Soon thereafter, the independent “witnessing council” of noted Zen teachers began interviewing 25 current or former students of Mr. Sasaki.
Some former students are now speaking out, including seven interviewed for this article, and their stories provide insight into the culture of Rinzai-ji and the other places where Mr. Sasaki taught. Women say they were encouraged to believe that being touched by Mr. Sasaki was part of their Zen training.
The Zen group, or sangha, can become one’s close family, and that aspect of Zen may account for why women and men have been reluctant to speak out for so long.
Many women whom Mr. Sasaki touched were resident monks at his centers. One woman who confronted Mr. Sasaki in the 1980s found herself an outcast afterward. The woman, who asked that her name not be used to protect her privacy, said that afterward “hardly anyone in the sangha, whom I had grown up with for 20 years, would have anything to do with us.”
In the council’s report on Jan. 11, the three members wrote of “Sasaki asking women to show him their breasts, as part of ‘answering’ a koan” — a Zen riddle — “or to demonstrate ‘non-attachment.’ ”
When the report was posted to SweepingZen.com, Mr. Sasaki’s senior priests wrote in a post that their group “has struggled with our teacher Joshu Sasaki Roshi’s sexual misconduct for a significant portion of his career in the United States” — their first such admission.
Among those who spoke to the council and for this article was Nikki Stubbs, who now lives in Vancouver, and who studied and worked at Mount Baldy, Mr. Sasaki’s Zen center 50 miles east of Los Angeles, from 2003 to 2006. During that time, she said, Mr. Sasaki would fondle her breasts during sanzen, or private meeting; he also asked her to massage his penis. She would wonder, she said, “Was this teaching?”
One monk, whom Ms. Stubbs said she told about the touching, was unsympathetic. “He believed in Roshi’s style, that sexualizing was teaching for particular women,” Ms. Stubbs said. The monk’s theory, common in Mr. Sasaki’s circle, was that such physicality could check a woman’s overly strong ego.
A former student of Mr. Sasaki’s now living in the San Francisco area, who asked that her name be withheld to protect her privacy, said that at Mount Baldy in the late 1990s, “the monks confronted Roshi and said, ‘This behavior is unacceptable and has to stop.’ ” However, she said, “nothing changed.” After a time, Mr. Sasaki used Zen teaching to justify touching her, too.
“He would say something like, ‘True love is giving yourself to everything,’ ” she explained. At Mount Baldy, the isolation could hamper one’s judgment. “It can sound trite, but you’re in this extreme state of consciousness,” she said — living at a monastery in the mountains, sitting in silence for many hours a day — “where boundaries fall away.”
Joe Marinello is a Zen teacher in Seattle who served on the board of the Zen Studies Society in New York. He has been openly critical of Mr. Shimano, the former abbot who was asked to resign from the society. Asked about teachers who say that sexual touch is an appropriate teaching technique, he was dismissive.
“In my opinion,” Mr. Marinello said in an e-mail, “it’s just their cultural and personal distortion to justify their predations.”
But in Zen Buddhism, students often overlook their teachers’ failings, participants say. Some Buddhists define their philosophy in contrast to Western religion: Buddhism, they believe, does not have Christian-style preoccupations about things like sex. And Zen exalts the relationship between a student and a teacher, who can come to seem irreplaceable.
“Outside the sexual things that happened,” the woman now in San Francisco said, “my relationship with him was one of the most important I have had with anyone.”
Several women said that Zen can foster an atmosphere of overt sexism. Jessica Kramer, a doula in Los Angeles, was Mr. Sasaki’s personal attendant in 2002. She said that he would reach into her robe and that she always resisted his advances. Surrounded almost entirely by men, she said she got very little sympathy. “I’d talk about it with people who’d say, ‘Why not just let him touch your breasts if he wants to touch your breasts?’ ”
Susanna Stewart began studying with Mr. Sasaki about 40 years ago. Within six months, she said, Mr. Sasaki began to touch her during sanzen. This sexualizing of their relationship “led to years of confusion and pain,” Ms. Stewart said, “eventually resulting in my becoming unable to practice Zen.” And when she married one of his priests, Mr. Sasaki tried to break them up, she said, even encouraging her husband to have an affair.
In 1992, Ms. Stewart’s husband disaffiliated himself and his North Carolina Zen Center from Mr. Sasaki. Years later, his wife said, he received hate mail from members of his old Zen group.
The witnessing council, which wrote the report, has no official authority. Its members belong to the American Zen Teachers Association but collected stories on their own initiative, although with a statement of support from 45 other teachers and priests. One of its authors, Grace Schireson, said that Zen Buddhists in the United States have misinterpreted a Japanese philosophy.
“Because of their long history with Zen practice, people in Japan have some skepticism about priests,” Ms. Schireson said. But in the United States many proponents have a “devotion to the guru or the teacher in a way that could repress our common sense and emotional intelligence.”
Last Thursday morning, at Rinzai-ji on Cimarron Street in Los Angeles, Bob Mammoser, a resident monk, said that Mr. Sasaki’s “health is quite frail” and that he has “basically withdrawn from any active teaching.” Mr. Mammoser said there is talk of a meeting at the center to discuss what, if any, action to take.
Mr. Mammoser said he first became aware of allegations against Mr. Sasaki in the 1980s. “There have been efforts in the past to address this with him,” Mr. Mammoser said. “Basically, they haven’t been able to go anywhere.”
He added: “What’s important and is overlooked is that, besides this aspect, Roshi was a commanding and inspiring figure using Buddhist practice to help thousand find more peace, clarity and happiness in their own lives. It seems to be the kind of thing that, you get the person as a whole, good and bad, just like you marry somebody and you get their strengths and wonderful qualities as well as their weaknesses.”
|Subject: Re: Everybody Knows - finally this comes out -- from Sweeping Zen || |