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 Latest Development in the ongoing Shimano situation

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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Latest Development in the ongoing Shimano situation   Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:19 pm

An Open Letter to Sherry Chayat, the Zen Studies Society (ZSS), and
Other Concerned Persons


I trust your health is holding up despite present difficulties. As you know, I have met Eidô Shimano, visited Dai Bosatsu, and also met you at your center. But I discovered the details of this situation only because you asked me to check why Shimano was not listed on Sôen Nakagawa's lineage chart. Looking into the facts has been one of the most shocking and disturbing things I have ever done. But I have no ax to grind in this sad and shameful affair. Many have been hurt, including you. So what I offer is not in any way a personal attack, but is directed to those like you in leadership and teaching positions in an organization that has long been centered around a seriously dysfunctional teacher. May this statement, in some small way, promote healing on all sides.

First let me respond to your persistent concern: to check on the details of Shimano's certification. I have done what you requested and have confirmed that Shimano is NOT listed on Sôen Nakagawa's lineage chart. Since Sôen Nakagawa has passed away, we cannot ask him why he took the actions that he did with respect to Shimano. But what is clear is that the Myôshinji establishment (from which Shimano's purported lineage derives) has with one voice repudiated any connection with Shimano or his successors, explicitly stating that neither Shimano nor his successors are certified as priests or recognized as qualified teachers. The statement, in Japanese and English, can be found on the official Myôshinji website:

http://www.myoshinji.or.jp/about/post_10.html

It's heartbreaking, yet undeniable: you and many others have been duped. Plain and simple. With or without "credentials."

In Rinzai Zen Buddhism, completing formal practice, including the koan curriculum, is only a first step to becoming a qualified teacher. At least as important is a further maturation of character in compassion, virtue and personal integrity.

The sad fact is that some people misuse the koan system. As in any religious institution, there are those who can manipulate it for their own ends, without going through any real inner transformation. Then they use their position and power for self-serving purposes. Their lack of virtue and integrity, however, is a clear sign that they are unfit to teach.

A teacher of Zen Buddhism is not a special being exempt from ethics and allowed to play by his or her own rules – that is how a dangerous cult operates. Zen teachers are people working with students who are wondrously and vulnerably opening themselves up. And like teachers of every kind, a Zen teacher has a duty to do everything in his or her power to nurture and protect the student in this delicate process. Shimano has breached this duty, causing terrible harm to innocent people, to ZSS, and to Zen Buddhism. It's clear; no more hemming and hawing.

Unfortunately, what has happened at ZSS is not an isolated occurrence. Zen in the modern world is rife with half-baked and downright bogus teachers, some coming from Japan. While I appreciate the Myôshinji statement mentioned above, I do not assume that Japanese Rinzai Zen is pure and flawless, and that Shimano is a terrible aberration of it. Shimano IS a terrible aberration of that institution; but he is also a product of it. May we all reflect on how this disease arose – and how it could continue to fester for so long. And, going forward, may we all take this opportunity to humbly look into own hearts and under our own feet, then take the necessary steps so Zen Buddhism in North America and elsewhere can get turned in the right direction. That is what we can shape now and so what I'd like to focus on below.

There are many related issues, and I do not claim to have the answers. Others more knowledgeable and capable than me have already written about these issues. So let me just mention some things to consider here:

First, where the main teacher in an organization brings his or her deep and abiding dysfunction into the heart of the teaching, two things follow: (1) the teacher selects people for leadership positions based in part on their ignorance or acquiescence to the dysfunctional behaviors; and (2) the teaching is ruined.

Where this situation occurs, and the dysfunction is uncovered, people in leadership roles leave or are forced to leave. They do so because, even if they were well-intentioned individuals and their hearts were in the right place, they either acquiesced to, or remained blind to, the teacher’s depredations. Either way, they have failed in their leadership roles. Once new leadership is in place,
the task is not yet done. Issues remain: What is being done to guard against future dysfunction and are their grievance procedures?

Concerning who will now teach: if the dysfunctional teacher is not legitimate, as is the case with Shimano, can his successors be considered legitimate? Who is qualified to make this determination and on what basis? Teachers should sincerely ask themselves:

• Am I really qualified to teach? What criteria do I use to determine this? In the teaching of my dysfunctional teacher, how can I separate what was genuine from what was selfish manipulation?

• Does my training in a dysfunctional environment preclude me from teaching? Am I in need of counseling? Some things to watch for: Am I the victim of a cult mentality? Do I feel blind loyalty toward my teacher? Do I rationalize the teacher's abuses and manipulations because I believe the teacher is "enlightened"? Would I adopt that standard as a teacher?

• How will my role in the dysfunction affect my ability to reach and teach all in the community? Some things to watch for: Did I enable it or otherwise tolerate it? Am I part of the problem? Do I need to apologize for my actions and make amends? Do I have the trust of the whole community, including those who were harmed or who have left the community?

• Why do I want this position? Is there some desire to maintain it for my own sake? Do I proactively respond to dysfunction to eliminate it and address its painful consequences, or do I take half-measures after the fact, hoping to protect my position until the storm blows over?

Organizational leaders and students should be sensitive to these issues in determining the merit of a teacher. Finally, please consider whether the organization is doing all it can to disclose what has occurred and to take responsibility by meeting the needs of any victims. These include: those directly abused; those who acquiesced or ignored the depredations; those forced to leave the organization because they refused to accept what was going on; and even the dysfunctional teacher. All need to be cared for.

It seems to me that these issues need to be seriously addressed for a healthy Zen Buddhist organization to go forward with authenticity, competence and compassion. For yourself and for all who have been damaged, it is not too late to make a clean break from the sickness, to really start the healing process, and to do what can be done to right the wrongs. When you have sincerely inquired into these issues, Sherry, I invite you to publicly respond in a way that could begin real reconciliation for all sides. I, and many others, await your response with an open heart.

Let me end by repeating my sincere apology to you. Sherry, I should not have let our earlier messages be made public. You were right about that and I was wrong. My apologies for any grief it caused you. I did not intend to hurt you in any way. I was trying to prepare you for what was inevitably coming. To make amends, I requested that the thread be removed from the Archive Site. Unfortunately, it appeared elsewhere on the internet, so the Archive saw no point in not including it in its record and eventually put it back up, despite my protests. Since I have no connection to the Archive or to any other site where the email thread appears, there is little more I can do about it now.

May we all be stirred to examine our own faults – and strive to correct them.

Gasshou (palms pressed together),

Jeff Shore


Note: For those unfamiliar with Shimano & ZSS, there is a mountain of material available. See, for example:

http://www.shimanoarchive.com/PDFs/19640808R_Smith_Aitken.pdf
http://www.shimanoarchive.com/PDFs/19820914_Zournas_Board.pdf
http://www.shimanoarchive.com/PDFs/19821027_Zournas_Shimano.pdf
http://www.shimanoarchive.com/PDFs/20100821_NYT_Sex_Scandal.pdf
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Development in the ongoing Shimano situation   Fri Dec 28, 2012 4:45 am

I think these letters and revelations get closer and closer to the truth all the time.

Not the truth that Sasaki acted in the wrong way but the incredible lack of right understanding that has been passed on and around.

Here we have disciples not being recognised as teachers,in some ways this is irrelevant. Is our meditation really about wearing a different colored robe or a tassel or a title? These are not teaching aids these are empire building tactics.
Should our meditation not go beyond this and that, in fact should the teaching not teach us to drop this and that,not create more this and that.What is the point of doing a nice ceremony and have the ability to speak in a quiet voice if one secretly talks dirty on the phone or touches other people sexually.

I think people have been allowed to pass through mu too easily,I remember a letter I received vividly explaining the weed smoking at a zen centre, and the sexual goings on in a room above the zendo when people were sitting and ending the letter with a quick oh yea I passed mu.

I think the first thing a lot of teachers taught was what ever you do do not challenge the teacher,I have even heard teachers say I am alcoholic but I will only drink weekends. In any other walk of life people would know it does not work,and the best way to help people stop alcohol or sexual problems is to have zero tolerance, if you have a drink problem you can not have the next drink.

Sasaki's followers unfortunately appeared to do nothing to protect innocent people from their teacher,and I personally believe that his teaching was flawed and did not come from nor lead to, Right Understanding.
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Development in the ongoing Shimano situation   Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:42 am

chisanmichaelhughes wrote:

Here we have disciples not being recognised as teachers,in some ways this is irrelevant. Is our meditation really about wearing a different colored robe or a tassel or a title? These are not teaching aids these are empire building tactics.
Should our meditation not go beyond this and that, in fact should the teaching not teach us to drop this and that,not create more this and that.What is the point of doing a nice ceremony and have the ability to speak in a quiet voice if one secretly talks dirty on the phone or touches other people sexually.

For those of us practicing on our own I would yes, this is exactly right. For those who choose to officially represent the tradition and teach it is more complicated. The notion of legitimacy has to be taken into consideration. Jeff Shore asks good questions, eg if the teacher proves to be illegitimate does that make the students illegitimate as well? I'd like to think that a way can be found for the larger Zen community to evaluate monks and teachers who have been orphaned by discredited teachers and give credit where it is due. As to "rank and privilege" when I was a monk I used to muse on the fact that taking ordination originally meant becoming a nobody. I remember learning that the original kesa was made from rags and monks were homeless beggars. Yet there we were attaining high status in our hierarchical community - big fish in a very small pond. For me returning to lay life really was becoming a nobody again, and a good thing I did it.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Development in the ongoing Shimano situation   Fri Dec 28, 2012 12:04 pm

Well I think we are talking of much the same thing in the same spirit, I think that you becoming a nobody does something for me, whereas attaining high status is likened to tethering a bull but being pulled by it through dense undergrowth.

'Officially representing a tradition',I would like to believe we do that when pure zazen is done
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Development in the ongoing Shimano situation   Fri Dec 28, 2012 12:36 pm

Jcbaran wrote:
An Open Letter to Sherry Chayat, the Zen Studies Society (ZSS), and Other Concerned Persons

Josh, can you link to the original site where this new open letter is posted?
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Development in the ongoing Shimano situation   Fri Dec 28, 2012 2:19 pm

The letter may not be posted anywhere yet. I will look into it. Someone who works with the writer of the letter emailed it to me as a pdf yesterday. And i don't know how to post pdfs here, but there must be a way to do it?

The Shimano Archives are here and the Myoshinji statement / link is posted here but I don't think the full letter is posted.

http://www.shimanoarchive.com
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Development in the ongoing Shimano situation   Fri Dec 28, 2012 3:10 pm

Jcbaran wrote:
The letter may not be posted anywhere yet. I will look into it. Someone who works with the writer of the letter emailed it to me as a pdf yesterday.

That would explain it :-) I was assuming this was a public statement, but since Jeff Shore hasn't put it up anywhere are we sure it is?
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Development in the ongoing Shimano situation   Fri Dec 28, 2012 3:49 pm

well, he says its "an open letter" and it was sent to me and I have no special connect to this issue or community, so an open letter is certainly to be shared. No problem in sharing it.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Development in the ongoing Shimano situation   Sat Dec 29, 2012 11:43 am

Jcbaran wrote:
well, he says its "an open letter" and it was sent to me and I have no special connect to this issue or community, so an open letter is certainly to be shared. No problem in sharing it.

Josh, thanks for confirming. Do you know if Jeff Shore is going to put the statement up elsewhere or do we have an exclusive? :-)
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Development in the ongoing Shimano situation   Sat Dec 29, 2012 12:37 pm

I am sure this is not any kind of "exclusive" - it was probably sent around by email and perhaps sweepingzen or the Shimano archives will post it, but i think there was some misunderstandings in the past there about posting previous emails? not certain where that stands, but this open letter is undoubtedly being shared. The NYT may be working on a big more in-depth follow-up story on the Shimano situation, so we shall see.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Development in the ongoing Shimano situation   Sat Dec 29, 2012 3:32 pm

Good for Jeff as he faces zen and the art of deception.
People have turned blind eyes rather than face the truth, the responsibility of facing the truth is to stand up sometimes on your own and say ' I do not think this is Right Practice'
Those that turned blind eyes or did not choose the truth become teachers of something other than the truth
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Christopher Hamacher



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PostSubject: Re: Latest Development in the ongoing Shimano situation   Sat Dec 29, 2012 3:55 pm

I confirmed with Jeff Shore that it is definitely from him. As Josh says, he sent it around to a few people besides Roko Chayat via email, and is fine with it being posted here.
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Development in the ongoing Shimano situation   Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:30 pm

Drinking the Kool-Aid

Posted by: Merry White Benezya on April 5, 2013 - from sweepingzen.com

Merry White Benezra, author of Special Karma: A Zen Novel of Love and Folly.http://specialkarma.wordpress.com/


Merry White BenezraI arrived at Dai Bosatsu Zendo in the summer of 1976 with a refuge-taking heart, more than ready to sever my ties with the difficult world. My family karma was alcohol and death; my sexual karma was a propensity to fall in love and be hurt. My career karma was corporate, at once frustrating and deadening. At the age of 28, I had decided I was absolutely finished with trying to find my niche in samsara. So when, soon after my arrival, a senior student gave me the bad news about Eido Roshi and the DBZ sex scandal that had broken the community open in Christmas 1975, it was beyond too late.

At 44, Eido was a beautiful man, charismatic, absolutely imbued with the atmosphere of Zen and its aesthetics. As a deeply invested Japanophile, I should have been a very easy mark. But, perhaps because of the tip-off, when Eido began to approach me I knew it wasn’t a unique or spontaneous attraction (it was being hit up); and, frankly, his technique was poor. “How many men?” he would ask. “Must have been more than one hundred?” How many humiliating heartbreaks would have been the better question.

Saying “No thank you” did not (as I had expected) inoculate me from harm. “Do you like your room?” he asked, as I was rising to leave our first dokusan meeting. An odd question, I thought. I said I did. I loved my room, my monk’s cell. If I had said my room was too small and my futon was too hard and I was lonely, would the conversation would have moved on to alternative sleeping arrangements, such as in the Roshi’s quarters?

Dokusan is the private meeting between roshi and student, the crucible in which the teacher both tests the student’s understanding of Dharma and challenges her to experience the greatest spiritual insight, known in Zen practice as kensho. In Rinzai Zen practice, dokusan is the place where the roshi assigns a koan (Zen riddle), and where the student returns to deliver her answer—good, bad, or hopeless. Back in the Zendo, Rinzai students are encouraged to emulate the great lineage holders—like Bodhidharma, whose student Huike’s effort and sincerity were such that he brought his teacher his severed arm. The sincere Rinzai novice will put out stupendous physical and emotional energy in attempting to break through her koan. As D.T. Suzuki admonishes in An Introduction to Zen Buddhism, “your whole personality, your utmost will, your deepest nature, determined to bring the situation to an issue, throws itself with no thought of self or no-self, of this or that, directly and unreservedly against the iron wall of the koan.”

Sesshin is the seven-day period in which the entire sangha meditates like this from before dawn until long after sunset, day after day, going back and forth to dokusan to be tested and encouraged. This isn’t a good time to proposition a serious student; it’s like handing a cup of cyanide to a marathon runner.

On the last evening of the first sesshin of the training period, Eido invited me to enjoy a book of pornographic photos with him in his private study. I very quickly excused myself and reeled back to my room. Sesshin ended the following morning and I had to decide. Dai Bosatsu’s very first training period had just started; who was I to bring it to a close? So I let myself believe that Eido had simply made a mistake about the kind of student I meant to be. If other women actually wanted this, that was their business.

In the middle of the training period’s second sesshin, Eido revealed the news in dokusan that I had a ‘special karma.’ For someone in my frame of mind, this should only have meant a great spiritual karma. In a Zen monastery, it should only imply spiritual potential. But I had shown so little on-demand spiritual acumen at that point that I knew, in my heart of hearts, that my spiritual karma was not what he meant. Permitting myself to come to this realization in the pressure cooker of sesshin was excruciating. After failing to get a straight answer from Eido about the nature of my special karma and finding myself unable to do anything but cry, nonstop, I walked out of the sesshin. If I had not done so, I believe I could have experienced a complete mental breakdown. I thought long and hard about suicide. If my ‘special karma,’ wasn’t spiritual, what was left?

And, a week or so later, Eido confirmed that my special karma was, after all, to have won the lucky ticket that gave the winner a night (or more!) in bed with a real Zen master. It was a ticket I never redeemed.

After leaving Dai Bosatsu I lived for a while in the San Francisco Zen Center community, where I found that the zealous refuge-taker had evolved into a gimlet-eyed critic. Why were students always saying, “Roshi says this or that,” when faced with any situation? Why was the wise roshi driving a new BMW? And then life happened to me after all—marriage, baby, divorce, career. These days, when I see an authority figure in robes serving up paradoxes—for example, that zazen “doesn’t work” but we should do it anyway—I turn and walk in the other direction. My ability to suspend disbelief is near zero. And so I accept that my potential as a Zen adept has been forfeited, at least in this lifetime.

Is there such a thing as enlightenment? If there is, it strikes me as a phantom that comes and goes; when it passes, we are the same people we always were. Does enlightenment confer wisdom? Compassion? My experience has been that it resoundingly does not. Not only are these qualities absent in Eido, they have been extraordinarily lacking in nearly every actor on the Zen Studies Society scene, including its current Abbot. The entire effort at ZSS, up the point where the New York Times expose began to bite into memberships and contributions (or up to the point of being sued by Eido for $2 million they don’t have), has been to look the other way, pay victims off, and collude with Eido’s attribution of mental illness in his accusers.

I am watching the unfolding of Eido’s denouement with interest. Finally, at the age of 81, a sexual criminal is being publicly unmasked. But, shouldn’t this have happened in 1964, when his first victims were hospitalized? Or during one of the many [banned term] Follies (as we called them) in the 1970′s, 1980′s and 1990′s—when evidence of Eido’s unremitting and unapologetic sexual pathology was brought, again and again, to the attention of the ZSS Board?

At ZSS, the Zen values of equanimity, non-judgment, and veneration for the teacher have played into Eido’s hands. And in their trajectories toward kensho, very few Zen practitioners have been willing to ruffle their samadhis by facing and dealing with Eido’s damage. To varying degrees, we have all been drinking the Kool-Aid—victims and enablers alike. But I have to ask—is this all Zen practice is, in the end? A dangerous cult?

Recently it has come to light that Eido’s teacher, Soen Roshi, either failed to add Eido’s name to the list of lineage holders (the one that includes Bodhidharma) at Myoshinji, his home temple in Japan—or later removed it. There are many ways to look at this, and how it impacts Eido and his successors. One way is to ask, What is a piece of paper, anyway? But to my mind, Soen’s act is the one clean moment in this whole terrible affair. Someone saw, someone acted. Like a sword’s stroke.

I never met Soen, and saw him only once. He looked like a small, gnarled tree. A tree with a force field.

One wants so very much to believe.
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Development in the ongoing Shimano situation   Thu Jun 27, 2013 12:51 pm

A Letter From Shinge Roshi

Posted by: Genjo Marinello June 16, 2013 - on sweepingzen.com   

Open letter concerning ZSS  ”Annual Ceremony for Introspection and Purification”


This week I read with interest Shinge Roko Chayat’s, the second abbot of the Zen Studies Society (ZSS), proposal to begin this July an “Annual Ceremony for Introspection and Purification” (see: http://www.shimanoarchive.com/PDFs/20130613_Shinge_SelectedMailing.pdf).   She proposes that at such a service the mistakes of the past, presumably around the handling of the Eido Shimano fiasco, can be owned up to and redressed.

It is well known that the founding Abbot of the ZSS, Eido Shimano Roshi, severely abused his position of power and authority over the course of decades.  Most egregiously, sexualizing and abusing the most vulnerable and attractive female students under his care and instruction.  It is also known that his actions have disrupted and divided the sangha several times during his tenure as abbot. At each major upheaval, the most progressive members of the ZSS board would either leave in disgust at the inaction of the entire board or be forced out. Thus leaving the most conservative members to march on to reestablish a viable, but fundamentally dysfunctional, practice community.  In the most recent upheaval, that began in June of 2010, when yet another student came forward to reveal that she was tiered of keeping secret her illicit affair with Shimano, the first of the ZSS board members resigned when Roshi refused to take a leave of absence from teaching after admitting this clear ethical breach of well established policy.  I was the last of five to resign in July of 2011.

When it was finally agreed by everyone, including Roshi, that he would no longer teach at ZSS, three days later the board received a proposal from Roshi, dated July 5th, 2011, that he be allowed to teach beginning students at NYC Shobo-Ji (ZSS City Zendo).  The board quickly declined this request, but then the rest of the board argued that this letter be kept secret.  I could not agree because the letter so clearly demonstrated the depth of his denial and narcissism; therefore, for this and other reasons, I resigned.  Of course, once again, those who remained were the least progressive and most tolerant of Eido Shimano’s antics. Shinge, who has admitted to being unexpectedly physically molested by him, was in my view the least progressive of those remaining. By the way, everyone should be aware that Eido Shimano continues to teach students in New York and internationally, just not under the auspices  of ZSS.

Nevertheless, I like the idea of having an Annual Ceremony for Introspection and Purification, but in my mind it will have little effect or weight before certain essential steps are taken.  The continued omission I see in Shinge’s letter is the failure to adequately reach out to the many who feel directly harmed or alienated by Eido Shimano or the ZSS board, but are no longer directly associated or affiliated with the insular group that remains centered around her leadership. ZSS still has yet to offer an organizational apology, not adequately delineated all the abuses of power and authority by Eido Shimano, nor admitted any corporate failures or mistakes in addressing problems over decades. Moreover, the ZSS board has as yet not addressed the potential needs of those most directly harmed, nor invited any of those alienated from ZSS to participate or advise in the needed organizational restructuring of ZSS.  In Zen organizations who have faced very similar problems, namely ZCLA and SFZC, all these steps have been addressed, or, in the case of Rinzai-Ji, are scheduled to be addressed.

Shinge’s letter is not a public invitation sent to various Buddhist publications and forums to announce a fuller investigation of the harm done or to bare witness to those harmed or alienated. This is what I see is sorely needed and is work that only barely got started in the first and only internal All Sangha Meeting held at Dai Bosatsu Monastery in the Catskills in August of 2011.  It has been my long standing opinion, that a Witness Council of independent arbitrators needs to be formed.  An initial meeting of this Council will need to be held on neutral ground in New York City, but will only be possible after a deep and genuine organizational apology is made. Furthermore, the Witness Council once formed will need to remain open to receive testimony for several years, as it may take some a considerable amount of time to trust the process.

I have corresponded to Shinge directly about my concerns, and I am very pleased to announce that she has told the ZSS Board to write an organizational apology.  In addition, she tells me that she is in contact with an “excellent restorative justice facilitator” to set up a forum to start the Witness Council process. I feel awful that it has taken years to get to this point, but I am in full support of these necessary steps to redress harm and promote healing.  If and when these crucial steps come to pass, I will lend whatever energies I can to the process.

With palms together,

Genjo Marinello
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PostSubject: Re: Latest Development in the ongoing Shimano situation   Sun Nov 10, 2013 1:39 pm

Zen and the Art of Seduction


http://www.shimanoarchive.com/html/19820400R_Zen_Seduction.html

An Article Unpublished Since 1982 - (This article / exposé was never published by The Village Voice in 1982, allegedly due to fears of legal retaliation.) Names of certain individuals redacted on this page for privacy. The original of this document is held in the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Library - Robert Baker Aitken Rōshi Archives.

By Robin Westen


Leaning against the couch, my host loosened the belt of his flowing white robe, patted his stomach, and smiled.  He had the most incredible radiance in his eyes.  “Have you seen the temple in our New York Zendo?” he whispered.  “Come.”

I was seated across from him on a small round cushion.  My legs were numb–a dead giveaway, I suspected, that I had only been practicing Zen for a year.

He stood and held out his hand.

I took it awkwardly, but before I could get the feeling back in my legs, he ripped me off the floor and pulled my body against his, then grabbed my breast, prodded my mouth with his tongue, and started to pull up my skirt and reach between my legs.

For a moment, I was too stunned to react.  But then I pushed him away, and stood there, my arms distancing us.  I looked straight at him.  He stared right back. He acted as though nothing had happened.  He was still smiling.

I was sickened, frightened, disoriented, confused.  The physical assault was bad enough, but even worse was the emotional betrayal.  He was my Zen master, my teacher, my guide, and he had brutally violated my trust.

I didn’t know what to do next, so I just followed him down the stairs to the temple where I watched him bow to the Buddha.  Then I saw the red light above the exit sign and quickly left the building.

When I stood outside on the street, I was still shaken.  I had not only been sexually attacked, but the offender was one of the most respected spiritual leaders in the Zen Buddhist community, the leader of the New York Zendo, Eido Shimano Roshi.

Could I have been an isolated incident?  I doubted it. I began my investigation that afternoon, with the first of over 50 phone calls I would make to past and present students.  During the months of interviewing, I discovered that Eido Roshi had seduced, or attempted to seduce, dozens of women while acting as their spiritual guide.  At least three of the women, as a result of their sexual-spiritual relationship with Eido, had suffered mental breakdowns serious enough to cause hospitalization.

I was to learn that Eido had been involved in sex scandals for over 15 years, but each time they were brought to light in the Zen community they were silenced.  I was also to learn, through an open letter written to the Board of Trustees of the Zen Studies Society by its former president, that Eido had apparently neglected to pay any personal income taxes, was accepting donations to the society from a convicted drug felon, and had been abusive to his own 75-year-old Zen Master, Soen Roshi.

When I questioned Eido about these accusations during telephone conversations, he denied them all.


I met Eido Roshi at Dai Bosatsu, the Zen monastery in the Catskills where he is abbot.  This particular morning was the last day of sesshin, the seven-day silent retreat, during which participants (the sangha) sit in lotus or half lotus position for almost 14 consecutive hours.  Unbearable is in no way an accurate description of the pain.  It can be transcendental.

The day had begun as usual at 4:30 a.m.  Three hours later, after morning service, chanting, and bowing, followed by one and a half hours of meditation, breakfast was being served.  I sat staring at the bowl of oatmeal which suddenly appeared beautiful, quintessentially beautiful.  I had not realized that oatmeal was so–so beige, so utterly beige.  It occurred to me that each grain was–unique yet the same.  I was filled with excitement.  I no longer felt pain.  I began sobbing.  Then I remembered, and controlled myself, breathing deeply; the first rule of sesshin is the maintenance of silence.

Later that morning I was running along the dark hall of the zendo to the dokusan or guidance room to see Eido Roshi.  Despite my eagerness, I made sure to enter with the proper Zen etiquette, bowing once at the door and once directly in front of him on my knees.  The room was pitch dark– except for a nightlight silhouetting Eido Roshi’s shaved head.  His body was clothed in meticulously draped black robes.  Hs exceptionally small, perfectly formed feet were just visible beneath his robes.  He fixed his eyes on me, until I understood that this was meant as an invitation to speak.  I tried to control my excitement as I told him my experience with the oatmeal.  He watched me for several minutes in silence, and then delivered his judgment.  “What you have described is kensho. Enlightenment.”  He cupped my head in his hands and held it against his chest.

That evening, at the onset of the final period of meditation, Eido Roshi announced that one member of the sangha had experienced enlightenment on this, the last day of sesshin.  From the other seated students there was no acknowledgement, no response of any kind.  In Zen, the watchword is “detachment.”  But he was fixing me with that expressionless and serene gaze of his, and he had all my attention.  I waited for a sign.  It came. He bowed in my direction.

Two hours later, Sesshin was over.  I was on the point of leaving the monastery when Eido approached me and invited me to take tea with him at the Zen Studies Society in New York City.

I was again sitting in half-lotus.  This time I was nervous.  Okay, so I was enlightened, but instead of feeling elated, I had been depressed all week.  Nothing had really changed.

Now I was having tea with Eido Roshi.  I was prepared to talk about my spiritual development, but surprisingly all he said was, “The best time to make love to a woman is right after sesshin, when she looks her sexiest.  If I had my way, if people understood the essence of detachment, everyone would sleep with each other the night sesshin ends.”

I thought he might be flirting, but Zen is so enigmatic.  In fact, Zen is filled with so many apparently ridiculous questions like “What is Buddha?” Ridiculous, because an acceptable answer is “[banned term] stick.”  Well, I thought, behind Eido Roshi’s words deeper meanings must lie.

But then Eido attacked me and it all collapsed.  I had come for spiritual guidance, but instead I was being seduced.  If the oatmeal was enlightenment, was this Zen Buddhism?

Approximately half a million Americans are practicing some form of Buddhism and tens of thousands are Zen practitioners.  Unlike fly-by-night cults with gurus coming out of the woodwork, Zen has had a slow but enduring growth, with an unblemished reputation.  The media has treated it gingerly, if not favorably.  Within the last six years, one feature on Eido Shimano Roshi and one on Zen’s place in America have appeared as cover stories in The New York Times Magazine.

Buddhism began to develop in Japan in the 12th century, and was introduced into America in the first years of the 20th century by a wandering Japanese monk.  By the 1950’s the Beat Generation had taken it up.  In the ‘60s it had entered the consciousness of the American upper-middle classes through the stories of J.D. Salinger and the art movement Minimalism.

Probably Zen’s appeal has never been better expressed than by D.T. Suzuki in his book, Is Zen Religion?  “It is not a religion in the sense that the term is popularly understood.  For there is in Zen no God to worship, no ceremonial rites to observe, no future abode where the dead are destined to, and last of all, no soul whose welfare is to be looked after by somebody else.”

Zen is not based on “speculative philosophy,” but on actual experience of ultimate reality.  Its followers don’t believe in “Supreme Being,” they merely strive for Nirvana, Great Void, Non-Being.  Unlike the Catholic Church, there is no hierarchy, no father figure to look over individual temples or Zen masters.  There is no governing body to enforce rules, for in Zen there are no rules.  In fact, there’s almost a total disregard of formalism.

The only figure of authority is the Roshi, or teacher, and his most important job is to help students gain enlightenment.  In this position, he can exercise incredible control over his disciples’ psyche, especially in the dokusan room.  After sitting for several hours in meditation, the mind is open to any possibility, and often there is an altered state of consciousness.  The roshi can easily use his position to persuade or coerce a susceptible student, similar to a psychiatrist’s control over a vulnerable patient.  Even more powerful is the roshi, for like a priest he can sanctify marriage, perform last rites, and offer spiritual guidance to families and individuals in trouble.

In the United States, there are only a handful of roshis, but who they are is a mystery.  Reportedly, there are two official listings in Japan, but the roshi bookkeeping, in the tradition of Zen, is informal.  And once a Roshi, almost always a Roshi.  In Japan’s past, when monks had strong provocation to oust their teacher, they no longer fed him.  In the United States, it’s another story.

Eido Roshi lives well.  The New York Zendo is housed in the same facility as the New York Zen Studies Society, 223 East 67th Street, a lavishly converted four story carriage house on the Upper East Side, with more than ample room for Eido’s residence.  However, Eido and his wife Aiho lived two blocks away, in their own well-appointed townhouse at 356 East 69th Street.  The day I was to have tea with the Roshi, I had to wait — he was in the middle of his daily afternoon shiatsu massage.

Eido can thank his followers for his opulent life style.  Many of his sangha are, in fact, highly educated and affluent men and women.  Men like William P. Johnstone, a former executive of Bethlehem Steel Corporation, who was the treasurer of the Zen Studies Society; like George Zournas, publisher of Theatre Arts Books, who is president, as was the late Chester Carlson, inventor of the Xerox process, who donated $3 million for the purchase of land for the Catskill monastery, Dai Bosatsu; like author Peter Matthiessen (now a Zen monk himself but with a group in Riverdale), who played a crucial role in securing a $75,000 personal donation from Lawrence Rockefeller and annual contributions of $10,000 from the Rockefeller Foundation, like blues singer Libby Holman, who became a Reynolds tobacco heiress; and Mitchell Rosset, a former publisher, with her husband Barney, of Grove Press.  Eido can thank his followers – whether he’s living at the New York Zendo or his private townhouse, or at Dai Bosatsu Zendo, whether he’s traveling to Europe, the Far East, Japan, or the West Coast–for he’s doing it in style.

Dai Bosatsu Zendo is a classical Japanese temple majestically situated on 1400 acres in the small town of Livingston Manor in the Catskills.  You arrive at DBZ after driving along route 17 with billboards reading “Brown’s,” “Concord,” “Kutshers”–the heart of the Borscht Belt.  Once exiting off 96, it’s about 20 miles to the monastery.  Formerly the estate of Harriet Beecher Stowe, the impressive 26,000-square-foot structure overlooks an equally impressive 30-acre lake.

Dai Bosatsu is the largest and most authentic Zen temple outside Japan.  The monastery has all the necessary features for traditional Zen practice–a hall for meditation (Zazen Hall), a hall for ceremonies, lectures, and chanting (Dharma Hall); rooms for rest and study, a ceremonial tea room, a dokusan or guidance room, a traditional Japanese dining room with low tables and cushions on the floor, an enclosed courtyard; a formal entry; and a reception area with an altar and an extremely valuable antique Buddha statue.

There are bells and gongs worth more than tens of thousands of dollars each, and one enormous gong, smelted in Japan, valued at over $100,000.  There are also hand-pegged oak floors, 15 decorative windows shaped like candle flames, and three hot tubs, three and a half feet deep.  Not to forget a library, large kitchen, offices, meeting room, food storage facilities, and woodworking shop, as well as a wing with private quarters for Eido Roshi.

Eido came to America in 1961 at the age of 29, a young monk sent by his teacher Soen Roshi to act as an interpreter for Yasutani Roshi, who was lecturing and holding sesshins in the United States.  In 1963, Soen sent Eido here permanently.  His first stop was Hawaii, where he was to serve as monk-in-residence at the Ko-An Zendo in Honolulu.

Although it was never publicly acknowledged before, Robert Aitken, head of the Ko-An Zendo, told me during a telephone conversation that Eido’s three year term was filled with “scandal and tragedy ending in éclat.”

Aitken explained: “I discovered Eido’s sexual involvements by accident.  Two women in our group had nervous breakdowns.  One of them attempted suicide.  It was through their psychiatrist that I first got wind of anything.  I had consulted with their doctors because I wanted to better understand mental illness so that I could in some way help these women.  That’s when I learned of their relationship with Eido.  His departure in 1964 from Hawaii was directly linked to the fact that these women were sexually involved with their Zen teacher, Eido Roshi, and had become mentally ill as a result.”

Eido insists in his autobiographical notes in his book Namu Dai Bosa, published by Theatre Arts Books in 1976, that he left Hawaii because “The Hawaiian climate was too good.  It was a place for vacationers or retired people, but not for Zen practice.”  (Aitken maintains that despite the glorious weather, Zen in Hawaii is flourishing.)

According to his autobiographical account he arrived in New York on December 31. He had virtually no money and no place to stay.  However, there was a note for him at the airport from an American couple he had met in Honolulu.  the note read: “Sorry we can’t meet you.  But come straight to our apartment.”  He remained at his friend’s apartment until he was found a sublet on 85th street off Central Park West.

His only possessions were a standing Buddha and a keisaku (a wooden stick sometimes used during Zen meditation to strike the student between the shoulder blades).  He had no furniture, no tea bowls, no incense burner, not even the all-important round, floor cushions.  Yet he began holding classes–it was the ‘60s and many people were ripe for Eastern teachings.  At the time Eido was the only accessible Zen master in New York City, and before long word of mouth spread that he was a charismatic master with a certain ineffable presence.  New Yorkers began to arrive at his door–so many, in fact, that on certain nights people had to be turned away.  Students brought cushions, blankets, tea bowls, donations–all the accoutrements.  Enrollment rose and multiplied.  After the lease on the sublet ran out, Eido moved to a ground-floor office space four blocks away.

Two of Eido’s first New York students speak of him with warmth and admiration.  Ruth Lilianthal, a student for 15 years: “I knew Eido Roshi many years ago and he was doing phenomenal work.  I’m very grateful to him, as are so many others–for training that would not otherwise have come our way.  There is no doubt that he is unique.”

And Randy Place, a disc jockey and newscaster with station WKHK and a Zen enthusiast: “I can only say I owe Eido Roshi so very much.  In every way, he is a remarkable man.”

The ground floor soon became inadequate for both the numbers and the quality of well-heeled students Eido was attracting.  In 1968, a socially prominent couple who wished to remain anonymous donated the money to purchase and remodel the four story carriage house on East 67th Street.  In 1971, the Catskill monastery site was chosen and the donation of $3 million from Xerox’s Carlson made the purchase possible.

“Eido Roshi’s fund-raising abilities were incredible,” says Peter Gambi, a Wall Street investor and former student.  “Whatever he wanted he would get.  He has that kind of ability to make you think that if you don’t pour all your money into his projects or into Zen practice, then you are making a big mistake.  He’s very talented that way.”

In September 1971, Soen Roshi ordained Eido a roshi.  There was a lavish ceremony with hundreds of New York followers in attendance.  Usually a monk remains in a monastery between 10 and 15 years, but the United States was developing a thirst for zen, and a Roshi was needed in a hurry.  Soen couldn’t leave Japan, so the young Eido took his place.

In only a few years, Eido Roshi had charismatically or “karmically” nurtured Zen in America in thousands of New Yorkers and has made a cushy home for it in the city.  But the Zendo home was not a happy one.

Amid the splendor of Dai Bosatsu in 1975 the biggest sex scandal broke.  One woman, who had been Eido’s mistress for years, confided to another woman, only to discover that she was not the only one.  Together they began to make telephone calls and soon learned that there were at least half a dozen other female members

Former student, Adam Fisher, a writer living in New York City refers to that period as "[banned term] Follies I.” (“[banned term] Follies II" took place on a smaller scale during the later period of 1979.)

As their internal inquiries mounted, another half a dozen women admitted that Eido had made advances to them while they were attending sesshins, and that he had used the dokusan room as his station for seduction.

One such woman was , who now lives in San Francisco.  In a letter to another Eido student she stated, “I experienced quite a bit of harassment from Eido Roshi, from innuendo to proposition, during my stays at Dai Bosatsu.  The first time it was just a barrage, in dokusan during sesshin.  For six months I never spoke a word of it.  I vigorously denied it to board members of the Zen Studies Society.  But after I left, I found out Eido Roshi had propositioned other female students.  We had been close friends and yet we had kept silence on something that was disturbing us every day in order to protect the group, the Roshi.  Women who had affairs with Eido had taken painful falls when he tired of them.”

Another woman, , a former student of Eido’s, now a housewife and mother of two children in Florida, explains:  “During sesshin he gave me a book to read.  It had seven chapters, and of course sesshin is seven days.  So every evening I would go downstairs to the nun’s quarters–there was decent light there–and read a chapter.  On the seventh night, Eido Roshi appeared in the room.  He asked me what I was doing and I said: “It’s the seventh day and I’m on the seventh chapter.”  He stared at me for a moment or two and then he told me to follow him.  I thought to myself: “This is great.  Now I’m going to be initiated!”  And I followed him upstairs to his quarters.  I started to tell him about my spiritual experiences and he told me to be quiet.

“Sssssh…ssh…be quiet!” he said in a whisper.

“And almost before I knew it, he had pulled off his robe and was laying down on the bed stark naked.  Well, I was in such a state then, I thought this must be some sort of test of detachment.  It sounds ridiculous now, but when you’re serious about your Zen practice, and when you have a lot of respect for someone, you think the best, no matter what.  And I thought the best when he ordered me to go down on him and perform fellatio.  He told me it would be a spiritual experience for me… it wasn’t.  To tell the truth it wasn’t much of a sexual experience.  I don’t know why, I guess I was trying too hard to be detached.  Anyway he knew that I didn’t enjoy it and after that he just lost interest in me.”

Another personal experience was spoken about by a woman I’ll call Barbara Shuster, who is now married to a plumber and former Zen student.  “When I first started Zen,” she told me, “I thought I was a lesbian. I’ve always thought of myself as the homely type and I was attracted to other women who were better looking than me… Anyway, the first time I went into the dokusan room and confided this to Eido Roshi, he looked at me in that way he does… and then he said: ‘Oh…is that sooooooo… And then finally he said: ‘Wellllll… there’s only one way to find out…’  He stared at me for the longest time and then he said he had a present for me.  I should see him later.

That evening I went to meet him. He opened up a box on the floor and brought out this beautiful silk scarf.  He told me it was for me it was my present, but he just sat and fondled it on his lap.  Well, I was sitting across from him.  I felt relaxed. My legs were apart in lotus position and I was watching him fondle this silk scarf, and he never said anything, and the next thing I knew his hand wasn’t fondling the scarf, it was up my skirt.  I screamed at him: ‘Eido Roshi!  What are you doing.  What do you think you’re doing?’  He took his hand away and all he would say was, ‘What do you mean? I wasn’t doing anything.  What did you think I was doing?’  And that was the end of it for me.  Like you don’t make a mistake like that.  I know what he was doing, so why didn’t he admit it?”

As peculiar as “Barbara’s” story sounded, I had reason to understand.  At the beginning of my investigation, I had sent a letter to Eido reporting my intention to write an article about our incident at the New York Zen Studies Society.  When he received it, he phoned me at my office at ABC Television.

“You have your viewpoint,” Eido said.  “Other people have their viewpoint.  You cannot write except by your own viewpoint.”

I agreed with him.

“That’s why I at least want to say what is my viewpoint so when you write you can see it from different angles,” he continued.  “The first thing I want to say is about what you mentioned you experienced in the dokusan room, and your personal feelings at the time.  Do you remember what happened?”

I assured him I did.  Perfectly.

Eido said, “I was really in a sense surprised when you held my hand and put it on your chest.”

“What!” I was furious.

“Cheek.  Chhh––eeeekk.”  Eido corrected himself.

Then I corrected him.  “That’s not exactly what happened.  You told me to come closer in the dokusan room.  Then you took my hand…”

Eido interrupted,  “Yes, and then you placed it on your ch–eeek.”

It was getting silly.  “I placed my own hand, on my own cheek?”

“No, No. You took my hand and placed it on your cheek.”

“Well,” I said, “that just never happened.”

Eido continued, despite my objections.  “And you said to me, ‘I want to stay like this forever.’”

“That just never happened.” I said.  “I have an entirely different perception of what took place.”

“This is exactly the problem you see.”  Eido said.  “What you remember and what I remember are entirely different.  Nobody was witnessing, so you can say it your own way, and I can say it my own way.  That’s really the problem.  What you will write will be from your point of view.  Your subjective reality.”

I reminded him that I had interviewed lots of women, to which he responded, “let’s put that aside for a while.”

“All right.  But what about when I came for tea?”  I asked.

“Yes, I also have my own way of perceiving that.”

A very different story came from a woman I’ll call Rona Stuart, who runs a typing service in New York City.  Rona said: “I take responsibility for initiating sexual relations with Eido Roshi.  It started in 1972.  I was his secretary, I helped him.  I was everything to him.  I was his confidante.  He told me everything–everything. When I discovered what was going on, I was completely shattered. He had been everything to me–father, lover, guru–and I thought I was indispensable to him too.  When I discovered the truth, I broke down.  I had to spend some time in Payne Whitney.  But maybe the hardest part of all was that after I broke down, I simply ceased to exist for Eido.  Can you understand that?  He ignored me completely.  And I had been at his side for five years.  But do you know something–I forgive him for that too.  Because I think he’s a sick man.  He’s the sick one, not me.”

A major Zen event was scheduled for July 4, 1976, to coincide with the bicentennial celebration.  It was the official opening for Dai Bosatsu.  All the Roshis and spiritual figures in the country were invited to attend the ceremony.  But one student, Nora Safran, was so fed up with “Eido’s screwing around with the sangha,” as she puts it, that she sent a letter to all those who were invited, telling of Eido’s sexual appetite during sesshin, how he used his position to seduce female members, about his manipulations and lies.  She urged them not to come as a protest.

But on the day of the dedication, every Roshi was there except for Soen, Eido’s own teacher, who was conspicuously missing.  He had remained in Japan.  Members of the sangha say that Soen, possibly as a result of Nora’s letter, was quietly protesting his disciple’s behavior and publicly dissociating himself from Eido.

Nora explained to me,  “Many of the followers from Dai Bosatsu spoke individually to the various Roshis who attended and told them again, privately, about Eido.  Still, the Roshis kept silent, to save face, to save Zen in America!

“I did learn that Soen had later spoken to Eido’s wife, Aiho.  She was told about her husband’s seductions in front of several of the sangha, and Soen asked his wife to keep him under control.  Little did Soen realize that Eido’s sexual appetite would increase as his power to manipulate his followers increased.”

Fed up with Eido’s activities and the apparent apathy of the other Zen masters, Nora started her own zendo in a loft in Chelsea.  About 25 members defected to the alternative center, some to other Zen Groups in the city, and others dropped out of the practice completely.

To the outside world, Eido Roshi remained and influential figure, his reputation unmarred.  In a few months, the New York Zendo, emptied of half of its members, resumed normal operations, and enrollment began to increase once again.  In 1977 The New York Times Magazine published its cover piece on Eido and Dai Bosatsu.  In a short time, the Zendo was once again filled to capacity.

Nora explained why Eido’s activities were not publicized.  “When this thing was first brought out in the open among us, I was as hotheaded a revolutionary as anyone, I wanted to picket the place, expose him in The Village Voice, or maybe something classier than that.  But I didn’t do any of it.  Don’t get me wrong, the fact is I think the sex thing is just the tip of the iceberg.  I suspect he’s crazy, truly crazy.  I’ve seen him manipulate people in every possible way–sex is just one.  But on the other hand, he’s not like some swami or something where they’re having scandals every five minutes.  Zen Buddhism is very, very respectable.  This is so unheard off.  This guy is such an oddball in the Zen establishment.  If we let outsiders know about Eido, it would be the end.  Why ruin Zen in America?

While cleaning the dormitory rooms of the Catskill monastery, a monk discovered the diaries of a woman I’ll call Laurel Sloane.  She had left the monastery in a hurry.  The diaries explicitly described her encounters with Eido.  and others asked her to bring the diaries to the attention of the board of trustees of the Zen Studies Society.  She agreed, a storm ensued, but shortly afterward the commotion was calmed.  The force behind the cover-up was Sylvan Busch, then vice-president of the Zen Studies Society, and now president.  He has been with Eido for over 15 years.

In 1980, it was reported by a woman who regularly attends sesshins at DBZ that Eido had become romantically involved with a female monk named .  A former student, who asked to remain anonymous, said, “I don’t know what he could have done to in just two years.  When she first came to DBZ, she was really attractive and vibrant.  She had a terrific smile and lots of enthusiasm.  I remember thinking her red hair was fabulous.  Of course, she shaved her head, but after her affair with Eido it grew back thin and gray.  Her teeth looked rotted and her face drawn and lifeless as thought she had aged 20 years.”

Norman Hoeberg, Zenji or teacher of the Washington, D.C. Zendo ( a satellite of the New York Zendo). explained how the situation appears from the Zen master’s point of view.  Six feet four, and by his own admission somewhat lacking in physical grace, Norman almost filled my small office when he came to talk about Eido.

“He is my teacher and my Zen master,” he began in a rush.  “I am his student and his disciple.  And all of these stories… well, because of what he is and of what I am, I must give him leeway in the dokusan room.  But I will admit, I don’t know where his head is at.  He is a mystery to me.  Really a mystery.  From your point of view he’s seduced and destroyed women.  But he’s also destroyed men, not through sexual manipulation but by power manipulation.  I heard him arguing very loudly with a young man once.  And then the young man went off and killed himself.

“In his presence a woman fears physical rape–maybe.  A man is spiritually raped with subtle mind control.  But, you know, when a woman comes to see me in my dokusan room, and it’s dark and quiet, and you know for certain that no one will come to interrupt you–and all that makes for intimacy.  And this woman, she might be feeling desperate about her private life, about her marriage, maybe, or about her boyfriend–or not having a boyfriend–or whatever.  And she’s come to me for answers.  It’s like being asked to play God.  She’s come to me for spiritual guidance, and you want to know how I feel?  I feel a sense of vulnerability about her.  It’s like an atmosphere you can almost take hold of. And you look at this woman across the floor from you and what she’s brought with her–and it’s like a presence between you–and I tell you, you want to push it aside, and if you’re not careful, you can find yourself taking advantage of her.

Maureen Friedgood, president of the Cambridge Buddhist Association and a one-time student of Eido’s, shared none of Norman’s empathy.  “It seems Eido has a terrible problem.  I tried hard to defend him all these years because in many ways he’s such a gifted teacher.  I hoped he would outgrow this.  But he’s still behaving like an adolescent boy.  He just can’t resist.

Maureen Friedgood remained loyal for over 20 years but now she refuses to go back and warns her students about Eido’s conduct.  “It’s just dreadful,” she said. “I and many people feel Soen Roshi should have recalled Eido to Japan and sent somebody to take his place.  It’s very upsetting and very bad for Zen in America.”

I had heard, during my interviews, that Soen Roshi was returning to the United States for the first time in seven years.  I sent a certified letter to both the New York City Zendo and Dai Bosatsu.  I described the incident that had taken place with Eido at the New York Zendo, and the numerous interviews with other women who had experienced similar situations.

One week later, I received a call from Soen Roshi, who was at Dai Bosatsu.  We agreed to meet in a few days at the Catskill monastery.  I had reason to change our appointment, and when I phoned back my call was intercepted by Mark Uretsky, the office manager.  “The situation is this,” he said. “Soen Roshi is not available.  In order to be reached, he has to be reached through Eido Roshi, who is in New York City, but will be returning in two days [the very day Soen and I had scheduled our meeting].  The way we’re working it now is that I’ll leave a note with Eido Roshi describing your interest in speaking with Soen Roshi.”

I asked it he would also leave a note for Soen to let him know I had called.

“Soen Roshi is not available,” he repeated.  “He’s only available through Eido Roshi.”

I asked if Soen was aware of this new procedure.

“Whether he’s aware of it or not is not really essential.” Mark said.  “The essential fact is–if you want to reach Soen Roshi, you have to go through Eido Roshi.”

Mark told me that I should consider the fact that Soen is an old man, 75, not in the best of health, in America for the first time in many years.  “Just consider these facts and then reflect on whether you’re doing, or rather Eido Roshi’s doing the right thing.”

I phoned the next day and tried again.  This time I spoke with Kana, a monk who was ordained during the same sesshin I attended.  Kana told me that the reason Soen Roshi was unable to speak to people was that he was no longer capable of making arrangements.  He was “forgetful” and would tend to make several appointments for the same time.  Or forget that he had one.  “If you’ve made an appointment, don’t expect him to be here necessarily.”  Kana was clearly insinuating that Soen Roshi was senile.  Yet no one else I interviewed suggested that Soen had any mental problems.

Soen Roshi was the only man with the power to oust Eido, the only man with the power to send him back to Japan.  It was not surprising that Eido seemed to have virtually imprisoned his own teacher–his own Zen master.

I decided to try to keep the date I had made with Soen Roshi.  Before I reached the gate of Dai Bosatsu, I thought it likely I would be barred; I was not.  I parked my car in front of the Monastery entrance.  To my surprise, the door was open.  I took off my shoes, climbed the stairs, and looked around.  The monastery seemed to be inhabited by silence.  I walked slowly toward the tea room.  On the threshold, I paused, looked in, and saw a frail, elderly man, dressed in a peach colored robe, with a sleepy-looking face, but with lucid and alert eyes.  I entered and bowed respectfully.  He returned my bow. and reached

Soen suggested we share tea before beginning our discussion.  An elaborate tea setting had already been prepared, and I watched silently as he whipped the green tea, steeped it, and then poured it into ceramic cups.  He spoke about the origin of the tea and the little baked delicacies, also brought with him from his native country.  Finally, Soen looked up from his tea and said, “We must begin now.  This is a very serious matter.”

I took out my notes and tapes and spread them across the low table.  I spoke softly.  I told him about my experience in the dokusan room during sesshin.  I told him how Eido insisted I had kensho.  I told him about the follow-up attack at the New York Zendo.  I explained that when I confronted Eido on the telephone about these events, and about the other women who said they shared similar experiences, Eido’s response was, “Don’t speak about them. They were different.  You are the only one who has experienced kensho.”

Soen fixed me with his eyes and we sat staring at each other.  Silence returned to the monastery.  Finally he spoke:  “This is a grave matter.  Very grave.  I showed Eido the letter you sent here last week.  I asked him for an explanation.  He gave me one, but it was not satisfactory.  He is a liar.”

Again we stared at each other in silence.  It was Soen Roshi who broke it.

“Somehow Eido has left.  He must still not have an answer.”

I looked hard at Soen, trying to fathom him. I failed.  His gaze was impenetrable.

When he spoke again his lips scarcely moved.  “This problem happened almost seven years ago when Dai Boastsu was to officially open.  Now it is happening again.  The responsibility is clearly mine.”  He paused again.  “It is a grave matter.”

I reminded him that in my letter I had asked for a “turning word.” (In Zen, a “turning word” is the essential factor that will alter a situation.)

He seemed surprised.  “today?”  But he did promise to have one for me on the following day.  He said he needed to consult with George Zournas, president of the Zen Studies Society, an old and respected friend.

That evening I had a long telephone conversation with George.  “Well, in the whole history of Zen,” he said, “there have been those outrageous monks who do things that are very difficult for people to understand.  My position through out all this is that I’m in no position to judge.  At Theatre Arts Books, we publish Stanislavsky.  And when things like this were brought to him, he said,  “You know, I have so much to do, working on my own character, that I don’t feel I can judge anyone else.

“The fact is, it may appear that some people have been injured by him, but to balance this, many have nicely benefited.  For myself, I just don’t choose to play God and balance things out.  There’s these 50 pounds to advantage and these 60 pounds to disadvantage, so he’s 10 pounds in the red!  I think when we begin judging other people in this area, we are treading on dangerous ground.  Because none of us know really what’s in the mind of any of us involved in this.

Maybe in his lifetime, maybe in the next, there will be certain consequences he will endure.”

The following week George Zournas, president of the Zen Studies Society for 15 years, resigned.

The next morning the phone rang.  I was certain it was Soen Roshi with the “turning word.”  But it was David Schnyer, resident director of Dai Bosatsu, Eido’s right-hand monk and member of the board of trustees.  David told me he was acting as Soen Roshi’s secretary.  He said that any further communication at this time would be best dealt with through their lawyer.  “Soen,” he said, “is requesting that you do not call again.”

David insisted again and again that these were Soen’s own words.  But according to Frank Locicero, a tax auditor at the Internal Revenue Service and a board member of the Zen Studies Society, David was merely following Eido’s orders.  Frank had heard of my investigation from George, and called to help me a week after my talk with David.  “David Schnyer is lying,” he said.  “It’s just more manipulation by Eido.  David probably doesn’t even know the truth about what’s going on.”

Frank was the first to volunteer aggressively to help expose Eido–publicly.  He promised to give me a copy of a letter written to the board by George Zournas, with Zournas’s permission.

The following is an excerpt:  “Until her resignation in the wake of Eido Roshi’s 1975 sex scandals, one of the most active Trustees of the Society was Margot Wilkie.  She is from the world of the trustees of the great charitable foundations of Asia Society and such.  Our friendship continues and at her dinner parties I meet many of these powerful people–some of whom have contributed to our work in the past.  When I am introduced as President of the Zen Studies Society and the connection with Dai Bosatsu and Eido Roshi is established, we are regaled with such remarks as,  ‘How is the horny old pasha and his harem up there in the mountains?’  Or, ‘Boy, is that the kind of spiritual exercise I’d like to be doing.’  Of course such people have no intention of making contributions to support such activity.  We have applied to some of the foundations these people control for additional grants–their reply is that their interest has shifted to other areas–they have nothing for us.

“This has become so serious that for the last ten years the Society has been running on money contributed to us by a convicted felon.  We have been functioning on money that he obtained from selling illegal drugs!”

“For many years various members of the Board have protested the fact that Aiho, Eido’s wife, was also Treasurer of the society.  They found this totally unacceptable, but Sylvan Busch and I were able to quiet their complaints.  But this question is made even more serious by Sylvan’s statement that for many years the Shimanos [Eido’s legal surname] did not file income tax reports.  Why?  If this is true, this is one more example of the Buddha Dharma and the Society displayed by the Chairman of the Board and its Treasurer.  Had such a story reached the newspapers it would really have finished us off.”

In light of my investigation, old and new ghosts had come haunt and some of the trustees were planning to perform an exorcism: they were going to request Eido Roshi’s resignation.  Leading the dissidents was George Zournas.

Eido had made some serious strategic errors.  First, he had attempted to oust Peggy Crawford from the board.  Peggy had been Eido’s dedicated secretary for over 12 years.  She had donated tens of thousands of dollars, chauffeured him regularly to the Catskills, and was one of the few members of the Zen Studies Society I had spoken to who had supported him without exception.  She had even suggested that Eido’s attack was my fault.  “You would do well to join EST and learn not to judge,” she suggested.  But Peggy recently requested permission to sit sesshin with another Zen master.  This is not unusual–students often go from one Zen teacher to another to satisfy their inquiring minds–yet Eido’s ego was hurt, or he was becoming paranoid.  He sent Peggy a letter, circulating copies to other members. “Since you are now sitting elsewhere and due to your lack of support,” it read in part, “it is inappropriate for you to continue to sit on the Board of Trustees of the Zen Studies Society.”  After Peggy spoke to the society’s lawyer, and Eido got wind of the other member’s dissatisfaction with his communication, he skirted the issue in a follow-up letter, insisting it was a ‘misunderstanding.”

The final straw for George Zournas, after sticking by Eido through at least three major upheavals, was the revelation that Eido had been severely mistreating Soen Roshi.  A stipend of $4000 had been promised to Soen to pay for his fare to the United States, his travels around the country, and as a donation to his temple in Japan.  George learned that Soen had been given only half this amount, and worse still, that the money had been presented to him in dollar bills and filthy street money.  In Japanese culture this is a contemptuous act, insulting and demoralizing.  The money should have been presented in new, crisp, large bills, neatly packaged in rice paper.  George was utterly disgusted.

Then there is the question of Eido’s mental health.  Speaking as a physician, Dr. Tadao Ogura (栄道 老師), senior psychiatrist at the South Oaks Hospital in Long Island and long-time friend of Eido’s, had this to say in a letter to Peggy Crawford and George Zournas:  “Eido is basically a weak man.  The great energy that has enabled him to make such a splendid contribution at Dai Bosatsu and the New York Zendo has also been channeled into sexual energy.  But this energy, he is completely unable to control.  This, coupled with his lying, makes it essential that he be removed from Dai Bosatsu and the New York Zendo.  Wherever he goes, he should never again be given a position of primary authority.”

But would Eido resign?  As Frank Locicero explained at the time,  “I have my doubts.  Since his wife Aiho is a member of the board, and since of the remaining six, four-David Schnyer, Jean Bankier, Sylvan Busch and Lee Milton are under Eido’s control, it doesn’t look too promising.”  A list was read of the grievances against Eido from the early 70’s to the present. David Schnyer’s response: “Well, raped anyone yet has he?”

Frank made a motion anyway, requesting that Eido amd Aiho be removed as chairman and treasurer of the Zen Studies Society, and that Eido be removed as abbot of Dai Bosatsu Zendo and the New York Zendo.  The motion was seconded by Peggy Crawford.

It was denied, by a vote of four to three.

Eido Roshi remains Abbot of Dai Bosatsu Zendo and of New York Zendo, (although he has voluntarily resigned as chairman of the Zen Studies Society).  His wife still holds the post of treasurer.

Frank Locicero, Peggy Crawford, Adam Fisher, and George Zournas have resigned from the society.  A committee was to be formed immediately after the board meeting, under the leadership of Dr. Ogura (栄道 老師), to continue the investigation and suggesting a resolution, but apparently the society could not find three impartial members to serve upon it and the idea was abandoned.

I never received a “turning word” from Soen, who returned to Japan after his brief stay.

In November, Eido Roshi left for a visit to India and his native Japan.  His journey was taken despite the fact that he would be absent for kessei, an intensive 90-day training period for serious Zen students.  He has since returned to New York but is virtually in hiding and except for one brief appearance has not presented himself at the Catskill monastery or the New York Zendo.

One evening last fall, Eido Roshi returned to the city after leading a sesshin upstate to discover boldly painted across the door of the New York Zendo, the word “SHAME.”  When he went home to his townhouse, he found the same message, “SHAME.”

No member of the Zen community claims responsibility for the action.
     
April, 1982    



    --R.W.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Latest Development in the ongoing Shimano situation   Sun Nov 10, 2013 3:33 pm

I would like to join in, but I am stuck in finding a word that describes Eido Roshi that Lise would not ban. I am struggling at the moment but I will give it a bit of thought over night
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