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 New York Times - front page of Website - Sasaki story goes wide

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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: New York Times - front page of Website - Sasaki story goes wide   Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:46 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.”
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PostSubject: Re: New York Times - front page of Website - Sasaki story goes wide   Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:34 pm

105-year-old Zen Buddhist master is accused of groping female students

Elderly Zen Buddhist teacher accused of sexually abusing his students
Joshu Sasaki, aged 105, groped and harassed women for 50 years
Complaints have circulated since the 70s but have been ignored
Majority of those who brought up abuse were isolated or excommunicated

By Sara Malm

PUBLISHED: 07:36 EST, 12 February 2013 - from othe MAIL OnLINE - UK newspaper and website


A 105-year-old Zen Buddhist master has been accused of sexually assaulting his female students during private teaching sessions.

Joshu Sasaki, best known for being the teacher of artist Leonard Cohen, has allegedly groped and sexually harassed women across the U.S. for over 50 years.

An independent council of Buddhist leaders recently admitted to ignoring years of accusations against the famously charismatic ‘roshi’.

Last month, a ‘witnessing council’ of senior teachers of Mr Sasaki’s Zen Buddhist community published a statement, admitting that the have ‘struggled with our teacher Joshu Sasaki Roshi’s sexual misconduct for a significant portion of his career in the United States’.

Originally from Japan, Mr Sasaki moved to the U.S. in 1962 where he set up the Rinzai-ji Zen Center in Los Angeles and the Mount Baldy Zen Center, in Mt Baldy, California.

As well as heading these facilities, he has also been teaching at Zen centers across the United States.

Accusations have been circulating since the early 70s and in 1997 members of the Mount Baldy Zen Center put forward a letter to the then 90-year-old Mr Sasaki, with no consequences.

It was not until a letter was published on the popular practitioners' website Sweeping Zen in October last year that the true story of the abusive Zen master begun to unfold.

Eshu Martin, a former student of Mr Sasaki and monk in Rinzai-ji Zen Center accused Mr Sasaki of getting away with decades of sexual abuse.

Mr Martin wrote: ‘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.'

He also said that those who have confronted Mr Sasaki and the Rinzai-ji Zen Center have found themselves alienated or excommunicated from the center, whilst others have resigned ‘in frustration’.

‘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.’

The letter rocked the close-knit Zen Buddhist community where a majority of practitioners are aware of and have studied Mr Sasaki.

Shortly afterwards the letter's publication senior teachers of the ‘independent witnessing council’ began to investigate Mr Sasaki’s behaviour towards his female students.

ZEN AND RINZAI

Zen Buddhism derives from Mahayana Buddhism and is believed to have originated in China during the 6th century. The Rinzai-tradition practiced by Mr Sasaki focuses on ‘kensho’, which is the insight to one’s true nature. True knowledge and insight into ‘kensho’ - finding inner peace - is reached through meditation and self-study, as taught by Mr Sakasi.

Several victims, interviewed by the New York Times, said they were shunned or ignored when they brought up the abuse.

Nikki Stubbs, who spent three years studying under Mr Sasaki in the early 00s, said that when she spoke up about Mr Sasaki touching her breasts during private lessons and asking her to massage his penis, a monk told her 'sexualizing was teaching for particular women'.

His theory, she told the newspaper. was that ‘such physicality could check a woman’s overly strong ego’.

Another victim, who has been kept anonymous, studied under Mr Sasaki at Mount Baldy Zen Centre in the 90s. She said Mr Sasaki would justify groping her during ‘sanzen’, private meetings, by saying ‘True love is giving yourself to everything.’

Long-time fiend: Mr Sasaki set up the Zen centers in Mount Baldy, pictured, and Los Angeles shortly after his arrival in the U.S. in 1962 when it is believed the abuse began

The witnessing council, part of the American Zen Teachers Association and have no authoritative powers.

Their statement admitting having knowledge of the abuse was released in January.

Mr Sasaki retired completely form teaching in January last year due to ill health.

Bob Mammoser, a resident monk at the Rinzai-ji Zen Center said Mr Sasaki’s importance to helping Zen Buddhists in their practice had been overlooked as a result of the allegations, and compared the abuse to a marriage.

‘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.’

He said that there are plans to have a meeting at the center to decide what actions to take, or whether to take any actions at all.
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PostSubject: Re: New York Times - front page of Website - Sasaki story goes wide   Tue Feb 12, 2013 10:09 pm

Again the myth of the 'Zen Master' strikes again, a pedestal which Sasaki seems to have believed was his due and which he then seems to have shamelessly exploited for his own selfish gratification. Isn't it sad that most of the good and help that he may have done in his zen teaching will now be washed away in the confusion and recriminations caused in most of his followers minds as they struggle to come to terms with the 'Perfect Enlightened Zen Master' they believed in and followed who then turned out to have used his position for a long history of serial groping. Power corrupts, and the demanded absolute power of the 'Master', 'Guru, etc. seems to corrupt absolutely.
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PostSubject: Re: New York Times - front page of Website - Sasaki story goes wide   Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:05 am

This story in the New York Times was for some time on the home page of the Times as well as one of the most emailed stories of the day.

It has been excerpted or triggered stories in the International Herald Tribune, Religion News Service, Newsweek / Daily Beast, the Atlantic Wire. It will certainly be read in Japan.

This organization, like many religious institutions, got locked into a sealed iron bubble of their own story and were completely incapable of honest self-evaluation or change. Now this group has a whole new set of koans to work with, as does the Zen community at large. The koan of daily life - if that really means something - and I for one think it is a key aspect of Zen insight -- then it certainly includes having your delusions exposed in the world media.

In Rinzai Zen, didn't Hakuin have a saying about driving all your activities into one big koan. Welcome to the koan.
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PostSubject: Re: New York Times - front page of Website - Sasaki story goes wide   Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:12 am

from the Los Angeles Times:

Sex abuse allegations surround L.A. Buddhist teacher
An investigation by an independent council of Buddhist teachers indicates that Joshu Sasaki Roshi, 105, may have abused hundreds of followers. No charges have been filed.

By Corina Knoll, Los Angeles Times - 11:25 PM PST, February 12, 2013


At 19, Shari Young was in search of enlightenment. She thought she had found it at the Cimarron Zen Center (now known as Rinzai-ji) in Jefferson Park and in a Buddhist teacher, a man named Joshu Sasaki Roshi.

But she said Roshi, as his followers call him, began using their one-on-one meetings to fondle her breasts and grope her body. She consented in confusion but left after nearly a year.

That was in the early '60s, she said. A recent investigation by an independent council of Buddhist leaders has suggested that Roshi, a leading figure in Zen Buddhism in the United States, may have abused hundreds of others for decades. According to the group's report, that abuse included allegations of molestation and rape, and some of the incidents had been reported to the Rinzai-ji board, which had taken no effective action.

"We see how, knowingly and unknowingly, the community was drawn into an open secret," the council wrote, adding: "We have reports that those who chose to speak out were silenced, exiled, ridiculed or otherwise punished."

Paul Karsten, a spokesman for the center interviewed about the controversy before the council's report was completed, said Roshi was too ill to respond and cautioned that the sexual misconduct allegations had not been verified. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The council of Rinzai-ji oshos — senior Zen teachers ordained under Roshi — however, responded with a public statement: "Our hearts were not firm enough, our minds were not clear enough, and our practices were not strong enough so that we might persist until the problem was resolved. 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."

The apology from the oshos is the first of its kind and is seen as vindication by members who said they had suspected such misconduct for years.

The council investigation was spurred by a letter published in November on the website Sweeping Zen by Eshu Martin, who studied under Roshi. Titled "Everybody Knows," it excoriated the community for suppressing reports of sexual misconduct.

"It's been sort of a tribal secret for 50 years, and I just wanted to provide an opportunity for people to start talking about this in an open forum that couldn't be shut up," Martin said about his letter. He also hoped to start a public discussion while Roshi was still living; he is 105 and in poor health.

Roshi arrived in Los Angeles 50 years ago and was among a wave of Japanese teachers to tailor Zen Buddhism to Westerners. He quickly became an exalted figure and opened about 30 centers, including one on Mt. Baldy that is known for its rigorous training regimen. It was commonly thought, Martin and other critics said, that if women left Mt. Baldy it was because they weren't tough enough to handle the demanding conditions.

In 1992, Sandy Stewart, who had spent 25 years studying with Roshi, resigned from the Rinzai-ji board. He cited an "atmosphere of secrecy" regarding his teacher's inappropriate sexual behavior. One of the victims was a woman named Susanna who became Stewart's wife.

After some years passed, Stewart was coaxed back into the Rinzai-ji community and told that all of the abuse had stopped. He said he then discovered that it hadn't and wrote a letter to the board insisting that the issue be confronted. The response was an onslaught of hate mail, he said.

"People … thought I was stupid and crazy," Stewart, 75, said. "They said, 'Have you no respect?' and said I should be lashed and beaten."

Even Susanna Stewart, 71, said that for some time she felt conflicted about the abuse she suffered because she also loved and respected her teacher.

Young, who is now 63, said she would have stayed in the Zen tradition if it weren't for the abuse. Instead, she became an Episcopal priest.

"The impact on me was so tremendous," she said. "It's kind of a relief and confirming to know I wasn't just odd. In the church we have this expression, 'The truth will out.' If you've perpetrated damage upon others, at some point you have to face it."

corina.knoll@latimes.com
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PostSubject: Re: New York Times - front page of Website - Sasaki story goes wide   Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:16 am

from the Daily Beast / Newsweek:
Buddhist Chief Accused of Abuse

Wait, haven’t we heard this story before? Or was that Swami Satchidananda, or a host of other spiritual leaders who were caught with their hands down devotees’ pants?


Joshu Saski, a 105-year-old Japanese Zen Buddhist, has been accused of groping and sexually harassing female students for decades. Since he brought his brand of Buddhism from Japan to Los Angeles in 1962, Sasaki has taught thousands of Westerners at his two Zen centers in the region and one in New Mexico, where he allegedly engaged in “repeated non-consensual groping of female students.” The behavior was reportedly rampant at Mount Baldy, his isolated retreat center outside Los Angeles “where boundaries fell away”—i.e., people were deluded into thinking being groped would bring them closer to enlightenment.
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PostSubject: Re: New York Times - front page of Website - Sasaki story goes wide   Wed Feb 13, 2013 1:27 pm

105-year-old Zen Master Also an Alleged Serial Sexual Harasser
Katie J.M. Baker - from Jezebel.com


Buddhist teacher Joshu Sasaki is a legend: the 105-year-old has worked with thousands of people (including Leonard Cohen) at his two Los Angeles Zen centers and one in New Mexico, spreading his teachings through his chain of about 30 affiliated Zen centers around the world.

But according to a recent investigation by an independent council of Buddhist leaders — and many of his former disciples who've tried to speak out for decades but were shushed up — he's also used his stature as a famous roshi (master) to get away with groping and sexually harassing countless female students.

Here are just a few examples from this New York Times piece:

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.'

[One former student] 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?"

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.

We're finally hearing about all of this now because Eshu Martin, a Zen priest who studied under Mr. Sasaki from 1997 to 2008, decided to bypass the "Zen culture of secrecy, patriarchy and sexism" and post an expose on SweepingZen.com.

But until then, Sasaki's supporters had either covered up or dismissed complaints for years. One monk once told a woman who complained that "He believed in Roshi's style, that sexualizing was teaching for particular women"; his theory (which is apparently a common one) is that "such physicality could check a woman's overly strong ego." Another woman said Sasaki told her that "True love is giving yourself to everything."

Sexual harassment in the Zen community is complicated by the relationship between Buddhist teachers and students, which often transcends (or at least can't always be judged) by Western standards of appropriate behavior, making the boundaries harder to suss out. "Outside the sexual things that happened," one woman said, "my relationship with him was one of the most important I have had with anyone."

That may very well be true, but the excuses this famed luminary allegedly used to coerce women into touching him and being touched (True love is giving yourself to everything"? PLEASE. I think I heard that one back in middle school.) are deplorable.

one of the comments posted on line:

WinoForever 8 hours ago


In Kyoto last May, I had a meditation lesson with a Zen master at a monastery. This was arranged by my guide/translator who attended the lesson with me, and who had studied meditation extensively under this Zen master's tutelage (evidently he is very well respected, well known in Japan). While discussing breathing from the abdomen, the Zen master reached over, took my hand and firmly inserted it into the pantaloons he wore under his robe thingy. He held it there, and his erect penis was pressed against the back of my hand, which was nestled in his pubic hair. I completely froze up because I was so shocked/taken by surprise. This was so I could "feel his abdomen/feel the way he was breathing." After releasing my hand, he then tried to insert his hand into my shorts, presumably to see if I was breathing properly. Much to my relief, the way I was sitting and the way these particular shorts were fitting, he couldn't get his hand into the waistband, even though he was violently jabbing his hand trying to insert it. I don't even remember the remainder of the lesson, because I was so uncomfortable I couldn't even focus on what was happening. When we stood up to leave, I looked over at my guide, who was sitting/meditating next to me during the lesson, and he had a full erection clearly visible through his pants. It was uh, pretty strange.
#overshare
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PostSubject: Re: New York Times - front page of Website - Sasaki story goes wide   Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:45 pm

I find this discussion fascinating...... when the bubble bursts, when people outside the cultic enchantment openly address what happens... bingo, simple truth.

http://youtu.be/qtVOxVCx2tU

this is a web-based show. recommend you watch the whole thing..... yes, it is a bit random and goofy, but also nails it in the end


Last edited by Jcbaran on Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:00 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: New York Times - front page of Website - Sasaki story goes wide   Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:51 pm

Yesterday, I had lunch with a friend of mine who is a long-time practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism and a major force in publishing. When I mentioned the Sasaki article in the New York Times, she said, "Oh, I know all about him and how he molested women." Really, I said, do tell. She told me that a woman had come to attend a retreat at her Tibetan sangha, but was clearly shell shocked, experiencing some trauma... she had come from Mt. Baldy, Sasaki's center - she had not herself been sexually groped, but had heard about it and decided to leave. And this woman refused to take part in any interviews or meetings with the Lama, because she feared she would be molested. They had to reassure her that this would not happen. I think she said that they made sure there was some else in the room when she went in for an interview.

Then last night, i had dinner with another friend, who also oddly said,"Sasaki, I know him. In the 70's I attended a sesshin and went for my private interview and he had me sit on his lap the whole time. He never molested me, but he was VERY affectionate the whole time. It seemed so odd, I never went back."

One thing Sasaki has done is make sanzen into something very treacherous, not a safe place to discuss your meditation practice or focus on your koan, but a scene of seduction, groping, sexual pressure. And I just heard that another Zen teacher also used the sanzen situation for the same purpose.
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PostSubject: Re: New York Times - front page of Website - Sasaki story goes wide   Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:35 am

From the Sweeping Zen website:

Allegations of sexual misconduct by Joshu Sasaki make it into the mainstream press

Posted by: Adam Tebbe on February 13, 2013


Major news organizations have recently begun picking up the story of Joshu Sasaki, the Japanese-born Rinzai Zen teacher accused of fondling and groping many of the female students who came to him for Zen instruction for more than forty years. Since first running the original piece by Eshu Martin and then Giko David Rubin, the website received a lot of criticism for the action (we also received considerable support, as well). These stories are not fun. Nobody relishes in this stuff. It was really hurtful to hear some readers react by calling the website a tabloid — as if the purpose in running such stories was journalistic sensationalism.

I’m sorry but: NO.

Question the motives and skillfulness involved in running the story and accounts. That is a good (and worthy) endeavor. But, the intention was always very clear. It was always clear to me, at least. It was a story that had to be told, however uncomfortable it made us all (yeah, myself included), because unchecked the pattern may have persisted on, long after Sasaki is gone. This story, while very much about Joshu Sasaki, was always about something much bigger from my perspective. It had to do with an entire institution, that of Rinzai-ji, and how an entire community seemed to have failed many of the women who came to their teacher for Zen teaching. It seemed to me that we should not allow such negligence to go on unchecked, lest it continue happening over and over in subsequent generations in that lineage.

If anything, I have found that covering this story has harmed the website. It has harmed the good name of Zen. My sense is that it has had a chilling effect. I know that many of those who have been involved in this story have gone through major stresses as a result of it all. I’m still trying to find my own mojo, truth be told. The story, the reactions, the criticisms — they really disheartened me. It’s taken a toll on all of us (those directly involved, publishers, fellow Zen teachers, readers, practitioners).

Just know that at no point was this story taken lightly by me, nor was it taken lightly by anyone else involved in bringing it to everyone’s attention to my knowledge. This always was a very serious matter. I think even our critics might concede now that this story was necessary. You know, someone on our Facebook page recently said in response to the NYT article that, “It’s nothing to be proud of Sweeping Zen.” I didn’t respond to it, but it is a sentiment and expression that bothers me sometimes. It’s bothersome to me that a person could read this story and have that be their takeaway, that it’s a shame — a shame you published it! Really? It just puzzles me. But, then again, the behavior that prompted all of this puzzles me, too.

Anyway, here are the various outlets who have now run the story:

Zen Buddhists Roiled by Accusations Against Teacher – NYTimes.com
Sex abuse allegations surround L.A. Buddhist teacher – latimes.com
Sexual abuse allegations give pause to US Buddhist community – Global Post
105-year-old California Buddhist teacher accused of sex abuse – Cal Coast News
Zen ‘Master’ Molested Students in NM – Albuquerque Journal
Zen abuse: My own painful response – Albuquerque Journal
105-year-old Zen Buddhist master is accused of groping female students | Mail Online
105-year-old Zen Master Also an Alleged Serial Sexual Harasser – Jezebel
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PostSubject: Re: New York Times - front page of Website - Sasaki story goes wide   Thu Feb 14, 2013 8:24 am

One Billion Rising
ONE BILLION RISING
Today,14th.February 2013 is a day of celebration for One Billion Women across the world.
We will be dancing in streets of thousands of major cities and other public spaces.
We celebrate our womanhood,and we refuse to accept sexual and other molestation, harrassment, rape, violence and murder .Crimes against women must stop!
Go find and celebrate!
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PostSubject: Re: New York Times - front page of Website - Sasaki story goes wide   Thu Feb 14, 2013 8:31 am

Yes, I have heard about this global event. Thanks for posting this here!!!!
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9Foxes



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PostSubject: Re: New York Times - front page of Website - Sasaki story goes wide   Thu Feb 14, 2013 1:12 pm

This article, by the wife of the man who was going to take over the Albuquerque Zen Center until the scandal broke on the internet, is well worth reading and taking to heart:

http://www.abqjournal.com/main/2013/02/10/opinion/zen-abuse-my-own-painful-response.html

Her husband knew about the abuse but didn't do anything about it until the Sweeping Zen article was published.
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jack



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PostSubject: Re: New York Times - front page of Website - Sasaki story goes wide   Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:09 pm

Thanks for noting the article here. I'm not sure I would have picked it up otherwise.

One of the very first books I read when I was exploring Zen one time (my second dabble) was Sasaki's book "Buddha is the Center of Gravity." It's the usual Zen enchantment gobbledegook that makes enlightenment seem mysterious and alluring with promises of insight following a mental breakdown (satori) that comes about by the mental exhaustion of "sufficiently intense" meditation -- a pounding of the mind into fatigue and bruised submission.

But that enchantment and allure seems to have been part of the energy that kept me exploring Zen until I learned better what Buddhism really had to say that was wholesome, useful, and insightful. The robes, the ritual, the nonsensical extolled as profound, the authority are all part of the self-enchantment process that seemed to hold promise of self-rescue and escape. Of the people who visited our tiny meditation group over the year, many seemed to want this self-enchantment, and were disappointed to learn (at least from me) that time and consistency were far more relevant to the Buddhist path than intensity.

This sort of revelation also confirms a long-held conclusion that I reached gradually; enlightenment has everything to do with compassionate, ethical behavior and insight, and almost nothing to do with charisma or personality. Chasing some ecstasy of enlightenment by devotion to any person is an intense, mostly destructive, delusion about both the "where" and "how" of Buddhist wisdom. We put masters on pedestals because we want them to be there to rescue us. We make our doctors MDeities because we need to believe they have answers that can cure us.

One of the reasons I still drop by occasionally is that this is an efficient way of reminding myself that the husks of Buddhism (Buddhist institutions) have little to do with the truth they potentially carry.
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Carol

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PostSubject: Re: New York Times - front page of Website - Sasaki story goes wide   Fri Feb 15, 2013 2:27 am

Thank you, Jack. And thank you for dropping by again, we miss you.
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maisie field



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PostSubject: Re: New York Times - front page of Website - Sasaki story goes wide   Fri Feb 15, 2013 2:52 pm

Jack
You make some very useful points,thank you from me,too.
Of course what you say is true-because the other point of view is nonsense-yet time and time again I find myself in conversation with otherwise sane and thoughtful people,who seem to need to cling on to the notion that some people are more "enlightened","serene","evolved" than others.
One reason why I can't believe this, is that I have been idealised from time to time,by my children for instance.
When they were toddlers and young children,my children looked up to me adoringly.I could do no wrong.When they became teenagers,I became a sad ignorant has-been.
The great Buddhist law of impermanence in action!
And the vehicle of that impermanence,perception itself,growth and decay itself.
Knowing this about myself,that what stands between me and any delusions others have about me is change and impermanence(and the fact that I KNOW I am a bit of a prat,but quite nice!),I cannot see that anybody else isn't subject to the same conditions.
And I get quite frustrated when I have these conversations with folk who seem to be quite rational otherwise.Folk who want to believe that there is a group of humans who aren't the same as "us".
I see this crazy fantasising as a real impediment to the interesting task of building a buddhist ethos ,cultivating sangha,making the best of the teachings .
Old perverts and weirdos abound,not only in weird buddhist sects.In a sense,the scandals we have become aware of are useful .They provoke debate.
What bothers me is the intelligent, otherwise critically aware people who cling to infantile notions.They aren't harming anyone else,they aren't malicious.But I feel they don't want to REALLY train with impermanence,accept human frailty and imperfection.
With reference to being "rescued":I have been rescued recently .Literally.
The rescuers were policemen,housing officers,Local Council Workers.
They just did their jobs.Imperfectly.Adequately.Great.
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Carol

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PostSubject: Re: New York Times - front page of Website - Sasaki story goes wide   Sat Feb 16, 2013 3:04 am

Maisie, what did they rescue you from?
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maisie field



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PostSubject: Re: New York Times - front page of Website - Sasaki story goes wide   Sat Feb 16, 2013 9:56 am

Hi Carol
A mentally ill person stalked and attacked me.It was horrible, very frightening.But things are better now.
The point I wanted to make was that the people I met during that bad experience don't claim to be special in any way,they don't think they are "enlightened".They just did the job they are paid to do.And in this instance,their contribution was very welcome.
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Carol

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PostSubject: Re: New York Times - front page of Website - Sasaki story goes wide   Sat Feb 16, 2013 7:06 pm

Koshin taught that training consists of doing the next thing that needs to be done. Just take the next step. Good advice. That's what your rescuers were doing. From their point of view. They were just doing their jobs. From your side of things, they were heroes. It all depends on how we look at things. It sounds like a horrible experience for you. My sympathies go out to you for such a frightening thing.
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maisie field



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PostSubject: Re: New York Times - front page of Website - Sasaki story goes wide   Sun Feb 17, 2013 8:42 am

Hi Carol
My meaning precisely is that I didn't think of these people as "heroes",nor do I now.That was what was so refreshing.
The best treatment during a long ordeal was from people who didn't sympathise and try to be compassionate.
I have found in my professional life,that the willingness to "not know"seems to be a good companion.
As I said before,these people just did their jobs,imperfectly,adequately.They didn't express opinions or beliefs,thank goodness!As I said,their contribution was very welcome.
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PostSubject: Re: New York Times - front page of Website - Sasaki story goes wide   Mon May 27, 2013 10:48 am

I posted this in the Reading section, but thought it also belonged in the discussion of Sasaki and Shimano. As we see in many societies and cultures, women can be perceived as mostly there to serve the alpha males - even as sex slaves. That's the way they think and anything else is taken as a violation of their divine right to be themselves. We are seeing this play out in the U.S. military right now. It is estimated that there were nearly 30,000 rapes in the military just last year - most of them women (some men, of course) - and too many of the soldiers see the women in service as there to service them. And when service women report being harassed or even raped, they are the ones who are frequently vilified, attacked, told it was there fault, and so most rapes go unreported.


May 27, 2013
Japanese Politician Tries to Calm Furor Over Wartime Brothels
By HIROKO TABUCHI


TOKYO — Seeking to quell an uproar over recent suggestions that sexual slavery was a necessary evil in Japan’s imperial past, a populist party leader said Monday that his comments were not meant to justify wartime brothels or deny the women’s suffering at the hands of Japanese soldiers.

But Toru Hashimoto, who heads the opposition Japan Restoration Association and is mayor of Osaka, Japan’s third-largest city, also argued that Japan was being unfairly singled out for its use of so-called comfort women and that other nations needed to examine the mistreatment of women by their own militaries before pointing the finger at Tokyo.

‘'We must express our deep remorse at the violation of the human rights of these women by Japanese soldiers in the past, and make our apology to the women,’’ Mr. Hashimoto said. But he added, ‘‘It is not a fair attitude to blame only Japan, as if the violation of human rights of women by soldiers were a problem unique to Japanese soldiers.'’

The conduct of the Japanese military in Asia before and during World War II remains a highly charged topic between Japan and its neighbors, who say Tokyo has not properly atoned for its history of wartime atrocities, and those like Mr. Hashimoto who feel that Japan has been demonized.

Some historians estimate that 200,000 women were rounded up from across Asia to work as comfort women for the Japanese Army. Other historians put that number in the tens of thousands and say they served of their own will. Japan formally apologized to the comfort women in 1993.

But Mr. Hashimoto charged that the United States, Britain, France, Germany, and the former Soviet Union were guilty of similar violations of women’s rights in World War II.

He also stood by an assertion shared by many Japanese, as well as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, that there was no evidence to suggest that Japan’s wartime government directly forced these women to serve in the brothels. He brushed aside testimony to the contrary from a number of former comfort women as unreliable.

Mr. Hashimoto’s comments followed those of a string of Japanese politicians who have recently challenged what they say is a distorted view of Japan’s wartime history. Last month, Mr. Abe seemed to question whether Japan was the aggressor during the war, saying the definition of ‘'invasion'’ was relative.

But even Mr. Abe and his cabinet have distanced themselves from Mr. Hashimoto in recent weeks as he tried to correct what he believes is an erroneous view of Japan’s wartime history.

Mr. Hashimoto’s rants — sometimes in the form of an outpouring of dozens of posts on Twitter — have sparked furor from human rights groups here and alienated much of the public. A recent survey of 1,550 households by the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper showed 71 percent of respondents called Mr. Hashimoto’s comments ‘‘inappropriate,’’ compared with 21 percent who said the comments were ‘'appropriate.'’

Mr. Hashimoto’s speech Monday to overseas journalists at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan was as much a plea to domestic voters before parliamentary elections this summer as it was an attempt to reach out to global public opinion.

Recent ratings for Mr. Hashimoto, who was once seen as a possible contender for prime minister, have plummeted, and a smaller party has called off plans to cooperate in the coming elections, citing his remarks on women.

During his speech Monday, Mr. Hashimoto apologized for suggesting to a senior American military official stationed on the island of Okinawa that United States troops at bases there should make more use of the local adult entertainment industry to reduce sexual crimes against local women.

‘‘That was not what I meant. My real intention was to prevent a mere handful of American soldiers from committing crimes,’’ Mr. Hashimoto said. ‘‘In attempting to act on my strong commitment to solving the problem in Okinawa stemming from crimes committed by a minority of U.S. soldiers, I made an inappropriate remark.'’

Still, Mr. Hashimoto did not shy away from delving into his interpretation of the comfort woman experience.

Many wartime brothels were run not by Japanese, but by local brokers on the Korean Peninsula and elsewhere, he said. And though some brothels were run by Japan’s wartime military, its main task was to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases for the sake of the women, he said.

He stressed that while Japanese military boats and trucks were used to transport women to the brothels, authorities themselves were not deeply involved in the coercion of women. He said he did not believe Japan’s actions at the time amounted to human trafficking.

Banri Kaieda, who leads the opposition Democratic Party, advised Mr. Hashimoto to stop talking before he made the situation even worse.

‘‘There is a Chinese saying, ‘You cannot wrap a fire with paper,’’’ Mr. Kaieda said at a news conference. With Mr. Hashimoto, he said, ‘‘It’s as if he is trying to wrap it
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: New York Times - front page of Website - Sasaki story goes wide   Mon May 27, 2013 12:05 pm

Yes rather murky. I had read about Mr Hashimoto, and I find it hard to believe that there are 30000 rapes in the US army a year an unbelievable amount. It is like a society without direction,without compassion.
I never stopped being appalled by the constant asking if I wanted to go with a prostitute in the Asian countries I have visited, Bangkok is grim the worse for me was a tiny island in Indonesia,where the Chinese were spending a lot of money ruining it to make it their vision of paradise.

On the other hand a friend of mine a single mum was finding it hard to survive and she did ask the guys who chatted to her for payment foe sex,there must be many like her.

Personally I would prefer to see a legal prostitution business where the girls can be looked after and have medical checks and also have no need for a pimp. When I worked with delinquent black kids,I was surprised and very saddened when I saw under the surface of the money maker schemes that they had.

Wars bring out the worse and aspects of the best certainly in terms of bravery,but it is all horrible,I read today that the last mile was run again in Boston,and I also read that a Mosque in England was firebombed,one of my touching moments of last week was when a lorry driver who regularly delivers mattresses to us came. He works for a Pakistani company miles away in Bolton Lancashire,I always make him a cup of coffee and fill his flask up,He came the day after the soldier was beheaded in Woolwich,my friend Mohammed the driver wanted to talk about it,he wanted to know if I knew about it,but really he wanted to know if the coffee and with it the hand of friendship was still going to be offered, of course it was
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