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 Joshu Sasaki still in control of Rinzai-ji say insiders - from sweepingzen

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Posts : 1617
Join date : 2010-11-13
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PostSubject: Joshu Sasaki still in control of Rinzai-ji say insiders - from sweepingzen   Sat Jan 04, 2014 6:22 pm

A cautionary tale perhaps.... of a guru so in charge that no change is possible - no accountability - all things can be rationalized or denied or ignored.................

Joshu Sasaki still in control of Rinzai-ji say insiders
Posted by: Adam Kō Shin Tebbe January 4, 2014 - from Sweepingzen.com
More laundry today, I’m afraid.

Last week, I started reaching out to some folks in Joshu Sasaki’s lineage to confirm some reports I’d been receiving about ongoing issues within the organization. These reports, in part, suggested that Joshu Sasaki has recently declared himself “Supreme Abbot” of the organization and is effectively still running Rinzai-ji. Seiju Bob Mammosser Osho — of the Albuquerque Zen Center — confirmed this for me, stating that Sasaki remains “firmly in charge” and has assumed another title. Readers of this website will know why this is of concern; if you’ve just discovered this story, however, you can start reading about it here and here and here. In summary, there is a well-documented history of serious ethical and sexual misconduct on the part of Sasaki, as well as a history of the Rinzai-ji community inadequately addressing those behaviors.

My source told me that Sasaki was trying to disrobe Hosen Christiane Ranger of her Osho status, further supporting the news that Sasaki is still in charge. The reason given by Sasaki appears, from the outside, to revolve around her having used the term kessei regarding a retreat offering. Apparently, within Rinzai-ji, use of certain terms by Oshos is prohibited when offering retreats at their respective centers.

Sasaki still has many supporters at Rinzai-ji, and there is a petition being sent around among that group demanding that Hosen comply with Sasaki’s orders — something which remains a question mark. The Bodhi Manda Zen Center Board, however, does not agree with Sasaki’s decision or the petition being circulated currently. “The relationship between a teacher and disciple cannot easily be assessed by a third party,” said Seiju. “With or without robes, I do not feel that it is appropriate that she be asked to leave Bodhi for the stated reasons. The Bodhi Board of Directors will support Hosen as she decides what to do.”

It should be noted that I tried to reach out to Hosen for comment but did not receive a reply. Seiju was able to confirm for me the veracity of the things I had been learning about, though he was reluctant to say too much:

    “This is a very dynamic time for the Rinzai-ji sangha and I am reluctant to discuss details while everything is in flux. I’m not sure sharing information now is helpful for the Rinzai-ji sangha. The five points you mentioned in your email are generally correct, as I understand things. How the sangha responds to these developments is crucial, and my concern centers around the sangha stepping up and taking responsibility for their future. Others in Rinzai-ji may see things differently. For now I am reluctant to discuss these matters further. I trust you can understand my concern.”

Recently, I had also learned that Eshin Godfrey Osho, who became administrative Abbot of Rinzai-ji in March of 2013 (about four months before Sasaki officially stepped down), had resigned his position as Abbot in Los Angeles. He was supposed to have been taking over the organization to lead it in the aftermath of the public disclosures of abuse. When I contacted some members of the AZTA inquiring about it, they had not heard about it yet, though eventually I was pointed to a news item by Eshin at his website confirming this. Citing visa, health and marriage as primary reasons, Godfrey does not seem to indicate his resignation has anything to do with these other developments. I contacted Godfrey last week about this story, but he was attending a funeral for his sister in Europe at the time.

During all of this, I was curious to check in with An Olive Branch run by Rev. Kyoki Roberts, OPW, of the Zen Center of Pittsburgh.

According to its website, An Olive Branch aims for the following:

    To proactively address conflict, we offer dispute resolution training and help organization design ethical governance procedures.
    To respond in the midst of disruptive conflict, we provide organizations with processes for healing and restoring harmony.

“An Olive Branch brings the calming influence of a neutral third party, inspired by the tradition of Buddhist teaching that stretches over 2500 years.”

Rev. Roberts was unable to answer the majority of my questions for her, citing confidentiality. All that she did provide me with was a paragraph from her contract with Rinzai-ji, which states:

    Scope of Work

    The general purpose of this project is two-fold: first, and primarily, An Olive Branch will serve as first receivers of complaints from people who claim to have been harmed and, secondly, to advise the Bearing Witness Group and the subsequent Listening Council with regard to related issues or questions that may arise in the implementation of the project including responses to particular reporters’ requests.

It’s very difficult getting anyone to speak openly about Joshu Sasaki and the current activities of Rinzai-ji. Responses tend to be very short and public transparency is wholly lacking.

It must be hard for those who have practiced with Sasaki for all of these years to not merely be deferential and loyal to him. It reminds me of what happens when I try to focus on an object that is too close to me, becoming blurry and fuzzy. I have to take a step back and then I can actually see what I am looking at.

A part of me understands the human need to belong somewhere, to have a family. Another part of me wants to scream as I think of all the reports we published here at the website regarding the great harm this man has caused to some of the women who came to him for training, only to find inappropriate touching and unsolicited groping in the interview room. How is this Zen Buddhism or Great Compassion? I just shake my head anymore. It’s deeply sad to me that the organization appears unable to disaffiliate themselves with someone who has terribly misused their position as their spiritual head — though, maybe in time.

I remember talking last year to a woman who practices at Rinzai-ji and how she said that when she met Sasaki, she knew he could see right in to her. She was still on the fence about what everything means in light of all of the disclosures, though overall I think she still adored the man. I didn’t say it then, but I wanted to remark on how dangerous it is for us to believe someone sees in to us like that. Personally, I find it to be a projection. We all long to be known, to feel an intimacy with someone that goes beyond words. But what I saw in her eyes was dangerous, with a glowing hero worship look emanating from them. I got the feeling she revered him as one might revere a God, and remembered a man in a video on Sasaki (no longer on YouTube) who likened his coming to the United States to Bodhidharma’s famed sojourn.

I guess I missed the stories of Bodhidharma groping women, as Chizuko Karen Joy Tasaka wrote about in her poem to Sasaki.

This is probably a good place to stop.
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki still in control of Rinzai-ji say insiders - from sweepingzen   Sun Jan 05, 2014 3:14 am

So many titles and positions at some point we have to put them down and meet as equals, because we are. Joshu has created a jumbled up temple because he is jumbled up,walking out with shoes on head would show life has indeed not been wasted
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki still in control of Rinzai-ji say insiders - from sweepingzen   Sun Jan 12, 2014 7:16 pm

A Crack in Everything - Posted by: Eshu Martin January 10, 2014 - from Sweepingzen.com

Bell at Bodhi Manda Zen 

Recently there have been some articles about Rinzai-ji and Joshu Sasaki Roshi posted here on Sweeping Zen, and some new documents that have been leaked and posted to sasakiarchive.com, that are cause for significant concern with regards to what is happening (and not happening) within the Rinzai-ji organization, as well as in the broader Western Zen sangha.

Since writing “Everybody Knows” in November 2012, I have been following the responses of Joshu Sasaki, the Rinzai–ji Oshos, the Rinzai-ji organization, the involvement of An Olive Branch (AOB) in the discernment and healing process, as well as trying to address the concerns and advocate for people who have been affected and who have reached out to me with questions. I recently began participating in the conversation with other Zen teachers in the American Zen Teachers Association, and have had the opportunity to ask questions and to share information with the Sangha at large there.

For me, the single most disturbing fact that these recent documents reveal is that in spite of all of the public outcry, in spite of the Rinzai-ji organization publicly acknowledging the veracity of Joshu Sasaki’s misconduct, and in spite of assurances that Sasaki Roshi is not teaching anymore…

Quote :
It is our deepest and sincerest intention that in directly addressing the issue here, we can begin to contribute in some small way to the larger discussion in American Buddhism about how to manifest the dharma without deceit, dysfunction, unhealthy power imbalances, inappropriate sexual relationships, and, ultimately, the heartbreak that results from all of the above.

Joshu Sasaki, at present, is still absolutely in command of Rinzai-ji. In a document recently posted to the sasakiarchive.com, dated October 18, 2013, Sasaki unequivocally declares that:

Quote :
“I will remain as the spiritual head of the Rinzai-ji temples until the succeeding Zen Master can be confirmed, and I will remain as the Chief Abbot of Rinzai-ji and Abbot of the main Zen Training Centers, until the directives below are fully implemented.

It now seems that Eshin Godfrey, who was appointed “Abbot designate” effective July 21, 2013 http://sweepingzen.com/eshin-godfrey-to-be-abbot-of-rinza-ji/ , had by October become “Administrative Abbot”, presumably charged with administrating the execution and implementation of the rather long list of Joshu Sasaki’s edicts. By November 30, Eshin had posted on his website that he had resigned his role as “Administrative Abbot”, and would be returning to Vancouver permanently in January 2014. Eshin writes:

Quote :
At Rinzai-ji I found circumstances limited for what I could offer. There were difficulties in moving on a permanent basis. Visa, health, and marriage among them.

Eshin has always been very diplomatic, but my personal suspicion is that he didn’t want to be responsible or known for directly supporting Sasaki’s leadership. I should add a disclaimer stating that this is only my opinion.

No matter, it seems clear that there are several Oshos, clergy, board directors, and members who are more than willing to rally around Joshu Sasaki and follow his command.

What first brought my attention to these recent developments was a report I received that Hosen Christiane Ranger, Osho (who has been Abbot of Bodhi Manda Zen Center for more than 30 years) had been “de-oshoed”, “de-monked”, and excommunicated. Although I have experienced this process myself first-hand, at first I didn’t think it possible, as Hosen has always been a devout Sasaki advocate and defender. As I investigated further, however, I confirmed for myself what has now been made clear through documents made public (here and here) that Joshu Sasaki has indeed made these demands, and that a group of 18 individuals — clergy and members — drafted a petition demanding that Hosen comply with “Roshi’s directives”.

It would be very easy for myself or anyone else to get lost in the whys and wherefores of all of this information. I have already commented on my feelings about the inadequacies of the process and relationship that An Olive Branch and Rinzai-ji have established.

All of this, however, is made insignificant by the reality that Joshu Sasaki immediately and easily reestablished control of Rinzai-ji (if his power had ever actually been compromised), and that he is currently engaged in centralizing power, information, and resources around himself at Rinzai-ji.

This has been going on since October at the latest, and there hasn’t been a peep, nor a single flag raised, by anyone.

There hasn’t been a whiff within the AZTA, not publicly, and nothing from Kyoki Roberts and An Olive Branch. Even after I began asking direct questions within the AZTA, Eshin’s response was basically that there is “nothing to see here”.

Joshu Sasaki continues to be sheltered and enabled by the members, directors, and clergy of the Rinzai-ji organization, and through them he continues to abuse, isolate, and dislocate anyone he considers disloyal or disobedient.

I hope that all members, clergy, and board members who are still involved with Rinzai-ji understand that nobody is safe in Rinzai-ji as long as Joshu Sasaki is in command. What is happening to Hosen, who has been absolutely loyal and dedicated, and who has given more than 30 years of her life to Sasaki and Rinzai-ji (including enabling much of the abuse herself), can certainly happen to anyone.

By continuing to support and obey Sasaki’s “directives”, anyone still involved in the organization is directly responsible for the suffering that continues to be caused by Sasaki and Rinzai-ji.

All I can do is continue to shine a light on this, and I will do so. If you have information about what is happening within Rinzai-ji, I encourage you to make it public. It seems clear that Rinzai-ji is absolutely committed to operating in the shadows. Please send your information to sasaki.archive@gmail.com, or you can contact me directly.
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki still in control of Rinzai-ji say insiders - from sweepingzen   Sun Jan 12, 2014 7:54 pm

worth reading:

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Posts : 1617
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki still in control of Rinzai-ji say insiders - from sweepingzen   Fri Feb 21, 2014 3:45 pm

Puget Sound Zen Center disaffiliates with Rinzai-ji, Inc.

Posted by: Adam Kō Shin Tebbe February 20, 2014 - from sweepingzen.com

Puget Sound Zen Center in Vashon, Washington, led by Gakudo Koshin Christopher Cain, Osho, has recently announced its disaffiliation with Rinzai-ji, Inc., citing a variety of concerns and reasons for the departure; among their concerns is Joshu Sasaki‘s continued leadership of Rinzai-ji.

You can download a copy of their announcement and letter from the Sasaki Archive. Here is the letter originally sent to Rinzai-ji Administrative Abbots and Board of Directors, dated February 11, 2014:

    We, the board members of Puget Sound Zen Center, are tasked with upholding our Zen Center’s mission and overseeing its governance. We are working to build a healthy and vibrant sangha, and to help Zen Buddhism become further established in America. We strive to be a community that is inclusive, and that models transparency, accountability, democratic governance, open discussion, and empowerment of sangha members.

    In November 2012 when we were informed of Joshu Sasaki’s abuses of power, we decided to work toward better integrating our core values into our operations as a Zen Center. In the last year, we’ve created a teacher contract for our Abbot, a teacher ethics policy, and a standing ethics committee. We are in the process of establishing a voting membership which will have the authority to approve board members and to hire and remove teachers.

    We had hoped that Rinzai-ji, Inc. would reflect, grow, and change in response to the events involving Joshu Sasaki. We do not feel that this has happened. Rinzai-ji, Inc has not issued a statement condemning his behavior, and has not issued an apology for his behavior. Rinzai-ji Inc. has not removed him from a leadership position and continues to operate under his directives. It is unclear to us to whom he is accountable, and who has the authority to accomplish needed changes to the culture and management of Rinzai-ji, Inc.

    Because of this lack of alignment with our values and our practices as a community, with a heavy heart, we choose to end our affiliation with Rinzai-ji Inc. This is a weighty decision for us. Several members of our sangha, including our Abbot, his wife, and our lay teacher, have studied and trained with Joshu Sasaki, and many in our sangha have been profoundly affected by his teachings.

    We sincerely hope that the reach of Zen will continue to widen and embrace all those who seek refuge in its teachings in 21st century America. We dedicate our work as a sangha to this goal.


    The Puget Sound Zen Center Board of Directors

    Christopher Ezzell, President
    Beth Glennon, Secretary
    Elizabeth Fitterer, Treasurer
    Stephen Black, member-at-large
    Steve Roache, member-at-large
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