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 Joshu Sasaki is dead

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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Mon Jul 28, 2014 1:52 am

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Dear Friends,
 
It is with a heavy heart that we inform you that Joshu Sasaki Roshi passed away at 4:25 p.m. this afternoon at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. 

We will update you soon with funeral arrangements. 
 

Nine bows,
 
Myoren Yasukawa & Gento Krieger
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Mon Jul 28, 2014 1:56 am

now we will see how this community handles his "legacy".
How honest or cultic will they be?
Curious if he left an official successor(s).
Can they truly face his and their institutional ethical failures and blindness or will they carry on pretending all is well and all that was great Zen? 
We shall see.
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Mon Jul 28, 2014 10:45 am

Joshu Sasaki Dies
July 28, 2014 by James Ford


I’ve just learned that Kyozan Joshu Sasaki Roshi died at 4:25 pm, this Sunday, the 27th of July, 2014, at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. He was one hundred and seven years old.
Sasaki Roshi was the founder and abbot of Mount Baldy Zen Center as well as head of the Rinzai-ji organization of Zen centers.


He was the most credentialed Zen teacher of the many Japanese priests who have come to live and teach in the West. However, his teaching career in the west was followed by whispers and allegations, and in the last years by public allegations of sexual misconduct, non-consensual groping, and coerced sexual relationships.

While a few of his priests and at least two affiliated centers have disaffiliated, most have not, and the continuing scandals and the Rinzai-ji board’s inability to either hold him to account or even reign in his behaviors, allegations of groping lasted well in to his hundreds, cast a shadow across the whole organization.

Sasaki Roshi left about twenty fully ordained priests, although none received dharma transmission, authorization as full spiritual directors within the Rinzai style. So, ironically, a Rinzai master leaves an organization that does not advance a formal koan curriculum. What will happen for the organization next is an open question.

By all accounts a great teacher.
By all accounts a sexual predator.
A great sadness for the Dharma come west
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PostSubject: there is nothing vaguely enlightened about blind devotion.....   Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:31 pm

Joshu Sasaki Roshi, who brought Zen Buddhism to U.S., dies at 107


Joshu Sasaki Roshi celebrates his 50th anniversary at Rinzaiñ-ji Zen Center in Los Angeles in 2012. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
by Christin Mai-Duc - Los Angeles Times

Joshu Sasaki Roshi, American Zen master with complicated legacy, dies at 107

Buddhist teacher Joshu Sasaki Roshi, a leading figure in Zen Buddhism in America whose legacy was later complicated by allegations of sexual abuse, has died. He was 107.

Roshi died Sunday afternoon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said Gento Steve Krieger, head monk at Rinzai-ji, also known as the Cimarron Zen Center, in Jefferson Park. He died of complications of old age, Krieger said.

He was a Zen master. I don't know anybody else who lives that completely and that fully. - Gento Steve Krieger, head monk at Rinzai-ji

Roshi arrived in Los Angeles more than 50 years ago and was among a wave of Japanese teachers to tailor Zen Buddhism teachings to westerners. He once pledged to students that he would not die “until Zen is born in America.”

“He was a Zen master,” Krieger said. “I don’t know anybody else who lives that completely and that fully. When you meet somebody like that, it changes your opinion of what a human being is.”

He opened dozens of Zen centers, including one on Mt. Baldy known for its rigorous training regimen.

Decades later, allegations from dozens of former students that he had sexually abused them surfaced. The allegations included molestation and rape, and some had been reported to the Rinzai-ji board, which never took effective action, according to an investigation by an independent council of Buddhist leaders.

The council's report suggested he may have abused hundreds. "We see how, knowingly and unknowingly, the community was drawn into an open secret," the council wrote. "We have reports that those who chose to speak out were silenced, exiled, ridiculed, or otherwise punished.”

A council of senior Zen teachers ordained under Roshi later responded with an apology, acknowledging that it failed to address the teacher’s alleged sexual misconduct.

 
Joshu Sasaki Roshi mixes with his devotees after the a prayer service held to celebrate his 50th anniversary at Rinzai-ji Zen Center in Los Angeles in 2012. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

"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," said the council in a public statement issued at the time.

One student, Shari Young, who was 19 when she first started learning from Roshi, said she left the center because of abuse and became an Episcopal priest. "The impact on me was so tremendous," she told The Times in 2013. "It's kind of a relief and confirming to know I wasn't just odd."

Krieger, a dedicated student who had known Roshi for a decade, said Roshi taught him and many others “a profound way of life,” and that Roshi’s legacy rests in the “complicated” love he showed students.

He first met Roshi 10 years ago when, at 97, the Buddhist teacher was still leading large retreats in Zen teachings. “Every day it seemed as though he was drawing his last breath,” Krieger said. “But he would be completely throwing himself into it.”

As Roshi’s health declined, Krieger helped care for him.

Krieger recalls when Roshi was gravely ill two years ago. Doctors said he was on the verge of death and would never eat again. Slowly and methodically, Krieger said, Roshi worked through his pain, repeating Zen phrases in whispers. A month later, he was eating again and lived for two more years.

“The circumstances he was in were completely painful, and it would have been easier to just give up, but that’s not how he lived.”

Krieger said even though the allegations complicate Roshi’s legacy, they were only part of his influence on thousands of students who followed his teaching.

“It tarnished his reputation, but people who are devoted to his teaching are not particularly worried about reputation,” Krieger said.

“Roshi was a man, and we don’t believe in living gods or perfect beings.… He was a rich and complicated man, and as a community we’re still working through many issues and reaching out to the people who were harmed,” Krieger said.

A complete obituary will appear at www.latimes.com/obits.

For more breaking news, follow me @cmaiduc

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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Tue Jul 29, 2014 1:55 pm

There is an intense on-line discussion following the piece from James Ford.  

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/monkeymind/2014/07/joshu-sasaki-dies.html

It is what would be expected.  Some of Sasaki's followers attacking the person who leaked the truth - how dare he!!! Others taking refuge in conceptual non-duality - everything in Zen / Buddha so there is no right or wrong - and Sasaki could be a great master while simultaneously abusing women - and then those who are grossed out by his predatory behavior. 

I don't buy the non-duality enchantment.  Any Zen organization that accepts this kind of behavior from their leader or seniors is doomed and should be.  It is unsustainable.  It is harmful.
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PostSubject: worth reading......   Wed Jul 30, 2014 2:05 pm

Some Reflections on Rinzai-ji by Giko David Rubin
Posted by: Giko David Rubin December 12, 2012 97 Comments
Download this document from the Sasaki Archive See also: 1997 Letter to Joshu Sasaki


Giko David Rubin

I began Zen practice in High School. I spent two weeks at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center between my freshman and sophomore years of college. Then I first met Denkyo Kyozan Joshu Roshi in 1980 when I was nineteen years old. I did my first sesshin a few months later, was ordained by him in 1983, and made an Osho by him in 1999. Between 1995 and 2007 I translated for well over 2,000 hours of public and private dharma talks and meetings. I probably spent more than that number of hours helping to transcribe and correct the translations. Since 2007 I have been in protest and not participating in Rinzai-ji, although I’ve had a few private meetings with Joshu Roshi. I am writing because I care about Joshu Roshi and the community. I would like to help in any way I can to bring about healing through honesty. To the best of my knowledge and ability, I will describe how Joshu Roshi, and the community that supports him, has tried to deal with his sexual activity with his female students, and how the inability to do that skillfully seems to have led to a diminishment of his teachings and the practice. This is a snapshot of my own failure to understand the situation I was (and to some degree am still) in, to care about it enough, and to act skillfully. I offer this to the collage of Rinzai-ji, and the bigger collage of Zen in the West at this time. I ask forgiveness for my failings. I feel that in order to keep the clear loving connection between Joshu Roshi and me I must confront him about this pattern of behavior that seems to cause him, and those around him, suffering.

I believe Joshu Roshi is a great Zen teacher in many ways. I say this from my long personal experience with him, as well as my experiences with other Zen teachers. He holds up a beautiful liberating universally healing ideal. We all can experience living, transcending life, dying, and transcending death, fully. We all can experience salvation and liberation. Joshu Roshi could genuinely offer that ideal, that experience, because, I believe, he could, at times, truly manifest it, and he could recognize it in others. Joshu Roshi also has the ability to sometimes know exactly what a student is experiencing without having to be told. This is quite remarkable, and I believe gives his students a feeling they are in the presence of someone with extraordinary spiritual power. As a young man I sat in zazen and felt my hand spontaneously open on my outbreath, and felt my sphere of consciousness expand with it. Then on the next in breath my hand unwillingly closed to a fist. The next time I saw Joshu Roshi, I bowed in silence as usual, and sat up. At once he looked me in the eye, open and closed his hand, and said, “Now you can be a Zen teacher.” How could I not feel this man knew me better than anyone could? I believed I could I trust him completely. And yet. Over a long period of time I have come to understand Joshu Roshi has many sexual encounters of various kinds with his students, many of whom are married. I hope this description is striking some sort of beautiful balance between not saying too little and not saying too much. But. I’ll probably miss that balance. Especially important to me is to be clear that when I say “Osho” or “Inji” I am not implying that all Rinzai-ji Oshos or Injis acted similarly. That is very far from the truth. I would like to emphatically emphasize I am only speaking of my own experience with a relatively few people. I beg you to not paint all Oshos, senior students, or Injis with the same brush. Please, if you know someone associated with Rinzai-ji, or hear someone is, do not assume you know what he or she did or thought after reading this account. From many stories I was told by men and women, and from my long experience translating, I believe Joshu Roshi sometimes used the way he spoke in sanzen, and even in teisho, to coerce women into giving him sex. He implied that resisting his advances was resisting the cosmic activity itself. He also implied surrendering to his requests for sex may lead to the experience of absolute cosmic unity. He punished some women who would not capitulate to his demands by giving them little or no attention. He coerced women by saying, “This is the only way I can teach you,” “You should overcome your ego,” “If you don’t have sex with me, you are not manifesting one true nature,” “You say ‘my body,’ but that is the thought of your incomplete self,” “You are the only one I ever touch,” “You have the best energy.” Joshu Roshi’s Zen, in my experience, both affirmed the individual, imperfect self, and the manifestation of no-self, both. However, regarding this issue of his own sexual activity, he almost always demanded negation of the self, no boundaries between himself and his female students, and dismissed the other person’s individuality. This also carried over into his demands of male students to not think about or talk about his having sexual relations with his students. The argument that his teishos were sometimes sexual coercion is harder to make, but I feel it is true. He went through a phase when he repeated often that following one’s instinctual impulses is the same as following the Dharma activity. I don’t think he really believed that deeply. He also would sometimes emphasize the idea that “resisting the unification of expansion and contraction was egotistical” so adamantly that I, knowing whom in the audience he was trying to persuade to allow his sexual advances, could no longer serve as his translator in good conscience. Some senior students and Oshos, although they knew about his pattern of trying to initiate some sort of sex with his students and especially his Injis, encouraged new students to become his Inji, telling them it was special, an honor and a great opportunity. Then when the new Inji complained about his sexual demands sometimes they were told they should give themselves to him completely. At this point I don’t claim to have anywhere near a perfect picture of the facts. However, I have heard the experiences of forty two women, either from them directly or their husbands or boyfriends:


  • Twenty-three of those are no longer practicing with Joshu Roshi and had negative experiences, and many of those have shared their bad experiences with other Buddhist sanghas.
  • There was one report to a crisis hotline, one police report, and once I witnessed a woman confronting Joshu Roshi in front of his wife, saying “Try touching me now when your wife is here!”
  • Fourteen of the forty-two would probably say they are still Roshi’s students, nine of them obviously are.
  • Of those, two told me their sexual encounters with Roshi were fantastically helpful, healing some sexual problems.
  • Five others say only positive, though not so effusively glorious things.
  • Six other women still practicing with Roshi (or at least saying they are his student) express more of an “I’ve put up with a lot” attitude.
  • Five others had very short, one time encounters, all of whom said they rebuffed Roshi’s advances with a slap, a laugh, or by changing the subject.
  • Eleven out of the forty-two told me in detail how Roshi repeatedly grabbed at them despite their saying “No,” sometimes dozens of times in one day, over many months, and sometimes many years. Two of those told me they were pushed to the ground.


I have also had extensive conversations with two Japanese monks who, for their own reasons had researched Joshu’s history in Japan. They told me Joshu Roshi has biological children in Japan who were not openly acknowledged as his when they were children. I have since met one of them, and I read an email from another. The monk told me that in Japan his sexual activity was a big concern within Myoshin-ji. This is an extremely unscientific “survey,” for which all of the information was randomly and freely given, and 90 percent of the information was obtained after 1997. It is very clear that nobody really knows anything close to everything, and the people who know the most aren’t talking in public. It is hard to say exactly what happened because there has not, as of yet, been an open, honest, caring and respectful investigation into what has happened over these 50 years of Joshu Roshi teaching in North America. Any attempt to extrapolate from my description and guess at the full extent of the activity must factor in many things. It is very common for women to remain silent about these difficult experiences, even with their close friends. Almost all of my information comes from Roshi’s later years, when his activity had decreased significantly. It makes it very difficult to guess, if not impossible. Each individual story is important for the people involved, and some stories are very complicated. A woman can honestly say she experienced great learning from having sex with him. Some can honestly say they experienced Joshu Roshi as an eccentric but charming old man who flirted a lot. Everyone’s experience is true for them. This doesn’t mean that everyone who had an experience with Joshu Roshi has a clear view of the bigger picture.

It took me a long time to become conscious of these things. Although I had one or two experiences in my early years of practice that, if I had been more able to hear, could have brought Joshu Roshi’s sexual patterns into the light clearly, I was firmly in denial for a long time, and I never talked about it. When I think back on my experience standing on the Mount Baldy main path in the early 80s, when I was shoji, listening to a woman ask for advice about Joshu Roshi fondling her in sanzen – it is like my mind was a vacuum. I don’t remember saying one word in response. I had at least one other experience like that. It was not until years later, in the summer of 1997, as some women I knew well started telling me about it when I started to hear it. That is when I first suggested to Joshu Roshi that he have a monitor present in sanzen and no longer have female Injis. He was furious. He slammed his teacup on the table so hard the cup broke, and later called for his Inji to come check his blood pressure. That fall a small group of residents of Mount Baldy, none of us Oshos at the time, got together and talked, and wrote a letter to Joshu Roshi about his sexual conduct. I think there were about 12 of us who worked on the letter. In the final version my ideas of sanzen monitors and no female Injis were taken out, because the majority felt we should take a more respectful, less demanding stance. My intent then was to have Joshu Roshi and the community face the problem, so we could all keep practicing together in a healthier way. I did not have the intent of closing down Rinzai-ji, or forcing Joshu Roshi to stop teaching. I thought it possible for him and us to face his problem, and for him to keep teaching – with some modifications and outside help. He was very angry upon getting even the much toned down letter, and presented his students with a simple choice, “Either I admit these things and then of course I would have to resign, or I can keep teaching you.” The vast majority of students took that seriously and rallied around him to keep teaching. I still regret I could not persuade people to call his bluff. After that, even though he still had private sanzen time and female Injis, things did change at Mount Baldy. Some monks were much more open with women students about Joshu Roshi having a tendency to act sexually towards his students. For a time they no longer tried to claim it was teaching, or deny it, but instead counseled people on how to deal with it. Monks would take women aside, even before they had ever met Joshu Roshi in sanzen, and explain he had some sort of sexual touching problem. “We couldn’t stop it, but here’s what you can do if it happens. Firmly saying “No” right off the bat has worked for many women…” Things like that. This seemed absurd, but on the other hand it was probably helpful to some extent. I still tried further to convince him to change his behavior. I had several long conversations with him about it. I think it is accurate to say I spent more than five hours, over quite a few meetings, pleading and arguing with him to get help with his sex problem, as I called it. I wanted very badly to figure out some way to stay. I loved Joshu Roshi as a teacher, and had studied Japanese hoping to someday translate for him. I had always been happy about my choices to become a monk, translator, and part of this community. Then it was as though the feeling I was part of something beautiful was crumbling. When I tried to talk with him about my concerns he seemed truly unreasonable. This man I considered not just sane, but a wise elder, began presenting me with something that seemed somewhere close to insane, and now felt I could not continue in good conscience. During our conversations he said all sorts of things. “I am like a doctor. You wouldn’t be angry if I touched your wife’s breasts or vagina if I were a doctor examining her.” “Ok, maybe I have a sickness, but I will be the leader of all those with the same sickness!” “My hand just moves. It’s will-less (ishinashini).” He tried to explain the origin of his sexual patterns: “When I was young I didn’t know anything about sex, and I was a virgin for a long time. Everyone respected me then. The first woman I was with had to show me how to do everything. I didn’t even know women had a good feeling when their breasts were touched. It was seeing the American soldiers walking with Japanese women after the end of World War II that piqued my curiosity. I wanted that too! Then, after I started, I couldn’t stop. I wanted more and more.” I feel my experience during this period, when Joshu Roshi and I were often vehemently disagreeing, is evidence that unquestioning obedience to and reverence towards a spiritual teacher are not requisites for a productive relationship with that teacher. In fact it may be harmful to the student and the teacher’s development. Outside of sanzen and my translating for him we were often fighting. I think it is accurate to say we both strived to improve our work in sanzen and during teisho, and the content of both did not suffer. Finally, a few days after I had talked with him for many hours in a hotel room in Austria, he said, “Your idea is right. Thank you for showing me my way is sometimes not good. Thank you for getting angry.” We came to agree his sexual behavior is a “bad habit,” (kuse in Japanese), and he said he would stop. He also talked about bad habits in teisho, and about how we sometimes hurt people because of them, without admitting in detail what he was referring to. He publicly chanted the sange (repentance) chants several times during teisho, although he didn’t specify in public why he was doing sange. I was content to stay and continue translating for him. There was a feeling in part of the community that we who confronted him had succeeded in changing his behavior. A few people thanked me. People said his behavior changed in sanzen, and privately he convinced me he had changed. Even now I still believe he made an effort at that time to change his behavior. Ten years later, in 2007, more women came forward and said Joshu Roshi had been sexually pressuring them during the period I thought this behavior had ended. I was told by his Injis that Joshu Roshi had never stopped, only slowed down. I was told, “He played you. He tricked you.” (When I heard the new accounts I realized I actually suspected Joshu Roshi had never completely stopped. There had been evidence, for instance, women re-adjusting their robes while leaving the sanzen room. I simply didn’t allow the evidence to come to full consciousness.) The trust I had felt was damaged. I tried to defend my position to my friends and family. I told them I believed he was a very good Zen teacher, but I did not think he was trustworthy about anything to do with his own personal behavior in the realm of sex. It was a hard sell. In 2007 Gentei Osho initiated a discussion about this issue. Eshin Osho also wrote a very strong letter to Roshi about it. This culminated in a meeting of the Osho Council of Rinzai-ji in December. I felt I had been very naive in the first 1997 attempt; specifically only working with a small group of students and directly with him. In 2007 we tried to involve the community of Oshos, and even, albeit informally, the board of directors. Instead of being more successful there was a lot more anger expressed towards Gentei and me. People were told not to speak openly because of fear of legal repercussions. Three women wrote very balanced eloquent letters about their confusion caused by Joshu Roshi’s sexual pressuring, and these were supposed to be discussed by the Osho Council. The letters, however, never got an official response from the Oshos. There was no movement towards openly acknowledging the pattern of behavior. At that time I still felt Joshu Roshi should continue to teach and not resign. I felt he should change his behavior, with professional help, and, as was my suggestion in 1997, have no female Injis, and a monitor in sanzen. However, in a nearly identical way as happened then, Joshu Roshi gave the same choice, either I will resign or I will go forward unconstrained. After the meeting Joshu Roshi began calling people who wanted to discuss his sexual activity his “enemies (taiteki in Japanese). It seemed he was helping to form a party line; to criticize Joshu Roshi is blasphemy. To say he has a serious sexual problem means you don’t understand his teaching. If you are working to have Joshu Roshi face his problem and change then you don’t love him and should leave. The sentiment I remember hearing the most from other Oshos was some version of, “We must weigh the good of Joshu Roshi’s teaching against the bad. The good is incredibly good. He is probably the most enlightened person alive in this world. There is no way to stop the bad, only contain it. He will never change. The good, however, far outweighs the bad. If we try to guide Joshu Roshi towards changing his behavior he will resign and stop teaching, and all the good will be lost.” I gave up trying to sway the community of Oshos. I am open to criticism about how I tried. I know I simply angered many people, which didn’t help. In the end I ran out of creative ways to be pushy. I then, in protest, stopped all participation with Rinzai-ji.


Old Mount Baldy Pic

Over all of my years in Rinai-ji many people who I admired and who inspired me left the Rinzai-ji sangha. In certain instances I didn’t learn until years later it was because of Joshu Roshi’s sexual conduct. The choice I was, both implicitly and explicitly, forced to make, between silence and leaving the community, wore on me. I was also treated harshly by Joshu Roshi and his inner circle. Myoshin-ji style Rinzai Zen training, the tradition Joshu Roshi continues, IS often harsh. I was accustomed to that. In this instance I had to try to discern if the harshness was coming from compassion, or, as my common sense told me, fear and greed. When I “came out” and raised my concerns about Joshu Roshi’s sexual conduct some Oshos told me I had no Zen understanding and should be beaten with sticks; I was an arrogant blind fool; I had “kindergarten understanding” and obviously had never passed even one koan. Joshu Roshi told me I would never get enlightened if I thought about these things. I was told by one Osho and one senior student I would be blamed for Joshu Roshi’s death if I tried to make him change his behavior, and that I would be responsible for ruining his legacy. “You are killing him!” was shouted at me more than once. Another Osho told me that Joshu Roshi had demanded I do a special repentance ceremony if I ever wanted to practice with Joshu Roshi again. When I asked the Osho if he had argued my case to Joshu Roshi, or even asked for an explanation he said he hadn’t. I was banned from coming on the property of one Zen Center, and banned from teaching at another. Joshu Roshi began calling me “attached to honesty,” and “bakashoujiki” (meaning “stupidly honest”) to others and to me. This same sort of thing happened to other people, too. In many private meetings, Joshu Roshi began calling another Osho who had attempted to discuss the situation “crazy.” At the 2007 Osho meeting women who wrote letters about Joshu Roshi’s sexual activity were discredited as “seeking attention” or not realizing he was trying to teach them. Women who complained or asked for guidance were told things like, “Maybe you’re not ready for this practice,” “Joshu Roshi’s sexual touching is teaching,” “Why not let the old man touch your breasts? What does it matter?” With some female students Joshu Roshi was more determined, aggressive, and angry. Those women were belittled by other women who had had an easier time keeping him at bay, “How can you not just repel him? He’s so old!” Another woman who complained was discredited. An Osho said, “She’s crazy. She takes antidepressants.”

It is important to point out the obvious, again. There is an amazingly wide range of behavior among Joshu Roshi’s Oshos and students. Some people who have been around a long time really didn’t know that much about Joshu Roshi’s sexual activity. Some people knew a lot and were instrumental in silencing people and working to retain the status quo. Some people knew a lot, but were very distant from Bodhi Manda and Mount Baldy, the two major centers. The extremely decentralized “system” of Rinzai-ji made it possible for some people, most of the time, to not have to think about, or even know about, Joshu Roshi’s sexual patterns. That much of the time we spend together is at silent retreats also contributes to the lack of knowledge. Each of us must decide how to take responsibility for our past actions. Each of us must decide how to make reparations. Each of us must try to understand why we acted the way we did. And, further, I also would like to emphasize how difficult this is. We who know about Joshu Roshi’s sexual behavior and are longtime students, and almost always came to know about the sexual behavior slowly and circuitously, have a lot to digest. We all have found a wonderful teacher. Some of us feel Joshu Roshi had saved us from suicide, or some other very bad situation. Some of us feel Joshu Roshi’s Zen is utterly unique. Rinzai-ji is our spiritual home. Anything that feels like an attack on that is naturally resisted with an instinctual fighting spirit. It’s hard to give that up. It’s hard to be put in the position, (even if that position is only known or felt on a subconscious level, and even if that position isn’t really true), of either having to harm one’s friend or lose one’s teacher and spiritual family. In 1997 I finally felt no longer in denial. In 2007 I felt that way again. And, again now. Each time I have felt sharply remorseful for my previous lack of clear understanding, paucity of love, and weakness of action. Now I feel that for Rinzai-ji to ever be a healthy organization it must clearly and publicly acknowledge that in significant ways essentially excellent Zen teaching and practice has been mixed with a culture of great dependency on one person. This dependency, and double standard, is in many ways antithetical to Zen teaching. What can we do as members of this community, and the larger Zen community, to move forward and learn? I like Professor Batchelor’s description of “stream entering” being an important milestone (http://sweepingzen.com/buddhism-and-sex-the-bigger-picture/). I believe if both teachers and students realize that after some point, once you have the experience of samadhi and insight to a certain rudimentary degree (and exactly what that is, that is an interesting question), your practice is very much up to yourself. Zen teachers often say a student should not be “attached to his own thinking.” This is good teaching. To experience merging into the great natural activity (the dharma activity in Joshu-ese) we need to replace our own thinking with the sound of the wind, the floating cloud, the flower opening, the sun blaring, the moon slowly rising, our own heart beats, our breathing. Further, the strong demand in Joshu Roshi’s Zen to do that completely and enter the Samadhi of no conflict, and further, to never be satisfied with the depth of our practice is commendable. There is a great humility in his sangha in some ways, at least as we face ourselves. However, we do not need to replace our thinking with someone else’s thinking. We do not need to replace our past identity with a new identity as an obedient, good student to a Master. And, also, even as we know our thinking is incomplete, we must keep listening to our own voices. Our own is the only voice we have. Even when, for example, we judge a teacher to be good or choose a practice to do, we are listening to our own voice. Zen practice that over-emphasizes a sort of hostility towards our own thinking is fertile soil for “denial.” Perhaps we Zen teachers need to find a way to underscore the wonderful preciousness of our own thoughts, even as we teach how to transcend them. If we watch carefully how we know our own thoughts, and unify with them, that unification is no different from our unification with the sound of the wind, the smell of the incense. Teachers with amazing spiritual gifts can also have serious psychological issues. We must, I believe, simply hold everyone to the same standards of not harming others, being honest, facing our problems, and so forth. The notion that a student should not question her teacher for fear of cutting off the spiritual connection between them is false. I still feel somewhat “in the bubble” as my monk friend refers to being enmeshed with Rinzai-ji. Darn it! I do think Joshu Roshi manifests a wonderfully unique Zen, when he’s on his game. I do not want to rid myself of the simultaneous breathing, four phases, expansion and contraction, absolute large and small, up before 3am and yaza in the snow with the coyotes, manifestation of Zero – style Zen training I was raised on. On the other hand, the behavior of the inner circle of Rinzai-ji, including Joshu Roshi himself, where a culture of double standards and dependency was formed, partly around a pattern of sexual behavior people thought could not change, must, I believe, be called, (as Joshu Roshi liked to say), ge ge no ge. Lower than the lowest of the low. The thing that I hope will be considered carefully is how it is possible for those two things to come to exist with each other.
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PostSubject: From Tricycle and Mark Oppenheimer.......   Thu Jul 31, 2014 5:47 pm

From Tricycle Magazine: -July 30, 2014

Joshu Sasaki Roshi, Rinzai Zen Master, Dies at 107

The influential teacher leaves a mixed legacy.

Mark Oppenheimer
 
On Sunday, Joshu Sasaki Roshi, a Rinzai Zen Buddhist who came to the United States in 1962 and went on to become one of the country’s most influential, if not most controversial, Zen teachers, died at Cedars-Sinai medical center in Los Angeles. He was 107 years old.

Although said to have no dharma heirs, Joshu Roshi had legions of followers who founded about 30 Zen centers, from Seattle to Oslo, Vancouver to Berlin, some of which later closed. He led a large center in Los Angeles and two training centers in the Southwest, one in New Mexico and one at Mount Baldy, in the mountains east of Los Angeles. The poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen lived at Mount Baldy in the 1990s, lending his teacher a semimythic status among spiritually inclined rock fans.


It’s safe to say that nobody in the last century has, directly or indirectly, led more people to Rinzai Zen teachings than this ancient teacher, born in imperial Japan and made a roshi when the memory of Hiroshima was but two years in the past.

Yet if Joshu Roshi was extraordinary in his reach, he was depressingly common in what we might call his grasp. As I reported in The New York Times last year—outing what had long been common knowledge in the Zen Buddhist world—Joshu Roshi had for decades groped and harassed female students, often quite violently. Although the board of one center received letters about his conduct as early as 1991, it was not until one of his former monks, Eshu Martin, posted an open letter on SweepingZen.com in 2012, that the board took action. An independent “witnessing council” of Zen teachers also initiated an investigation, publishing a report last year that described incidents like “Sasaki asking women to show him their breasts, as part of ‘answering’ a koan”— a Zen riddle—“or to demonstrate ‘non-attachment.’” When women reported sexually assaultive behavior, they found the male monks unsympathetic. And when I reported on this story last year, after Joshu Roshi had largely retired from active teaching, a reservoir of sympathy for the man still remained.

Bob Mammoser, a resident monk at Rinzai-ji, told me that he had been aware of allegations against Joshu Roshi since the 1980s. And he didn’t seem to doubt them. “What’s important and is overlooked,” he told me, “is that, besides this aspect, Roshi was a commanding and inspiring figure using Buddhist practice to help thousands find more peace, clarity, and happiness in their own lives.” He said that with teachers “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.”

Joshu Roshi’s behavior was all too typical of the early generation of Japanese teachers in America, who arrived just in time for the explosion of interest in Eastern religion. They often embodied the dark side of the sexual revolution that was also underway, taking license with students, who often felt pressured by their immediate culture to give way and who found little support when they complained.

In the 1960s, four major Zen teachers came to the United States from Japan: Shunryu Suzuki, Eido Shimano, Taizan Maezumi and Joshu Sasaki. Andy Afable, a former resident monk at a monastery founded by Eido Shimano Roshi, told me that three of the four—Maezumi and, more recently, Shimano and Sasaki—caused widely publicized sex scandals that brought great distress to their zendos and organizations. Even the one who was not tainted by scandal, Shunryu Suzuki, handed the San Francisco Zen Center off to Richard Baker, who became embroiled in scandal after it surfaced that Baker had had carried out affairs with several female members of his community.


Joshu Roshi’s impropriety with many of his female followers—and the collusive secrecy of his male followers—should not be forgotten. But it would be wrong to reduce the man to just this. He did have a grand side. “He’s both the friend and the enemy,” Leonard Cohen said of Joshu Roshi in the film Leonard Cohen: Spring 1996.
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Fri Aug 01, 2014 11:14 am

Joshu Sasaki Roshi, 1907-2014: Zen master mired in sex scandal spent decades shielded by loyal students

Joshu Sasaki Roshi a 107-year-old Japanese immigrant who had taught a strict form of Zen Buddhism in Jemez Springs, died Sunday in Los Angeles. Courtesy ngelight/CC-BY-SA-2.0/Wikimedia Commons

Posted: Thursday, July 31, 2014 8:00 pm |  Updated: 11:09 pm, Thu Jul 31, 2014.  
By Steve Terrell - from The New Mexican

Joshu Sasaki Roshi, a 107-year-old Japanese immigrant who had taught a strict form of Zen Buddhism in Jemez Springs, died Sunday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of age-related causes.

Sasaki Roshi, who had taught at the Bodhi Manda Zen Center in Jemez Springs beginning in the early 1970s, and also at a Zen center in Mount Baldy, Calif., became one of the most influential Zen masters in the U.S., but in the last years of his life, he became mired in a sex scandal. Dozens of female students and attendants had accused him of fondling them and, in some cases, manipulating them into having sex with him.


Though no charges were ever filed, Sasaki Roshi’s organization apologized for not dealing with their teacher’s sexual behavior.

According to the website of the Mount Baldy Zen Center, Sasaki Roshi was born in 1907 in rural Japan. He became a novice at the age of 14 in the Rinzai tradition of Zen Buddhism.

The Bodhi Manda website says Sasaki Roshi came to America in 1962, “when a group of people in Los Angeles asked Myoshin-ji, Japan’s largest Rinzai school, to send a teacher. With interest in Buddhism growing in North America, a Zen community steadily flourished around him.” He began teaching at the Jemez Springs center in 1973.

Officials at Bodhi Manda couldn’t be reached for comment.

Eventually, Sasaki Roshi headed a network of about 30 Zen centers in North America and Europe. He had at least one celebrity student, singer and poet Leonard Cohen, who spent much of the 1990s secluded at the Mount Baldy center.

According to some of Sasaki Roshi’s former students, rumors of his sexual misconduct had been whispered for decades. In November 2012, a Zen osho (priest) named Eshu Martin, who had studied with Sasaki Roshi for 13 years, published an article on a Zen website called SweepingZen.com, laying out the allegations against his old master.

“His career of misconduct has run the gamut from frequent and repeated non-consensual groping of female students during interviews, to sexually coercive after hours ‘tea’ meetings, to affairs and sexual interference in the marriages and relationships of his students,” Martin wrote.

“For decades, Joshu Sasaki Roshi’s behaviour has been ignored, hushed up, downplayed, justified, and defended by the monks and students that remain loyal to him,” Martin wrote. “… For many years, I have struggled with my own part in this calamity; I have known but have not spoken out.”

About a month later, an osho ordained by Sasaki Roshi — Giko David Rubin, now an Albuquerque resident — also came forth with a lengthy piece on SweepingZen.com that went into even more detail. Rubin said he first met the master in 1980.

In his article, Rubin, wrote, “I have heard the experiences of 42 women, either from them directly or their husbands or boyfriends.” In 1980, he said, a woman told him Sasaki Roshi had fondled her during a private session. In 1997, he heard similar accounts from other women he knew well.

Rubin said women told him that Sasaki Roshi “implied that resisting his advances was resisting the cosmic activity itself. He also implied surrendering to his requests for sex may lead to the experience of absolute cosmic unity. He punished some women who would not capitulate to his demands by giving them little or no attention.”

Rubin said he confronted the teacher about his sexual behavior in 1997 and suggested to Sasaki Roshi that he “have a monitor present in sanzen [private interviews with students] and no longer have female Injis [personal attendants.]”

That made Sasaki Roshi furious, Rubin wrote. “He slammed his teacup on the table so hard the cup broke.”

Later that year, Rubin and about a dozen students, monks and nuns wrote Sasaki Roshi a letter suggesting that new female students should be informed “of the possibility that you will approach them in a sexual manner.”

This also angered Sasaki Roshi. “He presented his students with a simple choice,” Rubin wrote. He told the students he would admit the misconduct and resign, “or I can keep teaching you.” Rubin said a large majority of the students “rallied around him to keep teaching. I still regret I could not persuade people to call his bluff.”

But later, Rubin said, Sasaki Roshi admitted he had a “bad habit,” and for the next several years he appeared to make a real effort to stop his sexual misconduct. But by 2007, more women had come forward, saying Sasaki Roshi “had been sexually pressuring them during the period I thought this behavior had ended. I was told by his Injis that Joshu Sasaki Roshi had never stopped, only slowed down. I was told, ‘He played you. He tricked you.’ “

The matter was brought to Sasaki Roshi’s Council of Oshos that year, but at that meeting, the priests belittled women who had written letters complaining about Sasaki Roshi, Rubin said.

About two months after Rubin’s article was published on SweepingZen.com, the New York Times picked up on the story. The Times interviewed women who said they “were encouraged to believe that being touched by [Sasaki Roshi] was part of their Zen training.”

Sasaki Roshi’s obituary in the Los Angeles Time this week quoted Gento Steve Krieger, the head monk at Sasaki Roshi’s headquarters in Los Angeles, saying the center was “still working through many issues and reaching out to the people who were harmed.”

Contact Steve Terrell at sterrell@sfnewmexican.com. Read his political blog at www.santafenewmexican.com/news/blogs/politics.
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Fri Aug 01, 2014 11:21 am

I posted this on the Tricycle website.  This was my experience in providing support for one of Sasaki's victims:

1981. Los Angeles. A woman comes to see me with her boyfriend. She is clearly anxious, distraught. At that time, I am running a support group for people who had left various spiritual groups and gurus called SORTING IT OUT.. I had been a Zen monk and priest for seven years, received dharma transmission, but my teacher and organization became increasingly cultic and brutally authoritarian over the years, so I walked out, for my own sake but for the sake of others. I could not continue to stand by while people were being emotionally abused for no good reason. So I am in LA for a week, and this woman comes for support.

She tells me that she attended her first sesshin (retreat) at Mt. Baldy Zen Center with Sasaki Roshi a few weeks earlier. I knew Sasaki - had visited his zendos and spent time with him privately some years before.

She told me that the sesshin was one of the worst experiences of her life. What happened?, I asked.
Well, she said, everything was fine for the first few days - the lectures in the zendo, going to sanzen (private interviews) with Sasaki was powerful.. But in the middle of the sesshin, she went to sanzen. After she made her three bows to Sasaki, he asked her to come closer to him. As he talked to her about her meditation and koan, he suddenly grabbed her, in a kind of hug and then put his hands down her underwear and began to fondle her breasts and vagina.

Frankly, this was the first I had heard about this kind of behavior. In the sanzen room!!! To be honest, I was shocked. Truly.


What did you do? I asked her.

She said, at first, I was paralyzed, frozen, confused. I couldn't believe this was happening. He was the Zen master, after all. He was like a living Buddha, she said, so I was in awe of him, so my mind went numb.. But after ten or fifteen seconds, she said, I came to my senses. I said to him, STOP IT. NO. STOP. STOP TOUCHING ME. But he kept touching me. He wasn't going to stop.So I pushed him away as hard as i could, but he still came at me, so I slapped him as hard as I could and spit in his face. I then jumped up and ran out of the room.

Then what happened? I asked.

I ran out of the sanzen room - and I bumped into a few of his senior monks outside. At that point, I was agitated and crying and angry. They asked me, what's going on? So I told them. Roshi molested me!!! He grabbed me and put his hands all over me!!!!

And a senior monk - well, he kind of laughed or giggled.... dismissing my reaction and feelings completely and he said, "Oh, that's just Roshi. He does that to all the women."

HE DOES THAT TO ALL THE WOMEN.

She then said to me, this was so wrong. So I instantly ran to my room, threw all my stuff into my bag, jumped into my car and got the hell out of there. I wanted nothing more to do with Sasaki, his monks or Zen.

Honestly, i had heard many cases of gurus and teachers abusing their students, but for this seduction to take place in the sanzen room, as part of Rinzai koan practice, was truly disturbing, so completely wrong and harmful and bizarre. and that phrase burned into my mind: HE DOES THIS TO ALL THE WOMEN.

As I remember, we talked for probably another 30 minutes to an hour about what had happened. This was sexual harassment at best and could be considered rape, but she didn't want to go the police or file a lawsuit. She wanted to be done with Sasaki and Zen and Buddhism.

So for women, most or many of them, studying with Sasaki, doing koan practice with him (which is essential in Rinzai Zen - you can't must meditate on your own in this tradition) included sexual servicing, allowing yourself to be groped and violated and sexualized. That was the price. I heard more stories some years later. And the price for the men was to allow it to happen, to turn a blind eye, to be complicit in this degradation of women. Degradation is the right word. Anything can be justified and rationalized.

This was in 1981. Over 30 years ago. How long was it going on before that? 5 years, 10 years, 20 years? And clearly, many of his senior monks / oshos / devotees knew what was going on. They saw it. And they lived with it, one way or another. Well, the men weren't fondled or molested, so it was fine for them. This is called complicity. It is called deliberate institutional blindness. it is harm. It is ethically corrupt. It is totally, absolutely contrary to all the teachings of Buddhism. It stinks.

There is a kind of Zen that evolved in the last three hundred of more years in Japan that is mostly not Buddhism - the Imperial / samurai / way of the sword form where compassion and empathy is mostly irrelevant... and blind absolute devotion to the "master" is the highest goal - loyalty, single-minded thoughtless obedience. Not dharma. It is not mindfulness, it is mind-less-ness. Don't think. Don't feel.... just act. Just do as you are told. And if you resist or argue or challenge or think, you are vilified as being negative, attached, ego-driven, dualistic. And women, well they are there to provide a certain service.

This is not feudal Japan or the Holy Roman Empire. Here, religious leaders, organizations are accountable. They are subject to laws. Sexual harassment is against the law. Rape is a crime, not a right of some lord or master. And now, we can more openly talk about these issues, not just suppress them or live in denial. Women have equal rights.. Oh, and then there's karma, but that's another discussion.

OK. Sasaki might have been great at giving Zen lectures and at koan practice - at least with the men - but that is one side of this complex picture. I don't deny it. But the other side is spiritual malpractice. It was harmful on many levels. And if a CEO or even a manager at your local Starbucks groped an employee - guest what, he would be fired on the spot and the company sued. Maybe it's time to fire some "masters" and not wait 50 years until they die to speak out. There is nothing skillful about sexual harassment - this is not some dharma teaching. No Zen. It is what it appears to be.
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Fri Aug 01, 2014 2:21 pm

A sexual predator and abuser teaches how to be a sexual predator and abuser,and either has not experienced 'this non duel' that is talked of or has not been moved by it.
Not for me I'm out as we say over here
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Fri Aug 01, 2014 8:04 pm

"So for women, most or many of them, studying with Sasaki, doing koan practice with him (which is essential in Rinzai Zen - you can't must meditate on your own in this tradition) included sexual servicing, allowing yourself to be groped and violated and sexualized. That was the price. I heard more stories some years later. And the price for the men was to allow it to happen, to turn a blind eye, to be complicit in this degradation of women. Degradation is the right word. Anything can be justified and rationalized."

I would never be able to buy the argument that this man had a valuable insight or benefit to pass on. Chances are he was just parroting what others had said before him, and packaging it in a way that sold to the then-current market. To treat women this way means to me that he had no true understanding. He was a con who learned to speak and act in ways that fooled others, and himself too perhaps, almost certainly.
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Sat Aug 02, 2014 12:22 am

Well said Lise

Dirty old man
No sange
No zen
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Sat Aug 02, 2014 11:18 am

Betcha he wanted to die but no law would allow it.
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Sat Aug 02, 2014 7:14 pm

Why do you think this, Sianabelle?  The accounts suggest he was enjoying his power and prestige, his protected position, taking advantage of these conditions in order to exploit the most base sexual urges regardless of the harm caused to countless people.  If he wanted to leave his life sooner he likely could have found a way.


Last edited by Lise on Sun Aug 03, 2014 12:27 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : removing harsh comments)
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Sun Aug 03, 2014 4:31 pm

A funny little side note……

     I believe it was in 2009 or 2010, Sasaki Roshi contacted the Abbey and asked to come visit RM Jiyu’s stupa as they had met in the past and he wanted to see her stupa and pay respects before he died – he was over 100 at the time.  It was a pleasant enough visit although, as a novice, I did not see much of his private interactions.  One thing I remember – he commented a few times about how Shasta was in disrepair and decided to do a ceremony to promote the dharma there.  All the monks gathered at a place Sasaki deemed appropriate right next to the stupa and he pulled out a little bottle of something, and poured some of it out as he planted it in the ground with some words of ceremony.  I believe we sang the Scripture of Great Wisdom as well. 

     I find it interesting, now knowing Sasaki's own failings in intention, that he would claim to be able to plant the dharma at Shasta - I wonder what type of dharma that would be?
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Sun Aug 03, 2014 5:43 pm

I don't suppose it's legal to commit harikiri in the USA
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Mon Aug 04, 2014 1:20 am

It is very thoughtful of you Lise to remove your harsh comments,it feels like you have taken a step away for 'zen' and follow your own thoughts feelings and heart,which surly what uncorrupted spritual practice should be.

Uncorrupted spiritual practice is most probably what we all searched and search for,an have written about here. I think zen has let itself down by creating a culture that someone else know better, a senior somehow has more right to universal intuition and understanding than a junior, a teacher has the answers,. There seems to have been an incredible need for a system which supported authority of other people,and guidance has not come from Buddha  or our hearts but from other people.
Taking back our belief in ourselves and realizing the equality of all people is surely a first step in the right direction.
This story of planting the holy Dharma water as Shasta seemed in disrepair a little disturbing,was Shasta in disrepair was Sasaki Roshi in disrepair,had the Dharma lived and decayed ,well of course all things do,; more importantly does the Dharma live and decay within our own lives of course it does, wanting it, renewing it, living it is surely our practice.
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Mon Aug 04, 2014 2:41 am

It would have taken an incredible physical effort to journey to visit the stupa
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Mon Aug 04, 2014 3:46 am

Well that aspect is very gracious and worthy of respect
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Mon Aug 04, 2014 7:52 am

Michael, thank you for the kind words, but I was just embarrassed about what I wrote and wanted to get rid of it before too many saw it (vanity).  I keep startling myself with how little patience I have on some days, when trying to comment about certain issues, esp. teachers. No excuse however for giving vent to hostility. Enida, I apologise for the unnecessary and impolite comments - hope you will forgive me.

chisanmichaelhughe wrote:

. . .
I think zen has let itself down by creating a culture that someone else know better, a senior somehow has more right to universal intuition and understanding than a junior, a teacher has the answers,. There seems to have been an incredible need for a system which supported authority of other people,and guidance has not come from Buddha  or our hearts but from other people.

Taking back our belief in ourselves and realizing the equality of all people is surely a first step in the right direction.
. . .

Yes, it must be.

After years of reading the discussions on this forum and elsewhere, I'm no closer to understanding how some people not only need, but insist upon and demand, the authority of others when it comes to their spiritual life. So much energy and angst is spent on holding up ordinary humans as these beings who can't be examined, questioned or faulted, even when the behaviour is shockingly bad and would never be accepted elsewhere in life. Will never understand if these followers still need a form of parenting they never got, or can they not trust what is in their own heads and hearts? Maybe it's an empty room  . . . no way to know.
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:18 am

we talk of many things, try and reach beyond our selves,  want to experience beyond ouselves,
yet we are silly and create temples in the sand based on our peculiar concepts and desires,no wonder we wear our sandles on our heads
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:42 am

Good morning Lise - no problem at all.  In fact, you took it down before I had a chance to read it Smile

I too don't understand how good spiritual friends transform into spiritual superiors.....my recent experience with the senior senior and his inability to apologize just points out once again, there is a certain culture that requires that relationship, one I won't commit to today.  After all, what is so wrong with just saying, "I'm sorry, I made a mistake and I will walk through this with you all the way to the end."  That is unconditional love (as opposed to selfish love).

Thanks for all you have done over the years here on OBCC Lise!

Off to work I go.... sunny
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Mon Aug 04, 2014 2:23 pm

This is the official obituary from the New York Times.
http://nyti.ms/Xyj6jS

Joshu Sasaki, a Zen Master Tarnished by Abuse Claims, Dies at 107

By PAUL VITELLO  AUG. 4, 2014 - NYTIMES



Joshu Sasaki at the Bodhi Manda Zen Center in Jemez Springs, N.M., in 2007.  Credit Rick Scibelli, Jr. for The New York Times  

Joshu Sasaki, who died on July 27 at the age of 107, was one of the most influential and charismatic Zen masters in America, imparting a mix of paradox, personality and transcendental insight to an estimated half million people during a 50-year career.

He earned the high regard of scholars in the field of contemplative studies. The beat poets Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg and the Canadian singer, songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen were among his students. And he ordained dozens of Zen monks and nuns, who spread his teaching around the world.

Then, in 2012, in his centenarian years, a tide of sex-abuse allegations emerged to cast his character and his legacy in a harsh light.

On website discussion boards, former students began voicing what turned out to be long-festering complaints about Mr. Sasaki, accusing him of engaging in sexual affairs with female students and Buddhist nuns, of molesting or coercing hundreds of others into having sexual contact with him during one-on-one training sessions at his Rinzai-ji Zen Center in Los Angeles and at his retreat camps.
They said he would tell them that sexual contact with a Zen master, or roshi, like him, would help them attain new levels of “non-attachment,” one of Zen’s central objectives. If they resisted, they said, he used intimidation and threats of expulsion.

An independent panel of Buddhist leaders concluded in 2013 that the allegations were essentially indisputable. The panel report said that students had complained to Mr. Sasaki’s staff about his behavior since the early 1970s, and that those “who chose to speak out were silenced, exiled, ridiculed or otherwise punished.”

A few women went to the law enforcement authorities over the years, and one had reached out to a rape crisis center, but no charges were ever brought against Mr. Sasaki, the panel said.

Mr. Sasaki had retired from teaching a year before the allegations surfaced. Though he kept his title as abbot of the Rinzai-ji Zen Center until 2013, he never publicly responded to the charges. A group of his senior staff members issued an open letter of apology, admitting that they had known about his behavior and had made only intermittent efforts to address it.

“Our hearts were not firm enough, our minds were not clear enough,” the letter said.

Not all of his adherents concurred in the apology. Some contended that the allegations had been investigated only superficially, or pointed out that no criminal charges had been filed. On websites and online message boards for Zen Buddhists, some argued that even if the allegations were true, Mr. Sasaki would never have acted deceptively or with intent to cause harm.

“The idea that he was a predator is mistaken,” said Harold D. Roth, a professor of religious studies at Brown University and a former student of Mr. Sasaki’s. “Everything he did was in the devoted service of awakening enlightenment in his students.”

Professor Roth, who is director of a contemplative studies initiative at Brown and edited an upcoming first volume of Mr. Sasaki’s collected teachings, said Mr. Sasaki had never been well schooled in Americans’ shifting mores about sexual behavior. Referring to Japan’s last feudal period, from the 17th to the 19th centuries, he called Mr. Sasaki “a man of the Tokugawa era.”

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Joshu Sasaki was born into a farming family near Sendai, in northern Japan, on April 1, 1907. He became a Zen Buddhist novice at 14, schooled in the 13th-century disciplinary traditions of Rinzai. After seven years of study in Hokkaido, he was sent to Myoshin-ji, the flagship temple of the Rinzai branch, in Kyoto, where he studied for 20 years. He was abbot of a temple in Nagano in 1962 when Rinzai officials in Kyoto, in response to a request from a group in the United States, dispatched him to teach Zen Buddhism to Americans.

Mr. Sasaki was among many monks who immigrated to the United States after World War II to spread Zen teachings. He was among the very few, though, who hewed to Rinzai, which leads students toward enlightenment with 16-hour days of meditation, abrupt and sometimes shouted interrogations in the koan mysteries (“What is the blown hair sword?”) and occasional whacks on the head with a stick — all in the service of inspiring satori, a life-changing shift (or awakening) of consciousness about themselves and the nature of reality. Samurai warriors used it to help them overcome the fear of death.

Anyone looking for the kind of easygoing Zen popularized by the British philosopher Alan Watts in the late 1950s was likely to decamp from Mr. Sasaki’s study centers and monasteries. But thousands of other flocked to Mr. Sasaki, the beginning of a surge of American interest in Eastern philosophy.
After opening his Zen center in Los Angeles, Mr. Sasaki founded a Zen retreat in 1971 at Mt. Baldy in San Bernardino County, Calif., and another in 1972 in Jemez Springs, N.M. (Mr. Cohen’s long relationship with Mr. Sasaki was chronicled in Armelle Brusq’s documentary “Leonard Cohen: Spring 96,” which was filmed during the third of Mr. Cohen’s five years in residence at the Mt. Baldy retreat.)
Zen monks and nuns trained by Mr. Sasaki have established roughly 30 loosely affiliated centers in the United States and Europe. A couple of them have formally cut ties with him in the wake of the sex-abuse scandal.

Mr. Sasaki’s death, in Los Angeles, was confirmed by a spokesman for the Rinzai-ji Zen Center. He is survived by his wife, Haruyo Sasaki.
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Mon Aug 04, 2014 4:46 pm

from the above New York Times piece, notice this quote:

“The idea that he was a predator is mistaken,” said Harold D. Roth, a professor of religious studies at Brown University and a former student of Mr. Sasaki’s. “Everything he did was in the devoted service of awakening enlightenment in his students.”

This is a clear example of a devotee who drank the kool-aid.  And we saw this at Shasta, where the current abbot said pretty much the same thing about Kennett - that she never, ever did anything that harmed anyone... or some version of that. 

What Roth says mirrors the issue with Sasaki.  The women do not matter.  Their feelings do not matter.  There is no actual empathy.  So if a woman feels abused or harassed, well the "master" is perfect in every way.  "Everything he did was in the devoted service of awakening" - so the woman is confused, broken, deluded to even dare think that she was sexually objectified.  Roth will not admit or acknowledge any fault in his god.

This mindset will be the death of Zen in the West.
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:53 pm

If that's what it takes to eradicate the culture of protecting abusive Zen-impostor-priests, let it be so.  If current & future trainees are lucky, the pathological elements of this religious practise will die a natural death and the beneficial elements of Zen will live on. Caveat emptor in the meantime.

Lately I've been re-reading Michael's posts about his friend Bill Picard. Bill's way makes a lot of sense.
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Tue Aug 05, 2014 1:31 am

I think of Bill quite a bit,and I miss him. I visited the place on the cliffs where he meditated as a recluse recently.
His legacy for me was  realization of depth of being is not dependent on any spiritual practice,formal religion, what one wears,rank or anything in particular.this moment in which all life is united,cant be grasped nor attained,there is nothing to teach, and nothing to be taught. Trying to do something and also ignoring our spiritual quest only leads us further away.


This precious moment
Needs no introduction
We are
Already here
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Tue Aug 05, 2014 1:35 am

" Caveat emptor"  at virtually  ALL times.......
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Wed Aug 06, 2014 6:53 pm

" Caveat emptor"  at virtually ALL times.......
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Thu Aug 07, 2014 5:30 am

Ha ha....good one Mark.   What`s the difference ?
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Thu Aug 07, 2014 9:40 am

BEWARE!
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Thu Aug 07, 2014 12:31 pm

I thought the difference was as in allowing for some wiggle room

Like....... only on a Roshi's lap!
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Stan Giko

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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Thu Aug 07, 2014 12:45 pm

Male or female ?
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Thu Aug 07, 2014 1:48 pm

Twerking is neither gender specific nor the point..

and my introduction of a comedic tone to this subject, considering those who's experiences of sexual manipulation are nothing to make light of, was in poor taste.
My bad.
H
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Sun Aug 24, 2014 5:42 pm

From Wikipedia:

Controversy
As early as 1997, it was put forth by members of his Mt. Baldy Zen Center that Sasaki Roshi was engaging in sexual misconduct with his female students. Sasaki was 90 years old at that point. The issue was not resolved at that time. Part of a letter written by the monks, nuns, and students of Mt. Baldy Zen Center reads as follows:
Quote :
With sadness and confusion we have struggled with your sexual behavior toward women. In the past open discussion was discouraged, and people were left feeling afraid to raise their concerns about this matter. But this fall we have been meeting to air our concerns and to try to come to a better understanding of the problem.[6]
Awareness of Joshu Roshi's sexual misconduct existed since the early 1970s. Stephen Wilder trained at Mt. Baldy from 1974-75 and was ordained as a monk in 1977. During that time he had heard rumors of Joshu Roshi's sexual misconduct. Finally, in January 1982 he resigned because he could no longer tolerate the duplicity. He writes:
Quote :
It wasn't until his Inji, who was engaged to be married, came bursting into my room at Bodhi Mandala in New Mexico after lunch one day during an autumn sesshin, sobbing and saying, "He won't leave me alone", that it finally dawned on me that this was real. Until then I truly did not believe any of the rumors because of my own conditioned ignorance.[7]
A student of Joshu Roshi, Giko David Rubin, raised concerns about Roshi's sexual conduct to Joshu Roshi himself as well as his inner circle, and this was part of the response:
Quote :
Joshu Roshi told me I would never get enlightened if I thought about these things. I was told by one Osho and one senior student I would be blamed for Joshu Roshi's death if I tried to make him change his behavior, and that I would be responsible for ruining his legacy. "You are killing him!" was shouted at me more than once.[8]
In 2012, Eshu Martin, a former monk in Rinzai-ji and student of Sasaki, also publicly accused Sasaki, who was then 105 years old, of sexual misconduct with his students.
Quote :
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.[9]
A February 2013 article in the Albuquerque Journal stated:
Quote :
In early January, the senior teachers of Sasaki's community admitted in an on-line statement that the community "has struggled with our teacher Joshu Sasaki Roshi's sexual misconduct for a significant portion of his career in the United States."[10]
In an August 4, 2014 New York Times obituary for Joshu Roshi, Paul Vitello cites Harold D. Roth, a professor of religious studies at Brown University, as stating,
Quote :
The idea that he [Joshu Roshi] was a predator is mistaken ... Everything he did was in the devoted service of awakening enlightenment in his students. [11]
The article further paraphrases Prof. Roth,
Quote :
Mr. Sasaki, who was born in Japan, had never been well schooled in Americans’ shifting mores about sexual behavior. Referring to Japan’s last feudal period, from the 17th to the 19th centuries, he [Roth] called Mr. Sasaki "a man of the Tokugawa era."[12]
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Sat Aug 30, 2014 11:09 am

In plain speak he was an old man who had unresolved sexual issues little sense of responsibility,little idea of concern for others, his life was his teaching not the surroundings and front of an institution. His life style was not influenced by zazen or Buddhism,he was a bad example to all people young and old,who are searching or want to search for something positive from their meditation
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Sat Sep 06, 2014 1:39 pm

A belated response. I remember a friend from the early 70s who had been practicing zazen on his own to great benefit. He then wanted to take his training to a new level. He went to a sesshin with Sasaki. He had trouble handling the intensive sitting and grueling schedule. He left the sesshin by the third day and left his formal Zen practice believing he didn't have what it takes. I was sad about that, but in this instance I'm glad  he did, rather than be taken into the corrupt system run by this charlatan. I believe my friend remained a kind and loving person and went on to have a good life. Sasaki went on to have an evil life of exploiting and desecrating his students with his sexual craving and compulsion to exercise power over the bodies of women. This is not just a tragedy and scandal of one person but for an entire tradition. I hope the delusion of the enlightened master in Buddhism and other traditions can now be deconstructed for the lie that it is. Anyone who has such disrespect for his own nature and for the humanity and sacredness of another should never have been given the trust that he received, nor be allowed the power that he had. I fault his own students and his own sangha as well for living the lie, and refusing to protect others,  out of their own twisted dependence.  I am forever grateful to Zen and the gift of zazen practice, because it taught me to bring forth the Light within me and to trust my life to it.
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Sat Sep 06, 2014 4:03 pm

Interesting points Bill
It is well worth a discussion on the physical toughness of zen retreats, as well as finding light within oneself.
Normal Temple living in Japan in pretty tough,let alone sesshins, there can be quite a reasonable assumption that that is zen, hard pain and discomfort,it makes some sort if idealogical sense, pain is good ego bad, we have difficulty living and being ourselves,that difficulties can highlight our self in some sort of contained way.
having said that I did find the temple difficulties very helpful,but one must remember that Buddhism is about our difficulties as human beings ,and with the unitive awareness we develop compassion and love
So the physical difficulties of a Zen temple and maybe other religions where do they lead to?
personally I think they tend to lead to being at odds with one self,I believe they lead to a raised level of duality and a world of righteousness and right and wron early on in this Forum there was critisism of Jiyu and in her support someone said came out with she coud spot an ego from 50 yards or something similar,but so what lets mention body and mind lets mention compassion and love.
The worse aspects of zen that we have discussed is control of others, abuse of others,very low real moral standards, and I guess now the ability to take pain,
However like Bill
I am forever grateful to Zen and the gift of zazen practice, because it taught me to bring forth the Light within me and to trust my life to it.
Life is tough and difficult zen temples reflect that many many places to slip up, and thosands and thousands of fingers pointing all over the place
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Sat Sep 06, 2014 4:56 pm

chisanmichaelhughes wrote:
 I did find the temple difficulties very helpful,but one must remember that Buddhism is about our difficulties as human beings ,and with the unitive awareness we develop compassion and love
So the physical difficulties of a Zen temple and maybe other religions where do they lead to?
personally I think they tend to lead to being at odds with one self,I believe they lead to a raised level of duality and a world of righteousness and right and wron early on in this Forum there was critisism of Jiyu and in her support someone said came out with she coud spot an ego from 50 yards or something similar,but so what lets mention body and mind lets mention compassion and love.
The worse aspects of zen that we have discussed is control of others, abuse of others,very low real moral standards, and I guess now the ability to take pain,
However like Bill
I am forever grateful to Zen and the gift of zazen practice, because it taught me to bring forth the Light within me and to trust my life to it.
Thank you once again, Michael, for lifting up the essence of things while pointing to the abuses and diversions. These horrific examples are not to be seen as an undermining of the truth and benefit of Buddhism or meditation practice, but as an affirmation of what is essential, with a vigilance towards abusive power and hierarchy. I don't think it is necessary to inflict pain on persons in order to help them cultivate a practice of unitive awareness and compassion, nor do I think persons should give up their personal autonomy and dignity for the sake of surrender to cult gurus who make false claims about their so-called enlightenment and ability to remove the egos of others. The ego is a necessary and evolutionary aspect of human development. We cannot live without one. We can learn to befriend the ego, and relativize it without worshipping it. My meditation practice has led me to love my humanity and that of others, and care for it, not make a dualistic enemy of it.
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Sat Sep 06, 2014 6:04 pm

I will reply properly tomorrow because in the dichotomy that swirls around my life I am rushing to sleep as I am up really early to take a couple of lads on a fast 15 mile trek along the cliffs,I am looking foefard and dreading it at the same time,as there are some steep climbs,speak tomorrow (i hope)
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Sat Sep 06, 2014 6:32 pm

I would say you are the brave lad in this venture. Happy climbing!
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Tue Sep 09, 2014 1:28 am

Ha well Bill, we did our walk which was somewhat revealing,we certainly chose not to amble but to target t reach in certain times,and we went as fast as we could.taking turns to lead the youngest carried the rucksack all the way,drinking on the move,the inclines were very tough,we saw 2, 70 year old ladies walking further the other way, 3 peregrine falcons (part of a breeding programme) 12 seals, and the final 2 miles I was making my legs walk! and we arrive at the pick up point 10mins late.
The highlight was at a peninsular point looking back and seeing how far we ha walked, and also getting there and the brute force determination to get there.
I think the dichotomy of Zen is the effort and drive and determination needed to push through sesshins and perhaps daily living. After a while maybe a long while this approach is dropped and sitting is just done unitive awareness exists,but we are always human,we do not live like this all the time. 
We very often left with this grim determination to push through 18 hours of sitting as zen,or the cathartic experience that comes with ,the sense of righteousness of strict living, however these are all different aspects of egotism,but maybe a part of zen/
How about forgetting the euphoria, but having as important how one lives and what one does when when really looses sight of the way personally I think that is a great test of undertanding
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Tue Sep 09, 2014 11:08 am

chisanmichaelhughes wrote:
Ha well Bill, we did our walk which was somewhat revealing,we certainly chose not to amble 

I think the dichotomy of Zen is the effort and drive and determination needed to push through sesshins and perhaps daily living. After a while maybe a long while this approach is dropped and sitting is just done unitive awareness exists,but we are always human,we do not live like this all the time. 
We very often left with this grim determination to push through 18 hours of sitting as zen,or the cathartic experience that comes with ,the sense of righteousness of strict living, however these are all different aspects of egotism,but maybe a part of zen/
How about forgetting the euphoria, but having as important how one lives and what one does when when really looses sight of the way personally I think that is a great test of undertanding

You must be in pretty good shape, Michael. Congratulations on a daunting hike! With my knees what they are, I mostly walk on level ground these days, or slight uphill. But I try to keep on moving.

Good insights about Zen. I am glad when I was younger I subjected myself to the discipline of intensive sitting retreats. ( I never did 18 hr. sittings a day, most I did at Shasta and elsewhere were like 8-10 hours a day.) The discipline of intensive training sessions does take the practice to a new level, and helps one transcend the pleasure principle. But for me the true fruits of Zen have manifested in daily life and relationships, and what has mostly  brought forth this fruit has been the daily practice of formal sitting time once or twice a day, and the practice of mindfulness/presence, the cultivation of vigilant awareness and non-reactivity in the middle of life. Since my early days as a practitioner I have continued to be rooted in an internal locus of grounding, an omnipresent  center point that has carried me through the difficulties and joys of life and brought an equanimity and peace. Can a person ask for more than that from a spiritual practice? 

The story about my friend who dropped out in the middle of his first sesshin because of the inordinate pain and stress was to illustrate two things, that this young man went on to lead an ethical and fruitful life, despite his giving up on Sasaki's sesshin and Zen in general,  and that Sasaski with all his supposed wisdom and attainment turned into something of a monster sexual predator and a fraud with no ethics, despite his 18 hour meditation sesshins.
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PostSubject: Re: Joshu Sasaki is dead   Wed Sep 10, 2014 2:36 pm

I like your terminology Bill I like practice of presence
Your daily life practice has worked well for you I dont think one can ask for more however all of our practices can be deepened 
Dogen reminds us that our learning is by know our selves

"Dogen via Jack Kornfield - "A Zen master's life is one continuous mistake."


This honesty of seeing all aspects of ourselves and being moved by something within is maybe all we ask.


Sitting 
waiting for the money to roll in
for me is far more difficult than
Sitting
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