Comments on the above posting in Sweeping Zen:
[*]Mike CarterSeptember 1, 2015 at 2:42 pm
In some senses an apology is necessary, in another sense it’s just depressing and a bit sad at best. Power dynamics and group dynamics have been studied extensively. The Stamford Prison Experiment is iconic. We KNOW how groups of people will behave REGARDLESS of a priori intentions. We know (“The Guru Papers”) how absent the line is between cult and “spiritual community”. Wishful thinking WILL NOT prevent a ommunity becoming a cult. Thrre are no lessons to learn beyond humans are human.
1. Isolated community leaders by default will become “Gurus”
2. Isolated community members will by default seek to create a “Guru” figure
3. Community members will by default seek to resolve themselves of responsibility and assume a child-like state.
4. Structures and mahasangha can help to mitigate these traits.
5. Leaders seeking peer support – outside of their own sanghas – can mitigate these traits
6. Education can mitigate these traits – “Dokusan IS NOT japanese for fellatio”
7. Study the Stamford Prison Experiment and others – MOST adults will stop being adults at the FIRST opportunity. Don’t create that opportunity…..
8. If people are being harmed IT’S A CULT. Cult-like behavior HAPPENS IN A CULT.
The simplest choice is to not create a community. Historically many monks lived in isolation. Currently not all monks create Temples. If you don’t need money or students or spiritual status lots of these problems disappear.
It’s tedious to repeatedly to hear “How did we let this happen” from Zen Teachers. You let this happen. It ‘s that simple. It’s that depressing. WHY? Answer that koan and build a better future.
Sean H. Thompson
September 1, 2015 at 5:45 pm
Mike, That was one of the BEST comments I have seen on such topics.. Well done, and a good thing to contemplate. I agree with you, not that that changes anything…
[*]Mike CarterSeptember 1, 2015 at 2:55 pm
How to start a cult: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-mason/start-your-own-cult_b_3999121.html
It’s not complicated, it’s just a major buzz-kill.Reply
[*]Mike CarterSeptember 1, 2015 at 3:42 pm
And this: https://youtu.be/EBK5aKOr2Fw
It’s not complicated. REALLY.Reply
[*]Kristin urrySeptember 1, 2015 at 10:04 pm
Really another one, does it never end? Its hard to maintain respect for the practice when so many of us have gone through this….Reply
[*]JushinSeptember 12, 2015 at 6:33 am
By now you know some of the stories you can never and will never repeat. Try to picture a man out in the open, in a community gathering, like a bridge club, doing the same things. He wouldn’t last a second. 100 percent of people would say “hey what the!?!?!” and stop it immediately.
You know this to be true, but you all say “it’s different”.
[*]This is the problem, in Zen. It is a big, big problem. Everybody thinks it’s different, so all kinds of abuses continue, everywhere. Nobody on the “inside” listens, nobody on the “outside” cares, and the entire Zen community makes excuses, for decades. Everyone teaching “nothing sacred” is blinded by the sacredness of his/her tradition. People can’t even hear — they all rush to preserve the shine of their robes.
[*]It isn’t the LEAST BIT DIFFERENT from a man running from table to table, grabbing crotches, fondling breasts, telling people to give him their winnings, repeating “stupid weak Americans!”, in a bridge club! Nobody would stand around, watching, misty-eyed, saying “he really is a great bridge player!”. Nobody would hush concerned voices by saying “You must not expect perfection from your bridge partner”.
What Mr. Sasaki was doing depended on secrecy, manipulation, and a purposeful intention to deceive. If you were witness to this, you would have seen a frighteningly malicious human being, making every effort to preserve the blind, devotional atmosphere you were a part of. The inherent secrecy of the Zen form ensures that those he wanted out are isolated, and the thick devotional atmosphere means nobody would ever listen to them, anyway.
That unhealthy atmosphere was exactly how he wanted things. It was his sole intention, and such intention is the mark of truly dark character. No decent person would even wish for such control over others, much less connive and deceive for it.
None of you can believe this. It is impossible, for you. You would never have seen what he was doing — you were exactly what he wanted around him. But this is really what he was doing.Reply
[*]ShodoSeptember 13, 2015 at 12:20 pm
Well said Jushin.
Here is a quote from a long-term Zen practitioner that I think is relevant…
“What became clear was that the edifice that I had held so dear for so many years– modern day Zen– had a way of producing and upholding, or ignoring, the most egregious of human character flaws– things that need very deep work, and very deep surrender, to let go of, heal from and move beyond. And while this was in the vast majority of senior students and teachers I had met over the years, there were, of course, many exceptions to this. But far from enough to deny the obvious: that most modern day formal, hierarchical practice causes far more harm than good. Far more. Which I don’t think is what the T’ang era masters had in mind. Yet what became clear was that the chances of someone being loving, present, engaged, selfless, joyous, pure, considerate, generous, helpful, awake, human and humane in action rather than word — were in inverse proportions to whether they had practised or more so, even heard of Zen.
And that was, luckily for me, the most utterly heart breaking mirror I’ve ever had to face.”