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Zen Predator of the Upper East Side

Zen Predator of the Upper East Side

Postby Genjo on Wed Nov 13, 2013 6:30 am

Mark Oppenheimer and Atlantic Books has just released a Kindle Edition ($2.99) of "Zen Predator of the Upper East Side" all about the life and times of Eido Shimano Roshi. Knowing and appreciating Mark's work I expect it to be a good read. We shall see.

See: http://www.amazon.com/The-Predator-Uppe ... n+predator
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Re: Eido Shimano's lineage...

Postby Linda Anderson on Wed Nov 13, 2013 7:13 am

Why do I want to read about this suffering? I've seen more than enough in the past.

Master, master... are you awake?
yes, yes
Don't be fooled by others.
(as it was told to me)
Not last night,
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Re: Eido Shimano's lineage...

Postby Genjo on Wed Nov 13, 2013 4:46 pm

I finished the book The Zen Predator on the Upper East Side this morning. Overall a good review of Eido's narcissism and sexual addiction, but most importantly a good analysis of the lack of check and balances that are overall missing in American Zen, especial Rinzai Zen. Also a good look into the problems associated with the Zen Master as guru model of teaching and propagating our tradition.

The book also brought up my own sense of guilt and shame for prompting others (men and women from the Chobo-Ji sangha) to live in a place I where I never lived for more than 10 days. I now see this prompting as a grave error, where most if not all were harmed, dare I say brainwashed, by the dysfunctional guru worshiping organizational atmosphere. I hope the book that I'm writting on this subject will serve as part of my penance for my own culpability in long supporting of this form of practice. Looking back I see how gullible I was to believe that Eido Shimano had evolved and put his sordid past behind him; in hindsight, there was plenty of evidence that his narcissism continued unabated and the rubber stamp mentally of the ZSS board was systemically corrupt.
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Re: Eido Shimano's lineage...

Postby Pedestrian on Wed Nov 13, 2013 7:26 pm

James Ford (disclosure: my teacher) just wrote a commentary on Oppenheimer's book on his Patheos blog. Note that James feels the book didn't take into account your own efforts, Genjo.

Here it is in full, less hyperlinks that you can find at the original post:

I only met the Reverend Eido Shimano once, in 2010, at a ceremony where he publicly pronounced his senior student, the Reverend Roko Sherry Chayat as a roshi, or senior Zen teacher in the Rinzai line. In his mid-eighties, I was struck at the quality of his presence. The old roshi simply oozed charisma.
And I was a bit wary. Okay, a bit more than a bit. His entire teaching career he had been shadowed by rumors of sexual improprieties. And when I met him he had recently publicly confessed to this and was through negotiations with his board, winding down his teaching career.
That more or less graceful exit collapsed not long after this ceremony when it was revealed he had secretly written a letter to supporters in Japan where he denied all that he had admitted to in America. With that the proverbial shit hit the fan, and to throw in the other appropriate metaphor, any fig leafs for his departure were gone.
I had a small part at this moment writing the first of a series of letters from Zen teachers calling on his immediate removal from leadership. At this point there are lawsuits and attempts at arbitration over assets and financial commitments. But the end does seem to be on the horizon, if a somewhat hazy horizon.
Mark Oppenheimer’s essay The Zen Predator of the Upper East Side, was released on Amazon yesterday. I don’t think it will prove to be the last word, it’s really too early for that. And the essay/book is too brief. So brief he doesn’t even mention the efforts on the part of Reverend Shimano’s Dharma successor the Reverend Genjo Marinello to address the issue, which would be required in any comprehensive review of what had transpired.
But it shows enough, and it is devastating. The book feels to me a clear-eyed look at Reverend Shimano’s fall. I found it a solid bit of journalism, letting people have their say and with only a minimum of editorializing, and less, I felt, moralizing.
And he avoids some of the possible traps for the unwary. For instance much has been made in some corners of the fact Reverend Shimano, who received his formal authorization in a public ceremony witnessed by perhaps a hundred people, turned out not to have been registered at the home temple in Japan. This is significant. But people have gone on to suggest therefore he didn’t actually have Dharma transmission, the critical authorization for a Zen teacher. Oppenheimer simply cuts through this as “arcane controversies…” And, instead, keeps his focus on the confusions of the heart that allow such things to happen, both for victim and perpetrator.
Sadly, no one comes out of it unscathed. And that is adequately documented.
Also, if we’re willing there are lessons to be learned for all of us that I feel Mr Oppenheimer opens the doors for us to see.
Worth a read.
"Bodhisattvas turn their thoughts into offerings." Red Pine.

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Re: Eido Shimano's lineage...

Postby Trolnieser on Thu Nov 14, 2013 9:05 am

Linda Anderson wrote:Why do I want to read about this suffering? I've seen more than enough in the past.



I agree. Life is too short. There are endless ENDLESS stories of sexual promiscuity. It's not that fascinating. People magazine captures that same aspect of our mind. Better to train it than indulge it.
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Re: Eido Shimano's lineage...

Postby Spike on Thu Nov 14, 2013 11:54 pm

Trolnieser wrote:
Linda Anderson wrote:Why do I want to read about this suffering? I've seen more than enough in the past.



I agree. Life is too short. There are endless ENDLESS stories of sexual promiscuity. It's not that fascinating. People magazine captures that same aspect of our mind. Better to train it than indulge it.


Well, obviously, yes, of course. Let's focus on the bright side, the happy things. Happy, happy, happy! No looking under the rock! That's for people like Genjo, Eshu, and the rest of the betrayed or abused, the "debbie downers", etc. They can do it for us! If there's one thing we should all know about history: it never really *repeats* itself. Not really! I mean, not 'per se'! So we don't need to thoroughly understand the hard, unpleasant details to intervene on behalf of others, because, hey, we're so zen-rich, right?!

P.S. Thanks for keeping us up-to-date on the contents of People Magazine.
"And the princess and the prince discuss
What's real and what is not
It doesn't matter inside...
The Gates of Eden"
--Bob Dylan
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Re: Eido Shimano's lineage...

Postby Linda Anderson on Fri Nov 15, 2013 12:02 am

Sorry Spike, I'm not looking for a rose garden. I already know the story, chapter, line and verse. You have added to my comments.
Not last night,
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Melon flowers bloomed.
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Re: Eido Shimano's lineage...

Postby genkaku on Fri Nov 15, 2013 4:06 am

Here's a review of Oppenheimer's book from The Daily Beast.
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Re: Eido Shimano's lineage...

Postby genkaku on Sat Nov 16, 2013 10:55 pm

On Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, from 1:15-2:00 PM Eastern Time, Mark Oppenheimer will be interviewed by the host of a live show on Buddhist Geeks. Here is a link to their announcement.

PS. And here's an excerpt published in The New Republic yesterday.
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Re: Eido Shimano's lineage...

Postby clyde on Mon Nov 18, 2013 12:01 am

Despite extraordinary personal shortcomings, Eido Shimano continued to wield spiritual authority throughout his time at the Zen Studies Society. He convinced the American Zen community that he was, in effect, the Second Coming of Suzuki—but even better, because he was here to stay. He was convincing not just because of his own facility with a story, but because he found Americans who were very receptive to that story. He found willing assenters, willing children eager to listen to his fairy tales. And he found them quite easily, because Westerners practicing Zen have an almost infantile relationship to what they perceive to be the authentic, Oriental father. One of Shimano’s greatest advantages has been that he is Japanese.

- from the excerpt in The New Republic titled “The Zen Buddhist Who Preyed on His Upper East Side Students” by Mark Oppenheimer
http://www.newrepublic.com/article/1156 ... ca-excerpt


Really?! Did Shimano convince “the American Zen community”? Really?! The whole of the American Zen community was convinced? Or maybe it was just his sphere of influence? And Shimano, as the author wrote, easily found “willing assenters, willing children” because “Westerners practicing Zen have an almost infantile relationship to what they perceive to be the authentic, Oriental father”? Say what?!!

Does Mark believe, as he wrote, that Americans in the 60’s and 70’s lacked “critical faculties”? Really?! And only those who travelled to Japan knew that there was no “one true form”. Really?! Then how does Mark explain that Shimano’s activities continued until quite recently?

I haven’t read the ebook, but based on this excerpt can someone say the author “paints with a broad brush”?
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

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Re: Eido Shimano's lineage...

Postby Meido on Mon Nov 18, 2013 1:20 am

Thanks for that, Clyde. Broad brush indeed.

While I understand it's much easier to pretend there is a monolithic or cohesive "American Zen community", only someone completely uninvolved with Zen groups or unfamiliar with the manner in which Zen lineages function here could seriously entertain the notion. Talking broadly about "American Zen", "Westerners practicing Zen," "Rinzai Zen", "Soto Zen" etc. as if all the very significant differences between active Zen teaching lines - historical, organizational and in real terms of praxis - don't exist, is really an odd error betraying fundamental misunderstanding.

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Re: Zen Predator of the Upper East Side

Postby Matthias on Tue Nov 19, 2013 5:29 pm

Hi, I am researching the Shimano case for a German blog.

I went through this thread but I didn't read every detail so excuse me if I missed something. Also the question is a bit off-topic but I am not aware of any other thread here discussing Shimano in such detail.

My question: Does anybody know what Aitken forced in 2008 to remove the seal from the so called Shimano folder?

He writes "I am moved by circumstances". What have these circumstance been?

Thanks for any help, Matthias
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Re: Eido Shimano's lineage...

Postby ed blanco on Thu Nov 21, 2013 5:36 pm

Genjo wrote:I finished the book The Zen Predator on the Upper East Side this morning. Overall a good review of Eido's narcissism and sexual addiction, but most importantly a good analysis of the lack of check and balances that are overall missing in American Zen, especial Rinzai Zen. Also a good look into the problems associated with the Zen Master as guru model of teaching and propagating our tradition.

The book also brought up my own sense of guilt and shame for prompting others (men and women from the Chobo-Ji sangha) to live in a place I where I never lived for more than 10 days. I now see this prompting as a grave error, where most if not all were harmed, dare I say brainwashed, by the dysfunctional guru worshiping organizational atmosphere. I hope the book that I'm writting on this subject will serve as part of my penance for my own culpability in long supporting of this form of practice. Looking back I see how gullible I was to believe that Eido Shimano had evolved and put his sordid past behind him; in hindsight, there was plenty of evidence that his narcissism continued unabated and the rubber stamp mentally of the ZSS board was systemically corrupt.


Metta to you and the community of then and now.
My heart flies out to you and them.
:O:
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Seng Ts'an
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'If we empty ourselves out, let go, and cease to hold on to our views, the truth will come to us..'
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Re: Eido Shimano's lineage...

Postby unsui on Thu Nov 21, 2013 5:46 pm

ed blanco wrote:Metta to you and the community of then and now.
My heart flies out to you and them.
:O:

Yes, may this be our practice, for all beings.
May we extend This Mind over the whole universe so that we and all beings together may attain maturity in Buddha's wisdom
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Re: Eido Shimano's lineage...

Postby Genjo on Sun Dec 22, 2013 6:04 am

Genjo wrote: ...dare I say brainwashed, by the dysfunctional guru worshiping organizational atmosphere. I hope the book that I'm writting on this subject will serve as part of my penance for my own culpability in long supporting of this form of practice. Looking back I see how gullible I was to believe that Eido Shimano had evolved and put his sordid past behind him; in hindsight, there was plenty of evidence that his narcissism continued unabated and the rubber stamp mentally of the ZSS board was systemically corrupt.


Of course I must add that I too, along with probably everyone else affiliated with any Zen center ever associated with these deep narcissists, were at one time or other "brainwashed" by the dysfunctional guru atmosphere. I remember well the time Joshu Sasaki visited Seattle and the two times Eido Shimano visited Seattle, how the sangha bowed, swept paths, poured fresh water before their entrance, spared no expense or extravagance and generally greeted and treated these men like visiting royalty. Why? Was it because on some level we are all so hungry for somebody to know the "truth" and for someone with authority to tell us what it is? Were we all looking for a better father or king to lead and rule with knowledge of all the hidden secrets? Perhaps. How odd when one of the greatest gifts of Zen practice leads us to the inexorable conclusion that we cannot know what IT is.

At best we can point at the mystery and wonder of what cannot be known as it manifests as all of THIS. Therefore Zen teachers have nothing to teach, and can only be the blind leading the blind. In Rinzai Zen training we come to experience, if but briefly, "The True Person Beyond Rank and Post" who has no attachment to ego identity and is "That One Shining Alone" that is sometimes seen and sometimes not seen going in and out of our face and eyes. How these men used and abused their own confidence in these simple truths for their own selfish interests and we either failed to see, overlooked, or made excuses for them. This sounds like a cult to me.

As I see it, we must strive to drive the guru out of Zen practice and training. Gurus and Masters are antithetical to Zen. Aren't we told to metaphorically kill the Buddhas and Ancestors? Let's truly be ordinary, admit we don't know anything, nothing is transmitted, the lineages are mythology, all the pomp and ceremony are at best just props and leadership serves only to call us to investigate the unknowable. I tell my "students" I have no students, come and go as you please, we are all followers of the Way, all we really need to know we already have: wake up to the fact that we are the universe aware of itself and therefore are blessed with a caring heart for all "creatures" great and small, animate and inanimate. In this time of celebration: rejoice, death has no sting; exhaust yourself completely, for this life is brief.
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Re: Eido Shimano's lineage...

Postby Carol on Sun Dec 22, 2013 6:26 am

Genjo wrote:At best we can point at the mystery and wonder of what cannot be known as it manifests as all of THIS. Therefore Zen teachers have nothing to teach, and can only be the blind leading the blind. In Rinzai Zen training we come to experience, if but briefly, "The True Person Beyond Rank and Post" who has no attachment to ego identity and is "That One Shining Alone" that is sometimes seen and sometimes not seen going in and out of our face and eyes. How these men used and abused their own confidence in these simple truths for their own selfish interests and we either failed to see, overlooked, or made excuses for them. This sounds like a cult to me.

As I see it, we must strive to drive the guru out of Zen practice and training. Gurus and Masters are antithetical to Zen. Aren't we told to metaphorically kill the Buddhas and Ancestors? Let's truly be ordinary, admit we don't know anything, nothing is transmitted, the lineages are mythology, all the pomp and ceremony are at best just props and leadership serves only to call us to investigate the unknowable. I tell my "students" I have no students, come and go as you please, we are all followers of the Way, all we really need to know we already have: wake up to the fact that we are the universe aware of itself and therefore are blessed with a caring heart for all "creatures" great and small, animate and inanimate. In this time of celebration: rejoice, death has no sting; exhaust yourself completely, for this life is brief.


Yes. Thank you very much, Genjo. What a long strange trip it's been.

:Namaste:
Practitioners who cultivate the personal realization of buddha knowledge dwell in the bliss of whatever is present and do not abandon their practice.
~Lankavatara Sutra
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Re: Zen Predator of the Upper East Side

Postby Linda Anderson on Sun Dec 22, 2013 6:28 am

Hi Genjo,
The guru aspect is a big piece of the pie as you have observed.

The other is what you have also observed: "How odd when one of the greatest gifts of Zen practice leads us to the inexorable conclusion that we cannot know what IT is. "

I have had people tell me "I take what I need and leave the rest"... justified by the fact that we can't know. And, so wanting the opening. It results in turning one's back on what is happening... even the small stuff. It's part of the training, isn't it?

Seems like we can't overlook the intense longing for salvation.... deep down, who still cares about gurus. I always felt like a fake around it.

just a few ideas....

all the best
linda
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Melon flowers bloomed.
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Re: Eido Shimano's lineage...

Postby unsui on Sun Dec 22, 2013 12:33 pm

I will always be grateful for my teacher's example and the teaching that has revealed itself in living this life. I also know that my teacher - any teacher - is not perfect and when we project our pictures of perfection on to any individual, we are setting ourselves up for grave disappointments. If I serve tea in a way that is respectful to him, I also serve tea to everyone else in that same way; if I plump the cushion on his zabuton, I will take such care for everyone's place in the zendo and hopefully carry this on to all beings, animate and inanimate.

I have experienced that killing the Buddhas and patriarchs is something very much different than driving out the teacher. It is certainly this faith in the universe that keeps me going.
May we extend This Mind over the whole universe so that we and all beings together may attain maturity in Buddha's wisdom
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Re: Zen Predator of the Upper East Side

Postby another_being on Sun Dec 22, 2013 6:08 pm

unsui wrote:I will always be grateful for my teacher's example and the teaching that has revealed itself in living this life. I also know that my teacher - any teacher - is not perfect and when we project our pictures of perfection on to any individual, we are setting ourselves up for grave disappointments. If I serve tea in a way that is respectful to him, I also serve tea to everyone else in that same way; if I plump the cushion on his zabuton, I will take such care for everyone's place in the zendo and hopefully carry this on to all beings, animate and inanimate.

I have experienced that killing the Buddhas and patriarchs is something very much different than driving out the teacher. It is certainly this faith in the universe that keeps me going.


^That is a very excellent post, unsui.

:Namaste:

I think, in that respectful service to everyone, all beings, everywhere, one is grounded in respect and surety of where they are -- believing the enlightened actions that flow universally and equally. Confident in the supreme equality.

genjo wrote: I tell my "students" I have no students, come and go as you please, we are all followers of the Way, all we really need to know we already have: wake up to the fact that we are the universe aware of itself and therefore are blessed with a caring heart for all "creatures" great and small, animate and inanimate. In this time of celebration: rejoice, death has no sting; exhaust yourself completely, for this life is brief.


:Namaste:
“Put down all your thinking and opinions and see this world exactly as it is.” -- Zen master Seung Sahn
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Re: Eido Shimano's lineage...

Postby Genjo on Sun Dec 22, 2013 6:18 pm

unsui wrote:I will always be grateful for my teacher's example and the teaching that has revealed itself in living this life. ... If I serve tea in a way that is respectful to him, I also serve tea to everyone else in that same way; if I plump the cushion on his zabuton, I will take such care for everyone's place in the zendo and hopefully carry this on to all beings, animate and inanimate.

I have experienced that killing the Buddhas and patriarchs is something very much different than driving out the teacher. It is certainly this faith in the universe that keeps me going.


Unsui I feel the same, killing the Buddhas and ancestors is not necessarily driving out the teacher, although sometimes it must be! To kill the Buddhas and ancestors is getting past the artificial hierarchy and the artificial barriers propagated by them. I too have great gratitude for the tradition, working hard to let go of what doesn't work, keeping what does, and adding what's needed.
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