Discussion of Zen Buddhism-in-action, application in daily life.
I've just learned that at the conclusion of the ZSS Sangha meeting held last weekend that Eido Roshi's staunch supporters plan to organize an effort to buy the New York Zendo, Shobo-Ji, from ZSS so that Eido Roshi can continue to teach them and others. Their first step will be to see if Eido Roshi is open to the idea. It is fine with me if his staunch supporters want to continue to meet with him at some venue of their choosing off campus, but I think the idea of selling Shobo-Ji to Eido Roshi or the Eido Roshi faction is ludicrous and morally bankrupt. It is apparent that one or more of the few remaining ZSS board members thinks this idea has some merit. If the ZSS board were to agree to sell Shobo-Ji to this faction of enablers they would become enablers themselves. I also know that if you asked the majority of those still practicing at Shobo-Ji since Eido Roshi's departure, they would be aghast at the idea of selling their center out from under them. I call on an immediate vote of the ZSS board to firmly close the door on this possibility.
Turning any part of ZSS property over to a known serial abuser of basic ethical guidelines, who has seriously wounded many lives with his sexual misconduct with students over decades, would be a travesty beyond measure. Surely it is not asking too much of the ZSS board that assures us that Eido Roshi will not teach again on its property, that it will not sell to a faction of supporters that will encourage him to teach again!
Well, those actions pretty well confirm Shushan's cautions above. My points about NP organization boards assumed far too much about ZSS, clearly. How terribly sad.
Christopher said "it might not be such a bad outcome for a healthy outside Zen Buddhist organization to come in and simply start over with ZSS, from scratch.'
This is another level of the tragedy of all this. This small, faltering organization that was begun by such a seminal figure, DT Suzuki, was to my mind hijacked by Shimano; it was a tiny little study group until Shimano used it as his escape hatch from Hawaii, and platform to build his empire of predation and control. it would have been a minor footnote in American Buddhist history if Shimano had not arrived when he did. And so much more the loss.
I've written some things about Adi Da Samraj; I've found him to be a classic case study in pathological inflation and cult development, but sort of on steroids. The parallels with Shimano are in some ways quite striking.
They were born about the same time, and their stars rose in the same era of post-hippie boomer idealism and cultural experimentation. They were both heavily into a theatrical, costume-y, hierarchical, authoritarian, highly sexualized, psychologically manipulative pseudo-spiritual scene. Both ended up totally alienated from their more traditionally-rooted teachers. They both coasted for decades on large endowments and donations that the era made possible for them to get control of and build some gorgeous compounds with. Many of their followers claim they demonstrated extraordinary personal charisma and "spiritual power." I could go on. I'm a Gen X'r myself, and I can't imagine being attracted to either one of these guys - I think they precisely delineate certain psychological shadows of an era.
The ZSS as a org. doesn't have the historical or current institutional legs to say "we were this other thing before - we can bring in new leadership and reconfigure." They were a few years old teacherless 'zen study' (not practice) 'society' (not temple or center) before Shimano came in and developed this utterly dysfunctional cult over 45 years. There is no one there who predates him, or some tradition to fall back on. It's Shimano's cult - it's not a respected "Rinzai" institution, with deep ties to a larger organization or constellation in Japan or the US (Rinzai teachers in Japan have little respect for Shimano - he is considered something of an embarrassment by most, and there are serious questions about his fundamental credentials, much less his behavior. We know what most American teachers think about him.) The majority of his own heirs have cut the cord with him and ZSS precisely due to his abuses - yet none that I know have cared to give up the titles granted by him, which I find interesting.
This is exactly a large part of the problem. If it had been either of those things, there would now be some support to fall back on, some people to appeal to. But as I've said already, I think the only way forward for the ZSS community would be to completely restructure with a new, non-Shimano related teacher, and new board. As I've also said before, if this was a corporation, the entire board would be tossed over, an interim board would be instituted, the thing would be rebuilt, there would probably be radical dispensation of property, etc etc etc.
Instead its limp limp squabble "moderate hiatus" type talk. How could it be otherwise, when everyone involved is utterly, completely, and totally compromised by being where they are (as teacher, monk, student, or board member) solely due to Shimano himself?
Of course it would be heinous if Shimano's closest, most denial-bound groupies (who let's not forget included nearly everyone still involved until not very long ago - read the Aitken blog comments from last year) get their hands on one of the properties and perpetuate their cult, further alienating the majority who I'm sure are primarily motivated by noble intentions to just have a place to gather and practice with each other without all of this psychodrama. But the whole thing was built on psychodrama. The language of his teaching and even that of his heirs is still psychodramatical. There was a cancer growing within the body of the thing since the day Shimano showed up. The body is riddled with it. There are decades of documents tracking his activities, and the organization covering for him, apologizing for him, hiding his misdeeds, silencing and alienating his accusers, perpetuating in every way his actions. It is not "Bad Shimano" separate from "Good Organization that predated him." That's exactly the kind of f-ed up compartmentalization that got everyone into this mess in the first place. I guess my argument is that they are at this point utterly inseparable, as demonstrated by the way this has all been (largely mis-) handled over the last year, to today.
Yes, time will tell. It's a serious black eye for Buddhism in America, but a positive sign that the the truth will out, and of a slowly but surely maturing American sangha. And you think young people today (the Gen Y's and Millennials) interested in Buddhism would go for a teacher like Shimano? I seriously doubt it...I wouldn't have. We're hopefully learning a few things from the hard won lessons of our forbears.
I think all the deep organizational soul-searching, examination of failed ethics statements, analysis of the mechanics of board selections, etc. is a process which, though painful, is a good example for other organizations. There is tremendous learning going on here. I would hope that this experience could someday benefit other Buddhist organizations who need to face similar issues. I'd like to see the question of ethics discussed by sangha leadership nationwide, if not internationally. (I tend to dream big.) These problems crop up everywhere, and denial can be strong. The ideal would be to have effective ethics guidelines in place and an aware and conscientious board before a problem arises.
I'm very impressed and moved by this discussion. (Where is a :heart: emoticon when you need one?) ; )
It has been for the last twenty years in the US. It's been taken up many times in both American Zen Teachers Association and in Soto Zen Buddhist Association meetings.
As a result, most temples and monasteries have drafted ethics statements that contain grievance procedures in case the ethical guidelines described therein are violated. And, The Buddhist Peace Fellowship publishes a booklet titled Safe Harbor that outlines ethical guidelines for Buddhist groups.
We display our organization's ethics statement prominently at both Nebraska Zen Center / Heartland Temple and Zen Center of Pittsburgh / Deep Spring Temple. Here's a link to it. It about halfway down the page:
Thank you so much for this info, Nonin. I plan to poll local Buddhist centers where I live (which are Tibetan, mostly) to see what guidelines and procedures they have set up, as an informal study.
Assuming anyone is seriously considering the proposal Genjo has outlined, I think it would be a moral travesty (and that's as polite as I can be).
Craven in the extreme.
And for those still addicted to sweetly-modulated, hug-festival language, at least have the courtesy to familiarize yourselves with the background ... as for example in The Shimano Archive among many other sources.
I answered your doubt and negativity about what I meant by "moderate hiatus" a few posts ago. See: viewtopic.php?f=73&t=3584&start=1300
I'm sorry you still see this as utterly, completely, and totally compromised.
Last edited by Genjo on Thu Sep 01, 2011 6:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
Genjo's point addresses the dysfunction exhibited by the one or more ZSS board members (I will call them, “The Attached Ones”), and how their inability to exhibit common sense and compassion is deadlocking / hanging the board. This is why this disaster has festered for so long. Until the truth about The Attached Ones, comes out into the open, nothing is going to change. ZSS will just bumble along until it ceases to exist.
There are likely some who, like Genjo, have taken the painful steps of opening their eyes to what has been a grand con game – and Genjo, I wish you would reconsider your resignation. I applaud them, as they are examples of the Dharma at work. Yeah, it sucks finding out you have been taken, but it certainly sucks more to let it continue.
Putting aside the immense suffering that Shimano has created, there is still the problem of individuals who have enabled and supported his actions over the years. A vast majority of these people have been board members of ZSS.
With the behavior and actions exhibited over this past weekend's meeting - and we are talking about violent and criminal behavior that in my unprofessional opinion strikes me as psychotic - one really has to ask why the board hasn't sent a unified message that, "Enough is enough; those who are attached to Shimano are free to call Shimano, make your own personal arrangements, and do whatever he asks of you. However, you are disruptive to the Sangha and are no longer welcome on ZSS property. Good bye." A half dozen people / The Attached Ones are being allowed to hijack the desires of a Sangha that consists of multiples of more individuals.
Even after a board member’s car was trashed in the parking lot at DBZ, the board is unable to stand in unity and state that they are putting a stop to this, now. The reason for this is The Attached Ones, who lack the intellectual horsepower, common sense, understanding, and compassion to put their needs aside for the benefit of the wider Sangha.
The question simply becomes how can the board be un-hung and the impasse cleared?
The answer is simple. Let the sun shine where it hasn’t. Let the world see the opinions written by The Attached Ones. There are enough ex-recent board members with ample documentation that clearly shows The Attached One’s cover-ups. deficient moral attitudes, scheming, and lack of ability to manage ZSS that they should simply and anonymously send that documentation to Kobutsu Malone so that the world can get the unabridged picture – THE TRUTH. The source of the materials needn’t be identified – mail it in a manila envelope with no return address. Let the WW Sangha see the statements of those Attached board members, so they can truly see who these people are underneath their robes, Kesas, and fly whisks.
If you folks with relevant documentation would finally step up to the plate, this deadlock would finally be broken. IT IS IN YOUR POWER TO FIX THIS. Do you want to be enablers, too?
Come on – step up to the plate. Do the right thing. It’s the same courage that supports your great doubt. Unload the documentation, and I promise you that it will take a huge weight off of your chests.
FYI here is a copy of my latest letter to the ZSS Board...
Several people have asked me if I have heard anything from the ZSS Board after sending this letter. Yes, three board members have contacted me about it including the Board President and Shinge Roshi. Shinge Roshi has said the Board will NOT be selling Shobo-Ji, the New York City Zendo, and is making her best efforts to support and encourage the practice there. The board president tells me that bylaw reform and completion of an audit are currently their top priorities. A third board member told me a report about the Sangha Meeting should be out soon and assured me that the "pro-Roshi faction" is not monolithic and some have even given praise to the boards actions, up to a point. Regarding the proposal to have Eido Roshi supporters buy Shobo-Ji, Shinge Roshi assured me it was not being considered by the board, but thought the idea had merit because it demonstrated thinking out of the box.
In my mind, this idea is more like thinking in the box, the box that has allowed Eido Roshi to continue to abuse the most vulnerable females under his spiritual care for decades despite multiple well documented egregious violations of ethical guidelines and precepts. It was not so long ago that I too demonstrated "in the box" thinking. I will forever regret not paying more attention to Eido Roshi's history and not taking care that Ethical Guidelines with teeth and the Precepts were more prominent in our practice.
I definitely feel that the steps the ZSS Board are taking are good and necessary, but, in my mind, so far insufficient. As Shinge Roshi admitted to Olivia, "You are right, the complex and difficult loyalties have not allowed a clean and strong separation. I hear you"; in other words, a clean and strong separation has yet to be accomplished and is sorely needed. The most direct way to accomplish a clean and strong separation is to include in the board's next public offering some sort of statement that reads, "We are greatly saddened to conclude that Eido Roshi's continued lack of understanding of the great harm he has caused this sangha and American Zen necessitates that his presence be precluded from ZSS property indefinitely." Such a statement would go a long, long way to abating reasonable peoples fears that the abusing grandfather is still a presence on campus.
I know that ER does not have a key to NYZ, I know that he is not allowed to teach, and I know that he does not visit often, but it is much more than the most radical factions who need to see a "clean break" with Eido Roshi by the ZSS board. Despite his many flaws, Eido Roshi also has shown great genius, and sometimes he reminds me of other historical figures who have demonstrated both great gifts and great flaws. I believe that the organization owes Eido Roshi a lot for the gifts he has given, but I also believe that the organization owes a lot to those who have been harmed over the decades and were not adequately protected by the ZSS organization. It adds insult to their injuries, like rubbing salt in a wound, not to have Eido Roshi cleanly and completely excluded from the use of the properties. The fact that until recently ZSS Ethical Guidelines with teeth (admittedly they need additional refinement) and the Precepts were not more prominent in our practice, means to me, that the least we can offer those we did not adequately protect is to say he is around no more. This will give at least partial relief to those he abused, and I think much relief to the Maha-Sangha, which is watching carefully to see if the board can really turn 180 degrees away from the sordid past. As I see it, we must at least partially atone for the sins of our father. I know the Board is taking time to integrate the input received from the Sangha Meeting; I only hope this integration will lead to bold additional steps to help heal the ZSS sangha. To say Eido Roshi is "fully retired" is simply not enough.
Over this last year, what has hurt terribly is coming to realize the full extent of Eido Roshi's serial abuse of females under his spiritual care, yet more painful was watching him dissemble, rationalize and backslide from taking responsibility for his actions. As I have said many times, if he can't take and hold responsibility for his actions, it falls to us to do it for him. Though I am no longer on the board, I still have a lot of years invested in this organization and lineage, and I want it to right itself and thrive in time.
I’ve been told by those still attached to Eido Roshi that I have been hostile and power hungry, don’t represent a balanced view and even compared to Mubarak refusing to yield to reason, to them I say I truly believe we are all doing our best under very difficult trying circumstances. I want to also point out that this kind of rhetoric has been used to describe everyone who has stepped out of the box.
With palms together,
Another poster has shared her story on genkaku's blog...
"Before Arda you were, but others also, and you did not make it. Neither are you the most mighty; for you have spent your strength upon yourself, and wasted it on your own emptiness. No more are you now than an escaped thrall of the Valar, and their chain still awaits you."
Here's a letter from Abbot Roko Chayat, Shinge Roshi, to the ZSS Sangha concerning the Sangha Meeting held August 26-28:
Our Sangha Weekend Meeting, facilitated by three members from An Olive Branch, brought together a wide range of people with diverse points of view, and the intensity of our discussions was mirrored by the weather: Hurricane Irene raged outside, the strong winds and rain purifying our hearts (as well as washing out our roads!).
We had planned this meeting with the goal of deeply hearing each other, knowing that no healing can occur when wounds are untended and left to fester; that we must have the courage to uncover them, facing our pain from the past in the present, so that we can work toward a strong, healthy future. For a summary of the structure of the meeting, please see the link at the end of this email.
The most painful yet crucial aspect of the meeting was an adapted Samoan Circle. Soun Joe Dowling and I, together with AOB facilitators, sat in the inner circle, and participants from the outer circle took an empty chair in turn to speak.
What we heard
First, letters were read from several people who couldn't be there; one in particular was extremely moving in its articulation of the hurt and harm experienced from an unwanted teacher-student liaison. Quite a few spoke of their feelings of betrayal, disappointment and disillusionment. Someone noted how harmful the culture of secrecy and silence in the Sangha has been, which can cause one to deny what one sees and hears–to question one's own truth.
Others stressed the life-changing significance of Eido Roshi's teaching, his founding of New York Zendo and Dai Bosatsu Zendo, and the need to carry it forward authentically: "The Dharma is like holding water in one's palm; if it's held loosely, it will drain away. Our task is to offer this Dharma water to the next generation. We have to hand over exactly the same water. We don't want to color it, or it will destroy our tradition."
A woman who suffered deep sadness over losing Eido Roshi as her teacher said she has now been able to let go, and hopes others can as well, "so that we can go forward in the spirit of love and acceptance of each other, not allowing our views to fragment our Sangha. My attachment is to the Dharma, and to this place." Concurring, someone responded, "This is an amazing place. I have come to understand something beyond my own thinking. It's easy to become angry, but doing zazen helps that anger go away. We can respect Rinzai Zen practice for what it is—a real treasure. In our hearts we can find compassion to forgive the person who betrays us, or who shouts at us. We're human beings. My stand is to say, I love you." And another said, "This is the only place I can go to discover what I have inside. One must judge oneself, not others. We each have stories; this practice helps me see what is much bigger."
Someone said, "It's clear that these board members care so much, and they've done a phenomenal job, but most have been hand-picked by Eido Roshi. The board membership should be made up of professionals, and should rotate every three years." Agreeing, another person said, "Now we need to help these women [who were harmed by relationships with their teacher] come back to the Sangha, and make this into a safe place for women."
Someone expressed her joy at seeing people who left long ago who cared enough to return for this meeting, and her hope that they would come back to regular practice.
One of the newest Sangha members said, "I am beyond grateful. This is a magical place. Please don't let it be lost. My generation needs this. I know more young people will come. Please, please, keep it safe."
At the end of each person's comments, one of us responded by reflecting them back to show that they were deeply heard; and then the entire group declared, "We hear you!"
What came from our intense discussions was the realization that we are the beneficiaries of a rare and wonderful practice, Rinzai Zen; that deep listening to each other without crosstalk or snap judgments reveals the treasure of Sangha; and that we are responsible for shaping and guiding Rinzai Zen for future generations of practitioners on American soil.
Several people sent their further reflections to me in emails after the weekend. One person suggested that the attention and effort given to address the issues of the past, and to healing, can cripple the effort to establish a new vision, develop a new plan, and implement a sustainable future for ZSS. "There is a fine line between tending a wound and picking at it."
Another wrote, "All of us know that we are obliged to challenge dualistic moral judgment and appreciate the distinction–and lack of such–between the realm in which cause and effect are one and the realm in which they're separate. On the other hand, we must not forget that the world we live in is, thanks to media and pop-psychology, more materialistic, thus more addicted to such dualism and the simplistic moralism it produces...."
In the wake of this important weekend, I have done the following:
Instructed the board to complete its review and revision of our by-laws to rationalize our governance decisions by October 15.
Nominated new board members with a broad range of backgrounds and professional skill sets to replace those who are stepping down. New members will begin serving in January 2012.
Ordered an in-depth financial audit to clarify our strongest sources of funding, get a better understanding of our operating and capital expense needs, and examine past practices that may not have been in the best interests of the Sangha. We are looking for this audit to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2012.
Begun to investigate ways to broaden our sources of funding, to create reliable income streams that are in line with our mission to offer Rinzai Zen in America. I plan on implementing these in the coming year.
To increase attendance at New York Zendo, I have planned an ongoing series of workshops and programs (like the one I organized recently at Dai Bosatsu Zendo in brushwork with Kazuaki Tanahashi), to include tea masters, bodywork practitioners, and traditional craftspersons, as well as lectures by visiting scholars to encourage study, in keeping with the vision of ZSS's first president, D. T. Suzuki.
To increase residency at Dai Bosatsu Zendo, I have begun work on a communication and public relations campaign to improve our visibility and make the world aware of what a great place this is for authentic Rinzai Zen training.
In these endeavors, I am receiving the enthusiastic support of Sangha and Board members, and I look forward to your participation as well.
This past Sunday I led an all-day sitting at Shobo-ji, and the Sangha was invited to join in a potluck dinner afterward. It is my hope that many more such informal gatherings will take place there, to encourage a warm and mutually supportive atmosphere.
Please join me for our next sesshin at Dai Bosatsu Zendo, Golden Wind, September 24–October 2. If you can't come for this one, do consider attending Harvest Sesshin, October 29–November 6, and Rohatsu Sesshin, November 30–December 8.
It is my intention to put the Zen Studies Society at the forefront of Zen in America once again. Our founding teacher has devoted his life to bringing the Dharma to the West. It is our job to uphold what we have received, and to improve upon the vehicle for actualizing it in our ever-changing world. I am completely dedicated to this.
Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat
A summary of the August meeting prepared by the facilitators from An Olive Branch many be accessed here:
http://www.zenstudies.org/Summary-Facil ... -16-11.pdf
[bold emphasis added by tenshin]
Thought it useful to Include this to avoid whitewashing. I believe it of import that people be informed so they can come to their own objective and independent conclusions. There is nothing to be gained by people being instructed as to what to think.
I am stepping out on a limb here and am liable to be misunderstood. So, please understand that I, with all my heart and mind, know that this healing process for all the misused/abused must continue and that a substantial part of coming to terms with the reality of what has occurred is telling and re-telling and digesting the story so that the identification with it will be released. I also recognize the importance of the whole story coming out so that others may learn and pre-existing myths dissolved.
I don't know where or how I am being instructed what to think? Many places in this thread, there are partial excerpts from the Shimano archives, various blogs or minutes from sangha meetings that have been used to back the poster's agenda up. In this one, a single sentence is highlighted.
I am not so mature in my practice, but I experience many of the things that have been written as not in accordance with the fundamental precepts or the ten precepts - more than one post is vindictive and many reactions based on a personal scale of right/wrong or acceptable/unacceptable rather than the whole perspective.
We never will get a real chance for becoming totally informed as we haven't ourselves experienced the described situations or heard "the other side". There is a lack of balance.
May we extend This Mind over the whole universe so that we and all beings together may attain maturity in Buddha's wisdom
I guess Eido Shimano or any of his supporters are welcome to join this site and present "the other side."
Earlier on in this thread before the recent incidents became widely known, there were quite a few "pro-Shimano" posts and genkaku was painted as someone harbouring a grudge and unwilling to let go. I am not sure if he ever received an apology for this but it would probably not be out of place as well as a thankyou for being one of the people that have helped bring about these long-overdue developments.
Nonin, thank-you for posting this. It is heartening that we also see here the work that is being done and the investment in
In my reading of this, I see some contradictory statements, but this could be that I misunderstand things? Maybe it doesn't matter to ask about them here, since Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat probably doesn't follow this long conversation?!
Shinge Roko writes:
and there has been talk of a more democratic process, but it ends up that Shinge Roko has:
So maybe the democracy is for the future?
The degree of ambition expressed here seems quite odd from the POV of healing and going forward with awareness:
but, again, maybe I have misunderstood something.
One thing I don't see anywhere is a discussion of the way earlier Dharma heirs have been "manipulated" out of the picture. It seems that there is just as painful a silence, regarding this part of history.
May we extend This Mind over the whole universe so that we and all beings together may attain maturity in Buddha's wisdom
Though I applaud these efforts, here is a list of what I think is missing:
1) No clean break with the past by excluding Eido Roshi from having use and access to the properties.
2) As yet insufficient democratization of the ZSS Board of Directors.
3) No organizational apology for its part in inadequately protecting students from serial abuses of Eido Roshi over decades.
4) As yet no resources devoted explicitly to the necessity of recognizing, educating, and repairing at least some of the damage done to the sangha by being subjected to decades of Eido Roshi's ethical breaches.
5) As yet no resources devoted to making some sort of reparations to the victims and survivors of Eido Roshi's sexual abuses. I don't mind that Eido Roshi is given a comfortable retirement package for the gifts he has given, but shouldn't at least some if not equal resources be set aside to deal with his abuses of rank and post that have caused such harm?
I'm sorry, but without these steps Shinge Roshi and the board are demonstrating that they have more loyalty to the man than to protecting and propagating the Dharma. I believe without these steps the board is severely diminishing any possibility of ZSS becoming a healthy place to practice Rinzai Zen in the West.
With palms together and hope for more complete and essential action,
I don't have the answers to any of your questions, I have no connection to ZSS. I've been following the events there as an interested bystander, and I received Shinge Roshi's letter and the attached summary by An Olive Branch as a posting on a Zen Buddhist teachers' listserv that I subscribe to. Because it was also posted on other websites, it's public knowledge, so I posted it here for people's information.
Why don't you contact Shinge Roshi or someone else on the ZSS Board directly and ask her about your concerns? There's a place for contacts at the ZSS website.
I, too, noticed that she's nominated new people to serve on ZSS's Board of Directors. I assume that those nominations mean that someone will then vote, but I don't know for sure and who that will be, whether the current Board or the sangha as a whole. I don't know what their current by-laws are on this matter.
Whether ZSS will be able to recover from this debacle and forge a positive future still remains to be seen. I regard the August meeting and subsequent actions as outlined in Shinge's letter as positive steps. We'll just have to wait and see.
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