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Sexual Controversy surrounds Open Mind Zen

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Sexual Controversy surrounds Open Mind Zen

Postby Kobutsu on Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:43 am

From Sweeping Zen: http://sweepingzen.com/sexual-controversy-surrounds-open-mind-zen

Sexual controversy surrounds Open Mind Zen
Aug 16th, 2012


We’re back again with that old persistent problem: Another Zen teacher stands accused of sexual misconduct.

This isn’t a story I particularly want to write, truth be told. When the first email message accusing Al Fusho Rapaport (pictured right) of Open Mind Zen of sexual misconduct arrived in June of this year, it was something I took note of and logged away. Because I had interviewed Al in the past (an interview I quite enjoyed), I found it odd that he of all people would be accused of relationships with female students. He was quite vocal in the interview on the topic and, when discussions would ensue on Facebook regarding Genpo, Al would often stop in to remark.

The letter had originated from a former member of Open Mind who disclosed details of a relationship between Sensei Al and a female who “came to the Center for spiritual guidance” which led to an Assistant Teacher resigning at the time. After asking me who all he should inform, I recommended he contact some individuals with the White Plum Asanga, the Faith Trust Institute and An Olive Branch — which he did.

This month, I received a second email, this from Ely Kugo DesJardins (pictured left), now a former Assistant Teacher of Sensei Al who has a location for meditation in Tulsa (now unaffiliated with Open Mind Zen). So here I had two emails from two different people in his organization. I had to admit that Ely’s piece was pretty detailed. He ended up putting it in blog format for others to read, available at Open Truth Zen. Check it out and see what you think of the whole thing.

I contacted Sensei Al to see if he would like to offer a response to the accusations, mainly from Ely. Here is Al’s response:

First of all, I’d like to thank Adam for the chance to respond to the two reports he has received. I will try to be brief and to present facts rather than my opinion.
1) t is true that about 4 or 5 years ago I engaged in a relationship with an Open Mind Zen group member, which ended approximately 4 years ago.
2) I admitted and do now admit that this relationship was a serious transgression.
3) Ely DesJardins was aware of the relationship, and chose to continue studies with me up until recently.
4) I have not engaged in a relationship with a member of Open Mind Zen since the one of 4 years ago ended.
5) I did have a relationship last year with a non-member while separated from my wife. This was the catalyst for current disruption in the Sangha. I take full responsibility for these effects and admit that I was engaged in an unhealthy pattern of behavior which I am now working with.
6) The White Plum Asangha Wisdom Circle and my Transmission Teacher recently issued a list of recommendations to address this situation and I am following all of them. They came to these recommendations after more than a month of interviewing all parties including those who claimed injury at the time.

After reading Ely’s claims about “L”, I felt the need to contact her for an honest statement that we could have permission to print, as I didn’t remember anything improper occurring during our short connection. Here is her statement in part:

“I never felt you did anything unethical or immoral . .. I never felt violated by you in any way.”

I will be taking a break from teaching to implement the WPA recommendations on a full time basis. I give my deepest apologies to those who I have offended.


Sensei Al Rapaport

I’m sure there will be more to come of all of this in the days to come, but I’ll leave it at this for now. I understand that Ely’s blog may be updated in the coming days with more details from others. If you are a former or current member who would like to be heard, just let me know.

Re: Sexual Controversy surrounds Open Mind Zen

Postby thewhitesquirel on Sat Aug 18, 2012 2:00 am

I did have a relationship last year with a non-member while separated from my wife. This was the catalyst for current disruption in the Sangha. I take full responsibility for these effects and admit that I was engaged in an unhealthy pattern of behavior which I am now working with.

I have no idea what this means exactly. As long as he's not doing this in his Sangha, I really could care less what he does with his own dating life. On the other hand, if this is someone coming to the zendo for some advice, then this is a transgression.

EDIT: I've just read a lot of the stuff, including material from Open Truth Zen, and supposedly there were transgression, continuous advances being made, and various forms of psychological manipulation and intimidation.

What really cued me into this was this from one commenter (italics are my comments and I put his quotes in parenthesis for easier reading):

Again accompanying the flirtation and extra attention to her was his attempt to establish dominance over me by being critical of my awareness. The last time he was in, during the Zen Dialogue, he asked the group to embody the voice of anxiety. In doing so he singled me out. Later I asked him about it, saying that "anxiety is not a voice rather an emotion. When you asked me to embody an emotion you were basically asking me to be emotional." I additionally said that "the way I understood the process was to embody a voice in order to access the emotion that is driving it." He slighted my observation and quickly turned it into me having an issue with him (probably accusing him of having transference issues as this is a common form of manipulation known as emotional blackmail). Again exercising dominance over my observation and turning it into something that he wanted me to work on with him. I soon dropped it and submitted to his direction.

Yes, when he says "embody the voice of anxiety" he is leading you to become identified with your emotions. If you identify with your emotions, or attempt to elicit them when they're not currently present, you become more susceptible to emotional manipulation and coercion. Very clever and Genpo-ish.

Gregory already pointed out on the blog what he thought about the "Zenergy" thing which I largely agree with:

My initial response is that anyone who claims to offer a "zenergy" session (whatever that is) and have "zenergy clients" is best avoided simply because of that silly word "zenergy" which evidences a very crass, jaded, and materialistic view of Zen.
What is nearness if it fails to come about despite the reduction of the longest intervals? What is nearness if it is even repelled by the restless abolition of distances? What is nearness if remoteness also remains absent? -Martin Heidegger
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Re: Sexual Controversy surrounds Open Mind Zen

Postby Carol on Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:31 am

Moderator's Note:

OK. I'm locking this topic, too. This forum is not the place for 2nd hand gossip about sex scandals. Please take your comments to the forum where this originally came from and discuss it there.

Thank you.
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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