O Come Let Us Adore Me: Brief Reflections on the Latest Sex Scandal

As I plotted this blog, I noticed thinking that I “should” be writing about the recent Sasaki Roshi sex scandal rather than the question I promised in last week’s post that I’d address this week:

“What is a Zen life and what does it have to offer?”

Sex seems to trump pretty much everything and try as I might as I sat down to write, that’s the topic that kept coming up. I even tried to weave the Zen life issue and the sex thing together…but did justice to neither… so the question will have to wait a week.

So speaking of sex scandals, here goes.

Now there’s been a whole lot of thoughtful stuff written about the Sasaki situation in the last week or so on one of the teacher listserves and on Sweeping Zen, so I lend my support to the effort to create a post-modern Zen primarily by pointing you in the sweeping direction if your interests run in that direction at the moment.

Zen students and teachers, strangely, used to be really moralistic and self-righteous. I’m told that’s an American phenomena. But thanks to all the practice we’ve had addressing the sex issue, I’ve noticed considerable maturing and nuance and shared responsibility developing over the years and that is happy news.

Obviously, setting oneself up as beyond reproach and then using students for sex in the guise of Love or Dharma is whacky. If that is what Sasaki did, then, of course, it should not be tolerated.

Still, call me old fashioned, but I do like to give the accused the opportunity to respond to allegations, yes, even in this case where the rumors have been going on for years.

In any case, you gotta wonder about Zen, don’t you? I do. And then I remember that I resemble that remark. That shifts the wondering in the right direction.

If you think, like I used too, that Zen’s about becoming somehow super-human, well, there’s little evidence for that. Despite our powerful practices, beautiful literature, extant lineages, etc., we fall down at least as much as anybody.

What to do?

We’ve got to infuse Zen training with ethical investigation without becoming prudish moralistic assholes.

We’ve got to de-mystify and de-privilege spiritual experience and dharma transmission. Just because you’ve had your kensho acknowledged by Howee Louie and ascended to the high seat, so what? Keep your hands to yourself.

And we need to create healthy communities where students are people too and are not used to meet the teacher’s needs (sexual and other – mostly the focus gets on the former while the latter can also sabotage the student’s awakening project while providing a slippery slope into doing whatever is asked or required).

This will do a lot to keep predatory personality types from being attracted to Zen.

As for the Sasaki deal, kinda like the Israel-Gaza cease fire, there appears to be reason to be cautiously optimistic that this will work out in some healthy way. Come to think of it, Sasaki’s sexual behavior has been rumored to be outside the standards of decorum for about as long as the Israel-Palestinian conflict with about as many attempts at resolution. But…maybe….

Okay, one more point. If you thought that aging would resolve your sex issues, think again. Sasaki is 105 and apparently still doing his thing. Discouraging?

Or motivating?

It’s up to each of us.

  • angie delacroix

    I’d say should we really give a f ***? Any ethical Zen Buddhist would say that they want sex for sex,and I for one have no fondness for the whole Judeo_Christian” fall of man” due to SEX. There is obsession ,and ruining of relationships due to cheating.Just as eating and enjoying food could lead to gluttony. I’ve no problem with an Ikkyu fan who claims and practices to drink a glass of wine,and then uses sex and sensuality—honestly for some mindful joy. What I love about Ikkyu is he didn’t lie,and if you find mindful banging a way that works,use it but don’t abuse it by imposing it or entrapment .There IS being sensitive to those brought up puritanically,and ethics regarding the underaged or use of force or spreading disease are of utmost importance .however. I believe in practice that incorporates mindful joy in life—joy in affection,sex,dance, music,surreal humor,art and balancing it with helping others. I have great disdain for those who lie about this.In my eyes Ikkyu was a superlative Zen practitioner.It’s all too much?—just have a slice like birthday cake (I’m roughly quoting George Harrison).

    • doshoport

      Thanks for your thoughts, Angie. Maybe Ikkyu was a superlative practitioner and a fine balance today in terms of balancing puritanical Zen with the myth of his wild abandon … but … for one thing, in these days I don’t think a superlative practitioner would hang out in brothels. And all the lawsuits would probably have worn the old dog down. I love his poetry and find encouragement to rock this life … but not in the specifics of how he did that in the old days.
      Dosho

  • Dave Laser

    Thanks, Dosho. I realize from reading your remarks that there are actually a couple of issues, here; and while they’re connected, they can be looked at individually: 1. The naughty teachers. 2. The silence, and apparent complicity to varying degrees, of the community around that teacher. I would assert that #2 is far more damaging. This is actually hopeful to me- far more doable, I think, to create sanghas where communication, transparency, mutual support and integrity are the culture, than to ‘fix’ the teachers. I can envision a sangha where a teacher is just a teacher, and students are strongly encouraged by the rest of the community to stand on their own two feet. It’s been pointed out that morality, and the precepts, aren’t that useful as a tool in this regard. I disagree. Our view of the precepts, as ‘moral guideposts’, isn’t all that useful. We rarely bump up against those posts, and almost never very hard. We could, however, view the precepts as intentions, rather than unkeepable promises. So- for each precept, the question arises: How do I fulfill on this intention, to the best of my understanding, right now? How do we, as a community? To really get together and ask those questions, and answer them, would go a long way toward providing a foundation of integrity for a community, or a student. Ok, now I’m getting off the soapbox before I fall off.
    regards, and thank you
    Dave

    • doshoport

      Thanks for your clarity, Dave. There are two issues and yet we’re all in the same boat, it seems to me. Issues of power, sex, and right relationship get so complicated and hot that it can be really difficult to have the kinds of conversations you encourage at crisis times … better to establish that kind of sincerity and integrity as the basic culture. Best wishes to you,
      Dosho

  • http://www.buddhasoup.com Michael

    The problem, Angie, is that none of what you are describing is Buddhist…the Buddha pretty much proscribed the acts and practices you have described, as they are not consistent with the practice and growth of the Dharma. Maybe it can be argued that sex, dance, alcohol and music is a part of Zen, but I’m pretty sure that Dogen and others didn’t see it this way. What you are describing has the potential to be harmless and beautiful, but it’s not Buddhism and it;s not Zen, at least the way the founders of Chan and Zen may have described it.
    I’m not trying to be unpleasant or snarky, but it seems Zen in America has veered so far off its course on some quarters that it no longer is Zen, and it’s certainly not Buddhism…

    • doshoport

      Hi Michael,
      Thanks for the other foci in the conversation.
      Angie, to quibble a bit, listed “…joy in affection, sex, dance, music, surreal humor, art and balancing it with helping others.” At least some items on the list aren’t forbidden even in the Vinaya, affection and humor, for example. Zen priests are really lay people, after all, from the Buddha and Ch’an/Zen founders perspective so there’s that too. And in the modern global culture, I think we’ll have to go beyond the tradition in order to be true to it. Granted, that’s another slippery slope that can easily lead to justifying our attachments as “new and creative practices.”
      Dosho

  • http://theconsciousprocess.wordpress.com/ Bob

    Thanks for your comments! Ironically, for all its talk about no-self, the Zen that I have observed (over 4 decades) seems to be one of the more self-preoccupied and often down-right selfish practices currently being pursued in the so-called “spiritual” scene here in the West. It is no wonder that the implications of such selfishness would yield the non-stop onslaught of sexual scandals we witness (not to mention what goes publicly unreported). What all of that clearly demonstrates is an absence of any emphasis on awakening at the heart, and yet without such an awakening, all the rest is, to borrow a phrase, “clanging bells”.

  • Oreb

    Discussing blaming or not blaming is the easy way(s) out. Sex is really not it either, we all have desires and there’s no way (or reason) to cut that thread. Having some experiences of a couple of zen centers I think it’s easy to see how the power structures and beliefs in them makes these “scandals” inevitable. It’s interesting to see how the people who in many cases have sacrificed family and career in the pyramid scheme of obey and keep silent now, become a master yourself later, react when the reputation of the system is threatened just as they have or are about to reach the top. As a koan, the only response would be to express feeling for the suffering of anyone involved or a firm resolve to make sure it doesnt happen again on my watch at least. If that’s what you saw happen, the system would be working after all.

    It’s like with the bickering monks, Nansen and the cat: someone’s gotta shout “don’t hurt that poor cat motherf-er!”.

  • http://mtsutra.wordpress.com L. BrightHeart Headrick

    Manga-ling the red thread
    There is no need to seek after purity, every man is born drenched in
    blood, tied by a red thread to a woman. ~ Ikkyu
    Sex at Dawn, and Sex Panic / Both books have bent my thinking about socially constructed notions of what is “right and proper.” Isn’t provincialism the belief that the morals of the tim and place where you were raised, should be universally applied? Sorry folks, I sat through the AIDs crisis in SF, comforting folks as I could at Maitri; I’m no longer certain of anything.
    (see also http:// greatplainsbuddha.com/ikkyu-comics-and-the-red-thread )

  • Robert Aili

    I think the obvious problem is that sexual relations between teacher and student is an unequal relationship and violates the student’s trust. There always should be formal mechanisms of complaint and resolution for charges of sexual misconduct. I know its not that easy – but that should be the goal.

  • Stephanie

    Dosho, I’m saddened to see you jumping on this bandwagon. I am completely floored by the puritanical fervor that grips the “Zen community” when it becomes known that yet another Zen teacher liked to have sex. The details are not even out yet as to how these shenanigans constitute “abuse” and everyone already has their pitchforks ready. As a woman and feminist, I am supportive of women who have been abused and changing things systematically to address, stop, and prevent sexual abuse (toward men as well as women, it should be said!). However, as a woman and feminist, I am also leery of how quickly women are assigned the role of “victim,” as if we were all helpless children that need to be protected from the Big Bad Wolves. One of the stories I read in that trainwreck of a thread on Sweeping Zen was of a woman who turned down Sasaki’s advances and they laughed about it together and both moved on. Is that a ‘predator’? I personally have no problem with the fact that human beings are sexual in general and males even more so. I don’t have a problem with a male approaching me for sex as long as I’m respected if my answer is no. I mean, WOW, man, a HUMAN MALE likes to TRY TO HAVE SEX. I am SHOCKED. What happened to the sexual revolution of the ’60s and ’70s? How is it my generation is even more hung up about sex than my parents’?

    The way these things always play out, it’s looking at the teacher as the monster and bad guy, no one spends a lot of time looking at how the system and setup fosters this kind of thing. Take a human male, sequester him in a mountaintop monastery without the normal ways of developing sexual relationships, put him on a pedestal, and surround him with women who look at him with awe, and what happens? This whole power differential works both ways, and I get so tired of women who play dumb about this–power is sexy! OK? For women drawn to a spiritual path, a charismatic teacher who seems connected to truth, knowledge, etc., can have sex appeal even if they otherwise are unattractive. The thought of sex with such a person can seem incredible and very appealing, until the moment of disillusionment when you realize that sex is just sex, and even the so-called ‘enlightened’ may not be as good in the sack as that last shlub you dated.

    But that’s the whole other piece–what I see as this very childish, puritanical mindset that a so-called wise or ‘enlightened’ individual must necessarily be morally pure, and any proof of their wrongdoing is proof they weren’t so wise after all. It’s so simplistic. I don’t think it works that way at all; I don’t think a moment of insight magically resets all of that karma and conditioning (fox koan, anyone?). Actually, the pattern I see is that the more intense, life-or-death kind of teachers tend to have more ‘bad behavior’ because they tend to be more passionate and intense people in general. Non-neutered personalities. And that’s my thing. I don’t need a spiritual teacher to be my daddy. I need a guide and friend to show me the way to wake up, not someone to surrender to completely as an infallible guru. If you’ve got rough edges, cool, so do I. I like what Brad Warner says – a spiritual teacher is more like an artist who can show a student certain techniques and approaches and share some insights but can’t show that student exactly how to express their own vision. I want to find a teacher who has plugged in to the Source and learn from them how they did that. If they happen to be a furry who is into bukkake, cool, it doesn’t affect whether I can learn from them about how to plug in and come to life. If they ask me to put on an animal suit and join the next bukkake party, I can say no. And if the Zen world is full of women who are too confused or vulnerable to say no, maybe we should come at things from the other angle, and do more to educate people about the difference between reality and fantasy in spiritual communities. Empower more women not to fall for the game, instead of treating women like children who must be shielded and protected at all times.

    It sickens me that people like Jundo Cohen ride in on their high horse on ‘scandals’ like this and use the opportunity to promote their neutered version of Zen. Is that what we’re headed toward – a Zen where fewer teachers have sexual peccadilloes and alcohol problems but also have less insight, power, and life-and-death intensity? This is why it disappoints me you’re jumping on this bandwagon because I appreciate what you’ve written about exactly that–the stripping of awakening away from Zen in favor of something sanitized and comfortable, safe for the whole family. Joshu Sasaki may indeed have a problem and may indeed have done some unethical things – we don’t know yet – but he’s also a rare breed of teacher that actually plugs into and supports that life or death intensity in students. Are we going to throw him and all like him out with the bathwater, in our orgy of moral chastisement, and make it all the easier for Zen in America to transition into a completely sanitized, lifeless, awakening-free product? What about those of us who aren’t here to groom our personalities but to wake up? What about women like me who don’t want to be coddled and ‘protected’ from horny old men? What if I’d rather be fondled by a Joshu Sasaki who might also help guide me toward kensho, than be patted on the head by some nitwit who’s peddling a dressed up version of what’s on the self-help shelf at Barnes and Noble? What’s going on when I feel outside of the mainstream in Zen when I care about awakening above all else?

    • doshoport

      Stephanie,
      I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said, including how sad and disappointing I am. So guilty as charged. And a couple points….
      There seems to be such incredible variation in the human group when it comes to sex (and even love) – just look at the few comments here. How can such a disparate band of large-brained primates come together in community?
      One way is for everybody to do their thing but keep it secret – Japanese style. That’s definitely not vogue in these days of transparency, the American tendency to blame others for their feelings, and the sense of entitlement that others should live by one’s own moral code.
      The other is to find the moral default where nobody ever gets hurt or offended. That’s the direction things have gone in the last 20 years, especially at some of the bigger places and the smaller places tag along. Your line “What if I’d rather be fondled by a Joshu Sasaki who might also help guide me toward kensho, than be patted on the head by some nitwit who’s peddling a dressed up version of what’s on the self-help shelf at Barnes and Noble?” is a wonderful rebuke of the outcome of this approach.
      I’m happy with the present conversation because those who see women as victims always (even when they’re apparently to dumb to notice it themselves – just a little patronizing!), often those who can’t find their zafu with both hands but always have a rope at hand to lynch somebody – they seem to be mellowing and broadening their view, apparently starting to catch up with the common more tolerant view in most areas of American life, at least that’s what a friend says who’s an expert in this area.
      Respectfully,
      Dosho

    • http://theconsciousprocess.wordpress.com/ Bob

      Thank you for that, Sister! Perhaps there is still some hope yet for “Zen in the West”, although I don’t think they will even be calling it “Zen”, when and if they finally get it sorted out.

    • Bud Fritz

      I agree with a fair amount with what you’ve said, Stephanie, especially about the condescension towards women in regards to their being able to take care of themselves. But I think you do a disservice to men in not expecting them to be able to manage their sexual appetites to the degree that they don’t make advances on any female who comes within 3 feet of them. Especially when the man in question is someone whose degree of awakening should result in enough wisdom to see the potential for harm and confusion within the person in front of him and in the larger community that could result from constant indiscriminate advances. That an enlightened master have a robust sexual appetite I have no problem with, nor with his attempts to find consensual partners to share it with. But I really question whether the dokusan room is the place to find those partners. At best, it’s in poor judgement; middling, it raises sticky questions of consent in an environment where notions of spiritual and social power are rigidly maintained (ie a monastery); at worst, as in the case of the allegations of abuse being true, it’s criminal. Also, the implication that a teacher who doesn’t engage in bad behaviour is somehow a ‘neutered personality’ sounds like a justification for an adolescent rock’n’roll infatuation.

  • Dave Laser

    Ikkyu keeps popping up around these conversations- sort of like a Zen Whack-A-Mole. There seems to be a concern about true Zen spirit being smothered by a puritanical bureaucracy, which seems legitimate to me. The difference, I suggest, is that Ikkyu made no bones about who he was; in fact, that’s what we appreciate about him- he wrote about it, talked about it, put it out there that this is who you’re dealing with. He had complete integrity with who he said he was and how he practiced. ( At least, this is the story we’re relating to.) Medieval Japan ( the world, for that matter) seems to have been a much saltier place than the modern West, where we talk a sophisticated game, but still freak out about wardrobe malfunctions and f-bombs. He was also not responsible for a community- until later in his life, when he was asked to take on that role, and we can again be fairly sure that folks knew what they were getting when they invited him on board. That points to a couple of things: here, where Zen is relatively new, communities have been started by, and grow up around, a teacher; only a few centers/temples have had the opportunity to outgrow the influence of a single teacher. The other thing is secrecy: manipulation, misinformation, lack of transparency, etc.- pretty much the opposite of what we appreciate about Ikkyu.
    thank you,
    Dave
    ps Every time Ikkyu pops up, can Ryokan be far away?

  • Oreb

    So those who object to sexual abuse in zen organizations are on a bandwagon, puritans, haters, un-enlightened, anti-feminist (or condescending) or proponents of a neutered zen? Is it ok for other gurus or say catholic priests to force themselves in more or less subtle ways on their students, or only for zen teachers? Is there an age limit or are children ok for a really earthy take-me-as-I-am teacher (not hypothetical, google buddhism child abuse).

    The puritan streak in americans and the reaction against it just clouds the issue. I have no problem whatsoever with teachers having a non-monogamous (or whatever) sex life or a drinking habit as long as they are reasonably honest about not being paragons of virtue (though I doubt it is necessarily an indication of depth). Abuse however pisses me off, and even more if it’s protected by an organization. Some of these apologists are scary.

    • http://theconsciousprocess.wordpress.com/ Bob

      Back in the day, I remember questioning a senior monk about Roshi’s shennanigans, and he told me that it was not possible from my un-enlightened little discursive mind to comprehend what an advanced being like Roshi was up to. This never quite made sense to me. I was to often hear similar rationales from various followers of this or that Guru, Swami, Master, or Rinpoche over the years, and I could see how folks can so easily get hoodwinked in the spiritual game, especially the more naive aspirants. Now, some might say that getting fooled was exactly what they needed. There all sorts of opinions floating around, all sorts of ways to attribute guilt or glory, and in the end, all sorts of ways to avoid taking responsibility for oneself. When we begin to take responsibility for ourselves, the whole game begins to become obsolete, and that includes reliance on someone else to lead us by the hand, the nose, or the genitals to the recognition of who and what we truly are.

  • http://nyoho.com Koun Franz

    Dosho–

    Thank you for this post, and for adding your voice to all this.

    I’m really intrigued by this statement: “I mean, WOW, man, a HUMAN MALE likes to TRY TO HAVE SEX. I am SHOCKED. What happened to the sexual revolution of the ’60s and ’70s? How is it my generation is even more hung up about sex than my parents’?” Others have said similar things at other blogs. What confuses me, I think, is the “try to.” There is nothing shocking about a man liking to have sex, regardless of his status or vocation. But for a man to risk so much to try to have it–at the very least, it suggests that he thinks the risk is worth it. I don’t feel I would be willing to risk a community for sex, or a student for sex, or the practice for sex, or the reputation of my own teachers for sex. It’s like President Clinton. The most disappointing thing about his affair with Monica Lewinsky was that he seemed to value that gratification over the dignity of his public role.

    One of my all-time favorite stories of Shunryu Suzuki-roshi is from Toni McCarty, of a time when she tried to explain to Suzuki how deeply she loved him. His reply: “Don’t worry. You can let yourself have all the feelings you have for your teacher. That’s good. Because I have enough discipline for both of us.” We need teachers who can accept that love without manipulating it for profit. There are too many who seem incapable of it.

    Gassho,
    -koun

  • Aaron Caruso

    Hi Dosho. Great post. Keep rockin’ the free world!

  • http://none Stephanie

    I’m appreciative that you all appreciated my hellacious rant, which was perhaps not the most carefully considered thing I’ve ever written. Certainly, I am “guilty as charged” that the thought expressed in that post was lacking in nuance. Unfortunately I do not have the time at the moment I would like to devote to addressing all points made in detail, but many excellent points were made! I do agree that the dokusan room is not the appropriate place for sexual advances, and my argument is not that I think that should occur, or be swathed in secrecy and not addressed, but rather that such indiscretions not be used to convict and dismiss a teacher as if they invalidate anything else that teacher has said or accomplished. I also must emphasize that my ranting about “neutered” and “non-neutered” personalities is just an expression of preference; I like people who are a bit intense or rough around the edges, but that has nothing more to do with truth than any other arbitrary or conditioning-based preference; what I would say that is more generally of concern is that perhaps we all need to examine our myths of what “enlightened” means and why so many people come to the conclusion that “enlightenment” should render a previously chartreuse personality pastel pink. Koun, you make excellent points I must gloss over in my way to rush out the door. Overall, I do agree abuse should be addressed but I think there is a difference between a community addressing and resolving an issue and creating a public scandal/gossip fest, especially when that orgy of moralizing results or attempts to result in the complete dismissal of a teacher who may otherwise be a phenomenal teacher who has had a profound effect on the teaching of Dharma in the West (or wherever else).

  • Oreb

    Kind of revealing to substitute zen with tennis to see the level of maturity of posts around the net. Someone posts again (has come up a number of times) about how the tennis teacher gropes his students and might have done worse. Community reactions: you have no evidence, who are you to blame him, you only want attention, he’s just a man, do you really want a neutered tennis teacher I prefer passion, you’re a puritan, the women can protect themselves dont be condescending, we’re talking tennis not sex, I’m bored of this subject.

    But tennis is not zen? Frankly, a tennis club would have handled it a lot better. The zen centers I’ve seen are immature compared to most organizations in society. The good news is that western zen is in its infancy. These scandals might be exactly what is needed to grow. In zen, emotional maturity is sometimes said to come from facing and staying with the hard parts. Well, time to take your own medicine.

    • http://nyoho.com Koun Franz

      Oreb–

      Nicely said. One of the dangers in this Zen world is the working assumption that common sense does not apply here.

      Gassho,
      -koun

  • judy

    Good point, Stephanie, and the crux of the matter, for my money.
    What does “Enlightenment” mean?
    ie. That “truth” has been seen/tasted/experienced?
    And does this ‘tasting’/’experiencing’ to any degree affect one’s ethics, morality, way-of-being-in-the-world with other Beings? Does one become more sensitive, compassionate, self-less, kind, generous..?
    Or does one simply continue with one’s self-serving, oblivious habits.
    Does the degree to which one behaves ethically, compassionately, self-lessly, etc., reveal precisely the ‘depth’ of one’s so-called “Enlightenment”?

  • http://theconsciousprocess.wordpress.com/ Bob

    Meditation and self-discipline are not all that’s needed, nor even
    a deep longing to go through the door of freedom.
    You may dissolve in contemplation, as salt does in water,
    but there’s something more that must happen.
    ~ Lalla

  • Larry Anderson

    One of the things that attracted me to Zen, years ago, was that I was not required to be a saint in order to realize Original Nature and connection/identity with all Phenomena/Noumena. There was no prerequisite to renounce my Human Nature. Realization does open one’s Heart and Eyes to naturally be much more caring, compassionate and conscientious, but one doesn’t become (in Alan Watts’ words) “a Stone Buddha.”

    I am delightfully relieved to see the input from the women above on this subject. For the most part Zen/Chan (in Japan and China) was almost completely a male dominated/hierarchical thing in the distant (and not so distant) past, which is no longer appropriate nor workable in America. Most women are not the fragile little creatures that many men imagine/wish they were, and can truly hold their own in this sometimes “big bad wolf world.” My wife is a fine example of someone you don’t mess with inappropriately, but has always thoroughly enjoyed deliciously appropriate messing around!

    And as some have suggested above, women are not always “Little Red Riding Hoods” in this matter. I remember being in a conversation where three women confessed to having sexual fantasies about our Zen teacher! According to them, that was not unusual. Whatever…………..

    Bows to You,

    Lars

  • http://speculativenonbuddhism.com/ Glenn Wallis

    Mike. I left this comment at Sweeping Zen. You do realize that Adam re-posted it there, right? You maight want to respond to the comments over there. In the meantime, here’s my owen comment:

    Mike, You offer the following as a starting point for eliminating abuses by Zen teachers:
    “We’ve got to de-mystify and de-privilege spiritual experience and dharma transmission.”

    What role do you think your own self-projection as a “Zen teacher”–as opposed to an ordinary person plays into the mystification you wish to do away with? Adam may take a stab at my question as well. Look around the Sweeping Zen site. What we see are the same bald heads, medieval Japanese farmer/Zen bibs, Japanese “dharma” names. We see, with each image of a wise “roshi” or “sensei” that same stern-yet-loving glare, eyes wide open. We read the exact same formulaic speech over and over, locking us–or trying to–into the grooves of borrowed Zen thought. Your Wild Fox Zen site reads like a thousand other such sites. This site is no different. Can you, perhaps, try to see that in the eyes of the typical vulnerable seeking person such displays shout I AM SPECIAL! I’VE GOT JUST THE THING YOU’RE LOOKING FOR! FOLLOW ME! You are both–Mike and Adam–contributing to the very exotification and mystification that you, Mike, are singling out as the first hindrance to a sex-abuse free(er?) Zen. Are you really so enamored of your Zen theater to believe it beyond culpability?

    In other words, maybe the place to begin with de-mystification and de-privileging of Zen is not from the pulpit of “Zen.” Maybe you all need to come down from the zenosphere and become the “ordinary” people that you protest–all-too-much–that you are?

    Glenn Wallis

    • doshoport

      Glenn,
      If I somehow somewhere conveyed that I’m not really special, I misspoke.
      And oh so ordinary in that specialness.
      I’m for depmystifying and deprivileging but not de-teachering Zen. That doesn’t make sense to me and is 180 degrees from what I’ve found to be incredibly valuable. Healthy post-modern teacher-student relationships are possible so it isn’t necessary to throw out the baby with the bath – and then eat the baby as seems to be the trend in these times.
      And I’m not beyond culpability. We’re all in this together.
      Dosho (that’s really my name)

  • http://speculativenonbuddhism.com/ Glenn Wallis

    Mike, you have not answered my question so much as evaded it. Can you see the difference?

    If I somehow somewhere conveyed that I’m not really special, I misspoke.
    And oh so ordinary in that specialness.

    My point was that you convey your specialness precisely via your very zenness. My comment to you was about material rhetoric–how forms, like words, constitute arguments. And how, like arguments, material and institutional rhetoric are always, to some degree, manipulative and coercive. That was my point. Look again. It’s expressed clearly.

    I’m for demystifying and deprivileging but not de-teachering Zen. That doesn’t make sense to me and is 180 degrees from what I’ve found to be incredibly valuable. Healthy post-modern teacher-student relationships are possible so it isn’t necessary to throw out the baby with the bath – and then eat the baby as seems to be the trend in these times.

    Who said anything about “de-teachering”? Again, the point is that the very structure, doctrine, practices, etc.–the very forms–of Zen are implicated in the failures of the tradition to live up to its mystified promise of the ultimate privilege (awakening, true mind, blah, blah, whatever).

    And I’m not beyond culpability.

    I didn’t say that you were culpable. I asked whether you thought that your “Zen theater” is. (Back to the top.) Do you? (I have to admit: I have a serious hunch that you are indeed so enamored of your precious Zen that you can’t even see the point of my criticism.)

    We’re all in this together.

    I believe that to be true. But as long as you use Zen to separate yourself from non-Zen, we are emphatically not in this together. Throw away your Zen, and this is what we share. Until then, no.

    Dosho (that’s really my name)

    See what I mean?

    Glenn

  • Oreb
  • Oreb
  • hui neng

    most of the comments amount to feeble rationalization: these roshis are
    old lechers preying on females, false prophets who have perverted
    adherence to the fundamental precepts of buddhism.

  • marilee pittman

    I find this discourse disgusting! Roshi is a dirty old man who preyed on young women. Plain and simple.


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