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Teacher Sexual misconduct -Eido Tai Shimano, ZSS, and others

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Re: Sexual misconduct by Buddhist teachers (was Eido Tai Shimano

Postby Carol on Thu May 27, 2010 6:21 pm

Whenever our happiness is dependent on someone else changing, we're in deep sh*t. This is a practice issue of the first order.

In fact, the entire Zen lineage coming out of Japan is "suspect" for having supported Japanese nationalist wars of aggression -- as Brian Victoria's book Zen at War clearly documents. From what I have seen and read, there is no Buddhist sect or lineage that when scrutinized carefully does not have its spots and stains.

What does this mean for our practice?

For those of us who actually practice Zen, what does this mean for our practice? How do we respond when we see wrongdoing, or harm being done? Don't think good, don't think evil, what is your original face before your parents were born? What does this mean in practice?

It is deeply tempting to judge and condemn. Sex, especially, tempts us. The puritanical and prurient impulses are stimulated. Witch hunts frequently ensue fueled by salacious (delicious) rumor and innuendo (some of it true, some of it probably whipped up). Where does it end? In an auto de fe?

Still, we are living in human society, and there are rules and boundaries we need to maintain to keep good order and as much as possible to restrain ourselves, in our delusions, from harming one another. What is sufficient? In this case what is sufficient?

I believe, but I could be wrong, there is only one body that could require Eido Roshi to step down, and that is his lineage at Daitaku-ji in Japan (one of 14 independent Rinzai branches in Japan). It is my understanding that Soen Nakagawa Roshi, who gave dharma transmission to Eido Roshi, was appealed to and declined to act. He has been dead since 1984. Whether there is someone else who could do so now, I do not know.

I've spent some time reading the website at The Zen Studies Society, and have read much there that is inspiring. I believe even flawed vessels can point the way -- probably it has mainly been flawed vessels pointing the way since the time of Shakyamuni. I'm grateful for those who have done so, even or especially those who have done so despite their own personal karmic entanglements (that's all of them!)

My friend David Chadwick (author of Crooked Cucumber, a biography of Suzuki Roshi) has recently been visiting Richard Baker Roshi in Germany. He found much to admire there, and he believes it's time for the folks at San Francisco Zen Center to "get over it" too.

I'm reminded of the koan: "Why are perfectly enlightened bodhisattvas attached to the red thread?" I just googled it and found this teisho by Subhana Barzaghi Roshi "Red Thread Zen - the Tao of Love, Passion and Sex". There is much here to contemplate, to take us deeper than our views and judgments and attachements to them, to a deeper place of healing, insight and wisdom. That is my wish for all involved in this painful story, and for all of us.

:Namaste:
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Re: Sexual misconduct by Buddhist teachers (was Eido Tai Shimano

Postby Nonin on Thu May 27, 2010 8:12 pm

Carol said:

I believe, but I could be wrong, there is only one body that could require Eido Roshi to step down, and that is his lineage at Daitaku-ji in Japan (one of 14 independent Rinzai branches in Japan). It is my understanding that Soen Nakagawa Roshi, who gave dharma transmission to Eido Roshi, was appealed to and declined to act. He has been dead since 1984. Whether there is someone else who could do so now, I do not know.

Carol et al,

I could be wrong, but I don't think that anyone at Daitoku-ji or anybody in Japan has the authority to require Eido Shimano to step down.

Except for small sitting groups, Zen Buddhist practice places in the US are legally constituted Religious Corporations under IRS code 501 c3. This means that they are tax-exempt organizations, like any church or temple. Donations to these organizations are tax-exempt. To maintain tax-exempt status under 501 c-3, these organizations have to fulfill obligations under the tax code, which include, but are not limited to, having a functioning Board of Directors, instituting and maintaining by-laws, and keeping Board Minutes and accurate financial records. Board Members are ultimately legally responsible for the direction and the activities of the organization, its leadership, and its members when they are acting in the name of the organization. Also organizations must request a continuation of tax exempt status, and they must update and register Board Members with the state either every year or two years. Here in Nebraska, we request a continuation every year and file updated records every two years.

Each Religious Corporation has it own rules and regulations, which are listed in its by-laws. Appointment and removal of a Head Priest or Abbot varies according to each corporation's by-laws. I serve as Abbot of our temple at the discretion of the Board. If I screw up and violate our Ethics Statement or do not perform my duties according to our by-laws, it's the Board's responsibility to intervene, for Board Members are ultimately responsible in case of any legal judgments levied against the organization; they are at the top of our organizational structure.

Some states allow what is called Corporation Sole, which allows for one person to be above the Board (for instance, the Abbot) and have the final say in decision-making, but some states have outlawed this type of structure. Corporation Sole is illegal in the state of California, for instance.

I don't know how the Zen Studies Society (of which Dai Bosatsu Monastery is a part) is structured, so I don't know how the Abbot of the organization is selected and what procedure is in place to allow for his or her removal. Most places put that power in the hands of the Board of Directors and most places have these selection and removal procedures in place. If there are none, the Board of the organization has been seriously remiss in performing its duties.

For your information, here are the sections in Nebraska Zen Center / Heartland Temple's By-laws that cover these areas:

3.4 POWERS AND DUTIES. The President shall be the chief executive officer of the corporation and shall, subject to the control of the Board of Directors and the Head Priest, have general supervision, direction and control of the business of the corporation. The Vice President shall have such powers and perform such duties as the Board of Directors and the Head Priest may prescribe. In the absence of ability of the President to act, the Vice President shall perform all duties and may exercise any of the powers of the President, subject to the control of the Board of Directors and the Head Priest. The Secretary shall give written notice of all meetings of the Board of Directors as may be required and shall keep minutes of such meetings. He or she shall carry on the correspondence and keep the records of the corporation. The Treasurer shall have charge of the finances of the corporation, subject to the power and authority of the Board. She or he shall keep, or cause to be kept accurate records and accounts of the contributions to and receipts of the corporation, its investments, bank deposits, earnings of funds and all disbursements. He or she shall open and maintain bank accounts of the corporation in such banking institutions as the Board of Directors may direct, and shall deposit funds of the corporation therein, subject to withdrawal only by checks signed by individuals approved by the Board, in consultation with the Head Priest. Whenever the Board shall request it, an account of all his or her transactions as Treasurer and of the financial condition of the corporation, shall be presented to the Board.


ARTICLE IV

Head Priest

POWERS, DUTIES AND SUCCESSION. The Head Priest shall have such power as is prescribed in these By-Laws. The Head Priest has full authority to establish the practice and to implement the practice schedule without Board approval. The Head Priest shall normally be a fully-transmitted member of the Order of the Prairie Wind and after consulting with the Board of Directors, shall designate an Assistant Head Priest, who also shall be a fully-transmitted member of the Order of the Prairie Wind and who will assume the position of Head Priest when it becomes vacant. In the event that no member of the Order is able to assume the Office of Head Priest, the Board of Directors, after consulting with the members of the Order, shall fill the vacancy with a fully-transmitted Soto Zen Priest not a member of the order. Approval of an Assistant Head Priest or a Head Priest either a member or not a member of the Order shall be by two-thirds vote (2/3) of the full Board. Notification of the meeting at which this vote will be taken shall be given to current voting members at least a week in advance. The designation of a successor to the Office of Head Priest shall be for a specified period of time. The Head Priest may be removed from office, upon due consideration of Article I 1.7 CONSENSUS CLAUSE and after consulting with members of the Order of the Prairie Wind, by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the Board of Directors.


Hands palm-to-palm,

Nonin
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Re: Sexual misconduct by Buddhist teachers (was Eido Tai Shimano

Postby Carol on Thu May 27, 2010 8:33 pm

Thanks for the info, Nonin. That makes sense.

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Re: Sexual misconduct by Buddhist teachers (was Eido Tai Shimano

Postby Dan74 on Fri May 28, 2010 3:18 am

Carol wrote:I'm reminded of the koan: "Why are perfectly enlightened bodhisattvas attached to the red thread?" I just googled it and found this teisho by Subhana Barzaghi Roshi "Red Thread Zen - the Tao of Love, Passion and Sex". There is much here to contemplate, to take us deeper than our views and judgments and attachements to them, to a deeper place of healing, insight and wisdom. That is my wish for all involved in this painful story, and for all of us.

:Namaste:


I agree and most if not all of us could benefit from a healthier relationship with our sexuality. For me it has been a long journey and it has taken unexpected twists and turns.

What I heard from my teacher who has been a celibate nun for some 30 years is that in her monastery in Korea, sexuality was not repressed, rather they would be clearly aware of the sexual urge. But if the commitment to being a monastic was strong enough, there would be no question of acting it out, and the urge itself would naturally transmute. And in the case where attraction (physical, emotional, etc) was stronger then people disrobed, like Martine and Stephen Batchelor who were with her at Ssongwan-Sa. It is the honest thing to do. I guess that celibacy was about commitment to being a part of that community, a question of priorities (and there is some evidence that on many levels it is conducive to practice.) But it doesn't mean that the person represses his or her sexuality rather one learns to experience sensuality in a different way.

This is not to say that monastic communities are sexually enlightened. Of course people come to this practice with their baggage and they don't always deal with it in the best possible way. So shining light on the issues is always a good thing. But it is also possible to belabor them and that's not so helpful.

I guess there is a point in practice where even sexuality and all the attendant feelings are seen to be empty, without real essence, a light show of consciousness.
Then it is no longer such a big deal but just another things we can do when appropriate. Whether we are there or not, we should not reify sexuality or belive it to be a fixed static need, like air to breathe. Otherwise how can we ever see clearly?

_/|\_
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Re: Sexual misconduct by Buddhist teachers (was Eido Tai Shimano

Postby Carol on Fri May 28, 2010 3:37 am

Dan74 wrote:I guess there is a point in practice where even sexuality and all the attendant feelings are seen to be empty, without real essence, a light show of consciousness.
Then it is no longer such a big deal but just another things we can do when appropriate. Whether we are there or not, we should not reify sexuality or belive it to be a fixed static need, like air to breathe. Otherwise how can we ever see clearly?

_/|\_

PS Incidentally there is an interesting talk on the subject by a Theravadin nun who visited us some years ago. It can be heard here: http://awakeningtruth.org/audio/Taming%20the%20Tigers%20-%20Right%20Effort%20and%20fear,%20aggression,%20sexuality.mp3


Thanks for the link, Dan. (Oops, I just went to play it and it's not working. I see you've removed the link from your post in the meantime. If you find a working link, please post it.)

I think the topic of sex is ripe for discussion among Western Buddhists. David Loy has a new book out: Money, Sex, War, Karma: Notes for a Buddhist Revolution. I haven't read it yet, but it's on my list. Here's the blurb for the book:
David R. Loy has become perhaps the greatest advocate of the Buddhist worldview's ability to transform the sociopolitical landscape of the modern world. In this, his most accessible work to date, he offers clear presentations of oft-misunderstood Buddhist staples — the working of karma, the nature of self, the causes of trouble on both an individual and societal scale — while also inviting readers to examine topics closer to home, such as “Why We Love War” and the real reasons behind the sense of never having enough time, money, sex, security, or anything else. His “Buddhist Revolution” is nothing less than a radical change in the ways readers can approach their lives, the environment, the collective delusions that pervade modern culture, and even spirituality itself. Bracing yet ultimately hopeful and empowering, Money, Sex, War, Karma offers positive tools for contributing to societal change.
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Re: Sexual misconduct by Buddhist teachers (was Eido Tai Shimano

Postby Dan74 on Fri May 28, 2010 3:41 am

No worries!

She starts on it in the last third of the talk. Sexuality is a big subject for her and she has also spoken about it in monastic Theravada context, and she has some criticism of the lack of teachings on the subject. I don't have the talk (or the link) handy though.

_/|\_
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Re: Sexual misconduct by Buddhist teachers (was Eido Tai Shimano

Postby Anders on Fri May 28, 2010 6:41 am



Whoa, Really going off the deep end, it seems. Don't understand why he doesn't just disrobe. Much less to critisise if he just did that, instead of perpetually living a life of broken precepts.

goddess wrote:Anyway it seems that there is confusion about whether MR is celibate or not. If he is doing what he could be doing the miracles will manifest in due course. I'm sure we will hear about it is due course.


From the article above, the horse's own mouth:

"We are not allowed to have sex, but in yoga there are practices that involve joining with a partner,'' he explains. "They are secret, and you are not allowed to disclose them. You might think of them as sex, but their purpose is to move inner energy. It takes very strict training. There would be penetration, but no release of semen."


So not celibate.
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Re: Sexual misconduct by Buddhist teachers (was Eido Tai Shimano

Postby Christopher on Fri May 28, 2010 8:25 am

There would be penetration, but no release of semen.

He and Bill Clinton should get together and discuss what constitutes sexual relations.
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Re: Sexual misconduct by Buddhist teachers (was Eido Tai Shimano

Postby Dan74 on Fri May 28, 2010 8:52 am

Christopher wrote:
There would be penetration, but no release of semen.

He and Bill Clinton should get together and discuss what constitutes sexual relations.


:)X

I am sure that would be very therapeutic!

Those two getting stuck in an elevator for 11 hours would lead to some interesting exchanges (but not of bodily fluids i hope).

_/|\_
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Re: Sexual misconduct by Buddhist teachers (was Eido Tai Shimano

Postby Seigen on Fri May 28, 2010 11:35 pm

It's great that David Chadwick, and many others in their lineage as well, have made the pilgrimage to Richard Baker or have otherwise made their own amends to that past. And in reading Street Zen, written by Chadwick in 1993, I'm grateful for the the openness that Issan Dorsey had in support of Baker at that time. But let's not forget that it was a suicidal husband who in his pain outed Baker, that Baker lied about the extent of other relationships until other women began to come out of the woodwork, etc. etc. It is not in any way puritanical to say so when a sexual predator is in the dokusan room, and not just individuals but institutions and lineages are going to be damaged by this, we know it.

In the early '90s I was invited to counsel women who had been raped. There were several of us together and our role was to change the culture of a private university by, when appropriate, encouraging those who had been raped to reach outside of the institution and file charges. At the very least, with the female student's care, trust, and personal agency at the very center of our motivations, we were to negotiate and draw attention to the boundaries and differences between "disciplinary actions" in a private school and the public face of the law. It was in this mood - created largely by the watchfulness and action of female faculty, administration and staff - that fraternities were disbanded shortly thereafter. Fraternities returned years later, but the same empowered culture of violence against women (among so many other things!) that they manifested in earlier years did not. There was something there that had taken root for generations, involving printers, bars and other local businesses - from what I saw of it truly evil - that had to be completely severed and removed long enough for the concept of "the fraternity" to ever become acceptable again.

I say this only to underscore the role of the institution, and the people within it, rather than to place emphasis on individuals alone.
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Re: Sexual misconduct by Buddhist teachers (was Eido Tai Shimano

Postby genkaku on Sat May 29, 2010 1:26 am

Received in email today:

Today - a new, expanded version of the Shimano Archives web page was posted at:

http://www.hoodiemonks.org/ShimanoArchive.html

The new page contains 317 document entries from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Archives; an increase of 170 documents over the initial posting. The new files are primarily Zen Studies Society documents dealing with the machinations of the Society in handling the various incidents surrounding the "Shimano Problem," related letters to and from the Board, Shimano, and others.
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Re: Sexual misconduct by Buddhist teachers (was Eido Tai Shimano

Postby Anders on Sat May 29, 2010 4:06 am

genkaku wrote:Received in email today:

Today - a new, expanded version of the Shimano Archives web page was posted at:

http://www.hoodiemonks.org/ShimanoArchive.html


From that website:

On July 29, 2008 Aitken, Rōshi issued an order unsealing a section of his archives. In a message to Lynn Ann Davis, Head of the Preservation Department of the library, Aitken, Rōshi states:
“You will recall that my archives at Hamilton Library includes a folder marked ‘Eido Shimano—Do not open.’ I am moved by circumstances to request that that this seal be removed, and that the contents be made as available as other material in my archives.”


Did Aitken elaborate on what circumstances moved him to open it at this point in time?
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Re: Sexual misconduct by Buddhist teachers (was Eido Tai Shimano

Postby christopher::: on Sat May 29, 2010 6:28 am

Anders Honore wrote:Did Aitken elaborate on what circumstances moved him to open it at this point in time?


It doesn't look like he's gone into detail, publicly. From what he shared (those archive files) and written in the last few years Aitken roshi seemed to have expected a full blown scandal. When nothing happened perhaps he wanted to make all papers in his control "transparent" and open, to assist others in the future who might look into this? Perhaps he'll say more in the near future.

BTW, thank you all for the insightful posts made on this page, especially Carol, Seigen and Dan74.

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Re: Sexual misconduct by Buddhist teachers (was Eido Tai Shimano

Postby Carol on Sat May 29, 2010 6:52 am

Seigen wrote:I say this only to underscore the role of the institution, and the people within it, rather than to place emphasis on individuals alone.


I do agree that it's important to look at the institutions, the culture, the times, and all relevant factors, rather than simply focussing on individuals. How can we learn from these things? What can we learn?

What I have learned from 63 years of life is that there is always more to the story than I know, even when the story is my own. When I was young -- and not so young -- I made some horrific mistakes. I caused terrible, irreconcilable pain to those closest to me. Pain for which I have never been abe to make amends. My understanding of what I was doing at the time was partial. It still is, though I have looked deeply at it. I was in a role of responsibility and trust, and I betrayed that trust out of selfishness, and ignorance, and all the ancient twisted karma.

I'm not going to go into all the factors that contributed to sex and power scandals involving Buddhist teachers who came to this country from Asia. It doesn't excuse it, but it might help to understand some of the culture shock that was operating, as well as different attitudes about sex. There was a lot of confusion in this culture, too, in the 60's-80's -- the "sexual revolution" was occuring, with all the craziness that entailed.

My generation really was thrown into a seething hotbed of sex, we threw out all the rules for awhile, and had to rediscover what made sense from a new perspective.

Then we "discovered" date rape and institutional sexism and feminism, and the next generation carried that ball forward -- thank you very much.

But, as a result, I just don't see things in black and white. I see the pain and suffering, the confusion, the pitfalls and traps, and the good efforts of many I don't even know about. And I know there is much to these stories that I don't know, that I will only ever hear partial truths. So, with respect and sincere regret for the pain of all concerned, I do think it is best whenever possible for people to make their peace, to forgive, even or especially when reconciliation isn't possible and a separate peace is required. I think that's the only way to end the torment and torture and to pass on a better world.

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Re: Sexual misconduct by Buddhist teachers (was Eido Tai Shimano

Postby franf on Sat May 29, 2010 7:15 am

Very heartfelt post Carol....Thank You. I agree, it is time to move on. I do think improvements have been made in different Sangha's and there is a much higher awareness on the "teachers" taking "advantage" of their students sexually and actually in other ways..... Where there is absolute power, it is easy to misuse that power. The sexual revolution was a reaction to the behind the door, puritanical, male controlled version of power over "everything". It has passed and we are better off for it. A lot of mistakes were made, it seems by all of us. I hope we have all learned and our sexuality can be expressed in a much more responsible and free way, of which i think it is. When there are instances of abuse, they cause troublesome karma. They should not be swept under the rug. But for the most part, people should practice living in the present, and give those who have erred along the way "forgetfulness". It is the best atmosphere for the people involved in past scandals and those that were affected a chance to practice again in fullness. We have many issues that effect us now, and we need all our faculties to deal with them.
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Re: Sexual misconduct by Buddhist teachers (was Eido Tai Shimano

Postby Seigen on Sat May 29, 2010 11:12 am

The efforts to make public are being made by those who are close to the institution and its events - Aitken, Genkaku, and these hooded monks who parented and were born there. My advice is to stand back and let them do what they very strongly feel compelled to do, not tell them to "get therapy" (who is it that automatically assumes anyone hasn't?) or stand above them as the one who forgives (who says there hasn't been forgiveness? to act in this way and to forgive are different things done for different reasons.). Acknowledging these efforts comes from not knowing (motivations, intended result, actual result etc.) as much as anything else does, and not knowing doesn't mean you just throw your hands up in the air. No, it's not so black and white.
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Re: Sexual misconduct by Buddhist teachers (was Eido Tai Shimano

Postby partofit22 on Sat May 29, 2010 12:25 pm

Seigen wrote:The efforts to make public are being made by those who are close to the institution and its events - Aitken, Genkaku, and these hooded monks who parented and were born there. My advice is to stand back and let them do what they very strongly feel compelled to do, not tell them to "get therapy" (who is it that automatically assumes anyone hasn't?) or stand above them as the one who forgives (who says there hasn't been forgiveness? to act in this way and to forgive are different things done for different reasons.). Acknowledging these efforts comes from not knowing (motivations, intended result, actual result etc.) as much as anything else does, and not knowing doesn't mean you just throw your hands up in the air. No, it's not so black and white.


do you realize how that sounds? out of one side of your mouth you say your advice is to stand back and let them do what they strongly feel compelled to do and out of the other side of your mouth say not to tell them to get get therapy- the advice you're offering is to tell others not to offer advice unless the results they offer dittos yours-

efforts are being made to make public of events- where are the efforts being made to forgive? is throwing your hands up in the air a sign of forgiveness? and if not so black or white why choose one color over another?
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Re: Sexual misconduct by Buddhist teachers (was Eido Tai Shimano

Postby Seigen on Sat May 29, 2010 12:54 pm

The main point, partofit22, is that these men are close to the institution, and we are not. We do not know the circumstances as they do, and there is an effort among themselves to make that right. In the spririt of not knowing and out of respect, I do find it very immature, in fact, to suggest they get therapy. I realize quite fully what I'm saying.

As for sexuality in a spriritual context as not being black and white, of course it isn't. Neither is any form of abuse - many women are deeply in love with their abusers, and I do not in a any way see this as a weakness in them, or refuse that love as an impossibility in such a relationship. Love is a very real thing. But so is abuse, or extorted consent in s spiritual context.

I love the story of Ikkyu, I think it's an important reference with regard to the value of sexual life. But even his biographer seemed to hem and haw a little about the language Ikkyu used to describe women in a brothel (I don't have the book so I can't point to the reference) as compared to that of his last true love. Let's not forget that Ikkyu's sexual life, so celebrated by Zen community, was built on the backs of women whose actual situation we can never ever know. There have been postings here on sexual slavery in our own time, what do we know of Ikkyu's? Was he on the monk's discount? I for one don't know a thing. Not so black and white to point at Ikkyu as the red thread of Zen, though, is it?
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Re: Sexual misconduct by Buddhist teachers (was Eido Tai Shimano

Postby Carol on Sat May 29, 2010 1:24 pm

Seigen wrote:The main point, partofit22, is that these men are close to the institution, and we are not. We do not know the circumstances as they do, and there is an effort among themselves to make that right. In the spririt of not knowing and out of respect, I do find it very immature, in fact, to suggest they get therapy. I realize quite fully what I'm saying.

As for sexuality in a spriritual context as not being black and white, of course it isn't. neither is any form of abuse - many women are deeply in love with their abusers, and do not in a any way see this as a weakness in them, or refuse that love as an impossibility in such a relationship. Love is a very real thing. But so is abuse, or extorted consent in s spiritual context.

I love the story of Ikkyu, I think it's an important reference with regard to the value of sexual life. But even his biographer seemed to hem and haw a little about the language Ikkyu used to describe women in a brothel (I don't have the book so I can't point to the reference) as compared to that of his last true love. Let's not forget that Ikkyu's sexual life, so celebrated by Zen community, was built on the backs of women whose actual situation we can never ever know. There have been postings here on sexual slavery in our own time, what do we know of Ikkyu's? Was he on the monk's discount? I for one don't know a thing. Not so black and white to point at Ikkyu as the red thread of Zen, is it?

:rbow:

I have found no better advice than Torei Zenji's (Hakuin's disciple):

Even though someone may be a fool,
we can be compassionate.
If someone turns against us,
speaking ill of us and treating us bitterly,
it's best to bow down:
this is the Buddha appearing to us,
finding ways to free us from our own attachments—
the very ones that have made us suffer
again and again and again.


:rbow: :rbow: :rbow:
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Re: Sexual misconduct by Buddhist teachers (was Eido Tai Shimano

Postby Seigen on Sat May 29, 2010 1:32 pm

I would not assume that there is ANYONE here affected by such events who has not been doing this bowing, who in fact has not even been bowed thoroughly by it.
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