The Joshu Sasaki story has been picked up by the New York Times:
The Joshu Sasaki story has been picked up by the New York Times:
Thank you for sharing this, Myozan.
Sexual pradation and molestation are plain wrong, no matter if you are a Buddhist or not.
I just hope this doesn't end up giving Zen a bad name.
Ugh. For those of us who have been following this ugly story on Brad Warner's blog, the proverbial sh*+ has now hit the fan. I suppose it was inevitable.
SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: Safe Landings
SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: Sex Scandal Finger Wagging
And a little comment I posted today at SweepingZen ...
Sitting with the beautiful AND the ugly in this world ... finding that which simultaneously holds and transcends "beautiful and ugly" ... is our Practice, is why we "breath in breath out". So, why should we not simply practice with beautiful and ugly in some Zen Sangha too? If you cannot tolerate looking right in the eye of "ugly" ... be it in a so-called Zen Master or anywhere else ... then you may be missing the point. Sounds like a strange contradiction, huh? What's more, though we transcend the ugly, we simultaneously try to fix the ugly we can and make it beautiful. Gassho, Jundo
Personally. My heart goes out to those affected by this, including Joshu Sasaki. It is sad that these women had to deal with this, but it is also sad that Sasaki roshi lost himself in his Self. Compassion should be a sword with as many edges as Kanzeon has hands, and cut the bonds of attachment in all directions.
I'm not condoning this, but did anyone ever go to the authorities? Was anyone ever physically forced into this? Obviously this is deviant behavior but if your boss or someone asked you to do something inappropriate, wouldn't this be handled by a lawsuit? These are adults here; if someone consents to this behavior because they think it is leading them toward a more spiritual path, that is just insane.. Seriously... insane. Now I understand that people studying different spiritual paths are not always in the most stable of situations because that's likely what can lead some people to those paths at times. But we are all adults. I mean if Jundo or Taigu said: "ok case 26 of book of equanimity, hint the real answer is only expressed by dropping your pants"... wouldn't that raise some red flags and make people just say ok, this is not right. Why stay and put up with that?
Obviously this is bad, and this shouldn't be tolerated, but I think it also illustrates a very odd aspect of the herd mentality. I don't know how else to articulate this. Just because someone is practicing the way doesn't mean they should give up good judgement. If a school is going to make you do things that are odd or cultish, be done with the school. I just don't get it.
Knowing many women here in Japan and America who have been fondled on the subway and such, there are a lot of circumstances and reasons not to go to the police. Tremendous social pressure in the Zen group too just to let it be. But, yes, some people did go to the police when it was bad enough in Sasaki's case, and the cases were ultimately dropped. It often becomes a "he said, she said" situation, "or she said, they said" situation when there are enablers around trying to cover up the situation for their teacher.
Hard for many men to understand what it is like for the victims in these cases sometimes.
Yeah that's very very true. Sorry if I came off as insensitive. I have never been in one of those situations.
But the issue goes much wider than that because it is to do with power relations. Men and children also find themselves in a situation where there is an imbalance of power. The capacity to say 'no' to an exploitative situation depends on many, many variables. We can not second guess what goes on in another persons mind that prevents them exiting an abusive relationship.
I think a strong ethics policy and procedures of complaint are essential - all of which seems to be in place at Treeleaf.
I don't think the 'story' will give Zen a bad name - if anything it will galvanize organizations to tighten things up - as is happening across the board. The era of laissez faire over sexual misconduct is well over.
Sorry to step in here, It's like the discussion several years ago about wheteher or not Men could be raped, and of course they can. And if they can, why cant they be groped, or sexually abused?
But i would also like to say that Willow is right, the situation is larger than just the groping or sexual harassment of females and males, its about relations.
And when we get to the point when we discuss that, then we are hitting the core of the problem (not to say that we don't need to deal with these problems to, just saying).
Now, as to whether the story will give Zen a bad name, perhaps, but in the end, as the guy here on Treeleaf says, it's all good practice.
cases like this (sad) one cause me to review exactly what being enlightened means in terms of actually living a life. at one time I was more than surprised that people of "spiritual accomplishment", in various persuasions, could cruelly victimize others or not be able to control substance abuse to the point of their own deaths. but the shock has long since worn off, as Oheso smells the coffee called "Life". still, vexed by my own inhumanities, ashamed of the titillative aspects of these stories-
enlightenment not entirely dispelling endarkenment? still don't completely understand the dynamics of this. obviously the broadness of the Dharma isn't dependent upon my understanding.
So even with a small or big realization or no realization at all - you are part of the drama.
Having a glimpse of the stage, seeing a curtain, requisites, etc., knowing that there actually is a drama/stage play going on might be useful (for some people even life changing), as it can convince you that our practice is right, it can encourage you - but it does not take away the fact that we still have to play our role, i.e. to lead our everyday life.
That's why satori/kensho is not that important in my arrogant opinion. You can have kensho/satori and still be an a*****e.
At least that's my "Soto-ish" point of view...
thank you for this, Timo. your dramatic metaphor makes sense to me.
What we find if we are able to see through is that all of it ... every brick, every seat and aisle, the lights and boards of the stage, all the scenery and each actor including you and me ... are whole, one great interflowing, vibrant and spectacular. Not just the building, for the very comedy and tragedy is all part of it, for what would an empty theatre be without the play, the laughs and tears, and its audience and actors (we are both at once) to give it life!?
Yes, we are the treatre and the threatre is who we are. The stories are our story. We are not simply standing on a stage with others, but stage and cast and drama and song are whole in the most intimate sense.
Now, that being said ... even some folks who might realize this fact can make a muck of their lines, clumsy in their performance or choosing to play the villain.
(Anyway, ran with the analogy a bit). gassho1
Objectification for all of us can come in many forms. Sexual objectification is perhaps one of the most talked about.
How can one thumb through any popular magazine or walk down the street and not be hit-in-the-face with the "sale" of
trivializing human complexity into just a sexy image. A lifetime of it. And guys, especially guys, to one degree or another, love to build a story ever so rapidly about an image. Brain cells storing all that imagery don't just go away, nor do the
beliefs-of-self reacting to those images. Nor do the cultures that worship and promote it in such a quirky ways. It's individual and collective. It's the present "storage" of all the other present impressions. So much clutter! Am I talking about karmic causality?
But, it's what one does next, or rather now, this moment that makes the difference. Not to be rid of it, not killing it. In sitting, it goes by not hitching a ride with it. The proclivity of a man, for instance, to hitch-a-ride on the impression of an attractive female who just walked out of the store nearby, is just that, an impression....how long and far are you going on the ride? How much are you going to let your past (present) mandate your present? And there is complexity and distortion in that very split second of image. Because at first, it is just color, form, sound. Not an attractive female. And takes less than a second to devise an "opinion" about it. But, doesn't have to be. It can be more "just color, form, sound" and for a while having a good laugh at the initial "opinions" that pop up (they too are just color form sound) and somehow disappear before we can say they disappeared, as if that "something" wasn't there afterall. I believe that over time (if we can really say that time passes)
one gets out-of-practice of forming so many instantaneous opinions that are manifestations of ignorance, greed; and for some anger.
Let the sexy imagery be there. You won't see it, because it ceases to be there. That's not stoicism, it's just real reflection without concern of dust.
Thanks a lot for your comment! [gassholook]
I think it is also worth mentioning that there is a "danger" that people might consider this drama as something fake/unreal and just think that the curtain, the seats, and the requisites (i.e. the stage itself) are the only things that count. However, the reason of the stage is that drama can unfold.
(I know, this analogy has its limitations, since the actors, the stage, etc. basically all are one whole, but I hope it is still clear what I want to say...)
I am in the process of reading Robert Aitken's The Mind of Clover: he talks in it about a similiar situation, and it was written in 1984? 29 years ago...
Sad as it is, this debate will always be with us, and the major religions (do the names Jimmy Jones, Baker, Roberts and Koresh bring back memories? The Catholic Church's continued problems?) There's no room for any group to throw stones, we're all made up of human beings. What matters is how people "play" this out. Do people use it as a teaching point and use it to better their practice, or as an excuse to extol the virtues of OUR righteous practice (and how seriously lacking THEIRS is?)
I've been following the conversations on Brad Warner's site as well: Jundo makes a lot more sense in his contributions than some of them. I don't see Treeleaf going the latter way, though sadly some others may.
To use the stage analogy, I think our "director's" interpretation in this drama is a good one. One of the reasons I enjoy this sangha!
Thanks for your post on this Jundo.
By the way, SFZC's Abbot has released a statement on their Sangha's behalf in light if the New York Times coverage:
They had their own problems over the years in SF. I think the checks and balances he mentions have been put firmly in place here, I am glad to say.