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Thread: An Announcement regarding Treeleaf Zendo

  1. #1

    An Announcement regarding Treeleaf Zendo


    I thought that I would post the following here a little ahead of its appearing on Nishijima Roshi's blog. Treeleaf Zendo is now recognized as a separate Lineage derived from Nishijima Roshi, apart from Nishijima's other Lineage (Dogen Sangha/Dogen Sangha Internation), and we are thus naturally withdrawing from the umbrella of that entity. I think the following letter is self-explanatory, but write me personally or here on the Forum if anyone has any question about anything. I think it is a wonderful development, and I thank Nishijima Roshi for his approval and this recognition of the Treeleaf.

    You will see a discussion of "democracy" and "checks and balances" in the letter, and you may wonder how that applies to Treeleaf. It most certainly applies. It is a bit unusual, because Treeleaf is a Sangha consisting of a group of members (you) and a single teacher (me ... although I prefer to think of myself as the bozo on this bus who happens to be the bus driver). So, it is a bit different from the situation in Dogen Sangha, which is a body of inderpendent Sangha, each with its own teacher, attempting to work in concert. However, the same principles apply here: Very directly, people here vote with their feet. If I should ever act in a way that is abusive, for example, I give you all permission to move this Forum elsewhere, continue the sitting and discussion, and leave me behind! Furthermore, if I ever act in any way that you consider a violation of the Precepts, I ask that you tell me so, publicly and directly.

    I accept no donations here (although I encourage you to donate to other charities with greater need), and thus there is little chance of financial impropriety. However, if we ever did have a budget or the like, I would immediately put in place mechanisms of outside financial oversight.

    So, let us celebrate this change. I feel like a young man moving from home for the first time. The whole world is now open to us (and, anyway, "Dad" Nishijima remains just a phone call away) :-)

    Gassho, Jundo

    __________________________________________________ ___

    Hello All,

    Nishijima Roshi has given his permission to my posting the following announcement here. I thank Nishijima for this idea, and for his recognition of the Treeleaf as its own Lineage. I am hoping you will join us in celebrating this.

    If anyone has any question about this or any matter, please feel free to write me at any time via our online Zendo:

    Gassho, Jundo Cohen



    At Nishijima Roshi’s suggestion (I had great resistance to the idea for many months, but I now believe that Roshi’s idea is wise), the “Treeleaf Zendo” through which I teach will be a separate Lineage deriving from Nishijima Roshi. Accordingly, we now withdraw and “go our own way” from Dogen Sangha/Dogen Sangha International, another branch of the tree of which Buddha and Master Dogen are the root, and Master Nishijima the core. All things are change, and this change will have no effect on my relationship with and love for my teacher, my position as the head of Treeleaf Zendo, or the nature of the “Dharma Transmission” bestowed upon me by Nishijima Roshi. I hope that Dogen Sangha International and Treeleaf Zendo will sail as two ships crossing the same vast ocean.

    So that the reasons for this are not misunderstood, I would like to offer a brief explanation. I have discussed some of these issues before, but they are worth briefly repeating for the record, so that the situation is clear. They have nothing to do with my respect and love for Ven. Brad, who I think stands as a stimulating and positive presence within the many flavors of Zen Buddhism. I think he is, like many in Dogen Sangha, a superb teacher trying to find his own unique voice, a fine successor to Nishijima Roshi, and that he has potential to be a good President of Dogen Sangha International.

    There is no reason to repeat in detail my reasons, but my objections originated from concern for the organization itself. For a long time, I and others attempted to express these several concerns from within the organization. However, as the saying goes, “too many cooks spoil the broth”. Thus, Master Nishijima suggested that we could each go our own way and each “do our own thing”. It is a wise thought. It reflects the history of the countless branching lineages of Zen Buddhism over the centuries, the reason why the lineages keep perpetually branching!

    As expressed in Brad’s fine letter of yesterday, some of us see Dogen Sangha International as an umbrella body uniting all the various teachers who are Dharma Heirs to Nishijima Roshi (and other students of Nishijima’s teachings) in many separate Sangha, in many countries, all of us upholding his teachings, and possessing love and respect for our teacher. However, some of us in the organization feel that, in the 21st century and after the countless cases of power, financial and other scandal within various Zen and other Buddhist Sangha around the world (please see the following) … ... rs/zen.asp

    … a de minimus degree of checks and balances, and input into decision making, is a fundamental necessity. The idea is now long vanished within almost all Sangha and Buddhist organizations in the West that no system of oversight is required. As a lawyer with quite a bit of experience with Buddhist and other organizations and the problems that can occur within them, I know that there is a middle ground between chaos and disconnection vs. a bureaucratic or rigid organization, and that a certain degree of regular communication and interchange among members should always be encouraged in such a body. To assert otherwise is short-sighted. Decisions should not be rendered on a whim, and especially not on a single person’s whim. Finally, in any Buddhist organization, there should be constant care and attention to the Precepts … they exist for a reason and are not a matter of “do as you feel” or that “the teacher is always right just because he/she is the teacher.” Although I will no long be in a position to say so, I believe that a lack of attention to the meaning of the Precepts within Dogen Sangha, and an over-emphasis on Zazen Practice alone, has been one major cause of various problems that have arisen in the past within the Sangha.

    Zen Buddhism is now in a period of rapid change, keeping some traditions while modernizing others. In the views and experience of some members of Dogen Sangha, authoritarian or fuedal thinking on governance needs to be left to the 15th Century. I will not live under such an antiquated system, especially without any checks upon it and without much emphasis on the guidance of the Precepts. For some reason, Dogen Sangha is trying to stay feudal and traditional in its method of governance, but modern, hip, loose and liberal on the issue of standards and the Precepts. The choice should probably be the other way around. In any event, this is just a difference of vision between the new president of DSI and several of its members. While it would have been possible to patch it over, or ignore the issue through silence, the present solution is best.

    So, some of us are sailing off under separate sails. Several ships on the same ocean.

    Thank you, Roshi. You proposed a very wise plan. I hope to see you again when we are back to Japan, offer bows, and that you will sit again on my daily “Sit-a-Long with Jundo” Zazen netcast. ... shaya.html

    Nishijima Roshi wrote me today to say that he will continue to fight for needed reforms in Buddhism as it currently exists in our world, and that "I will do my best until to my death".

    I responded:

    "I will do my best to help you in your work, as your loyal and loving student. That will never change."

    Gassho, Jundo Cohen

  2. #2
    Cool. I don't really know what to say. We'll keep the forum and sitting right?

    No matter what happens Jundo, you will always be my teacher whether you convert to the darkside or not. I will, hopefully, not follow there. I guess this seems to leave things wide open for the future of Treeleaf.

    For some reason, this seems like good news.

    Thanks Jundo

    Gassho Will

  3. #3
    Dito. All Hail Darth Jundo

    Big Gassho,


  4. #4
    This changes nothing for me Jundo. You are my teacher and I'll do whatever I can to serve you and Treeleaf.

  5. #5
    Hear, hear. I applaud your decision. Count on my support and adhesion to your ideas.

    After all, we're all bozos on the same bus, right?


  6. #6
    This DOES sound like very good news, I wonder how zazen without living attentively within the framework of the precepts is considered Buddhism?

    I am thankful to have found such a great teacher (even if he just "happens to be the bus driver" on this bus full of bozos!)

    Gassho, Greg

    [ tee-hee- Jundo driving the Zen bus... that makes me smile ]

  7. #7
    Thanks Jundo for your vision and diplomacy.

    Onward and upward (sideways?, outward? :? )!!

    We go where we go, and nowhere else.

    I, too, am convinced that Treeleaf is right for me at this time so I'm on board with your decision.



  8. #8
    Biiilllllll? Wherrre's your picturrrre?

    You know, you resemble a chess set. Did anyone ever tell you that?


  9. #9
    Actually, unless folks are really private, I do encourage everyone to use actual pictures of themselves as their "avatar" photo. I really want this to me like we could see each other's eyes a little, put a face to the name.

    (If you have some privacy concern, I give you permission to post somebody else's picture with a vague resemblance to you) :-)

    Could everyone try to choose a real photo? Yes, I know, it has nothing to do with your "True Face before your Mother and Father" and all that.

    Gassho, Jundo

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by HezB
    Do we take the precepts for ourselves or on the behalf of other people (whether they like it or not)?


    I Vote for Harry!

    (we're in a democracy now right?)

    Polly Tics can cause infections, please be careful

  11. #11
    And just when I was beginning to get this lineage figured out it goes and changes! Haha

    Oh well, it has always been Jundo’s insight that has captivated my attention, and it was only recently that I had even learned about the DSI. You have my full support Jundo.

    It is interesting to see Buddhist reforms occur before my eyes. Is this shift from old-school feudal to modern democracy a common reformation occurring in the various other lineages both in Zen and in Buddhism in general?

  12. #12
    This is surely an interesting (but not entirely unexpected) turn of events.

    Congratulations Jundo!


  13. #13
    Hi Kelly,

    Yes, it had to be ... as Zen and Buddhism moved from largely feudal, undemocratic societies and economic systems (like China and traditional Japan), to modern, Western "Democracies" (I know, I know, we are not really "democracies" ... Still, people in the west think in terms of "representation" "rights" "checks and balances" "oversight" "down with the king" and all the rest more than people in the societies where Zen developed. Some people are happy to have a leader, and to follow without question. But, less people are so willing than back in Japan, I assure you. In Japan, for example, when the teacher speaks his "Zen Talk" ... usually NOBODY asks a question. They just write it down (same in regular schools ... students don't ask many questions).

    Furthermore, there have been a long list of scandals at Buddhist Centers, usually resulting from one guy having too much power and unchallenged authority. It happened even with excellent teachers who couldn't keep their hands off some of their female students, plus various financial problems (Baker Roshi basically was living large off of the slave labor of his unpaid students).

    People are people. Even when some of those people are supposed to be "Buddhist Teachers".

    Now, I really must go to bed (the one I share with my wife, the Ai-ki-do expert, who would snap me like I twig if I even thought of touching a student).

    Gassho, Jundo

  14. #14
    Hi Jundo,

    Thanks for posting that. I'm sure you've taken the right approach -- and I'm glad to have the opportunity to sail the vast Dharma ocean with our fellow Treeleaves in your boat.


  15. #15
    Hmm, are we Treeleaves, Treeleafers, or just Leafs? :-)


  16. #16
    Member Martin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Wherever the next mediation is. Every now and then I make it back to Norfolk, England.

    Thanks for letting us know.

    Somehow I tend to find all partings / branchings off a little sad.

    But for what little it's worth, I agree with the reasons you give. And I'm honoured to be sailing the ocean in the good ship Treeleaf.

    Come, my friends,
    'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
    Push off, and sitting well in order smite
    The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
    To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
    Of all the western stars, until I die.



  17. #17
    Biiilllllll? Wherrre's your picturrrre?

    You know, you resemble a chess set. Did anyone ever tell you that?

    Sure, I can post a real photo when I get home . . . I just didn't have one handy that didn't look like a police mug shot. I always feel narcissistic taking a photo of myself.

    That being said, where's your avatar photo Jundo? :P


  18. #18
    Bill, I like your chess set avatar very much. Really.

    The nameless cigarette machine

  19. #19
    I come from a country that could have invented splitting up. Everytime someone in a church disagreed with someone else about something, a new church was founded, it seems. I have mixed feelings about that (I agree with what Martin said). I am more of a unity-in-diversity mindset (sorry for my especially crappy English in this post). But of course, sometimes it is good to see what cannot stay together (even though of course you are still together at another level) and I trust that Jundo and Nishijima Roshi made the right decision in this regard.

    In fact, this is one subject that I sometimes have trouble with myself. Is staying together in a particular situation holding on to things, being too attached to things/ideas/people? Or is leaving the easy way out - not accepting the situation as it is, thinking it will all be better when circumstances change.

    I can understand the reasons Jundo mentioned, and I personally like his emphasis on the Precepts and his personal accountability.


  20. #20
    I'm a little confused.

    What is Dogen Sangha International, really? And how much real authority does its president have over the member groups?

  21. #21
    Since I first met Jundo a few years ago, I have considered him my teacher and friend. I will always be his loving student and friend. I am grateful for him, for Treeleaf Zendo, and for all its members and guests.

    I think it is very cool to be part of a brand new Zen Buddhist lineage, especially one that strives for a balance between the Precepts and Just Sitting. I agree that this is the correct course of action. So, let's sail our boat (or drive our bus) together as Jundo steers (I’m sure he won’t mind if we ask him to take a few turns here and there along the way).

    Congratulations to us all!


  22. #22
    I agree with what Keith says about being part of something new. Because as old as Dogen is, and as "conservative" as Jundo can be at times - in a good way - he is bringing new ideas into it.


  23. #23
    I'm very happy about this development, It's a wonderful solution to the issues at hand. I whole heartily agree with the reasons given by Jundo, and applaud Nishijima Roshi's wisdom in suggesting this course of action.

    This is a great thing, and I'm very happy to be a part of this Sangha and new lineage.

    P.S. I'll repost my ugly mug soon as I get home tonight.

    take care,


  24. #24

    Sure, I can post a real photo when I get home . . . I just didn't have one handy that didn't look like a police mug shot. I always feel narcissistic taking a photo of myself.
    Haha. You have to do it quick. Try to surprise yourself. "Oh what's that? click."


  25. #25
    I'll be honest here and admit that I had a moment of hesitation when I read this news on Nishijima Roshi's blog.

    "But Brad's books brought me back to the Dharma! To a degree I can understand his logic."

    Then, like thunder in the mind:

    "This is easy. Jundo is my teacher. Brad is not."


  26. #26
    Hi Guys,

    I am glad that everyone feels comfortable with the change. It really is not much of a change. Nishijima Roshi is still my "dad".

    The change in Treeleaf is really just a matter of words, not substance. Instead of saying that it goes from Nishijima to me under the umbrella of Dogen Sangha International, it just makes it clear that Treeleaf runs from Nishijima to me. What does that mean? Not much, if anything. A little like the government shifting the flow chart in a ministerial bureaucracy. I just wanted to be less bound for the future by decisions made at DSI, for the reasons I described.

    Is everybody bored now?

    I mean, Nishijima himself is quite different in flavor from our "Grandad", Renpo Niwa Roshi, who was the Abbot of Eiheiji and (from what I know) pretty 'old school'.

    Nishijima is Niwa's pretty 'new school' offspring.

    Bored now?

    Harry, yes, "democracy' was a terrible choice of words. In the law [my previous incarnation], we call it "oversight, compliance and rational internal governance" (in other words, that there are the 'checks and balances' on abuse I described). Are you REALLY bored now?? "Democracy" just had a nicer 'ring' to it.

    I hope most of you have been around Treeleaf long enough to see, pretty much, what I mean by "democracy". It is how things have been run around here so far. In the future, I expect there will be times that things will be put to the test (some crisis here and there is bound to happen).

    I appreciate all the pledges of 'undying loyalty' to me. :-) I really do. Now, please stop that. Trust needs to be earned day by day, moment by moment. And (as I tried to say in my message to Keishin on another thread), I am really much more at home with the "driver of the bozo bus" image. Please only stay on the bus if the driver seems to know where he is going, and doesn't miss too many stops.

    You know, in Japan (not kidding) the traditional idea was that if a "master" told his monk-appentise to commit Hari-Kiri or the like, the monk would jump to it (that old samurai thing). I promise not to do so

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - I am not putting my avatar up because you already see too much of my ugly mug around here.

  27. #27
    A good thing to be sure, not entirely unexpected. I saw this coming a while back.

  28. #28
    Well hokey smoke, boys and girls!! :P

    One day on here and I'm already reading this! I really have no pithy commentary on the thing except to say that, from my experience, a wise decision is made when a disciple (student) A) takes refuge with his teacher prior to making a decision (refuge in the Buddha and Dharma are incomplete without refuge in the sangha), and B) holds the precepts in his blood and bones as being guiding teachings on the conduct of his actions. From what you have expressed, Jundo, you have done both admirably and transparently and, therefore, you and Nishijima Roshi have together launched this boat. (I am thinking of a beautiful painting that I believe Dogen did of Kanzeon floating on a leaf boat on the river of the waters of compassion. I shall try to dig that up and send it to you.)

    All that...*and your wife rocks! :lol:

    For what it's worth...I seem to have stepped on board and will journey with you if that seems good...

    In Gassho..


  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn

    All that...*and your wife rocks! :lol:

    For what it's worth...I seem to have stepped on board and will journey with you if that seems good...

    In Gassho..

    Dear Lynn,

    Thank you for the kind words, and I agree that my wife rocks! Here she is ... ... xliii.html

    Still in my pirate state of mind ... "Welcome aboard, matey!"

    Gassho and Arrrrrrrgh, Jundo

  30. #30
    i missed this post :B for what it is worth im here to stay and honored to be along for the voyage or bus ride


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