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Another Zen Roshi, 105, Investigated For Career-Long Sexual Misconduct

DakiniDakini Veteran
edited February 2013 in General Banter
According to an investigation, Japanese Zen master Joshu Sasaki, now 105, "groped and sexually harassed female students for decades", after arriving in Los Angeles in 1962 to teach Zen. According to an article in the NY TImes, "such charges have become more frequent in Zen Buddhism." The article mentions the scandals surrounding Eido Shimano. "Critics and victims have pointed to a Zen culture of secrecy, patriarchy and sexism, and to the quasi-religious worship of the Zen master, who can easily abuse his status." Female students were told that being groped by the master was part of his teaching to abandon ego.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/12/world/asia/zen-buddhists-roiled-by-accusations-against-teacher.html
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Comments

  • Ah the well known, 'groping koan ploy'.
    Common sense, the responsibility of anyone with or without genatalia . . .

    Monks and Roshi, Nuns and dakini all have to protect themself from seductive laity, which I have heard of and witnessed. Once we focus on the source of behaviour, ourselves, these examples stop being any surprise.
  • robotrobot Veteran
    edited February 2013
    lobster said:

    Ah the well known, 'groping koan ploy'.
    Common sense, the responsibility of anyone with or without genatalia . . .

    Monks and Roshi, Nuns and dakini all have to protect themself from seductive laity, which I have heard of and witnessed. Once we focus on the source of behaviour, ourselves, these examples stop being any surprise.

    If I understand what you are saying, it is the laity seducing the ordained. Sounds vaguely like blaming the victim.
    It is no surprise when average people succumb to temptation and bad behaviour, but these guys are supposed to set some kind of example of what a life time of practice should look like.
    Why bother if defilement cannot be overcome by those most dedicated ones.
  • Sounds vaguely like blaming the victim.
    Abusive predators are often protected by those around them. We should continue to condemn their 'hiding behind spirituality' hypocrisy. We should also condemn the centers that cover up such abuse.

    The point I was making is that authentic and genuine renunciates are far more often tested by innapropriate behaviour from laity. It is not easy to be a renunciate and our behaviour and consideration should reflect and not abuse their position.
  • Sorry, but that link to the NYTimes seems to require a paid subscription.

    However, you might look at the article again to check for an anti-Buddhist or Zen bias. That statement, "such charges have become more frequent in Zen Buddhism." is technically true, but misleading. That statement gives the impression sexual abuse is widespread in the Zen Buddhist community. There were absolutely no charges before a few years ago, so even the several bad apples we're identifying now is "more frequent".

    What is happening is, Western Zen and Western Buddhism in general is struggling to become more open and deal with a problem that in the East was traditionally ignored or hushed up. The Zen centers like Kwan Um Zen that quickly transitioned away from the heavily authoritarian (and heavily male dominated) Eastern model is discovering an engaged laity that can actually be trusted to act like adults.

    If you step back and look at the idealized model of Zen and Buddhism we inherited, it is disfunctional. The Dharma transmission is treated like some dangerous secret that normal people are not capable of handling or comprehending. In fact, every one of you who belong to a traditional Buddhist temple or center are being treated like children. You think that you have some insight or understanding of the Dharma that might be valid? Oh, isn't that cute. The Teacher will quickly tell you how wrong you are, of course, but since you don't have a robe and title all you can do is sit back down and do the classwork like a good little student.

    Comprehending human nature is a big chunk of the Dharma, and human nature is, people try to defend their position and authority. Even Enlightened Roshis need to feel they have earned their position through long, hard effort and feel challenged by any hint that they are not absolutely necessary for someone to "get it". It's the way they were taught, after all. The system produced them, so the system must be working and correct.

    Doesn't mean there isn't a role for either Roshis or the the established Temples and centers. But, you're not children and you can stand up and insist you stop being treated like children. I think that would be the healthiest thing to come out of Western Zen.
    lobsterNirvana
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited February 2013
    lobster said:

    Sounds vaguely like blaming the victim.
    Abusive predators are often protected by those around them. We should continue to condemn their 'hiding behind spirituality' hypocrisy. We should also condemn the centers that cover up such abuse.

    The point I was making is that authentic and genuine renunciates are far more often tested by innapropriate behaviour from laity. It is not easy to be a renunciate and our behaviour and consideration should reflect and not abuse their position.

    @Lobster...I am shocked at your comments!

    I'll let the lay I know how hard it is for the renunciates, and
    that they need to stop being teases and trying to snag these guys.

    ...'Our behavior should not abuse THEIR position...'??

    :eek:
  • @Lobster...I am shocked at your comments!
    :rolleyes:

    Why?
    You think all people become virtuous, ethical and non sexual just through meditation and chanting? Quite often the dharma attracts the unbalanced, wounded, power mad, repressed . . . or maybe that is just me?

    I will not point fingers, without being equally judgemental about circumstances I know of or in different circumstances could easily succumb to.

    The majority of teachers and laity are sincere and dedicated. We should develop a sense of balance.
    caz
  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran
    edited February 2013
    nothing new... Buddhism has it's share of humans just like any other religious group and because we have those nasty trixsey humans around they fail and do stuff like this. There are abusers and molesters of all types who wear robes.

    I think the main issue again is that of people giving too much power to a person(sounds very cultish) and people feeling powerless to do anything about it, which is really something we are supposed to be getting away from with a buddhist practice.

    im not sure if this guy is lay or a bhikkhu, but also this is why monastics should strictly follow the Vinaya on these matters.. they may seem sexist or out dated.. but if I become a monk you wont find me within 10 feet of a woman alone and behind closed doors, not gonna happen. This way not even charges of impropriety can be brought forth.
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited February 2013
    No, thats not what I think.
    No, it's not just you.

    What I do think is, don't renunciate and stay that way if when
    you 'succumb', the other person becomes part of your blame game.
    Be a lay, if you don't/can't give up sexual activity.
    Maybe renunciation is too hard. Maybe the succumbing
    is the problem. Go figure. hahaha

    Women have been dealing with this since the
    beginning of time....nothing new. Men in powerful
    positions.

    Ladies...stop throwing yourselves at the monks.
    They can't handle it.
    lolololol
  • zombiegirlzombiegirl beating the drum of the lifeless in a dry wasteland Veteran
    edited February 2013
    @lobster The article clearly discusses a monk "groping and sexually harassing" women. So, where do you get the idea of them seducing and enticing him? You need to check yourself.
  • Oh my... I fear the Lobster is in the Pot on this one...... ;-)
    personJeffreyvinlynBarra
  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran
    edited February 2013
    Vastminds said:

    No, thats not what I think.
    No, it's not just you.

    What I do think is, don't renunciate and stay that way if when
    you 'succumb', the other person becomes part of your blame game.
    Be a lay, if you don't/can't give up sexual activity.
    Maybe renunciation is too hard. Maybe the succumbing
    is the problem. Go figure. hahaha

    Women have been dealing with this since the
    beginning of time....nothing new. Men in powerful
    positions.

    Ladies...stop throwing yourselves at the monks.
    They can't handle it.
    lolololol

    a forced vow of renunciation is too hard no doubt, vows were born to be broken as they are objects of sheer will power as opposed to true renunciation where there is a natural dispassion there as you see more and more the futility and shallowness(impermanent, doesn't bring true happiness) of sexual experience, and indeed sensual experience in general.

    as for the ladies throwing themselves at monks, in that book " blistered feet, blissful mind" they have part of the story where the monks are on Tudong and a half naked woman tries to seduce the monk lol. I think there may be some women out there who would find that exciting and I'm sure that does happen, but overall I would say situations like this are much more cultish(think david koresh/jim jones) in nature then seductress in nature lol.
  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `     ` `     ` Outa Range Fridays thru Sundays South Carolina, USA Veteran
    edited February 2013
    Well, it's just terrible when women and their families who have been part of a sangha for twenty years are ostracized for standing up to a misbehaving Zen master. And then to hear of how such conduct made them unable to deal with "it," ultimately making them unable to continue with their practice. Thanks for the link!
    Cinorjer said:

    Sorry, but that link to the NYTimes seems to require a paid subscription.

    It's only about 33 cents a day. I'd say a worthwhile investment, even for a nonreader, with all its pictures worth a thousand words each.
  • So, where do you get the idea of them seducing and enticing him?
    I don't. I never did.
    in this case, he is at fault
    Women who honestly believe that groping, sexual abuse is acceptable behaviour from any man, woman or enlightened dog are clearly lady gaga. You would not put up with it I hope. People are vulnerable, gullible and not all able to defend against predators.

    the point which I will make again, is I have heard of more cases of laity acting inappropriately, I do not believe this happened in this Roshi case.

    let me give you an example:
    a Theravadin monastery where a woman literally asked two novice monks to meet her for 'a discussion'. She had sex with both of them, 'confessed' to the Abbot. Both novices were asked to leave the same day. Clearly the woman had issues.

    These sorts of situations also happen and are not reported.

    As people have mentioned, power structures and rules, expectations and greed for flesh or enlightenment . . . All dukkha . . .
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited February 2013
    ^^^ All three of them had issues.
    Why did they meet her?
    She didn't have sex with him/them,
    people have sex with each other.

    Nevermind.
    Have a good day. Im off to work.
    lobster


  • @Vastminds

    (warning; a little sarcasm and snark is afoot)

    Oh come on now, do we really need to explain the eeeeviiiils of females?
    Do we really need to remind you of the fact that women are " damned if they do- damned if they don't " when it comes to sexual encounters of nearly all kinds?

    The female is the Temptress.
    Adam could not resist Eve's charms and persuasions... so - of course- how could a simple, sheltered, Buddhist monk?

    I'm with you on this @vastminds- it takes two to engage in sexual encounters. Those monks could have and should have simply refused The Evil Temptress' advances and walked out the door.

    And besides, it appears we only know THEIR side of the story, now, doesn't it? What else could they say to defend themselves once confronted on their behavior?
    The Devil Made 'Em Do It. Woman = Devil.
    Vastmind
  • edited February 2013
    Them damn humans- all imperfect and fallible.
    Nirvanalobster
  • zenffzenff Veteran
    edited February 2013
    This subject pops up every two weeks maybe; so I’ll repeat again; I don’t think we’re talking about a few bad apples; that’s what the Catholic Church has been saying for decades so they didn’t have to look at it seriously.

    The list of abusive Zen-teachers is long. With "abusive" I mean that they combine student/teacher relationship with sexual relationship. You can’t do that. As a teacher you meet people who turn to you for help. They are willing to cross borders in order to break the chains of samsara. When -as a teacher – in this situation you propose to break those chains in your bedroom you are a piece of scum. And obviously as a student, when you fall for that you are naïve. But we are supposed to trust our teachers. Are they not living Buddhas?

    So I think we have to look seriously at the problem and find ways of preventing this kind of nonsense from happening in the future.
    Nirvana
  • People misusing a position of spiritual trust are VERY dangerous. It is a serious issue and should not be ignored, this is what happened in the case of this rogue roshi, he was protected by the aura and mystique of 'mastership'.
  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran
    edited February 2013
    zenff said:

    This subject pops up every two weeks maybe; so I’ll repeat again; I don’t think we’re talking about a few bad apples; that’s what the Catholic Church has been saying for decades so they didn’t have to look at it seriously.

    The list of abusive Zen-teachers is long. With "abusive" I mean that they combine student/teacher relationship with sexual relationship. You can’t do that. As a teacher you meet people who turn to you for help. They are willing to cross borders in order to break the chains of samsara. When -as a teacher – in this situation you propose to break those chains in your bedroom you are a piece of scum. And obviously as a student, when you fall for that you are naïve. But we are supposed to trust our teachers. Are they not living Buddhas?

    So I think we have to look seriously at the problem and find ways of preventing this kind of nonsense from happening in the future.

    living Buddha's my arse :-P. I think part of the issue in some traditions IS the reliance/propping up of teachers, when in reality we should be leading our own spiritual practice and have some guidance here and there. Just like the Buddha was descerning with his teachers, so should we be. We cannot and should not put the responsibility of our practice in the hands of someone else, period.

    I also would be very hesitant to ever even think any living teacher is enlightened.. That's dangerous for your own ego let alone there.

    I think about who I consider my teachers, who I have high respect for, I guess Ajahn Brahm and Bhante G. I listen to dhamma from them because I've seen from my own experience that what they teach is beneficial. If it's not beneficial then I don't use it. For instance even though bhante g teaches slow walking meditation, I don't practice that because I've seen in my practice that normal pace works best for me. I don't think " well bhante g says this so I better only ever do what he says"

    The dhamma should be our teacher.. Any humans who know dhamma can be a help, but it's up to the person to take responsibility for their own practice and take the wheel of the car, not be a passive passenger.
    NirvanaFullCircle
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited February 2013
    Has anyone besides Cinorjer had trouble accessing the article? I haven't.

    The article didn't say whether the Roshi in question was celibate. Many are not, yet they take advantage of their position of authority, anyway. Eido Shimano is married, for example, and there have been charges against him for decades. Charges of sexual misconduct in Zen are far from a recent phenomenon.

    This type of case points to the need for:
    1. Accountability in the system. There needs to be a way to sanction teachers who behave unethically, and to remove them if they don't respond to any kind disciplinary procedures or warnings.

    2. Raising awareness of the issue and fostering compassion on the part of members of the sanga towards victims or complainants, who sometimes end up either shunned, excommunicated or accused of "dividing the sangha".

    3. Organizing sanghas so that there's a structure in place for receiving and investigating complaints, such as having designated ombudsmen for members with grievances to report to. Sangha boards need to be organized in such a way that they're not beholden to the teacher, i.e. members should not be appointed by the teacher.

    4. There should be a sexual harassment policy stated by the sangha and any oversight organization (like the Zen Studies Society, for example), so that students know that they should not tolerate any sexual behavior or talk on the part of teachers.

    5. Sanghas can (and some do) require teachers to sign contracts that specify that fiscal or sexual malfeasance will result in dismissal.

    I highly recommend the book "Sex and the Spiritual Teacher: Why It Happens, When It's a Problem, and What We All Can Do", by Scott Edelstein, a student of Zen for 35 years.
    http://www.amazon.com/Sex-Spiritual-Teacher-Happens-Problem/dp/0861715969/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1360788465&sr=8-1&keywords=Sex+and+the+Spiritual+Teacher
    MaryAnneVastmind
  • I tried it again with Google Chrome instead of IE and that did the trick.

    Dakini
  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited February 2013
    Human nature.

    Mr. Mammoser said he first became aware of allegations against Mr. Sasaki in the 1980s. “There have been efforts in the past to address this with him,” Mr. Mammoser said. “Basically, they haven’t been able to go anywhere.”

    He added: “What’s important and is overlooked is that, besides this aspect, Roshi was a commanding and inspiring figure using Buddhist practice to help thousands find more peace, clarity and happiness in their own lives. It seems to be the kind of thing that, you get the person as a whole, good and bad, just like you marry somebody and you get their strengths and wonderful qualities as well as their weaknesses.”


    So Mr. Mammoser justifies his inaction. He justified it then and now. It's sad. If the accusations are true, and since this insider admits this was happening and they tried to "address this with him" then was the price of "helping thousands" worth the dozens of women he robbed of this "peace, clarity and happiness" along the way?

    Here is the corruption of false Zen on display. If true, Mr. Sasaki was an old fraud, and his Zen stunk like spoiled meat if the people he taught such as this Mr. Mammoser have so little self-knowledge of their own illusions. It's sad.

    Looking back on the twentieth century, we'll probably see this as a flawed version of Zen that otherwise well meaning people mistook for the quest for clear mind.
  • NirvanaNirvana aka BUBBA   `     `     ` `     ` Outa Range Fridays thru Sundays South Carolina, USA Veteran
    edited February 2013
    Jayantha said:

    I think part of the issue in some traditions IS the reliance/propping up of teachers, when in reality we should be leading our own spiritual practice and have some guidance here and there. Just like the Buddha was discerning with his teachers, so should we be. We cannot and should not put the responsibility of our practice in the hands of someone else, period.

    I ... would be very hesitant to ever even think any living teacher is enlightened.. That's dangerous for your own ego let alone theirs.

    For the most part, I"d give this statement ten thumbs up (I'm all thumbs again today.)

    In other words, @Jayantha, be a light unto yourself? A strong belief in that principle though, I think, would not preclude being able to spot a real avatar or Buddha if one came along.

    .????
  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran
    edited February 2013
    Nirvana said:

    Jayantha said:

    I think part of the issue in some traditions IS the reliance/propping up of teachers, when in reality we should be leading our own spiritual practice and have some guidance here and there. Just like the Buddha was discerning with his teachers, so should we be. We cannot and should not put the responsibility of our practice in the hands of someone else, period.

    I ... would be very hesitant to ever even think any living teacher is enlightened.. That's dangerous for your own ego let alone theirs.

    For the most part, I"d give this statement ten thumbs up (I'm all thumbs again today.)

    In other words, @Jayantha, be a light unto yourself? A strong belief in that principle though, I think, would not preclude being able to spot a real avatar or Buddha if one came along.

    .????
    Yes be a light unto yourself, use the dhamma as your guide. Just as a further clarification on my statements and not a direct response to you Nirvana - I'm not saying you should say " screw you " to all teachers and go at it alone. What I'm saying is that you should take charge and be responsible for your own practice. don't just do something "because my master says to do this". This is dangerous and even the Buddha was against this. I don't ever feel like I need to prove myself to a teacher.. imo a teacher has to prove themselves to me before I would learn from them. The Buddha talked about this in a sutta how to know a good teacher etc.

    I've sort of found myself in a dhamma teaching role in the last year or so and I'm still kind of uncomfortable with it. I always reiterate to people who listen to me to take charge of their own practice, to see for themselves what is beneficial and to take whatever dhamma I say with the discerning mind to observe if it is beneficial to them. Even when/if I become a monk I will continue with this. I would not feel very good otherwise.

    on a lighter note , I think I may need some education.. for me an avatar is a video game character or a blue alien lol. What is an Avatar in the buddhist sense?

    and as for the spotting a buddha/avatar. My comment on that means that the ego really loves it when their teacher is "the best" , so you see a lot of this " my teacher is enlightened" type of bs, most monastics and masters laugh at this which is good, some outright claim to be arahants(oi!)... all dangerous stuff. What is more important is how manage your own practice.. and that you practice in the first place... so many questions answer themselves through the insight of practice.. not the answer of a master, all we need is patience.
  • on a lighter note , I think I may need some education.. for me an avatar is a video game character or a blue alien lol. What is an Avatar in the buddhist sense?
    'Avatar' is a Hindu concept usually meaning the human incarnation of a god. I don't know that it's used in Buddhism, but I have heard that the Buddha is considered in Hinduism to be an avatar of Vishnu.
  • Get away from me!" but more typically, the abuser has learned to identify the damaged women, like me. Because the damaged women are so much less likely to find their words.
    You are right to identify this as the central issue. I was unskilful in my attempts to dissipate the finger pointing by bringing in another issue. This predator Roshi is damaged too. Maybe I should not be saying that?
  • Of the various lineages, Vajrayana seems to have the major share of Gurus misbehaving. This is entirely due to the leveated status given to the orders' monks and especially its Gurus. As Dakini mentioned, this is an element absorbed from Hinduism.

    Not only that, it seems to have absorbed a lot of Chinese Imperial practices for the Aristocrats, practices that are close to deifying the Gurus and recognising them as Aristocrats, ...above the rest of us peasants! So very sad, that it is carried on from the Tibet of yesteryears and exported to the West.

    Even today there are numerous of these Gurus that while they do expound on the Dharma quite well, their behaviour leaves much to be desired. A case of not practicing what they preach. Alas, their flock consists of newer adherents to Buddhism who are easily led to believe the unbelievable. Some of them gain considerable fame, for whatever reasons.

    There is one such in Malaysia, that the older Vajrayana crowd steer well clear off, and he is actually quite notorious within the Tibetan community. Even visiting TB monks know of his indiscretions and warn us off. Sigh.
    Power corrupts, absolutely.

    Other lineages, such as Mahayana and Theravada, do occasionally have problems but these are of a different scale and we hear so much less of them, anyway they are usually uncovered and disrobed not long after.

    So, this issue will always be around, as long as gullible converts put their gurus on a pedestal. This is definitely NOT a Budhhist practice but a cultural one.

  • BhanteLuckyBhanteLucky Monk since 2014 A Forest Monastery Veteran
    How about the recent Ken Mcleod scandal. Not zen, but the same issues. And few of his followers seem to care, they just shrug and ignore the damage done, because Ken is "cool".
  • Re living Buddhas, i don't think we can tar all the Masters with the same brush. For every errant monk, there are many great examples of virtuous monks. I have been told by several masters that we should not judge monks... i can only speak for my own Guru who i have spent much time with - literally i am in his home everyday for at least 12 hours a day. My Guru does not come across as conventional, on many different levels, but actually he is deeply traditional. He always travels with a male attendant to appease the minds of people, although he has a lot of women working around him. And he does get a lot of gossip because of the women around him, but trust me, there is NO sex! LOL.. in fact when he was modeling, some women students did wish there was!!! but no, there is NO sex... but still gossip went around. And then when we said he always has his male attendant around, gossip began that he was gay. Literally, he cannot win. Lay people always had something negative to say.

    So in essence, i think that only the students of that particular teacher would know what happened or did not happen. If we are not the students, we should not judge either way.
    cazSile
  • We can make up our own mind about the McLeod scandalai
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/americanbuddhist/2012/10/from-scandal-like-to-just-plain-ugly.html

    My impression is Patricia Ivan is describing events with honesty and integrity and Ken Mcleod is trying to sweep events under the cushion. Seems that way.

    Should we wash Buddhisms dirty linen in public? Yes.
    Buddhism is about integrity, truth, honesty and accountability, otherwise we might as well apply to be Papal devotees . . .
  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited February 2013

    How about the recent Ken Mcleod scandal. Not zen, but the same issues. And few of his followers seem to care, they just shrug and ignore the damage done, because Ken is "cool".

    Heh. Ken Mcleod. Never met the man, but I understood where he was coming from when I read this on his website:

    “We feel that most people, when provided with the right training and guidance, will naturally seek to create environments in which they can transform conceptual understanding of spiritual teaching into experiential knowing, and thus resolve their deepest questions about how to make freedom, compassion and awareness alive and active in their lives.”

    Quick, what did the man just say? You have to read it several times, pausing to translate it into common english, don't you? And it's padded to look impressive. What's the difference between training and guidance? He doesn't change people, he "transforms" and when's the last time you said, "I'm in the mood to change an environment"?

    That's Western "business-speak", my friend. It's the CEO certified mission statement full of buzzwords designed to impress while actually saying nothing. It's the bullshit language used by businesses everywhere to sound impressive. Mister Mcleod is, in fact, trying to use the American business model of the outside consulting firm of effeciency experts to teach Buddhism. Nothing wrong with that, since the old style inherited from the East was built by retired military generals and resemble boot camps more than learning centers. So this is an experiment in a form of Western Buddhism.

    But every system has its faults. So instead of Master-student we have Manager-trainee. Mostly, people in business start believing their own press releases and that mask they present to the world becomes who they are. So in this case, the CEO Ken Mcleod gets into a scandal by not keeping his pants up and failing to treat his "employee" in a professional manner. So what does a business do? What his organization did in this case: protect the CEO at all costs. Have the lawyers send threatening letters to the people who are publishing the dirt, threatening lawsuits and pointing out they have much deeper pockets even if they end up in court.

    You know, even in the business world it isn't that hard to keep your hands off your coworkers and especially the people you manage and supervise. I've worked with lots of good looking women and never once lost control and tried to plant a big kiss on their lips or tried to talk them into meeting somewhere later. I taught meditation classes and quickly learned how to spot the students that were lonely and vulnerable to someone with some confidence and smooth talk. If anything, that made me even more hesitant to engage them on anything but a professional level. So I don't have a lot of sympathy for the Zen teachers who abused their position, even if it was concensual. I still have compassion, because I know human nature. It's not the mistake I focus on, because that's not the true test of character. It's how we deal with the mistakes when they come back to bite us on the ass that tell the world who we are.

    lobsterMaryAnneBhanteLucky
  • Patr said:

    Of the various lineages, Vajrayana seems to have the major share of Gurus misbehaving. This is entirely due to the leveated status given to the orders' monks and especially its Gurus. As Dakini mentioned, this is an element absorbed from Hinduism.

    Not only that, it seems to have absorbed a lot of Chinese Imperial practices for the Aristocrats, practices that are close to deifying the Gurus and recognising them as Aristocrats, ...above the rest of us peasants! So very sad, that it is carried on from the Tibet of yesteryears and exported to the West.

    Even today there are numerous of these Gurus that while they do expound on the Dharma quite well, their behaviour leaves much to be desired. A case of not practicing what they preach. Alas, their flock consists of newer adherents to Buddhism who are easily led to believe the unbelievable. Some of them gain considerable fame, for whatever reasons.

    There is one such in Malaysia, that the older Vajrayana crowd steer well clear off, and he is actually quite notorious within the Tibetan community. Even visiting TB monks know of his indiscretions and warn us off. Sigh.
    Power corrupts, absolutely.

    Other lineages, such as Mahayana and Theravada, do occasionally have problems but these are of a different scale and we hear so much less of them, anyway they are usually uncovered and disrobed not long after.

    So, this issue will always be around, as long as gullible converts put their gurus on a pedestal. This is definitely NOT a Budhhist practice but a cultural one.

    Just an aside but Tibetan Buddhism also teaches mahayana such as in my sangha. It is not all tantra/vajrayana.

    I blame the guru but I recognize that a road to positive action is to make the followers aware of this shit and hopefully not put up with corruption. So the blame is not the followers but the responsibility is. At least in the sense of 'where can we go from here'? 'How can it be improved'?
  • Our Zen center was founded by a master teacher that was also a psychologist. As a psychologist, he received disciplinary action because of charges of sexual misconduct brought against him by 2 female patients. The whole thing creeps me out, quite frankly. I won't be going there.
  • Patr said:



    Even today there are numerous of these Gurus that while they do expound on the Dharma quite well, their behaviour leaves much to be desired. A case of not practicing what they preach. Alas, their flock consists of newer adherents to Buddhism who are easily led to believe the unbelievable. Some of them gain considerable fame, for whatever reasons.

    There is one such in Malaysia, that the older Vajrayana crowd steer well clear off, and he is actually quite notorious within the Tibetan community. Even visiting TB monks know of his indiscretions and warn us off. Sigh.
    Power corrupts, absolutely.

    Which one is this @Patr?
  • Do your own research thoroughly, speak to other Vajrayana practitioners, especially those with many more years of experience than us. Doesnt matter which of the four main schools they are from, you'll find notoriety and great teachers alike both being espoused and disseminated.

    Also speak to visiting Lamas, there are loads of them, gather info from that quarter as well. Ask them about the rinpoches in Malaysia, give them some names and get feedback. They know who are the good and not so good ones. They come from all schools

    There is a wealth of knowledge out there.
  • There will always be errant monks, priests, law enforcement people etc. This is samsara after all. Their conduct is bad but what is equally bad is people who claim they know stuff but refuse to disclose these knowledge to help others. What are you afraid of? The truth or the lie? I am led to believe that either the information is false and malicious or otherwise unproven and the person knows it, or that the information is indeed true but person's idea of virtue is to stand in the shadow and throw stones. I don't remember cowardice being a virtue or listed as one of the 6 Perfections.

    Personally I am very annoyed by rumors like this. We should be spending our time promoting Dharma, knowing that nothing is perfect instead of leveraging on imperfections and engage in idel gossip.

    "A Rinpoche in Malaysia"? Wow, thats rich.
    lobsterNirvana
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited February 2013
    Well, before we can can choose a sangha, it's wise to inform ourselves of the potential problems that can come up. Going in with our eyes open rather than closed, we have the ability to discern what might be a sangha devoted to the study of the dharma, and what might be a somewhat cultic sangha oriented around the personality of the teacher.

    And Patr, I assume posts in the spirit of the Dalai Lama's warning to thoroughly check out one's teacher, "to spy" on your teacher (meaning talking to current and former students, and keeping an ear to the ground for gossip) has brought some fresh ideas to this process. Most students of TB or Zen would probably be reluctant to walk up to a teacher and begin asking about another teacher's qualifications or reputation, but apparently, it's possible. The situation may be a little different in Zen. I'm not sure teachers would be open to sharing information about other teachers. Does anyone here have experience with this?

    I've wondered about the lamas who don't cut their hair; I've noticed it's mainly some Kagyu who don't shave their heads, and I'm told that those who have their hair are yogis, not celibate monks. Yogis are supposed to differentiate themselves from the others with a white skirt or white stripe on their robe, so people will know who they're dealing with. But maybe these days the hair is the mark.

    In view of how serious the situation in a sangha can become, and how unexpectedly things can spin out of hand, I think it's good to do research and ask questions before one takes the leap of making a full commitment to the sangha, taking refuge, etc. One can sometimes. get a feel for the general atmosphere by attending, talking to other members, observing how the teacher handles questions and how the members react to the teacher. In the meantime, one might contact friends in other Zen or TB centers to see if they're heard anything about Roshi so-and-so. Or search the internet, our Western equivalent of hanging out in the teahouses in Dharamsala.

    The problem is, those who are new to Buddhism don't have many, if any, resources for checking out their local center and the local gurus. But at least they're aware of the issues, if they read these threads.
  • Personally, my teacher has always advocated not talking negatively about other teachers. He says that we are not there to see what is going on so we should not judge and we should not listen to hearsay. He also tells people to check out their teachers before they decide to take establish the guru-disciple relationship and once you decide on a particular teacher, you should follow him or her all the way. I've only known my teacher for 8 years but there are students who have been following him for over 20 years, so if my teacher was not consistently genuine and sincere, they would have known and not stuck around. For the 8 years i have observed, he has been consistently compassionate and cares for his students without agenda.

    I met Lama Zopa about 15 years ago and he also mentioned that it is the right thing to not talk negatively about sangha. I did ask but what if the sangha member was behaving inappropriately. Is it not better to let others know? But he was adamant about it, saying that is the proper way.

    In the case of this Zen master who had sexual misconduct, and many other cases, i still cannot reconcile what is the best policy if we cannot say negative things about the teacher even though it may be harmful to current and future students. However, as i do have a teacher, i will follow his advice to just keep my own counsel.
  • What are you afraid of? .

    A libel suit?
    sharonsawlobster
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited February 2013
    Dakini said:

    I've wondered about the lamas who don't cut their hair; I've noticed it's mainly some Kagyu who don't shave their heads, and I'm told that those who have their hair are yogis, not celibate monks. Yogis are supposed to differentiate themselves from the others with a white skirt or white stripe on their robe, so people will know who they're dealing with.

    That's more or less my understanding, as well. In some Tibetan traditions, not cutting one's hair is an extension of the ngakpa vow not to disparage women. For example, from "The Root Commitments of a Ngakpa or Ngakmo":
    The verbal, mental, or physical denigration of women by men, or men by women, is seriously deprecated within Tantra. Fundamentally women are the source of wisdom, and men are the source of method. Within the inner tantras of all schools women and men must be regarded with pure-vision – as beings who have the innate ability to reflect one's enlightened nature. Within the specific vows of the gö-kar-chang-lo [i.e., the 'white sangha' of of non celibate tantric practitioners], this vow extends to refraining from cutting the scalp hair. Every hair is regarded as embodying the energy of the pawos (for women) and khandros (for men). For men or women to mentally or verbally denigrate each other, is to denigrate their own enlightened natures.
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    lobster said:


    Should we wash Buddhisms dirty linen in public? Yes.
    Buddhism is about integrity, truth, honesty and accountability. . .

    I agree on both accounts.

  • sharonsaw said:


    In the case of this Zen master who had sexual misconduct, and many other cases, i still cannot reconcile what is the best policy if we cannot say negative things about the teacher even though it may be harmful to current and future students. However, as i do have a teacher, i will follow his advice to just keep my own counsel.

    I think it's one thing not to engage in gossipy behavior. However, when it comes to actual issues of abuse, no matter what a teacher says, it needs to come out. Better safe than sorry -- if someone knows something, or has reason to seriously suspect something is wrong and doesn't say anything, then they're allowing for the possibility of even greater harm being done.

    I don't have an actual teacher, so maybe it's easier for me to say. But it just doesn't seem responsible to me not to attempt to protect fellow sangha members. Perhaps this is a bit of a cultural thing on the part of some teachers? That would make sense if it was, but if so, it's a bit of culture that doesn't need to be imported.

    Teachers should be respected, but they also need to behave in a manner worthy of that respect. They are human too and there for not infallible. In the end we have to make our own decisions and try and do what's best.

    MaryAnne
  • @Dakini, is it important what Buddhists do with their hair? Is there a correlation between hair and sexual abuse?
  • howhow Veteran
    Hanging out all the dirty laundry should be a fundamental aspect of the practise.

    It can be done within the precepts and the Theravada's have got it down to a T.

    Those with devotional leanings usually find full disclosure a difficult pill to swallow as it brings their very practise into question.

    There are armchair quarterbacks and those with life long careers at stake.
    There are terrible stories unfolding and others being actively squashed.

    One school I know engaged in questionable practises, backed up with 40 years of shunning until the Internet gave those disaffected isolated voices a place to explain the reasons they left. Some accountability & monastic chest beating resulted with marginal enthusiasm until life long habits reasserted themselves with depressing predictability.

    The main saving grace I saw with a public laundry display is that new folks who research potential training centres can now hear about the complaints to watch out for before entering.




    Jeffrey
  • sharonsaw said:

    Personally, my teacher has always advocated not talking negatively about other teachers. He says that we are not there to see what is going on so we should not judge and we should not listen to hearsay. He also tells people to check out their teachers before they decide to take establish the guru-disciple relationship and once you decide on a particular teacher, you should follow him or her all the way. I've only known my teacher for 8 years but there are students who have been following him for over 20 years, so if my teacher was not consistently genuine and sincere, they would have known and not stuck around. For the 8 years i have observed, he has been consistently compassionate and cares for his students without agenda.

    I met Lama Zopa about 15 years ago and he also mentioned that it is the right thing to not talk negatively about sangha. I did ask but what if the sangha member was behaving inappropriately. Is it not better to let others know? But he was adamant about it, saying that is the proper way.

    In the case of this Zen master who had sexual misconduct, and many other cases, i still cannot reconcile what is the best policy if we cannot say negative things about the teacher even though it may be harmful to current and future students. However, as i do have a teacher, i will follow his advice to just keep my own counsel.

    This is the "old school" approach and it is how he was taught. Understand that this is cultural and a blind spot and that doesn't mean a particular Teacher's Dharma is invalid or faulty.

    More than anything, though, it is this attitude on the part of the Masters and Monks that allowed abuse to fester (including child abuse in Tibet and other Sanghas that admit children). Just understand that this philosophy of "Sangha Masters are sacred and not to be criticized no matter what" has its real dangers and follow your own conscious.

    The Teacher is NOT the Sangha. The Sangha is the community of Buddhists including, perhaps most importantly, the students. Without the students there would be no Sangha for the next generation. It is the Sangha that is sacred. If these Masters and Monks would police themselves, that would be great. Human nature. Comprehend Zen, and you see why that won't happen.
    lobster
  • Jeffrey said:

    @Dakini, is it important what Buddhists do with their hair? Is there a correlation between hair and sexual abuse?

    Someone raised the point that renunciates generally are required to have shaved heads, and the implication was that if a monk allowed his hair to grow, maybe it was a sign that he had not renounced sensuality. Yogis wear robes, but are not renunciates, and they are tantric practitioners, so I thought that might be an explanation. Perhaps we'll hear more from the person who originally posted that.

  • black_tea said:



    I think it's one thing not to engage in gossipy behavior. However, when it comes to actual issues of abuse, no matter what a teacher says, it needs to come out. Better safe than sorry -- if someone knows something, or has reason to seriously suspect something is wrong and doesn't say anything, then they're allowing for the possibility of even greater harm being done.

    I don't have an actual teacher, so maybe it's easier for me to say. But it just doesn't seem responsible to me not to attempt to protect fellow sangha members. Perhaps this is a bit of a cultural thing on the part of some teachers? That would make sense if it was, but if so, it's a bit of culture that doesn't need to be imported.

    Teachers should be respected, but they also need to behave in a manner worthy of that respect. They are human too and there for not infallible. In the end we have to make our own decisions and try and do what's best.

    I think that if there is abuse, definitely something needs to be done, but it has to be surfaced by the victims of abuse, not by people who are not involved in the centre and who would not know what is really happening there. There are people who like to gossip and are happy to spread false rumours about teachers out of jealousy or misunderstanding, so i think it is not fair on the teacher for other people not belonging to the centre or not a close student to spread rumours if the rumours are not able to be substantiated.

    This zen Roshi obviously was sexually abusing his students because there are many women claiming the same thing, so it can be said to be substantiated. However, having heard rumours about my own teacher which are not true, especially by people who have never even met him or visited our centre, I find it rather incomprehensible and unfair.
    Sile
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited February 2013
    @Dakini, it might be a sign that they had not renounced craving. Notice I said craving and not sensuality. We will always have sensuality I think. It is built into the nervous system to be a sensitivie creature. But we overcome craving. But I think it is a huge assumption to correlate hair with non-renunciation (of craving). And whenever we ASSUME we (might) make an ASS of U and ME.
  • I don't know who assumes that. I was told lamas/monks who don't shave their heads are yogis. @sharonsaw, do you know if Tsem is a yogi?
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