JOSHUTOWN?

BJMAs regular readers know, I have been struggling for quite some time to properly express what I feel concerning the stuff surrounding Joshu Sasaki Roshi and the allegations that he sexually abused a number of his students. It’s not the allegations that concern me. I’m not interested in trying to dig into what happened. Other people are already doing that and they don’t need my help.

What interests me is the reactions people are having. We can’t do anything to change the past and at age 105, Sasaki isn’t even appearing in public anymore let alone fondling anyone. It’s what we do from here-on-out that matters and very little of it has anything at all to do with Sasaki. It’s about us. And that’s a lot harder to deal with than rehashing what happened to somebody else back in the 80s in a cabin in the mountains.

I feel that a lot of the discussion surrounding Sasaki is moving us in a direction of agreeing in principle to things we probably should not be agreeing in principle to.

For example, it is a bad thing to sexually grope people in sanzen (private spiritual discussions between student and teacher). It is a bad thing to take advantage of psychologically vulnerable people. It is a bad thing for for spiritual teachers to abuse the trust placed in them. And consent is not the ultimate trump card that excuses everything. Yes does not always mean yes. I addressed this particular matter in my most recent book Sex Sin and Zen in the discussion about BDSM relationships and related the dynamics of those relationships to the relationships that develop between student and teacher.

All of this is true and I think any sensible person would agree with it.

But a lot of the discussion I’ve seen on the Intertubes appears to me to be using these sensible notions to launch into other areas that I think are not only mistaken but potentially dangerous. I see a lot of talk demanding that Zen students be provided with a “safe environment”. OK. If by that you mean that students ought to not need to worry that they might be groped in the sanzen room or taken advantage of in other ways, I’m all for that.

But there is an unstated undercurrent in this demand for safety that bothers me.

I feel like one of the most important lessons of the Sasaki case is not that students need to be provided with a perfectly safe environment. It’s that responsibility goes both ways.

It is very dangerous to suggest this. If you do you will be accused, as I have been, of excusing the perpetrators and blaming the victims. I do not blame the victims for what they suffered. But we need to always bear in mind that Sasaki’s victims were not rounded up by armed gestapo, herded into box cars and shipped to him for his pleasure. All of them came to him of their own accord. Which is not to excuse what he did or to say that their apparent consent makes everything OK (see above). But it is a very significant aspect of what happened that we need to always remember in any discussion of the matter.

It’s important because what happened with Sasaki was nowhere near as bad as it could have been.

I just watched a documentary on the Jonestown Massacre of 1978. One of the most horrifying scenes in the documentary involved one of the survivors describing how he watched his wife make their infant son drink some of the cyanide-laced Kool-Aid and then drink the rest of the cup herself. They both died in his arms, frothing at the mouth. That’s when, he says, he knew it was time to leave.

It’s baffling. I couldn’t help thinking to myself, “That’s when you knew it was time to leave?” I’m not trying to insult the guy. It’s clear from the way he tells the story that even he has the same question. The documentary does a good job of trying to answer it.

Jonestown did not start off with a madman ordering over 900 people to commit mass suicide. It started with lofty and laudable ideals. Jim Jones was a champion of racial integration and equality. He had a unique talent for implementing positive change in troubled communities, getting people off drugs, getting them to make constructive contributions to their neighborhoods. He was charismatic and charming. It’s easy to see why so many people were drawn to him. Jonestown was a beautiful agricultural community carved out of the jungles of Guyana. It was an impressive achievement. You didn’t have to be insane to want to go there.

Jim Jones didn’t go from charming to bat-shit crazy in one quick movement. It happened by degrees over time. And the people followed along, continuously accepting ever increasing degrees of madness.

Responsibility in the case of the Jonestown Massacre went both ways. Jim Jones didn’t act alone. He needed willing accomplices. He needed willing victims.

Part of what I see going on in the demands for a safe environment that are cropping up in response to the Sasaki scandal is a demand for an environment free from personal responsibility. I wonder if this might be an unconscious demand for a more Jonestown-like environment in our Zen centers.

It seems to me that we want to demand that our teachers be perfectly good so that we can enter into a state of baby-like trust in them. Nobody thinks that’s what they want. They will all protest that they don’t. But I have to wonder. I wonder because I know for certain that I want that. I really do. And I have acted in ways that would have been disastrous if I’d had my own Jonestown to run off to. I would have gone there for sure. No question about it. We all want that, I think.

But our teachers can never be perfectly good. They can be better than Jim Jones or Joshu Sasaki. They ought to be. And we are right to demand at least that much. But I feel like there’s an undercurrent to some of what I’m seeing that wants more than that.

The problem is we can’t have an environment so safe that we adults can ever let go and fall backwards into a fluffy warm state of infant-like trust. Babies have no choice but to place their total trust in their parents. Sometimes this trust is misplaced. But babies are powerless to do anything about that. So society steps in and tries to make sure that all parents treat their babies well.

Adults don’t have that option. No matter how many committees “with teeth” we put into place to try and make it that way. Again, I often wish we did. In Japan, where I lived for 11 years, many adults place a ridiculous amount of trust in the government to be like surrogate parents. After the debacle following the 2011 tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster a lot of that trust is gone. Which is a good thing. As bad as the disaster was, it did have the effect of making people a lot more realistic about their government. Which is not me saying that Japan ought to have more nuclear melt-downs any more than my recent statements about Sasaki are me saying we ought to have more sexual abuse by Zen masters.

I think it’s crucial that we derive the correct lesson from what happened with Sasaki and his group. It’s that we, as students, have to be very careful about giving up our personal power and responsibility to our teachers. Otherwise things can get a whole lot worse.

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BRAD’S SPRING MICRO-TOUR 2013

• March 5th (Tuesday) 7:00 pm NASHVILLE, TN12 South Dharma Center 2301 12th Ave. South, Suite 202, Nashville, TN 37204 (2nd floor, stairs in back of building). Meditation at 7pm (two 25 min periods with a 5 minute kinhin). Dharma talk following at 8. Newcomers are invited to come 15 minutes early for orientation.

• March 8th (Friday) 10:00 pm CLEVELAND, OHSpitfire Saloon 1539 W 117th St  Cleveland, OH 44107 Zero Defex with Dutch Babies and The Drexels.

• March 13th (Wednesday) 7:00 pm CHICAGO, ILZen Buddhist Temple of Chicago,  608 Dempster St., Evanston (near the Dempster Purple Line station). The event goes from 7-9, and includes one 40-minute period of zazen, 10 minutes of kinhin, after which I’ll give a talk.

•March 14th (Thursday) 7:30 pm CHICAGO, IL  – Logan Theater 2646 N. Milwaukee Ave. Chicago, IL 60647 Shoplifting from American Apparel screening. I’ll introduce the film and do a Q&A.

• March 17th (Sunday) 10:20 am MILWAUKEE, WIMilwaukee Zen Center 2825 N. Stowell Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53211-3775 My talk will start at 10:20 am but come at 9:30 am if you want to sit zazen with me too.

I will also be in Akron, Ohio from March 6-13 if anybody wants to set up a thing out there.

April 26-28 ZEN RETREAT AT MOUNT BALDY ZEN CENTER F0r more info or to sign up, click here. No groping.

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If this blog entertained you or made you think, please make a donation. The coffee shop I’m writing in is way too expensive and the library is closed this morning. Plus there’s some TV industry dude with a million tattoos shouting to the people at his table about his project and all the famous people he knows. Ugh!

144 Responses

  1. Andy
    Andy February 28, 2013 at 10:05 am | |

    Hi Gniz

    Thanks for the honest (as per) response. I think there’s much common ground in our viewpoints, and the differences down to caste of mind and experience – notwithstanding those merely apparent (yet often pivotal) differences shaped by how we chose to express and interpret.

    I’m certainly not suggesting that your choice of practice is worse off for your rejecting ‘Zen’ as a means through which to express your practice, or that your reasons for doing so are without foundation.

    I suppose my view can be highlighted by my reaction to things like the sex scandals. Whereas many people have expressed disenchantment with Zen Buddhism in the light of such information, my reaction was (where something like ‘disenchantment’ could be said to have been an aspect of how I felt) more of the ‘well that’s folk for you’ kind. ‘This shit’s happening all the time, everywhere, always has always will.’

    I think for this reason, I’m less troubled by another festering boil erupting, as though that marked out another seemingly zit-resistant body I might or have put my store in. Rather, it’s the insidious, seemingly – almost insistently – healthy, detergent-like characters, viewpoints and behaviours we can find in any walk of life, and that also in some quarters apparently seek to stink-rinse the whole house out in light of the recent Sasaki abscess, with their (worryingly corrosive) lemon fresh zest.

    Apply some salve or even a few stitches, wipe up the mess with a little product, set in place some practical guidelines for communal hygiene, by all means. But let’s not end up poisoning or clingfilming the baby because baby-like trust has a tendency to get infected, adults carry (sometimes some very nasty) germs, and because communal spaces and institutions are always going to allow for the concentration of various diseases – especially if folk in their well-scrubbed orbs of purity take so much of their shine to mean the house ain’t got dry rot and old pee under the toilet seat.

    To continue the conceit further, ‘Zen Buddhism’ might be riddled with some antiquated blueprints folk follow to the extent that structures keep being built that have a tendency to harbour certain diseases. But before we condemn the whole project and its various structures, or decide on fundamental restructuring, we have to be able to discern and distinguish what parts are doing what to cause such problems and the extent to which they are inherent in the project itself and in human life as a whole.

    If we on the outside and inside don’t do that, we could just be encouraging a situation where those fleeing the building don’t realise what they’re spreading, never mind what they’re allowing to fester within themselves. And those on the outside might just mistake an outbreak of the pox over there for their own immunity from the same – and thus perhaps don’t feel the need, say, to use condoms, which could just end up having the same effect as the catholic church’s dictum on the spread of STDs (only difference being in this conceit that one cause of the problem comes from an erroneous top-down institutional attitude and the other from an erroneous bottom up one. Pun somewhat inescapable there).

    For me it’s not so much a grey area (although I understand that how you meant that was quite applicable) than – what you might call – the blacks and whites being each of the the strides we take with both legs. In my view, in order to live in the world as it is, one leg grounds us in tradition, the past, our institutions etc., while the other steps away from that, free from all that might have stuck it in the mud. And then the other does the same – that which broke free grounded for the duration of its passing, being passed-ness. Seeing such as a grey area is thus akin to seeing the legs in a blur of walking together, the world as a mixture of the two. As I see it, we’re the walking: neither black nor white, nor a blur of grey; neither essentially corrupt nor free of corruption, nor a mix of the two. And I think that applies to Zen Buddhism and all its others too.

  2. gniz
    gniz February 28, 2013 at 10:44 am | |

    Andy,

    I like the way you talk. :)

    I don’t have a problem with anything you wrote. And I don’t really have a problem with Zen, Christianity, Islam, or anything else for that matter.

    When it comes to my own experience of whatever it is I am trying to do in regards to my own consciousness and experience of it, I don’t find that I need a zendo nor a certified zen master to do it.

    That is really all I was saying. In terms of corruption, yes–there is corruption inside of me down to the cellular level and everywhere else. That being admitted to, I will also note that I don’t consider all things equal everywhere.

    I don’t have any desire to go to a dirty, squalid prison. No, I’d rather be in my cozy little home that gets cleaned a lot more often, and I can take a shower when I want and I have my two beautiful, fluffy dogs nearby.

    However, maybe I don’t know it but there is cancer causing agents in my groundwater and I’m slowly being poisoned. I’ll take the chance and stay in my cozy home, thanks–and avoid that nasty prison food…

    So you see, I am simply talking about avoiding the unnecessary pain and corruption and silliness wherever possible, whenever possible. What cannot be avoided, cannot be avoided. Whatever dirt and corruption exists, exists. For those who wish to visit prison, or live there–I simply say, “best of luck.”

    There are those who say their time in prison was invaluable to their progress and gratitude for this life.

  3. Zafu
    Zafu February 28, 2013 at 12:38 pm | |

    “To continue the conceit further, ‘Zen Buddhism’ might be riddled with some antiquated blueprints folk follow to the extent that structures keep being built that have a tendency to harbour certain diseases. But before we condemn the whole project and its various structures, or decide on fundamental restructuring, we have to be able to discern and distinguish what parts are doing what to cause such problems and the extent to which they are inherent in the project itself and in human life as a whole.” ~Kaufman

    Yo dat’s easy. To reiterate, ‘God’ is dead and it’s high time to burry the old fellow and spare ourselves further frustration and embarrassment. We are not longer child-like, are we? We can continue the practice ourselves, grownup-like.

    When we were child-like we thought child-like things. It is now time to put away childish things.

  4. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer February 28, 2013 at 2:08 pm | |

    Andy,

    “…another festering boil erupting…stink-rinse…recent Sasaki abscess… guidelines for communal hygiene…to get infected…carry (sometimes some very nasty) germs… concentration of various diseases…dry rot and old pee under the toilet seat…to harbor certain diseases…to fester within themselves…outbreak of the pox…use condoms, spread of STDs…”

    Wow.

    Does this mean I need to wash my hands after I practice zazen? :-)

    Seriously, I am not making fun of your post, but I really felt like I had to go wash out my eyes with some hand sanitizer after reading it.

    Keep up the good work.

    Cheers.

  5. Proulx Michel
    Proulx Michel February 28, 2013 at 11:51 pm | |

    What I find interesting, here, is that it seems that the “infections” that plague Zen seem very much related with the various national obsessions. Asians (that is both Japanese and Tibetans) seem to be most unsettled by the (apparent) sexual equality that is one of the characteristics of the West and tend to try and take advantage of them. Sogyal being a typical example.
    Here, in France, we don’t seem to have sexual problems, although I do not exclude them, but since the French are not easily outraged by sexual affairs, it is unlikely that, apart from cases of rape or mental manipulation, these will cause any uproar.
    However, the national obsession in France is not sex but Power. This is the country of the Great Military Dictator and all the structures of the country, be they mental or administrative are that of petty chiefs. French Zen has not escaped that aspect, which makes that the “infection” that plagues French Zen is precisely that: authoritarianism.

    The outcome is much less spectacular than in the USA, for that reason, but I fear that the mental havoc wreaked upon some of the practicioners be even worse.

  6. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote March 1, 2013 at 7:15 am | |

    “All of them came to him of their own accord.” So did Bernie Madoff’s clients, right?

    We have an amazing abundance in Sonoma County of embezzlers and financial grifters. Parasites on the wealth of the residents, sort of like Bodhidharma was a parasite for nine years at Shaolin, but Bodhidharma just ate the food without working for the monastery. Of course we’d all like to say that what he did with what he was given was a work in its own regard. I guess the Chinese have a strong work ethic, that they immediately changed the rules with regard to work and diet, and that Yuanwu centuries later referred to Bodhidharma as the parasite of Shaolin.

    I love the story in “Remembering Kobun” of Kobun’s affair with a woman who subsequently turned up naked in the Zendo, lording it over the Zen master. Kobun retreated to a cabin by himself after that, for quite a while.

    The pain in the left knee, I pretty sure is related to the support or lack thereof for the fifth and fourth lumbar vertebrae in inhalation and exhalation. I like that Chen Man-Ching prescribed relaxation from the shoulders to the finger tips, from the groin to the soles of the feet, and from the sacrum to the crown of the head, followed by relaxation of the chest, as a means for the chi to sink; relaxed extension up the spine inhaling and exhaling, that and a dermatone chart to relate feeling in the legs to the lower vertebrae. Here’s one now:

    http://www.backpain-guide.com/Chapter_Fig_folders/Ch06_Path_Folder/4Radiculopathy.html

    I’m fascinated to see that at the tan-tien, it’s T-10 & 11 in front, and L1-3 in back, so the balance of the chest on the lower spine; “the chi can only sink to the tan-t’ien if the chest is relaxed”, as Cheng Man-Ching said, and yet it ignores the hypnogogic nature of the phenomena and how the necessity of breath is involved in that.

    “The true man, breathing to his heels” which is the ability to feel at the soles of the feet informing support at S1-L5 as a matter of necessity in the relaxed movement of breath.

    The old man, Sasaki, knows all this intimately. Teaching it may distract people from their own sense of location, their own sense of gravity and proprioception.

    “Good morning, where am I?”

  7. Andy
    Andy March 1, 2013 at 9:36 am | |

    To Zafu, who wrote:

    “Yo dat’s easy. To reiterate, ‘God’ is dead and it’s high time to burry the old fellow and spare ourselves further frustration and embarrassment. We are not longer child-like, are we? We can continue the practice ourselves, grownup-like.”

    Simple as that line of reasoning appears, to my mind you are allowing your terms to slip into different categories which, if looked at more closely might not fit together so succinctly when we consider their application to our experiences or our understanding.

    On one level you appear to be using the conventional contrast between adult and child, which categorises each as differing and in terms of both what is and what should be the case:

    - A child is inexperienced and lacks the capacity of an adult; a child therefore should not be expected to behave with the same level of understanding and self-awareness.

    - An adult is experienced and has the capacity to act in ways we wouldn’t expect of a child; an adult therefore should be expected to behave based on this level of experience, understanding and self-awareness.

    On another level you appear to be drawing upon certain behavioral qualities or attributes accessible to or inherent within adults or children – ie ‘child-like’/'grown-up-like’, as if these could categorically be demarcated along the same is/should lines, as adult and child:

    - An adult has and should display only grown-up-like behaviours, a child only child-like ones.

    I think this is where we and others might be talking across each other. To your rhetorical question ‘We are not longer child-like, are we?’ my answer would not only be

    - yes we are, but also in many cases that adults shouldn’t repress or deny certain things that are child-like about them.

    Of course if ‘child-like’ there is meant as synonymous with a youngster who naturally lacks the experience, understanding and self-awareness of an oldster, then the answer to ‘We are not longer child-like, are we?’ would be

    - not only no, adults are not children, but also that in many cases adults shouldn’t repress or deny their experience or capacities to the extent that they behave like children.

    There is also a third level at play in your reasoning too. One which equates cultural change and difference with human development, with perhaps the post-enlightenment idea of ‘progress’ playing an implied supporting role.

    - In the past we were culturally like children and notions like ‘God’ are the cultural artifacts inappropriate and deleterious in the light of our development into cultural adulthood. Progress in the sciences now provide us with the (empirical/historical) evidence/experience and intellectual resources to act with greater philosophical and moral maturity in such matters (and on an individual as well as collective level)

    One could debate the problems and difficulties with this line of thought until the cows come home. But even if we use the human development metaphor, the Nietzche’s ‘God is dead’ allusion could also be seen as a kind of culturally teenage stage in the understanding of notions like ‘God’. Not so much ‘God is dead’ as ‘Daddy’s God is [should be] dead’, and/or ‘Daddy God is [should be] dead.’

    One might argue that certain notions of God should be dead, and that holding on to them might be usefully characterised as the result of a kind of cultural/personal immaturity persisting to this day, and correlate this with certain immature tendencies which seek security in forms of authority.

    But one might also argue that a mature cultural/individual relationship to the term God involves not only its redefinition in light of what we now understand, but that we also have it within us to see that notions like ‘God’ and their cognates, as they functioned at different times in history and in different cultural contexts, had more to them – and indeed still might have more about them – than certain aspects of our present paradigm always allows us to see. Teenage hubris is often quite quick to throw the previous generation’s baby out with the bathwater.

    One of the tragic consequences of being an adult is that we forget to play and investigate like children. Instead of learning afresh from new experiences and encounters, we have a greater tendency to slot these into our fixed, hierarchical categories. We can lose the flexibility to try things and fail, and the openness to our experience of the moment.

    We also tend to deny and derogate the child-like or baby-like impulses and desires that have not so much disappeared but have found new forms of expression.

    My view is that in seeing the baby-like and child-like in us we are able to free-up much of what enriches our lives as well as going a little easier on others and ourselves. It also helps us to identify where we might be allowing ourselves to express these impulses in behaviours that are harmful to ourselves and others.

    An adult’s unconscious desire to ‘give away’ their own responsibility to an authority figure or belief system, in this sense, is perhaps better viewed as evidence of those child-like qualities which necessarily constitute healthy adulthood, being diverted and translated in unhealthy ways.

    Moreover, when we characterise some true, healthy adult state as devoid of the baby- or child-like we might in ourselves be encouraging the persistence of a kind of teenage attitude towards maturity. That kind of hardline approach and reactivity to behaving embarrassingly like a baby that seems a natural stage teenagers go through, as their sexual transformations create high tensions between the biological child and burgeoning adult within them, and which inform the dramas played out with parents, authority figures and peers.

    In ‘Zen’ contexts, I’m often reading or hearing the sort of statements and responses that come under the ‘get real’ gritty approach to life, in contrast to the gooey, silly delusions others might be adhering to. And I wonder sometimes if a certain cultural rhetorical style of ‘adult’ expression unconsciously castes and perpetuates say Clint Eastwood in the role of what is just difficult to do and sometimes painful to realise, in the way we often did as children.

    1. Zafu
      Zafu March 1, 2013 at 5:21 pm | |

      Heya,

      I made it to the third paragraph. Whatever you wrote I’m sure that you’re right.

      Peace and love from the suchness :)

  8. Andy
    Andy March 1, 2013 at 9:42 am | |

    Oops. I’m really going to have to deal with the length of these posts, and the womb-like bubble tapping out my opinions on here affords me- to the extent that I hog so much space.

    Apologies for any irritation, on that score.

  9. Fred
    Fred March 1, 2013 at 10:00 am | |

    Kobun:
    Kobun Chino:
    “We experience some kind of dying in sitting, which relates with what’s true and what’s not true. What’s not true dies, so we suffer. We wish to hang on to the self which we believe exists. The contents of what “I” means, or the pieces of the idea of the self, are consistent, but when you sit you observe no substance in those pieces of self.”

    The self is the shell where the no-self appears.

    What appears when the self is fornicating with a naked woman while the wife is
    at home? Desire, satisfaction, guilt? Attachment to an illusion?

  10. Fred
    Fred March 1, 2013 at 10:12 am | |

    You could argue that some Zen Masters experience the world through the
    simplicity of a child’s eyes.

    You could also argue that actualizing the fundamental point involves surrendering to the universe which has nothing to do with acquiescing to
    religious dogma.

    1. sri_barence
      sri_barence March 1, 2013 at 1:32 pm | |

      You said, “actualizing the fundamental point,” but this is a mistake. Actualizing and ‘fundamental point’ are not different. Keep polishing the tile. Soon it will shine!

      You could argue that trees are trees and mountains are mountains.
      You could argue that trees are not trees and mountains are not mountains.
      You could argue that trees are mountains and mountains are trees.
      You could argue that there are no trees or mountains.

      Which is correct?

      KATZ!

      Please write the next line yourself.

  11. buddy
    buddy March 1, 2013 at 1:03 pm | |

    @zafu: ‘Sasaki and others like him did all the work.’ No, the problem is he did part of the work, maybe even a lot (enough to get even his accusers to admit that his ability to convey the dharma was unprecedented). But his transgressions aren’t a sign of a failure of practice, but rather a failure to practice- he wasn’t willing or able to face the issues which led to his supposed predatory habits.

    Some great comments from Andy and Fred. But I’m a bit puzzled by the general disdain for zen as a tradition and especially its community of teachers. Besides the handful of perverts and swindlers, and the reactionary puritanism of their detractors, are things really that bad? I can think of dozens of small zen centres throughout North America that are quietly going about the business of practice with a healthy relationship with a teacher who is neither held on a pedestal nor fondling their students, and with an intelligent approach to form and tradition.

    1. sri_barence
      sri_barence March 1, 2013 at 1:34 pm | |

      There aren’t that many perverts in American Zen, but there are a great many swindlers. Watch out for them!!

      Also, we speak proper English here, so it is “Zen Center,” not “Zen Centre.” So there.

    2. Zafu
      Zafu March 1, 2013 at 5:37 pm | |

      I love how this works, Buddy.

      Good Zen master = Zen master did all the work. :)

      Bad Zen master = Zen master didn’t do all the work. :(

      Good Zen master make mistake, oops, maybe not enough work after all. Bad Zen master do good? Zen master do all work and face issues.

      Has it ever occurred to you that the title is pretty much meaningless and Zen masters are just ordinary people? Priests who preach their religion which others drink up like Kool-aid? Don’t drink the Kool-Aid, grow up. You don’t need them to spoon feed you meaning, do you?

  12. buddy
    buddy March 1, 2013 at 2:13 pm | |

    Who are these swindlers? What have they swindled you out of?

    Actually ‘center’ is the American mispelling. In Canada we have preserved the proper English spelling.

  13. Fred
    Fred March 1, 2013 at 2:18 pm | |

    ‘You said, “actualizing the fundamental point,” but this is a mistake. Actualizing and ‘fundamental point’ are not different. Keep polishing the tile. Soon it will shine!’

    “Actualizing the fundamental point” is Dogen’s line. So you are saying he made a
    mistake?

    “You could argue that trees are trees and mountains are mountains.
    You could argue that trees are not trees and mountains are not mountains.
    You could argue that trees are mountains and mountains are trees.
    You could argue that there are no trees or mountains.”

    Which is correct?

    Mu.

  14. Fred
    Fred March 1, 2013 at 2:31 pm | |

    “Who are these swindlers? What have they swindled you out of? ”

    The ones selling water by the river.

  15. boubi
    boubi March 1, 2013 at 4:04 pm | |

    I agree with M. Proulx about the “chefaillons”, petty boss with “grandeur” complex, there’s one who owns a french site, surrounded by a few sycophants. LOL

    Now, i don’t know if anybody already said it, but it seems to me that in the japanese traditional culture, and Zen is rather traditional, sex is as normal as shitting, picking one’s own teeth, having a meal or sleeping soundly, and provided it is NOT the woman who screws around, nothing really noticeable happens, not to mention the, traditional, indifference of gender in sexual matters.

    So it has never been a problem, to my knowledge, sex among monks and between teacher and apprentice or with sex workers, most probably Zen teachers coming from Japan didn’t see anything special about it, and were rather pleased to find good looking women with round eyes.

    I’m in NOT way saying in any way that it is a proper behavior, on the contrary !

    Something different is when westerners misbehave sexually. It’s the same bad but they knew better since the beginning.

    This said, i don’t get very much the point talking over and over about this. It’s what i think, maybe i said a lot of bull … maybe

  16. buddy
    buddy March 2, 2013 at 12:38 am | |

    @zafu: ‘Good Zen master = Zen master did all the work.

    Bad Zen master = Zen master didn’t do all the work.

    Good Zen master make mistake, oops, maybe not enough work after all. Bad Zen master do good? Zen master do all work and face issues.

    Has it ever occurred to you that the title is pretty much meaningless and Zen masters are just ordinary people?’

    When did I ever use the term’zen master’? Or ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for that matter? Your hang ups, not mine.

    1. Zafu
      Zafu March 2, 2013 at 7:04 pm | |

      buddy make zafu feel dumb. :(

  17. Hugh1
    Hugh1 March 2, 2013 at 1:07 pm | |

    Well……I think we all long for safety and yearn to escape responsibility. Sadly it takes us time to learn that all our teachers have their own weaknesses and agendas alongside whatever wisdom they may have accessed/accumulated. If there was a guidebook (I’m sure they exist) would we follow its advice when we’re still green around the ears? Maybe….more probably not……

    I have sympathy for teachers. Admittedly they may be power hungry megalomaniacs compensating for an excess of frustrated narcissism. However they may also be genuinely motivated insightful beings who find it difficult to handle whatever it is that is projected into them and onto them and end up behaving in ways that could deeply embarrass them should they have the opportunity for hindsight.

    Put together a “teacher” of whatever kind (even an office boss) and a devoted following and all kinds of dynamics can develop including wonderful insights/experiences and …other stuff that is not so wonderful. How does he/she cope with admiration/idealisation? What is put into him/her at an unconscious level causing inflation of self-identity? How does this affect his/her decision making and interactions? How does he/she manage not to become identified with whatever wisdom is accessed through them? All very difficult.

    What is needed, and this is already developing in discussions such as this, is a sangha of teachers/students/everyone which provides some kind of generally accepted framework for understanding the dynamics of teacher-student-group interactions. Such a framework enables the “teacher” to have a better chance of realising when he/she is getting out on a limb (or being downright abusive), and the “student” to have a better perspective on their idealisation/denigration. I say framework rather than rules. Rules are not followed effectively unless individuals understand their purpose.

  18. Fred
    Fred March 2, 2013 at 6:11 pm | |

    “Rules are not followed effectively unless individuals understand their purpose.”

    This individual is an illusion, and his purpose would be deluded.

    Rules exist in this society to avoid chaos and prevent the strong from exploiting the weak.

    Everything else is merely consensual agreement.

  19. Fred
    Fred March 2, 2013 at 6:44 pm | |

    Priceless.

    http://sweepingzen.com/unethical-practices/#comment-10593

    “As for your reply that the commenter is too stupid to understand your nuanced sophistication, and has no business exercising his free speech in reply to your article, Mr. Nonin: why don’t you just go f*ck yourself? Relatively and absolutely.”

  20. Broken Yogi
    Broken Yogi March 2, 2013 at 11:12 pm | |

    Childish people have childish concepts of God.

    Mature people have mature concepts of God.

    Enlightened people don’t have any concepts of God.

    1. Zafu
      Zafu March 6, 2013 at 3:06 pm | |

      That’s because they are God.

  21. Khru
    Khru March 2, 2013 at 11:30 pm | |

    Horse shit.

  22. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon March 3, 2013 at 4:49 am | |

    Yeah? Well…you know…that’s just, like, ahh…your opinion, man.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWdd6_ZxX8c

  23. Fred
    Fred March 3, 2013 at 7:47 am | |

    “Horse shit”

    In the 19th century, “the normal city horse produced between fifteen and thirty-five pounds of manure a day and about a quart of urine, usually distributed along the course of its route or deposited in the stable. While cities made sporadic attempts to keep the streets clean, the manure was everywhere, along the roadway, heaped in piles or next to stables, or ground up by the traffic and blown about by the wind.”

  24. Proulx Michel
    Proulx Michel March 3, 2013 at 8:48 am | |

    In the 17th century, peasants would take streets on lease and customarily line them with straw, which the said peasants would later harvest as manure and replace with fresh straw. This was meant to absorb not only the horseshit and urine, but also that of the human population. The custom being to throw one’s night pot through the window. In 1969, an Edinburgher told be that, in his youth, they still occasionally heard the cry “Gardaloo!” before such a shower happened. the cry was a deformation of “Garde ŕ l’eau” (Watch for the water). This is almost never shown in period cinema, but meant that anyone walking in the streets was subject to wade in a thick coat of manure, notwithstanding the splashing of the carriages passing by. This also explains the sedan chairs which seem so inconvenient to us: what’s the use of being carried in a sedan chair when you’d go faster on foot? When you wear (males and females) high fashion clothing, costing from some 30000$ to 300000$, you don’t want to line your stockings with manure.
    In Quebec City, the intendant forbade by law smoking in the streets as this was likely to start huge conflagrations in the summer.

  25. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote March 3, 2013 at 11:08 am | |

    Andy, I quite like your style, moving us slowly and carefully from the use of blunt instruments to an investigation more like a conversation about what is known and what that might imply. I appreciate that it takes a lot of verbage sometimes to be delicate. You are hereby authorized by nobody in particular to rock and roll, twist and shout whenever it suits you.

    Fred, no fair revealing your source as an argument in your favor; if he didn’t get it the first time you need to explain it, as only you can do. I know you agree! :)

    Strawman, you have no more need of a brain than… but what you need is inka! As the wizard of Nowhere, I hereby present you with a large scroll with your lineage transcribed in disappearing inka!

    http://images.elephantjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/128663788323182202.jpg

  26. Fred
    Fred March 3, 2013 at 11:58 am | |

    Actually, ” actualizing the fundamental point ” are just some words from a guy
    living in feudal Japan.

    Sri_Barence has some experiences he can recall that are beyond words.
    He dropped mescaline, then sat in zazen. While sitting he tried to find the
    self and couldn’t, or there was a memory that there was no self to be found.

    Feedback from the proprioceptors, firing in the limbic system and idea flow in the cortex creates the impression that a solid “I” exists. What was happening
    under the influence of mesc?

  27. Broken Yogi
    Broken Yogi March 3, 2013 at 12:33 pm | |

    Horseshit doesn’t have any concept of God either.

  28. Fred
    Fred March 3, 2013 at 12:43 pm | |

    Sri:
    “But no matter how hard I tried, I could not seem to find any self to let go of! I described this experience with my wife, and she said that maybe I was trying to hard, or that maybe I misunderstood what was meant by letting go of self. I thought about this, and realized that I always thought I understood Zen practice, but that this understanding was actually getting in my way”

    The experience trumps any thought or description of direct experience.

  29. Fred
    Fred March 3, 2013 at 2:49 pm | |

    Some other guy:
    “Also another question, I’ve had this twice now and it felt like a bad trip coming on but I think it was just the beginning of ego death. At one point in the shrooms trip I had a relapse of a thought I had in my mescaline trip (was over a 1g of mescaline in a rave, yes terrible idea and my first time, didn’t realize it was such a big dose). I start to lose what is real sort of. I think of myself and my family and feel like I’m not real any more but I still know who I am and for some strange reason just keep thinking about my family and me. Had it happen first on mescaline then shrooms, was that the beginning of ego death? I felt like I just wanted to panic but I manage to hold it together and resist going insane I guess?”

    Mesc is a partial agonist at 5HTa Serotonin receptors in the pre-frontal cortex.

    So, here’s one reason for the importance of a teacher. Some normal people can
    crack under the stress of ego-dissolution, loss of self boundary, etc., in the
    meditation process. And others crack in sensory deprivation, withdrawal of
    ego supports, etc. A teacher can help them hold it together.

  30. Fred
    Fred March 3, 2013 at 5:06 pm | |

    Dogen:
    “All things leave and all things arrive right here. This being so, one plants twining vines and gets entangled in twining vines. This is the characteristic of unsurpassable enlightenment. Just as enlightenment is limitless, sentient beings are limitless and unsurpassable. Just as cages and snares are limitless, emancipation from them is limitless. The actualization of the fundamental point is: “I grant you thirty blows.” This is the actualization of expressing the dream within a dream”

  31. Fred
    Fred March 3, 2013 at 5:31 pm | |

    Sri_Barence:

    “I thought about this, and realized that I always thought I understood Zen practice, but that this understanding was actually getting in my way”

    Augusto Alcaide ( Zensite on Dogen ):

    “When Buddha s are truly Buddha s , says Dogen, they do not necessarily notice that they are Buddha s. When zazen is true zazen, we don’t necessarily notice that it is true zazen. When Mu is truly Mu, we do not necessarily notice that this is true Mu, true shikantaza If we were noticing, it would vanish at that very moment. That not-noticing itself is the fundamental ground for Mu, for zazen, for shikantaza, our very life, to express itself as Buddha nature itself.”

  32. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote March 4, 2013 at 7:32 am | |

    All things leave and all things arrive right here.

    Dragon horns poking through the clouds , the dragon’s coils leave and arrive right here.

    That last is not Dogen, I’m just making it up.

    “…as a skilled bath-attendant or (bath-attendant) apprentice, having sprinkled bath-powder into a bronze vessel, might knead it while repeatedly sprinkling it with water until the ball of lather had taken up moisture, was drenched with moisture, suffused with moisture inside and out but without any oozing. Even so… does (a person) saturate, permeate, suffuse this very body with the rapture and joy that are born of aloofness; there is no part of (the) whole body that is not suffused with the rapture and joy born of aloofness. While (such a person) is thus diligent, ardent, self-resolute, those memories and aspirations that are worldly are got rid of; by getting rid of them, the mind is inwardly settled, calmed, focused, concentrated.”

    (MN III 92-93, PTS pg 132-134)

    The lather-ball is an analogy Gautama provided for the feeling of what he described as the first meditative state. Another analogy might be that of a snowball, that gathers weight as well as mass as it rolls.

    What is it with towering up like a mile-high wall, how is it that that phrase appears in Yuanwu’s letters and also in the later Denroku but sounds like the voice of one person?

    http://pixelcaster.com/yosemite/webcams/turtleback.jpg

  33. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote March 4, 2013 at 7:47 am | |

    Denkoroku

  34. Adam Tebbe
    Adam Tebbe March 5, 2013 at 12:01 am | |

    Hi Brad :-)

    Brad: “It’s not the allegations that concern me. I’m not interested in trying to dig into what happened. Other people are already doing that and they don’t need my help.”

    I don’t understand how you can write articles on this subject without digging and paying attention to the specifics. For example, that your comment, “rehashing what happened to somebody else back in the 80s in a cabin” is misinformed. one need not go back to the 80s. According to the reports, the last known incident occurred in 2007, making Sasaki 99.

    You continue, stating: “I do not blame the victims for what they suffered. But we need to always bear in mind that Sasaki’s victims were not rounded up by armed gestapo, herded into box cars and shipped to him for his pleasure. All of them came to him of their own accord.”

    Again, reading up on the specifics will allow for you to assume a stronger and better informed position on this entire issue. Your line of reasoning can be applied to any number of situations where women are sexually assaulted, and it doesn’t add up. We could say a woman went to the bar she was raped in of her own accord, assuming mutual responsibility for the assault. Or, she willingly got in the car with that guy who assaulted her.

    Which is the point, really. Because you haven’t been reading the reports, you seem to be basing your pieces on the idea that this was all mutual and consensual. But, that isn’t what Giko David Rubin spoke of (a man far closer to the subject that you), and it isn’t what the Witness Council released in it’s findings, either (again, speaking with people far closer to the subject than you). I don’t understand this willful ignorance on the one hand, not looking at what actually happened, and on the other hand, writing several articles which suggest you’re well-informed on the subject. How do you reconcile that?

    I expect to now fall in a category of another person who misunderstands what you said, or who has twisted your argument here. But, it just seems absurd to hear someone saying there is mutual responsibility shared in being sexually assaulted. The only way this argument remotely holds up is if the accounts suggest an exclusive pattern of consent, which a few reads would let you know: No, they are not.

    1. Andy
      Andy March 5, 2013 at 7:57 am | |

      To Adam Tebbe & the rest

      “I expect to now fall in a category of another person who misunderstands what you said, or who has twisted your argument here.”

      You can say it, but that doesn’t constitute an argument that you haven’t. More properly an awareness of arguments others have made you don’t even care to examine.

      Twist 1:

      “I don’t understand how you can write articles on this subject without digging and paying attention to the specifics. For example, that your comment, “rehashing what happened to somebody else back in the 80s in a cabin” is misinformed. one need not go back to the 80s. According to the reports, the last known incident occurred in 2007, making Sasaki 99.”

      If we re-write Brad’s full sentence as “And that’s a lot harder to deal with than rehashing what happened to somebody else back in 2007 in a cabin” it doesn’t change the point being made in this paragraph any more than if you pointed out that Sasaki also abused people in a hotel room or hot air balloon in 2010 (making him 102).

      If, in pointing out that the specifics obtain well past the 80s and into the late 00s, you were merely addressing a potential misunderstanding on the part of an uninformed reader, which Brad’s words might have lead to, this might be a helpful foot-note that wouldn’t in the least undermine Brad’s main points in the first two paras. Nor would it reveal a lack of understanding or knowledge on Brad’s part that undermined those points he is making, the angle he is setting up for further explanation.

      Considering that even the most uninformed reader can glean from the article that Sasaki’s actions are now out in the open and being investigated, Brad’s point that the guy is 105 and no longer appearing in public is quite enough for us to say with confidence that the type and nature of abuses under discussion are in the past tense, and that the SORT of things we are doing now with the simple facts of that information, and the sort of attitudes we will make of them for the future, is worth looking into.

      The specifics one should pay attention to in any discussion of a subject need pertain to the level of that discussion and the area of focus outlined. At this point you have already made the mistake of ignoring those parts in the intro where Brad has set these out. And you have assumed that the ‘back-in-the-day” generic looseness in Brad’s reference to the 80s and ‘cabin in the mountain’ is evidence in itself that he has hasn’t done the required reading to write a different article.

      As you yourself use generalised examples of women going into bars etc, later on in your post, it should be easy for you to understand how certain points and lines of reasoning can be populated without detailed recourse to actual case studies, or, if any one case is alluded to, that the writer need do any more than gloss it.

      What you have done in your opening gambit is to make incorrectly partial claims about the work Brad’s words are doing and the work they should be expected to do in the context of the article.

      Twist 2

      “Again, reading up on the specifics will allow for you to assume a stronger and better informed position on this entire issue. Your line of reasoning can be applied to any number of situations where women are sexually assaulted, and it doesn’t add up. We could say a woman went to the bar she was raped in of her own accord, assuming mutual responsibility for the assault. Or, she willingly got in the car with that guy who assaulted her.”

      At no point did Brad used the words, or formula “mutual responsibility for the x”, where x designates a clear, identified act of abuse, aggression, assault etc by a perpetrator responsibility for which is to be seen as being shared by a victim. To assert this would of course be stupid and potentially harmful.

      What you fail to want to understand is how using such types of formula to characterise and generalise opposing viewpoints about what constitutes the differing and varying types of responsibility we can identify as applying to victims and perpertrators or they can apply to themselves is also stupid and potentially harmful.

      Such straw men exist, are owned, and are maintained in the minds of those damaged by the abuse, and continue to play their part in the perpetuation of that damage.

      Someone very close me was raped. There have been two main areas where the damaged cause by this rape persisted and was maintained.

      Firstly, there is the side that is most obviously dealt with. That of the use of power by a perpetrator to physically and psychology caused her damage, along with how the close community, the law and society in general, left her feeling that she couldn’t go to the police or other agency, and so kept it as her ‘dirty secret’ for many self-destructive years, thus maintaining and extending that damage.

      Secondly, there is the side that not only she had to, but we all have to face up to, too. In coming to terms with what somebody else did to her, in coming to terms with being a victim, she also came to terms with many of her own decisions, much of her own lack of self worth, much of the abuse and neglect she suffered which predated the rape, many things which aggregated into patterns of behaviour that played A SIGNIFICANT PART in her decision making, in how she could have avoided putting herself into situations others wouldn’t have; patterns of behaviour, strands of which she now understands could very well have marked her out to some very nasty human being as some who a) wouldn’t be believed, b) would be vulnerable to the threats made c) a person who would be vulnerable to successive abuses.

      Indeed the belatedly painful process of coming terms with the nature and extent of her lack of her own responsibility to herself in the past, initiated the opening up of a whole dimension in her personality and behaviour that had been locked in by the damaging cycles of guilt and self-revulsion, and by that ‘untouchable’ sense/aspect/dimension of complicity that so often turns a victim of abuse into not only a person damaged for most of their life but also perpetrators of a variety of connected self and other abuses (which can lock one further in). And so the issue of responsibility plays a SIGNIFICANT PART in how damage and abuse continues into the future, after the actual abuse.

      The person I discussed above has looked over this and given the OK for me to write this, by the way.

      So, the formula that Brad is using when we look at his actual reasoning, using his actual words: “It’s that responsibility goes both ways … Sasaki’s victims were not rounded up by armed gestapo … it is a very significant aspect of what happened that we need to always remember in any discussion of the matter.” – This line of reasoning is not characterising situations where perpetrators and victims come together on some equally ‘mutual’ footing, with respect to responsibility, as though it took two to tango and the abuse was the baby for which both share the same duty of care and blame for creating or dropping.

      In all cases of abuse the victim needs to have a healthy attitude about what constitutes their own responsibility. Collapsing such into saying that I or others are advocating a share of ‘blame’ on behalf of victims is not only willfully stupid, but also recycles aspects of the discourse by and through which victims can themselves lock themselves into damaging either/or thought-processes and habitualised reactions to the pain and anger that the psyche keeps attempting to bring to the surface and release.

      Any victim’s area of responsibility in this regard will differ in degree and vary in nature depending on not only the situation and the type of abuse, but the person they happened to be at the time of the abuse.

      That this is something for the individual to come to terms with with actually calls out for a discourse that can identify general truths in order to affect a space for such individuals to open their own experiences into, a space which also functions to question how the rest of us might be constricting the ethical and legalistic terms by which we relate to things like abuse across the board and at many different levels.

      Understanding that a perpetrator is a perpetrator is not undermined by the victim understanding and acknowledging their own responsibility for and to themselves, whether the focus be that of responsibility regarding past, present or future actions.

      I doubt that I have done as much reading on the Sasaki affair as Brad, but that does not preclude me from making certain useful generalisations about abuse, any more than it precludes your examples of women getting into cars or going to bars from being pertinent, so long as we make clear what the level and focus of the discussion is – which both Brad, yourself and now I have.

      In terms of abuse, if you cannot discern and make distinctions between ‘responsibility’ as something which identifies an individual’s inescapable duty of care to themselves and others, whether they be a perpetrator, a victim, or a mixture of the two (and which can only be truly understood, acknowledged, and acted upon in the specifics by the individuals themselves); and ‘responsibility’ as something which defines a perpetrator as a perpetrator of an act and a victim as a victim of that act (and which is to be defined in the specifics by all of us, as part of society’s legalistic and ethical concerns), then you are always going to elide a significant and important part of the issue.

      Apart from the impression I have of someone so eager to snatch at the tail of anything Brad writes on this subject that you to disarm yourself of much objective critical perspective in your analyses, it appears that you are someone who is doing so from such an oversimplified and seemingly entrenched set formulas, that you are in danger of contributing your own pennies of harm to the very complex issues of abuse. To my mind your examples in themselves suggest to me someone who might often slip from positions of well-intentioned, pragmatic action on behalf of victims and of righting society’s wrongs (often in the Zen Buddhist sphere) into ones of exploitative ‘white knighting’ – which is a rather insidious form of self-aggrandizement.

      In my admittedly limited experience, I have noticed that those people who often succumb to passive-aggressive behaviours also succumb to what I would label ‘victim fetishisaton’, something which is often deflected from view by the very good deeds effected by them, where their sympathy/focus for victimhood is able to express itself in acts that overtly help actual victims or help bring abusers to book. There is little in your presence here and else where on the web that does much to help me readjust my view on that score.

      It is easy to blame perpetrators and have sympathy for victims. It is more difficult to have compassion for both, especially if one has found a productive and secure niche in oversimplifications, aggravated and galvanised by personal gripe.

  35. Senjo
    Senjo March 5, 2013 at 1:30 am | |

    Oh God – groan – not all this again! I am the only regular reader of this blog finding this subject quite dull and repetitive. Talk about just going round and round in circles!

    When you actually get past all the rhetoric, the actual differences between Adam/Sweeping Zen and Brad are wafer thin and not really worth going on and on about. It’s lile those characters in Gulliver’s Travels violently arguing over the best way to eat a boiled egg.

    Can we change the subject?

  36. thomas
    thomas March 5, 2013 at 3:58 am | |

    The idea that some 76 year old guy, or 100 year old guy for that matter, has a need to “grope” women is ludicrous. Even Hugh Hefner only does it because it’s his shtick. Also, the type of folks who sign up for formal religious practice are incredibly uptight when it comes to sex. Otherwise they wouldn’t be there.

    And that’s the way it is, heh, heh!

  37. Fred
    Fred March 5, 2013 at 4:59 am | |

    Adam, were any of these women raped or physically touched when it was against
    their will and they said no.

    If someone forces your hand against their penis, it is some type of assault.

    Please don’t tell me to read through their accounts. Just the facts, not the
    negative emoting.

  38. anon 108
    anon 108 March 5, 2013 at 5:11 am | |

    From what I understand from what I’ve read, Sawaki would on some occasions reach for a tit* without warning and on other occasions ask for a tit to be produced for the touching. If I’ve got that wrong, colour me stupid and move on.

    Reaching to touch a tit without warning, without implied or explicit consent, and if understood to be harmful or offensive, is a battery (not necessarily an assault), says the law of the UK and USA. In such a case, consent for a harmful or offensive act has neither been sought nor given. The act is unlawful. The Zen Master is guilty.

    However, asking for a tit to be produced and having the request granted does not constitute an offence, for either party – unless the compliance is coerced.

    Does the female student who complies with the Zen Master’s request to touch her tit act under coersion? Not necessarily. It depends, a court would say. Some students may be happy to comply with all and any requests made of them by their Spiritual Master. Others may be content to comply. Others may be uneasy. Others may be very reluctant. Yet others may refuse to comply. Momentary confusion, embarrassment, fear of disappointing the Spititual Master, fear of failure to make spiritual progress – none of these are likely to be held by a court of law to constitute coercion. In the case of the complied request, the Zen Master charged with an offence is unlikely to be found guilty.

    Says the law. Most likely.

    * for ‘tit’ also read: upper thigh/vaginal or other area deemed to be sexual and/or private such that the uninvited touching thereof is deemed ‘harmful’ or ‘offensive’. (A awful lot of deeming is required.)

    1. anon 108
      anon 108 March 5, 2013 at 6:07 am | |

      Make that ‘Sasaki’. Joshu Sasaki Roshi.

  39. anon 108
    anon 108 March 5, 2013 at 5:48 am | |

    …for without the ‘deeming’ what have you got?

    “Satori mashta, Sensei!!!”

    Arguably.

  40. Fred
    Fred March 5, 2013 at 5:49 am | |

    “Can we change the subject?”

    No, there is still a bit of skin left that needs some flogging.

  41. Fred
    Fred March 5, 2013 at 5:51 am | |

    “for without the ‘deeming’ what have you got? ”

    A handful of ejaculate, and a broken dream.

  42. Fred
    Fred March 5, 2013 at 6:01 am | |

    “Yes, but it’s the closest I have ever been to God”

    “Is that so?”

  43. Adam Tebbe
    Adam Tebbe March 5, 2013 at 6:58 am | |

    Hi Fred.

    I admit I don’t understand what you are trying to say here to me (I know my post read funny — a night of TheraFlu over here!). Actually yes, the reports do allege what would be considered assault. From Giko David Rubin, Sasaki’s translator of many years and an Osho in their lineage:

    “Eleven out of the forty-two told me in detail how Roshi repeatedly grabbed at them despite their saying “No,” sometimes dozens of times in one day, over many months, and sometimes many years. Two of those told me they were pushed to the ground.”

    From the Witness Council report:

    “There were accounts of forced sexual and physical assault (against women’s protests) which resulted in one report to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office and one report to a rape crisis center. There was another report to a Child Welfare agency concerning Sasaki and a sexual encounter with an underage girl. One person had interviewed women Rinzai-ji students, and three people extrapolated the number of women victims as well over one hundred.”

    These are just some of what will find when taking the time to read over what we’re actually looking at here. I don’t know where the responsibility lies here. I can only assume that there has been a presumption that all of the alleged behaviors were consensual. Otherwise, I just can’t get my head around the student responsibility part for being assaulted. Hope that is clear.

    It’s fine to be ignorant of the facts in this story but, if a person wishes to remain so, we should probably be questioning their ability to author anything coherent or relevant to the entire story. I would think one would want to be well-read on subjects they wish to write on.

    1. Andy
      Andy March 5, 2013 at 10:05 am | |

      “Otherwise, I just can’t get my head around the student responsibility part for being assaulted.”

      Again, an appalling and self-serving misrepresentation of what kind of ‘responsibility’ Brad is talking about in this article. And which needs to be understood alongside that other sense of responsibility which locates such things as ethical/legal culpability. It is the kind that not only helps those who have been abused to heal and move on, but helps those close to them understand and help them – where they might just aggravate the problem.

      To reiterate what I posted in my lengthy response to your first:

      “In terms of abuse, if you cannot discern and make distinctions between ‘responsibility’ as something which identifies an individual’s inescapable duty of care to themselves and others, whether they be a perpetrator, a victim, or a mixture of the two (and which can only be truly understood, acknowledged, and acted upon in the specifics by the individuals themselves); and ‘responsibility’ as something which defines a perpetrator as a perpetrator of an act and a victim as a victim of that act (and which is to be defined in the specifics by all of us, as part of society’s legalistic and ethical concerns), then you are always going to elide a significant and important part of the issue. ”

      The person close to me I referred to in my response to your first post (who was a victim of rape) found it quite easy to understand what Brad was on about in this article.

      Exploiting and misrepresenting this article in such a way is quite shameful considering the seriousness of the subject, and particularly because people who have actually been abused might just be very sensitive to how they see other folk out there are defining what they have deal with, and are trying – or trying hard not to – come to terms with.

  44. Fred
    Fred March 5, 2013 at 7:19 am | |

    He should be answering questions from a wheelchair in a court of law.

    If he is speaking from the depths of the unknown, the demise of the physical body at this point in time, is of no consequence.

    And speak the truth from that unknowing regarding the deludedness of his
    actions in regard to his sexual desire and these many women.

    Not so difficult.

  45. Fred
    Fred March 5, 2013 at 7:22 am | |

    Thank you, Adam.

  46. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote March 5, 2013 at 8:13 am | |

    I agree that reading the report of the three members of the “witness council”, which I feel was very professionally done, it appears that we have a criminal sexual offender in a Zen teacher of 105 years.

    Is part of the problem the fact that the women who were assaulted didn’t report him to the authorities? I realize there can be many reasons for this. Maybe Brad’s argument hinges on this point, that if none of the women filed a police report the old badger’s offenses can’t really be considered criminal. Then we get into the whole briar-patch of why women (or men) won’t report a serious sexual offense, and there certainly are reasons why they won’t that need to be addressed in our society.

    We have allegations from numerous individuals, and I have no doubt that there is a consistent pattern of behaviour that is criminal, but we have no conviction or even charges brought against him. Now if we would like to examine what is most significant about this peculiar instance of a teacher’s abdication of moral culpability, I think it would be the inability of the community to respond in any way other than personal confrontation and resignation. There essentially was no coherence in the community to allow such action, and that pattern appears to be reproduced at most American Zen centers because of the reliance on the authority of a transmitted teacher, only.

    Would S.F. Zen Center have succeeded in coming together to seek Baker’s resignation without Reb Anderson and Mel Weitsman there with transmission? The old fox on Mt. Baldy didn’t give transmission to anybody, isn’t that odd!

    1. Andy
      Andy March 5, 2013 at 9:05 am | |

      “Maybe Brad’s argument hinges on this point, that if none of the women filed a police report the old badger’s offenses can’t really be considered criminal.”

      Hi Mark,

      Brad’s argument in this article doesn’t hinge on this type of specifics (acts which can be deemed criminal or not, or how actual individuals involved, dealt with and responded to those acts) it hinges on the specifics of everyone’s own, individual situations that can usefully be generalised about, the dimension of personal responsibility that exists even in cases of where people are clear and obvious victims of unwanted physical/psychcological abuse, never mind serious breaches of trust). Adam’s Tebbe’s crit of Brad’s piece is an attempt to divert from what Brad’s article is actually addressing, at the level at which he is attempting to deal with it). It’s a whopping red-herring based on weak, formulaic reasoning which I addressed in another whopping post below his first – but this time because what Adam is doing there touches on something very close to my own experience.)

  47. anon 108
    anon 108 March 5, 2013 at 8:50 am | |

    But at the end of the day…

    Am I bovvered? I ain’t even bovvered. Look at my face. Does my face look bovvered? I! AIN’T! BOVVERED!

  48. Adam Tebbe
    Adam Tebbe March 5, 2013 at 10:04 am | |

    Hi Andy,

    Thanks for your lengthy and well-thought out response.

    I am just going off of what Brad has written above here. How could I read what is not there in the written words? I don’t try to read minds, so I endeavor to read their words. When a person writes, “I’m not interested in trying to dig into what happened” – I take that to mean just what it says. Brad sounds uninterested in educating himself on a subject he writes frequently about – uninterested in digging on down in to the specifics of the matter. I think it’s fair to call in to question the responsibility argument, given that there is a failure of curiosity to know what all happened there (to the best of one’s ability) to begin with.

    All I am trying to suggest is that responsibility is a terrible term to use in reference to someone who has been assaulted. His point could be made minus the example of Sasaki, inserting instead some other teacher with a more consensual approach to predation. But using the example of a teacher who certainly appears to have assaulted several women and then bringing up the importance of their responsibility just smacks me in the face as extraordinarily careless.

    Certainly Brad can make the point he is now making, but what I’m saying is that Sasaki is not an appropriate catalyst for the responsibility argument. I totally reject the idea of responsibility where someone is the recipient of assault. Isn’t that a legitimate point?

    1. Andy
      Andy March 5, 2013 at 11:49 am | |

      Adam, you are being disingenuous at best.

      Look at even that sentence you’ve quoted with the following one:

      “I’m not interested in trying to dig into what happened. Other people are already doing that and they don’t need my help.”

      That second sentence really does modify the first away from the agenda-laden term ‘failure of curiosity’. That term is often used as a critique of those who prop up the support structures of abuse by means of writing their own denials and/or agendas into the gaping spaces left by their own wish not to look.

      Never mind that ‘dig into’ in the context of the following sentence might just be synonymous with ‘dig into it in this or other articles’ (because others are doing that), you really are getting a whole lot more than just taking what Brad has written to claim from these few scraps intended to outline what he IS interested in writing about, in claiming that this amounts to Brad having not done enough educating, enough reading of the situation regarding Sasaki to the extent that his arguments are based on a firm grasp and knowledge of the Sasaki affair, and display a denier’s ‘failure of curiosity’. I’m sorry but you are doing some ‘mind reading’ as you defined it in your post.

      Brad later writes: “I feel like one of the most important lessons of the Sasaki case is not that students need to be provided with a perfectly safe environment. It’s that responsibility goes both ways.”

      Did it not occur to you that Brad might have done his homework, and that the dimension of responsibility he is talking about involves in itself a degree of responsibility and sensitivity.

      Do you not understand that, for the very same reasons that it would be harmful and counterproductive if one were to confront a victim with notions of ‘responsibility’ for their abuse, that talk about it in the public arena pull back from identifying specific instances that relate to real people coming to terms with a painful issue, right now.

      You write: “All I am trying to suggest is that responsibility is a terrible term to use in reference to someone who has been assaulted.” Yes, to someone specific, someone who could say, Hey that’s me!

      I have been there. You deal with a victim by listening, by encouraging them to air their real knots and and difficulties, by opening up a space. You can make it really clear that you understand that the person who did what they did to them did a bad, often terrible thing. That all the shit stuff that’s happening is understandable. That that person is responsible, no scare quotes. And the pain continues, continues to rear its ugly head, things get messy. Often terribly, destructively messy. But you don’t go there, you don’t say ‘maybe in some way you’re responsible’. Jesus Wept.

      But in so many ways that person needs to take responsibility for their lives, for their pain, and for the pain and damage they might be causing themselves and others. They need the facts of their own responsibility then, now, and in the future.

      You encourage it, you use the word in this second sense in all manner of ways, or words that connect to the same notion, and in the end to the same word. Responsibility. Because responsibility is not only the word so commonly used for talking in terms of blame, or for identifying legal and ethical culpability and judgement, but a word, a notion which if only used in such a way in relation to abuse, perpetuates the damage.

      An abuse of power meted out to another, screws with the heart of what an individual an empowered person: what makes us healthy, empowered individuals is our ability not just to trust our own agency, but comes from the trust of a shared, entwined, ever intimate life with others, our ability to cope with the inescapable fact that others are responsible for what they do to you, AND that you are responsible for what they did that has become you, what you do to yourself and others.

      So, again, don’t you think that if one were to write an article that sought to help people to realise and embrace their own responsibility in the sense that it is used by Brad and myself here, that that article might just need to not go digging around, and facing up-front the particulars and specifics of any individuals real lives, especially if that dimension of responsibility might just get reactive if singled out.

      It might just be, like so many difficult truth folk have to allow themselves to surface and accept, that a more generalised and oblique reference, not to a someone, but a people, might just help some individuals to move towards their own so very difficult and mixed up realities by no being overly ‘confronted’.

      Maybe a general allusion to recent events and a more detailed anaylsis of a distant one could do a better job.

      In fact, maybe all you and others like you are doing in your slamming of Brad’s views here is effectively encouraging all sorts of individuals to react in the way you seem to think you’re protecting them from: Hey victims of the world, Brad’s talking about you, you in particular, your specific experiences, time to take it real personal and get really angry and outraged. He’s saying that you are to blame for that thing done to you!

      Maybe, just maybe, your line of holier-than-thou actually encourages people to fold themselves back into the same terms, the same old devil.

      You write: “I totally reject the idea of responsibility where someone is the recipient of assault. Isn’t that a legitimate point?” It’s a legitimate point. It’s also a stupid point when referring to an article that also makes that point, agrees with how you mean it, and contrasts it with another sense of what that actually means.

      It’s also a nasty point coming from a nasty place. It is, in itself abuse from abuse, begetting more abuse. One’s own gripes and insecurities are always going to be attracted to and flame up that game.

      I fear that you are yet another person so invested in the identity and status your role affords you that back-tracking on this is too painful to contemplate. And so your antenna’s always on alert form the scent of something to reinforce a position that can only cause you, and quite like others damage you won’t want to see, until it’s way too late.

      1. Andy
        Andy March 5, 2013 at 12:55 pm | |

        Sorry for the unreadable above. I shouldn’t be getting so impassioned when I’m under the weather, and then posting without a read through, again. As I’ve invested some time in this today, FWIW, I’ve done a quick tidy up of the above lengthy response to Adam.

        Sorry too, if in my defence of the piece I’m coming across as a bit too cranky and also taking too many liberties of my own with what I infer as to what Brad is meaning through his article, which speaks for itself.

        Time for a lozenge!

  49. buddy
    buddy March 5, 2013 at 10:19 am | |

    Andy, what you’ve written about ‘victim’ responsibilty is amazing and the best I’ve encountered so far. I have a friend who has suffered actual or attempted assaults consistently from when she was a child to now in her 30s. Like, every few years at least. She just considers it bad luck. Whenever it’s suggested that maybe her behaviour or choices or karma or whatever may have anything to do with it, she goes into a rage of ‘how dare you blame the victim?!’ She’s currently on about how rape is only the male perpetrator’s problem and how she’ll walk alone whenever and wherever the hell she wants wearing whatever the hell she wants etc. I’d like to show her your post but I’m afraid she’d just blow up and not give it a chance whatsoever.

    What Adam is not mentioning, and what I believe Brad may be referring to, are the instances in this situation where women consented to sexual activity with Sasaki with no regret (eg., the infamous ‘it was the closest i’ve ever been to God’ quote), where they consented and now feel confused and ambivalent, and where they consented but now 30 years later feel like he is a psychotic sexual predator (eg.this woman http://sweepingzen.com/sex-with-roshi-letter-from-former-inji-added-to-the-sasaki-archive/)

    1. Andy
      Andy March 5, 2013 at 11:51 am | |

      Thanks for that Buddy. If you like that then I’ve just responded to Adam with another.

      I’ve written a lot here cus I feel very strongly about this. I’m also cranky with the flu. So pardon the mistakes and growling, folks!

  50. Fred
    Fred March 5, 2013 at 11:28 am | |

    Eric Berne would say that we carry scripts around that determine our outlook,
    behaviours and interlockings with others in games.

    I’m sure that a transactionalist could analyze the teacher/student interactions
    in terms of a game with payoffs.

    And some people, including those invested with degrees in particular fields of
    psychology, might get pissed off with analysis in this manner.

    Some analysts might even say that a victim reads the dynamics of interaction
    before they enter the game, and the game plays out with them scoring
    psychological points for victimhood.

    Before you have sexual intercourse with someone you might want to run it by a
    transactional analyst, and a lawyer.

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