The Scarlet Letter “Z” for “Zen”

Ryushin Sensei

Ryushin Sensei

I find it odd that I am sitting here at my kitchen table on a sunny Wednesday morning in Los Angeles working very hard to compose a response to something that, to me, hardly even merits a casual glance.

A guy who calls himself Ryushin Sensei has stepped down as abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery because he was having an extra-marital affair. The news is on the Lion’s Roar website if you want to read it. My initial response to this story, when people started forwarding it to me on Facebook and what-not was, fine, whatever. I don’t know this Ryushin Sensei fellow or his wife and I don’t know whoever he was having an affair with. I’m not part of their sangha. It’s really none of my business.

Then I started seeing this news get shared and commented on and shared again and commented on some more… That’s when I started trying to figure out if I could understand what the fuss was about.

We have a statement by someone who calls him or herself Shugen Sensei, who carries the title “head of the Mountains and Rivers Order” who says, “Ryushin’s infidelity — his betrayal of… his intimate partner, and thus his marriage and monastic vows — is a most serious breach for a person in a position of spiritual and ethical authority and leadership.”

And we have a statement by Ryushin Sensei in which he says, “Over the last six months, I formed an intimate relationship with someone outside our sangha, betraying Hojin [Ryushin Sensei’s partner], not being honest and forthright with her, and breaking our spiritual union vows and ending our marriage… These actions are also a betrayal of your trust in me.”

Maybe I’m the weirdo here. Maybe I’m just wired differently from nearly everybody else. I will accept that as a possibility.

Yet I am not  certain I can understand what a “position of spiritual and ethical authority and leadership” actually is. Why is it we need to be lead by people in positions of authority when it comes to spirituality and ethics? Why is this stated in such a way that it appears to be beyond questioning?

I’ll see if I can explain a little of my own reaction. To pick just one item, even in spite of Ryushin’s comments, I don’t see any reason to be completely certain this wasn’t a case in which he and his partner had an open relationship which was discovered by the members of the community and found to be unacceptable to them. It would not be the first time someone has lied about the nature of their sexual relationships in order to save the myth of the heteronormative monogamy. For that reason among many others, I don’t feel any need to rush to conclusions.

I do see a few things going on here that I’m not sure too many others are seeing. For one thing, demanding Ryushin Sensei to step down from his position is a very Christian and very American response. It is impossible for me to imagine a married Japanese temple abbot being asked to step down from his post following the discovery of an extra-marital affair.

I am not saying the Japanese are right and the Americans are wrong. But to me, it’s sort of like when there was all that furor over Bill Clinton getting a blow job from his intern. Everyone in the United States was ripping their own hair out. I was in Japan when that was going on and my friends over there found the American reaction mostly weird and funny. Like that, this is also a culturally based reaction. I think it’s useful to understand that.

I get that it’s probably best for Mr. Ryushin to step down from his post. It’s probably even best for this Shugen person to demand he do that. However, this is not because of some Universal Truth out there somewhere in the vastness of space that says that someone who commits adultery cannot be trusted to teach people how to sit and stare at walls or to handle the administrative duties necessary to keep a Zen center running. Nor is it best because someone who has committed adultery can never counsel people about the difficulties that occur in their practice. That would be absurd.

It’s best because so many people are freaking the fuck out and it’s good to try to get people to stop freaking the fuck out – although clearly people are still freaking the fuck out anyway. Personally, if you want me to freak out over something, you’re gonna have to give me a more compelling reason than this.

If I had found out one of my teachers had had an extra-marital affair I can’t imagine it would bother me even a tenth as much as this news seems to be bothering people who didn’t even know anyone involved. It would be like finding out my guitar teacher had an affair. Fine. Now show me how to do that thing Jimi Hendrix does with the wah-wah pedal in the middle of Voodoo Child (Slight Return). It’s difficult for me to see the relevance.

I guess maybe the problem is ethics. A Zen teacher is supposed to be someone who has taken a vow to uphold a certain ethical code. This same set of vows is generally also taken by that teacher’s students as well. In fact, it is a common practice at Zen temples for everyone to gather once a month and publicly re-take those vows as a group – teachers and students all chant them in unison.

My best guess is that people are looking for someone to follow. They want to be lead. They want to be sheep following a shepherd, just like it says in the New Testament. A shepherd leadeth his sheep to lie down in green pastures. He scares away the wolves. He shows the sheep where the food and the water is and keeps them from going into dangerous places.

More importantly, the shepherd is a different kind of animal from the sheep. You wouldn’t want a fellow sheep to be your shepherd. And we certainly don’t want to have to be our own shepherds!

Perhaps my difficulty is that I have never seen things this way. I never saw my Zen teachers as shepherds whose duty it was to provide an example of moral perfection and to protect me from harm. I always saw them as fellow travelers on what was a difficult and dangerous journey. I figured they had just a little bit more understanding of the terrain than I did. But I never demanded that they be free of error or unable to make mistakes. Expecting anyone to be like that would be to believe in a kind of person that clearly does not exist. It would be stupid.

I get that a teacher is different from a student. But I tend to look at this from the literal meaning of that much beloved Japanese word sensei. The two Chinese characters used to spell that word are 先生. The character å…ˆ means “previous” or “before.” The character ç”Ÿ means “born” or “alive.” A sensei is not a different sort of creature from you, she is a creature like you who has had more experience at whatever it is you’re trying to learn from her.

If you want to get your undergarments in a knot about things like this story, there’s not much I can do to stop you. I just thought I’d take a moment to express that there may be a different way to respond.


Someone sent me a link to the article upon which the Lion’s Roar pieced was based. It is here. Interestingly, there’s a lot in the original article about Ryushin Sensei’s introduction of shamanic practice and philosophy into his Zen activities and all the confusion and objections that brought about. Lion’s Roar completely omitted this aspect as if it was entirely irrelevant. Fascinating.

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Every Monday at 8pm I lead zazen at Silverlake Yoga Studio 2 located at 2810 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039. All are welcome!

Every Saturday at 9:30 am I lead zazen at the Veteran’s Memorial Complex located at 4117 Overland Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230. All are welcome!

Plenty more info is available on the Dogen Sangha Los Angeles website,

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179 Responses

Page 2 of 2
  1. Michel
    Michel January 30, 2015 at 1:30 am |

    Mark Foote, I think one of the problems we have here is the definition of the word “religion”.
    To Cicero it meant quite something else than to Tertullian and Cicero’s understanding was probably more like that of a modern Japanese shintoist than that of an American (reborn…) Christian.
    Monotheistic religions tend to be both authoritarian and totalitarian. There is no place in their mindset for other forms. Their god can only accept ONE form of worship. All the others are bad, like Cain’s offerings versus those of Abel.
    That mindset doesn’t allow either for admitting that non monotheistic religions are indeed religions. Or surmises that there must need be a central being of worship in it.
    A bit tricky, in the end, because it can also lead, as is the case in France, to a given cultic organisation which will hold that they, and they alone, are the holders of the real true authentic Zen in the world and that all others are fakes. And any that separates from that organisation on grounds personal or other, will tend to similarly hold that they, and they only (etc…)


  2. Fred
    Fred January 30, 2015 at 6:19 am |


    “Divine grace is a theological term present in many religions. It has been defined as the divine influence which operates in humans to regenerate and sanctify, to inspire virtuous impulses, and to impart strength to endure trial and resist temptation; and as an individual virtue or excellence of divine origin”

    Grace in terms of this thread would be not crawling on the ground puking up the
    remnants of psychotropic plants in order to find some fluid state that is lacking
    in your practice as a holy man, and not fornicating with women outside the
    boundaries of your marriage/common law relationship.

    1. Fred
      Fred January 30, 2015 at 7:38 am |

      Grace in terms of the real true authentic Zen is walking the path and not spouting bullshit for the flock. It appears that Konrad made that choice.

  3. Fred
    Fred January 30, 2015 at 8:36 am |

    Konrad Marchaj:

    “We want to know about where we’re headed. These days, if you’re planning a vacation, you can take a virtual tour on the computer, go into your hotel in the Bahamas, and get a 360 degree view. Maybe soon even smells will be channeled to your desk. We endlessly anticipate our destination, and the Buddha was aware that this desire had a double edge to it. In some ways it can be very helpful–after all there are many practices that are built around envisioning an enlightened reality–but it can also be very damaging. So much so that the Buddha actually asked that after his death there be no images of him, nothing that people could become invested in, imagining that that’s what an enlightened being looks like. He was concerned that his image might keep people from landing within themselves. If we have a picture, then we start measuring, adjusting, operating in relationship to it. We become a measured person within a measured reality. Enlightenment becomes objectified.”

    And then he walked out the door.

  4. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote January 30, 2015 at 10:22 am |

    Proulx Michel, to my mind that particular characteristic of religions, and sometimes nations, is part and parcel of a failure on the part of human kind to recognize the potential of sensory consciousness and the function of the impact and feeling of such consciousness in action.

    To be able to relax and actually feel the impact of consciousness that originates with sense, to step into the foaming breakers on level ground with a light that reveals only blackness and stars, is a jump; that we jump off from somewhere, results in a lot of folks identifying with a place full of light where they woke up, unable to see that the one eye still weighs 8 ounces and the other a half a pound when they’re falling back asleep.

    When two people relate to a place full of light where they woke up in the same way, and gain the faith to jump on account of that, they assume that the jump had to do with where they’ve been and the light of waking up, instead of the place where they are, in the darkness falling asleep. You can get your Kelty all knotted in a jiffy, that way, especially if you become protective of the faith in what you relate to that allowed you to jump.

  5. The Idiot
    The Idiot January 30, 2015 at 10:24 am |

    +2 for Fred

    1. Fred
      Fred January 30, 2015 at 12:06 pm |

      Anybody got a talks by Konrad since he started adding what he learned from the Peruvian power plants to the regular zen stuff?

      1. Shodo
        Shodo January 30, 2015 at 12:11 pm |
  6. What is Zen Anyway? | Hardcore Zen January 30, 2015 at 12:44 pm |
  7. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon January 30, 2015 at 1:16 pm |
  8. Zafu
    Zafu January 30, 2015 at 8:54 pm |

    “I find it odd that I am sitting here at my kitchen table on a sunny Wednesday morning in Los Angeles working very hard to compose a response to something that, to me, hardly even merits a casual glance.” — Brad Warner

    Not odd but rather heartless of you to not be at all moved by the hurt Ryushin Sensei caused his wife, and others. If indeed they had an open marriage and are now divorcing for the sake of appearances, well then… isn’t that special.

    1. MAPhdBuddhistStudies
      MAPhdBuddhistStudies March 20, 2015 at 5:12 am |

      I believe that you missed the point of the post, only to insert an incendiary comment.

  9. JR
    JR February 1, 2015 at 9:48 pm |

    Here is what struck me about this blog post:

    First, the writer didn’t bother to check whether Shugen was a man or a woman, which could have been done in 30 seconds or less by visiting the Zen Mountain Monastery website. Was this laziness or apathy? Either way, it doesn’t reflect well on the writer.

    What follows next is an utterly nonsensical analysis. In Ryushin’s mea culpa statement he acknowledges that he was “not being honest and forthright” with his wife. Yet the writer, who seems to knows nothing of the situation other than what he’s read on the Monastery’s website, engages in ignorant speculation: “I don’t see any reason to be completely certain this wasn’t a case in which he (Ryushin) and his partner has an open relationship which was discovered by the members of the community and found to be unacceptable to them.”

    Ignorant speculation is just that: ignorant speculation. In this case the ignorant speculation is baseless and completely wrong.

    Next, the writer says, “it’s probably even best for this Shugen person to demand that he (Ryushin) do that (step down).” This is more fiction from the writer’s mind. In the very first sentence of his note, Ryushin says that he was “asked” to step down. And in the next sentence he says “I completely agree with his request…”
    Nothing was “demanded.” Ryushin and Shugen agreed on the course of action chosen.

    The writer then says it’s best that Ryushin leave “because so many people are freaking the fuck out…” On what does he base that? Has he spoken with many Sangha members? I have and I can tell you from direct experience, while this is a difficult time for some, the “freak out” factor strikes me as quite low.

    The writer concludes: “My best guess is that people are looking for someone to follow.” Perhaps some are. But that’s not at all what this story is about.

    Here’s the story: Ryushin Sensei, the beloved and highly respected Abbot of the Zen Mt Monastery, broke his marital and monastic vows and was not honest about doing so. He also began introducing shamanic principles into his teachings before he fully understood shamanism. By his own admission, this was “irresponsible.” The writer makes no mention of this other important fact other than to point out that the story on Lion’s Roar didn’t mention it. Well, the writer of this blog post didn’t mention it either, about which I will say just one thing: Fascinating.

  10. electricelf
    electricelf February 3, 2015 at 1:21 pm |

    Thanks Brad, somehow your comments hit in just the right way and i was rolling on the ground laughing …. always a good thing. Agreed, the whole sex scandal in Zen bears further looking into.

    In this case, Ryushin is no predator, as he states, the affair was outside the MRO, was not one of his students.
    Ryushin should have left his marriage if he was unhappy, which is acceptable. (Daido Roshi was married 4 times, the last one to a stunning woman twenty years his junior, just a few years before he died at age 75, and even after he was diagnosed with lung cancer – an old Italian navy captain who had to redeem his machismo after Myotai had left him.

    Ryushin is an awesome teacher, and a very kind, sincere person. I was pleased that Daido had on his death bed passed the baton to him of Abbot, over Shugan, his second dharma heir since 1997. Myotai was Daido’s first darma heir, and his unmarried partner of 20 years. Myotai left him in 2004, and Shugan was next in line as Abbot. He must have been hurt that Daido appointed Ryushin near the end. The truth is at that Ryushin was the obvious choice, as you can tell from any recordings of his Dharma Talks, he was Daido’s true heir, known for his free-wheeling teaching style. Shugan is much more the strong administrator.

    Ryushin should have just played it cool for the sake of the Sangha, separated from his wife, and not made such needless drama

    oh, and correction, these are not monastics, but priests, who are allowed to marry in the Japanese tradition, but even monastics are allowed to have sex, so this is a big misconception by Americans. The rules to marry or monogamy were installed by Daido, a Catholic, who Mysumi Roshi often joked was more Catholic than Zen. Mysumi Roshi had many affairs while married, and marital troubles as well, and divorced, making Shugan’s statements very reactionary. I hope he reconsiders, and that the Sangha ask him to reconsider. There was never any attempt to ask Mysumi to step down as Abbot when his affairs became known, that is for certain.

    Why do we expect Zen priests to be super-human and have perfect marriages? Why did Ryushin risk his position if he was unhappy, if not from confusion amidst this hypermoralistic atmosphere?

    I find it chilling to read Shugan’s comments; the morality is so repressive!
    ‘My deepest sadness, more even than the loss from our sangha of my beloved dharma brother … is that these events might weaken your own faith in Buddhist teachings and in your own practice.’

    That he states so boldly that a teacher’s love life might shake anyone’s faith? And considering Daido’s big proclivity to marry and divorce, it is just so extreme. I also noticed the Shugan’s own wife Joy, a priest in the order has gone missing, no mention or word on the website what happened to her, and she was a key figure at the MRO since the 90s, married to Shugan during that entire period.

    It is silly that one’s personal life needs to become public, as if Zen Masters do not also go through break-ups. They deserve more respect than this whole condemnation, afterall Ryushin has dedicated his life to this work.

    1. Zafu
      Zafu February 3, 2015 at 2:49 pm |

      Expect Zen priests to be super-human? It takes super-human ability to be faithful?

      If the atmosphere were really hypermoralistic wouldn’t Ryushin have been burned at the stake or something?

    2. Shodo
      Shodo February 3, 2015 at 3:26 pm |

      Your take on things is WAAAAY off… IMO.

      It’s like you learned what info you could from the website and then spun a tale around it that is just fiction.

  11. Kassis
    Kassis February 3, 2015 at 2:01 pm |

    The main issue to to the folks at ZMM is not really the affair, but the fact The Ryushin has been pursuing shamanism, which rattled the the Soto catholicism.
    the whole thing smacks of paranoia and witch hunt.
    this is no way to treat a “beloved Dharma brother”
    if you listen to the recording of the mondo from last week which is available on the MRO website you will hear Shugen respond to the question if therapy might be helpful in sorting out this dilemma by saying ” I dont know how it would help to talk more about this, I talk about it all the time now” Maybe that was supposed to be a light touch of fun, but it really exposes the depth of denial that’s going on following Daido’s insistence that therapy is the folks who really are not ready for Zen practice. Hope they can all sort it out and come to their senses!

    1. Shodo
      Shodo February 3, 2015 at 3:12 pm |

      Kassis said:
      “The main issue to to the folks at ZMM is not really the affair, but the fact The Ryushin has been pursuing shamanism, which rattled the the Soto catholicism.”

      And you would know this… How?

  12. Kassis
    Kassis February 3, 2015 at 5:26 pm |

    Shodo, because affairs have not previously disqualified people from influential positions in the order.

  13. Shodo
    Shodo February 3, 2015 at 5:41 pm |

    Kassis said:
    “…because affairs have not previously disqualified people from influential positions in the order.”

    That has nothing to do with your claim that people were more upset about shamanism in Ryushin’s teachings than his infidelity to Hojin. Many people I know didn’t detect any shamanism in his dharma talks at all – including me.

    …and what order are you talking about? The Mountains and Rivers Order, or the Soto-shu?

  14. electricelf
    electricelf February 4, 2015 at 1:34 pm |

    Shodo, it sounds like you have never been married. It is quite common for married people to live for years without a sex life, and then one of the two often stumbles onto a relationship, and is overjoyed to discover it was not over, it was just a stale marriage.
    since you say you are friends with Hojin, she has an obligation to go public with the news of the state of their marriage. Ryushin can’t speak about, for fear of causing more hurt feelings. It was most likely that Hojin was an important member in the order that made it difficult to just be honest and say, the marriage is over, I am unhappy. Shamanism may just be code for ‘taoist sex’, or his sudden awakening to his sexuality that was not or could not be satisfied in his marriage. He is being burned at the state by this public humiliation over what should have remained private, as it was when Myotai left Daido to pursue other sexual liasons. You can’t mistake in the 01.18 posted talk how thrilled Shugan is to knock Ryushin out of the higher seat, just as he was thrilled that Myotai left the MRO. Even the photo posted on the front page is Shugan in the high seat, with Ryushin seated low on his right side. This talk is a case study in psycho-pathology, and double thinking, the lier lies to himself. Also, any info Shodo about what happened to Shugan’s wife Joy? In these cases, it often turns out that the person pointing the figure is guilty of much worse. Americans are living in the dark ages when it comes to marriage and sexuality. That is why Brad’s work is so important, to bring Zen out of its dark closet.

  15. electricelf
    electricelf February 4, 2015 at 1:40 pm |

    yes, anyone interested in knowing Shugan’s true motives, listen to the last few minutes of the talk 01.18 on the front page – he is giggling hysterically. Not upset or concerned at all, quite the opposite, overjoyed is more like it.

    1. Shodo
      Shodo February 4, 2015 at 2:35 pm |

      you are a silly person. 🙂

  16. Shodo
    Shodo February 4, 2015 at 2:06 pm |

    Electricelf… You are a silly person.

    Is it possible you are going off half cocked…?
    I sure think so. 😉

    I mean, you seem to think that Ryushin was superior to Shugen because Ryu was the Abbot of ZMM. But you seem to not know that Shugen is the head of the MRO, of which ZMM is under. Shugen has always been the elder, and was in effect Ryushin’s boss, for lack of a better term.

    Sorry Charlie, this was not the action of a diabolical monastic power play, complete with mustache twirling as you seem to think.
    You seem to think that some photo shows proof, with Ryushin seated below Shugen on a high seat – guess what? That is how it always is when a teacher gives a talk! Whoever is giving the talk, the dharma encounter is on the high seat, so once again you are seeing nothing but the phantoms in your mind.
    Oh, and you make it seem like “somethig happened” to Joy/Jimon. She didn’t want to be a monastic anymore… That’s it. Joy and Shugen are stll there, married.
    No conspiracy. This was common knowledge.

    We’re you a resident once upon a time…?
    You seem to have some bad blood against Shugen.

  17. electricelf
    electricelf February 4, 2015 at 2:11 pm |

    and Shodo, your take on things is waayyyy naive.

    I was a close friend of Daido after he split with Myotai, and that man liked to fuck, I know that firsthand…. big Dick too on that Roshi.
    oh, now does that make you feel sad that your teacher Ryushin likes to fuck.
    Let me tell you, it would make him a better, more alive teacher, so please grow up and stop pretending Zen is the Catholic church.
    Of course, Zen masters like to fuck, fuck, fuck, Hell Yes!!!!!!!!

    1. Shodo
      Shodo February 4, 2015 at 2:30 pm |

      Oh my… I seem to have struck a nerve.
      Upset that your conspiracy theories vanished like a puff of smoke that you can’t stop talking about fucking…? 😉

  18. electricelf
    electricelf February 4, 2015 at 2:32 pm |

    You are so much like all the silly, hysterical people pulling their hair out over a private affair … with no humor, and such a moralizing attitude towards anyone who does not conform with your own boring take on things. …. I am glad Joy is still alive and well, but too bad she lost interest in teaching. I was speaking about the choice of the photo for that particular talk. The position of Abbot of the main monastery placed them on equal ground, and at least sharing power. I have no bad blood, I just find Shugan handling of this not in keeping with basic human dignity. It is staged to make Shugan appear the great hero, and that is a power play. The unrestrained giggling proves that.

  19. electricelf
    electricelf February 4, 2015 at 2:38 pm |

    I made the post prior, sorry to diappoint.
    you really show how certain of your moral superiority, and exactly this belittling bitchiness betrays your state of mind- you did not deserve Ryushin as a teacher. You have no loyalty to him.

    1. Shodo
      Shodo February 4, 2015 at 2:43 pm |

      He’s still my friend, and I am still his student.
      I also hope that after these 6 months that he comes back.

  20. Shodo
    Shodo February 4, 2015 at 2:41 pm |

    No humor…?
    I’m laughing at you, aren’t i? 😉

    The things you are seeing and hearing are really just you. I don’t believe that you know Ryushin or Shugen well enough to make these characterizations… I also doubt that you know Diado very well.

  21. electricelf
    electricelf February 4, 2015 at 3:08 pm |

    JR, if you listen to the taped link of the session that Shugan staged and posted by Shodo, it is indeed a major freak out by hysterical people straight out of Freud’s casebook, who seem as awake as barn yard animals on their way to slaughter …. perhaps all the teachers should be thrown out, and just start again. Perhaps Ryushin is channeling native American spirits on that gorgeous piece of property who knows, but here I go again, seeing phantoms ….

    1. Shodo
      Shodo February 4, 2015 at 3:21 pm |

      What JR was talking about… “Ignorant speculation”… Fits you to a T, electricelf.

  22. Shodo
    Shodo February 4, 2015 at 3:11 pm |

    At least you admit to your illusions now. 😉

  23. electricelf
    electricelf February 4, 2015 at 3:23 pm |

    The things you are seeing and hearing are really just you too! Now we are getting somewhere!

    1. Shodo
      Shodo February 4, 2015 at 3:27 pm |

      …what I am seeing and hearing is far more informed than what you are seeing and hearing electricelf. 😉

  24. electricelf
    electricelf February 4, 2015 at 3:25 pm |

    but at least my speculation is interesting. Bye!

    1. Shodo
      Shodo February 4, 2015 at 3:29 pm |

      But you just said that we were finally getting somewhere…!

      Leaving already?
      Ahh well, see you Space Cowboy. 😉

  25. Shodo
    Shodo February 4, 2015 at 6:20 pm |

    Just one last thing…
    It is truly a rare thing to find a troll that stinks so badly at trolling, that they expose what they are doing for everyone to see.

    “but at least my speculation is interesting….”

    Well done! 😉

  26. Zafu
    Zafu February 5, 2015 at 9:26 am |

    Stinks? You couldn’t resist…

    1. MAPhdBuddhistStudies
      MAPhdBuddhistStudies March 20, 2015 at 5:16 am |

      FYI: Perhaps it would be more helpful if you clicked on “Reply” on the post of which you are replying, that is unles you are beginning a conversation with “Stinks? You couldn’t resist…”

  27. AnneMH
    AnneMH February 7, 2015 at 5:18 am |

    “Perhaps my difficulty is that I have never seen things this way. I never saw my Zen teachers as shepherds whose duty it was to provide an example of moral perfection and to protect me from harm. I always saw them as fellow travelers on what was a difficult and dangerous journey. I figured they had just a little bit more understanding of the terrain than I did. But I never demanded that they be free of error or unable to make mistakes. Expecting anyone to be like that would be to believe in a kind of person that clearly does not exist. It would be stupid.”

    interesting, and more my style than following. i had a teacher who i cared for very much, great teacher, and a deeply flawed person. when i talk about that in my current sangha people get uncomfortable. i think for his flaws (and mine) we had a good relationship because of some honesty. one point of honesty was when he said he had taught me a lot but then thought of us more as peers (although there was always the teacher aspect there). i see that in how you (Brad) talk about your teachers,

  28. Sonic
    Sonic February 8, 2015 at 7:23 pm |

    I think a lot of readers are not realizing what it is like to study at Zen Mountain Monastery. It is truly a place to get on with things and go deep with your zen training. The Fire Lotus Temple in NYC falls under the MRO but seems far more relaxed and oriented towards lay study.
    It just seems like ZMM isn’t the kind of place that has any time for the kind of crap Ryushin was dabbling in. Just a simple matter of upholding precepts and setting the example.
    As only a monthly visitor, I could tell Ryushin was exploring other things when one of his dharma talks centered around the effect of mushrooms on dharma practitioners. It was interesting, but just out of character.

  29. electricelf
    electricelf February 10, 2015 at 12:15 pm |

    I have trained at ZMM, and the place, the mountain, the building are very much alive with what Dogan called light beings, nature spirits, all looking ‘to move on’, of course anyone that thinks ‘upholding precepts’, setting examples (of what, for who?) is Zen is unable to see, hear, touch anything but their own condition, situation, and opinions. Keep sitting, stop claiming you know what you can’t know!

    Ryushin has my heart completely! He is so high in this talk!

  30. electricelf
    electricelf February 11, 2015 at 1:29 am |

    Medicine is finally coming out of the dark ages! Maybe its time Zen Buddhism and the MRO does also? Precepts can’t save us from the deep shit we are in.

    Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University are seeking individuals with a regular, long-term meditation practice to participate in a research study looking at the combined effects of meditation and psilocybin, a psychoactive substance found in sacramental mushrooms of some cultures.

    full press comments and results so far:

    As an MD, Ryushin could possible break open whole new territory for helping people with mental illness and personality disorders (essentially everyone, including the other Abott Shugen, the technocrat).

    Keep going Ryushin, write about it and turn all this poison into medicine for the world.

  31. Shodo
    Shodo February 11, 2015 at 5:35 am |

    I am glad electricelf, that this issue has gotten you listening to dharma talks from ZMM.

    Maybe they will inspire you to actually practice, rather than trolling. 😉

  32. Kassis
    Kassis February 12, 2015 at 2:10 pm |

    yes, but does this troll have buddha nature?

  33. otaku00
    otaku00 February 14, 2015 at 10:54 am |

    Even Brad is getting it wrong. Which “ethical code” and “set of vows”? If s.o. would really bother to understand what the traditional Buddhist rule in this respect means, the only information you need is whether the person who the guy had extramarrital sex with was married him-/herself. If not, there is no breaking of the rule with respect to sexual conduct by the “sensei”, but by the other woman or man (if she or he ever agreed on such a rule). If you find that sophisticated, please look up the original in the Palicanon.

    The rule is against disturbing and breaking OTHER existing marriages, not one’s own. You may deduct that from this rule, but it is not in there (although it would have been so easy to clearly state it).

    So this “sensei” is indeed speaking about rules of his order and his marriage vows. That is different. It is not even clear if those vows were Christian.

    Therefore, if one wants to point a finger logically on the basis of old Buddhist ethics, please get your facts right.

  34. anon 108
    anon 108 February 21, 2015 at 3:16 am |

    By the by…

    I’m close to posting my thoughts about enlightenment on my long-dormant blog. I wrote lots and have been pruning. For anyone interested in my projections about the original meaning of bodhi, here’s a bit that’s been pruned from the blog. It happens to work as a reply to a question posed on Zen Forum International. Sorry, Zen Forum International. (I hope that takes you to my post. I’m jiblet. Must put a more recent picture up.)

    Carry on.

    1. anon 108
      anon 108 February 21, 2015 at 3:41 am |

      More recent picture put up.

  35. hdsnville
    hdsnville April 1, 2015 at 8:21 pm |

    A one time comment: Myotai did not “leave Daido to pursue sexual interests.” This insult and inaccuracy should not stand uncorrected. Please don’t spread false rumors that are harmful. Given the character and tone of the language of the troll involved, this will be the only post I will make about this. I hope it will be respected.

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