There’ll Always Be an England

…but I won’t be there much longer!

You can still get in on tomorrow’s day-long sitting in London. It’s…

Dec. 2 (Sun) London, England, The Vibast Community Centre, 163 Old Street, EC1V 9NH, for info sacredalchemyevents@hotmail.com

Also, the world premiere of Shoplifting From American Apparel, the movie I am the star of, takes place on December 7th in Los Angeles at the Los Feliz 3 Theater on Vermont Ave. in lovely Los Feliz. There will be several other showings as well. The full schedule is:

12/7 – LA – LOS FELIZ 3
12/15 – NYC – INDIESCREEN
1/ 3 – PORTLAND -CLINTON STREET THEATER
1/5 – SEATTLE – NORTHWEST FILM FORUM
1/10 – CLEVELAND – CEDAR LEE THEATER
1/12 – SAN FRANCISCO – 4 STAR THEATER

YOU MUST BUY TICKETS ON LINE TO GO! It sucks. We are well aware of the suckiness of this arrangement. We didn’t know about it until like three days ago. To buy tickets on line, go to:

http://ilikenirvana.com/?page_id=277

And then click on the city you want to see the movie in. Actually, if I did it right you ought to be able to click on the name of the city in this here blog. Tickets are $11. Even if you don’t like the movie you will still feel much better about supporting independent cinema than you would if you went to see some cruddy Hollywood piece of garbage. And it actually is a very funny, quirky, weird movie.

Here is a review of the movie from the website Dead End Follies.

***

I’ve been working on bunches of stuff and haven’t had a lot of time to keep up with blogging. Most pressing is the editing of my upcoming book. So far, the title is still There is No God and He is Your Creator. I hate always giving my books such long titles. But God is big, so the title ought to be big as well, I suppose.

I’ve been thinking about the Joshu Sasaki case a lot as I’ve been traveling. I actually posted comments on a couple of the things Adam Tebbe has put up on Sweeping Zen about it. But I just have neither the time nor a reliable enough Internet connection to follow up on my own comments. So I have no idea if I’ve touched off a poop storm over there or just been ignored. Maybe one of these days I’ll go have a look.

I don’t think Adam or some other people over there or even over here really understood what I was trying to say. I guess I’m not making myself clear. So I’ll have another quick go at it for what it’s worth (I doubt any of those people are looking at this blog anyway).

I’m not trying to cast doubt upon what Eshu Martin is saying about Sasaki. He says there have been allegations for years about Sasaki groping girls. There have, indeed, been such allegations. What Eshu Martin is saying is true.

Nor am I trying to say that groping girls in sanzen (aka dokusan, aka private one-on-one meetings between Zen student and Zen teacher) is OK. Groping girls in sanzen is not OK.

What I was trying to say is that (and forgive me if this happens not to apply to you, but I’m guessing what I’m about to say applies to everyone reading this blog) you were not there.

That doesn’t mean you have no right to an opinion. It means you have the right to an opinion as a person who was not there and who cannot ever know precisely what was going on.

Such an opinion may have value. Often it does. Usually it doesn’t. In any case, we hear stories and immediately think we have had the experience described in the story — even if we understand intellectually that it didn’t happen to us. Then we react to it as if it happened to us. Only we’re not actually reacting to the event in question. We’re reacting to the pictures our brains have created in response to the story. And we may not have even understood correctly what the person who told the story is trying to convey.

In this case we have very little to go on. So the pictures we create based on such fragmentary evidence are highly dubious.

We want to divide the world into victims and aggressors. We want to champion the victims and destroy the aggressors. But the world really isn’t like that. It’s not that black and white. Never.

Also, people have a right to their stories. I cited the case of at least one woman who says she could be labeled as a “victim of Roshi’s abuse” but who does not see it that way at all. Why do we get to define her real experience for her based on a couple of sentences we’ve read on the Internet? What makes our definition based on a third hand fragment of a story outweigh her definition as a person who was actually there?

This is important. It does a lot of damage when we do that kind of thing. A lot.

I see that Rinzai-ji, Sasaki Roshi’s organization, is looking into the problem. I’m interested in seeing what comes out of that. Sasaki Roshi is one of the best Zen teachers out there. It would be a shame if his legacy were reduced to “he groped girls in sanzen.” On the other hand, if he really did grope girls in sanzen, maybe that ought to be part of his legacy as well. But so should the stories of people who were allegedly groped but who did not feel that “groped” was a valid definition of what happened to them. And if that makes you mad, keep telling yourself, “I was not actually there. I was not actually there.”

Ah well. I’m sure I messed up in trying to express what I think of this. But there you have it. Another attempt.

***

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78 Responses

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  1. jubossert
    jubossert December 1, 2012 at 4:23 am | |

    Thankyou for this comment,

    I think the message of this post is excellent and it really needed to be pointed out.

    I like to adapt this to the forming of our political opinions (for example about the Mideast conflict). Most people think they have notion of these things. Very problematic. I’m sure that having a politial opinion is important and valuable. But stepping back and seeing the restricted nature of the process of “getting” or “forming” it, seems essential to me.

  2. Permanentguest
    Permanentguest December 1, 2012 at 5:53 am | |

    Oddly the issue of people needing a jump to conclusions mat has been on my mind for the last few days. So this post greets me right in time. So yes, thank you for this post.
    Unfortunately this is an issue that is entirely too prevalant in our society. I am unsure about other countries so I am unable to speak for them, but I know it runs rampant here in the US. I fall victim to it myself.
    I was reading your post about Sasaki the other day and I was far too quick to form the opinion, roll my eyes, and question the validity of Zen (a very new practice to me). But then I read further and found that the women did not feel they were victims. Which, made me step back and look at the situation a bit differently. I was not there. I do not know what happened. Further, I do not know what it is like to be a man but I understand a bit about nature. However, if those women dont feel they have fallen victim to Sasakis “perversion” then who am I to judge this man.
    Honestly, it pisses me off when I jump to conclusions, or fall victim to a very biased media feeding me a story. Likewise, it irritates me when I see others do that as well. There is a whole world of greyscale out there and most of us are on the black or white side of it.
    The other day on the Facebook, I read a “news” story from a local (Indianapolis, IN) “news” station. The story had a heinous headline and a mug shot of a woman who looked terrible (more than likely from crying). The story at first glance, in the small introductory thumbnail link, stated that this woman let her disabled child die from starvation. So immediately my opinion is that this woman is a horrific woman who deserves to rot in jail. Also, the village lynch mob had terrible things to say about her. Because I live in greyscale, I clicked on that link and read more. The story concludes that the child was on a drug that caused her to lose weight very quickly but never goes any further than that. So here I am, quickly blaming this woman who just lost her child and was thrown in jail for something that more than likely was pharmeceutical related. Of course I cant find any further information through the “news” station about this case.
    I digress…the point of this comment, is that, yes we are far to quick to form opinions on matters that dont involve us. If we weren’t there, then who are we to judge. It wouldn’t be very ‘merican of me if I didn’t judge others though right. Wrong. So to that, I don’t have an opinon on this at all. I wasn’t there. I suppose I should sit on that. :)

  3. Permanentguest
    Permanentguest December 1, 2012 at 5:57 am | |

    Oh and too bad your movie isnt playing in Indianapolis. I’d glady support your independent cinematic endeavor in the theater if I didnt have to drive 6 hours to do so. But I hope it goes well.

  4. lizintaos
    lizintaos December 1, 2012 at 6:44 am | |

    OK, this feels inconsistent to me. I will admit I never read all of your postings on Genpo Roshi, but my understanding is that you spoke out against Big Mind, which I felt was fine, since you pointed out the financial irregularities and the extravagant claims Genpo was making. But to my knowledge, you NEVER participated in a Big Mind session, so it was not YOUR experience.
    Now, you seem to be saying that since none of us were groped by Sasaki Roshi, we have no position talking about it.
    What, in your opinion, is the difference?

  5. Fred
    Fred December 1, 2012 at 7:56 am | |

    One woman wrote that she quit Zen training because of Sasaki’s groping and
    became a Christian priest. So you cannot generalize and say that the gropies
    weren’t groped.

    Gimpo wants big bucks so your ego can can imagine that it has just experienced enlightenment, and Sasaki wants some groping for the real deal.

    And the enablers will say it was a mutual gropefest

  6. AnneMH
    AnneMH December 1, 2012 at 8:13 am | |

    Dang it, I would love to see the movie and I am in Denver. Please post on your blog if you get more cities. I think we have a pretty good independant film situation but I only saw the movie you recommended awhile ago play one night and I missed it. There is something about seeing a movie in a theatre instead of waiting for netflix and sitting alone in my basement.

    So it seems there is a fundamental issue with humans talking. There is a whole lot of talking that is really about nothing we know much about or what celebrities are doing or about fashion. Basically we want to talk and be listened to and our lives are not that interesting. If they are that interesting then we are dealing with that instead of talking about it.

    I think the entire idea of not talking in an opinionated way about things that have not happened to us falls under right speech. It is a challenge to stop up the gossip, it is also really hard to talk about things with people who want you to make a judgment or decide what has happened or definitely have an opinion. I see that difficulty when you are a writer and you have to write a lot of stuff but you want to express that you have an open mind about what happened, and then even if something bad happened to realize that is not all of the person or the situation. Basically people can call you names for siding with the dark side just because you didn’t champion the side of light and purity (which really does not exist outside of fairy tales).

    So there is my opinion, which really isn’t much of any opinion except to maybe be careful of your opinions.

  7. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 1, 2012 at 9:07 am | |

    The issue is: what is the best way to teach zazen, going forward?

    We have Sasaki, teaching in a traditional Rinzai fashion; we have Genpo, teaching with lineage in both the Rinzai and Soto traditions,teaching something based around an aspect of psychology he calls “Big Mind”. We have numerous lineage teachers from the Soto and Rinzai zen schools teaching in the U.S. of A., and unlike their Japanese counterparts, most of the schools here have embraced men and women practicing and living together at practice centers; there is an ongoing evolution of the understanding of Buddhist precepts, and of the understanding of when a teacher in the Zen tradition is appropriate and when a psychologist or psychiatrist is appropriate for the counseling of an individual.

    I write to understand my practice, and I read for the same reason, but the writing is more intimate to my beliefs. I like mathematics, most people don’t; even mathematicians who should know better dispute Godel’s incompleteness theorem, because they like to believe they can make an extension from the finite to the infinite case without producing contradictions. They can’t.

    Most of what I see from lineage holders who teach zazen is a reliance on negation and an emphasis on the inherent contradictions in the extension of logic to the infinite case. I think there are useful things that can be said about the practice, provided the right vocabulary and context can be established; until we do find a way to talk about the heart of the practice in words that can be understood by elementary school students, we will continue to end up in the roles Brad so astutely delineated in “Sex, Sin, and Zen”.

    A zen student must begin by bowing low and grasping their ankles, asking why is not the Zen way?

  8. NellaLou
    NellaLou December 1, 2012 at 10:03 am | |

    “Girls” Really?! You ain’t my Daddy. Or the Daddy of any other woman who takes up Zen.

    Infantilization. Google it. Oh wait I’ll do it for you since I assume you are incapable of doing that. (There’s some infantilizing for you)

    “To treat (a person) like a child. Infantilization is any action that subverts a person’s knowledge, authority, or any other form of power. ”

    The Facebook commentary is pretty good. One point in particular, made by Eshu Martin:

    “I just find it amazing that you can say “you were not there”, in one sentence, and yet find it no problem to say “Sasaki Roshi is one of the best Zen teachers out there.” Based on what exactly? Your rereading of a book written in the 1970s? To turn it around, I might say, “You were not there.””

    On generalizations. Not everyone who comments is groping in the dark. (heh, she said groping) Did it ever strike you that some of the people reading this or some of the people making comments in the various forums were there? I wasn’t there but I’ve listened to people who were. If they choose not to put that fact out there they may have very good reasons. But they may still comment without that disclosure.

  9. hrtbeat7
    hrtbeat7 December 1, 2012 at 12:02 pm | |

    Well, as mentioned in previous comments, I was there (1971-74), and spoke everyday to at least 4 or 5 women who had been involved in Sasaki’s sex play, since we shared some communal work chores, and they unanimously told me that they were not offended, did not see themselves as victims of abuse, but rather were quite fond of Roshi’s sanzen style, and more often than not, laughed him off. A few also told me that they could understand what he was getting at, and it was not about sex and gratification.

    Of course, that was the extent of my experience, and I do not know what hapened after I left. Apparently, some women did get upset, and I can’t speak to that, except to say that Joshu Sasaki definitely does not belong in the Zen Church that much of Western Zen Buddhism has become. He is a rogue in that respect, an independent character with his own original style, only nominally associated with the institution of Buddhism, and he directly confided to me that he was not at all interested in the religious morality that came with affiliation at the Church of Zen.

    I remember one night I was driving him around and he told me he wanted to eat some Chinese food. I found a restaurant, and when the waiter approached (a Chinese lad), Roshi ordered a pork dish. The waiter looked shocked as he stared at Roshi, who was decked out in his monk costume. He blurted out, “I thought Buddhist monks don’t eat animals!” Roshi responded with a big smile, “I like pork — pork is my friend!”

    I appreciated the fact that Roshi was not a hypocrite, and moreover was not interested in keeping a bunch of sycophants around him. One day he looked at me in Sanzen and told me that I should go and manifest my practice in the outside world, that I didn’t need to keep hanging around Mt. Baldy like the fox who would often come down from the higher elevation to hang around Roshi’s cabin.

    He also told me that most people he met in the West would need at least 20 years of de-programming before they were even ready to enter Zen practice itself. In parting, he told me that a lot of what he had taught me would not make sense for a few decades, but that when the seeds finally ripened, I would laugh in remembrance of Roshi’s teaching. More than a few times since then, I have indeed laughed — just as he told me I would — and even now, in the midst of this so-called scandal, I find myself laughing at the koan-like uproar that old scoundrel has left behind in his wake.

    These comments, by the way, should in no way be taken as some sort of defense of his behavior. I have addressed that in my essay about Zen and the Emotional/Sexual Contraction here: http://theconsciousprocess.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/zen-and-the-emotionalsexual-contraction/

    I just wanted to add a little bit more about my take on the man, since I did spend a few years directly involved with him, and felt a little bit of an inside view was due, particularly after the knee-jerks from the Church of Zen have all weighed in, waving their spears and brandishing their pitchforks.

  10. chasrmartin
    chasrmartin December 1, 2012 at 12:32 pm | |

    Yes. The old man is a zen teacher, not a saint. A lot of the outrage seems to be being raged by people who weren’t there and who seem to be a lot more outraged than the people who were.

  11. AndrewArmiger
    AndrewArmiger December 1, 2012 at 12:42 pm | |

    Good blog post, very interesting. It seems quite possible that there could be both willing participants and victims, that Roshi having consensual interactions is not necessarily mutually exclusive to him pushing this practice on some who were not ready and willing participants. I am reminded of the varying accounts of Chögyam Trungpa, who may have been a pioneering visionary and leader of Buddhist doctrine and ways in the West as well as a person of significant vice and corruption who exploited his position over followers for his personal gain at their expense. It often appears that his defenders rationalize and excuse the latter because of the benefits of the former.

    Hope your film makes it to Denver/Boulder (Boulder Int’l Film Fest in Feb. or Int’l Film Series at U of Colorado or Boedecker Theater at the Dairy Art Center?) at some point!

  12. Fred
    Fred December 1, 2012 at 3:57 pm | |

    Thanks Heartbeat 7.

    “A few also told me that they could understand what he was getting at, and it was not about sex and gratification. ”

    Then what was it? Transcending sex? Dropping orientation? Dropping
    attachment to the body? A test of some type?

    1. hrtbeat7
      hrtbeat7 December 1, 2012 at 4:13 pm | |

      Well, it helps to understand what Roshi teaches, and a lot of it is about discovering your own “center of gravity”, which I would call awakening the mind in the gut, and really learning how to be your own person in a very primordial way. It’s a very basic teaching for Westerners who have not come to rest in the confidence of their own center, and stand on their own two feet, so Roshi pushed and jabbed through all sorts of means to awaken that response prior to the conceptual mind. That was my experience of his method, and perhaps some of his older students can elaborate on that, if any happen to drop by.

      Like I said, this was 4 decades ago. Since that time, I’ve met a lot of Roshis, and not one of them could demonstrate or manifest that center of gravity like Sasaki — he was a rare one. When I met Shimano, for example, I was appalled by the guy’s weak presence, since I had gotten so used to Sasaki. I had also studied with Suzuki Roshi prior to his passing, and he had something, for sure, but Sasaki was in a class by himself. Again, this is not to ignore the later complaints, but just sharing my impression of the fellow.

      1. floating_abu
        floating_abu December 4, 2012 at 5:24 am | |

        hrtbeat7 said: “It’s a very basic teaching for Westerners who have not come to rest in the confidence of their own center, and stand on their own two feet, so Roshi pushed and jabbed through all sorts of means to awaken that response prior to the conceptual mind. That was my experience of his method, and perhaps some of his older students can elaborate on that, if any happen to drop by.

        Like I said, this was 4 decades ago. Since that time, I’ve met a lot of Roshis, and not one of them could demonstrate or manifest that center of gravity like Sasaki — he was a rare one. When I met Shimano, for example, I was appalled by the guy’s weak presence, since I had gotten so used to Sasaki. I had also studied with Suzuki Roshi prior to his passing, and he had something, for sure, but Sasaki was in a class by himself. Again, this is not to ignore the later complaints, but just sharing my impression of the fellow.”

        Based on recent years, and my limited experience, I think his teaching method is similar but again everchanging, and dynamic, but the essence remains to push people towards true realisation/deep actualisation – if they are capable of it.

        I cannot account for all of his years and actions and I can understand if he offended people, including women, through his antics to both sexes, but I trust in his Zen authenticity all said and done. And yes, he is a human being also who I believe has tried his very best for his students. At least this is my reading from recent years, and limited experience.

        Abu

        1. hrtbeat7
          hrtbeat7 December 4, 2012 at 10:16 am | |

          Floating Abu: “…he is a human being also who I believe has tried his very best for his students.”

          He once told me that, when he reincarnates in his next life, he wants to be a road worker, the person who helps build highways for people to travel on.

          I recall him skipping down the path from the sanzen room to his cabin one day, giggling and mumbling to himself like a child playing with an invisible companion. When he suddenly bumped into me coming around the bend, he stopped, pointed to the sky, and like a kid who was seeing one for the first time, said, “Oh — cloud!” We just stood there together for 5 or 10 minutes, watching a cloud floating through the bright blue sky, and there was no other happiness but just that moment! Then he giggled and went skipping along on his way. I think that’s how I’ll remember him the most, when all is said and done.

          Once a woman who could see auras came to Mt. Baldy to sit with us. There was another student there at the time who had a similar talent, so we could verify her accuracy. Anyway, after her first sanzen with Roshi, we asked her what she saw. She was a bit flabbergasted, since she claimed she had never seen anything like Roshi’s aura — she said it was a nearly blinding golden white light that extended as far as she could see in all directions!

          On the other hand, he might also have qualified as one of those imbalanced old-schoolers from Victoria’s “Zen at War” — the “Shoot shoot, bang bang” militarist type. He seemed enamored of warriors, and frequently said that zazen on the battlefield was 10 times more effective than on a cushion. Well, in a way that’s true, but I’m a lover not a fighter, so I’d phrase it a bit differently, especially in keeping with the current theme du jour, and say that zazen in the boudoir is more effective than in the zendo. LOL! I also remember in one of his teishos he called Hitler a great bodhisattva. That certainly gave folks pause to consider!

          In any case, I’m rambling now — gosh, so many memories come flooding back — what an amazing adventure this human life is! What characters we encounter — and all none other than mirrors of ourselves, neither Buddhas nor demons, if truth be told. No description or category that mind could supply can contain the wonder of all that appears, dances for a moment, and then dissolves back into that from which it arose, the Mystery . . . I have no complaint, just Gratitude!

  13. Fred
    Fred December 1, 2012 at 4:19 pm | |

    Heartbeat 7 :

    “The chronic emotional/sexual contraction that plagues just about every human being — the habitual twisting, suppression, and corruption of the primal motive to love and be loved — is spawned at the heart, and hence it will be only at the heart that it can be understood, seen through, healed, and released.”

    Plagues just about every human being? This is some assumption. How do you
    know what is in every human heart?

    1. hrtbeat7
      hrtbeat7 December 1, 2012 at 4:26 pm | |

      It’s reflected everywhere, for those who have eyes to see, Fred.

      http://feelingtoinfinity.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/what-we-really-want/

  14. Eshu Martin
    Eshu Martin December 1, 2012 at 4:36 pm | |

    Hi Brad, I’m a bit confused by your comments. My point wasn’t to question your assessment of Joshu Sasaki’s teaching ability. I have never said a thing to dismiss his capacity to speak the Dharma.

    I was questioning that you accept second or third hand experience (ie. my first teacher was a student of Sasaki, so I can say he is one of the greatest out there) but utterly reject it in the case of Sasaki’s sexual misconduct.

    For my part I can say I have had direct contact with a victim. I have had direct contact with three Oshos that have confronted Sasaki Roshi about his sexual predation of female students, and have been attacked by the other Oshos for doing so, two have now resigned, a third is “in protest”. I also trained in that lineage for a decade. So I could also say you can tell something from that too.

    1. floating_abu
      floating_abu December 4, 2012 at 3:32 am | |

      Eshu said: “Hi Brad, I’m a bit confused by your comments. My point wasn’t to question your assessment of Joshu Sasaki’s teaching ability. I have never said a thing to dismiss his capacity to speak the Dharma.

      I was questioning that you accept second or third hand experience (ie. my first teacher was a student of Sasaki, so I can say he is one of the greatest out there) but utterly reject it in the case of Sasaki’s sexual misconduct.

      For my part I can say I have had direct contact with a victim. I have had direct contact with three Oshos that have confronted Sasaki Roshi about his sexual predation of female students, and have been attacked by the other Oshos for doing so, two have now resigned, a third is “in protest”. I also trained in that lineage for a decade. So I could also say you can tell something from that too.”

      Well Eshu, there are countless more in that group. You say you trained, but you really should have your teachers confirm your experience and exposure. As you know, anyone can enter and stay in that group: it doesn’t mean that much if that is your level of accreditation.

      Also the use of your words are highly biased: “predation” for example. It immediately conjures the right impression that you may wish for, but it is not necessarily the truth, and the experiences of many of the current and former students of Sasaki. The two injis who posted on SZ said they just told Sasaki to stop and he never touched them again, he was always open about who he was and how he did things, I think you would agree. Also as hrtbeat7 pointed out, there were other examples here. Of course some would be offended, but it is not as you try to portray. Predation is a different field, my friend, although I know that this type of context is very hard to explain over the internet. Hell, if I had never been there, I would be the first to shout down the door…

      Anyway, for your ongoing consideration – although I know you are now heavily invested that these claims are seen as fact, and representative of Sasaki in a way which is tainted – but in my very limited yet concrete experience, this is not the truth.

      Best wishes,
      Abu

  15. Broken Yogi
    Broken Yogi December 1, 2012 at 6:52 pm | |

    I wasn’t there either, but having been in similar situations, and much worse, I can say that it isn’t contradictory to be a great Zen teacher (or any other kind) and also be a narcissistic ass who takes advantage of their position to get a little action with the ladies.

    The interesting thing to me about these women’s responses, is that if you have a strong, idealistic conviction that your teacher is a great Zen master (because maybe he is one), you’re very likely to fit whatever he does into that picture, rather than let go of it. So he gropes you? It’s harmless, you’ll say. Of course, if I were to do the same thing, it would gross, disgusting, and a sign of my immaturity and spiritual lack of social skills. But JSR does it, it’s “skillful means”, and sign of his charm and innocence.

    Not saying that it wasn’t, but even if it wasn’t, students would in their own minds have strong incentives to see it that way anyway. And even if my own groping of them were innocently charming, they probably wouldn’t see it that way.

    Even Brad, we can see, is holding onto his notion that JSR must have some good and forgivable reason to act this way, and that his students’ forgiving natures is a sign that it couldn’t have been the actions of a narcissistic guy running his own power trips. It would cost Brad to let go of that picture he has of JSR in his mind, so he doesn’t. That isn’t Zen. Zen means willing to let go of these attachments we have to pictures in our heads, and just see what’s in front of us. Even if it means seeing that some great Zen teachers had some serious sexual immaturity issues and poor socialization skills. It’s not like Zen produces perfect people or anything. But maybe even Brad kind of thinks it should.

  16. King Kong
    King Kong December 1, 2012 at 8:44 pm | |

    IT IS A **VERY** NICE BEARD !!

  17. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 1, 2012 at 9:12 pm | |

    It’s great to hear from the folks who were students of Sasaki.

    “a lot of it is about discovering your own “center of gravity”, which I would call awakening the mind in the gut, and really learning how to be your own person in a very primordial way”-

    Equilibrioception, proprioception, and the cessation of activity as the location of awareness and the ability to feel respond to the necessity of breath. The location of awareness, not the subject of awareness; the mind in the gut if the the location of awareness in the gut permits the ability to feel necessary to the movement of breath. This is hynogogia, the dropping of body and mind, the cessation of activity as in:

    “Contemplating impermanence I shall breathe in; contemplating impermanence I shall breathe out. Contemplating dispassion I shall breath in; contemplating dispassion I shall breathe out. Contemplating cessation, I shall breath in; contemplating cessation, I shall breath out. Contemplating renunciation I shall breathe in: contemplating renunciation I shall breathe out. ” (SN V 325, Pali Text Society pg 288)

    This “contemplation” is feeling enabled through the current location of awareness in response to the necessity of breath, and the cessation of volition is a part of breathing everyday, whether or not I put myself in a posture or position to realize my primordial necessity.

    To the extent that we fail to understand the practice of zazen in terms that speak to our culture, we will be grateful for the presence of living buddhas even when their behaviour signals the dysfunction of the unconscious assumptions of their background in our culture.

    I couldn’t do the kind of training they do in Japanese monasteries, fortunately or unfortunately my life doesn’t depend on doing so. Kobun spoke of soft-core zen as opposed to hard-core, I guess that’s reassuring to me.

  18. Broken Yogi
    Broken Yogi December 1, 2012 at 9:26 pm | |

    Look, I can dig Sasaki’s teachings too. But what has discovering your own center of gravity and all the rest of this Equibrilioception jazz got to do with groping young women? I mean, you’d kind of imagine it might relieve you of that. Or, does it mean that now you get to grope chicks from your center of gravity?

  19. Khru
    Khru December 1, 2012 at 9:27 pm | |

    Wanna buy some nice, bottled river water from this here river?

  20. Fred
    Fred December 2, 2012 at 5:10 am | |

    Mark said:

    “To the extent that we fail to understand the practice of zazen in terms that speak to our culture, we will be grateful for the presence of living buddhas even when their behaviour signals the dysfunction of the unconscious assumptions of their background in our culture. ”

    This is very nicely put.

  21. Fred
    Fred December 2, 2012 at 5:26 am | |

    “It’s reflected everywhere, for those who have eyes to see, Fred.”

    The mirror reflects vestiges of our own woundedness, Bob.

    Looking through the veil of maya we see what we want to see.

  22. AnneMH
    AnneMH December 2, 2012 at 7:55 am | |

    I think the ability to see more than one possibility, and to allow the variety of experiences have their say, is not a weakness but a strength here. However many people see refusing to take a black and white hard stance as a type of weakness or at least a sign of being indecisive. However you can decisively say ‘I don’t know the whole story’ and let those who were affected have their voice.

  23. Broken Yogi
    Broken Yogi December 2, 2012 at 8:10 am | |

    Brad, I don’t think the reports are conflicting. It’s not as if individual women are coming out with conflicting reports. It’s just that each woman’s experience seems to be somewhat different, because they had different experiences. Some were not offended or did not feel abused or taken advantage of, while others did. And some women describe JSR more negatively than others. Again, that’s not a conflict. It’s perfectly possible that JSR simply was more of a jerk with some women than with others, and worse on some days than others. It’s not like human beings are consistency machines. Especially when it comes to coming on to women.

    Look, this isn’t rocket science. One aspect of Zen practice, especially it would seem for JSR, is that it unlocks our inhibitions and lets our deeper feelings and impulses rise to the surface. I mean, when you sit in zazen, don’t some of the craziest ideas and feelings come to the surface sometimes? Well, I can easily imagine that this occurs with guys like JSR also. And so sometimes we just act on those impulses that rise up, and having let go of the “filtering” mechanism, we just go ahead and act spontaneously. It doesn’t mean that our actions are going to all be pure and good. Some of that shit is going to be rotten to the core. And sometimes its just going to be our ordinary male impulse to touch a woman’s tits and ass. Who among us doesn’t want to do that? If the filtering mechanism is gone, unless there’s some kind of sound moral foundation in place, and the situation allows for it, why not go ahead and grope? Or eat pork? Everyone is a work in progress, and idealizing these kinds of guys, just because they are really insightful and even accomplished in the practice of zazen, is just another way of preserving out illusions about what Zen is, and what it can do, and what it doesn’t do.

  24. Broken Yogi
    Broken Yogi December 2, 2012 at 8:25 am | |

    It’s kind of interesting that JSR had a kind of contempt for the “Church” of Zen, and that others also put that down. It’s kind of a vague reference, but I take it to mean the notion of having a moral foundation of agreed upon limits to one’s behavior. You know, something like taking the precepts? I can see how that might be excessively limiting some of the time, but I can also see how it has its benefits. Zen tends to attracts loner types, highly individualistic people, here in the West at least. Back east, it’s more of a communal thing I gather. Same with a lot of eastern religious mystical types. Thing is, when they come out West, there aren’t the same cultural limits in place, and so these teachers don’t know quite how to deal with the looseness and freedom. I don’t know that JSR would have had this same sort of problem back in Japan. Did he? Do any of these reports go back that far? My sense is that the independent nature of western Zen sort of lets a lot of these repressed impulses and desires come to the surface, and end up being expressed and acted on rather than just “observed”.

    Interesting also that one of the women who was groped and left Zen completely as a result joined a Christian Church. Understandable, in that there’s more on emphasis on moral behavior in Christianity, though of course they too have their sex scandals. It’s just that it’s hard to imagine Christian women going to confession, getting groped, and then excusing it as perfectly innocent behavior that they felt was fine or not a big deal. It most certainly would be in a Christian setting. That Zensters find it easy to ignore or excuse this sort of chronic behavior is not necessarily saying something positive about Zen. I mean, what exactly is the spiritual benefit to these women in getting groped during their interviews? And if it’s such a good or benign thing, why not do the groping in public, for everyone to see? Why only in these private interview sessions? This all smacks of cultism, you know? Even very accomplished teachers like JSR can form a cult around themselves, and take advantage of what that offers them, right? If he weren’t such a respected figure, and close to your own lineage, wouldn’t all this be pretty obvious?

    1. hrtbeat7
      hrtbeat7 December 2, 2012 at 10:08 am | |

      Heya Conrad! Are you still broken, or just stuck with that moniker? I used to enjoy your blog, btw, and sorry you stopped (unless you are active elsewhere online that I am not aware of).

      In any case, as far as lineages and so forth, the whole spiritual/religious deal rather creeps me out, to be frank, although I’m sure it works for some folks. Gratefully, I am out of that game, ever since a little trip back in ’84 revealed a totally different perspective.

      http://travelsindreamland.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/the-third-time-charm/

      The term “Church of Zen” is mine, which I employed to differentiate what I saw as two streams. One was Zen as a no-holds barred way of liberation, an uncompromising penetration of the whole fictional self-sense and all its attendant props. The other is a religious path, a communal gathering under a nominal umbrella of various practices and precepts and so forth, another institution in the Buddhist panoply of Dharma Gates. Of course, they are not mutually exclusive, but now I see both as the proverbial legs on a snake. That’s just a view too, of course, and should not be taken as anything other.

      For me now, the whole issue is a vague reminder of another life, but I did feel moved to share a memoir or two about JSR, if only to flesh out his personality a bit for the readers. Even among the many who practiced with him, I suspect few if any really ever got to the marrow of what he is about, but that’s usually the way it goes, eh . . .

      Blessings!

  25. nowthis
    nowthis December 2, 2012 at 10:46 am | |

    Simple answer to simple question? In everyday language, non-philosophical and non-groovy, how does my zazen benefit all beings, please?

  26. Broken Yogi
    Broken Yogi December 2, 2012 at 11:15 am | |

    hrtbeat7,

    Yes, still deeply broken, shattered, and loving it. Who wants to be put back together?

    I know what you mean about that dynamic of religion vs. spirituality. Not really opposites or contradictory, unless you make them so. More complimentary.

    I haven’t been blogging for a while, but I am writing, and occasionally popping in at oddball places like this. I’m working on my spiritual memoirs, including of course my time with Adi Da. One of the interesting things that comes up time and again is Da’s own take on the subject of cultism. To him – and this goes back to the very beginning of his teaching years – cultism is something he associates with conventional religion, churchiness, and the whole attempt to make a social ritual out of spirituality. His view is that this destroys the true “spiritual” approach, which is oriented towards liberation, and he considered this kind of “safe” cultism the main threat to his own radical approach to enlightenment. So his solution to this was to try to attack and destroy conventional cultic churchiness wherever it appeared, in the individual and the collective, by being the most offensive, mad, crazy, uninhibited spiritual narcissist who ever lived. He thought that was much preferable to the kind of stable, social religion he saw tending to encroach upon the genuine esoteric types, even in India, or in other serious spiritual traditions, including Buddhism.

    The problem is, his war on cultism ended up creating a truly bizarre cult with its own very peculiar characteristics, and the result was not terribly satisfactory to either school. A church was created, but not of the usual kind. Esotericism was rampant, and yet there was no moral foundation, so it never really took off, but always collapsed back into disorder and decay. The whole experiment basically devolved into its own form of cultic churchiness, leaving behind “broken” souls like me.

    Similar patterns have developed in other attempts at esotericism in the West. So I think the story has some relevance even outside of Adidam and its various oddball characters. The title will be: “Confessions of a Spiritual Narcissist.” Will let people know when it’s coming out, probably this coming spring.

    1. hrtbeat7
      hrtbeat7 December 2, 2012 at 11:25 am | |

      Looking forward to your publication, my Friend! I always felt that your critiques and inquiries were well-considered and thought-provoking, and you are spot on in your analysis of the cultism issue, imo. Thanks, and Best Wishes in your endeavors!

  27. senorchupacabra
    senorchupacabra December 2, 2012 at 11:46 am | |

    My wife works with domestic violence victims. She says probably around 70-percent don’t believe the way their spouse/mate treat them is a problem.

    And maybe it’s not, if they don’t think it is. It’s not my place to tell somebody definitively what is right or wrong with them. I wasn’t there, after all.

    But I am skeptical of any teacher of any kind that cannot teach without resorting to sex acts. I don’t buy that there aren’t any other ways to teach certain people than to have sex with them, or to grope them or whatever. Even if it is possible to do so–to use sex to teach people– there’s too much baggage that comes along with such acts. Whether there should be or not, there is. And that makes it dangerous. It’s too easy to abuse such acts and exploit people. (Kant wasn’t a Zen master, but I believe his categorical imperative is a pretty decent rule of thumb for moral and ethical acts) If people can’t see that, well, I guess people like me are just going to have to live with that.

  28. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 2, 2012 at 4:55 pm | |

    Thanks, Fred; I kind of liked that myself.

    hrtbeat7, was your sheet-metal miracle man able to fix it the third time? Ha ha!

    “But what has discovering your own center of gravity and all the rest of this Equibrilioception jazz got to do with groping young women? I mean, you’d kind of imagine it might relieve you of that. Or, does it mean that now you get to grope chicks from your center of gravity?”

    Groping never relieved me much. Ok, that’s besides the point! There’s an interesting distinction there that I thought hrtbeat7 was making, between an awareness of the tan-t’ien and the mind in the tan-t’ien. The orientation, weight, and relative placement of each part of the body informs the place of occurrence of mind, and sometimes the mind at the tan-t’ien and the feeling of some part is the necessity of breath. What I believe enters into action that occurs out of the place I find myself in at the moment, and that is where the dysfunction of the beliefs formed in Japan can manifest as inappropriate behaviour in some teachers in the West. Groping from center, fully in accord with karma, out of step with the culture of the community formed in respect of the deep accord with karma.

    Gimmee some more of that river, Khru, I’m gonna drink the whole thing.

    1. hrtbeat7
      hrtbeat7 December 2, 2012 at 7:15 pm | |

      Mark: “hrtbeat7, was your sheet-metal miracle man able to fix it the third time?”

      Nope, it was totaled. The insurance guy who inspected it said he didn’t understand how anyone could have survived the accident. We all come with a date-stamp –our expiration code is clocked in before we take our first breath — and until our ticket comes up, we can go through stuff that might defy the odds and still come out ok (like the baby found alive in a field after a tornado kills off its family).

      Mark:”There’s an interesting distinction there that I thought hrtbeat7 was making, between an awareness of the tan-t’ien and the mind in the tan-t’ien. The orientation, weight, and relative placement of each part of the body informs the place of occurrence of mind, and sometimes the mind at the tan-t’ien and the feeling of some part is the necessity of breath. What I believe enters into action that occurs out of the place I find myself in at the moment, and that is where the dysfunction of the beliefs formed in Japan can manifest as inappropriate behaviour in some teachers in the West. Groping from center, fully in accord with karma, out of step with the culture of the community formed in respect of the deep accord with karma.”

      What I was trying to point out in my original essay about the emotional/sexual contraction was the tendency or orientation of practices like Zen to engage in an avoidance, a spiritual bypass, in which awakening takes place in the head (a conceptual awakening), but skips the heart (the emotional center), on the way to the gut (a physical awakening). Consequently, you get folks who are not balanced and behave poorly in relations, even though they may have clear minds and the hara of a martial artist, because they are still knotted at the heart.

  29. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer December 2, 2012 at 5:06 pm | |

    nowthis,

    Why should a simple question have a simple answer?

    For example :

    Why is the sky blue?

    Please answer without using any groovy physics or vague philosophy :-)

    Cheers.

  30. Fred
    Fred December 2, 2012 at 5:24 pm | |

    “Simple answer to simple question? In everyday language, non-philosophical and non-groovy, how does my zazen benefit all beings, please?”

    Goaless sitting doesn’t benefit anyone because there is no one to receive
    any thing, elevated status or good.

  31. Broken Yogi
    Broken Yogi December 2, 2012 at 8:55 pm | |

    Zazen benefits all because anything that benefits anyone, benefits all.

  32. ilikenirvana
    ilikenirvana December 2, 2012 at 10:16 pm | |

    I don’t know anything about the controversy.

    If people want to request SHOPLIFTING to play any other cities, they can send an e-mail to Local Screen and request it. Then they’ll put it on their site. If enough tickets are sold, it’ll play there.

    Local Screen: ryan@instruminternational.com

    After January, when the website goes live, there’ll be actual direct links to make a request without sending an email.

  33. Proulx Michel
    Proulx Michel December 3, 2012 at 1:00 am | |

    Broken Yogi wrote:

    “cultism is something he associates with conventional religion, churchiness, and the whole attempt to make a social ritual out of spirituality”

    I think the social ritual is also something important. And unavoidable. And everytime I have seen people trying to avoid the unavoidable, the result was havoc.
    This social aspect must not be overlooked, and it is maybe better to give it a minimal hearing rather than trying at all costs to get rid of it.

  34. Texas Swamp Monk
    Texas Swamp Monk December 3, 2012 at 6:06 am | |

    Politics. . .

  35. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 3, 2012 at 9:57 am | |

    and Religion, together again, coming soon to a theater near the zoo!

    hrtbeat7, your point is well taken. I guess the science now is mirror neurons, interesting talk by the guy working in that field where he says the only thing that prevents us from responding as though what another person or animal feels is our own feeling is the fact that our brain checks the surface of the skin and discovers the feeling is not within it. Something like that.

    Broken Yog, that sounds right to me.

    I am trying to write an intro to the teachings on meditative states and the Gautama’s own practice of mindfulness. The key to my write will be that there are four key elements involved in practice: the location of awareness, which most people assume is fixed because of the tight connection between the eyes and the vestibular organs but which in fact can shift according to contact in the senses (including the mind); the ability to feel that opens in connection with the location of awareness, as balance and gravity effect an alignment of bones and vertebrae; the necessity of breath; and the state of absorption (a hypnogogic state) that is induced out of the interplay of the prior three.

    I’m not sure why some people can master single-pointedness of mind and become amazingly adept with selfish intention. The Gautamid spoke of “making self-surrender the object of thought, one lays hold of concentration, one lays hold of single-pointedness of mind.” Maybe it’s a trick where the belief structure is built around some subterfuge, like Hitler being vegetarian and pulling the blinds so he wouldn’t have to see the effects of his orders as he drove through some town, but he still believed what he ordered was for the sake of all humankind.

    I think it does point to a need to understand what the practice is about. For those who like a blue-sky description, it’s start where you are, take a step back and turn the light inward as to where I am. Right away the other three elements come into play, especially the first three, like juggler’s balls up in the air, but I think it’s necessary to be falling asleep or waking up to see it.

    nothing but blue skies, from now on!

  36. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 3, 2012 at 10:00 am | |

    could also say the first three depend on the last one, yikes. And clear as mud, as to why waking up and falling asleep is as easy as falling off a log and such a mystery to our kind.

  37. boubi
    boubi December 3, 2012 at 11:25 am | |

    Hi Brad

    First of all, i very appreciate the fact that Rinzai isn’t depicted in a negative way, based my very limited experience of reading you. I don’t belong anymore, as i don’t belong now to any.

    Second, Sasaki is a top notch teacher, maybe he groped, maybe he farted too, maybe he put his finger in his nose, maybe he didn’t washed his hands afterwards, maybe he is a nice neighbor, maybe he cooks as shit …. maybe a lot of things.

    From here we could see that there is a teacher teaching, and he is maybe also a groper groping, and so on.

    We appreciate the teacher for his teachings.

    We despise any gropers for their gropings.

    “This is because Buddha has explained that no body is called a great body.”

    In one moment he can be an enlightened teacher the next an asshole groping girls.

    “Why is this, Subhuti? It is because no Bodhisattva who is a real Bodhisattva cherishes the idea of an ego-entity, a personality, a being, or a separated individuality.”

    So what?
    Would we have the same kind of approach to the matter if he were a world chess master?

    Taking advantage of people is a shitty behavior BUT we expect buddhism teacher to have some “buddhist good behavior” based on some “buddhist moral” AND we expect them to behave as a brick i.e “ego-entity, a personality, a being, or a separated individuality”.

    FUCK IT!

    IMO buddhism doesn’t dwelve on morality. Which one by the way?

    “Now in what manner may he explain them to others? By detachment from appearances – abiding in Real Truth. – So I tell you -

    Thus shall ye think of all this fleeting world:
    A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream;
    A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
    A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream. ”

    .

    Final consideration.

    On a point i don’t agree. It is were you said that those were allegations and you bring forward the girl who didn’t fell to have been molested. OK

    But this doesn’t take away the fact that others felt molested!

    He is a teacher, you are one, could there be some empathy? Would you have the same posture if the guy was a bar owner? Would you have the same approach about girls who felt molested? Some bar girl don’t mind being groped by the owner, the same way some zenies don’t mind being groped by the teacher. So what? Groper are still gropers.

    I don’t know if he groped or if he farted, but i can’t dismiss who said he did, even more when some said they didn’t take it badly ;)

  38. boubi
    boubi December 3, 2012 at 11:28 am | |

    I tried to say many things, reading again i realize it isn’t very organized neither clear.

    I’ll try better later

  39. boubi
    boubi December 3, 2012 at 3:26 pm | |

    Anybody feels like moralizing Ikkyu?

    1. senorchupacabra
      senorchupacabra December 3, 2012 at 8:58 pm | |

      My interpretation is that Ikkyu was a highly moral person. That’s what people like you aren’t getting. It’s not that having sex or being a lustful person is bad. It’s bad when you use your position of power to exploit other people. Ikkyu liked hookers. So what? What happened between he and the hookers was between two consenting adults. It might be argued that there were elements of exploitation in this kind of relationship, but both parties knew what they were getting into and Ikkyu, as far as I could tell, wasn’t promising liberation or anything else to the prostitutes. He was also very open about it and wasn’t hypocritical in the least. When you’re hiding a certain behavior, it’s typically a sign that you’re doing something “wrong.” Ikkyu hid nothing.

      Also, Buddhism is very much about morality and ethics. There’s this think called the eightfold path, but it certainly doesn’t end there. There are numerous discussion on what is “right” in every Zen book I have read.

  40. Fred
    Fred December 3, 2012 at 5:37 pm | |

    “but I think it’s necessary to be falling asleep or waking up to see it.”

    What’s doing the seeing is the Universe itself. Can this personality register what
    is seen. If the body-mind is dropped, does it really matter?

    One moment “you” are awake; the next moment “you” are playing out this
    personality with 100% effort, or you could be asleep and identifying with the internal conditioning.

  41. Fred
    Fred December 3, 2012 at 5:48 pm | |

    “Like vanishing dew,
    a passing apparition
    or the sudden flash
    of lightning — already gone –
    thus should one regard one’s self.”
    ? Ikkyu

  42. Broken Yogi
    Broken Yogi December 3, 2012 at 5:56 pm | |

    Proulx Michel,

    Adi Da did try to create a social scene, but his idea of it was quite different from what he considered the conventional “cultic” ritual. So his community was quite different from most others. Yet still immensely cultic in its own way. The point is that he had a very different idea of what “cultic” meant, so he didn’t care if he used an authoritarian, charismatic Guru method to create a community centered on himself, allowing him to do whatever he wanted. Groping women was the least of it. He considered that part of the plan to defeat cultic mediocrity. Did it work? Well, most would say no. Others would defend him staunchly. It’s not clear to me that anyone actually benefited from that aspect of it, and it only seemed to detract overall, and alienate all but the true believers.

  43. Broken Yogi
    Broken Yogi December 3, 2012 at 5:59 pm | |

    You might say that what Da did was take JSR’s method, and that of a lot of others like him, to an extreme, demonstrating that it basically doesn’t work at all.

    Put it this way, did JSR’s modest groping actually do any real good? Or did it just detract, even if modestly, from his overall effectiveness?

    The same question could be asked of any of these kinds of methods. Da just did almost all of them, and to as extreme an extent as he could get away with. That has some value as an historical experiment. But probably not anything more than that.

  44. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 3, 2012 at 9:45 pm | |

    Everybody’s eloquent, IMO. The finger up the nose and the hands unwashed, especially cracked me up.

    It’s hard to stick with teaching myself, I get carried away enjoying people’s conversation, and I write when I am tired because I feel inspired by what others say. Like you, Boubi, I am chagrined to discover that what seemed so clear is a rambling broken wagon when I return to it. Oh well!

    I’m always amazed at how Shambala grew, considering the behaviour of Trungpa. I know he had the utmost respect of Kobun Chino Otogawa, who had my utmost respect. I think in some ways Westerners like the idea of having their cake and eating it too, unlike Gautama the Buddha who declared that an arahant could not engage in sexual intercourse, as though it were hardwired into the individual instantly upon enlightenment. Osho’s success speaks to that, I guess!

    We’re kind of intent on monastic Buddhism with families, here in the West (sort of an oxymoron in the East, I guess). Buddhist community as an extension of the flower child movement of the sixties. We want enlightened sex, along with enlightened communities, enlighened partners, enlightened investments, and enlightened businesses.

    I do! Bring on the dancing Buddhas!

  45. floating_abu
    floating_abu December 4, 2012 at 3:18 am | |

    Brad: “My first teacher was a student of Sasaki. I’ve heard a whole lot about Sasaki from him over the past 20-odd years. I have met other students of Sasaki’s who have also said very good things about him. Including Mr. Martin himself, who struck me as a person who highly valued his time with Sasaki when I spent a week with him in Victoria, BC a couple years ago. I also attended one of Sasaki’s lectures myself. Just one, which isn’t much. But a lot is conveyed when you actually see someone in person that isn’t conveyed in a book. Even if you see them only once.”

    Brad, I have not been an avid follower over the years, but I really want to thankyou for your lucid comments and clarity in this matter.

    I have sat with Sasaki in the past recent years so I do not feel like a qualified or long standing student or such, but have had direct experience so that I felt comfortable enough to comment.

    I was very happy to read yours and hrtbeat7′s comments — which are accurate and excellent examples of Sasaki as I knew him.

    I may comment later if I have some time, but my comments on Sweeping Zen (which were roundly panned as a defender) stand for all to read.

    The funny thing in this situation is it is very hard to explain but it is certainly not as it just appeared, but then many things are like that, and we can all just speak our knowledge FWIW.

    Best wishes,
    Abu

  46. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 4, 2012 at 8:42 am | |

    Abu’s comment sent me back to Sweeping Zen, whew what a thread.

    what I wrote there this morning:

    “To me, the struggle here is to reconcile experiencing the Buddha with killing the Buddha. Who does not have an uncontrollable attraction to the manifestation of unbiased love? Drinking water from a fire hose can be hazardous. If we have established our own practice, then there’s a sense of well-being apart from the appearance of things, and it becomes possible to acknowledge the presence of unconditional love and the uncontrollable attraction of that love while acknowledging one’s own limitiations, while staying true to one’s own well-being. The women who rejected Sasaki’s advances, who were able to laugh him off, had this kind of practice at least with regard to their own sexuality.

    That doesn’t excuse Sasaki’s inappropriate behaviour. I’m just trying to say that while I may have been lousy support to the one example of a living Buddha I’ve had the good fortune to meet, I assumed from the first that the object was my own practice, my own sense of well-being, and that the strength and centeredness of the person in front of me was as much an obstacle to my own realization as it was a blessing. The Buddha in front of me was there to meet me half-way; my part was to know what I was capable of, and develop a practice on my own that would support an exchange.

    Way back, Kobun said he came to the U.S.A. not to bring the dharma, per se, but because there was something happening here that he felt he could learn from. Maybe I got it from him, that I was responsible for bringing my part to what an exchange, not a one-way street.”

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