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.

***

If you want to see me try again to explain what I think of things, please consider donating to support this blog.

 

78 Responses

Page 2 of 2
  1. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 4, 2012 at 8:44 am | |

    Maybe I got it from him, that I was responsible for bringing my part to what was an exchange, not a one-way street.”

  2. Fred
    Fred December 4, 2012 at 4:03 pm | |

    I have been working on dropping this, but

    Genjo Marinello:

    “I no longer make excuses for them. Eido Roshi forced himself on some females under his care. From things recently shared with me by Eshu and others it is clear that Joshu Sasaki Roshi fathered several unacknowledged children, was in prison in Japan before coming to the USA, had intercourse with many students, asked senior staff (Shikas and injis) to arrange for private meetings for sex with students, and viciously attacked and lied about people who talked about his sex problem.”

    1. Christina Perez
      Christina Perez December 5, 2012 at 11:25 pm | |

      I think some people are getting bored with just hearing he “groped breasts” and want some meatier stuff to consider. How about the possibility of illegitimate children? prison? maybe sexual intercourse arranged by staff? the possibilities are endless. I am having a very hard time dropping this. I think I better go to bed and think about this for a while.

      I didn’t mean this specifically to you Fred. You just happened to quote someone and provide an opening.

      I do think there is a bit of this sort of projection going on amongst the people who are so very upset over the rumours.

      As a woman I would feel much more comfortable talking to a man who was a little more relaxed about the whole thing. There is a sense of safety in that.

  3. Christina Perez
    Christina Perez December 4, 2012 at 11:04 pm | |

    It was very refreshing to read your blog. You can add me to your fan base.

    Christina

  4. Khru
    Khru December 5, 2012 at 12:38 am | |

    I will now publicly confess that I immensely enjoy groping myself but only after obtaining permission (from myself).

  5. Fred
    Fred December 5, 2012 at 6:25 am | |

    There is no abiding self.

    It says something that people can’t get beyond sexual desire.

    The practice is corrupt and deluded.

  6. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote December 5, 2012 at 7:41 am | |

    In the dark, groping around
    the breath stretches out
    circles the ground
    and extends about

    roll up, roll out
    the magical mystery tour
    is dying while yet alive

  7. Khru
    Khru December 5, 2012 at 8:38 am | |

    There is absolutely nothing to get “beyond”.

  8. Fred
    Fred December 5, 2012 at 9:10 am | |

    That’s right nothing.

  9. Fred
    Fred December 5, 2012 at 9:18 am | |

    Gone, gone, all the way over

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2l6ic_jazE

  10. boubi
    boubi December 6, 2012 at 6:59 am | |

    @ senorchupacabra

    “Buddhism is very much about morality and ethics. There’s this think called the eightfold path”

    This thing is about not to fall into excess, not about screwing or having fun, i.e. eat BUT not too much, fuck BUT not too much, DON’T create attachements being slave. This is IMO what the eightfold path is about, but still there must be more knowledgeable people around who could have other points of view about it.

    I never criticized Ikkyu, he is in my lineage :) , or better in my former lineage, being unaligned at the moment, you know a bit like India used to be.

    Gashoo , feel good

  11. senorchupacabra
    senorchupacabra December 6, 2012 at 8:03 pm | |

    @boubi

    I agree with your most recent comment. It’s always difficult to explain exactly what you mean when you’re trying to do so in brief posts on internet message boards, and I don’t believe that Buddhism is a “moral” practice in the way we usually think of such a thing. It isn’t like the Abrahamic religions. But I do think, ultimately, there is a “right action” and a “wrong action” but it’s up to the practitioner to discover what exactly this means. There is no one telling us what is right or wrong, because these things, like everything else, change over time. However, there are acts that cause suffering, to both the actor and the person or people being acted upon. In terms of the “Universal” point of view, these acts may not be wrong. But in terms of how we get along with each other in day-to-day life, whether we cause suffering to others or not, these acts may be “wrong.” I believe, based on as many of the variables as I can understand at this point in my life, that groping your students, particularly under the guise of helping them progress spiritually, is “wrong.” Are our issues with sex created by our society and our own minds? 100 percent, but that doesn’t make the suffering any less real.

    Short version: Being unable to stop yourself from groping your students is a sign, at the very least, of excess and of attachment (there should be no attachment to sex, like anything else, which is not to say that one shouldn’t enjoy any manner of sex they want, but only under conditions that cause no undue harm to another person or thing. In short, Sasaki’s actions appear to be those of a man who is a slave to his passions and who is causing undue harm to others because of it).

  12. floating_abu
    floating_abu December 7, 2012 at 7:10 am | |

    Friends, this is a piece I wrote elsewhere, and whilst it is not directly relevant to this case, I thought some of the overall context might be worth considering:

    ‘I watched a movie called “Anonymous” the other time and in this mythical story it showed a context where writing was considered sinful and lowly – the Shakespeare character had to hide himself because he was doing the work of devilry. I found that interesting. In some ages/societies sex is banned except under certain conditions, in some societies today same-sex sex is looked down upon, legalised, or illegal depending on where you sit. In ancient China as I understand it, a woman should not even reveal her bare arm or leg yet today mini shorts abound. People who were deemed to have affairs were taken, witch hunt style, down to the river to be drowned.Today we would call the witch hunt folk the criminals whereas in those days they were just the good, ethical people shouting down the ‘sins’ of the adulterers.

    Yes the reality is ethics unfolds and it is contextual to a large degree, although a society enmeshed in that is unlikely to see through those veils – because well it is always harder to see when you are within the mesh.

    It brings up a polar question though which is does this mean we can do anything we want and it doesn’t matter? And the answer is of course not – of course there is a context and a connotation and an implication/ramification to all that we do.

    Likewise, a human being if they are reasonable and open and closer to their Buddha nature-nature they have the tools and natural instinct to judge. For example your child falls, sometimes it is OK to let them fall and hurt a bit to learn and sometimes care and warmth is required. In other cases, you can scold your child or a teacher can teach their students a lesson – the student is hurt or the child is angry/bitter, but if the heart is clear/warm/compassionate, then there is a natural basis to know what is so…of course it takes a lot of attention, awareness, reflection: but these things are possible. On the outside, can you tell?

    And whilst rule books and the like can claim certain boundaries, the situation of humans is far more complex. Generally though in Buddhism we have precepts and those precepts are general guidelines in which to keep humans morally grounded whilst they uncover and realise their true nature – which is one of the ultimate goals in Buddhism as far as I know.

    So I would say that to speculate on what is an enlightened mind is or does is probably not so fruitful, but if the layers of conditioning are unfolded, it is a better state IMO and I would agree that some care is warranted in this field of ethics.

    Abu’

    1. senorchupacabra
      senorchupacabra December 7, 2012 at 3:13 pm | |

      Did Shakespeare force people to read or watch his plays against their wills?

      Did Shakespeare promise that simply by reading or watching his plays, others would be one step closer to being great writers themselves?

      Everybody’s getting hung up on the Sex aspect of the situation. Sex is just the vehicle. It’s not the point in and of itself. Again, I don’t really care what kind of sex people have in their lives as long as all the participants are willing and knowledgeable participants. People can do whatever they like to each other. I don’t care. That is not the issue.

      The issue is either forcing someone to things they don’t want to do, or deceiving them into doing certain things by either lying to them, withholding certain information, or promising things that simply cannot be delivered.

      It used to be, “If you see the Buddha walking down the street, kill him.” Now it’s “If you see the Buddha walking down the street, let him grope you so you can be one step nearer to enlightenment.”

      It’s bullshit. And it takes neither a so-called enlightened person to see that, nor an idiot.

  13. floating_abu
    floating_abu December 7, 2012 at 7:14 am | |

    Brad, I quoted and referred to your discussions on Sweeping Zen, I hope you don’t mind. Here is the piece for your recognition, it was a request by Eshu to clarify some points I had used when referring to him:
    __________________________________________________

    Hi Eshu — As you wish.

    Quotations indicate the meanings behind your words and the common representation you have presented since the start.

    I understand your hesitancy in bringing up your own background so here are some of the direct quotations you requested for focus. Please note for the sake of your clarity that your directly quoted words are now ‘here’ and preceded by the word ‘Eshu’.

    ____________________________________________

    1. the “truth” that you tried to represent (and please see Brad Warner’s more balanced perspective below*)

    Eshu: “However, that is not what we are talking about here. This is a situation in which a teacher has, for decades, preyed on unwilling women.”

    Eshu: ‘Whatever conclusions are drawn about me, and my history with Rinzai-ji, it in no way changes the facts regarding Joshu Sasaki’s sexual abuse of students these many years.’

    ‘have confronted Sasaki Roshi about his sexual predation of female students’

    2. “systematic deception” and wholescale abuse (as claimed)

    Eshu: “For decades, Joshu Roshi’s behaviour has been ignored, hushed up, downplayed, justified, and defended by the monks and students that remain loyal to him.”

    Eshu: “it seems to me that virtually every person who has done significant training with him, the Rinzai-ji board of Directors, and most senior members of the Western Zen community at large know about his misconduct. Yet no one to my knowledge has ever publicly spoken out.”

    Eshu: “As he aged, he also involved others, including monks in procuring the students as victims, arranging “private meetings” and sexual affairs in highly imbalanced power structures in environments that made escape difficult.”

    –– Abu: How you seem to feel to be able to speak for, know what they knew and did, and represent an entire group of individuals from 18 to 80 years of age upwards is beyond me but it is certainly your prerogative to claim you can – and you unabashedly do so.

    3. The discrediting, ignoring and casting of people involved – you are not the only one here noted and I did conflate some of those comments with Adam’s, sorry about that – but here are yours:

    Eshu: ‘If you have experienced any kind of abuse at Rinzai Ji, or were sexually abused by Joshu Sasaki Roshi, the last people you should be contacting about it is the Oshos of Rinzai Ji’

    Eshu: ‘All of the pictures that you see of the Rinzai ji Sangha are during events. Which is to say they are a collection of loyalists that have stayed true in spite of all of this, also usually > 90% men.’

    —– Abu: The insinutating words are noted in your claims.
    Additionally, ignored posts on this forum from women or recalling women students:

    Joyce, formerinji, anonymous, buddy, feelingtoinfinity, etc etc

    5. Eshu today: ‘I have never said anything negative about Joshu Sasaki’s spoken Dharma. Not then, not now.’

    Eshu on the 21st November 2012: ‘It seems inexplicable that IF indeed, Joshu Sasaki really is the greatest Zen Master in the world, AS SOME SUGGEST, and also has had a longer career in teaching Zen in North America than anyone alive, that the body of practitioners would in fact be significantly larger than it is. Where did everyone go? More to the point, why?’

    (Upper case: Abu added)

    –— Abu: You then go on also to suggest that your relay is related to fleeing women, which is quite frankly, laughable – not to mention a very poor jump. And you clearly questioned his teaching credentials.

    Eshu quote on Facebook as posted on Brad Warner’s blog: ‘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.”‘

    Brad Warner response: ‘As to Eshu Martin’s question about how I know Sasaki is a good Zen teacher, it’s not just from reading his book.’

    Brad Warner: ‘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’

    – To which Eshu quickly rushed to his new position:

    ‘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.’

    —– Abu: Which is a good position, Eshu, considering you are copying many of Sasaki’s teachings and claiming former participation in his group.

    __________________________

    etc etc etc etc etc References include Warner’s post http://hardcorezen.info/therell-always-be-an-england/1496

    I hope this all helps with your clarity.

    I do applaud you for bringing the overall topic to discussion since there is no problem with it, but I would ask for your ongoing consideration and care to all parties involved.

    Please refer to the above again as necessary.

    Best wishes,

    Abu

    PS Here are Brad’s other comments in that post for those who are interested:

    Brad: ‘Eshu, I do not utterly reject what you and some others are saying about Sasaki. But I also do not reject those who say that “sexual misconduct” does not describe what happened to them. Why must we reject their stories?’

    Brad: ‘I’m saying that some of those who were “victims” of Sasaki say they were not victims at all. I’m saying that their understanding of what happened to them is valid.

    I’m also saying that I do not know what went on in Sasaki’s sanzen room. And that I am hearing conflicting reports’

    __________________________________________________

    Thanks,
    Abu

  14. onemoreaspirinplease
    onemoreaspirinplease December 7, 2012 at 10:21 am | |

    It does spell it out Abu, but I don’t think it is worthwhile using your time this way. Eshu Martin is young. In 30 years he will look back and laugh at his behavior and talk about how when he was a cub he thought he was a lion. But, he will be a lion then. When he speaks, his hundreds of students will benefit from hearing true Dharma, by someone who had the exceptional ability to give up fame and gain. And it is exceptional because it always hurts.You know how far you have to go. That rock you are sitting on may feel comfortable for a while but eventually your butt gets sore.
    In the meantime we can all develop the ability to hold black and white together at the same time. If nothing else, Buddhism teaches you that. It has to.

    I know, I know … “so you are saying groping women’s breast is ok? “

  15. floating_abu
    floating_abu December 12, 2012 at 8:34 am | |

    Seems like quite a jump to assume that just because he is ‘young’ he is given a free pass to lie and misrepresent things for his own purposes. And no, one does not become a Dharma lion through age, but through genuine reliquishment of falsity, selfishness and lies. For some it takes a lifetime, for others not even a lifetime is enough. It is an admirable defence, but I am afraid again on false premises. As to numbers of students, even cult leaders get thousands, smooth talkers may get followers, but it is the Dharma that I care about most and for that one genuine stem is better than the false aroma of a thousand plastic flowers. This is my opinion.

    Well wishes,
    Abu

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.