NellaLou got the story a few days ago, and I'm just now catching up with it, or I should say, I'm expanding a bit on the comment I made there. It has to do with a rather oddly timed statement from Myoshinji stating that successors of Eido Shimano aren't connected to Myoshinji.
I agree somewhat with the comments of Carol Spooner:
I find it pretty disgusting that they allowed American Zen students to believe otherwise for several decades. Pretty damn cynical in my view. In addition, Shimano had a very public transmission ceremony from Soen Nakagawa Roshi, with many Japanese priests and officials in attendance. In addition, there were many Japanese priests and officials in attendance at the opening of Dai Bosatsu Monastery. There is reason to believe that Soen Nakagawa Roshi ever officially “registered” Shimano’s transmission in the record books at Myoshin-ji — for whatever reasons he may have had. But no one told the students here in the US. To the contrary, they actively participated in making Shimano look authorized and genuine. Bah! I say. Bad form.As for this having far reaching implications for much of the US Rinzai world, I really don’t think so. Much of Soto Zen has already disconnected from the Japanese temples, and no longer registers their priests there. American Zen will stand or fall on its own feet, IMO. Whether it’s the death knell of ZSS and Dai Bosatsu Monastery, maybe. They made much of their Japanese connections in the past. But there are several independent Shimano Dharma heirs who have split from him, both recently and over the years, who maintain Zen Centers of their own without needing the support or recognition from him or from Myoshin-ji.
I think it does have implications, at least as far as legitimacy of teachers is concerned. As it happens there are other Rinzai teachers in the US, and they are not Sasaki Roshi or his successors, either. (And it begs the question, will Sasaki's "home branch" in Japan make similar statements at some inopportune time in the future?
But...it reminds me of a larger point, and one that is not often mentioned in American Buddhist circles.
Sometimes, sometimes, organizations deal with "problem people" by assigning them to places far away from where the action is, far from where they could do noticeable damage to the organization. This is common in many governments and corporations. The Catholic Church was notorious for doing this, and not only in the child molestation scandal; google "Diocese of Partenia" for a telling example of how how the Catholic Church responded to progressives in its ranks of bishops fairly recently. Did Soto and Rinzai organizations in Japan do this?
I am sad to say it would not surprise me if this were the case, but then again I'm not entirely certain how these organizations are run. If this were the case it is as bad a decision to have had people assigned this way as it would be in any organization with people who are notably really problematic. That is to say, such things are ticking time bombs.
I tend to see why Brad Warner tends to be critical of the official Soto-shu hierarchy in Japan, and statements such as those from Myoshinji don't exactly put a harmonious and consistent view towards what is legit teaching and what is not. That is certainly problematic. But it may ultimately help things; maybe it will help demystify all the hoopla about succession, and such, and get people paying more attention to what really matters. I hope so. Life's rather short.