Sunday, February 17, 2013

Practice and Going Medieval Legally

I could write about that Tibet stuff a lot.  I'm reminded of the movie Words of My Perfect Teacher It's valuable viewing; I highly recommend it, especially as it deconstructs- while upholds respectfully - certain notions in Tibetan Buddhism.

The movie has Steven Segall in it.

But that's not what I wanted to cover today...

I want to give a wag of the finger to a couple of things, in the parlance of Stephen Colbert, who, to my knowledge, is not a tulku

First, I'd like to give a wag of the finger to Eido Shimano.

Look, dude, you know the "brand" of the Zen Studies Society is inevitably bound up with the brand of "Eido Shimano," and that brand recognition has fallen on somewhat hard times, especially with Myoshinji's distancing itself from you

Brands have value whether it's Coca-Cola or Rinzai Buddhism. It would be great if Rinzai Buddhism  had an infinite value, but trust me, it can be valued, just as the assets of any other corporation can be valued.  So the "value" of the brand of the Zen Studies Society will directly affect its ability to, you know, pay you a "pension."

It's absurd for you, Shimano-san, to think that you or ZSS are "preeminent" or some such thing...if you've got to say that you know,'re not...

I would assume that legal folk wrote or vetted Shimano's letter, and I am concerned the Eido Shimano/ZSS affair is going to probably divert substantial assets to lawyers.  So a wag of the finger to them if they are not taking this case pro bono

More importantly than finger wagging though is the issue of practice.  It can be difficult to practice when subpoenas are flying about.  Is this what your Zen is about?  I remember you once said, that if you practiced and after 10 years there was no benefit "you could cut my head off." I don't remember that much else from the few times I went to the Zen Studies Society.  I do remember upstairs tea on a Saturday...but not much else, other than quite deep rigorous practice, as much provided by the sangha as by anything else. I remember your prostration. 

That said, I don't want,  don't need, and probably most everyone who's ever been to the ZSS/Dai Bosatsu centers don't want and don't need legal notices aimed at them.  My relationship to ZSS/Dai Bosatsu is tangential at best.  I don't expect a subpoena frankly...but having been subpoenaed about other issues, and having given a deposition, let me just say that it's very stressful, and unless I'm being compensated at the rate $175/hour or more, plus expenses, I don't want to be involved, and for $175/hour or more, plus expenses,  I'll likely testify that regarding the mid-1990s, when I attended ZSS/Dai Bosatsu a few times,  I've forgotten most everything.   So please don't drain the assets of the ZSS or Eido Shimano trying to get me to say something damnable. Everything that can be said by me is in this post. There you have it.

But there is one more thing I ought to add that I do remember: it wasn't widely known in the mid-1990s to anyone who walked in off the street to ZSS that Eido Shimano was the subject of scandal.  I didn't know it, and if I had I likely would have gone to another practice center...but I ultimately did go to another practice center anyway because the "teacher" was more accessible. 

I mean, a guy who attended ZSS a few times, such as myself, didn't get sanzen from Eido Shimano.  I did get sanzen from Shugen Arnold, but they were the guys downtown (at the time), not affiliated with ZSS.

All of which is to say that I don't wish to be contacted regarding any aspects of the Shimano affair, and I'd hate to have to lawyer up myself, to go to the mattresses legally speaking, to have my life interrupted by this.  I don't expect to be contacted, but things I didn't expect to happen have happened. 

And if going medieval legally is what Eido Shimano's practice is after all these years, I don't think it's worth even a cheap Yukio Mishima imitation.


Robin said...

Well, Mumon, in the end Eido Shimano is the fault of his students. All the bad teachers are our fault, for not practicing Zen. There are no "transmitted" people, no-one who's closer to the truth than anyone else. I got that from the Buddha. And even he insisted he wasn't closer to anything than anyone else. (You may recall he initially refused even to teach. He knew what we'd do with teachers if we had them.)

So in the end, Eido is responsible only for his own behaviour. He ran around calling himself God, and that wasn't true. But the rest of us committed a much larger sin. We accepted him as God, believed in him as God, and continued to do so for years after it was perfectly clear he was just like us.

My own teacher turned out to be fatally human. And I stood by and watched as this sangha member hurt those around me, and even me. Why didn't I act? Because I was more student than Buddhist.

No more.

In a related story: Words of My Perfect Teacher is awesome! If it weren't a documentary, I'd swear somebody made up the lama who rejected all that reincarnated guru nonsense and ran off to be a surf bum (who dispenses profound, moving Buddhist teaching effortlessly, and somewhat against his will, in swim trunks and thongs.) Brilliant! Reminds me of the retired messiah in Richard Bach's Illusions, except, like, real.

Thanks for the productive post, my brother!

Rusty Ring: Reflections of an Old-Timey Hermit

Mumon K said...

Thank you!