Sunday, January 05, 2014

Right Speech, Right Livelihood, and the Exploitation of Zen Sexual Abusers for Profit and Leisure




The problem of leisure
What to do for pleasure
Ideal love a new purchase
A market of the senses
Dream of the perfect life
Economic circumstances
The body is good business
Sell out, maintain the interest
Remember Lot's wife
Renounce all sin and vice
Dream of the perfect life
This heaven gives me migraine
The problem of leisure
What to do for pleasure

Coercion of the senses
We are not so gullible
Our great expectations
A future for the good
Fornication makes you happy
No escape from society
Natural is not in it
Your relations are of power
We all have good intentions
But all with strings attached

Repackaged sex keeps your interest
Repackaged sex keeps your interest
Repackaged sex keeps your interest
Repackaged sex keeps your interest
Repackaged sex keeps your interest
Repackaged sex keeps your interest

The problem of leisure
What to do for pleasure
Ideal love a new purchase
A market of the senses
Dream of the perfect life
Economic circumstances
The body is good business
Sell out maintain the interest
Remember Lot's wife
Renounce all sin and vice
Dream of the perfect life
This heaven gives me migraine
This heaven gives me migraine
This heaven gives me migraine
                          - Gang of Four



I had an interesting exchange yesterday  regarding Sweeping Zen and whatever Adam's latest scandal du jour.  They've become Adam's scandals as much as Sasaki's or Shimano's scandals by now, because of his association with his propensity to propagate these stories.  

To what end?



I would submit that what's going on is not all about Buddhist ethics, and that there are Buddhist ethical violations on the side of the those who "need" to "bring these scandals to light" despite the fact that the internet already knows about them and its yet more engagement of teacher fetishism,  and by this stage anyone (foolish enough in my view) to be involved in an ongoing situation with these disgraced "teachers"  is the very model of a  modern consenting adult who ought to be informed.

I've said that one of the purposes of this blog is to participate in the struggle of memory against forgetting, as Kundera wrote.   If others found what I wrote interesting or useful, or if people clicked or didn't click on the ads, fine and dandy with me. 

I've dealt with the inflated claims of Sweeping Zen before, and yeah, I've spoken out against the likes of Merzel, Shimano, et al.  

I know for a fact - and Adam ought to damn well know it too, that blog pieces about sex scandals generate some of the most hits;  they are popular. By far. Repackaged sex keeps your interest.   And repackaged sex gets ad clicks, too. And Sweeping Zen depends on those ad clicks!  As the Gang of Four pointed out, and as is continually demonstrated in tabloid newspapers condemnation of sex as a distraction requires sexual interest. (I remember how this was explicitly borne out in a now disappeared bit in China Daily regarding one  Chinese sex blogger Furong JieJie aka Sister Hibiscus, but alas, those  pages  are gone down the memory hole.)

Sure Adam doesn't make a ton of money off Sweeping Zen, but so what? Does that make him more or less inclined to produce pieces that get more hits and ad clicks, or is his motivation the same? Moreover, judging from some of the responses to questions about the ethical propriety this continuing thing,  are the effects of this work conducive to transcendence of the suffering of others?  

Is that right livelihood? Shouldn't this be a scandal in the Zen community too?  Why not? Because we  have a "mission" to "report" on some "confirmation" on a Zen osho who's been a sex abuser and is still doing something at his temple....and just how is that story  relevant to the ethical issues relevant to the practice and the vows that I have or anyone else?  Especially when it leads to Zen "teachers"  to engage in what cannot be arguably called Right Speech at all, but rank sexism instead?

See, the problem is that a blogger who has in the past made grandiose claims about his site   personally benefits from running blog posts about sex scandals, and if he's remunerated based on ad clicks and hits, he's disproportionately remunerated for running posts on sex scandals.   Does that appear entirely fitting and proper to you? 

I was doing my best to try to bring to light this point...ah well you do your best.

But seriously,  frankly, I'd rather see an honest sex blogger (now I get why Warner published where he did) than the sort of hypocrisy I see from certain places.

Oh, and one other thing:  I can't speak for what happened with Sasaki's and Shimano's temples, but what I can say is that some folks ought not to comment on kōan practice if they haven't done it, because it doesn't remove any lingering doubts one might have about  their state of mind.   There has been a kōan all over this issue for years:  How could Maezumi drink himself to death, Richard Baker, Shimano and Sasaki sexually exploit,  and what does that mean about their successors?  

There's an answer to this kōan and the answer points back to one's self, and one's own practice and understanding of the precepts, including those related to Right Speech and Right Livelihood.  It might not generate as many ad clicks or viewings as some approaches.  It might not be as much fun as righteous rage.   But it does help lead to crossing through suffering.  Like as if on a raft...



21 comments:

Chriss Pagani said...

Just shoot the messenger, hmm? This post could have been written by a Catholic apologist defending pedophile priests with just a change of a word here and there.

If you want to have a pissing contest with another blogger, that's your business. It's something you can do for traffic, I suppose.

I only saw this article because it was posted in the /r/zen section of Reddit, and I found it to be disappointing. Speaking of blog spam... If you're the one who posted this to Reddit, then you have no cause to feel superior to some other blogger who is looking for traffic. That's just hypocritical.

On the ACTUAL issue (as opposed to the obfuscation) it has become increasingly clear that there is a serious problem, particularly in the American zen community. Like the Catholic priests, there has been a lack of accountability and a plethora of defenders and excuse-makers.

It's enough to make one start to wonder if Zen is connected to mental illness! It has made me question the validity of Zen, that's for sure. And it's not because of the messengers of the information, as you imply, but because of what some Zen Masters are DOING. It appears that many lack any sense of right or wrong. And they certainly lack compassion for their victims. So where are the claimed transformations of Enlightenment? Is it all just bullshit? The world wonders....

One could hardly call it a Buddhist issue, though: The many many scandals/criminal behavior issues have fallen almost entirely into the Zen camp. Buddhism in general remains largely untainted. There is something to this.

The bottom line is that either the excuse-making and messenger-blaming will stop and the Zen community will take affirmative steps to get its shit together - or zen in America will become permanently cast as a scam perpetrated against the gullible.

What will happen? It remains to be seen.

jundo cohen said...

Mumon,

Adam gets information before the public that otherwise would be hidden, covered up, unknown by the Zen community. He does so in a pretty non-sensationalist way without an ax to grind, publishing positive and negative stories without fear or favor.

You, by your criticism of that, thus become part of the cover up. By attacking the news source, you become one of the folks sweeping under the rug. Shame on you.

Gassho, Jundo

Anonymous said...

Adam is a deluded person. Just look at this latest repackaged article about Sasaki. Half of it is his own ill-informed speculation about what he thinks is going on, but he obviously doesn't know much of anything at this point. But he does know these articles increase web traffic so there you go.

Oddly, in this article he goes on to criticize a female Sasaki student for hero worship because she believed Sasaki could see right through her. But Adam, newly jukaied Zen master that he is, is able to SEE right through this woman, the hero worship, the delusion, all of it, and can see through everyone. Isn't this ironic? Isn't Adam talented and wonderful? For all his raving against hero worship, the other irony is is that he himself wants to be the hero along with all the other Sweeping Zen 'teachers'. It is a known fact that whistleblowers have some of the biggest egos on the planet, and that is not to be overlooked.

Adam also whines about how Rinzai-ji is not being transparent for not talking to him. Now why would anyone on earth want to talk to Adam Tebbe when he spins everything to fit his personal world view? In Adam's world not talking to him means your hiding something, but in the real world it just means "I'm not wasting my time with you."

And then you have the sycophantic readership lapping it all up in a chorus of idiocy. I could go on, but you get my point. Sorry about not sticking to right speech, but it had to be said because this just so goddamn absurd.

Thank you for your article as well.

Mumon K said...

Chriss & Jundo -

As I've written, by this point anyone remotely familiar with Zen on the internet knows about this by now. Google has it well memorized.

Also as I've written I do post links in multiple places on the internet, but ultimately the purpose of my writing is not solely to generate hits. As I wrote elsewhere, you go try to do multiple posts on the longer Mahayana sutras and see how many hits you get.

Chriss, you kind of pointed to the crux of the problem: there are people who are being treated as "Zen Masters." "Roshis." And they are in a position where they lack a sense of right and wrong. But...

My point is, it's not just sexual wrongdoings. It's ALSO wrongdoings of speech, understanding, thought, and in some cases livelihood (e.g. "Big Mind.) AND some of the people involved in the condemnation of sexual scandals have no problem or awareness of their own relation to the precepts!!!!

Bhante Henepola Gunaratana has a test for right speech, which is especially apt here:

1. Is it true?

2. Is it kind?

3. Is it beneficial?

4. Does it harm anyone?

5. Is this the right time to say something?

My point is that it has been right speech to characterize and draw attention to the sexual scandals, but there is a point, and that point's been passed, where the test above fails, especially when it has been used to justify sexual stereotypes and promulgation of gossip.

If you want affirmative steps for the Zen community to get its act together, we will all have to do what I said elsewhere: deeply cultivate our own awakening and deeply keep all the relevant precepts.

And if we justify breaking some precepts because other folks broke precepts regarding sexual conduct, or are silent about that...that's not us having our act together.

Mumon K said...

Anonymous:

Adam, like all of us, like me, like you, is suffering. That much is evident. I empathize with his being where he is, though I wish he could be somewhere else.

Chriss Pagani said...

Mumon K : I agree, it's more than just sexual, and I think that that the whole Zen Master concept is part of the problem.

Where we differ, however, is on the subject of writing about it. Zen is not the Catholic church. There is no Pope to excommunicate errant teachers. The only course we have for corrective action - at this point - is discussion. The more people who write about these insults to the path, the more light is shed on the subject - the more pressure that is put on the ones who cause the problem. It's the one thing we can actually DO.

Basically, I think that Zen teachers, "Masters," who engage in this sort of conduct need to be publicly shamed and made to be pariahs. I don't see another cure for the problem at the moment.

Chriss Pagani said...

Oh... I wanted to follow up on my own comment - is it bullshit?

Here's a thing that has been bothering me lately: If you say that you are one with everything, but molest your students, how is your enlightenment manifest? If you claim to be filled with compassion for all beings, yet you do NOTHING to improve their lot, is not your self-proclaimed compassion meaningless delusion?

Anyone can claim anything. On the other hand, if I claim to be able to levitate, you might want to see the evidence. If I can't produce the evidence, you might well suspect that I'm a liar.

Well, to me it is the same with far too many teachers/Masters. Many have a depth of intellectual knowledge and well-rehearsed phrases, but lack any evidence of a transformed life. Yet it seems we are expected to just take their word for it.

Anonymous said...

Chriss,

The shaming has already happened and the organizations are dealing with it as best they can. The issue now seems to be with Adam exploiting the scandals further for personal and professional gain. He's not really helping anyone at this point.

jundo cohen said...

"Anonymous" (if that is your real name), the organizations are not dealing with it, are circling the wagons, purging reformers, spreading misinformation (sometimes in the guise of "Anonymous" posters on blogs spreading misinformation and attacking the whistleblowers like Adam). Many of these anonymous people are themselves connected to the cults ... I mean, to the organizations themselves. Others like Mumon just want to bury the shit with flowers and cover the stench with perfume.

Gassho, Jundo

Mumon K said...

Chriss-

The issue with "naming and shaming" is it's not effective.

Regarding the Catholic church, "naming and shaming" has not been effective. Litigation and law enforcement has been.

If you say that you are one with everything, but molest your students, how is your enlightenment manifest? ...

This is a restatement of the kōan, and one reason why this "master" stuff needs to be re-done in the west. Awakening is something we're aware of, we perceive it, and we understand that we perceive it.

Nothing. Else. Changes. You're free to use that awareness to change everything in the world for the better, or you're free to take that awareness and not apply it to your most serious character flaws. I'd suspect that many people end up doing a little of both of those extremes.

But...that just gets back to my point: If you want to stop the abuse a) cultivate the awakened mind- because it CAN be used to help the world and b) cultivate the precepts.

Jundo-

You misrepresent what my position's been. Is that kind? Beneficial?...

What sort of Buddhism do you teach?

Chriss Pagani said...

Well, I don't want to belabor the point or argue but there is some disagreement here that I would like to address.

I said that public naming and shaming is important because it's the one thing we have in a system where there is no higher authority capable of removing the Zen Masters who cause this problem. If this slut-shaming of Masters has been ineffective, to me that just means we haven't done enough of it.

You will know when it is enough when no female student will go anywhere near these people; when no zen center will allow them to teach there. That's when it is "enough." Right now, too many female potential students aren't sufficiently aware of the severity of the problem, in my opinion.

It's not true at ALL that "everyone knows." If that statement were true, there would be no more female victims. Women don't volunteer for sexual assault.

I've seen this myself. Many students don't read blogs and if they've heard a rumor about a particular master, they tend to think that it was only one or two women and that there might have been some special circumstances - and it won't happen to them. Clearly, the message isn't out there at a sufficient level to neutralize the offending parties yet.

And as for my question, the one that has been bothering me. I interpret your answer to to mean: "Yes, it is bullshit." That's because we're told that one of the effects of enlightenment is "to be filled with compassion for all living beings." That's what we're told. Over and over. I've never heard anyone deny that, before.

Molesting students, causing all kinds of problems for them, from depression to fear of Zen, is manifestly demonstrating a lack of compassion. How can I say this any more clearly? The Zen Master who hurts his students - is proving that he doesn't care about them as living beings. He is just using them.

Either he's not truly enlightened or enlightenment doesn't amount to anything in the real world.

And this relates to the other things said about enlightenment along with my first point! We're also told, as part of the whole "sweeping it under the rug" thing to which another commenter alluded, that ordinary rules don't apply to enlightened beings. They are their own guide to what is right and wrong. Therefore, things that are so important to the rest of us, such as the precepts, don't really apply to them. ...And yes, this excuse HAS BEEN MADE as a defense of predatory zen masters.

Mumon K said...

Chriss,

Thanks for your response; I respectfully disagree that the best way to cease the behavior of sexual abusers is to "name and shame" them.

You might get female students to avoid them, but naming and shaming won't have any effect on the perpetrators.

RE: enlightenment: Seeing one's nature can be accompanied by deep compassion...but just because you have deep compassion for all beings may not cure you of your moral or behavioral failings.

That's worth something, but it's obviously no reason to make a fetish out of someone who happens to have had the experience.

Any "teacher" who's used that excuse for abuse is clearly not worth one's studying, except as an object lesson.

Anonymous said...

Jundo,

We've all heard the Sweeping Zen talking points before. Yes, anyone who disagrees with Adam or yourself is obviously in league with the 'cult'and should be dismissed without consideration. Unless you have something more insightful than this to offer, which, judging by your videos and talks, I don't think you do, then I'll just have to move on.

The truth is these scandals are the best thing that ever happened to Adam's career and maybe yours as well. We all need a common enemy in this world; it gives our lives meaning and purpose. For example we have the war on terrorism which will continue indefinitely. We have cyber wars against China. We have our perennial enemies, so to speak, and we need those enemies. They help us define who we are. But sadly, this is "negative identity" as Hegel put it, which is defining yourself by who you are not.

I get it here. Shimano and Sasaki are evil. You have exposed their evil, and therefore, you are great teachers. But if you got rid of your enemies, then who would you be? Would you find another? This is a serious question you must ask yourself, Jundo. Without Shimano and Sasaki who are you and what do you have to offer this world?

I believe that deep down most of you Sweeping Zen guys are dissatisfied with yourselves and are looking for a bigger stage. That's not hard see.
But one day, you will have to inquire into yourself, as we all do: Who the hell are you Jundo? And what is your true purpose?

Chriss Pagani said...

"You might get female students to avoid them, but naming and shaming won't have any effect on the perpetrators." ..Yes, but see, that IS "Mission Accomplished" in these cases. That IS the effect we're looking for! That was my point.

We could talk about AZTA and the low bar for becoming a zen teacher. That's fine, too. I would like to see them add something to certification: In addition to know what you need to know and having all the right paperwork, Buddha nature should be manifest in your life. Certification can be revoked if this is shown to not be the case. I'm sure there would be resistance among the membership but for petesake even the lowliest public school teacher has a morals clause in their work contract!

Mumon K said...

Chriss -

Thanks for your comment. I want more than females avoiding predators, though that's a start, but again, I differ as to the efficacy of "naming and shaming," especially when defining one's practice as "naming and shaming," as some seem to want to do.

I want everyone who claims to be adhering to the precepts to endeavor to practice them effectively whenever the opportunity arises.

Chriss Pagani said...

Agreed.

Al said...

I got an idea. If molesting and raping your students is against the law (which it is), how about arrests, prosecutions, and jail time for the perpetrators? That will do a lot more than trying to shame a 100 year old man who has been doing this most of his life (he has no shame). Then do a class action lawsuit or an individual civil suit against the centers and/or organizations that allow it to occur. I bet if organizations think they might lose their temple, property, and all money, they'd pay a bit more than lip service.

As to the AZTA, that's a toothless old geezer. The AZTA can do whatever it wants and most Zen people in America aren't going to pay much attention to it. There is no Catholic Church of Zen (tm) that all Zen teachers are required to join. No matter how many rules the AZTA makes, if people feel no need to join it, what does it matter?

Frankly, given the stories recently about people just summarily removing people from AZTA rolls because they didn't like them, outside of all procedure, I'm not sure I'd look to it as a moral authority either.

Anonymous said...

Al,

It is interesting that there hasn't been one single lawsuit over the past fifty years by former students of Shimano and Sasaki. Why didn't they sue or press charges? We'll never know.

Either way, it's most likely the statute of limitations have long since run out on those cases. I guess there's nothing left to do now but grab a pitchfork and join a lynch mob, right? Not really.

Regarding the "toothless old geezers" at the AZTA, would you rather these people had teeth? I believe institutional power in the hands of the AZTA would only invite more corruption and the propagation of new dogma(look at the Catholic Church). In the end the solution lies in your own hearts and your own sangha. Try your best to help yourself and your community. That's all you can do in this world. Everything else is politics and noise.

Sweeping Zen Watch - SZW said...

Thank you Mumon. I have referenced your post at Sweeping Zen Watch.

The insight is refreshing.

Adam Tebbe said...

Sweeping Zen Watch - why did you remove your post about me on Facebook that had a photo of a jackal ripping apart a deer?

Why did you delete all of my challenges to you on Facebook today, and those of others? Why do you criticize the website for lacking integrity and for being biased, when all you do is select negative and hate-inspired comments from around the web?

I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings so terribly, whoever you are. You are completely obsessed with me and it's unhealthy, sir. I ask that you stop stalking and harassing me. Facebook has removed some of your posts because of this.

Sweeping Zen Watch - SZW said...

The real story is available on the blog page now.

For someone to folow after another continuously and then yell 'I'm being harrrassed' is a sickness of the highest order.

A suggestion to Mr Tebbe: stop your lies, it's not helping you.

And cease your concocted stories, fabrications and attempts to frame other people to get them out of your way.

Sweeping Zen Watch only seeks to record and collect sources of Sweeping Zen opinions and experiences that would typically be censored, or hidden from diverse sources over the years. It is not a debate forum, nor is it a place to concoct further lies to further one's own interests.

Leave Sweeping Zen Watch and its administrators only. And do not concoct stories about stalking and harrassing, when only you have exhibited these behaviors. There are words for such people in the system. And it sad, to say the least.