Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Scandals, internet fights and more

Brad Warner evidently doesn't know about the political "blogger ethics panel" meme, or presumably he'd have used it in his piece critiquing this article in Tricycle, which tut-tuts the state of internet language these days in terms that neocons of yore decrying the "shrill" anti-war bloggers would cherish.

I've commented in various places about that (including here), but I've more to say, especially about this entry on the "Enlightenment Ward" blog.

First, Warner's mostly right: the whole "come on in we have puppies and ice cream inside" attitude of some American Buddhist temples while culturally making sense is not the MO of Asian temples, and it isn't because it conveys right up front, literally, the expectation that effort needs to be expended. Americans haven't be known for being eager to expend effort lately; they'd rather get rich in real estate or moving large piles of money around. (Then again Chinese haven't done badly at real estate investments lately, but I digress...)

Secondly, in regard to this piece by Nella Lou at Enlightenment Ward, let me say up front that a) I've known someone that trained at the Salt Lake City Kanzeon center (now "Big MindTM" center) and he wasn't brain damaged (though I still largely agree with Ven. Warner on "Genpo Roshi"), and b) I've been to the Zen Studies Society in New York, and even saw Eido Roshi give Dharma talks...and they were about the Dharma! I even once had tea with him! And his wife!

True, I'm male, and never had dokusan with him, and wasn't molested by him. But still!

Seriously, I got something very good at what Eido Roshi said and did, and I'm sure others have too.

On the other hand, if the guy did what he's been accused of here or here the guy belongs in either some kind of program or jail- his only difference from certain Catholic priests I've known is a predilection for adult women, but it would be sexual harassment and abuse nonetheless if true.

With no other Rinzai Dharma in the Hakuin lineage in the New York City area the only place to which one can be exposed to it is DBZ and the Zen Studies Society and that was true in the 1980s when I first went there, and it's almost completely true today with the exception here, and maybe elsewhere.

(You can get Rinzai Dharma through the Kwan Um school, but its forms are different; it evolved in a different way than Japanese Rinzai Zen).

Of course you can't weigh the good against the bad (and like Glenn Beck's parody rape and murder, we won't know the truth until it comes out), but the reality is something good happened to me as a result of this guy who may have done some really nasty things to some people. Conflated with that - and it shouldn't be, but it is - is that attitudes towards sexual harassment have evolved since Eido Shimano came over to the US in the early 60s; even in Japan Eido Shimano would have to deal with serious legal issues today. Times were different then, even in 1995 they were different. This doesn't excuse or justify anything, although in our approach to things such as this we should take that into some account some times. I guess in the times that it requires us to view such people as flawed and to view them compassionately as well as maintaining the appropriate caveat emptor attitude.

Does that sound like a more nuanced "He said, she said?" It's not meant to be that.
And it's certainly not meant to be the tut-tut attitude of the Tricycle piece. It is meant to put a little complexity on an issue that can be easily simplified.

But I, like many others no doubt, got a lot of good things from Eido Shimano's institution and still do, and that's why I went to the ZSS on my recent trips to NY. I got less out of the Catholic church, and still don't, if one's still wanting to make equivalencies. From both I don't expect apologies, but I insist on ethical behavior. The ZSS hasn't been unethical to me, nor in public, but the Catholic Church is another thing entirely. Still, I can understand what others say and why; but I can also understand that the reason we have legal protocols regarding slander and libel and sexual harassment are that precisely we, as a society, should not judge someone without adequate evidence. I appreciate what these folks say, and have to square it with my own experiences. Genkaku Fisher has it right, though I would still add: you, going through the door of that zendo, that guy they call roshi is going the same place you're going. He might have good training and good awareness, and might practice the Dharma, but he really, really, really is no more a Buddha than you are.

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