Thursday, February 17, 2011

LES KAYE’S LETTER IS UNBELIEVABLY IRRESPONSIBLE


No one commits suicide for a single reason. No one. Never.

In my book Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate I wrote about my friend Robert “Iggy” Morningstar committing suicide. Iggy’s girlfriend had just broken up with him. She did it as much for Iggy’s good as for her own. I was sharing a place with them at the time and she was absolutely justified in what she did. Iggy was making a mess of his life and hers as well.

When Iggy killed himself he did the deed in such a way as to ensure that his girlfriend would be the one who found him and that it would appear as though he killed himself because she broke up with him. In the weeks that followed those of us who were around Iggy’s girlfriend had to constantly assure her that she bore no guilt in the matter. Perhaps the break up was a factor in Iggy’s suicide. But it was not the only factor or even the decisive one.

On February 14th, 2011, Dosho Port put a letter written by Les Kaye of the American Zen Teachers Association (AZTA) to the board of directors at Kanzeon, Genpo Roshi’s temple, on his blog. You can find that post here. This same letter from Les Kaye also appears here on the Sweeping Zen website.

Les Kaye’s letter was written in response to accusations by some people at Kanzeon that AZTA had failed to respond when they knew that Genpo Roshi was having sex with his students and misappropriating funds. Les Kaye points out in the letter that AZTA had been trying to get Genpo’s authorization to teach Zen revoked at least since 1992.

I understand Les Kaye’s desire to clear AZTA’s good name. But one section of his letter strikes me as perhaps the most irresponsible thing I’ve seen come out of this whole mess. It makes me very angry to see this.

In his letter, Les Kaye reveals the story of a woman who was allegedly seduced by Genpo Roshi. Kaye says that she “had been abused by her father as a child, which left her extremely vulnerable and confused.” She attended a meeting organized by AZTA about Genpo’s transgressions in which “she described how she had been seduced by Genpo numerous times and the pain of betrayal that she felt.” Kaye directly follows this with a sentence that reads in full, “Several months after the meeting, she took her own life.”

Although he uses the proper somber, sepia colored tones of heartrending melodrama approved by contemporary American Buddhists, Mr. Kaye appears to me to be accusing Genpo Roshi of causing this poor woman to kill herself. Please see the opening two paragraphs of this article for my opinion on that. I know that the effect of what Mr. Kaye wrote is to make people think that Genpo’s sexual behavior caused a suicide because that is precisely how it was defined to me by two people who emailed me about these articles.

I don’t like Genpo Roshi. I’ve made no attempt to hide that fact. But accusing him of causing someone to commit suicide is taking things much too far. We do not know what really transpired between Genpo and that unfortunate woman. I’m going to say that again and I’m going to be a little firmer this time. You -- and I mean you dear reader, whoever you are -- do not know what happened between Genpo and that unfortunate woman. If Genpo is reading this (which I doubt) maybe he has some clue. But even he doesn’t know all of it. The rest of us only know what we’ve read about it. And that is not very much.*

Am I trying to say that it’s fine that Genpo seduced some poor woman who’d been abused by her father? No. No, I am not saying that. No. OK? Not at all. No.

I’m saying that we do not even know that’s what really happened. Maybe it did. Maybe it didn’t. We don’t even know what that woman actually said at the meeting. All we have is someone’s paraphrase of what he thought he heard her say 18 years ago.

Which is also not to say it did not happen or that I don’t believe what she said. I don’t know what she said. So I cannot either believe or disbelieve it. But I do know what Les Kaye said because it’s there on the Internets for all to see.

There is no reason to add this to the piles of accusations that have already been hurled at Genpo. Believe me, I am not someone who would easily stand up in Genpo Roshi’s defense. But this is too much to ignore.

Why is it all about sex? Why do we have to wait until Genpo is caught with his pants down and his dick where it shouldn’t be before we can say anything about the much more serious and far-reaching abuses he was involved in?

As far as I’m concerned, nearly all of this current stuff about Genpo is entirely missing the point. All of these AZTA people are getting upset about absolutely the wrong things. They should have been publicly stating that Big Mind® was not Zen Buddhism years ago. The hidden details of Genpo’s sex life had nothing at all to do with any of that.

The things that Genpo was doing that made me so pissed off were not concealed in any way. They were right out in the open. He explicitly advertised that he was selling enlightenment experiences for $50,000**. He clearly said in his promotion material for Big Mind® that it could give you a glimpse of Buddha’s realization in a couple of hours with no prior experience. This was no shocking revelation discovered by someone finding secret messages on Genpo’s Blackberry. This was stuff you could see for yourself by looking at Genpo’s own website. Where was everyone’s righteous indignation three years ago?

The AZTA has written a letter to Kanzeon, Genpo's group, recommending what they think Genpo ought to do to cure his sex problem. You can see that here just under Les Kaye’s letter, at the bottom of the page. My friend Zuiko, one of the signees, told me the letter is "simply a recommendation to Kanzeon and a sign of support for whatever they do. Their sangha is free to do whatever they wish, but some of us felt that we needed to let them know that we are out here and we agree that this is not good behavior.” OK. I accept that Zuiko contributed to the letter in this spirit. To me it all sounds a bit sanctimonious.

Hey Genpo, here are my recommendations, which stand just as much chance of being read and followed by you as AZTA’s. I have a lot of trouble with phrases like “sex addiction.” Though there may be a few cases that could qualify as true addiction, I believe that for the most part it’s just that some people are simply hornier than others. When an individual has a different sexual orientation from mainstream society, there are two main ways to deal with it. The individual can adjust to mainstream society, usually with unhappy results for the individual. Or the individual can seek out others who share their orientation and they can play together. (There is, of course, also the traditional religious response of learning to deny your sexual desires entirely. But few people are able to accomplish this. And sometimes when they fail at denying their desires the outcome is even worse than if they had not tried at all.)

Luckily for you, you live in the Western world in the early 21st century where the option of seeking like-minded play friends is available to you. It is far easier than it ever has been for so-called “sex addicts” to find each other. You don’t need to do your students. Just sign up for a membership in one of the many sex-oriented dating sites, particularly the ones with a fetishist bent. Those women will fall all over themselves to bed a kind-hearted dominant man with a lot of money and a position of institutional power, particularly one with a religious aspect. Fortunately for you that particular kink is very widespread and common.

(You learn a few things when researching a book about sex!)


*It was subsequently revealed by a friend of the woman in question that her suicide occurred quite a long time after the meeting and was probably completely unrelated to what transpired with Genpo.

**The fee for Genpo's Big Heart Circle retreats subsequently dropped to $25,000 and these days it’s hard to find any of the material he originally posted about these high priced retreats. Here is a blog which quotes most of Genpo’s now-vanished sales pitch for the Big Heart Circle retreats. The standard price for Big Mind® appears to range between $150 and $1000.



(I’m still taking a break from reading the comments section of this blog. If you have something you feel you must say to me in response to this, write me an email at spoozilla@gmail.com. If you just post something in the comments section, I will not see it.)

P.S. The broken links are now fixed. Thanks for the email, Spice!

98 comments:

Anonymous Bob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Somebody call/mail Brad and tell him the links in his blog post don't work.

Seagal Rinpoche said...

You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.

Anonymous said...

You will not be punished for being a sanctimonious plagiarizing douche. Being a sanctimonious plagiarizing douche is its own punishment.

As far as I got said...

- “No one commits suicide for a single reason. No one. Never.

- What kind of bullshit is that? - See SS, B. 1, no. 90.


- And with a slight Googlin:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seppuku#Notable_people_who_committed_seppuku

merciless said...

"I have a lot of trouble with phrases like “sex addiction.” Though there may be a few cases that could qualify as true addiction, I believe that for the most part it’s just that some people are simply hornier than others."

Jesus Brad. Do you really know what you're talking about? I suppose the numbers of people with gambling problems are overstated too. Mostly just people with losing problems right? Alcoholics? People with no will power or self control. And we all know about the type of women who get raped..

Kaye wrote: "She attended a meeting organized by AZTA about Genpo’s transgressions in which “she described how she had been seduced by Genpo numerous times and the pain of betrayal that she felt.” Kaye directly follows this with a sentence that reads in full, “Several months after the meeting, she took her own life.”"

I don't have as big a problem with Kaye stating the facts in the chain of events. People can draw conclusions or do as you did and not. You are not the only critical adult reading this stuff. Is the suicide supposed to be hushed up in Zen circles? It facts sound bad because they were bad.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I understand that White Plum, which is a loose confederation of teachers associated with Maezumi Roshi, is taking actions on its own. I am not sure who is involved or the details however.

Gassho, Jundo

merciless said...

“No one commits suicide for a single reason. No one. Never.”

Yes and no.

There are multiple events/reasons in a person's life that take them to the point of suicide. However, there is only one successful suicide per person, so there is usually only one trigger event.

Harry said...

Hi,

Here's a website where you can learn about ASIST suicide intervention trianing. The widepsread training days/workshops are usually free or come at low cost (over in these parts at least) and are very useful and insightful for anyone effected by suicide, or for anyone who works with people or who is just interested.

In the US:

http://www.livingworks.net/

In the UK:

http://www.asist.org.uk/

In Ireland:

http://www.nosp.ie/index.html

ASIST trains participants to reduce the immediate risk of a suicide and increase the support for a person at risk.

The workshop provides opportunities to learn what a person at risk may need from others in order to keep safe and get more help.

It encourages honest, open and direct talk about suicide as part of preparing people to provide suicide first aid. Participants also consider how personal attitudes and experiences might affect their helping role with a person at risk.


Regards,

H.

Bizarro Seagal said...

Drunkenness is temporary suicide.

Moon Face Buddha said...

I’m going to say that again and I’m going to be a little firmer this time. You -- and I mean you dear Brad, -- do not know if Big Mind (tm) actually does deliver enlightenment experiences because you have never attended a Big Mind (tm) session.

I was #4 but was deprived by Google said...

- “No one commits suicide for a single reason. No one. Never.”.

- What kind of bullshit is that?

See SS, B. 1, no. 1.

Moon Face Buddha said...

merciless, there is some interesting literature available regarding addiction which pits forward the idea that what is commonly called addiction is actually poor choices. Individuals are not powerless to change such behaviour, and labelling such choices as addictions in fact perpetuates this behaviour.

This is rather controversial amongst the majority of clinicians working in the field.

Sorry said...

- SS, B. 1, no. 90, - not no. 1.

Harry said...

"[Bertrand] Russell's adolescence was very lonely, and he often contemplated suicide. He remarked in his autobiography that his keenest interests were in sex, religion and mathematics, and that only the wish to know more mathematics kept him from suicide.

...From the wiki article on him.

H.

Anonymous said...

Sorry: Brad's being metaphysical. It's a Zen teaching on causation.

“I was #4” also said...

With a bit of Googling I was able to find this, too.

It gets deleted down here so I put it up at the “name”.


(That’s why I got mistreated by Google in the first place)

+ said...

- “All of these AZTA people are getting upset about absolutely the wrong things. They should have been publicly stating that Big Mind® was not Zen Buddhism years ago.”.

Than why? This is one point I’ve been wondering about Brad gives no explanation to.

- “He explicitly advertised that he was selling enlightenment experiences for $50,000. He clearly said in his promotion material for Big Mind® that it could give you a glimpse of Buddha’s realization in a couple of hours with no prior experience.”.

This seems like a bit of a withdrawal. See bolding.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
#19 said...

- “Why do we have to wait until Genpo is caught with his pants down and his dick where it shouldn’t be before we can say anything about the much more serious and far-reaching abuses he was involved in?”.

- Again - my point from 10:27 - [am] if Brad is right about this - why is he the only one shouting about it?

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
- #21 - said...

- “simply a recommendation to Kanzeon and a sign of support for whatever they do. Their sangha is free to do whatever they wish, but some of us felt that we needed to let them know that we are out here and we agree that this is not good behavior.”.

Read the letter and see if this is what is sounds like.

R said...

Just in case anyone imagines M @ 10:46 is relevant to mine @ 10:41: - The question was how much sense does Brad's quote I quoted @ 10:03 make.

Anonymous said...

Taking a break from the comments eh? Sure you are...

R said...

mine @ 10:21

Swami Osama Van Halen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ran [- #25 -] said...

- “I believe that for the most part it’s just that some people are simply hornier than others”.

I loved that. But hated what follows.

- B’s idea, - is that whatever your inclinations or tendencies are, - you can never change or improve them, no matter where you get, - in any field whatsoever.

Not only zazen is good for nothing, - but any other practice you might think of.


- And to (108 the) merciless @ 9:34: - [am] Remember we’ve heard of alcoholism since before either one of us was born, - I suppose. - Same might go for hopeless gamblers I guess. - But “sex addiction” seems to be a new phrase we only seem to encounter in the last decade or two. Sounds to me like a new idea of the typical conceited intellectuals. - I don’t know much about the subject but I’m quite with Brad on this point.


+ - [back to Brad] Brad seems to assume that since humanity has not been able to hold stable and continuous standards as for appropriate or inappropriate sexual behavior, - such may not be found in existence.

[Or to pretend to assume that.] (- I’m a real trouble maker, - am I not?)


- It is quite like assuming since many do not know the Buddha Dharma it does not exist.

Not just the same but I guess you can grasp the similarity.


- It is true some things may change due to development in humanity, - but mainly this is claiming the subtle to be nonexistent for the sake of popularity.


May be fine for anyone who can truly enjoy 0DFx.

Anonymous said...

OK. So this is what I'm reading

1. Implication of responsibility in suicide is wrong
2. The emphasis on sexual misconduct is missing the point
3. The point is that packaging instant-enlightenment as Zen commodity is wrong
a) Because instant-enlightenment is not a Zen perspective
b) Because misleading people to believe this is true can be harmful to them

What might help would be to speak more to point 3a) Why is instant-enlightenment wrong view? What is right view? and 3b) How is holding wrong view harmful?

That might help your readers to make a more informed decision that avoids confusion about correct principles due to confusion about personality.

Suggestion for increased effectiveness in message: Separate the principles from the personality to make your point more clearly understood to more people.

Mysterion's golf ball said...

Guilt is an emotion that rises after a transgression of one's own or cultural values. Guilt is about actions or behavior; while shame is about the self. There is an important psychological difference in saying to someone that their behavior is bad; as contrasted with saying that they are bad. The former leads to guilt; the latter to shame.

The purpose of guilt is to stop behavior that violates a self, family or societal standard. Guilt keeps score on excesses or deficits of behavior deemed undesirable and is expressed in regret and remorse.

Eventually for the shame-avoidant person, reality itself must be distorted in order to further protect the self from poor self-esteem. Blaming other individuals or groups for one's own behavior becomes second nature, and this transfer of blame to someone else is an indicator of internal shame.

The society of traditional Japan was long held to be a good example of one in which shame is the primary agent of social control.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I can see why Brad thinks that the idea of sex-addiction is just new-speak for mega-horniness but I'm not so sure he's right.. If you believe that a person can become psychologically dependent on certain behaviors and I think there is evidence for that, then I think that it is possible for someone to become addicted to certain experiences that release certain neurohormones. The only question would be; are you addicted to the experience or the rush of the neurohormones? Or is it the same thing?

Anonymous said...

two aspects of the same process?

Anonymous said...

For decades, endorphins have hogged the credit for producing “runner’s high,” that fleeting sense of euphoria and calm that many people report experiencing after prolonged exercise. Who among usI, after an especially satisfying workout, hasn’t thought, “ah, my endorphins are kicking in.” Endorphins are the world’s sole celebrity peptide....

Go read the article

*I haven't.



(humor)

Lone Ranger said...

Brad,
Can one be addicted to celibacy?

What Brad Warner actually said...

...about 'sex addiction' :

"Though there may be a few cases that could qualify as true addiction, I believe that for the most part it’s just that some people are simply hornier than others."

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Whoa whoa whoa, hold on. I think everyone is focusing on the wrong thing here.

"Just sign up for a membership in one of the many sex-oriented dating sites, particularly the ones with a fetishist bent. Those women will fall all over themselves to bed a kind-hearted dominant man with a lot of money and a position of institutional power, particularly one with a religious aspect."

Which websites are you talking about here?

keishin.ni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

If sex were simply sexual Brad's post reads ok
But sex is a many nuanced and complicated behavior between persons
Depending on what kind of circumstances were present during one's first sexual arousal and release states you can get some strange imprinting which factors in to your behaviors

I am glad for 12 step programs sex and love addicts anonymous--of tremendous benefit--

I do not think it is possible to judge others sexual dispositions
Sometimes it is not possible to clearly know who the victim or who the perpetrator is

Humans have quite the ability to see the same things with exact opposite interpretations

I can't judge other people's sexual involvements.
Only my own
I might not fully know my patner's intentions...I might find out later.
I am in a position to know my own intentions.

If I had a more active libido I'd be living a different life
I think it would make me more popular, but who knows

I do think it is important to take responsibility for one's actions particularly when cobbling together different life styles where sexual intimacy is concerned.
Couples decide for themselves what works for them
Sometimes finding out what that is includes collateral damage, namely other people and other people's relationships

The mental image of a zen teacher (or catholic priest, or CEO of a company for that matter) sitting in a zendo, officiating mass in church, sitting in a board room with multiple persons with whom they have had sexual relations with present strikes me as strikingly odd and icky

A bit too akin to familiar incest if you ask me

-------

There is help out there

tattoozen said...

"A bit too akin to familiar incest if you ask me"

do you mean "child molestation" or did you really mean incest? The difference is that Incest, while icky and weird, is between consenting parties while child molestation is between a party that has not or can not give consent.

Its an important difference. If both people are grown ups then they bear the right to take whatever decisions they choose, and to deal with the consequences.

its a little scary to me that people make the argument that just because one person wears a funny robe and has a title that the other person in a relationship should be treated like a child.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gimpo said...

Is what you are doing "Zen Buddhism" Brad?

Dennis the Menace said...

Me thinks Brad doth protest too much...

It seems obvious that Brad simply wants to propagate the Genpo scandal IN FULL by repeating what Les wrote, and his denial of agreement with it is simply subterfuge.

I for one would not have seen it (Les's statement), or sought it out otherwise.

Anonymous said...

We need that guy who kept obsessing on Brad's penis length to come back here and offer us some perspective on this mess.

Tonto said...

Brad,
Can one be addicted to zazen? I'm serious. It doesn't do anything, but people have these subconscious hopes.

Anonymous said...

Forgive them for they know not what they do.

Mumon said...

Brad-
Beautiful post. I mean the part about Merzel's not being responsible for the woman's suicide. Dead on there. The other stuff I largely agree to the point of I guess it don't need sayin'. But I guess to you it does.

To me, "Big Mind®" was a scam from the get-go. I think I get it for maybe different ways then you get it, but we both get it.

But, as I wrote on my blog, the sex thing reveals something. And at the same time, neither you nor I can barely imagine the crap Genpo is going through these days - unless he's a friggin' psychopathic narcissist, which is not out of the question. But imagining this guy is one of us - I can't imagine the hurt I would be going through at this moment.

Also - make no mistake: folks in Genpo's sangha read your blog; they read my blog. So it's more than likely Genpo reads your blog.

I appreciate your passion on this; maybe I'll even send this comment in an e-mail to you.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Tonto said...
"Brad,
Can one be addicted to zazen? I'm serious. It doesn't do anything, but people have these subconscious hopes."

Brad is distancing himself from the comments section.

I would say it is possible to become addicted to ANYTHING - providing you have a compulsive-addictive personality disorder. Now a few things - nicotine being one - are so addicting that even people with moderate to light CAPD can become enslaved to nicotine.

It's not quite like genetic OCD.

As for Genpo and Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)???

Who knows? Certainly not I.

When viewed through the Right Mindful Filter Floss®, only a tiny minority are free from disorders, orders, or boarders.

Anonymous said...

Brad Warner said...
As far as I’m concerned, nearly all of this current stuff about Genpo is entirely missing the point. All of these AZTA people are getting upset about absolutely the wrong things. They should have been publicly stating that Big Mind® was not Zen Buddhism years ago.

LOL. What is "Zen Buddhism"? Ask 10 Zen teachers and you'll get 17 answers. Big Mind is no more or less "Zen Buddhism" than anything else anyone claims it to be. Despite the entire lineage nonsense, Zen teachers are really just making all this up as they go along, and have been ever since Hui-neng came along (assuming he ever existed). Steven Heine wrote a book about it: "Zen Skin, Zen Marrow: Will the Real Zen Buddhism Please Stand Up?"

Anonymous said...

And now this:

"Response to an Open Letter from 44 Zen Teachers To Members of the American Zen Teachers and White Plum Asanga:

As members of the Board of Kanzeon Zen Center, we have received many e-mails and phone calls concerning the highly-publicized situation resulting from Genpo Merzel’s admission of his transgressions and sexual misconduct. These communications from Zen teachers in your organizations and others, not to mention open letters and other postings on various social media and internet sites, are filled with advice and recommendations, many of which are beyond the scope of our responsibility as a Board. To the extent that they are motivated by a sincere concern for the survival, healing and rebuilding of our sangha, we would like to share with you an account of some of our efforts to date.

Feb. 3rd: Shortly after returning from the international sangha meeting in Europe, Genpo Merzel met with the sangha at the Zen Center in Salt Lake City in an open meeting which was widely publicized in advance. He admitted his misconduct (which had already been made public but wasn’t known by all attending), apologized for his actions for which he bears the blame and responsibility, and responded to the pain, anger, concerns, questions, and feelings of his wife, family and sangha members.
Feb. 6th: Genpo Merzel announced he is disrobing as a Soto Zen Buddhist priest, resigning as a member of the White Plum Asanga, acknowledged his own dishonest, hurtful behavior as well as his sexual misconduct, and said he has entered therapy which will continue indefinitely. This statement was posted on his website on Feb. 7th — http://bigmind.org/Responsibility.html.
Feb. 8th: Kanzeon Zen Center announced that Richard Taido Christofferson Sensei will be taking over the teaching functions, training, administration, day-to-day operations, scheduling of all events, ceremonies, retreats, etc. as Vice Abbot and full time resident teacher. Kanzeon and Big Mind (a separate corporate entity) will also separate their websites, and Big Mind will continue as a separate secular practice, not connected with the Soto Zen Buddhist School. This announcement is posted at http://bigmind.org/Home.html.
Feb. 10th: The first of a projected series of council meetings was held with community members who wished to attend and express their feelings and their views on attempts for future healing.
Feb. 13th: Taido Sensei arrived in Salt Lake City to lead a town hall meeting to which all local members were invited. He outlined his vision for the future of Kanzeon under his leadership and responded to the concerns of the audience.
Ongoing: The Board is formulating a Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Procedures addressing issues of misconduct, abuse, and grievances within the sangha, based on models already instituted by other groups. They will be adopted as soon as possible.

Anonymous said...

Further, an e-mail sent to us yesterday by members of your organizations raised six issues, to which we briefly respond as follows:

Teaching. Genpo Merzel is taking an indefinite leave of absence of at least a year from Kanzeon. The Board has no authority over Big Mind, Inc.
Therapy. This is a matter for health care professionals working with Genpo to determine. This is not within the expertise or purview of the Board.
Salt Lake Zen Center. The Board is making every effort to maintain the facilities and keep the Center open for the community. This effort has been hampered by the heated rhetoric coming from the Zen Teacher community, in particular those who have reached out to members of our community to inflame reactions that are more adversarial than cooperative.
Money Issues. The Board is supporting Taido Sensei’s effort to maintain the flow of revenue through memberships and programs. His teaching schedule for the next two months will be posted shortly. We are a small Sangha, which has been financially supported by Genpo’s teaching for many years and more recently by his teaching through Big Mind, Inc. He has offered to continue to support Kanzeon to the extent he can. Therefore, donations you wish to make to enable the Board to implement item 6 below would be welcomed.
Public Statement of Apology. Genpo has apologized and his apology is posted at http://bigmind.org/Responsibility.html. He continues to talk full responsibility for the harm his actions have caused.
Outside expert assistance. Taido Sensei has been in contact with several Dharma teachers in the White Plum Asanga, who have offered their support and willingness to come to Kanzeon to share their skills as teachers, therapists, and leaders who have experienced the problems of leading centers through similar crises. The Board in consultation with Taido Sensei will develop a plan that will include consultation with and participation of these and other Zen teachers. The Board has also been in contact with organizations, which can provide experienced, objective, professional assistance in guiding us to the creation of a healthier sangha with proper safeguards and strategies to avoid any future misconduct and abuse.

As you might expect, these activities are occurring in an environment that is under great stress. The Center’s very small staff which is implementing the changes we have set in motion, is struggling to maintain the Center’s schedule and commitments in financially constricted conditions, not to mention the strong daily practice which all agree is vital especially now, while at the same time coping with a deluge of phone calls and emails engendered by the ever-increasing volume of recommendations and calls for action like yours. Long-time bonds of respect and friendship among members of the sangha are being frayed and broken. People with little or no connection to our sangha or Center have appeared at meetings designed to promote healing only to offer their own inflammatory views on our situation. Our Zendo has been vandalized, a beloved statue stolen from the altar.

Under these circumstances, we respectfully request that those people who sincerely hope that we at Kanzeon survive and heal as a community, and create an environment and adopt procedures that lessen the possibility of any future misconduct or abuse, will extend us a little patience and allow us the time and breathing space to restore the peace and harmony of the sangha and the strength and sound practice of its members. Genpo Merzel has repeatedly reiterated his full support for all of the actions taken by the Board and Sensei as outlined above.

Board of Trustees of Kanzeon, Inc."

Anonymous said...

http://www.kanzeonzencenter.org/response/

British Fool said...

^ I think they're showing that they have had enough of the outside do-gooder types offering, unsolicited, their opinions.

anon #108 said...

Hi British Fool,

I'm British...kinda. And I think so, too.

From the response:

"...As you might expect, these activities are occurring in an environment that is under great stress. The Center’s very small staff which is implementing the changes we have set in motion, is struggling to maintain the Center’s schedule and commitments in financially constricted conditions, not to mention the strong daily practice which all agree is vital especially now, while at the same time coping with a deluge of phone calls and emails engendered by the ever-increasing volume of recommendations and calls for action like yours. Long-time bonds of respect and friendship among members of the sangha are being frayed and broken. People with little or no connection to our sangha or Center have appeared at meetings designed to promote healing only to offer their own inflammatory views on our situation. Our Zendo has been vandalized, a beloved statue stolen from the altar..." (my bold)

proulx michel said...

Mysterion wrote:

Perhaps where Genpo was remiss was in his apparent boundary violations - perhaps taking that which was the sangha's as his own. Those boundary violations included, but were not limited to allegedly exploiting his students emotionally, financially, and sexually.

My take is that this is probably where Brad wanted to, albeit not clear enough. it is not the sex in itself which is "sinful", it is the being oblivious of the harm done unto others. If you are a buddhist teacher, your responsibility is greater just because you are a teacher.

No one on earth is free to do harm onto others, buddhist or not. And who does will bear the consequences of it, with fortune if they can get them in a way clearly related to their deeds, with misfortune if those consequences come so late that you can no longer make the relation.
But if you're a buddhist, you are even in a worse situation, because you ought to know that your deeds shall have consequences. And if you're a buddhist teacher, worse still.

pooyan said...

It sure sounds like the Kanzeon folks are doing there best. It is also true that they are probably best qualified to deal with there own problem. There must be a bit of embarassment as well because this sounds like a problem that they were ok with not dealing with it when it was benefiting them financially.

It is a free country and people obviously get into talking about all this controversy because it is scanadoulous and sexy and an easy topic to feel help people feel better about themselves, or more moral, "I would never do such a thing", that kind of stuff. I just wonder if that's the best theme for the Hardcorezen Blog. I know these are all very recent developements and people are gonna talk about whats going on, but I hope it this blog doesn't become the TMZ of the Zen community.

I know i have been criticcal of people who are on Brads case for not writting the right things or not being enlightened enough of what not, but yeah i have never been a fan of soap opera drama, weather fictional or real, and i just kinda hope this all starts to fade away soon. Sounds like things have been aired out and people are informed. Everybody kinda said there piece.

peace

Anonymous said...

...a sanctimonious plagiarizing douche.

LOL

But it remains a fine teaching:

“You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.” - Siddhartha Gautama Shakyamuni

Anonymous said...

Swami Osama Van Halen said...

I didn't even realize that Mr. Merzel was selling more than one "product" so let me make sure that I understand how this process works. First you buy a "Big Mind" and then you buy a "Big Heart"? Is there something "big" that comes after that? Maybe "The Big Lebowski"? That would be pretty cool, but only if Jeff Bridges was the instructor.

Yeah, that's what Genpo got in trouble for: using his Big Lebowski.

Dirty Sanchez said...

"When Iggy killed himself he did the deed in such a way as to ensure that his girlfriend would be the one who found him and that it would appear as though he killed himself because she broke up with him."

Suicides are as much about causing suffering as they are about ending suffering.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous anonymous said...

FORE!

Anonymous said...

First of all only the person afflicted decides whether or not he/she is an addict. No one else. Hence only the person afflicted decides if their behaviour can be classified as addiction.

Man oh man, the buddhist community is seriously dysfunctional! Gossip, back stabbing, name calling, sheesh... who knew?

Cori

Hellow? said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"First of all only the person afflicted decides whether or not he/she is an addict."

If only that were the case...

"Denial ain't just a river in Egypt."

I just love 12-step programs that replace one broken crutch with another broken crutch - it avoids the whole concept of responsibility.

Let us prey...

in the name of Tony Alamo (Lazar Hoffman), amen.

Anonymous said...

cori -

Not ALL of "the Buddhist community" are gossipers, back-stabbers or name-callers. You won't find so many of the quiet contented non-opinionated Buddhist types here...they don't usually post on blogs like this one. But point taken: even "Buddhists" are human.

Anonymous said...

"I’m going to say that again and I’m going to be a little firmer this time. You -- and I mean you dear Brad, -- do not know if Big Mind (tm) actually does deliver enlightenment experiences because you have never attended a Big Mind (tm) session. "

My reply to Moonface:

Fuck 'experience'. Experiences can be misleading.

The despire to repeat certain kinds of experiences is called addiction.

Experiences can be manipulated

Experience can be highly misleading. I once had fevers that went to 104 as measured by a thermometer, and though my body was blazing hot, I *experienced* my body as chilled to the bone, because my immune system was pumping cytokine compounds into my blood and these in turn were messing with the tempreture regulation center in my brain.

I was misled by experience to feel chilly cold, when I was actually roasting. Instead of doing what I had to do to cool down, I rolled in blankets lay next to a heater and had temporary brain damage that left my tripping and falling over sidewalk cracks.

Luckily this was temporary.

So experience can be misleading as living hell.

And, FYI, I was in a room with a guy who was an expert at trance induction, and I could barely keep my pen in hand to take notes.

By contrast, I was far more alert and able to write after being doped with tranquilizers for a medical procedure.

Genpo, by advertising his method as insta enlightement, and charging the kind of money he does and calling it Zen has violated many of the Bohdisattava Precepts and failed to preserve the Treasures.

Here as a memory aid are the precepts.

I take refuge in Buddha, The Dharma and the Sangha.

I vow to

Avoid All Evil and Cultivate All Good


In the Live for the benefit of all beings (not just the wealthy)

To uphold forms and ceremonies and this includes not allowing ones own career or personality to become a distraction from the Dharma

I vow to beware of

Killing

Lying (and this includes misleading gestures and misleading silences)

Taking what has not been freely offered

Beware of abusing sexuality

Beware of darkening mind and body of self and other with intoxicants (which today include manipulated experiences of ecstacy, group thrills, trance, charisma, rhetoric and the pursuit of intoxicating fame/celebrity and mass marketing)

Beware of speech that brings injustice and disharmony where before there had been justice and harmony

Beware of praising self (or ones trademarked method) at expense of others

Beware of harboring ill will (by insinuating that people lower on the pecking order suffer from green memeitis

Beware of greed in relation to resources (and this includes greed for fame, media exposure, wealth, glamour and greed to rise higher on some abitrary 'evolutionary' scale or greed to get higher on Ken Wilbers rank scheme

And..to defend the Treasures of Buddha Dharma and Sangha such that

One does not distort Buddhadharma by suggesting additions that are any different from the guidelines left by Buddha in the Mahaparinbibbana Sutra

Whatever rank exists is not to give comfort to the powerholder but to support the practice of all, regardless of age, health, whether rich or poor.

Anonymous said...

Finally, Dogen advised to avoid fame.

If Genpo wants fame, its best that he leave Soto Zen. However, he gained his early fame while in Soto Zen and his later adverts showed him in his Zen Dharma Transmission robes.

Gaining fame while standing on the shoulders of Soto Zen is not cricket. That was the real problem.

Anonymous said...

Hey 4.43pm,

Your version of the precepts makes a few suggestions and additions that are different from the guidelines left by Buddha in the Mahaparinbibbana Sutra.

You really shouldn't do that, you know.

Anonymous said...

which version?

Versions

Jinzang said...

Right now I am reading Flaubert's book, "The Temptation of Saint Anthony." I've wanted to read this book ever since it was mentioned in an episode of Dragnet, In the episode a mopey high school kid engages in a thrill kill after reading the book. In the episode a librarian reads the page in the book that inspired him.

Bizarro Seagal said...

It's always fun when a bird flies around the house, lands on your shoulder and says "Hi! What are you doing?

Anonymous said...

tattoozen @ 4:08

"its a little scary to me that people make the argument that just because one person wears a funny robe and has a title that the other person in a relationship should be treated like a child"

Not so much that one is being treated like a child as much as the acknowledgement that this is not necessarily a relationship between equals on a relatively equal playing field

Same for the subordinates and the CEO example

As expressed above, sometimes it is hard to distinguish who is the victim

Persons in a position of power can also be victimized--by those who seek access to power through intimacy
I am just saying that it is hard to tell sometimes who the victim is. The kneejerk reaction is to hold the person holding the more powerful position responsible. Understandable. I am pointing out that this is not always the case. There are exceptions.

Sexual behavior between equals is one thing
things become distorted the wider the power /privilege differential.

Granted the distortion may be experienced by one or both participants as adding to the excitement.

watcha gonna do?
if your zen practice is based on heightened experiences, I guess you are going to look for heightened experiences
the zazen I am familiar with is boring
it isn't exciting to experience, it doesn't lead to particularly interesting states

Not that the state of boredom is without interest to me...

Blair Which said...

Proulx Michel

...with misfortune if those consequences come so late that you can no longer make the relation.
But if you're a buddhist, you are even in a worse situation, because you ought to know that your deeds shall have consequences. And if you're a buddhist teacher, worse still.


I agree. I am glad Brad has addressed the issue of Big Mind. That he has done something to keep the finger pointed towards it, amidst the distractions and confusions of a single human being's very private, very public problems.

The practices and discourses that help us shine a light on our own 'misfortune', our tendencies to blind ourselves to what 'relation' are gardens that need tending - lest too many of us stroll by, oblivious, into another 'too late'.

Western liberalism and capitalism (to dust off a few more weather-worn words) to my mind go hand in hand: reshaping, renewing, reifying (ouch) the 'buddhisms' we may be fortunate or unfortunate to encounter, or that the worst or the best of ourselves (mis?)target on our way.

The western 'individual' (which, yes, is a fiction here, factional) has seen the potential of Zen, hones a sophisticated stupidity, a new stagnancy, fresh hysterical responses to the plates left unwashed; nurtures the intellect under the guise of emptiness, re-translates grief into the play-pen of no-fault, and so on and so on.

The flames may be at rest, at ease, but they do burn.

"It's like I'm realising my worst fears about myself coming true" someone, an intimate, said to me yesterday.

"It's a good job you're not yourself then." I replied, off-the-cuff, and we shared a smile (thank god!)

That happened and it happened quite naturally. This morning, it was just something we said last night.

I know that if I tried to repeat that situation, that mote of something in a similar situation, I'd deserve to feel like a prick. Sooner, hopefully, rather than later.

More so, if I'd tried to justify it, one way or another (what with me being such a nice guy, a clever guy, quite often misunderstood.)

R’s take said...

I hated what Brad has written about Iggy but when DS has joined in that [9:32 pm] it seems it might be worth a response.

Referring to the same quote DS quotes, - “When Iggy killed himself he did the deed in such a way as to ensure that his girlfriend … and that it would appear as though he killed himself because she broke up with him”.

People don’t kill themselves for nothing.

If a person goes as far as killing himself it would normally mean he was concerned with nothing else but what drove him into this, that it outshadowed his life, - that in his view there was no escape. Though this is not always true this is quite clearly iggy’s case.

The idea that he “did the deed in such a way as to ensure that … it would appear as though he killed himself because she broke up with him” seems to suck as severely as possible.

It seems much more probable that Brad & Co. were insincerely comforting the miserable girl.

Relate to the story as to a koan - which version would make more sense? I haven’t read the book but Brad’s case doesn’t easily stand. Carefully phrased.

+ - btw said...

One of my best friends killed himself at 34.

I'm not sure it was bad for him.

S.T.F.U. said...

"Though this is not always true this is quite clearly iggy’s case."

How in the hell would you know? What a pompous ass. You make Mysterion look like a Christian Saint.


"It seems much more probable that Brad & Co. were insincerely comforting the miserable girl."

This also goes too far. How can you possibly draw this conclusion? You are being insensitive to all people involved.

Which do NOT include you.

Talking about a situation you know nothing about is the epitome of foolishness.

You, R, are a goddamn fool. Your opinions are worthless. SHUT THE FUCK UP.

Seagal's Belly said...

when it comes to Narcissistic Personality Disorders, these each take the cupcake. (e.g. close, but non of them take the cake).

Narcissistic personality disorder

"Narcissists tend to have high self-esteem. However, narcissism is not the same thing as self-esteem; people who have high self-esteem are often humble, whereas narcissists rarely are. It was once thought that narcissists have high self-esteem on the surface, but deep down they are insecure. However, the latest evidence indicates that narcissists are actually secure or grandiose at both levels. Onlookers may infer that insecurity is there because narcissists tend to be defensive when their self-esteem is threatened (e.g., being ridiculed); narcissists can be aggressive. The sometimes dangerous lifestyle may more generally reflect sensation-seeking or impulsivity (e.g., risky sex, bold financial decisions)." source
From Psychology Today (a.k.a Popular Psychology - as in Popular Mechanics, etc.)

Now, without further ado, here are the top ten 'Popular Psychology' posts from 2010, as judged by page views: LINK

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Swami Osama Van Halen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marion Gold said...

Bitch ass.

No such thing as sex addiction.

Nobody commits suicide for a single reason.

Shouldn't talk shit you dun't understand.

Cocksucking celestial-wannabe.

Z said...

ZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

7 said...

777777777777777777

_ said...

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

  said...

 

Khru said...

Reading all the snide comments from these cool cyber-Buddhists makes my head ache...

Seagal's Belly said...

Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurp!

Bulbous said...

Khru, take a buddaspirin, and Seagal sounds like he needs a buddalka seltzer.

What happened to this blog? Looks like it committed suicide. For several reasons.

Anonymous said...

All the regulars are taking a break. The trolls are rampant.

Response to angry post at 1:07 pm said...

- “Though this is not always true this is quite clearly iggy’s case”.

I thought this might be misunderstood.

What is meant by “this is not always true” is that this would not necessarily apply in the case of a samurai performing Seppuku, in the case of Master Sensu jumping into the river I mentioned @ 10:05 am, [- “Sorry”] or in other cases very different from the ordinary [and I know some stupid is going to jump and say - “how can you say ‘ordinary’?” - but I won’t refer to that: - there’s a limit to the amount of explanations we can supply] way or form of miserable westerners killing themselves, sometimes for the silliest reasons, - generally not being able to attain this or that.

So the sentence my unworthy debater is first concerned about could be seen as unnecessary.

Take the sentence before the sentence both me and him have quoted: - Could you think of any case in which it would not be true? Other than a case of a truly great man which would clearly not apply to Iggy?

So far as for the first quote.

I hope you SWIM.




- “How can you possibly draw this conclusion?”, - I said - “it seems much more probable”. - And if you still hold your question: - It is because I am not the miserable asshole you very definitely seem to be.

- How about that?

You - like many - seem to imagine the minds of others follow the patterns and standards of your own, - which is not necessarily the case.


As the principle Dogen somewhere seems to mention, - weeds are abundant. - And now days are very confident too, - blindness assures and holds firm.




Still - just for the record, - [but not for ykw @ ykw] I may be wrong. I think it tells from the original post. Notice the “name” I used there. [11:36]

♥ said...

Anonymous said...

It looks a karmic heritage from Maezumi's way of life

Swami Osama Van Halen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anon #108 said...

Hi moon face buddha,

Lately I've noticed your posts here as well on ZFI, so I'm assuming you check in here now and again. I find ZFI's TOS and house style a tad restrictive (I'm not sure if I'd have to start another BW thread - I don't want to - where this comment 'belongs', and so forth*). So, as this place is a free-for-all I'm taking the liberty of quoting over here a snippet of something you wrote over there a short while ago:


"...Genpo is still selling Big Mind (tm) and Brad is still selling Punk-Zen.

I'm not buying either."



What is "Punk-Zen"? I don't think Brad is selling "Punk-Zen". He IS selling books about Zen/Buddhism which include frequent references to his experience as a punk bass player in a punk band, and he does have an informal style of writing which might fairly be described as 'punk' (to me it just sounds informal, personal and a tad 'hip' - not exactly 'punk'. Whatever...). But the Zen/Buddhism that Brad writes about and tries to explain (teach?) in his books and his talks I would describe as Dogen's Zen as taught to Brad by his teacher.

The style may be 'punk' to you and some others, but the content is 'Buddhist'. No?

...I know - you still ain't buying it.


* If you fancy, suggest where I might post this on ZFI and...I may do.

merciless said...

108: Brad's problem is that Zen isn't for sale and Zen masters aren't supposed to covet fame. He said he needs to be famous to sell his books and he needs to sell books to make money. His unique skill set is such that he can make money writing about punk, Buddhism and lately sex. This isn't isn't an uninteresting formula but the formula could accurately be labeled "Punk-Zen" could it not?

anon #108 said...

Hi merciless,

I guess if the label "Punk-Zen" accurately sums up for you what Brad writes about and does, then...it's accurate. But to me the phrase sounds dismissive, and I don't like what Brad has to say - the substance of it - being quite so easily dismissed.

Brad's life choices don't bother me. There are the books and this blog. I own and have read HCZ and I've read bits of the others. There are some good bits in the books...I mean bits I liked. I met and heard Brad talk three times when he came to London a year or so ago. Nice guy. Nice talks. But having read what he's written, having seen him in RL --> next thing. My own teacher has had much more influence on what Zen/Buddhism means to me, so I don't look upon Brad as my teacher, or any kind of authority or exemplar. But - whether I agree with his take on individual issues or not - I do value what he's saying and that he's saying it.

I have no problem with punk, or sex, or anything at all being written about from a 'Buddhist' point of view. Neither - for me - does writing about those things amount to a "Punk-Zen formula". I don't see writing, publishing, promoting and selling books on Buddhism as a 'problem', although I can see how the concomitant fame/reputation might create difficulties. They're not my difficulties, though. And those things, in themselves, don't invalidate what Brad has to say. Not for me.

merciless said...

Hi 108..

I rather like Brad when I'm not disliking him. :) I'm just getting tired of his shtick. Maybe the things that make him a good Buddhist hurt him as a writer.

Always derivative, he has become calculated, formulaic, repetitive.. I think he might be played out artistically. Maybe he's only going through a rough patch before he FINALLY matures.

anon #108 said...

I hear ya and understand whereof you speak, merciless. We'll see innit :)

Anonymous said...

but I hope it this blog doesn't become the TMZ of the Zen community.

This blog is more criticism of other teachers than anything else.
It is kinda weird.