Barry Graham: The Fraud-iest Zen Fraud

Barry Graham: The Fraud-iest Zen Fraud

Postby jisahn108 » Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:12 pm

"Barry Graham" is the alias of a 46 year old Scottish national who declares himself a famous writer, journalist, and "Zen Master." After living in Arizona for a number of years, he recently moved to Portland, Oregon. Based on outrageous and totally ignorant claims about having been trained, ordained, and given transmission as a Soto lineage holder in Japan, he started giving precepts and even ordained a number of "monks". Problem is, his behavior was so suspect, bizarre, abusive and erratic his students got suspicious. When they investigated, it turns out none of his claims were true: his supposed teacher was fictitious, the temples in Scotland and Japan don't exist, all the documents supporting his flimsy claims were proved fakes, the Sotoshu had never hear of him, and no two pieces of his story about any part of his life added up.

He's once again changed locations and is trying to gather new students around himself. He's self-published a book of "Zen teachings" (called "Kill Your Self: Life After Ego" as if that didn't prove his ignorance about Zen in itself) and is exceedingly fond of couching himself as a "teacher" while discussing the simply fascinating exchanges initiated by questions from his "many students" (Most appear to be in his head.)

He's kept a blog since 2002. When controversy around him arose and was documented in a story in Tricycle magazine, at first he purged his more outrageous lies piecemeal, but then deleted the entire mess from 2002-2009. Luckily, someone screen captured most of the site before it was deleted.

Likewise, the website for his group (which seems to consist of himself and his girlfriend, whom he's "ordained") has likewise been regularly edited to alter or just remove claims as their lies were found to be ineluctable.

For instance, he initially said he was a Soto priest, who had trained at a temple in Glasgow and at "Butsudo Zen Center" sometimes said to be in Tokyo, sometimes Kyoto. He said his teacher in Scotland was Alan McFarlane; in Japan it was "Ando Yamashira roshi" later changed to "Yamashiro", when he presumably figured out the former wasn't even really a Japanese name. Whoops. Research revealed that none of of these places or people exist. He listed his "center" on numerous online directories as "Soto" authorized, and himself as a Soto priest. Later, when his claims crumbled, he stated that Yamashiro had left the Soto school, and that was why he wasn't listed in their records, totally failing to understand (or hoping everyone else would) that this simply isn't how it works. If you are a Soto priest, much less a Dharma holder, you are always in the records of this 800 yer old organization that bases its entire structure and legitimacy in meticulous records of Zen transmissions and ordinations. Never mind he was only saying this after having claimed to be a Soto "Zen Master" himself for the previous 5 years, and having been caught, he was flailing for an out.

The address of the center where he supposedly trained in Scotland was shown to be for an apartment building where he had lived before moving to the US, not zoned for anything but that. The only actual Zen group in the small city of Glasgow had never heard of Graham, his "teacher", or their temple - which they said was not possible if it existed. The cross street of his former apartment building is "Nansen." This in fact was the "Dharma name" he initially used for himself (in what I'm sure he found a cute and convenient and possibly even cosmic coincidence, it happens to be the Japanese version of Nanquan, the famous Chinese master); later he changed it to "Nanshin."

He also later adopted and used until recently the Japanese name Dogo. This name was given to him by Kobutsu Kevin Malone, a Rinzai Zen priest known for his prison chaplaincy work and dogged efforts to get his former teacher Eido Shimano held accountable for decades of abuse. Graham told Malone that he was a monk and wished to become his student and have Malone sponsor his center in Arizona. He asked Malone to send him robes since Graham's had "worn out", and also asked for money, bells, cushions, and zendo supplies. Malone accepted his claims at face value, and accepting him as his student gave Graham the name "Dogo."

They soon fell out. Graham slandered Malone and others of his students on his website - this kerfuffle was what was reported in the Tricycle piece (Graham has since deleted all evidence of this.) Malone told him to stop using the name Dogo - of course he didn't stop, for years. Not missing a beat or seeming to even slow down, after meeting with her twice, Graham started to claim the elderly and infirm Joko Beck was not only his teacher, but had given him "transmission." He was eventually contacted by Beck's own daughter and told to stop making these claims.

He now simply says he "eschews Zen traditions" as hopelessly backward and corrupt, yet calls himself "sensei", expounds on Zen forms and teachings, and offers "dokusan" (but only to his dues paying "members.")

There is considerably more to all this, as if it were needed, with discs full of screen captures and still extant blogs by others tracking his goings-on. Anyone with a more than cursory understanding of Zen in America can exactly track Graham's claims and see him artlessly and clumsily cobbling together bits and bobs from various Zen traditions as they've been developing here, pretty obviously inspired by the success and fame (such as it is) of Brad Warner. A bit of Sanbo Kyodan here, some San Francisco Zen Center here, a little "Namu Dai Bosa" from ZSS tossed in over there, a little Nishijima, etc etc. A hodge podge born of brazenness, ignorance, stunted emotional development, and internet access.

Beyond all of this foolishness, what he spouts as his deep and insightful Zen "diamonds" are simply mean, graceless, self-serving misinterpretations of the precious Dharma that suit his own brutal, manipulative agendas. I invite you to read his blog, and his writings. He's a nasty piece of work.

I'm putting this information here so that anyone in Portland can help spread the word, and those elsewhere if encountering him or his "teachings" know what sort of quantity you are dealing with here. In a word, all evidence suggests he's a total sociopath and inveterate scam artist and con man.
Last edited by jisahn108 on Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Barry Graham: The Fraud-iest Zen Fraud

Postby Kunga Lhadzom » Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:20 pm

Oh boo-hoo...aren't we all the same Nobodys ? All is equal. Equanimity. Empty. He's a great teacher !!!!!!!
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Re: Barry Graham: The Fraud-iest Zen Fraud

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:32 pm

The guy's credentials do sound a flimsy. But "
Kill Your Self: Life Beyond Ego
that is a damned sexy title for a book!
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
A wise man keeps them secret within.
A straw floats on the surface of water,
But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths
-Sakya Pandita
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Re: Barry Graham: The Fraud-iest Zen Fraud

Postby jisahn108 » Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:37 pm

Oh boo-hoo...aren't we all the same Nobodys ? All is equal. Equanimity. Empty. He's a great teacher !!!!!!!


I'm just hoping that this response is sarcastic. Because it sure doesn't have anything to do with Buddhism. It does sound however like an accurate imitation of the Nihilists in The Big Lebowski, who likely were inspirations for Barry Graham's wildly misguided Zen insights. "Give us the money, Lebowski!"

Kill Your Self: Life Beyond Ego

that is a damned sexy title for a book!

It's actually Life After Ego. Which is more stupid.

So, you really mean damned foolish right? Again, this is what Beatnik teenagers in the 1950's thought Zen was. It is exactly what Zen isn't in actuality.
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Re: Barry Graham: The Fraud-iest Zen Fraud

Postby Kunga Lhadzom » Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:44 pm

Buddha taught that everything is empty of inherent existence. We're all Frauds. Like a bubble....impermannent. Where are all those famous zen masters now ? You cling to illusions.
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Re: Barry Graham: The Fraud-iest Zen Fraud

Postby JKhedrup » Sat Jan 26, 2013 9:01 pm

I don't think Kunga Lhadzom is a troll, she has posted quite a number of posts covering a variety of topics.
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
A wise man keeps them secret within.
A straw floats on the surface of water,
But a precious gem placed upon it sinks to the depths
-Sakya Pandita
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Re: Barry Graham: The Fraud-iest Zen Fraud

Postby jisahn108 » Sat Jan 26, 2013 9:06 pm

Ok, we'll just leave it at "dangerously ignorant" then.
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Re: Barry Graham: The Fraud-iest Zen Fraud

Postby Kunga Lhadzom » Sat Jan 26, 2013 9:17 pm

If you or anyone had the compassion of a Buddha, you could see that this man desires to be a zen teacher so much so that he would lie about his credentials.....so why don't a REAL zen teacher take him under his compassionate wing and try to help him become a REAL zen teacher ?

It is obvious this man loves Buddha....maybe Buddha loves him also....

And yes...i am ignorant....but not ignorant to what it is to be a Nobody.
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Re: Barry Graham: The Fraud-iest Zen Fraud

Postby jisahn108 » Sat Jan 26, 2013 9:21 pm

Wow, you are really confused.
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Re: Barry Graham: The Fraud-iest Zen Fraud

Postby Tara » Sat Jan 26, 2013 9:25 pm

Please refrain from personal comments/attacks. Any further instances will result in this thread being locked, posts removed and warnings and/or suspensions issued.
Tara

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Maybe you collect a lot of important writings,
Major texts, personal instructions, private notes, whatever.
If you haven’t practiced, books won’t help you when you die.
Look at the mind – that’s my sincere advice.

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from Longchenpa's 30 Pieces of Sincere Advice

Mors certa — hora incerta
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Re: Barry Graham: The Fraud-iest Zen Fraud

Postby greentara » Sat Jan 26, 2013 9:43 pm

There's tricks that 'certain' teachers wishing to advance themselves use. Smooth fast talkers , gift of the gab types; or the silent treatment, unable to answer the devotees questions they smile mysteriously and retreat into a fog of silence. 'Buyer beware' situation when you start working with any spiritual teacher.
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Re: Barry Graham: The Fraud-iest Zen Fraud

Postby jisahn108 » Sat Jan 26, 2013 10:08 pm

That presupposes someone is actually even a teacher, authorized in some way. Again, this guy isn't. But yes, Kunga Lhadzom, he wanted it badly enough to fabricate a vast web of lies to convince others he was one. He didn't, however, care enough about Buddhism or self-knowledge to actually submit himself to the rigorous process of actual Zen study, with a Zen teacher, before declaring himself a master himself. Buddhism, even just the idea of it, obviously attracts the most sane and the most insane. Teachers don't typically go around looking for pathological liars and sociopaths to convince to become their students. Not likely a good recipe for success, of any sort. Plus, they tend to show up on their own anyway. Ask any Buddhist teacher.
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Re: Barry Graham: The Fraud-iest Zen Fraud

Postby Kunga Lhadzom » Sat Jan 26, 2013 10:46 pm

jisahn108 wrote:That presupposes someone is actually even a teacher, authorized in some way


Who authorized Buddha Shakyamuni to teach ?

I know of plenty of unauthorized individuals that teach....it may not be ethical, but is it a crime ?
Most of the ones I know are considered mentally ill & recieve welfare from their government.
It is sad that people become so desperate they have to resort to self-aggrandizement...but look at Lady GaGa, and all the other rich
and famous individuals that craved to be someone....craved attension....craved individual expression & fufillment & happiness....



Everybody wants to be somebody.

:rolling:
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Re: Barry Graham: The Fraud-iest Zen Fraud

Postby Kunga Lhadzom » Sat Jan 26, 2013 10:48 pm

BTW , if this guy can do it....anyone can....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angulimala
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Re: Barry Graham: The Fraud-iest Zen Fraud

Postby jisahn108 » Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:11 pm

there is a condition known as being "willfully obtuse." Or refusing to see a forest for its trees...
And I'm glad the original post is amusing, even if the situation is pretty unfortunate. Especially for the series of women, including his ex wife, who've apparently filed orders of protection against Graham...
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Re: Barry Graham: The Fraud-iest Zen Fraud

Postby jisahn108 » Sun Jan 27, 2013 12:19 am

@lobster: Its called "information." Some people find it useful. If your judgement that someone who outs frauds in an attempt to alert people is superior to a pathological liar, ok, call it like you see it. There sure seem to be a lot of cyber-Buddhists here, and elsewhere; in other words people who think that everything is contingent on what you can simply get away with in an age of information glut and ego inflation, and that Buddhism has to do with manipulating definitions to suit themselves.
Last edited by jisahn108 on Sun Jan 27, 2013 12:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Barry Graham: The Fraud-iest Zen Fraud

Postby greentara » Sun Jan 27, 2013 12:31 am

jisahn, I can sense you're angry. It's true all these bogus spiritual teachers want to be somebody. They want to be a big fish in a small pond. Zen has been muddied by sexual exploitation. Advaita is riddled with phoney teachers and don't even touch on the happenings in the Catholic church ....it just goes on and on. You just have to be alert.
Remember it's the kali yuga.
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Re: Barry Graham: The Fraud-iest Zen Fraud

Postby plwk » Sun Jan 27, 2013 1:13 am

Thank you for the heads up
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Re: Barry Graham: The Fraud-iest Zen Fraud

Postby Son of Buddha » Sun Jan 27, 2013 10:44 am

Kunga Lhadzom wrote:BTW , if this guy can do it....anyone can....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angulimala


Yea Angulimala saved my life,anyone who has ever had "wrong livelyhood"
Needs to check out his sutta and sutra.
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Re: Barry Graham: The Fraud-iest Zen Fraud

Postby Son of Buddha » Sun Jan 27, 2013 10:54 am

jisahn108 wrote:@lobster: Its called "information." Some people find it useful. If your judgement that someone who outs frauds in an attempt to alert people is superior to a pathological liar, ok, call it like you see it. There sure seem to be a lot of cyber-Buddhists here, and elsewhere; in other words people who think that everything is contingent on what you can simply get away with in an age of information glut and ego inflation, and that Buddhism has to do with manipulating definitions to suit themselves.



If he wanted to teach Buddhism,why didnt he just become a Pureland teacher?
Where the lineage and transmission is passed down through the 18th vow of Amitabha Buddha.
Being a Pureland teacher he could always help with meditation, but just let people know he is not a "master" and to seek a qualified meditation master to progress.

Peace and Love.
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