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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 2:49 am 
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Ive been considering doing a retreat at the Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-Ji monastery in the Catskill mountains of New York, a monastery established alongside the New York Zendo Shobo-Ji in Manhattan by Eido Tai Shimano.

While I'm interested in Japanese Rinzai practice I've been reading about the group online and I've recently come upon some unsightly things:

1. Eido apparently had a series of affairs with female students at the Zendo. He later resigned because of this, turning over the organization to Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat Roshi.
2. Eido said in a notable sermon titled 'What is Zen', "Many of us believe that what we call "me" is a small corporeal body, a self that disintegrates with our death. Others understand that when we die, the self is somehow absorbed into an eternal, boundless self. What if, mysteriously enough, the egoistic self and the Boundless Self exist simultaneously as one? Is this possible? Yes, it is."

So right off the bat you've got a lineage founded by an ostensible roshi who abused his status of power. Now, while I could still see myself attending the place since he soon after admitted to his mistakes and left the Sangha, I don't know how Buddhist I'd consider an order whose leader doesnt seem to understand a fundamental aspect of Buddhism: no-self. (See bolded text.)

In any case, does anyone have any experience with this group. Are they "legit", so to speak?

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 9:17 am 
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While many have taken issue with the ethical integrity of Eido Roshi and how those at the Zen Studies Society have handled issues concerning him, no one to my knowledge has ever claimed that practice with his lineage is in any way compromised. His disciples are well respected.

Also, that comment Eido Roshi made is not particularly unique. It only stands out with his history in mind.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 9:35 am 
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In that area I'd rather recommend the Mountains and Rivers Order of the late Daido roshi. There is also the Dharma Drum Retreat Center you could consider. They are both established communities with strong monastic lines.

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"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
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Mind is this mind carefree;
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(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 10:43 am 
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Ikkyu wrote:
"What if, mysteriously enough, the egoistic self and the Boundless Self exist simultaneously as one? Is this possible? Yes, it is."
[...]
Now, while I could still see myself attending the place since he soon after admitted to his mistakes and left the Sangha, I don't know how Buddhist I'd consider an order whose leader doesnt seem to understand a fundamental aspect of Buddhism: no-self. (See bolded text.)

What is the problem with his view? You can criticize his behavior according to some standards, but you need to do more to refute his teaching.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 10:13 pm 
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oushi wrote:
Ikkyu wrote:
"What if, mysteriously enough, the egoistic self and the Boundless Self exist simultaneously as one? Is this possible? Yes, it is."
[...]
Now, while I could still see myself attending the place since he soon after admitted to his mistakes and left the Sangha, I don't know how Buddhist I'd consider an order whose leader doesnt seem to understand a fundamental aspect of Buddhism: no-self. (See bolded text.)

What is the problem with his view? You can criticize his behavior according to some standards, but you need to do more to refute his teaching.


It denies anatta.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 10:18 pm 
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Astus wrote:
In that area I'd rather recommend the Mountains and Rivers Order of the late Daido roshi. There is also the Dharma Drum Retreat Center you could consider. They are both established communities with strong monastic lines.


I've looked into MRO and Zen Mountain Monastery. It seems like a great order but I'm looking to study more specifically Rinzai Zen than a conflation of Soto and Rinzai. ZMM/MRO is a combination of Soto and Rinzai whereas Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-ji is specifically Rinzai. I've enjoyed Rinzai to begin with through attending teishos and zazen sits in a Lam Te (Rinzai) Thien (Vietnamese Zen) group. While I respect Dogen and regard the Soto school as equally enlightened in its own way, the emphasis on Koan practice and sudden enlightenment appeals to me more through Linji's lineage.

I'd like to experience the Japanese form of Zen however. To see if it's quite different or not.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 1:20 am 
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Ikkyu wrote:
It denies anatta.

What it really does is depart from the "this is not-self" approach to pointing out anatman/anatta. His presentation is not uncommon in Zen.

Ikkyu wrote:
I've looked into MRO and Zen Mountain Monastery. It seems like a great order but I'm looking to study more specifically Rinzai Zen than a conflation of Soto and Rinzai. ZMM/MRO is a combination of Soto and Rinzai whereas Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-ji is specifically Rinzai. I've enjoyed Rinzai to begin with through attending teishos and zazen sits in a Lam Te (Rinzai) Thien (Vietnamese Zen) group. While I respect Dogen and regard the Soto school as equally enlightened in its own way, the emphasis on Koan practice and sudden enlightenment appeals to me more through Linji's lineage.

I believe you will find this in the MRO, just with some shikantaza and Dogen mixed in.

Ikkyu wrote:
I'd like to experience the Japanese form of Zen however. To see if it's quite different or not.

Good call. I'd be interested to hear what you find, having no experience with Thien.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 2:14 am 
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You will find that many, many Zen teachers are conversant in both the language of no-self and that of true-self. Zen is a school of mind-to-mind transmission that is not dependent on the Sutra, Sutta, or Tantra, or the language thereof. Furthermore, when Zen teachers speak in this way, they are not presenting a religious philosophy but are mobilising skillful means that are intended to generate doubt related to the question "Who am I?" If you find yourself attached to the scriptural way of presenting these things, Zen may not be the practice for you - on the other hand, it may be the perfect medicine.

Also, while the MRO is technically a Soto/Rinzai hyrbid, its methodologies are basically straight-up Rinzai. If you are looking to do koan work, that's a great place to do it.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 7:21 am 
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Ikkyu wrote:
I'd like to experience the Japanese form of Zen however. To see if it's quite different or not.


Then you should rather go to Japan.. i do not think that there is Japanese zen in America... even if there are Japanese teachers.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 10:27 am 
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Matylda wrote:
Ikkyu wrote:
I'd like to experience the Japanese form of Zen however. To see if it's quite different or not.


Then you should rather go to Japan.. i do not think that there is Japanese zen in America... even if there are Japanese teachers.


Yeah I get that impression as well.

There are plenty of places to practice Zen in Japan, even if you don't speak Japanese.

See here for temples that can accommodate you:

http://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/eng/temples/foreigner/

Antai-ji is a famous place, but they're pretty strict and demand commitment.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 1:15 pm 
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Then there are a few Rinzai places.

Sogenji in Okayama, but there are mostly Westerners and it has different atmosphere, than Japanese monastery.

Ryutakuji in Mishima was accepting in the past foreigners but now I do not know. By the way it was Soen roshi monastery and training place of Eido roshi.

Koonji in Hachioji close to Tokyo, has very good roshi, they had sometimes foreigners.

Zuiganji in Matsushima, close to Sendai will accept I think. It was not destroyed miraculously by tsunami. There were some foreigners sometimes.

Then one can try other temples as well, but probably they will not accept a lay person, though one may try.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:36 pm 
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As regards the OP, I suggest at least taking a look at The Shimano Archive. Lineage depends on the credulity of the aspirant, but the archive may provide some assistance in gauging the environment.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:01 am 
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genkaku wrote:
As regards the OP, I suggest at least taking a look at The Shimano Archive. Lineage depends on the credulity of the aspirant, but the archive may provide some assistance in gauging the environment.


:) i had a glimpse of those archives... well the title is already something to think about... one man going on crusade against the other man, having a deep grudge all life against him and finally leaving behind on his death bed an ''archive''... I have really no idea what was going on in the mind of the poor guy. And to turn things other way round, now Shimano should leave as his heritage The Aitken Archive, to some Japanese university ... then Monthy Python would be very pleased :)


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:05 am 
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Many Zen schools teach end false (ego)self gain true self(Tathagatagarbha)

But ive never heard anyone say the ego self can exist as one with the true self.

Also friend lineage dont mean much of anything if you are doing the opposite of what the Buddha taught.

Think about it you could meet a guy who has attended zen centers and has done alot of meditation yet he doesnt have "lineage" would you take his advice

Or take the advice of a guy that has "lineage" but hasnt meditated in a year and snorts coke off a hookers rear ends.

But hey try it out people make mistakes and they grow.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 12:01 pm 
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It does not really matter what one hears or not hears and what one thinks about dharma unless one is not awakened oneself.. If one is able to discern between false and true teaching then one can teach oneself. To inquire the meaning from the teacher is important, not one's own judgments.

As for the lineage... it was probably much exaggerated in the West at certain point, and on the other hand now it is probably despised since it did not fulfilled the fantasies people had about it, so the other extreme is exercised. Isn't it simply stupid?

People are just pretty stupid to think that what fits into their narrow minded opinions is good and what does not fit in should be neglected. And more, to judge from the point of view of any other religion then buddhism does not work. Narrow minded puristic views are fine outside of the context. For one who wishes to practice dharma to follow restrictive purist view free of any compassion and bodhicitta is simply useless.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:14 pm 
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Matylda wrote:
genkaku wrote:
As regards the OP, I suggest at least taking a look at The Shimano Archive. Lineage depends on the credulity of the aspirant, but the archive may provide some assistance in gauging the environment.


:) i had a glimpse of those archives... well the title is already something to think about... one man going on crusade against the other man, having a deep grudge all life against him and finally leaving behind on his death bed an ''archive''... I have really no idea what was going on in the mind of the poor guy. And to turn things other way round, now Shimano should leave as his heritage The Aitken Archive, to some Japanese university ... then Monthy Python would be very pleased :)


Matylda -- It is impossible to gauge or fathom anyone's intention, however much there might be a pretense that such a thing were possible. As a shrink friend of mine used to say, "If a man punches you in the stomach, you don't ask if he lives in a rat-infested apartment." There may be all sorts of intentions at play in The Shimano Archive. I wouldn't pretend to know what they were or are. But whatever they are, still there is the factual documentation to consider. If the best anyone can do is to collate and promulgate the 'good' news, what sort of realistic existence is that?

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:02 pm 
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Well whatever you mean, what is the point? To study facts about someone's else life? His ups and downs? So what? Maybe we should produce files and archives for everyone including critics of this one and that one? One side will fight Shimano the other Aitken... for what sake?

I cannot understand intention of Aitken and it seems to me a bit crazy to make from one's own letters etc. an archive.. was it SO important? He never let go his grudge? Well I hope he is ok now... If Shimano committed any crime just jail him, that is all. If NOT then why to get so involved and obsessed with one man doings? Why?

If one say since he is a zen master etc. then in the long history we can kick out half of them.. including the main successor of Bodhidharma, who used to drink a lot and spent his time in brothels with prostitutes... but still we consider him as an example of determination and commitment. A holy person. Bodhisattva... well pretty drunk, womanizer :P

I would say to any critics, watch yourselves, since you may end up in pretty ugly place. Moreover I never met in the West any purist who had at least tiny bit of any compassion, or kind heart. On the contrary I met some ''sinners'' who were very compassionate and accepting .. those purists with their iron morals are in a way some sort of demons after all... the West has bad history of witch hunting and killing humans for not obeying God and his morals.. right?

But I met quite a lot of moralizing hypocrites... so what??? should one get obsessed about them as well? :)


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 2:33 am 
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Matylda -- Albert Camus once wrote, approximately, "Some people climb onto the cross in order to be seen from a greater distance." In nine years under Shimano's well-dressed shadow, I learned quite a lot ... some of it good, most of it not so good. I learned, for example, that it is not OK to harm others. It is not OK to run a sociopathic outlook on those around you. I learned, as I finally concluded for my own purposes, that "the teacher may be a liar, but zazen is no liar." This is strictly my personal take. I don't expect anyone to agree with me, though I might wonder out loud why it is that of all of Shimano's "Dharma heirs," only one maintains a close relationship with him.

Getting on a high and uninformed horse about the character of a person who created the Shimano Archive is a matter of personal preference. Attacking the messenger without reading the message is certainly possible. But since most of us in our spiritual endeavors do, in fact, seek out credible and creditable instructors -- even "holy" ones if you insist -- I see no reason to consider the good news without likewise considering what is less favorable: Our practice does not mean we have to erase our common sense. Everyone would like to think his or her teacher had characteristics worthy of the hard and intimate work that needs doing. Is this a judgement call? Of course it is -- no need to gussy up or lie about anything that obvious.

Is it too much to ask?

Maybe so. Maybe not.

Your life, your choice.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 6:26 am 
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Well my life my choice. It is very simple. If I follow the master I follow his teaching. I am not sitting and getting exited by the gossips about him, or his performance or that other person got harmed by him. I do not read Camus or whoever, but rather Dogen etc. and it is clearly stated what is required from the disciple. And definitely there is not anything like about teacher misbehavior which should not be in the scope of student perception. If so then the perception is wrong.

If I sit and just get upset by my teacher, then there is no reason to practice zen. and zen has nothing to do with ''common sense'' etc. since exactly this became rather source of my suffering... I can see a lot of ''common sense'' around and the result is rather questionable.

I read some other critics, not only Aitken. What really impressed me is, that those people did not help anyone. They only gave bad feelings to others, who lost their faith. Which in a way is very good because it means that those who lost it, did not have it simply :) And another question I have is - why does it always happens in America? What is wrong there? Why they do not have all those scandals in Europe for instance? Do you think that zen teachers in Europe are different? Specially Japanese?

Why Europeans are less concerned about teachers behavior? Are they more stupid or more naive then Americans, or is it just question of culture and standards? If that is so, are Americans not victims of their own culture, which will prevent them from following zen or tibetan buddhism? Or they will be able to follow something which only reminds puristic, restrictive, protestant form of Buddhism? It seems to me that Europe is much more relaxed about religion then America, which follows its own standards, not necessarily Buddhist.

And let me ask you a question, did your teacher, Shimano did something wrong to you? Abused you? Or?


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 1:21 pm 
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Matylda,

I think the key difference in interpretation is that you say "If I follow the master I follow his teaching.", while many follow not the teachings but rather the teacher. This is of course failing the instruction of the four reliances. And when they follow the person, his acts become great concern. It also opens the door to all sorts of abuses of power.

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"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)


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