New person here...I sometimes poke around but not a contributor. I keep a distance in fear I get too heady about practice as is my tendency.
Though I hesitate...thought this might be a relevant subject to give a two cents on if it might be helpful.
I just sat with some Mondo people and had some of the same suspicions brought up by many here but suspended them in the attempt to experience it before believing myself. So here go my impressions!
It was a half day retreat this last Sat. It was a mix of regular students and some new ones. About 10 people I'd say and 2 priests. It was a by donation event, held in a public library and seemed like a pretty sincere group of people doing their thing. Some of the text, a reading from a book of collected teachings by their founder Junpo, seemed a bit like a reaction to the shortcomings of Japanese Zen tradition/institution (as there are always in institutions). It had a 'feeling' or a 'tone' of this a lot. Defining itself through what it is not. Maybe this was reactionary to the Shimano situation and Junpo's involvement and issues with it. That aside there wasn't anything shady about it. As young and new as it was...it seemed very authentic in trying to present a Buddhism that was relevant to the community it was serving at that time. An emphasis on 'embodying the experience' in daily life rather than deifying/worshiping Buddha/Dharma. Maybe appealing to certain types of western raised people looking more for a philosophy or method of awakening than a religion? I dunno. Basically some honest folks figuring it out together as best they can? Whether this new take on Rinzai will be enduring is hard to say but what tradition and form has been truly forever?
I had some serious skepticism in the beginning as a friend of mine was involved and the TM set up some red flags for me. When I met her teacher I was impressed by her directness, open attitude and embodiment as a human. So I went to one of the sits to check it out. Taught me a lesson in jumping to conclusions about what people post on their website...and what it is in real life to practice with those same folks. Apparently the TM is because people pop up with traditions/lineages a lot and it was aimed at 'protecting' the structure and technique from people who might want to abuse it for financial gain or wrongly/incorrectly claim and transmit the thing...?
The psychological language and the daily service we did seemed a little bit of this and a little bit of that to me...but was overall thoughtful, meaningful and not too dramatically out of line with more traditional Japanese flavor Zen. Maybe just a more casual and relaxed atmosphere with some eclectic additions. It was interesting to sit with other people from a different tradition and see what spoke to them as a personal and group practice. Wasn't my jam at all in the end...but I suppose that is why there are 84,000 doors to the dharma.
Your post is a perfect example of the issues of (so-called) modernising and selling Buddhism/Dharma.
You do a good job of selling the model, but your post contains quite a few factual errors that anyone reasonably familiar with Buddhist practice
would immediately see:
1. You say there is "an emphasis on 'embodying the experience' in daily life rather than deifying/worshiping Buddha/Dharma"
There is no practice center of a genuine nature which emphasises deifying Buddha/Dharma - as opposed to Buddhist practice. Refer Dzgochen, refer Zen, refer Thai Forest Theravadan, refer Ch'an: all good teachers emphasise and know that the path of Buddha IS a path of practice - not of deification or worship.
This is a most basic and obvious premise - and the Buddha's teachings are themself based on 4NT/Eightfold - a path of action and life.
Therefore, your representation is not only misleading: but it is false and poorly informed. Please try not to do that again.
2. You then say "maybe appealing to certain types of western raised people looking more for a philosophy or method of awakening than a religion?"
Again, read any Buddhist book, any practice book and you will know that everyone knows that Dharma practice is not just a philosophy - that is for scholars. It is by nature, by the foundation of its roots - a path of awakening, of genuine liberation and practice.
Therefore, again, a sly but unfortunate misrepresentation of the Buddha Dharma.
Read "What the Buddha taught" by Rev Walpola Rahula. Read the Lankavatara Sutra, the Diamond Sutra, the Heart Sutra - these are all practice guides laid down by the Awakened Buddhas themselves. Awakening and insight is one of our foremost goals -- so again, very unfortunately, you attempt to misinform the still unknowing audiences.
Additionally, the proof is always in the pudding, and never in snake oil salesmen techniques and commerce.
3. You then say "Basically some honest folks figuring it out together as best they can?"
And you seem to claim that you could gauge the honesty and decency of the owner and group from a half day sit - wow! Even Lord Buddha taught: let the Dharma be your guide, test the teachings for yourself until you know.
4. Finally, you also comment: "Whether this new take on Rinzai will be enduring is hard to say but what tradition and form has been truly forever?"
You make a good attempt I guess - in your own way - to suggest that this is just plain ol' Rinzai Buddhism in a "new tradition and form". But no, that is wrong. This is not a new take. This is a commercialised package aimed to deliver people into the realms of a distorted framework - and all good practitioners know the TRUE jewel, the TRUE gem of Buddha-Dharma is not contained in the form - but in its very essence in any case. Therefore there is no "new take on Rinzai". Rinzai Buddhist teachings have been established for many thousands of years and the practices and formats have been honed, presented, and very fortunately for us, been demonstrated by many enlightened Ones of these last centuries and more.
And in THAT truth of the teaching, there is NO fudging. All the sales mastery of the world can attract the ignorant, the naive and the unfortunate, with a lot of money perhaps, but it will never replace the genuine joy, liberation, release and knowing of the Buddhas, of the Buddha-Dharma's deepest practices.
Your post is so well cloaked that it reminds me of some of the Tripadvisor forum posts I have read about great new hotels.
My advice for any person genuinely interested in Buddha-Dharma is - stay away. There are enough good institutions and lineages/guides in this world for you to have a real shot at Buddhism.
This Mondo (TM) etc model is not a new invention and it will not be the first time people try to make business models out of Buddhism, or claim authenticity, and/or "innovation" where there is none. I would enourage you to not be attached to such groups, because once in, and without exposure to genuine Buddhist practices and insights, it can be hard to separate truth from fiction.
"Lance's" incidental post also speaks volumes IMO.