Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western Zen

Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western Zen

Postby Sara H » Fri Feb 15, 2013 9:09 am

I wanted to bring this up, because it's something I've seen a lot recently that is a disturbing trend.

I've seen a lot recently, perhaps brought up by the Sasaki thing, about the whole sexual "scandal" thing.

You know, Buddhism does not consider sex a sin.

This is a western way of thinking, left over from puritan, Catholic, and other Abrahamic religious thinking.

I'm not going to sit here and say that it's "appropriate" for a Teacher to be sleeping with his or her students or hitting on them, etc.

But I am going to say it's no more "inappropriate" than a student sleeping with or being hit on by their college professor or the student being the one making the pass.

When we talk about these "sex scandals" these are all involving consensual adults. There are no children involved here, only fully grown able adults who are legally allowed to make their own decisions and sleep with whom they please.

Now, I'm not saying that selling that as "Zen Teaching" is ok, like "here let me lift up your dress so you get enlightened", but what I am saying is that it's not the sex between adults that's the problem in these cases but the dishonesty.

We don't have any problem with teachers marrying someone in western Zen, at least most orders don't. Many Zen priests are married. How do they get that way? They were single once? Is there a problem with a Zen Teacher dating? What if they are a Polyamourous person? Some people are.

It brings up questions because when looking at these things from an ethical point of view, the question we have to ask ourselves, is, "is it the sex that's the problem, or the lying about it, or saying that the sex is a part of 'Zen Teaching'?"
If an order or Buddhist organization is not a celibate one, then what vows have they broken?

If they are adults then what crime has been committed? Not a single law.

We, especially in America, are far too prudish about sex. This extends not only to Zen, but also to everywhere else in our lives. I have friends who had trouble with CPS (Child protective services) because they are a Polyamourous household. These people love and respect each other very much, and have a loving family, but just because it's "non-traditional" they ended up getting CPS involved with one of the wives kids.

We send people to jail for consensual BDSM with their spouse's in direct-to-jail domestic abuse states, even when no abuse has taken place, and the other partner clearly says so and they wanted it, just because the neighbors may have heard the cries and called the cops.

We register teens as sex offenders and statutory rapists for engaging in normal pubescent exploratory behavior, or having consensual girlfriends and boyfriends.

And we flip out, if a non-celibate 105 year-old Japanese man, from a culture that is much more sexually liberal (they have gay and lesbian and gender-bending children's and teen's cartoons on TV there), is a horny old man.

So what?

It's not the fact that it goes on that's interesting, is the reaction to it that is of note. We're "shocked".

As if no one in the history of humans has ever had hormones before or been sexually attracted to another.

We place these Christian values, these puritanical sexual values, and mores on Buddhism and others without even thinking about it.

We just take it for granted that that's "immoral" without even bother to ask where the "morals" came from.

They came from Abrahamic religion, this is not Buddhist thought.

Buddhism does not say to be "Shocked" if someone sleeps with someone else.

We don't call it a "Crisis" or "Controversy" in Buddhism if that happens.

In other countries, if a Zen priest sleeps with someone, people shrug and say so what?
They might hope they make a happy couple, or gently tease the person for being a bit of a lover.

But they wouldn't be highly offended, unless the person was breaking a monastic vow.

What is with this puritanical behavior being applied to Zen?

As someone who was never raised as a Christian, may I ask that when you step into the Zendo, or Meditation hall, can you please leave your childhood religions of guilt, and fear, and prudishness at the door?

Perhaps some kindness and compassion for other human beings is in order. We all have experienced hormones. We don't have to feel guilty over that or judge others.

Thank you.
In Gassho,

Sara H.
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
User avatar
Sara H
 
Posts: 531
Joined: Sat Jun 23, 2012 11:51 pm
Location: On Hiatus from Dharmawheel.

Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby shaunc » Fri Feb 15, 2013 10:05 am

I'd have to agree that sex is made to big a deal of in western culture generally. You're right in the fact that most countries have laws to protect children, incest, rape, etc. I suppose it all depends on what position you're in (no pun intended) for someone like me that's married with 4 kids, it's probably best that I get a handle on it & live monogamously. For a single man or woman however it's not like that, generally speaking I'd say it's pretty much open slather. The buddha did give advice on how to conduct your sex life & basically it said to obey the laws (which I mentioned earlier) & to keep away from other mens wives & girlfriends. As far as getting concerned about what 2 consenting adults are engaging in, don't worry if me & the wife want to swing off the chandeliers in leather batman suits that's cool. (God, how do I get my wife to consent.)
With teacher/student relationships, in a buddhist/meditation class atmosphere, I don't think it would really matter that much as unlike a university type setting no one can be passed or failed (in a university they're worried about corruption, people being passed & failed depending on how accomodating to the teacher they are). I suppose there may be some exceptions to the rule, but isn't there with every rule.
shaunc
 
Posts: 307
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:10 am

Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Astus » Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:09 am

As you said, the scandal is not about sex itself, it is about abuse where a teacher lie about the nature of the relationship and with that causes harm to the person and to the sangha. A teacher marrying a student is fine, that is not about using one's higher status to cheat people into fake relationships. And it's never been about sex itself. So I find connecting the problem to some Christian puritanism is exaggerated.
"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)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4257
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Sara H » Fri Feb 15, 2013 8:31 pm

Astus wrote:As you said, the scandal is not about sex itself, it is about abuse where a teacher lie about the nature of the relationship and with that causes harm to the person and to the sangha. A teacher marrying a student is fine, that is not about using one's higher status to cheat people into fake relationships. And it's never been about sex itself. So I find connecting the problem to some Christian puritanism is exaggerated.


The thing is, the scandal is about the sex.

If the person lied about their preferences in food, nobody would care.

I think it's a bit exaggerating to use the word "abuse" in this case.

No one was "abused". People had sex or got hit on, or flirted with, or were made a pass on.

That's not "abuse". But we treat it as such in our culture. We have this tendency, especially in America, to consider any sortof unexpected sexuality, as "abuse". By default.

Since when is somebody abused by an orgasm?


In Gassho,

Sara H.
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
User avatar
Sara H
 
Posts: 531
Joined: Sat Jun 23, 2012 11:51 pm
Location: On Hiatus from Dharmawheel.

Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby dzogchungpa » Fri Feb 15, 2013 9:10 pm

So, to sum up, "Move along, nothing to see here." Got it.
ཨོཾ་ཏཱ་རེ་ཏུཏྟ་རེ་ཏུ་རེ་སྭཱཧཱ༔
User avatar
dzogchungpa
 
Posts: 2189
Joined: Sat May 28, 2011 10:50 pm

Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby shel » Fri Feb 15, 2013 10:08 pm

Sara H wrote:When we talk about these "sex scandals" these are all involving consensual adults. There are no children involved here, only fully grown able adults who are legally allowed to make their own decisions and sleep with whom they please.



Kirsten Mitsuyo Maezumi wrote:A Letter from Kirsten Mitsuyo Maezumi that was posted on Sweepingzen.com

To Whom it may Concern,

I am the eldest daughter of Maezumi Roshi and I am writing in regards to the situation involving Genpo Merzel Roshi and Kyozen sensei, former vice abbot at Kanzeon Zen Center in Salt Lake City.

First of all, it has been brought to my attention that the woman spearheading the aggressive involvement of the American Zen Teachers Association and the White Plum Sangha is Jan Chozen Bays.

This woman and Genpo were both students of my father and I remember them both well from my childhood at ZCLA.

It may or may not have been brought to your attention that Chozen had affairs with both my father and Genpo in the 70′s and 80’s.

This was not the only affair that each of these people had, but the only relevant one in regards for this letter.

The fact is, her 5 year long affair with my father, from 1978 through Dec of 1983, was what caused the separation of my parents and was the reason my mother left the Zen Center of Los Angeles with my brother and I in 1983.

She was pregnant with my little sister.

My mother felt especially betrayed by Chozen.

She says she hurt her most.

She was our pediatrician; my mother trusted her with her children and opened up to her on a personal level.

They were friends.

She was also my father’s doctor, my mother’s doctor, Genpo’s doctor and his wife Hobai. It made no difference to her that she was married and my father was married with 2 small children.

I was only 4 when we left the final time, but I remember the despair and confusion I felt at our family being torn apart.

We went to live with my grandmother, and she never forgave my father and I have spent many years deprogramming myself from the utter distrust of men that took root in this formative time of my life.

I remember my mother often crying and could feel her sense of abandonment, betrayal and loneliness.

At ZCLA there was uproar and a strong contingent that wanted my father out of the position as abbot, and another wanted him to stay.

After much ado, the vote was cast, and by the thin margin of one vote, he stayed on as Abbot and Roshi at ZCLA.

I think the validity of that decision speaks for itself.

It has taken me the last 7 years of intensive meditation and therapy to make any sense of the toll that “Zen” took on our family, and I realized that my suffering was caused by my expectation of him as a father.

He wasn’t perfect, not by a long shot, but that did not need to limit me in my life the capacity for forgiveness and understanding.

He was not a good father, or a good husband to my mother, but he was an outstanding teacher with a love for the dharma and a vision of liberation that took precedence in all he did.

As an adult, in my travels and own seeking, I hear testimonials to his awakened Buddha nature and hear and see the proof of it in the difference it has made for so many other gifted beings to step into their place as teachers and facilitators of peace and consciousness.

It is a lineage spanning continents and decades and I am very proud of him. It is the best consolation I can have; seeing and hearing his students teach. Now I see history repeating itself.

Yes. Of course what Genpo Roshi did was wrong and caused a great deal of hurt and pain to his wife Stephanie, his children and the sangha.

Does this mean as punishment he should be cast out and not allowed to teach or be recognized as a senior Zen successor?

To do this is throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Genpo Roshi is a wonderful teacher and humanitarian, and I feel that his contributions to Zen in America and the raising of consciousness now and in the future are of great importance to continue on my father’s work and his own personal vision as an American teacher of Zen.

I think to deny what he can offer in the evolution of Zen in America would be a travesty. And for me at this point in my life, I wish not to focus on the aspects that cause separation and discord, but the larger picture and really accepting and transcending the fact that we are fallible.

That we are human.

That we exist in wheels with in wheels of karma that I don’t understand, but that the ultimate lesson seems to be forgiveness.

My intention behind this letter is to express that in my experience there is a mysterious way that meditation, therapy and Zen Wisdom make sense of the dichotomies that cannot be explained by the mind, but felt with the heart.

If I can forgive Jan Bays for making a my childhood a sordid, rootless existence and shattering my sense of a father figure and family, I think the same compassion can be applied here.

Please consider an appropriate atonement.

I have no quarrel with the fact that what he did was deceitful and devastatingly hurtful to many, and but to disregard this teacher from the great lineage of Zen in North America is a mistake.

I also feel that a decision like this, based in puritanical righteousness is not Zen. There is no compassion or understanding in a verdict like this and the punishment exceeds the crime, as well as depriving the community of a valuable, gifted teacher. Personally I think this is between him and his wife. And him and his sangha.

I think they need to decide what needs to be done, but I understand this casts a shadow on our whole community and many other concerns need to be brought into
consideration.

I also would like to add that all motivations for writing this and feelings that are expressed here are my own, but that I have the full support of my mother and sister. As my father’s life mission was seeing Zen in America flourish, you can understand my concern.

I thank you for your time and consideration and for all that you are doing to perpetuate the light of this dharma torch we are passing on from generation to generation.

In Gassho,

Kirsten Mitsuyo Maezumi
shel
 
Posts: 1500
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:38 pm

Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Astus » Fri Feb 15, 2013 10:20 pm

Sara H wrote:Since when is somebody abused by an orgasm?


If all was innocent and friendly sex why are people hurt? Who would complain about pleasure?
"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)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4257
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Sara H » Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:37 pm

Astus wrote:
Sara H wrote:Since when is somebody abused by an orgasm?


If all was innocent and friendly sex why are people hurt? Who would complain about pleasure?


You're assuming somebody was hurt.

Lying, violates people's trust, and that hurts. It hurts relationships, and it hurts people's reputation and credibility.

It creates drama and mistrust in groups and between individuals.

And it distorts accuracy which makes it harder to do things.

Sex can create drama too, but that's normal between adults having sexual relationships.

As I said, it doesn't seem to be the sex that's the actual problem here, but the lying and dishonesty.

However it is the sex that people are shocked about.

That's what's interesting about this. "Sex Scandals"
Not "Lying Scandal".

It's the sex aspect that people are being sensationalist about.

In Gassho,

Sara H.
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
User avatar
Sara H
 
Posts: 531
Joined: Sat Jun 23, 2012 11:51 pm
Location: On Hiatus from Dharmawheel.

Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby shaunc » Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:41 pm

shel wrote:
Sara H wrote:When we talk about these "sex scandals" these are all involving consensual adults. There are no children involved here, only fully grown able adults who are legally allowed to make their own decisions and sleep with whom they please.



Kirsten Mitsuyo Maezumi wrote:A Letter from Kirsten Mitsuyo Maezumi that was posted on Sweepingzen.com

To Whom it may Concern,

I am the eldest daughter of Maezumi Roshi and I am writing in regards to the situation involving Genpo Merzel Roshi and Kyozen sensei, former vice abbot at Kanzeon Zen Center in Salt Lake City.

First of all, it has been brought to my attention that the woman spearheading the aggressive involvement of the American Zen Teachers Association and the White Plum Sangha is Jan Chozen Bays.

This woman and Genpo were both students of my father and I remember them both well from my childhood at ZCLA.

It may or may not have been brought to your attention that Chozen had affairs with both my father and Genpo in the 70′s and 80’s.

This was not the only affair that each of these people had, but the only relevant one in regards for this letter.

The fact is, her 5 year long affair with my father, from 1978 through Dec of 1983, was what caused the separation of my parents and was the reason my mother left the Zen Center of Los Angeles with my brother and I in 1983.

She was pregnant with my little sister.

My mother felt especially betrayed by Chozen.

She says she hurt her most.

She was our pediatrician; my mother trusted her with her children and opened up to her on a personal level.

They were friends.

She was also my father’s doctor, my mother’s doctor, Genpo’s doctor and his wife Hobai. It made no difference to her that she was married and my father was married with 2 small children.

I was only 4 when we left the final time, but I remember the despair and confusion I felt at our family being torn apart.

We went to live with my grandmother, and she never forgave my father and I have spent many years deprogramming myself from the utter distrust of men that took root in this formative time of my life.

I remember my mother often crying and could feel her sense of abandonment, betrayal and loneliness.

At ZCLA there was uproar and a strong contingent that wanted my father out of the position as abbot, and another wanted him to stay.

After much ado, the vote was cast, and by the thin margin of one vote, he stayed on as Abbot and Roshi at ZCLA.

I think the validity of that decision speaks for itself.

It has taken me the last 7 years of intensive meditation and therapy to make any sense of the toll that “Zen” took on our family, and I realized that my suffering was caused by my expectation of him as a father.

He wasn’t perfect, not by a long shot, but that did not need to limit me in my life the capacity for forgiveness and understanding.

He was not a good father, or a good husband to my mother, but he was an outstanding teacher with a love for the dharma and a vision of liberation that took precedence in all he did.

As an adult, in my travels and own seeking, I hear testimonials to his awakened Buddha nature and hear and see the proof of it in the difference it has made for so many other gifted beings to step into their place as teachers and facilitators of peace and consciousness.

It is a lineage spanning continents and decades and I am very proud of him. It is the best consolation I can have; seeing and hearing his students teach. Now I see history repeating itself.

Yes. Of course what Genpo Roshi did was wrong and caused a great deal of hurt and pain to his wife Stephanie, his children and the sangha.

Does this mean as punishment he should be cast out and not allowed to teach or be recognized as a senior Zen successor?

To do this is throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Genpo Roshi is a wonderful teacher and humanitarian, and I feel that his contributions to Zen in America and the raising of consciousness now and in the future are of great importance to continue on my father’s work and his own personal vision as an American teacher of Zen.

I think to deny what he can offer in the evolution of Zen in America would be a travesty. And for me at this point in my life, I wish not to focus on the aspects that cause separation and discord, but the larger picture and really accepting and transcending the fact that we are fallible.

That we are human.

That we exist in wheels with in wheels of karma that I don’t understand, but that the ultimate lesson seems to be forgiveness.

My intention behind this letter is to express that in my experience there is a mysterious way that meditation, therapy and Zen Wisdom make sense of the dichotomies that cannot be explained by the mind, but felt with the heart.

If I can forgive Jan Bays for making a my childhood a sordid, rootless existence and shattering my sense of a father figure and family, I think the same compassion can be applied here.

Please consider an appropriate atonement.

I have no quarrel with the fact that what he did was deceitful and devastatingly hurtful to many, and but to disregard this teacher from the great lineage of Zen in North America is a mistake.

I also feel that a decision like this, based in puritanical righteousness is not Zen. There is no compassion or understanding in a verdict like this and the punishment exceeds the crime, as well as depriving the community of a valuable, gifted teacher. Personally I think this is between him and his wife. And him and his sangha.

I think they need to decide what needs to be done, but I understand this casts a shadow on our whole community and many other concerns need to be brought into
consideration.

I also would like to add that all motivations for writing this and feelings that are expressed here are my own, but that I have the full support of my mother and sister. As my father’s life mission was seeing Zen in America flourish, you can understand my concern.

I thank you for your time and consideration and for all that you are doing to perpetuate the light of this dharma torch we are passing on from generation to generation.

In Gassho,

Kirsten Mitsuyo Maezumi


I feel quite deeply for all of the injured parties but wouldn't this have been covered by the 3rd precept, this is very basic buddhism covered by all schools & the first 5 precepts are expected to be followed by all buddhists & especially by the abbot of a temple.
shaunc
 
Posts: 307
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:10 am

Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Sara H » Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:11 am

shaunc wrote:
I feel quite deeply for all of the injured parties but wouldn't this have been covered by the 3rd precept, this is very basic buddhism covered by all schools & the first 5 precepts are expected to be followed by all buddhists & especially by the abbot of a temple.


They're not a celibate order.
And I think holding them to that standard, which them themselves do not hold is unfair.
They are not a monastic abbot. They are in essence, a Lay-priesthood, because they follow the Japanese way of doing things.

Married and non-celibate (meaning sex is on the table) Priests.

While some may disagree with that as a policy or practice, (and indeed many do, the Japanese way of doing things has been heavily criticized), the fact is having a non-celibate, non-monastic priesthood is standard fare for many Japanese linniages.

Holding them to the standard of celibate monks is neither accurate nor fair.
They are not celibate monks.

I know, I know, a lot of these groups refer to themselves as a "monastery".

That adds to the confusion when they are not monastics.

That should be taken in the context of Japanese Zen where "monasteries" are actually more like higher education centers for Lay Zen professional priests.

Being a priest in Japan is more like a job profession than being a monk.

Kirsten Maezumi pointed out what I'm seeing as well:

I also feel that a decision like this, based in puritanical righteousness is not Zen. There is no compassion or understanding in a verdict like this and the punishment exceeds the crime, as well as depriving the community of a valuable, gifted teacher. Personally I think this is between him and his wife. And him and his sangha.


Yes, that's exactly right, this is no one else's business.

It's between them.

If people are going to have non-celibate non-monastic priesthoods then this sortof thing should be considered expected now and again, as people who practice a non-celibate Zen or Buddhism are going to have sex. Including the heads of the organization.

After all, they've never claimed to be celibate.

Why are we expecting a non-celibate order to not be having sex with others?

Monogamy is one of those Christian ideas that we tend to apply without thinking about where it comes from. Some people are polyamourous, and people do get marriage problems as well.

As Kirsten Maezumi pointed out, we're all human.



In Gassho,

Sara H.
Last edited by Sara H on Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
User avatar
Sara H
 
Posts: 531
Joined: Sat Jun 23, 2012 11:51 pm
Location: On Hiatus from Dharmawheel.

Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Astus » Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:12 am

Sara H wrote:That's what's interesting about this. "Sex Scandals"
Not "Lying Scandal".

It's the sex aspect that people are being sensationalist about.


As I said before, "the scandal is not about sex itself, it is about abuse where a teacher lie about the nature of the relationship and with that causes harm to the person and to the sangha." And this is what matches the idea of "sexual misconduct", so calling it a "sex scandal" is quite appropriate. You say that the big issue for many is the sex, however, I don't see people surprised that lay Zen teachers have sex or even talk about it. Also, it wasn't simply about lying either, although in Baker's case for instance there was also money involved. So, considering the basic five precepts, the one unbroken precept not yet on the list is actual murder. And this is not about secular law but Buddhist ethics that teachers are supposed to be examples of. Since you say that sex naturally creates drama then why is it only normal in a Buddhist context that supposedly enlightened teachers fall into such a base error? The answer is that it is not normal for a Buddhist teacher, it is not acceptable but harmful for the people involved and the community in general.
"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)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4257
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby tobes » Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:20 am

Astus wrote:As you said, the scandal is not about sex itself, it is about abuse where a teacher lie about the nature of the relationship and with that causes harm to the person and to the sangha. A teacher marrying a student is fine, that is not about using one's higher status to cheat people into fake relationships. And it's never been about sex itself. So I find connecting the problem to some Christian puritanism is exaggerated.



Agree. Sara, you say "It's no worse than a college prof sleeping with his student."

That's really bad! And it has nothing to do with a hangover from Victorian era puritanism. It's just simple and basic ethics that people in positions of power ought not exploit that power for sexual gain.

I teach at university, and it's completely obvious that there is a lot of sexual attraction which is totally based on the power relationships. It is very psychoanalytic - often people are highly attracted to whoever seems to have more authority or knowledge than they.

If you're in the position where you exploit that power relation sexually, you're totally abusing the position. At best you're totally failing to see that it is not "you" that is attractive to the other person, it is your role, your authority, your position in the power dynamic. At worst, you see it clearly, but are happy to exploit it because you're either desperate for pleasure or desperate for an ego boost.

In either case, not acceptable.

How much more so for a spiritual teacher?

:anjali:
User avatar
tobes
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 1140
Joined: Fri Dec 24, 2010 5:02 am

Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Sara H » Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:29 am

Astus wrote:
Sara H wrote:That's what's interesting about this. "Sex Scandals"
Not "Lying Scandal".

It's the sex aspect that people are being sensationalist about.


As I said before, "the scandal is not about sex itself, it is about abuse where a teacher lie about the nature of the relationship and with that causes harm to the person and to the sangha." And this is what matches the idea of "sexual misconduct", so calling it a "sex scandal" is quite appropriate. You say that the big issue for many is the sex, however, I don't see people surprised that lay Zen teachers have sex or even talk about it. Also, it wasn't simply about lying either, although in Baker's case for instance there was also money involved. So, considering the basic five precepts, the one unbroken precept not yet on the list is actual murder. And this is not about secular law but Buddhist ethics that teachers are supposed to be examples of. Since you say that sex naturally creates drama then why is it only normal in a Buddhist context that supposedly enlightened teachers fall into such a base error? The answer is that it is not normal for a Buddhist teacher, it is not acceptable but harmful for the people involved and the community in general.


But it is about the sex Astus. that's what people are getting all up about.

"Sex" headlines. Another "Zen Sex Scandal".

The sex is what is shocking.
The problem is not the sex between consentual adults Astus, the problem is that people have this leftover Christian ideal that spiritual teachers should be "pure" as in "free from, or practicing renunciation from sexual desire".
That's what celibacy is, practicing refraining from and renouncing sexual desire.

That's not what they practice.

The lying, etc, those are all other things.

But it's not the lying that is creating the headlines, but the sex.

It's that three letter word that makes it interesting to read, and sensationalist.

Makes for great headlines and is "shocking".

They don't practice celibacy.

If they were, that'd be a different matter, but they arn't.

And even if they were, it's still just human error.

And even if they were having an experience of enlightenment does not mean that people are free from mistakes, or don't make them or fall to human error or human temptations.

Thats one of the biggest delusions that people hold about Zen Teachers, that they have somehow become flawless, pure, holy, un-erring human beings, free from all desires.

That's simply not true.

In Gassho,

Sara H.
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
User avatar
Sara H
 
Posts: 531
Joined: Sat Jun 23, 2012 11:51 pm
Location: On Hiatus from Dharmawheel.

Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby conebeckham » Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:36 am

I could care less about sex from a moralistic point of view. But for me, it's about power inequality. The question is whether both participants are equals. Although I agree that sex, in general, is a loaded issue in the USA, I think the real issue is whether those in a position of "less power" are being taken advantage of.....this can be very subtle, or overt.
May any merit generated by on-line discussion
Be dedicated to the Ultimate Benefit of All Sentient Beings.
User avatar
conebeckham
 
Posts: 2754
Joined: Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:49 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA, USA

Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby shel » Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:46 am

Which culture doesn't care about sex and power inequality?
shel
 
Posts: 1500
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:38 pm

Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby dzogchungpa » Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:47 am

I don't think that sex between a buddhist teacher and a student is necessarily problematic. In my view it depends on the situation, but if we are talking aboust Sasaki, it sounds like his behavior was pretty despicable.
ཨོཾ་ཏཱ་རེ་ཏུཏྟ་རེ་ཏུ་རེ་སྭཱཧཱ༔
User avatar
dzogchungpa
 
Posts: 2189
Joined: Sat May 28, 2011 10:50 pm

Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Astus » Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:51 am

Sara,

do you find that those of us discussing these matters here are falling for a common tabloid-style trick? Are there people here that say the problem is with the sex in these cases and not the power abuse? Neither Buddhism in general nor Zen in particular is popular enough to make it to the headlines of newspapers read by millions. All in all, Buddhism in the West is still a minor community made of educated middle class people mostly who don't really follow any Christian or conservative ideas but rather they tend to be quite liberal. So, let me ask you, where do you see the sort of puritan attitude towards Buddhist teachers?
"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)
User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
 
Posts: 4257
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby Sara H » Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:52 am

tobes wrote:
Astus wrote:As you said, the scandal is not about sex itself, it is about abuse where a teacher lie about the nature of the relationship and with that causes harm to the person and to the sangha. A teacher marrying a student is fine, that is not about using one's higher status to cheat people into fake relationships. And it's never been about sex itself. So I find connecting the problem to some Christian puritanism is exaggerated.



Agree. Sara, you say "It's no worse than a college prof sleeping with his student."

That's really bad! And it has nothing to do with a hangover from Victorian era puritanism. It's just simple and basic ethics that people in positions of power ought not exploit that power for sexual gain.

I teach at university, and it's completely obvious that there is a lot of sexual attraction which is totally based on the power relationships. It is very psychoanalytic - often people are highly attracted to whoever seems to have more authority or knowledge than they.

If you're in the position where you exploit that power relation sexually, you're totally abusing the position. At best you're totally failing to see that it is not "you" that is attractive to the other person, it is your role, your authority, your position in the power dynamic. At worst, you see it clearly, but are happy to exploit it because you're either desperate for pleasure or desperate for an ego boost.

In either case, not acceptable.

How much more so for a spiritual teacher?

:anjali:


No it's not. (really bad)

Having power-differential relationships is normal.

It's why people are attracted to older or younger partners.

Relationships don't have to be "equal". My relationship with my spouse is not "equal" we don't want it to be.

As the huge popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey has pointed out, people like unequal relationships.

It's attractive to people and does not necessarily mean abuse.

Not everyone wants an "equal" relationship. Some people mutually want an unequal one.

I'm not saying that's what went on in these situations, but I am debating your point about college professors.

What if a professor ends up marrying their student and they live happily ever after?

Would you call it abuse then?

There's more than one angle to this.

In Gassho,

Sara H.
"Life is full of suffering. AND Life is full of the Eternal
IT IS OUR CHOICE
We can stand in our shadow, and wallow in the darkness,
OR
We can turn around.
It is OUR choice." -Rev. Basil

" ...out of fear, even the good harm one another. " -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy
User avatar
Sara H
 
Posts: 531
Joined: Sat Jun 23, 2012 11:51 pm
Location: On Hiatus from Dharmawheel.

Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby shaunc » Sat Feb 16, 2013 1:07 am

Sara H wrote:
shaunc wrote:
I feel quite deeply for all of the injured parties but wouldn't this have been covered by the 3rd precept, this is very basic buddhism covered by all schools & the first 5 precepts are expected to be followed by all buddhists & especially by the abbot of a temple.


They're not a celibate order.
And I think holding them to that standard, which them themselves do not hold is unfair.
They are not a monastic abbot. They are in essence, a Lay-priesthood, because they follow the Japanese way of doing things.

Married and non-celibate (meaning sex is on the table) Priests.

While some may disagree with that as a policy or practice, (and indeed many do, the Japanese way of doing things has been heavily criticized), the fact is having a non-celibate, non-monastic priesthood is standard fare for many Japanese linniages.

Holding them to the standard of celibate monks is neither accurate nor fair.
They are not celibate monks.

I know, I know, a lot of these groups refer to themselves as a "monastery".

That adds to the confusion when they are not monastics.

That should be taken in the context of Japanese Zen where "monasteries" are actually more like higher education centers for Lay Zen professional priests.

Being a priest in Japan is more like a job profession than being a monk.

Kirsten Maezumi pointed out what I'm seeing as well:

I also feel that a decision like this, based in puritanical righteousness is not Zen. There is no compassion or understanding in a verdict like this and the punishment exceeds the crime, as well as depriving the community of a valuable, gifted teacher. Personally I think this is between him and his wife. And him and his sangha.


Yes, that's exactly right, this is no one else's business.

It's between them.

If people are going to have non-celibate non-monastic priesthoods then this sortof thing should be considered expected now and again, as people who practice a non-celibate Zen or Buddhism are going to have sex. Including the heads of the organization.

After all, they've never claimed to be celibate.

Why are we expecting a non-celibate order to not be having sex with others?

Monogamy is one of those Christian ideas that we tend to apply without thinking about where it comes from. Some people are polyamourous, and people do get marriage problems as well.

As Kirsten Maezumi pointed out, we're all human.



In Gassho,

Sara H.


Sara, Whether they're a celibate order or not doesn't even come into it. In the letter quoted by shel there was a married man involved with a married woman for 5 years. His or her occupation doesn't matter, whether he's a monk, a mechanic or a brain surgeon. If he's a buddhist this situation would have been covered by the 3rd precept. If this precept would have been obeyed both of these peoples familys would have been kept safe.
shaunc
 
Posts: 307
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:10 am

Re: Sex Taboo's & applying Christianized thinking in Western

Postby tobes » Sat Feb 16, 2013 1:42 am

Sara H wrote:
tobes wrote:
Astus wrote:As you said, the scandal is not about sex itself, it is about abuse where a teacher lie about the nature of the relationship and with that causes harm to the person and to the sangha. A teacher marrying a student is fine, that is not about using one's higher status to cheat people into fake relationships. And it's never been about sex itself. So I find connecting the problem to some Christian puritanism is exaggerated.



Agree. Sara, you say "It's no worse than a college prof sleeping with his student."

That's really bad! And it has nothing to do with a hangover from Victorian era puritanism. It's just simple and basic ethics that people in positions of power ought not exploit that power for sexual gain.

I teach at university, and it's completely obvious that there is a lot of sexual attraction which is totally based on the power relationships. It is very psychoanalytic - often people are highly attracted to whoever seems to have more authority or knowledge than they.

If you're in the position where you exploit that power relation sexually, you're totally abusing the position. At best you're totally failing to see that it is not "you" that is attractive to the other person, it is your role, your authority, your position in the power dynamic. At worst, you see it clearly, but are happy to exploit it because you're either desperate for pleasure or desperate for an ego boost.

In either case, not acceptable.

How much more so for a spiritual teacher?

:anjali:


No it's not. (really bad)

Having power-differential relationships is normal.

It's why people are attracted to older or younger partners.

Relationships don't have to be "equal". My relationship with my spouse is not "equal" we don't want it to be.

As the huge popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey has pointed out, people like unequal relationships.

It's attractive to people and does not necessarily mean abuse.

Not everyone wants an "equal" relationship. Some people mutually want an unequal one.

I'm not saying that's what went on in these situations, but I am debating your point about college professors.

What if a professor ends up marrying their student and they live happily ever after?

Would you call it abuse then?

There's more than one angle to this.

In Gassho,

Sara H.



I'm not denying the reality of power relationships, nor defending some conception of equality. Sexual attraction can often be about power and authority in many other contexts, and that can be okay -

It is not that uncommon that teachers and students hook up and have a wholesome relationship - be it sexual, marital or otherwise.

That's fine if they wait until their institutional conditions change (i.e. the semester ends). If they want to get to know each other outside of the dynamic of authority/no authority, and they do so, and it works: wonderful. The point is that both parties are stepping out of the context where they have particular ethical obligations beyond themselves, and beyond their desires.

It's not fine if it happens during the semester.

Surely you can see why.

Surely I do not have to explain why it is problematic for a prof to shag one of his students whilst the classes are still running?

Surely there is a non-puritanical reason why this would violate every university ethics code, and be grounds for dismissal?

:anjali:
User avatar
tobes
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 1140
Joined: Fri Dec 24, 2010 5:02 am

Next

Return to Zen

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests

>