Do these largely rare cases among a handful of Buddhist monks mean that there is some systemic problem with ethics in Theradan, Tibetan, Taiwanese and other Buddhism? Of course not, and at least, no more than it would mean so in the American Zen world or Japanese Buddhism in general.
School shootings are also rare things, and it's not every day you find a dictator as the head of the state. Since we live outside of a war zone rape and murder are uncommon things too. Does low frequency mean there's nothing to worry about, nothing to watch out for? Also, the number of reported cases don't tell us the number of unknown issues, but it shows that people can get away with these things for decades, and it takes lot of effort for students to uncover the abuses to the public.
Of course, even one single victim is tragic. Of course, we need reasonable preventative policies. However, yes, I am saying that a rare danger is not much of a danger.
Your school shooting example demonstrates this. Yes, even one child is tragic, but the number of students in public schools (elementary through high school) in the US in this current school year is approximately 50 MILLION. Including Sandy Hook, less than 30 students died in school shootings in 2012 (about 270 total in the last 30 years). That leaves almost 49.9997 million who went to school safely, and received no news coverage for doing so. Yes, the chance of a child being killed in a school shooting is virtually non-existent statistically ... until CNN and FOX run there with 24 hour coverage, and you would think our schools are under siege!http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_ ... 0_map.html
There were two teachers out of hundreds over the last 50 years of Zen history in North America who engaged in predatory sexual harassment (I think we need to separate out true predatory behavior from cases where people just got into an affair with someone they should not have). However, even including all of it, it is extremely, statistically rare. Thus, there is no significant moral crisis among Zen teachers.
As in another thread this week, I must reject the argument that absence of reports is suspicious, or that absence of evidence is evidence of some hidden wrongdoing. In the case of Sasaki and Shimano in fact, there were reports of repeated abuses for decades. The problem is that nobody acted upon them, leaving it to each Sangha to clean its own house (something that is unlikely to be so easy to pull off in the future). In this day and age of internet, google and better communication among Zen people, it would be even harder to keep rumors and information from spreading. You cannot keep things as hidden any more.
Surprisingly, the ability to "keep things hidden" may be more prevalent outside the Western Zen world now, in other kinds of Buddhism in America and Asia. Why? As the Sasaki case shows, a lot of Zen people in America are happy to blow any whistles and start publicizing dirt. In contrast, many more traditional, conservative, closed, self-protective communities might be the ones to keep this kind of thing hidden. The Chicago Tribune report gives one example regarding American Theravadan culture. Notice that some of theses cases, by the way, involve sex with pre-teen minors which has not happened even in the worst cases of Sasaki and Shimano:
A Tribune review of sexual abuse cases involving several Theravada Buddhist temples found minimal accountability and lax oversight of monks accused of preying on vulnerable targets.http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011 ... ul-numrich
Because they answer to no outside ecclesiastical authority, the temples respond to allegations as they see fit. And because the monks are viewed as free agents, temples claim to have no way of controlling what they do next. Those found guilty of wrongdoing can pack a bag and move to another temple — much to the dismay of victims, law enforcement and other monks.
"You'd think they'd want to make sure these guys are not out there trying to get into other temples," said Rishi Agrawal, the attorney for a victim of a west suburban monk convicted of battery for sexual contact last fall. "What is the institutional approach here? It seems to be ignorance and inaction."
But as that same report states, and as applies in the Zen world too:
Paul Numrich, an expert on Theravada temples in the United States, said that like clergy abuse in other religious organizations, sex offenses are especially egregious because monks are supposed to live up to a higher spiritual calling. The monks take a vow of celibacy.
But he cautioned against any sweeping generalizations.
"I'm sure most of the monks are living up to their calling," said Numrich, a professor at the Theological Consortium of Greater Columbus, Ohio.
Today, some people in Russia were hit by a meteorite. I am not going to start worrying about meteorites.