Dennis Genpo Merzel disrobes as a Zen priest

Re: Dennis Genpo Merzel disrobes as a Zen priest

Postby Astus » Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:16 am

There is another point that should be considered. That is when the teaching is more important than the teacher. Sheng-yen says in "Zen Wisdom":

"The most important thing in recognizing masters is to be able to judge whether they have a correct view of Buddhadharma. If their views of the Dharma are correct, then even if their behavior reveals some weaknesses, they should not be considered false masters. On the other hand, if teachers do not have a correct view of the Dharma, they cannot be considered authentic or virtuous masters. ... These, then, are the marks of virtuous masters: they have a correct view of the Dharma, their actions reveal no attachment and they have a clear sense of responsibility."
"It's not serious if masters sometimes demonstrate some bad habits, as long as they are aware of their actions. After all, they are still ordinary sentient beings. But if a master were to say, "This is the way of a Ch'an master," or, "I'm a bodhisattva, so I can act this way in order to help others, but you as ordinary people should not imitate me," then that's a different story. That's a sign of a bad master."


And that's where Brad Warner - who obviously doesn't agree with "Big Mind" at all - was pointing to in this case.
"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)

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True Buddha can’t be found.
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Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Dennis Genpo Merzel disrobes as a Zen priest

Postby shel » Sat Feb 19, 2011 6:11 am

mr. gordo wrote:Hi Yeshe,

Merzel admitted to a multiyear affair with KC “Kyozen Sato” Gerpheide one of his students and successors during his annual retreat in Ameland, Holland. During the time in question Gerpheide received Dharma Transmission in the Soto Zen lineage from Merzel. Merzel and his current wife Stephanie Young Merzel are separated and seeking divorce.

I didn't know Dharma Transmission include bodily fluids.
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Re: Dennis Genpo Merzel disrobes as a Zen priest

Postby annmarie » Sun Feb 20, 2011 6:09 pm

The thing I find most disturbing about this situation is the lying, a Zen priest lying to his wife about their marriage is lying to her about the circumstances of her very life. At the same time that he was supposedly trying to lead his students in seeing life as it truly is, to his wife he did the opposite. She was living a life that did not really exist, and his own life was not what it seemed -- he was not a loving, faithful husband, and an honest, not hypocritical teacher. All along, he was philandering. I heard rumors of this kind about him for the 20 years that I trained with my teacher, and of course, he was not the only teacher with sexual acting out, dishonesty and infidelity issues. I do not think that we need to legislate monogamy here. If a spouse agrees, then an open marriage is fine. But the spouse seldom is even informed. Morality does need to be enforced among priests. One of the gifts my teacher gave me, an attractive woman, was never to hit on me, or any other woman in the sangha. He had a relationship and he honored it, and us. That was Daido Loori, roshi, also a successor of Maezumi roshi and dharma brother to Genpo. I am once again filled with gratitude for his teaching.
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Re: Dennis Genpo Merzel disrobes as a Zen priest

Postby Astus » Sun Feb 20, 2011 11:55 pm

Morality does need to be enforced among priests.


Well, it is possible when there are monks living in a community and any immoral act has consequences there. But when priests live on their own and are financially independent such forcing is not possible except by the law of the state. Also, there's hardly any special moral code upheld by such priesthood generally. No community, no leadership, no control. Monastic communities are quite different from that, especially when they're dependent on lay support so a good reputation is crucial.
"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)

“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; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: Dennis Genpo Merzel disrobes as a Zen priest

Postby Indrajala » Mon Feb 21, 2011 5:52 am

Jikan wrote:Assume that some Buddhist teachers in North America & Europe, the global north broadly speaking, will be involved in conjugal relationships. Is it fair to assume that all those relationships will conform to the rather rigid confines of "traditional" monogamy? :shrug: I'm of the view that Buddhism has more to teach Madame Bovary than the reverse. [that is, even though many monogomous relationships find ways to work, some are simply not workable at all and create more hardship than bodhicitta.]



That's why traditionally in most cultures Buddhist teachers were unmarried, in robes and celibate. There are exceptions to this in history of course, but in general celibacy and dharma teaching have gone hand in hand. In some places even today a married dharma teacher would be met with hesitation and doubt. Particularly in Theravada communities the idea of a married teacher speaking of renunciation and release from desire would be seen as a contradictory.

There is of course good reasoning for such a perception.



This is not to excuse dishonesty or endorse uses of sexuality that are harmful to others. I'd rather learn from an honest polyamor, that is, someone who just comes out and says "Hi there, I'm Jane Doe Roshi and I'm happily in an open marriage" or "I'm involved with multiple partners" than someone who, for whatever reason, is put in the position of being dishonest and hurting people while pretending to lead an Honest Life.


I'd personally prefer to follow a renunciate who practices brahmacarya and has done so for many years.




Celibacy is one solution, and for many it's a great solution. It won't be the solution for all teachers or all traditions, however, and this is why this question of nonharming in the realm of sexuality will come up again and again and again in a sex-obsessed culture like ours in North America. This is what I'd like to get at, what I'd like to provoke.




The same sex obsessed culture can be found in Taiwan where Buddhism is nevertheless quite strong. In Chinese culture business nowadays is done with alcohol and prostitution. At the dollar store you can find sex toys for sale, too. Still, in the Buddhism of Taiwan you find traditional monastic lifestyles which include strict celibacy. Masturbation is likewise unacceptable.

If Buddhists in the west want Buddhism to take root and actually thrive, we'll need actual monasticism. You can't have monastics with spouses or sex friends.


However, the lot of folks want their Buddhism sans the disagreeable elements like overcoming sensory desires.
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Re: Dennis Genpo Merzel disrobes as a Zen priest

Postby Indrajala » Mon Feb 21, 2011 6:07 am

Anders Honore wrote:In fact, I dare say much of the fault lies in the surrounding community and they way they are set up. Their own teachers failed to excommunicate them and/or gave them Dharma transmission prematurely and the communities they were embedded in did not have solid enough preceptory foundations to simply have them disrobed. The problem is larger than simply two people acting immorally. There is a larger issue of them having arrived in the positions they did when they were evidently not properly qualified and there being a lack of a wider community capable of adressing their transgressions when they first started happening.


Maybe the problem is that no rules for the clergy are in place.

I mean in communities where the Vinaya is observed, it isn't just the monks and nuns who know it, but the laity know enough to know when monastics are breaking the rules.

You just don't have the same problems in Asia, with the exception of Japan, where the rules are laid out and a strict system of quality control is in place. Both the monastics and the laity know the house rules and in general they're followed. If they're not, then appropriate measures are taken.

What I see happening in American Zen especially is a buffet table where people pick and chose what they like according to shifting tastes without any regard for what the Buddha actually taught. They like that one famous like from the Pali Canon about not taking things on faith or tradition, but they ignore the teachings on restraining one's lust and greed. I mean, $50,000 for a session of "Big Mind"? How do people even fall for such nonsense? That isn't Buddhism.

If half these self-proclaimed Roshis actually read a sutra, they would know one of the key teachings of the Buddha was his discipline.
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Re: Dennis Genpo Merzel disrobes as a Zen priest

Postby Jikan » Mon Feb 21, 2011 3:18 pm

Here are an interesting set of perspectives on the Merzel situation, from a community that has had its share of concerns over sex & the practice of the precepts.

http://obcconnect.forumotion.net/t205-l ... ster-story

I'm increasingly interested in the terms by which this debate has been framed. In the end, it's a matter of honesty: honesty in practice, in public, and without compromise in all aspects of our lives. Honesty is difficult practice, but IMO it's a fine antidote to spiritual materialism (you can't play a role or perform the part of the Big Mind Master and market yourself as such if you refuse to play the charade). FWIW.
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Re: Dennis Genpo Merzel disrobes as a Zen priest

Postby ground » Mon Feb 21, 2011 3:49 pm

Jikan wrote:Honesty is difficult practice, but IMO it's a fine antidote to spiritual materialism


And there is a reason why the vinaya has been invented by the Buddha.


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Re: Dennis Genpo Merzel disrobes as a Zen priest

Postby Heruka » Tue Feb 22, 2011 4:14 am

i think the problem rests with religion, i think if it ditched the dogma that all are born imperfect and only through a priest caste, the keepers of secrets,that only through them is one commanded to be pure enough to commune with its central godhead, either a perfect buddha or a transcedental universal god. abuse will always be present with such a position of control and command.

the guy cheated on his wife.

he apologized, shes divorcing him.

just more damage done in the name of...
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Re: Dennis Genpo Merzel disrobes as a Zen priest

Postby Heruka » Tue Feb 22, 2011 4:16 am

putting on robes or taking them off is not the issue. clothes do not make the man.
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Re: Dennis Genpo Merzel disrobes as a Zen priest

Postby kirtu » Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:04 pm

Heruka wrote:i think the problem rests with religion, i think if it ditched the dogma that all are born imperfect and only through a priest caste, the keepers of secrets,that only through them is one commanded to be pure enough to commune with its central godhead, either a perfect buddha or a transcedental universal god. abuse will always be present with such a position of control and command.


Well Buddhism does not assert that. Laypeople (celibate or not) can be teachers and can become enlightened.

There have actually been celibate laypeople for life such as Chandragomin (the gomin indicates a layperson who is celibate for life*) although I have never heard of this in the context of East Asian Buddhism (although some notables come to mind - Honen and Shinran were both married wern't they but didn't one or both of them live a celibate life?). In Tibetan Buddhism an option of a lifelong celibate lay practitioner is explicitly mentioned when discussing personal liberation vows (my Sakya lama has mentioned it several times) and in Jamgon Kongtrul's "Buddhist Ethics" he adds a brief explanation of these vows which are just a life long observance of the sojong vows (the Eight Mahayana Vows). The Tibetan Buddhist precept lineage is from the Mulasarvastidavin tradition so perhaps this doesn't exist in the Dharmagupta lineages although it might exist in the Theravadin lineage.

Since all the Zen schools derive from Tendai perhaps this teaching might be found in Tendai history (but more likely not since Saicho preferred the Bodhisattva Vows over the Vinaya).

Kirt

* from "Buddhist Ethics", The Vows of Personal Liberation Chapter, Purifactory Fast Precepts section, page 100:
The person who observes a life-long purifactory fast is known as a "venerable (gomi) lay practitioner".


The text goes on to say that Vasubandhu comments that the practice stems from the oral teachings of the Sthavira (the Sthavira's were the origin of all the 14 or so schools of the Individual Liberation branch of which the Theravada is the only surviving branch) but doesn't appear to be taught by the Buddha himself.
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Re: Dennis Genpo Merzel disrobes as a Zen priest

Postby Jikan » Tue Feb 22, 2011 4:31 pm

To Kirt's point:

Prior to the Meiji period, Tendai priests were understood to be celibate. That was the interpretation of the bodhisattva vows of that time.

However, there is an antinomian or anarchistic (lacking the best adjective here) tendency in T'ien-T'ai doctrine, which one might say establishes the tone for certain rhetorical gestures in Ch'an and elsewhere (the Shout of Lin Chi...). Since this is a bit tangential, I'll summarize an example: the poison of passion is understood to be identical to enlightenment in the highest teaching. Taken out of the context of Right View or the integral whole of Chih-i's presentation of the Middle Way, this could lead one to conclude you might as well take to the path of dissipation and dishonesty.

Again, if these controversies were just about sexuality, there would be very little if any basis for concern. It's possible to attain the path when celibate or not. The problem is dishonesty in practice and in speech, public and private dishonesty, in this instance about sex and by extension the maintenance of the "Sage on the Stage" marketing strategy for Big Mind (tm) consciousness-enhancement products.
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Re: Dennis Genpo Merzel disrobes as a Zen priest

Postby Mr. G » Fri Apr 01, 2011 9:17 pm

Dennis Genpo Merzel to continue to teach with new title: Zen Master

http://www.kanzeonzencenter.org/changes/

Kanzeon Zen Center is currently undergoing a major transition. As previously announced, Genpo Roshi has retired as a Buddhist Priest but will continue as a Zen Master to teach and lead retreats, at the Bear Trap Lodge when in Salt Lake City and elsewhere including Hawaii.

The Kanzeon Board has made a painstaking analysis of Kanzeon’s financial situation and concluded that Kanzeon cannot continue to operate as it has for the past several years. The reality is that the Center has been largely supported by Genpo Roshi’s teaching and Big Mind work. Generous donations to Big Mind, Inc., a separate non-profit corporation, have enabled Roshi to support Kanzeon’s full-time staff and its Salt Lake City properties, and to continue supporting residents, extending scholarships, and allowing free and partial tuition to all who could not attend at full price. During this time membership dues and income from programs has covered only a small fraction of Kanzeon’s overhead, while additional donations and contributions from local members of the Center have been minimal.

Since some Kanzeon members and others outside the Kanzeon community have objected to Genpo Roshi’s continuing to teach at the Center, and income from Big Mind has also decreased, and even though he is donating the proceeds from events outside the Center to Kanzeon, he is no longer able to support it to the extent that he has in the past. As a result, the Board has regretfully concluded that in order to survive Kanzeon must sell off its properties in Salt Lake City.

The sale will also allow Kanzeon to pay off its obligations and sustain its existence, with Genpo Roshi continuing as its Abbot, outside Salt Lake City at Solitude in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Genpo Roshi will continue to teach all those who wish to study from him. This year he will be in residence at Solitude from early April through September. In addition to Big Mind Conferences and Retreats, he will be available to Kanzeon members for small group teachings. When not in Utah, he will be teaching and leading trainings and retreats throughout the world, including on the island of Maui, Hawaii.



Oh Come On: Genpo Merzel begins teaching about one month after disrobing

http://sweepingzen.com/2011/03/29/oh-co ... disrobing/
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Re: Dennis Genpo Merzel disrobes as a Zen priest

Postby Astus » Fri Apr 01, 2011 10:44 pm

Since Western Zen doesn't address all the emotional and communal aspects present thus generating cults and gurus again and again there can hardly be any rules laid down - especially in a not institutionalised and individualistic environment - that will force the necessary changes. Meditation clubs are not temples - much less monasteries - and meditation trainers are not Buddhist teachers.
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(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

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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."

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Re: Dennis Genpo Merzel disrobes as a Zen priest

Postby Mr. G » Sun Apr 24, 2011 11:54 am

http://www.shambhalasun.com/news/?p=20366

19 April, 2011

Dear Mr Merzel,

We are a group of Zen teachers, affiliated with all of the major schools of Zen in the west. We write as individuals, however, not as representatives of any group. We are deeply concerned at your apparent turning away from your own stated intention of stepping back as a teacher in order to take care of your habitual abuses of power with students and others. We are addressing this letter to you with the heartfelt wish that you read and heed our counsel. We are also sending this letter to various Dharma journals and websites because we have deep doubts that the letter will convince you and we feel that the greater sangha needs to be made aware of the problem and our views.
On the 15th of February forty-four teachers sent you a public letter, in response to your admission of serious misconduct, expressing deep concern both for you and for the sangha you serve. The letter recommended that you take a leave of absence from teaching and enter into counseling with people qualified to work with clergy sexual misconduct. We know others including close colleagues and friends offered similar counsel.

On February 6, you published a confession of unethical behavior, adultery and sexual misconduct with students. You called this statement, “Owning My Responsibility: A Personal Statement from Genpo Merzel.” In it you say you will disrobe as a priest, “as just a small part of my response.” You describe yourself as having engaged in “dishonest, hurtful behavior as well as sexual misconduct.” Earlier in the year, in at least two meetings, you acknowledged having engaged in a long affair with one of your students. You claim you will no longer give the Buddhist precepts, that you will spend the rest of your life integrating the precepts into your life and practice so as to regain “dignity and respect” and characterize yourself as having missed “the mark of being a moral and ethical person and a decent human being.” Finally, you stated that you have entered therapy and plan to continue indefinitely. A copy of the entire statement is attached to this letter.

This was not the first occasion such behaviors were revealed. Your response this time was to disrobe as a Buddhist priest and to resign from the White Plum Asanga, the only organization that may have had sway over your future actions.

We write again because you seem to have decided to ignore your own best impulses and to return to your path of denial. The page on your website that contained your statement a few short weeks ago now reads: “This page does not exist.”

On February 6, you said you would spend the rest of your life “integrating the Soto Zen Buddhist Ethics into (your) life.” Many of us read this and understood your intention was to cease representing yourself as a Zen teacher and instead to give future energy to the Big Mind project you’ve developed.

In fact, you continued to use the titles of a Zen teacher (Zen Master, Roshi) and to act in every way as a Zen teacher, just no longer as a priest or as a member of a larger Zen organization. Initially, your Kanzeon Board of Directors committed to a process of separating from your “Big Mind” organization and to bringing in new leadership for the Center. You were to take an indefinite leave from leadership at Kanzeon, of at least one year. Yet, a few weeks later, your Board at Kanzeon now says you have “retired” as a priest only and that they will sell off the assets of Kanzeon. Your Board’s statement also says that you will now teach nearby and offers your teaching to all members of Kanzeon, in the new location. The statement reads, in part, “The sale will also allow Kanzeon to pay off its obligations and sustain its existence, with Genpo Roshi continuing as its Abbot, outside Salt Lake City at Solitude in Big Cottonwood Canyon.”

We sincerely hope you will eventually find in your heart a way to genuine repentance, and out of that follow a course of remediation that may actually lead to healing. Others have acknowledged misconduct and have made appropriate amends in the past, and been rehabilitated within the mahasangha. May you be encouraged by their example?

However, at this point we see no evidence of good faith action on your part. It seems you continue to hold yourself out as a religious leader, a Zen Master and that the Kanzeon Board has turned and followed your lead. We are concerned for people who may come to you as a Zen teacher. Those among your current students who choose to continue with you have made a conscious decision, aware, we assume, of all the facts regarding your repeated history of exploitative behaviors.

Therefore, as members of the Zen teaching mahasangha deeply concerned for the wellbeing of anyone to whom you present yourself as a Zen teacher, we feel we cannot remain silent. We need to state publicly our belief that you are not acting faithfully within the bounds of our tradition. We reiterate our call for you to enter treatment with people qualified to diagnose and address your repeated unethical and exploitative behaviors. And, we call on you to honor your commitment to step aside from Kanzeon and allow a remediation process to happen there as well.

Sincerely yours,

Janet Jiryu Abels – Still Mind Zendo

Gregory Hosho Abels – Still Mind Zendo

Robert Joshin Althouse – Zen Life & Meditation Center

Eiko Joshin Carolyn Atkinson – Everyday Dharma Zen Center

Shosan Victoria Austin – San Francisco Zen Center

Chozen Bays – Great Vow Zen Monastery

Hogen Bays – Great Vow Zen Monastery

Dai-En Bennage – Mt. Equity Zendo

Mitra Bishop – Mountain Gate Temple & Hidden Valley Zen Center

Melissa Myozen Blacker – Boundless Way Zen

Tony Bland – Starkville Zen Dojo

Angie Boissevain – Floating Zendo

Ingen Kevin Breen – San Francisco Zen Center

Domyo Burk – Dharma Rain Zen Center

Tim Burkett – Minnesota Zen Meditation Center

Gyokuko Carlson – Dharma Rain Zen Center

Kyogen Carlson – Dharma Rain Zen Center

Roko Sherry Chayat – Zen Center of Syracuse

Nonin Chowaney – Nebraska Zen Center

Jissan Larry Christensen – Zen Center of Portland

Jundo Cohen – Treeleaf Zendo

Michael Taiun Elliston – Atlanta Soto Zen Center

Norman Fischer – Everyday Zen Foundation

James Ford – Boundless Way Zen

Jake Jiyu Gage – Vista Zen Center

Eshin Godfrey – Zen Centre of Vancouver

Gaelyn Godwin – Houston Zen Center

Sunyana Graef – Vermont Zen Center

Elizabeth Hamilton – Zen Center of San Diego

Zenkei Blanche Hartman – San Francisco Zen Center

Joko Dave Haselwood – Stone Creek Zen Center

Taigen Henderson – Toronto Zen Centre

Soeng. Hyang – Kwan Um School of Zen

Les Keido Kaye – Kannon Do Zen Meditation Center

Myozan Dennis Keegan – Moon Water Sangha

Daijaku Kinst – Ocean Gate Zen Center

Bodhin Kjolhehe – Rochester Zen Center

Barry Magid – The Ordinary Mind Zendo

Genjo Marinello – Dai Bai Zan Cho Bo Zen Ji

Daishin McCabe – Mt. Equity Zendo

Ejo McMullen – Eugene Zendo

Misha Merrill – Zen Heart Sangha

Mary Mocine – Vallejo Zen Center

Dosho Port – Wild Fox Zen

Susan Ji-on Postal – Empty Hand Zen Center

Byakuren Judith Ragir – Clouds in Water Zen Center

Al Fusho Rapaport – Open Mind Zen Meditation Center

Zuiko Redding – Cedar Rapids Zen Center

Lewis Richmond – The Vimala Sangha

Joan Rieck – Three Treasures Sangha of the Sandias

Diane Eshin Rizzetto – Bay Zen Center

Shinshu Roberts – Ocean Gate Zen Center

David Rynick – Boundless Way Zen

Grace Jill Schireson – Empty Nest Zendo

Yozen Peter Schneider – Beginner’s Mind Zen Center

Hozan Alan Senauke – Berkeley Zen Center

Joen Snyder O’Neal – Compassionate Ocean Dharma Center

Myogen Steve Stucky – San Francisco Zen Center

Haju Sunim – Zen Buddhist Temple, Ann Arbor

Val Meiren Szymanski – Bamboo In The Wind

Daniel Terragno – Rocks and Clouds Zendo

Katherine Thanas – Santa Cruz Zen Center

Jordan Thorn – San Francisco Zen Center

Sallie Jiko Tisdale – Dharma Rain Zen Center

Jisho Warner – Stone Creek Zen Center

Baizan Cathleen Williams – San Francisco Zen Center
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Re: Dennis Genpo Merzel disrobes as a Zen priest

Postby Mr. G » Wed Apr 27, 2011 12:58 pm

The following letter, from the Kanzeon Zen Center Board (now Big Mind Center, according to their website), was sent to Sweeping Zen last night as a response to the 66 Zen teachers who recently wrote a letter to their teacher, Dennis Merzel—who had disrobed as a Zen priest in February of 2011 due to disclosures of sexual misconduct with some students, one a dharma successor of his. I hope that publishing all of these letters is helping to bridge any dialogue gap which might exist. This story has a lot of back-story, as can be expected, but here is the latest development, unedited:

Dear Kyogen Roshi and 66 Signers of the Letter from the AZTA,

We are in receipt of your letter to Genpo Roshi sent on April 19th. Before responding to it we would like to offer some background which we believe the signers of your letter, the editors of the various Dharma journals and websites to which you sent it, and their readers should be aware of.

As you and some of the 66 Teachers may know, the Board of the White Plum Asanga has also been preparing a statement about Genpo Roshi’s actions and recent events at Kanzeon. Before issuing their statement, the President of the WPA Board, Gerry Shishin Wick Roshi, wrote Genpo Roshi of their intention and the contents of their statement. When we on the Board read his letter, we wrote to Shishin Roshi requesting the opportunity to review their statement prior to their issuing it publicly. Shishin Roshi very courteously granted our request. He also had several phone conversations with Genpo Roshi in which they discussed and clarified various issues raised by the WPA’s statement.

Read More Here...
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Re: Dennis Genpo Merzel disrobes as a Zen priest

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Apr 27, 2011 4:59 pm

Huseng wrote:
Anders Honore wrote:In fact, I dare say much of the fault lies in the surrounding community and they way they are set up. Their own teachers failed to excommunicate them and/or gave them Dharma transmission prematurely and the communities they were embedded in did not have solid enough preceptory foundations to simply have them disrobed. The problem is larger than simply two people acting immorally. There is a larger issue of them having arrived in the positions they did when they were evidently not properly qualified and there being a lack of a wider community capable of adressing their transgressions when they first started happening.


Maybe the problem is that no rules for the clergy are in place.

I mean in communities where the Vinaya is observed, it isn't just the monks and nuns who know it, but the laity know enough to know when monastics are breaking the rules.

You just don't have the same problems in Asia, with the exception of Japan, where the rules are laid out and a strict system of quality control is in place. Both the monastics and the laity know the house rules and in general they're followed. If they're not, then appropriate measures are taken.

What I see happening in American Zen especially is a buffet table where people pick and chose what they like according to shifting tastes without any regard for what the Buddha actually taught. They like that one famous like from the Pali Canon about not taking things on faith or tradition, but they ignore the teachings on restraining one's lust and greed. I mean, $50,000 for a session of "Big Mind"? How do people even fall for such nonsense? That isn't Buddhism.

If half these self-proclaimed Roshis actually read a sutra, they would know one of the key teachings of the Buddha was his discipline.

Both good postings. :good:
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Re: Dennis Genpo Merzel disrobes as a Zen priest

Postby adinatha » Wed Apr 27, 2011 6:17 pm

It's not so much the sex, it's the lying. I say if you want to screw around, tell everyone. It's a big load off and people will respect you for it, even if they think yer icky. In fact, after getting caught, I say it's better not to do an instant reformation of ways. Who's going to believe that? It's better not to lie to oneself. It would be better to go totally Charlie Sheen, move in with some hookers and screw yer brainz out until you can finally tell everyone believably, "I can't take any more of this." I prefer a crazy wisdom approach.
CAW!
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Re: Dennis Genpo Merzel disrobes as a Zen priest

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu Apr 28, 2011 5:22 am

:rolling:

As long as there is wisdom in there, not just the crazy part... :lol:
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Re: Dennis Genpo Merzel disrobes as a Zen priest

Postby Jisahn » Thu Jun 09, 2011 7:30 pm

An interesting part of this to me is how central money is to all of these difficulties. Merzel's big claim, along with all of those creepy integral people, is that "spiritual people" are deluded in their general skepticism about money ("It's just energy, people!") And yet the excuse for Merzel backing off his explicit promise to take time off from teaching and acting from any position of authority - which consensus deemed a wise course of action - is money. The Kanzeon statement defending his continuing to teach basically says it all comes down to money. And his ability to acquire the means to create this "complex of buildings" is directly related to his blindness to how his own needs (sexual and/or for control/power) should not trump the larger good of the community - as it is for all (primarily) men in power.
And this is all about power - it isn't about anyone's spiritual insight or mastery of a certain canon of teaching. Merzel abused his power - and he continues to abuse that power by not doing what he said he would. Of course people are upset to lose their teacher. Of course they don't want their sangha to collapse and lose their cherished center of practice. Merzel should have considered just these things when he illicitly slept with his students, destroying not just the trust of his immediate family, but that of this large sangha he was happy to build around himself as authority.
He can make a lot of money easily because he feels shame less acutely than some others (take the Big Mind promo stuff with Bill Harris, case in point). His ego is pathologically inflated, plain and simple. Every subsequent chapter in this story says as much. Note that every sociopath is really convincing at saying their sorry when they get caught - but their pathology is revealed when they don't follow through with promised attriition. Time and time again we see this.
It's fine to be a free agent. It's fine to play by your own rules. As long as everyone knows that is how you are playing it. Merzel and his community are being burnt by their own constructions. Not by anything imposed on them from the outside. There will be be some considerable attrition. But doubtless Merzel will justify himself in any situation he chooses to construct going forward. he's clearly a master at that if nothing else.
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