Five Mountain Zen Order & Paul Lynch

Re: Five Mountain Zen Order & Paul Lynch

Postby Jikan » Wed Apr 11, 2012 12:26 pm

Much of this discussion and that in the Taego Order-oriented threads here at DharmaWheel seem to pit the Five Mountain Order against the Taego Order: the former as an alternative to the latter. I'm wondering what the attitude among Five Mountain folks is toward the Taego school generally; someone pointed out to me that in at least one instance, it may be possible for someone to be committed to both schools simultaneously:

Our Guiding Teacher is a Dharma Holder in the Five Mountain Zen Order as well as being a Monk in the Táego order.


this is from the webpage of a Clinton, Iowa, USA group:
http://clintonzen.weebly.com/contact.html

Who is that guiding teacher? Is it Lynch himself, or...?

More to the point, is there some kind of history between Lynch and the Taego Order that would shed some light on the discussion we've had so far?
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Re: Five Mountain Zen Order & Paul Lynch

Postby Astus » Wed Apr 11, 2012 12:54 pm

jisahn108,

OK, we can say that while Lynch believes lineage is important, he doesn't have any solid support for his claim of transmission. From this we could infer that he tries to deceive people, or he simply makes use of the lineage idea to make his teachings more attractive. The view that Lynch is suspicious or wrong is based on at least two preconceptions: lineage qualifies a teacher, and Lynch has evil intentions by creating a lineage for himself. As McRae's second Rule of Zen Studies says, “Statements of lineage identity and “history” were polemical tools of self-assertion, not critical evaluations of chronological fact”.
So if we put aside lineage as relevant and don't assume Lynch has sinister goals in being a teacher, what is left is to look at the teachings he actually spreads.
"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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Re: Five Mountain Zen Order & Paul Lynch

Postby jisahn108 » Thu Apr 12, 2012 5:31 pm

@astus: I feel like you are stuck in one position and refusing to consider points that don't support that fixed position. As I've said a few times now, Buddhist or spiritual instruction isn't simply about the words. Zen defines itself as "beyond words" right? My point is why would anyone consider someone as virtually they're most trusted advisor if that person is not mature or developed enough not to lie about their fundamental qualifications to call themselves "zen teacher"? Beyond this simple claim there is an entire "mandala" of dysfunction. So you can throw some more academic jargon at it. But real insight, call it zen or otherwise, has a literal gut aspect, and neither lynch, his heirs, or his ever changing series of orders, titles, colleges, seminaries, centers, monks or teachers seem totally digestable. Personally, he gives me dharmic heartburn.
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Re: Five Mountain Zen Order & Paul Lynch

Postby jisahn108 » Thu Apr 12, 2012 5:41 pm

@jikan: there doesn't appear to be any connection between lynch and taego. Not that he has claimed anyway. There is a guy who has apparently recently joined his "order" who is a taego monk. Keep in mind that since lynch started his order waaaay back in 2008 it's changed names once at least. His original "disciples" led by myogak foster split off recently. My guess from the patterns of behavior is that Lynch attracts people to him who are as ambitious as he is for Zen title and rank. Clearly if you join him you are a teacher, lay ordainee, or monk (not to mention "zen master" and korean zen patriarch) in matters of weeks or months, not the many years more established teachers demand.
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Re: Five Mountain Zen Order & Paul Lynch

Postby Malcolm » Thu Apr 12, 2012 6:40 pm

jisahn108 wrote:Personally, he gives me dharmic heartburn.


It is good stop eating foods that give you heartburn.

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Re: Five Mountain Zen Order & Paul Lynch

Postby Astus » Thu Apr 12, 2012 10:42 pm

Jisahn108,

Anyone can call him/herself a Zen teacher and claim whatever lineage they like. And if you say that he has lied about being an heir to this and that master, OK, that is bad. Unless, as I said before, you look at it as a skilful means to attract students to Buddhism.

"But real insight, call it zen or otherwise, has a literal gut aspect, and neither lynch, his heirs, or his ever changing series of orders, titles, colleges, seminaries, centers, monks or teachers seem totally digestable."

So what is that "real insight" you are missing?
"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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Re: Five Mountain Zen Order & Paul Lynch

Postby jisahn108 » Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:35 pm

Astus, clearly you aren't going to meet me on this. You seem to think Dharma is maybe about stringing a logical series of words together in a convincing fashion, and sort of doing what you want as long as you can convince yourself that theoretically in the end it's skillful means? This isn't about a single claim being true or not. This isn't some vague hypothetical. Again - Zen teaching primarily consists of modeled and embodied behavior, not nice words. By this measure, Paul Lynch's teaching largely consists of inflation, distortion, manipulation, disrespect, outright lying, and a total lack of integrity, at a number of levels. In other words, not very Zen at all.

Please don't bother with more theoretical possibilities or historical examples. I can do that for myself, thanks. Our takes are on the table.
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Re: Five Mountain Zen Order & Paul Lynch

Postby Malcolm » Fri Apr 13, 2012 2:09 pm

jisahn108 wrote:Astus, clearly you aren't going to meet me on this. You seem to think Dharma is maybe about stringing a logical series of words together in a convincing fashion, and sort of doing what you want as long as you can convince yourself that theoretically in the end it's skillful means? This isn't about a single claim being true or not. This isn't some vague hypothetical. Again - Zen teaching primarily consists of modeled and embodied behavior, not nice words. By this measure, Paul Lynch's teaching largely consists of inflation, distortion, manipulation, disrespect, outright lying, and a total lack of integrity, at a number of levels. In other words, not very Zen at all.

Please don't bother with more theoretical possibilities or historical examples. I can do that for myself, thanks. Our takes are on the table.



You do realize that all your complaining amounts to pissing in the wind, right? This issue is not confined to Zen/Chan/Son. Buddhism is rife with frauds, grifters and charlatons. That is just how it is. Caveat emptor. And the sad thing is that I observe that money is the thing which drives it all.
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Re: Five Mountain Zen Order & Paul Lynch

Postby Jikan » Fri Apr 13, 2012 3:28 pm

It's a lot easier for the buyer to beware when he or she is better informed of what's going on.

When does public criticism become pissing in the wind?
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Re: Five Mountain Zen Order & Paul Lynch

Postby Malcolm » Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:12 pm

Jikan wrote:It's a lot easier for the buyer to beware when he or she is better informed of what's going on.

When does public criticism become pissing in the wind?


Well, for example, when it came to attention of the world that James Foster was improperly claiming to be a Tendai Priest, did he stop? No, he just morphed into a "Zen" Preist, and now he is an Ancient Buddha.

So you see, I while I am cynical about the hucksters, snake-oil salesman and racketeers in Buddhism (both Asian and Western), my observation is that they don't stop even when called to account.

Why? Because people are free to rip other people off when it comes to Religion. Religious careers are the sole occupation one can follow where there are no true standards, where one is free to bilk people for millions if one can get away with it. Religion requires very little capital startup, almost no training at all, and a reasonably articulate and amoral person or otherwise self-deluded person, can get people to go along with one's spiel and charge them good money for it.

So this is why it is just pissing in the wind.
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Re: Five Mountain Zen Order & Paul Lynch

Postby MuMun » Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:04 pm

Jikan wrote: Lynch himself was given inka by one of Sahn Sunim's students, Ji Bong (Robert Moore). I'd like to know what relation obtains between Five Mountain and Lynch and the other schools in Sahn Sunim's transmission (Kwan Um, Golden Wind...). And Moore Sunim in particular. Does Lynch's teacher teach Five Mountain ordinands, for instance?


The three organizations -- Kwan Um, Golden Wind, and Five Mountain -- are distinct schools with their own teachers and teaching style. Teachers in one generally do not teach within the other organizations, so as to be consistent in their respective styles, but there are long-standing friendships among individuals in these schools. It was in 2005, I believe, that Ji Bong Soen Sa announced his decision to teach independently of the Kwan Um organization and start his own school, Golden Wind. Paul Lynch followed his teacher to this new school and received inka in 2006. I do not know facts about what happened after that, why Paul left, or any of that. (Once Paul got busy with Golden Wind, he and I weren't in touch as often anymore.)

I can also make a clarifying comment about inka and dharma transmission within the Kwan Um organization, as there seem to be questions about that. Of course, I cannot speak for Golden Wind or Five Mountain, as I don't have intimate knowledge about these organizations. Within KUSZ, dharma transmission comes in two stages. The first stage is "inka," in which a student is tested privately and publicly, and if they pass they are authorized as "Ji Do Poep Sa." A JDPS is authorized to teach koans, serve as guiding teachers of zen centers, and they can give Buddhist precepts. They also become trustees of the school. There are a few limits on what they can do. For instance, they don't give inka or dharma transmission. (They can recommend it but they can't perform the ceremony.) They don't have "dharma successors." Zen Master Seung Sahn spoke about this as far back as 1992, when he gave dharma transmission for the first time. He spoke of the JDPS as an authorized teacher confirmed by five other teachers, but not yet "independent" (to use his word) until the second stage, dharma transmission. He set out several prerequisites for this stage. After dharma transmission, the student is called "zen master" and can continue teaching in the school or form their organization. (As an example, Robert Moore received inka from Seung Sahn in 1985; full dharma transmission took place in 1997, twelve years later.) This conception of "inka" is different than in other schools, and confusion can result from differing definitions and expectations.

But care should be taken before applying that definition to Golden Wind or Five Mountain. Their inka certifications could convey entirely different authority and expectations. I really don't know. But that's how Kwan Um does it.
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Re: Five Mountain Zen Order & Paul Lynch

Postby jisahn108 » Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:54 am

Mumun states:
But care should be taken before applying that definition to Golden Wind or Five Mountain. Their inka certifications could convey entirely different authority and expectations.


Thanks for clarifying further these standards for Kwan Um. As a former student of Seung Sahn and Kwan Um, I can vouch for them generally. The point is that Jibong split and started his own school, but with no discernible change in any structure or terminology. Most here are probably aware of the letter (widely posted online) from 2008 allegedly from Jibong Moore saying that Lynch had received 'inka', and that this inka was NOT Dharma transmission, that Lynch was just a JDPSN, and that his teaching privileges in that capacity under Moore had been revoked and no one should consider him authorized by him whatsoever going forward. In other words, totally in line with Kwan Um, and Seung Shan's standards.

Lynch claims that Moore didn't write this, but that "a senior student" of Moore wrote this - but it makes no difference, it's just so much squid ink, because Lynch doesn't deny the central claims. He acknowledges that there was some sort of schism, but says its "private" and only his "students" are privileged to it. Adam Tebbe from Sweeping Zen says that Lynch possesses some letter promising some future final transmission; not only is this odd, but its irrelevant. That's why there are two stages to full transmission. Stuff comes up in the process - karma ripens. Maybe you need more time to be ready, or the teacher sees a change of course in your training. That is the teacher's call.

So Lynch says he plays fully and totally by the rules of the Seung Sahn game of zen. This is how he markets himself, this is how he authorizes himself, this is how he in every instance defines himself. It is exactly his failure to maintain the integrity of his own stated criteria that makes him so questionable. He clearly got itchy to be one of the "great masters" he's spent a lifetime idealizing, and couldn't wait to do it properly, so he just went ahead anyway. He cold just say that "I was ready, authorization be damned" - but he doesn't. He explicitly says that the 2006 "inka/inga/in'ga" that he received from Jibong was "Dharma transmission" that authorized him to transmit to others, and everything else. This is quite simply a lie. Further, he's dubbed himself alternately "sensei" (despite zero authorization or real study in any Japanese tradition) and "Chanshi" (Chan master), despite no claimed Chan study or teacher or lineage.

Still further, he claimed in dozens of online listings that he was "engaged in advanced koan studies with James Ford Roshi, heir of John Tarrant, who was the first Dharma heir of Robert Aitken Roshi, in the Harada-Yasutani tradition of Japanese Zen." Not only is this weirdly inflated, name dropping two famous teachers he's never actually studied with or possibly even met, James Ford said that this wasn't true. They met a couple times, but were nothing more than acquaintances. Lynch has lately stopped making this claim. When someone asked him on Facebook why he ever made this claim, Lynch said "I never said that" - maybe not realizing there are still at least 20 places that claim still exists online. So, another proven lie.

It goes on from there. More lies, more inflation etc... :juggling:
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Re: Five Mountain Zen Order & Paul Lynch

Postby MuMun » Sat Apr 14, 2012 2:02 am

jisahn108 wrote: Most here are probably aware of the letter (widely posted online) from 2008...


Was this posted anywhere officially with authorship clearly stated? The only distribution I saw for this letter was as comments posted anonymously on various blogs. It was posted as an anonymous comment even on my zen center's blog, which I did not appreciate. It wasn't relevant to my zen center, nor to the post where it was tagged as a comment, and it was anonymous. I deleted accordingly.

If I assume the letter is genuine, I wonder why it wasn't posted as an announcement on Golden Wind's web site or as a press release to Buddhist media online -- including Sweeping Zen. Distributing an announcement like this in the form of anonymous blog comments is a fishy way to spread information. And if I were the target of something like that, distributed in that kind of fishy way by an anonymous party, I might not feel compelled to respond to the individual charges within the letter either.

There is a valid public interest in disseminating information about fraud and chicanery in the zen world. Astus isn't wrong when he suggests anybody can hang their shingle as a zen teacher and there is no "Zenican" or "Zenitburo" to silence them. Sure, I look at lineage -- I don't take it too literally, but it is of some relevance who they practiced with and who authorized them. newcomers deserve good information and would be well advised, especially if they are beginners, to do internet searches on organizations and teachers to see if any red flags come up. But the "anonymous blog comment" route is not the most upright way to communicate a valid warning.

Now, maybe this letter was posted somewhere with its authorship clearly attributed; but I haven't found it. Links would be greatly appreciated. "Right Speech" for the internet era, you know?

If this letter was *not* written by Ji Bong, but by someone with the intention of informing the public about a problem with this teacher, why not set up a web page? This can be done for free. Set up a blogger page or a webs.com free site. A very famous example is the Shimano Archive set up to document the allegations against Eido Roshi.

Knowing nothing about Five Mountain or what Paul is up to, I went to their website and read bios and pages there. I have questions. I also have questions about this letter and its source and why it was disseminated that way.
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Re: Five Mountain Zen Order & Paul Lynch

Postby jisahn108 » Sat Apr 14, 2012 5:36 am

This seems very generous on your part - I think overly generous, in light of the extensive pattern of questionable activity around Lynch, and his heirs, so-called. Especially since you are the one clarifying 'inka' here, and Lynch is the one lying about his. The thing with the letter, well, one, it has something of a ring of truth about it. It is written to the Golden Wind sangha, probably not as an email but as a letter, and posted later on line by someone in that group. The alleged author, Moore, is a teacher who has no online presence himself. Doesn't seem to be his bag. He's been asked about the letter for years now, this scuttlebutt has been circulating widely, and Moore has never made a single statement supporting Lynch. That is highly suspicious.

And two, if Lynch or his students simply came out and said "no, here, all is well, that is just come cuckoo making stuff up", fine. Done. Sue for libel. Thing is, they don't do that. Lynch vaguely says instead, amidst feints and darts and deflections, 'this is a private matter. The letter is written by someone close to Jibong; something indeed happened, and I don't really dispute the actual contents of the letter, and no, I don't talk to my teacher anymore, but I have my side, that I only talk about to those who are already on board my Zen train.' That is just absurd, and totally suspect. Run, don't walk, to the nearest exit.

Now, Adam at Sweeping Zen says he's contacted Golden Wind, and a JDPSN there says Jibong doesn't want to get into it, because he's ill and its disturbing. Not a real confidence builder there.

And then you have Lynch caught in a number of outright lies, in addition to the general pattern of inflation he seems more than prone to. In thrall of, more like. What is that term, "archetype possession" or something?

Adam says now he is going to conduct a podcast interview with Lynch, and will try to get clarification from Jibong. Considering Lynch and now Foster both say they are his heirs, that might be advisable. Teachers are extremely invested in legacies of this kind, some more than others. The interview would promise to be illuminating, save for Lynch and Tebbe being long time buddies, and the fact that Lynch contributes funds and content to Sweeping Zen. So I don't hold out hope for a very hard hitting expose - but since Lynch can't seem not to just reveal the truth despite himself, it should still be informative.
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Re: Five Mountain Zen Order & Paul Lynch

Postby MuMun » Sat Apr 14, 2012 2:46 pm

It's more about going slowly. The main players here are people I have known personally, and I care about them. I do have questions and I can imagine answers but I have very little information about this matter apart from an unsourced letter that was spammed in blog sections as its main method of distribution -- that smells funny to me, and in any case it stands unverified. More questions than answers. Whether JiBong is an internet whiz or not is secondary: presumably he does not personally manage his web site, and others in his organization do. How hard would it be to post this as an announcement on that site so that the announcement was clear? How hard it would be to distribute a press release to Buddhadharma and Tricycle? If this actually comes from JiBong, it is a bewildering way to disseminate the warning. It looks like an anonymous whisper campaign, and likely has been widely dismissed as such because of the way it was distributed.

When I worked in California, I ran our Kwan Um center in L.A. and had interactions with JiBong's center in Long Beach. This was during the years leading up to the creation of Golden Wind. Ji Bong does, in fact, have recurring health problems and this was often cited as a reason for slow communications. It seems to me, not that my opinion matters to anyone involved, that Ji Bong could delegate a spokesperson to issue important announcements -- and this would surely qualify. Just have Jeff or Tim relate Ji Bong's statement and be done with it. Back to practice!

I agree the rebuttal from FM is problematic. Their position seems to be, "This was written by a student and not Moore himself," taking time to allude to "private matters" but also not denying anything or clarifying what kind of teaching authorization he has received from JiBong. It sounds like something happened and neither party is talking about it. (But then, again, why circulate a weird anonymous letter and not confirm its authorship? Why not say, "Yes, that statement was from Ji Bong and we have no further comment?" It's just so strange.) And they don't have to, really. Just enough has been communicated to prompt questions, but no further communication after that. Weird all around.

I also agree with you that if I am in someone's dojo or zendo, and I ask questions to clarify a teacher's background, and I am then told that such questions will only be answered if I am a member of the organization, my response is to leave. And that's my advice to others. Caveat Zentor.

If Paul was here with me, I'd ask about the inka/dharma transmission thing, how he calls himself "soen sa nim." Just invite him to clarify the matter: what was the training, what were the authorizations, from who, etc. Of course he's under no compulsion to answer these questions if he doesn't want to. But he is a smart man and has to realize these questions will be asked again and again, and it might be easier to straighten this out. (And if, in fact, that is NOT the easier path, that's a whole other story.)

The interview on Sweeping Zen is an excellent idea and I'll be listening to it with interest.
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Re: Five Mountain Zen Order & Paul Lynch

Postby Jikan » Sat Apr 14, 2012 3:24 pm

FWIW, all my interactions with the Golden Wind folks have been quite pleasant (the community in Seattle). I hope my earlier posts in this thread do not imply any kind of shadows around their organization, or that there is some kind of difficulty between Kwan Um, Golden Zen, or Furnace Mountain either.
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Re: Five Mountain Zen Order & Paul Lynch

Postby jisahn108 » Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:51 pm

Taking things slowly is right - it's the sheer speed of how all this has unfolded that is the most suspect part. I don't think we should hesitate for a moment in putting the extant pieces together. There are the generals that are sketchy and weird, but then there are the specifics. Why does Lynch say in so many places that his 2006 "inka" making him a JDPSN was "Dharma transmission"? As recently as 2009 he was still just calling himself a JDPSN, not a transmitted Zen teacher. Something changed shortly after - but it wasn't tied to any specific event that was announced. Then he started calling himself 'sensei', apparently after a meeting or two with James Ford. He shamelessly used that casual connection with Ford to market himself in dozens of places, without Ford's knowledge or approval. He began giving precepts, issuing Japanese Rinzai rakusu despite no authorization or training. Then, he starts with the Chan-shi business; then he apparently gives "transmission" to Foster, only two years after claiming himself a Zen master without full transmission himself. What a mess.

So of course, it's buyer beware. But no one anywhere else that I am aware of is making the connections. How are people to know what they are buying? He's working hard to get them to buy. I think it is obvious that Lynch is explicitly manipulating most people's complete lack of understanding of any of this stuff in order to make himself look authoritative. I don't question that he thinks "the means justifies the ends." He thinks his ends are providing Zen teaching to people, and that he is so qualified to do this that he can start his own order, give himself his own titles, start online colleges, authorize other "Zen Masters", etc etc. I would say that the means demonstrate in themselves exactly what his understanding about reality is - I argue that understanding is transparently lacking in some fundamental aspects.
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Re: Five Mountain Zen Order & Paul Lynch

Postby jisahn108 » Sun Apr 15, 2012 6:22 pm

This list of the Five Mountain order clergy shows that they are all somewhat prone to similar issues of inflation.
http://www.fmzo.org/clergy.html
Their new "National Abbot" appears to be all of about 25 - but he says he's "meditated formally" since he was 7 and is a master of a dozen martial arts, so never fear. It's all just so much "Kwan Um lite", just without any depth or believability. Lynch is ordaining people and giving transmission as if 2012 really is the end of the world. So hey, if anyone out there is just desperate to look like a Zen authority, no questions asked or practice necessary, you know who to call.
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Re: Five Mountain Zen Order & Paul Lynch

Postby Jikan » Sun Apr 15, 2012 7:21 pm

apropos of the speed issue:

Lynch wrote:In the picture above you can see Rev. Chasayk in the Laptop screen. She took precepts via Skype from her home in Michigan while her husband, Rev. Charama was able to physically attend the ceremony. This was the first time I had given Precepts over the internet, and I had always felt that it is a valid methodology for granting precepts.

Because we are a sangha that depends upon technology, we have two on-line seminaries and many of our teachers meet weekly with their students via Skype, it was a natural evolution. When I attended the Buddhist Geeks Conference earlier this year, Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche asked the group of attendees if anyone had ever heard of an organization granting precepts over the internet. I called out several times that Jundo Cohen has been doing this for a while, but because I was in the back of the hall he didn’t hear me. Rinpoche then said that he had asked the Karmpa if giving Tibetan Empowerments over Skype could be the same as doing them in person. He said that the Karmpa replied, “If the teacher transmitting the empowerments had the intention of transmitting them over Skype then they would be considered valid. All in all we had four people take precepts and one person became a Dharma Holder in the Five Mountain Order.


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Re: Five Mountain Zen Order & Paul Lynch

Postby SonofRage » Fri Apr 20, 2012 8:35 pm

Jikan wrote:Much of this discussion and that in the Taego Order-oriented threads here at DharmaWheel seem to pit the Five Mountain Order against the Taego Order: the former as an alternative to the latter. I'm wondering what the attitude among Five Mountain folks is toward the Taego school generally; someone pointed out to me that in at least one instance, it may be possible for someone to be committed to both schools simultaneously:

Our Guiding Teacher is a Dharma Holder in the Five Mountain Zen Order as well as being a Monk in the Táego order.


this is from the webpage of a Clinton, Iowa, USA group:
http://clintonzen.weebly.com/contact.html

Who is that guiding teacher? Is it Lynch himself, or...?

More to the point, is there some kind of history between Lynch and the Taego Order that would shed some light on the discussion we've had so far?


They are referring to Haeja Sunim: http://www.fmzo.org/leadership.html
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