Have been seeing a lot of Western Buddhist Teachers, including the Zen variety, signing on to help free Burma. Good for them. The brutality of the Burmese junta is an abomination. The captivity of the population as well as the militarily enforced deprivation is certainly an affront to human rights and the dignity of the population. It’s good to see so many willing to put their names out in public, in a letter to President Obama no less.
It’s interesting to run through that list of names. Most are recognizable to anyone familiar with the American convert Buddhist scene. And particularly on the engaged Buddhist front. So this post is not about most of them. But it may be about some of the others. Yes I am deliberately being vague, but only for the moment. Hold on.
There’s plenty of those others running around Rawanda, Thailand, India, holding Peace Conferences, Seminars, big meetings with lots of important people. Changing the world one backward country at a time. Not unlike NATO and it’s allies.
Of course there are always the retreats to the Greek Islands, the Caribbean and lovely Bali, for which attendees are urged to raise funds from friends and strangers, and no one is[edit del n’t] going to sleep on the streets there, although the climate may be quite appropriate for that. There is no end to all the do-gooder campaigns overseas that can be manufactured and lipsticked up to look like “serious political activist work”. But these forays into hedonistic service-something of an oxymoron yes, I can’t think of another term-are also something other than the point here.
So back to that.
Yes, let “them” “over there” all be like us. Full of knowledge, wisdom and answers. So free, so democratic, so rational, so ethical, so honest, so incorruptible, so holy, so righteous, so compassionate, so caring, so educated, so socially minded, so concerned, so relevant, so clear minded, so intelligent, so right. So…distracted.
Yes, let’s all go somewhere else and play at politics for a while. And get a nice vacation in to boot. We can put the pictures up on our blogs, tell everyone about our great work and encourage others to sign up as well. We can put out our begging bowls on Twitter and Facebook and get people to support our roles as “facilitators” in this fabulous endeavor. [Never mind actually getting a job to pay our own way.] And most importantly it allows us the luxury of forgetting whatever is going on “back home”. To even admit anything is going on “back home” would destroy the little escapist bubble we’ve created in that exotic place. OMG, if there really was a MG, please don’t let me have to deal with that possibility.
Now it needn’t all be quite that elaborate. Escapist social action, with minimal actual work is easily available with the strokes of a computer keyboard. Add one’s name to a petition or letter. The further removed the subjects of the contents of the letter from one’s own situation the better. Looks good on the Internet and feels good too. Now we’re really doing something! And without having to disturb our regular schedule. And you know if there is little to no possibility of any kind of feedback so much the better. Always good to have a safety harness, helicopter and stunt double when one goes out on a limb even metaphorically.
So today I undertook a little compare and contrast exercise of two lists. One is of the letter to Obama regarding the Burmese situation and the other is the list of signees of a petition to remove Eido Shimano from ZSS. [you dear reader can sign it too if you feel so inclined]
Now it seems ZSS-Zen Studies Society is celebrating Eido Shimano by not only continuing his residency but by allowing him to give Jukai to new students. A whole new bucket of fresh meat. How nice for him. My heart’s absolutely bursting with mudita! The generosity of the ZSS board knows no bounds with regard to their leader. Return every slap by turning the other cheek, or even better offering some fresh cheeks for a bit of slap [and tickle] as well.
[Yikes! The snark beast has been rebirthed! Feeling so much better and re-energized after hibernating through the rainy season.]
So back to those lists. I’ll confine this comparison to Zen teachers. [I tell ya it was some work looking all these up too in order to find their affiliations and roles. I was tempted to put the whole AZTA list here in addition to the letter signatories, but I don’t have that kind of time.]
|Burma letter||Affiliation/Role||Shimano petition||Affiliation/Role
(where not otherwise indicated information is from the petition site)
|Rev. Hozan Alan Senauke||Soto Zen priest…residing at the Berkeley Zen Center (BZC) in Berkeley, California, where he currently serves as Vice Abbot. He is a former Executive Director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship…received Dharma transmission from…Sojun Mel Weitsman in 1998 (from)||Rev. Hozan Alan Senauke||<—–same as|
|Robert Joshin Althouse||Robert Joshin Althouse is a Zen teacher in the White Plum Asanga and a dharma heir of Jikyo Nicolee McMahon Roshi. He is the current abbot of Zen Life & Meditation Center of Chicago in Illinois.(from)||Robert Joshin Althouse||<—–same as|
|Rev. Susan Myoyu Anderson||spiritual director of Great Plains Zen Center (GPZC) studied for over twenty years with Taizan Maezumi Roshi(from)|
|Carolyn Atkinson||Head Teacher… a Dharma Heir and Lineage Holder of the late Kobun Chino Otogawa Roshi (from)|
|Rev. Zentatsu Richard Baker||founder and guiding teacher of Dharma Sangha—which consists of Crestone Mountain Zen Center located in Crestone, CO and the Buddhistisches Studienzentrum (Johanneshof) in Germany’s Black Forest. (from)|
|Ezra Bayda||received dharma transmission from Charlotte Joko Beck, and presently teaches at the Zen Center San Diego.(from)|
|Mitra Bishop||a Dharma heir of Ven. Philip Kapleau-roshi.
Abbot of Mountain Gate in Northern New Mexico, and Spiritual Director of Hidden Valley Zen Center in San Marcos CA.(from)
|Many of her students have signed the petition|
|Melissa Blacker||Zen priest with Boundless Way Zen, a Dharma heir of James Ishmael Ford (from)|
|Bruce Seiryo Blackman||Zen teacher in the White Plum Asanga of the late Taizan Maezumi-roshi and a Dharma heir of Sr. Janet Jinne Richardson-roshi (from)|
|Joe Bobrow||a Zen teacher in the Diamond Sangha (from)|
|Dae Bong Sunim||resident Zen Master of Gye Ryong San International Zen Center- Mu Sang Sa in Korea. He became a monk in 1984. He received Inka from Zen Master Seung Sahn in 1992 and Dharma Transmission in 1999. (from)|
|Merle Boyd||Zen priest with the White Plum Asanga lineage of Taizan Maezumi…founder and guiding teacher of the Lincroft Zen Sangha located in Lincroft, New Jersey and is a Dharma heir of Wendy Egyoku Nakao (from)|
|Mitchell Cantor||Mitchell Doshin Cantor Sensei has been a student of Peter Muryo Matthiessen Roshi since 1986. Doshin received Denkai from Muryo Roshi in 2002. He additionally studied with Madeline Ko-I Bastis Sensei…and received dharma transmission in 2006. Doshin is the teacher at the Southern Palm Zen Group in Boca Raton FL(from)|
|John Crook||dharma heir of the late Chan Master Sheng-yenof Dharma Drum Mountain, Taiwan, having received dharma transmission in 1993 (from)|
|James Ford||a Soto Zen priest… serving as a guiding teacher at the Boundless Way Zen Network (from)|
|John M. Gage||abbott and sensei of the Vista Zen Center (Hotei-ji) (from)|
|Elizabeth Hamilton||teaches at Zen Center San Diego She received dharma transmission in 1994 from Joko Beck. (from)|
|Rev. Zenkei Blanche Hartman||a Soto Zen priest in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki-roshi, a Dharma heir of Sojun Mel Weitsman. Zenkei is a Senior Dharma Teacher at San Francisco Zen Center (from)|
|Kip Ryodo Hawley||Sensei with the White Plum Asanga of the late Taizan Maezumi-roshi and a Dharma heir of Wendy Egyoku Nakao-roshi (from)|
|Taigen Henderson||a Dharma heir of Sensei Sunyana Graef (from)|
|Joan Hoeberichts||Zen priest in the White Plum Asanga, the lineage of the late Taizan Maezumi-roshi (from)|
|Amy Hollowell||Amy Hollowell Sensei is one of three dharma heirs, or successors, of the French Zen master Catherine Genno Pagès Roshi, who founded Dana Zen Center in Montreuil, France, in 1994. Genno Roshi is the first dharma heir of the American Zen master Dennis Genpo Merzel Roshi (from)|
|Zen Master Soeng Hyang||(Barbara Rhodes) is the School Zen Master and Guiding Dharma Teacher of the Kwan Um School of Zen. She received dharma transmission from Zen Master Seung Sahn (from)|
|Rev. Keido Les Kaye||Les received Dharma Transmission, authority to teach, from Hoitsu Suzuki son and successor to Shunryu Suzuki. He was appointed teacher at Kannon Do Zen Center (from)|
|Rev. Taigen Dan Leighton||a Soto Zen priest and Dharma successor in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. (from)|
|Stanley Lombardo||was a founding member of the Kansas Zen Center (from)|
|Barry Magid||a Zen teacher of the Ordinary Mind School of Zen..heir of Charlotte Joko Beck (from)|
|Genjo Marinello||Abbot of Dai Bai Zan Cho Bo Zen Ji (from)|
|Rev. Nicolee Jikyo McMahon||received Dharma Transmission from Taizan Maezumi Roshi in 1995. (from)|
|Rev. Wendy Egyoku Nakau||abbot of the Zen Center of Los Angeles (from)|
|Rev. Tonen O’Connor||Soto Zen Buddhist priest and has been the resident priest at the Milwaukee Zen Center (from)|
|Rev. Enkyo O’Hara||Abbot of The Village Zendo in New York City. A Soto Zen priest, O’Hara, Roshi received Dharma transmission from Tetsugen Bernard Glassman. (from)|
|Rev. Joen Snyder O’Neal||ordained as a Zen priest by Katagiri Roshi in 1980 and received Dharma transmission from him in 1989. (from)|
|Michael O’Sullivan||Senior Dharma Teacher in the Kwan Um School of Zen, is the founder and abbot of The Three Treasures Zen Center, located in Oneonta, New York (from)|
|Ji Hyang Padma||currently serves as the Buddhist Advisor at Wellesley College….has served as Abbot of Cambridge Zen Center (from)|
|Rev. Tony Patchell||Zen priest and Dharma heir in the Suzuki-roshi lineage, trained at the San Francisco Zen Center. (from)|
|Rev. Josho Pat Phelan||a Soto Zen priest in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki currently serving as guiding teacher at Chapel Hill Zen Center (from)|
|Rev. Dosho Port||Soto Zen priest and Dharma heir of Dainin Katagiri-roshi (from)|
|Rev. Susan Jion Postal||Susan Ji-on Postal, teacher and founder of the Empty Hand Zen Center in New Rochelle, New York (from)||Many of her students have signed the petition.|
|Rev. Taihaku Priest||founder of Shao Shan Spiritual Practice Center (from)|
|Jason Quinn||Abbot in the Empty Gate center in Berkley California (from)|
|Rev. Densho Quintero||Soto Zen priest and Dharma heir of Shohaku Okumura-roshi (head teacher of Sanshin Zen Community in Bloomington Indiana and Director of the Soto Zen Buddhism International Center (from)|
|Sylvan Genko Rainwater||Zen Buddhist monk at Dharma Rain Zen Center – Portland, Oregon. (from)|
|Rev. Zuiko Redding||Soto Zen priest and the guiding teacher of Cedar Rapids Zen Center in Iowa. (from)|
|Caitriona Reed||received Lamp Transmission from her teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. She is co-founder of Ordinary Dharma in Los Angeles (from)|
|Joan Rieck||Sanbo Kyodan, Three Treasures Sangha of the Sandias, Bernalillo, NM (from)|
|Judith Roitman||JDPSN began practicing Zen with Zen Master Seung Sahn in 1976 at the Cambridge Zen Center. She was one of the founders of the Kansas Zen Center (from)|
|Rev. Daigaku Rumme||Soto Zen priest and resident of City Center (from)|
|Rev. Seisen Saunders||founder and head teacher of Sweetwater Zen Center (from)|
|Elihu Genmyo Smith||first Dharma Heir of Charlotte Joko Beck (from) (more)|
|Abbot Myogen Steve Stucky||received dharma transmission from Sojun Mel Weitsman in 1993. He founded Dharma Eye Zen Center in Marin County (from)|
|Rev. Heng Sure||senior disciple of the late Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, and is currently the director of the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery (from)|
|Rev. Jisho Warner||founder of Stone Creek Zen Center (from)|
|Tom Aitken||Family heir & POA for Robert Aitken|
|Jiro Andy Afable||Second Dharma Heir [of Eido Shimano] – Former Vice-Abbot of Dai Bosatsu Zendo (1998 – 2003)
/Rinzai teacher and founder of Early Light Zendo in Southbridge, Massachusetts (from)
|Ji Kai Myo-on (Yvonne Rand)||a “lay householder” Soto Zen priest and guiding teacher of Goat-in-the-Road (from)-a Dharma heir of the late Dainin Katagiri (from)|
|Head Teacher, Cold Mountain Sangha|
|Sante Poromaa||Co-Leader of the Zen Buddhist Society of Sweden and Teacher of the Cloud Water Zen Group) … (from)|
|Zuiko enji Angie
|Soto Zen roshi and guiding teacher of Floating Zendo (from)|
|resident priest at Anchorage Zen Community (from)|
|sensei at Auckland Zen Centre(from)|
|NC Zen Center Founder|
|abbot, North Carolina Zen Center|
|Sensei at Windhorse Zen Community|
|Sensei atWindhorse Zen Community|
|priest withFive Mountain Sangha|
|Teacher in Kobun Chino lineage|
|Soto priest, formerly Kwan Um/Chogye|
|Teacher with Kwan Um School of Zen|
|teacher at Twining Vines Sangha|
|teacher at Twining Vines Sangha|
|Former Dai Bosatsu Zendo Ordained/Former ZSS Board Member|
|Sambo Kyodan teacher|
|Teacher, Montague Farm Zendo|
|Diamond Sangha Teachers Circle; Clear Spring Sangha|
|Daizen Brian Victoria||Soto Zen Priest, Author of “Zen at War”|
|Bodhin Kjolhede||Abbot of Rochester Zen Center|
Interesting contrast between the domestic and foreign policies of these teachers and leaders of the Zen community dontcha think? Not much overlap. Of course there are thousands of other teachers who don’t bother with this kind of thing at all. And many of the above listed are very fine teachers. As are most of the Zen teachers in America. Check the AZTA website and Sweeping Zen for more names. I’m not saying it’s necessary to bother with any of this either. It just seems rather interesting that so many jump on board for these high profile (I mean the President himself will possibly read one’s name! And who knows maybe having one’s name on the same page as the President will sell a few more books. ) international campaigns but few can bother with issues at home.
And another thing that is noticeable is that quite a number of folks who have signed the petition are students of some of the teachers who have signed the letter. (Yeah I looked them all up too) As well there are far more “establishment” teachers on the Burma letter and far more “independents” if you look at lineages, on the petition side. Another strange dichotomy to be sure. Maybe someone should do a sociological study on risk aversion (or self-examination) among the establishment.
One might consider it to be a matter for the Rinzai sector (a very convenient categorical dodge) or something that doesn’t concern the Zen community as a whole or one that, if kept under wraps, won’t tarnish the convert Buddhist community. Hmm that sounds an awful lot like denial.
I suppose in such instances it is necessary to become gardeners in everyone else’s back yard because of all the Astroturf in the local gardens.
And with the continuation of the cult of Shimano there are more questions to be asked. Of course it is unlikely they will now be asked on ZFI since some heavy hitters have arrived to quash this kind of dissent. So it’s up to bloggers I suppose to keep the bellows pumping. Feet to the fire and all that.
It just strikes me as an exercise in extreme cognitive dissonance to fete someone (see below) with so much baggage as one is simultaneously trying to oust him. The ZSS hired a group to assist with their process of reconciliation and redress, yet completely ignored the group’s recommendation to fire Shimano immediately. And then they have gone on to celebrate this man!?! That is the most ethically vacant situation I can possibly think of.
No coincidence that I am posting this today. From the Zen Studies Society website:
Harvest Jukai Sesshin, Oct. 30–Nov. 7 To commemorate his 50th anniversary living in the United States, Eido Roshi is going to conduct a Jukai Ceremony at Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-ji on the closing day of Harvest Sesshin, Saturday, November 6.
Congratulations to all those who have vowed to undertake the journey to the cessation of anger, greed and delusion. I can’t think of a better place to learn about that in depth. Don’t forget to check your ethics at the gate.
The Who-Won’t Get Fooled Again
Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.
Here’s a little something extra along the same lines for those in the mood-
And a further discussion-
A big thanks to Sweeping Zen website for providing so many of the biographical details as well as interviews. It’s a hugely useful resource.