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Sex and the Sangha: Letters and Leadership

by NellaLou (Blog), Dec 30, 2010

Source: http://enlightenmentward.wordpress.com/2010/12/30/sex-and-the-sangha-letters-and-leadership/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+EnlightenmentWard+%28Enlightenment+Ward%29

New York, USA -- Eido Shimano wrote a letter to the New York Times reporter who did the story about him in that newspaper, Sex Scandal Has U.S. Buddhists Looking Within. It is pretty much an accusation of making up the whole situation he’s engendered. Blaming others is one of the hallmarks of those in denial. Everyone’s fault but his own.

Al Billings has outlined the circumstances and put a copy of that letter on his blog in the post Eido Shimano kinda sorta denies it all and chastises the New York Times This includes a quotation of the recent comments of realization by Genjo Marinello Osho a ZSS board member.

The reporter, Mark Oppenheimer has responded to Shimano’s “charges” on his blog with A Buddhist vs. Me Some comments from people close to the situation also are interesting.

James Ford Roshi of the American Zen Teacher’s Association has written the following today An Open Letter to the Board of the Zen Studies Society Regarding Eido Roshi requesting action be taken to remove Shimano from power. Maybe a few others finally won’t be so scared to step up and address the situation.

Joan Halifax Roshi has written a powerful letter which she posted on Facebook.

James Ford Roshi is now posting letters from teachers on his blog and will be updating them as they come in.  Letters from Zen Teachers to the Zen Studies Society Looks like the levee is breaking.  Finally.

Thus far letters have appeared from:

    * James Ford, Roshi
    * Joan Halifax, Roshi
    * Myoan Grace Schireson, Sensei
    * Dosho Port, Sensei
    * Nonin Chowaney, Roshi
    * Sallie Jiko Tisdale, Sensei
    * Taigen Leighton, Sensei
    * Susan Ji-on Postal, Sensei
    * Barry Magid, Sensei
    * Hogen Bays, Sensei & Chozen Bays, Roshi

As well Hozan Alan Senauke, one of the original signatories to the letter of concern that went to ZSS in 1995 (PDF) on this same issue,  has written a letter and posted it at the Clear View blog

Quite a number of teachers had signed the petition to the same end months ago as well. The list of those teachers are available in a previous post.

Now it should be noted that many more have recently signed up on the petition as well.

As well Grace Shireson has linked to a picture on her Facebook note about the letter she wrote, of some participants in the Dec. 8 protest against Shimano which I mentioned here.

The Issue of Leadership

One commenter to the reporter’s blog wrote “The leadership models of Asian Buddhism were contained by a cohesive communal structure that simply does not exist here. “ Then he goes on about Trungpa’s situation as if Trungpa, the evil genius and Dharma corrupter [allegedly], had some kind of master plan to dupe the innocent, do-gooder Americans all along.   That’s a very convenient way to absolve the naïve Americans for any responsibility for their own situation. Seems to be the most prevalent way for many people to assuage their own consciences and disguise their own participation in events when they turn to shit. Maybe spending all his time with such a bunch of crybabies is what drove him [& Maezumi & …] to drink. It would me.

The participation of those around as enablers is fairly undeniable. And for their own ends. In Maezumi’s case for example, Jan Chozen Bays Roshi said, “”We in subtle ways encouraged his alcoholism. We thought it was enlightened behavior that when he would drink, elements of Roshi would come out we had never seen before. He would become piercingly honest. People would deliberately go—everybody did this—and see what he would say and do when he was drunk, and how he could skewer you against the wall.”(from Wikipedia)

If people would only be able to admit their complicity, hidden agendas and personal motives perhaps such situations would either not occur or be resolved in a timely fashion. But instead we get “It’s the victim’s fault”, “It’s the Asians fault.”, “It’s Saddam’s fault”, “It’s bin Laden’s fault”, “It’s Obama’s fault”, “It’s the left’s fault”, “It’s the right’s fault”, “It’s the Internet’s fault”, “It’s the parent’s fault”, “It’s the blogger’s fault”, “It’s television’s fault”, “It’s rock music’s fault”,  “It’s Aitken’s fault”, “It’s the reporter’s fault”

Clearly Shimano’s learned a lot more from the Americans than people give credit for.

So the leadership models of Asian Buddhism have failed. There certainly isn’t much in the way of leadership models in American Buddhism as these kinds of situations occur in American led sanghas as well.

The issue isn’t one of Asian, American or other structures. It is one of leadership.

Leadership in general, in every realm, globally is sorely lacking.

Everyone hoarding their little piece of the pie, reluctant to risk even a crumb.



OH, dear God, what if I lose my stuff! And some kind of God is generally invoked in these situations even by some Buddhists.  Why not blame him/her/it while we’re trying to shift blame away from ourselves both individually and collectively.

At the very least the fear is about losing our stuff. Either actual capital through lawsuits and the like or social capital in terms of reputation, position and of course importance. It’s important to be important. That seems to be the biggest deal of all.

  • Importance does not equal leadership.
  • Visibility does not equal leadership.
  • Position does not equal leadership.
  • Title does not equal leadership.
  • Accomplishment does not equal leadership.
  • Awards do not equal leadership.
  • Accumulation does not equal leadership.
  • Attention does not equal leadership.
  • History does not equal leadership.
  • Influence does not equal leadership.

What then does characterize leadership?

  • Inspiration
  • Respect
  • Risk
  • Concern
  • Compassion
  • Confidence
  • Trustworthiness  
  • Reliability
  • Intelligence  
  • Honesty
  • Participation  
  • Competence
  • Responsibility  
  • Clarity
  • Humility  
  • Wisdom
  • Dedication  
  • Vision
  • Ethics  
  • Ability to admit to and place self-interest second
  • Communication  
  • Generosity
  • Patience  
  • Integrity
  • Fairness  
  • Assertiveness
  • Openness  
  • Creativity

Those all come from various business and management websites. Interesting how so many overlap with such things as the Paramitas and how most are mentioned numerous times in so much of the Buddhist canon.

So if Buddhist leaders don’t want to bother with the Buddhist literature then at least a course in management or better still management ethics might be in order.

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