Baker Sums It Up They weren't so much about about money (Chapter 27, if that's your cup of tea). After the founding of Dharma Sangha in New Mexico, Baker met with William Irwin Thompson, the founder of the Lindisfarne Association. Suzuki planned to give transmission to Bill Kwong but died before his completion. It is no longer ruled by an almighty abbott-for- life, but abbotts with term limits. There are two kinds of authority. Please consider a donation to San Francisco Zen Center. Under the Zen form of legitimization, each Zen roshi is viewed as a saint. Learn about the latest news from affiliate sanghas with Tova's newsettes and other timely articles. On one visit he decided to take the revolver home with him. Sitting meditation (zazen) is available live online Monday through Friday mornings, Saturday mornings, and Monday through Friday evenings. It is fashionable among practitioners in the West to consider critical thought as "un-Zen." SteveSiesta. Baker is the sole western heir of Suzuki Roshi, a Japanese Zen teacher who founded the SFZC and its mountain training center, Tassajara established in 1967. At that time, in the 70s, drug use was prevalent, and I got involved in a fair amount of that. He was neither. Downing, who lives in Cambridge, Mass., provides an outsider's view into the incestuous circles at the first Buddhist monastery in the West. In this act lies the first step towards freedom." I see how my empowerment to protect and care for the Triple Treasure inflated my sense of personal authority, and thus detracted from and disparaged the Triple Treasure. In his letter, Zournas, who had resigned the presidency in July, details for the lawyers benefit how the various board members reacted to a motion that Shimano and his wife, then the organizations treasurer, be fired. San Francisco from the 1960's into the 1980's was considered by many to be the freest city in America, especially when understanding "libre" as freedom from ideological constraints. Zen Center Members Or was it that Baker, in addition to his commitment to Zen, was more committed to institutional growth than the others, and importantly, was the only disciple who possessed the necessary skills and qualities to achieve the growth; the growth that Suzuki desired? Money, too, is worth something because we believe it iswe give the $20 bill the magical properties of being worth more than the $1 bill, even though the paper and ink are identical. Until recently, the United States had very few natives who possessed that knowledge. "If you scratch under the bitterness, there's a lot of beauty there," says Norman Fischer, abbott of the Zen Center from 1995 to 2000. , A once controversial figure, Richard Baker was publicly criticized for his behavior at San Francisco Zen Center. Despite its iconoclastic image, Zen has in actuality been a remarkably conservative institution throughout its history, almost always tied to and controlled by the state and elite elements of society. In the 1960's and 70's, San Francisco Zen Center students, like most other Zen students in the U.S.A., thoroughly accepted (among a range of glaring historical inaccuracies) the idealistic Zen rhetoric, including the notion that Dharma transmission is only about spiritual attainment, that all roshis are essentially equal, and that Zen institutions in East Asia are apolitical and divorced from the state. Below is the information about san francisco zen center scandal . (It should also be noted that Victoria is fluent in Japanese while Baker and Chadwick are not.) I have seen such a view expressed in four other major Zen communities as well as in a Tibetan community. I dont remember saying that., Schnyer maintains a tidy understanding of his personal Zen galaxy, in which Shimano is the sun, hot and dangerous but necessary. Branching Streams is a network of affiliate Dharma centers and Sanghas in the Zen lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. Was he perhaps not a fully realized person? San Francisco Zen Center practitioners did make a serious commitment to their practice. The student who enters the "practice" having read a myth will expect to find the myth, and will think they have found the myth. "It is, basically, a description of a number of monastic procedures implicitly attributed to Pai-chang, set in a quasi-historical context, and presented with the authors own explanation and laudatory remarks. The sangha was incorporated by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi and a group of his American students in 1962. Seeing Through Zen by by John R. McRae book reviews buy this book, Coming Down from the Zen Clouds: A Critique of the Current State of American Zen, Means of Authorization: Establishing Hierarchy in Ch'an/Zen Buddhism in America, The Zen Master in America: Dressing the Donkey with Bells and Scarves, Holding the Lotus to the Rock: reflections on the future of the Zen sangha in the West, Sanbkydan Zen and the Way of the New Religions, Finding Safe Harbor: Buddhist Sexual Ethics in America, Shoes Outside the Door: Desire, Devotion, and Excess at San Francisco Zen Center, Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Teachings of Shunryu Suzuki, Not Always So: practicing the true spirit of Zen by Shunryu Suzuki. On this Wikipedia the language links are at the top of the page across from the article title. The same myth was later used in Japan for similar purposes, with Shintoism being the competing indigenous teaching. ", In the 1980s Baker ordained Issan Dorsey as a priest. The Zen Institution . To legitimize the various family lines within Zen, Zen's self-definition necessitates establishing a continuing unbroken lineage of transmitted masters connected to the historical Buddha. There's too much court intrigue and "monastic" gossip, and not enough effort to put the Zen Center and its scandal in the larger story of American Buddhism and the spiritual supermarket's never-ending list of gurus-gone-bad. He was joined by his wife Mitsu (also from Japan) in 1961. Baker was a charismatic leader, brilliant lecturer and dedicated Buddhist. While leader of the SFZC, Baker's purchase of a new white BMW became a focal point for much of the anger and resentments that Zen Center members felt towards him. He was married three times. I finally asked Schnyer if he had said what Zournas attributed to him: He hasnt raped anyone yet, has he?  The community's sense of crisis sharpened when the woman's husband, one of SFZC's primary benefactors, threatened to hold the organization legally responsible for its abbot's apparent misconduct.. Suzuki's prestige grew enormously. Unfortunately, the Western Zen community has not explored the many important questions implied by Zen At War. His death came shortly after the publication of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, a collection of lectures translated into numerous languages and considered a classic of contemporary Zen literature. Despite hesitance of some members of SFZC due to the size of 80 acres (320,000m2), Baker felt that acquiring Green Gulch Farm was very important for Buddhism in America. SFZC will continue to offer classes, talks, workshops, and sangha gatherings through the Online Practice Center and residential guest student practice opportunities at all three temples. Therefore, in the living world of flesh and blood we have people with some very limited level of attainment occupying a role that is defined as Buddha-like, actualizing perfect freedom and unfathomable compassion beyond the ordinary person's understanding and hence above question. The volunteer project's founding director was Frank Ostaseski, who served until 2004. The deal I cut with him, Kelly told me, was that he stop sleeping with Western women and only sleep with Japanese women, because they dont tell.. For an analysis of the inherent power relations in the one-dimensional description of a roshi and how it is taken for being natural, see "Symbolic Violence and Social Reproduction" and "Uses of Language" in, Jenkins, Richard, Pierre Bourdieu, Routledge, 1992, pp.103-110 and pp.152-162 respectively. After six months, he returned to his position. [Note: This section offers background mostly not covered in Downing's book.] An interesting debate between Victoria and members of the Deshimaru group (A.Z.I.) critical insights into Zen/Buddhism have strongly influenced my views: Robert Buswell, Alan Cole, Bernard Faure, T. Griffith Foulk, Robert M. Gimello, Peter N. Gregory, John Kieschnick, John R. McRae, A. Charles Muller, Mario Poceski, Robert H. Sharf, Morten Schlutter, Gregory Schopen, Brian Victoria, Albert Welter and Dale Wright. Ungerleider.. The center received significant media coverage concerning the 1984 resignation of then abbot Zentatsu Richard Baker, who was ousted after it was alleged that he had been having an affair with the wife of a prominent Zen Center member. But the Soto sect tries to have it both ways. Tassajara Bakery was a Zen Center venture promoted by Richard Baker as an extension of the baking practices at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. See Alan Cole, "It's All in the Framing." For a peek into a period only shortly before our own, we can use Brian Victoria's book Zen At War. Most of the narratives of the early heroes of Chan that we have today were composed hundreds of years after the ostensive events, complete with verbatim accounts of the master's interaction with a disciple presented as if a court stenographer had been recording the entire interaction. And he found them quite easily, because Westerners practicing Zen have an almost infantile relationship to what they perceive to be the authentic, Oriental father. The senior members blindly and unquestioningly bought into Zen's mythology and Baker's transmission being above and beyond question. It was also mentioned that Suzuki believed that Dharma transmission must be "real", implying that there is "not real" Dharma transmission. I see how my empowerment to protect and care for the Triple Treasure inflated my sense of personal authority, and thus detracted from and disparaged the Triple Treasure. Many women and others in the Zen community have suffered as a result, and we regret and apologize for our collective failure to stop this harm. , Following Baker's resignation, Dainin Katagiri led the community until 1985. These events are a helpful reminderboth to me and to othersof my vulnerability to arrogance and inflation. Some former students say they were encouraged to believe that being groped by him was part of their. Audio recordings of familiar sounds heard at our temples. "Zen Dharma transmission between master and disciple could occur whether or not the disciple had realized enlightenment, just so long as the ritual of personal initiation had been performed." Was he hypocritical for reprimanding his students for flirting while he carried on numerous affairs with his female students, including one that ruptured his best friend's marriage? , In 1983 Tenshin Reb Anderson received shiho (Dharma Transmission) from Richard Baker. But the percentage of the Zen clergy implicated in sexual misdeeds is many times greater than that of the Catholic clergy. The meaning of these terms evolved as a means of self-definition for the Zen sect to differentiate itself from other Buddhist sects in a way that particularly matched the Chinese social system based on genealogy and to gain legitimization and authenticity from the imperial powers that always maintained tight control over Buddhism. Under the Zen approach, the Chan masters are clearly more potent than the monastics of other Buddhist sects, who merely explicate the Dharma through texts, often texts that are further distanced from their authoritative origins by the act of translation. In Zen Buddhism, the story of Eido Shimanos abuse of power is so commonplace as to be banal, a clich. Your support is crucial to sustain our practice centers and thriving online community. San Francisco Zen Center has begun to offer on-site meditation, Dharma talks, programs, classes, and other events. If you counted the blow-ups, youd say just a few [women,] but we think he ran his life like a Japanese businessmanlots of affairs, but most of them discreet. Dorsey went on to serve as abbot of the Hartford Street Zen Center in San Francisco, where he worked to develop hospice care for AIDS patients. By this time there had also been an abundance of scholarly writing and empirical evidence exposing much of the mythology surrounding Zen. For Suzuki Roshi's edited words see the well-known Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, Weatherhill, 1970. One of Shimanos greatest advantages has been that he is Japanese. I have been involved with Zen in America for over thirty years during which time there have been many upheavals and problems, some similar to the Baker case described in Michael Downing's, Shoes Outside The Door, others more subtle and less obvious in nature. Zen priest Mel Weitsman served with Anderson as a co-abbot during the remainder of his term, and the tradition of two sitting Abbots continued for the next few decades. In not clearly explaining the meaning, to his disciples at the SFZC, of his transmission to Baker, while stressing that it was "real;" Suzuki chose to perpetuate a fiction and to dishonor the trust they had given him. " And Baker, for his part, is quoted as having said in a 1994 interview with Sugata Schneider: I don't think that the gossipy or official versions of what happened are right, but I feel definitely that if I were back in the situation again as the person I am now, it wouldn't have happened. At a meeting of the Board of Directors of Lindisfarne at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, Thompson convinced the board to donate the campus that he had establishedwith its passive solar Lindisfarne Fellows House, Founder's House, and Lindisfarne Chapelto Baker-roshi's Dharma Sangha. After six months, he returned to his position. But the Americans didnt know that. The flow of his consciousness is not the fixed repetitive patterns of our usual self-centered consciousness, but rather arises spontaneously and naturally from the actual circumstances of the present. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews. One of the oldest and perhaps most outspoken members who was eventually forced out by Baker stated, "this was a system that was about staying asleep because it was too risky to wake up." defending Deshimaru's teacher Sawaki roshi's wartime involvement dating from 1905 through WWII is available on the internet at, http://www.zen-azi.org/html/guerre_e.html#replybyb. However, there is no surviving text of Pai-chang's Rules. He writes, " The perfect disciplinary apparatus would make it possible for a single gaze to see everything constantly." Suzuki indeed had ordinary and even tragic circumstances in his life, as is shown in Downing's book, who references David Chadwick's book, Crooked Cucumber, for the following details. For an in-depth look at three special projects happening at SFZC, check out our new Impact Report. Yet Baker certainly knew that, at best, few if any roshi are so fully realized. Is it any wonder that the inevitable abuses that we have seen for the last thirty years should follow? 2 Thank Kelly S . "The Apocalypse," as they came to call it, took place in 1983 at a Peace Conference at Tassajara, a retreat center that was the first Buddhist monastery founded outside Asia. Not what the holy man is but what he signifies in the eyes of those who are not holy gives him his world- historical value. Baker adds he was "on a roll," was in love with his latest girlfriend and that his peers, est founder Werner Erhard and the well known Tibetan teacher Trungpa, had chauffeurs and large Mercedes, so "I thought I should buy a car." The last of these was Bodhidharma, who began the patriarchal line in China that led to Hui-neng, traditionally considered to be the sixth and last Chan patriarch. I had a kind of insecurity and self-importance, which I didn't see for a long time, that was a bad dynamic in the community. 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This is a very interesting piece of "history" which is no doubt destined to be repeated. Upon Suzuki's arrival at Sokoji, the congregation was composed entirely of members of the Japanese-American population. It is interesting to keep in mind that Suzuki's lineage is alive today at the San Francisco Zen Center because of transmissions through Hoitsu. For an earlier view of the immediate events surrounding Baker, see Butler, Katy, "Events Are The Teachers", The CoEvolution Quarterly, winter 1983, pp.112-123. The current crisis in the Catholic Church proves the need for such an institutional analysis. Michel Foucault in "The Means of Correct Training" in Discipline and Punish, Trans. What I mean by the "Zen" institution, for the simple purpose of this conversation, is the organized set of structures that support the standard model of Zen. Downing interviewed roughly eighty people, most of them Baker's students, approximately eighteen years after Baker was forced to resign. Zen priest Mel Weitsman served with Anderson as a co-abbot during the remainder of his term, and the tradition of two sitting Abbots continued for the next few decades. Hence, questioning and dissent became a shortcoming of the person expressing such a view. All of this is in the context of Suzuki, the Zen master, being a man whose quality of life is described as: "buoyancy, vigor, straightforwardness, simplicity, humility, security, joyousness, uncanny perspicacity and unfathomable compassion." In 2003 Paul Haller, who received transmission from Sojun Mel Weitsman in 1993, was installed as co-abbot with her. For a most interesting examination of early Chan lineage and truth claims read from a critical textual analysis rather than reading them "for information about Truth and Practice" or about "historical claims to own truth", see Cole, Alan, "It's All in the Framing", a paper given at U.C. After a major fundraising effort led by Baker, Zen Center purchased the landwhich contained a rundown resort and mineral springs in 1967. This "history" has added weight because it is presented as biographical fact. Was Baker's commitment to Zen practice much greater than a number of other of Suzuki's close, very committed senior disciples? He was doing what Japanese roshis are supposed to do, what they have done for centuries. But there is another kind of authority, an opposite kind, grounded in the invisible, the faith-based, the fictional. To this end, Zen Center is engaged in numerous social and ecological initiatives. Shimanos womanizing is of the sleaziest sort: He is married, and he has often picked for his mistresses much younger and disturbed women, the kind particularly susceptible to his twisted charisma. The number of practitioners at SFZC grew rapidly in the mid-sixties. With one or two exceptions, the only views expressed of Baker's errant behavior among the Center's members was in the context of their personal experience. 2015. 4 Thank Kai C . It means, "Don't ask. It simply means that a power structure has evolved that will perpetuate itself even if it means imputing "attainment" to people who don't really have it. We did something great. Maezumi, affiliated with another West Coast zendo, the Zen Center of Los Angeles, was a philanderer and an alcoholic, as the scholar Dale S. Wright has detailed at length. Baker himself was quick to remind his flock that he was the only American to receive Dharma transmission from Suzuki Roshi. , Another assistant priest at SFZC was Dainin Katagiri-roshi, who served there from 1969 to 1971. Why do we need to rehash this one again? Please see the Covid-Related Openings and Closings Updates page as well as the Calendar. is the head teacher at the Dharma Field Meditation and Learning Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A vibrant community in an urban temple in the heart of San Francisco. There are also accounts of people receiving transmission from masters who were dead by the time the supposed transmission took place. Definitely worth checking them out on their website and trying to attend the beginners lesson! If youre going to do this, youre going to do it on your own, but Im not going to nurse you. For me he was perfect Somebody looking from the outside could say thats why we stuck with him all the time. In fact there are few major centers not touched by sexual or other scandals, but the SFZC case suffices for the discussion we will have here. Analysis or active use of "the discriminating mind" is frowned upon, or worse, it is viewed as a sign of having too large an ego. 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