tiistai 9. lokakuuta 2012

The Imaginarium of Bodhin Roshi: Comments on a Teisho about Sami

Bodhin Roshi gave Teisho about Sami´s resignation. Since it is obvious that he is not telling a story of what really happened, it is worth clarifying this disinformation. The real story is a sad one, told many times, but since it seems to get distorted in these enlightened minds so easily, it is worth the effort.

Teishos title is:

Teacher´s discussion At the 30th Anniversary of Swedish-Finnish Sangha

You can listen it here (Sami's part starts around 16:30):
EDIT: Rochester Zen Center has removed teisho, but luckily we saved it. You can listen it here:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0BLbrsWDZIDMmVYTjZsNTBVX3M/edit?usp=sharing

Disinformation spoken out in Teisho is as follows:

***
Story told in the Teisho:
 “One day Sante told him (Sami) well you’re the leader of the sangha there, I think you really need to come and come to Zengården and do some residential training, you´ve never done any and there´s so many things that recommends residential training…”

“…Sami dismissed it and said something diparaging about the residential training”

FACTS: 
Sami in the end thought that residential training was not for him. Nothing disparaging was said except that after careful consideration Sami declined to do residential training. This all happened about one year before the resignation discussed in Teisho.

***
Story told in the Teisho:
 “Sante called a private meeting and asked Sami if they could go out and have a beer at a local place and just talk…”

“In their meeting Sami said to him directly you are an alcoholic, you have a harem of women and your marriage is dead you and Kanja have, there´s nothing to your marriage any more, you are just going through the motions.”

FACTS:
Private meeting was called because one Helsinki sangha member told Sante that he was worried about Sami´s critical views about the authoritarian leading style during the summer training week in Zengården and his frustration with teachers leading style. Nothing of the above (that Sami is accused of saying) in the meeting ever happened. Sante actually thanked Sami for a good conversation in an e-mail after the meeting. In the meeting Sami went through the criticism that you can find here:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0BLbrsWDZIDRnFLd0NLZ21OTzQ/edit?usp=sharing 
Rumours of Sami having said above mentioned ghastly things started circulate out of other sangha members mouths when it became apparent that Sante and Kanja were offended by Sami´s critic and by his writing to other teachers. Sami has never claimed that Sante is an alcoholic. Sami has never claimed that Sante has a harem of women. Sante himself told in 3 Jewels Order meeting that he was doubting the western marriage system.

***

Story told in the Teisho:
 “The Sante heard that Sami had sent letter to couple of north American teachers to Albert Low and Barry Magid…”

“…Sante realized that he had to get to the bottom of this. So he called a meeting in Helsinki and while he was on his way there by boat across  the Baltic to Finland, this Sami resigned, all of a sudden he took off…”

FACTS:
Yes Sami sent 2 letters altogether, to the above mentioned teachers, asking their views about residential training. No correspondence followed. The meeting in Helsinki was about the criticism detailed in the pdf. Sami resigned because it was obvious that he was being lied about in the sangha and the whole thing started to be more about him and about rumours what he had said about the teachers, than about his critic. Senseis also stopped communicating with him directly (except Sante calling Sami one time and accusing Sami of backstabbing Sante) and an open forum was founded where everybody could talk about Samis critic. Instead of direct communication with Sami teachers focused on calling other people and asking them what Sami had said about them. Many people in the Helsinki, who were symphatetic to Sami before, turned their coats and were climbing up the ladder through telling teachers what Sami supposedly had said. There were rumours told about what he had said about Sante; that Sante was an alcoholic, Sante had affairs etc.

***

Story told in the Teisho:
“Sami sent an open letter to the sangha where he repeated this"    (above mentioned accusations of alcoholism, harem of women, dead marriage)

FACTS:
Open letter did not contain anything but mentioned facts in the pdf and anger how he was unfairly lied about saying this and that about Sante.

***

Story told in the Teisho:
 “Sami had been the leader of the group for a few years, certainly a couple years”

FACTS:
Sami had been sanghaleader for 10 years.

***

Story told in the Teisho: “Sami has started his own group”

FACTS: 
Sami never started his own group.

***

Story told in the Teisho:
 “There was almost no one who left as a result of this”

FACTS:
Yep almost no one left:) Just the former sanghaleader and former chairman of board of trustees, Timo, who is a friend of Sami and followed the process closely enough to get a grip of what was going on. Several other people from Helsinki left (over 10 people). The whole Oulu subgroup left. About 30 members from Helsinki wrote Sami that they would like to follow him if he formed his own group. Sami had no intention of starting his own group after a nightmare like this. Quite probably he will never be part of any religious group whatsoever.

144 kommenttia:

  1. The tradition is trying to save it's face here by saying it's all Sami's fault.

    It is a mistake from Bodhin's part to comment on this. Seemingly, he's been fed what he has said in his teisho. And 'how' he says all that! Are they/is he a bloody moron? Seems so. Poor bastards...

    VastaaPoista
  2. Thank you for clarifying the facts. It makes you wonder if Bodhin is on purpose giving the Sangha a false picture of what happened or if he has been lied to by Sante and Kanja.

    VastaaPoista
  3. Miracuosly 12 hours after the publication of this post the Teisho has disappeared from the RZC webpages. Uncanny coincidence?

    VastaaPoista
  4. All of the texts here on this blog should be available in English as well. Please translate. All should know.

    And btw, the mp3 is still available. Download it, upload it to our own server and put a new link to it.

    VastaaPoista
  5. Hi Anonyymi (17:14),

    yes, all texts should be in English too. Original plan was to translate them all to English, but unfortunately that's a huge task to do and we have had so much other things to do. But if there's anyone who's willing to do it, go for it. Or someone could translate one part and some other another part and so on.

    Peace
    Uku

    VastaaPoista
  6. I posted this post's link to Rochester Zen Center's Facebook site. Link was removed and I sent an polite email to their site's admin to ask why they removed it. Here's the reply (name removed):

    Hi Markus -

    I'm on staff here at the RZC, and I'm an administrator for the Facebook group. Although I've added you as a group member, as you requested, I've removed the item you posted about Roshi's teisho.

    After some consideration last week, Roshi decided that he would do better to avoid public comment on the situation in Finland, given that he has no first-hand knowledge of the situation, and asked us to remove his teisho of last week from our podcast site. We're just going to leave it at that.

    Just so you're aware, we like to keep the focus of the RZC Facebook page on activities related to the Rochester Zen Center and posts by our members, so we'd appreciate it if you could avoid posting items that are of interest mostly to the Finnish sangha. Feel free to message me if you have any questions or concerns.

    Best regards,
    *


    I posted the link again and now they removed me from the group, banned from seeing the whole group and I even can't find the group in my Facebook search. Cool! :)

    VastaaPoista
  7. Rochester Zen Center has removed the teisho (mp3) from their website. But I'm putting it back online as soon as possible, we have copies from it.

    VastaaPoista
  8. Ok, now it's back online again. Here's the link (also in the blog post): https://dl.dropbox.com/u/31336787/2012-9-23.mp3

    VastaaPoista
  9. How naive Bodhin Roshi was in giving a talk about a matter which he knows only from what the other party told him. I'm completely speechless of his comments. I've listened to his teishos many times and know that he is a man of intelligence. Yet, here he displayed some serious lack of understanding.

    Uku, pushing it again... :(

    VastaaPoista
  10. Bodhin talks about how we never know what the truth is; like when he believed back in 2003 that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, which later turned out not to be the case. Still he goes on and tells this nonsense about Sami.

    I guess he didn’t feel need to ask Sami or anyone else involved because he “absolutely believes Sante and Kanja” because he thinks that “Sante is one of the absolutely most honest people he’s ever met”, who “has a hard time not telling the whole truth” and that’s why Bodhin “doesn’t doubt them for a minute”.

    I guess he got some new stuff to reflect on for his upcoming teisho about how do we really know about anything :-)

    I hope he straightens out the facts and apologizes spreading lies about Sami.

    VastaaPoista
  11. Many people in the Helsinki, who were symphatetic to Sami before, turned their coats and were climbing up the ladder through telling teachers what Sami supposedly had said. There were rumours told about what he had said about Sante; that Sante was an alcoholic, Sante had affairs etc.

    Good day. My name is Kimmo Takkunen and I'm one of zendoleaders in HZC.

    I first learned from this conflict directly from Sami when he called me just before he send his resignation letter to everyone. In the phone conversation I had with with Sami, he told me that Sante-sensei was living shadow life I did not know anything about. He mentioned excessive alcohol use and that he had other women. He was very vague of the details but he told me that our teacher was living life that was not morally suitable for zen teacher. I found the lack of specifics strange, but Sami refused to reveal me the details on the phone when I insisted. He just said that he would have lots of stories he could tell. Sami never used the word "alcoholism", but the message clearly was some kind of alcohol misuse, why to talk about alcohol use if it was not a problem? At the time I thought that he did not want to tell the details, because he was trying to protect people involved.

    I just wanted to clarify that at least in my case there is no room for "supposedly said". He told this stuff over the phone directly to me. His story was short on facts and details, but the message was clear. For me the issue was not "turning coat" against Sami. Sami just never did follow up with concrete details or apologized for intentionally misleading me. Later in the same week we had meeting with Sante-sensei and Finnish zendoleaders in Helsinki. All those accusations Sami made on- and off the record were discussed. Because I had no first hand knowledge of the start of this conflict, I focused on figuring out the most concrete questions in Sami's letter, those involving money. When those turned out to be non-issues, I just felt that Sami did not have enough credibility left.

    btw. Sami wrote "Hän poltteli jatkuvasti pikkusikareita ja joi runsaasti alkoholia." (he smoked continuously cigarillos and drank lots of alcohol) in his response: http://ihmistenpuolesta.blogspot.fi/2012_04_01_archive.html It would be nice if Sami could quantify what the large amounts of alcohol is, so that people may make up their own mind. Some kind of ballpark figure of how many servings at once and how many per week? How many times he was visibly drunk? The way he writes it, it sounds like he is trying to defame Sante-sensei without committing to really saying anything.

    ps. Bodhin Roshi's talk clearly suffers from from inaccuracies that always creep in when you tell stories second-hand.

    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. It seems like Sami and Sante don’t share the same views about alcohol consumption or about marriage. However, from reading this blog it seems obvious that Sami’s main critique wasn’t Sante’s alcohol consumption or the state of his marriage. It seems that for some reason some have been giving these details high importance -- even Sante and Kanja themselves and their mentor Bodhin too. Maybe it's easier to deal with these things than the real issues.

      When it comes to Bodhin’s speech, it’s a poor excuse to state that it just suffers from inaccuracies typical to second hand stories. It’s highly unacceptable from someone in Bodhin’s position to slander someone in a public speech like that, especially without first hearing both sides of the incident or doing any other research about the subject. I don’t know what his motivation to do this is, but for sure this doesn’t make him look trustworthy or reliable.

      Poista
    2. I agree with the previous comment. The alcohol consumption wasn't the reason for Sami's critique. For me it seems that it is bigger issue for some other practitioners who want to maintain idealized pictures of enlightened teachers. Drinking and smoking don't fit that picture, especially when the teachers hold Jukai ceremonies where they say they abstain both from using substances such as alcohol and tobacco AND FROM LYING. Clearly they are not eating their own dog-food if they drink.

      Bodhin's "teisho" was full of bullshit, not just some inaccuracies. Hard to tell whether he made it purposefully or if he was just naive. In any case his credibility was seriously hurt with this speech.

      Poista
    3. "teachers hold Jukai ceremonies where they say they abstain both from using substances such as alcohol and tobacco"

      That is not what is said in Jukai seremony. It's "not misusing drugs", abstaining is not required from anyone.

      Poista
    4. Come on, how can you not "misuse" tobacco? What is right usage of alcohol? Drinking until you are drunk? Using it as a disinfection for wounds?

      If only alcoholism is misusage of alcohol the whole purpose of these matters in Jukai are questionable. Alcholism is sickness, not matter of choosing whether to drink or not. Only non alcoholic person can choose.

      So what is the whole purpose of Jukai if not to stop using alcohol completely? Or at least diminish it to only one glass of wine/beer during dinner?

      Poista
  12. I don't agree with Kimmo Takkunen's comment that Bodhin Roshi's talk simply "suffers from inaccuracies that always creep in when you tell stories second-hand". At least to my mind, the talk showed a real lack of judgement -- and I guess the roshi realized this, as the recording was deleted from the RZC's online archive.

    More importantly, this teisho is a perfect example of the stupefying loyalty that is the expected norm in communities like this. I would also suggest that the weird reactions to Sami's initial critique of his teachers, as well as Bodhi's expulsion (http://ihmistenpuolesta.blogspot.fi/2012/04/zen-pappi-bodhin-karkotus-zengardenista.html) has more to do with their violation of this norm than the details of their respective apostasies.

    VastaaPoista
  13. I think that there are two things here to consider. First of all - why did Bodhin give this teisho? Secondly, why did he say the things he did?

    It was unbelievable to hear how he talked about all this. In the past I have listened many of his excellent (although "american") teishos. I would have never expected him to go so low as he did here. Even though the things he said would be true, the way he talked about them was unbelievably blind and idealistic. Furthermore, if Sami was such a "mental case" as he made listeners to think, why did he lack compassion towards "that guy, that Sami"?

    I see two possibilities:

    Either it was very calculated, political speech to attack Sami's critique and save the face of Kapleau's tradition. It might be that he was alarmed to hear that so many of the key members of Finnish sangha had left and went to Barry Magid's "Ordinary Mind" camp which is been built here. Perhaps this triggered paranoia, especially as he heard about Sami's letter to Magid.

    There is also another, more dangerous and unfortunately also more probable cause for this. He might fell to be a victim of pathological liar, an expert manipulator. The fact that this teisho was so quickly removed from the site supports this viewpoint.

    It might be that during the days he spent in Sweden, he was very skillfully been manipulated to take an emotional and idealistic viewpoint towards what happened. This isn't the first time this has happened to him. He mentioned Chicago center's leader Sevan Roshi who also lied to him. I bet Bodhin thought him to be a very honest person also.

    Throughout the whole teisho you can hear perhaps subconscious references to this manipulation: He mentioned Sevan who lied to him, he mentioned the Hussein's weapons he believed to exist, he made it clear to himself and the listeners that he really didn't actually know what kind of "open marriage" Sante and Kanja had but it just was something good and decent, he mentioned it isn't possible to really know who is alcoholic and who isn't, he said it is really hard to know what is true in any case - still he took very idealistic view towards Sante who didn't even seem to be capable of lying.

    Kimmo, I have a word of warning for you! It is very probable that you are under an influence of a sociopath. All of you in that close circle of leaders are. I bet what happened to Sami is that he was also been manipulated by "that guy, that Sante" for many years. Eventually the conflict between what was said and what happened in reality grew so big that it surpassed the manipulation. Perhaps the persuasion to take full-time training triggered his survival instincts, because he subconsciously knew that there would be no escape from the extensive manipulation if he went to middle-of-knowhere for months of training. It might be that this whole crisis, which made him to leave the tradition was the best thing that could have happened. Otherwise he could have lost his opportunity to live an full and healthy life and be instead trapped in games of a sociopath.

    It is really good thing that Bodhin made this teisho. Otherwise he might have never got to know that he was been lied to. Probably Sante didn't realize that his lies would be put to internet and all the people in Finnish-Swedish sangha could hear them. I bet there will be couple more people leaving his sangha after this... And that is good for them.

    VastaaPoista
  14. I think that there are two things here to consider. First of all - why did Bodhin give this teisho? Secondly, why did he say the things he did?

    It was unbelievable to hear how he talked about all this. In the past I have listened many of his excellent (although "american") teishos. I would have never expected him to go so low as he did here. Even though the things he said would be true, the way he talked about them was unbelievably blind and idealistic. Furthermore, if Sami was such a "mental case" as he made listeners to think, why did he lack compassion towards "that guy, that Sami"?

    I see two possibilities:

    Either it was very calculated, political speech to attack Sami's critique and save the face of Kapleau's tradition. It might be that he was alarmed to hear that so many of the key members of Finnish sangha had left and went to Barry Magid's "Ordinary Mind" camp which is been built here. Perhaps this triggered paranoia, especially as he heard about Sami's letter to Magid.

    There is also another, more dangerous and unfortunately also more probable cause for this. He might fell to be a victim of pathological liar, an expert manipulator. The fact that this teisho was so quickly removed from the site supports this viewpoint.

    It might be that during the days he spent in Sweden, he was very skillfully been manipulated to take an emotional and idealistic viewpoint towards what happened. This isn't the first time this has happened to him. He mentioned Chicago center's leader Sevan Roshi who also lied to him. I bet Bodhin thought him to be a very honest person also.

    Throughout the whole teisho you can hear perhaps subconscious references to this manipulation: He mentioned Sevan who lied to him, he mentioned the Hussein's weapons he believed to exist, he made it clear to himself and the listeners that he really didn't actually know what kind of "open marriage" Sante and Kanja had but it just was something good and decent, he mentioned it isn't possible to really know who is alcoholic and who isn't, he said it is really hard to know what is true in any case - still he took very idealistic view towards Sante who didn't even seem to be capable of lying.

    Kimmo, I have a word of warning for you! It is very probable that you are under an influence of a sociopath. All of you in that close circle of leaders are. I bet what happened to Sami is that he was also been manipulated by "that guy, that Sante" for many years. Eventually the conflict between what was said and what happened in reality grew so big that it surpassed the manipulation. Perhaps the persuasion to take full-time training triggered his survival instincts, because he subconsciously knew that there would be no escape from the extensive manipulation if he went to middle-of-knowhere for months of training. It might be that this whole crisis, which made him to leave the tradition was the best thing that could have happened. Otherwise he could have lost his opportunity to live an full and healthy life and be instead trapped in games of a sociopath.

    It is really good thing that Bodhin made this teisho. Otherwise he might have never got to know that he was been lied to. Probably Sante didn't realize that his lies would be put to internet and all the people in Finnish-Swedish sangha could hear them. I bet there will be couple more people leaving his sangha after this... And that is good for them.

    VastaaPoista
  15. If you want to get into that kind of speculation, here's another possibility.

    Maybe Sami is the pathological narcissist who manipulated the Finnish senior sangha and the relatively remote Swedish teachers into putting him into a position of authority, and the shit hit the fan when the people in question started to wise up to him. After all, he's still doing it – manipulating his minions like Timo, Uku, and Concern Troll @13:57 into speaking for him, so he can keep his lily-white hands clean.

    Seems at least as likely to me. I always thought there was something a little "off" about both Sami and Timo.

    VastaaPoista
  16. I don't think Mr/Mrs 13:57 was a troll. Even though his/her writing about sociopaths is provocative, he/she didn't really take a strong stand against whether the teisho was truthful or not. He/she was simply pointing out how odd the Bodhin's teisho was - concidering that he is very experienced zen teacher.

    Why was it so idealistic and cruel? Was it politics or what? Why did Bodhin fall into mistake like this? If it was calculated talk, why was it removed shortly after publishig it? Was it because he realized he didn't really know the truth? Or was Sante perhaps contacting him after seeing that he will get caught if people listen to this bullshit he was feeding Bodhin? Or something else, what?

    But I have to wonder, even if it is provocative, aren't zen teachers supposed to be quite good manipulators? Isn't it their job to use "Upaya/skillful means" and trick people out of their burning houses? What if some of them lack the ethics that we are used to in western countries? Like we have learned from so many scandals around the world shaking zen centers. Like the scandal of Chicago Zen Center two years ago. Would it really be surprising if this is the case here also...?

    VastaaPoista
  17. There's also a third option to what 13:57 said. Perhaps Bodhin isn't quite as silly as it seems here. Let's think of a scenario:

    Bodhin is in Sweden and they talk about the problems of enlightened beings. Then the hosts start to tell a story about what happened two years ago in the Finnish-Swedish sangha. Bodhin had already heard rumours about these events earlier through his contacts, perhaps he's even got email from some people who wants him to take a closer look of what is happening. There seems to be something conflicting in this whole story. Can it really be so black and white as the Swedish senseis want him to believe? Bodhin has experienced lies from his own disciplines more than once and knows the politics inside zen communities.

    So, Bodhin decides to make an experiment. He can't just start to ask opinions from different people as it would show he doesn't trust the senseis. But he knows that many people from Swedish-Finnish sangha are listening his teishos. He decides to tell the story in a teisho in a manner that it was told to him and makes sure he doesn't show any (clear) mistrust agains the Swedish senseis. He waits for reactions from the sangha. He knows that if the story wasn't true some people will immediately contact him, perhaps even the Swedish senseis themselves. He also knows that internet is a funny place - once something is put in there you can't remove it anymore.

    He gets the response he was waiting and gives an order to take the teisho away from the internet - after all, it isn't really his business what happens in the sangha of independent teachers. He gets to start an investigation of what is happening without having to show his mistrust. He makes a favor for the Finnish-Swedish sangha by showing what kind of stories are being told behind the scenes and waits what is happening. Perhaps at some point he will take the inka back at some point if situation calls for it. Afterall, it his foremost duty to preserve the pureness on Kapleau's tradition.

    VastaaPoista
  18. Makes sense. What if we look at it from the other direction?

    Sante and Kanja know that Sami's resignment started a movement which hasn't settled even now, two years ago. Last spring this blog was established and it provided people opportunities to look closer about what has been happening. They also heard another story, expelsion of Finnish zen priest Bodhi.

    People started to look at what happens more critically. The idealistic views towards remote teachers weared off. They started to reflect their own past experiences from different angles and noticed that everything isn't as nice and enlightened as it used to seem.

    Even though Sami didn't start a new group, like Sante and Kanja feared, new groups are established by other teachers and they compete with SBZ. People have now many different traditions to choose from and they don't have to take any bullshit even if they want to continue within zen communities. More and more people are leaving SBZ and joining these other groups.

    Sante and Kanja know that Zengården needs money. They still have lots of debt to RZC from it. Without Zengården they can't be full-time teachers but will need to find some other jobs as well. What if Bodhin will hear that this kind of movement away from his tradition has been started? What if he starts to question whether he wants his tradition to be affiliated with misconducts like this? It could easily mean that Zengården has to be sold in order to pay the debt or then Sante and Kanja themselves are expelled from Zengården and some new teacher is replacing them.

    So, because of this paranoia started by the movement of old members away from ZBS towards other groups they become desperate. They project all this to be Sami's fault and fail to see that it is really they themselves who are causing all this. In the era of internet it isn't so easy to keep these things secret. Like the movement of people away from Finnish church, unethical behavior can trigger movement away from ZBS also.

    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. Interesting theories, but I don’t think that there are any advanced sangha politics behind this. It probably just boils down to the defences of the persons’ involved protecting their religious believes and their position as enlightened masters. Someone criticizing them must be an evil egoistic person or a delusional madman.

      Poista
  19. I always thought Buddha teached us to concentrate on our own faluts. Not others :)

    Your loosing your lifes. I dont know wether laugh or cry.
    If you try to sort something out it is the never ending Samsara. Free your selves

    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. Dear Buddhist, thank you for looking down on us ignorant beings and sharing your enlightened teachings, telling us what we should do. How lucky we are that there are those who know how it really is. I wish you share your words of wisdom also with the Buddhist teachers that people in this blog are talking about.

      Ignorant as I am I believe that discussing these matters can be meaningful, healing and therapeutic to the people involved in this situation and in these groups. This process they’re going through can be a part of a healthy mental and spiritual growth.

      Poista
    2. Passive agressive writing style like yours is not therapeutic.

      Poista
    3. I think the "Buddhist" was mainly talking about Bodhin and other enlightened ones...

      Poista
  20. Wow, there is an incredible amount of speculation here, all based on hearsay.
    Let us look at the one single fact which has been stated in response to this blog posting about Roshi's teisho by one person (Kimmo) who has direct knowledge of what he is writing about: Sami phoned Kimmo and told him lies about Sante Sensei. This is a fact. If it is not, then Sami, I challenge you to offer on this blog to meet Kimmo in a named public place at a named time and date, look Kimmo in the eye and tell him that he is the one who is lying here. Then we can all go along and witness this exchange. All the many many other people who you also told these same lies to can come along and listen to what you have to say to Kimmo. If you do not accept this challenge then that will prove to me and to any other person who has any common sense what has really been going on here.
    By the way, for the sake of balance, I would invite the readers of this blog to have a look at another blog on this subject:
    http://primejunta.blogspot.se/2012/06/dirty-zen-laundry.html

    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. As I read Kimmo's post, Sami didn't tell him lies. He didn't say that Sante is alcoholic, only that he drinks a lot. This is confirmed by other people too. It was Kimmo's own interpretation that drinking a lot = alcoholism. Alcoholism is a disease that has it's own diagnosis criteria, it includes far more than just drinking a lot.

      But I don't think that is important topic here. Quite many zen practitioners drink a lot and it is not a big deal. Unless of course you try to make other people to think that you are not doing such things but instead living "enlightened" lives. :P

      Poista
  21. Two years ago, Sante Sensei did not hesitate to go to Helsinki and face a room full of people waiting to challenge him based on Sami's accusations. Given that not one single allegation of wrongdoing withstood the scrutiny of that meeting, it is perhaps not surprising that Sami chickened out of going to it. He knew he had been telling a pack of lies and he knew that that would become obvious at the meeting.

    If Sami does astound us and finally come forward in person after two years to explain why he said all those bizarre things about both Sante Sensei and about the non-existent financial wrongdoings of Helsinki Zen Center and so on, and why he has never apologised for any of the things he said which turned out to be untrue, then another purpose can be served at the same time. I am talking about the fact that he cynically abused information he was given when he was acting as a therapist, by people who trusted him to keep their secrets. He sprayed their personal information all over the internet in order to make himself look good. If he does agree to show up in public, it will be a great opportunity for the people he betrayed to confront him with his wrongdoing. I will understand completely if they cannot bear to be in the same room as him, but at least they will finally have the chance if they feel like taking it.

    So come on, Sami, time to step up at last. Even if you cannot face meeting in public with people you lied to, at least have the grace to apologise for betraying the confidences of those who trusted you as a therapist. Or are you going to get your henchmen to deny that you did that, as well?

    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. Two years ago Sante went to Helsinki and carried on his role of an enlightened master. He also told in that meeting that only thing he did wrong was to trust Sami. What kind of teacher says things like that of his own discipline?

      Sami was right not to go to that meeting full of people worshipping the image of their enlightened religious leader. Nothing to be gained there. I am very glad he didn't just resign in silence like so many others have done. Otherwise nobody would know what really happens behind the curtains of "holy tradition".

      Poista
  22. I'm pretty sure that Sante is actually an alcoholic. Otherwise he would not have taken such a defensive stance about all that which is basically not the core of the critique but instead some rumors coming from other people than Sami. Only alcoholic would focus on these things.

    I'm also sure he did have affair, as that is the second, non-core things that wasn't in Sami's critique, but which he mentioned to Bodhin as the core critique.

    I'm sure this all is quite tough for him as he has to struggle with his alcoholism and at the same time be extra careful of living like zen masters are supposed to live.

    It would be best for him to seek help for the alcoholism and try to climb down from the delusional fantasies of living enlightened lives. The idealized role of zen master makes anyone lose his mind and inevitable live a shadow life. Look at what has happened to Bodhin too...

    VastaaPoista
  23. I have been puzzling over why people are still blogging two years after the events. This whole thing started with Sami's serious allegations of wrongdoing against his Zen teacher and Zen center. He also expressed some opinions about full-time Zen training, even though he had no experience of it. When his allegations about sex, money and drug abuse did not hold up, that should have been the end of it. Why would anyone want to listen to anything else this guy had to say, when he was prepared to manufacture such scandalous nonsense? Especially since his own lack of ethics was revealed for all to see when he publicly abused information he obtained from patients.
    To the credit of the teachers and the Zen center, however, they did set aside all the lies and nonsense Sami generated and took a good look at the legitimate issues he had raised. They did it properly, within the Sangha, and Helsinki Zen Center is now stronger and healthier than ever.

    Bizarrely however, the blogging continues. Until today, it had long since stopped being about whether there was any truth in the original allegations of wrongdoing, which Sami (through Timo Tapola) is now denying he ever made. (This is a breathtaking act of chutzpah, given the number of people he whispered these lies to.)

    The blogging had deteriorated into grumblings about the imperfections of Zen in general but was also mostly about Sami's supposed victimhood. But now suddenly someone is once more asserting that Sami’s lies (which were never told!) were true after all. This is a very telling reaction to my reasonable request that Sami agree to meet with one of the people he lied to. (And by the way, Kimmo’s post mentioned the lies about sex as well. Why is anonymous 8.47 ignoring that? And why no comment on Sami’s unethical use of patient information?). Forgive me if I think that this is all about Sami and the small group of people he has mesmerized into giving him uncritical support.

    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. It is quite convenient to ignore that Sami wasn't the only one who had to face the authoritarian way of zen. Also the zen priest Bodhi had to face what it means to question the norms of a religious tradition.

      For me this whole thing is about religion. If somebody questions the norms he will face the punishment. This is how cults function, they create fear in the members to stop them thinking/speaking critically about what is happening.

      In normal society none of this would be a big deal. Nothing to blog about. So what if somebody has affairs and drinks alcohol? So what if somebody doesn't think full-time practice isn't good for you? So what if some people have serious mental health problems and should not be continuing some excercises? So what if some people are being assholes? That's how it is in normal society, people have conflicting opinions.

      None of this would be very significant if it wasn't about questioning the norms of a religion. Especially one with idealized, enlightened masters. By questioning the acts of teachers, Sami was questioning the norms of the whole tradition. This was even bigger deal because he was one of the leaders. I think he didn't even realize this before he faced the reactions of other senior sangha members. Perhaps not even then. He must have been quite puzzled to see so many of his friends turning against him, even though he felt his critique was perfectly justified. He didn't have first-hand experience of full-time practice but enough second-hand evidence that it wasn't good for him - or most of the other people. His opinions were perfectly legitimized, but the problem was they were against the norms of the group. And he was one of the leaders of that group.

      I don't see the senseis as "bad guys" here either. Probably they just did what they learned from their own teachers in the tradition - they did what they though they were supposed to do, given their role in the group. They were also probably puzzled to see what was happening, why Sami had this critique and why he didn't submit to the tradition when he was confronted. The same with "Bodhi the zen priest".

      This teisho of Bodhin's is just following the same pattern - enlightened teacher telling what is the real truth and bunch of sheep laughing to his enlightened words in the background... (Got what you deserved, you terrible person questioning our norms) :)

      Poista
  24. Anonymous 21 9.23 you are just proving my point: you give us more words suggesting that there might after all have been some truth in the lies-that-were-never-told, not a single word about Sami's abuse of confidential patient information, and no response to Kimmo's polite and detailed account of the lies Sami told him. More "poor-Sami-the-victim" stuff thrown in.

    If Sami had just questioned the norms, this blog would not exist. To suggest he had no power to do is to ignore the realities of the Helsinki Zen Center before all this happened. Sami was in a position of enormous authority. He had huge credibility with everyone, to the extent that when he started his campaign of whispering lies into people's ears, they believed him, because after all, it was Sami.

    If Sami had called a meeting of the Helsinki Sangha and asked them all to discuss the norms with him chairing the discussion, I have little doubt they would have done what he asked (and in fact they did have such a discussion after he left). He didn't do that. Instead, he went around secretly whispering to people that there were abuses of sex, drugs and money. These were total lies. He now (through his spokesperson Timo Tapola) denies he ever said them.

    If Sami had used his authority and credibility to chair such a meeting about norms, no one outside the Sangha would have been interested in the discussion, even if Sami had later stormed off in a rage and started blogging about how the norms were in his opinion wrong. The only reason there is public discussion is because people love a sex/drugs/money scandal. There was no such scandal, but the fact that Sami was prepared to invent one was enough of an excuse to get all this started.

    As for Bodhin Roshi's teisho, his spur-of-the-moment decision to throw away his prepared teisho and talk off-the-cuff about this was a big mistake. How could he possibly remember all the details right? But he did get the important bottom line fact right: a trusted student lied about his teacher and his Dharma center and then ran away rather than look in the eye the people he had lied to and lied about. I think Roshi must have realised pretty quickly that he had made an error of judgement in talking about this publicly, which must be why he removed the teisho from the website.

    Zen teachers do make mistakes. They are not perfect. The good ones (and here I include Sante Sensei, Kanja Sensei and Roshi) do not pretend to be perfect. They live and learn, like the rest of us. And as for the suggestion that our two teachers go around trying to create some sort of illusion of perfection around themselves, you are ignoring the facts on the ground. I have watched both of them deliberately make a point of showing that they are human like the rest of us. They especially tend to do that when there is a newcomer around who is looking at them all googly-eyed and giving off scary "you are my perfect idol" vibes. Roshi was also right about what happens when someone dehumanises their teacher and creates a fantasy object, an idol, in place of the person: sooner or later they get bored with the object they have invented and want to throw it away.


    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. I think the Anonymous 9:23 is right. This is all about religion. It really doesn't matter whether some people have affairs and use alcohol, unless it is against the norms of the religious society. When somebody makes suggestions that the enlightened teachers aren't actually very competent in dealing with things like mental health problems, and might actually have some problems of their own, he is questioning the basic dogmas of the religion. And that is immediately punished by the other members of that religious group.

      There is also truth in that Sami himself was actually contributing for years to this authoritarian way of the group. He was one of the senior members of the group and people really listened to his words. He was partly building the culture in the early years and then he was enabling the misconducts of teachers until it became too much to tolerate.

      I don't know if the same goes with Bodhi the zen-priest. He had some positions in Zengården but I guess only after he was made a priest he really had some power of his own. And quite soon this resulted in confrontation with the way Sante was leading the practice which then resulted in his expelsion. I think Sami was still supporting the teachers as this happened and probably also supported teachers stories of what happened too. Otherwise there would have been already some critical discussions happening back then.

      It is quite revealing to know that two close disciplines of Sante have faced same kind of treatment from him. As soon as they start to develop their own critical thinking of what is happening, and when it conflicts with the thinking of Sante they are thrown out. And not just that but also a smear campaign is established where Bodhi the zen priest was compared to the school shooter of Jokela and Sami is presented as delusional madman revealing his patient records to public.

      These are the real lies here, not the lack of competence of the teachers, the affairs, pressures to give money to the teachers and the excessive alcohol consumption. Affairs and alcohol usage are only human, as is lack of competence and need for money. But smear campaigning against one's own disciplines is a horrible thing, which happens only in dangerous cults.

      Poista
    2. "As for Bodhin Roshi's teisho, his spur-of-the-moment decision to throw away his prepared teisho and talk off-the-cuff about this was a big mistake. How could he possibly remember all the details right?"

      Come on, even if Bodhin is already an old guy, I would imagine that he would have remembered at least few facts right - providing that those facts were really given to him. I think he was simply been lied at and he was naive enough to believe it. He told the truth about what was presented to him.

      Or then he made this all on purpose, as someone suggested. He wanted to test if there were any truth in it.

      Poista
  25. Good morning anonymous 7.42 and 7.51. I really would like you to say what you think about the fact that Sami told the sex/money/drug lies and about the fact that he abused confidential patient information. Please also say what you think this behavior says about his credibility on other issues.

    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. Sami hasn't told lies about sex/money/drug. He hasn't abused confidential patient information either, it would be illegal to do so. In fact, suggesting that he has done such crimes without evidence is a crime itself.

      On the contrary, to present this as a fact is a lie which Sante told Bodhin roshi, as you can hear from the teisho.

      For the record, zen priest Bodhi wasn't the school shooter of Jokela either. In fact, he hasn't murdered anybody, ever. He followed his heart on how to do his own meditation practice, not any voices that would have made him to harm anybody else.

      I question the credibility of Sante who makes such comparisons with a person that has such integrity and compassion like zen priest Bodhi did. His only "crime" was to have opinions of his own - legitimized by his experiences of working with other zen teachers.

      I guess zen priests are not supposed to think themselves in Zengården, where Sante is the manifestation of Buddha and disciplines are the manifestations of Ego... What a joke. :)))

      Poista
  26. I haven't seen or heard any sex/money/drug lies from Sami. He hasn't revealed any confidential patient information either.

    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. How does what You have heard matter exactly? Have you contacted both sides and listened their views?

      Internet is full of people with opinions.

      Poista
  27. Anonymous 23 8.39, have a look at what Kimmo said in his post, above. Sami deliberately misled Kimmo, who is still waiting for an apology. He also told the same lies to many other people and those lies were one of the main subjects discussed at the big sangha meeting which he caused to happen, which he was invited to, but refused to attend. The meeting looked at all the evidence. The people at the meeting who had been told those lies concluded based on the evidence they heard at that meeting that Sami had lied to them. That is presumably why Sami (through Timo Tapola) is now denying he ever spread these stories in the first place. His abuse of patient confidentiality is plain to see from private information he has published about specific individuals which he obtained from those people when he was acting as their therapist. All I want is for him to acknowledge that he wronged those people and to apologise to them. Failing that, it would be nice to see some of you bloggers here at least acknowledge that he did it and say what you think about this kind of behavior from someone who claims that he is motivated by concern for those people.

    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. anonymous 10.50 am: how do you really know what really happened? ever consider a possibility that maybe there's something more inside of all this? maybe sami is polite enough not to reveal everything because it would literally destroy sante's and helsinki zen center's reputation totally? maybe sami actually care about the people involved and he only wants to reveal what is necessary to point the problems in the hierarchical religious organization and unbalanced teacher-student system?

      Poista
    2. Sami wasn't misleading Kimmo. He was telling the truth to him.

      Poista
    3. Then why is Sami (through Timo Tapola, have a look above) now denying he ever said those things?

      Poista
    4. What Timo wrote is this:

      "Sami has never claimed that Sante is an alcoholic. Sami has never claimed that Sante has a harem of women. Sante himself told in 3 Jewels Order meeting that he was doubting the western marriage system. "

      What Kimmo wrote was this:

      "He mentioned excessive alcohol use and that he (Sante) had other women. He was very vague of the details but he told me that our teacher was living life that was not morally suitable for zen teacher ... Sami never used the word "alcoholism", but the message clearly was some kind of alcohol misuse, why to talk about alcohol use if it was not a problem? "

      Sami didn't say Sante has harem and he didn't say Sante is alcoholic. Harem is total bullshit and alcoholism is Kimmo's own imagination and interpretations.

      Sami said Sante used lots of alcohol. However, it doesn't mean Sante is an alcoholic. Alcoholism is a disease with diagnosis criteria. The point why Sami mentined the use of alcohol was that Sante was playing the role of enlightened zen master while in his private life he met other women and drank a lot of alcohol. This is quite normal behavior for most of the men, but doesn't fit the image of enlightened master. Hence it is what you could call "shadow life".

      Poista
  28. Hi anonymous 10.58. Oh, I see. Sami did lie and did behave unethically, but only did it in order to benefit the people he lied to and lied about? If he had really been out to get them, he would have told the truth instead? Now I have heard everything.
    It is said that the best revenge against someone who has tried to hurt you is to live well. That is what Helsinki Zen Center and its teachers are doing. The Helsinki Sangha is flourishing. The teachers enjoy the respect of their students. If you don't believe me, go and see for yourself. I know this from my own direct experience, so that is why I know that there is no basis in reality for all the speculative material I have seen on this blog.

    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. "That is what Helsinki Zen Center and its teachers are doing. The Helsinki Sangha is flourishing. The teachers enjoy the respect of their students."

      This gives me shivers. Why it is so important to put so much emphasis on the teachers? Can't you see this is the whole problem with zen buddhism?

      Followers putting so much expectations on the tradition, ancient stories, teachers and away from themselves. The teachers encouraging this unhealthy behavior and dependency towards themselves and the tradition they say they represent.

      Poista
    2. Okay, you don't think we need spiritual teachers. Some people do. The fact that they don't make the same choices as you doesn't mean that they are unhealthy. It just makes them different from you. Have a bit of respect for people's choices, please.

      The Dalai Lama was once asked whether one needs a teacher to progress in meditation. He said, "No, but it saves a lot of time!" By the way, the Dalai Lama is currently being subjected to a sustained hate campaign by people who are trying to make him out as the very devil himself. No-one is immune from this kind of attack, it seems

      Poista
    3. I think "spiritual teachership" is bad for the followers and bad for the teachers. This is especially true in zen.

      Like someone said:

      I hope UUT will add a section on zen buddhism to their pages. After so many misconducts in so many traditions (e.g. Maezumi, Kempo, Sevan, Aitken-Shimano, Baker, ...) it is obvious that it is a dangerous cult.

      Poista
  29. I really don't care who are lying and who are not. For me it is enough to see how all this is handled. To see how beneficial this practice has been to the people who have done it for decades.

    Sami has practiced zen for almost 20 years, leading the sangha for 10 years. Look what it has done to him, what kind of position he has been placed by these efforts. What benefit all this years have been for him?

    Sante has been practicing for 30 years. Look at his behavior, how he handles his disciplines having different opinions than he? Look at how he is handling the crisis of his sangha. What benefit has this practice brought him?

    Bodhin has been practicing for more than 40 years. What has he learned in all these years? The senseis he has been authorizing are abusing women, lying to him and others. He himself acts without considering the consequences, giving public speeches without knowing the real facts. If what he said would have been true, it would have been even more serious - he would have been denigrading delusional man in public without compassion. What benefit has all these years of practice been for him?

    All these religious idiots make me want to run as far as I can.

    VastaaPoista
  30. My dear anonymous 21.25, if you do not care about whether or not you have been lied to, then why should we pay any attention to what you say? And why are you even bothering to say it, since truth and lies are all the same to you?

    VastaaPoista
  31. I think anonymous 21:25 meant this:

    If Sami was lying, it says something about the beneficiality of his long practice in Kapleau's tradition. If he wasn't, it says something about the other senior people in that sangha.

    If Sante was lying both to his own disciplines and his own teacher it clearly tells that it is waste of time to practice his tradition. If Sante isn't lying, then his own teacher and his own advanced disciplines haven't got anything worthwhile from his teachings and practices.

    If Bodhin is lying in his teisho, he clearly has some big issues with trust to his disciplines. If Bodhin made that teisho sincerely, he hasn't been able to build compassion even with his very long training. And he is still quite a fool to make public speeches to internet and then trying to immediately remove it when it occurst that there weren't any truth in what he said.

    So, clearly some people are lying. Whoever those people are, it looks bad to the whole tradition, as even Sante and Bodhin have conflicting opinions on what was said in their discussions in Sweden. If their communication is in this level, how well do they really know each others?

    Anonymous 21:25 was making a point that this whole zen tradition seems to be filled with emotionally unstable people, who all think they are enlightened beings, boddhisattvas rescuing other people. But in reality they are just hurting each others'. Even now two years after the critisism they continue to do that.

    It is very good thing that there is this link in this page to the UUT (support organization for the victims of unhealthy religions). These events are very similar to what seems to happen in most of the zen centers around the world. It is just not healthy to hold these fantasies of enlightenment, dharma transmissions, lineages and so on.

    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. There are hundreds of members in this group. All over Sweden and Finland. Doctors, nurses, dentists, accountants, lawyers, artists, musicians, businesspeople, computer experts, teachers, librarians, academics etc. They make time in their busy lives to practice Zen because they know from their own experience that it improves their lives. These are the people who you have just insulted. Just so you know.

      Poista
    2. "These are the people who you have just insulted."

      Seems like cult-talk to me. If someone has critical viewpoints to the norms of the tradition he/she is "insulting" the nice people in the tradition.

      Poista
    3. Dear anonymous 11.08 if a negative sweeping generalisation about a diverse bunch of people you have never met, based on no actual facts about those people, is not an insult, what is?

      Poista
    4. There are whole bunch of facts about what kind of discussion is taking place behind the scenes. That doesn't of course mean all the sheeps of the sangha are unethical, but the leaders of the sangha are. There is no doubt about it.

      Sheep are only responsible of enabling all this to happen - if they know about it. I guess most of them don't know as these things are kept secret.

      Poista
    5. Dear Anonymous 13.45, there are no facts pointing to unethical behavior by the teachers. If Sami had had any hard evidence of wrongdoing, he would have used that evidence, instead of inventing the sex/money/drug lies. And he would have presented it to the Sangha instead of running away and then instigating this blog, where lots of people who have no knowledge at all of the situation feel free to say whatever they like. Lots of heat, no light, no basis for sound judgements.

      And please do not insult me by calling me a sheep. I am an intelligent, independent human being capable of forming my own assessments of what is right and what is wrong. My approach to this task is to base it on the evidence I see. I try to avoid speculating about things I do not know anything about. Why don't you try it sometime? It is very liberating.

      Poista
    6. "there are no facts pointing to unethical behavior by the teachers."

      Dear Anonymous 17.09, are you blind? There are not just evidence of unethical behavior but also evidence of plain incompetence from the teachers. Isn't it unethical to lie to Bodhin about what happened? Isn't it unethical to tell lies about people who leave the tradition? And the methods they used/suggested to cure people in psychosis is just absurd. A hot bath? And did you look at the "statistics" of Sante?

      Poista
  32. Dear anonymous 7.27, you are basing your opinions on what you have seen in this blog. It is controlled by someone who has probably never met most of the people involved, it is the chosen forum of someone who no-one now seems to be denying is a liar, and it is full of speculations about what might have happened by people who have no knowledge of the events. Sure, you can dismiss a whole tradition based on this very poor quality material if you like, but don't expect your conclusions to be taken seriously.

    The only point you make that is worthy of any comment is that Sami's low moral character might be seen as a reflection on the whole tradition. Yes, it might. Perhaps every Zen practitioner is like Sami. Perhaps all athletes are like Lance Armstrong. Perhaps all Muslims are like Osama Bin Laden. Perhaps all men are rapists. You see my point? People who are inside a situation involving other human beings judge those individual people on their actions. People who think they are entitled to stand outside and judge everyone in a group by the actions of one person are just bigots.

    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. No one is denying Sante is a liar. He is probably a pathological liar suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. I get that.

      What I don't get is how Bodhin can be naive enough to believe him without asking for second opinion? Even though it was only two years ago he found out another discipline of his was also lying to him... Another person he was giving dharma transmission... Sevan from Chicago Zen Center, who also misused his role and took advantage of his own discipline.

      There are so many predators amongst the zen teachers. Makes me think of catholic priests. There's something seriously wrong with religions like this.

      Poista
    2. Oh for heaven's sake, no-one who has any direct knowledge of the situation is now saying that the original accusations of wrongdoing against Sante Sensei were true. Even Sami is now denying he made them. What would it take for you to get that? What does the fact that you don't get that say about the validity of this forum?

      Poista
    3. Dear anonymous 12:34. If you take the time to really read through the documents and discussions on this site, as well as listen to the teisho of Bodhin roshi, you can clearly see there are lies involved. But the lies are not made by Sami. The fact that Bodhin removed the teisho from his site tells the whole story - he was been lied to and he was foolish enough to make a public speech based on lies.

      Poista
    4. Dear anonymous 13.41. I realise that there are a lot of allegations of fact on this blog. They could be endlessly discussed. It would take hundreds of hours to go through them. If you wanted a truly reliable determination about which particular allegations were true and which were false, then witnesses would have to come forward and speak about what happened. It would take hundreds of hours of direct evidence, cross-examination, re-examination and on and on. Above all, it would take a fair-minded, impartial person who had no prior prejudice against Zen and no prior acquaintance with the people involved to sift through everything. We don't have any of those things.

      But much more significantly, there are no "victims" coming forward saying they were abused. All we have is the sex/money/drugs liar Sami saying that he thinks some people were abused. But in his own documents, Sami shows that he is the only abuser here. One of the people Sami shamelessly abused by using his name and private information without his permission came forward on this blog and flatly contradicted what Sami had said about him. The other people whose lives Sami ruthlessly exposed to public scrutiny in the same way have not come forward to confirm his stories. The one person who has come forward at Sami's request is Bodhi/Simo. And he is not presenting himself as some sort of helpless victim. I knew Simo when he was a priest. He was very much his own man and I think he would be upset if anyone suggested otherwise. What happened between him and the teachers was nobody's business but theirs. All we need to know is that he got angry with the teachers and he left. He went and did something else. End of story. And to be fair to Simo, I very much doubt that he would have given in to Sami's pressure to tell his version of what happened between him and the teachers after all these years if he had known before he did so that Sami had gone around spreading sex/money/drug lies. He is probably now very embarrassed to be associated on this blog with a liar.

      Hence, I stand by my statement that there is no evidence of misconduct on the part of the teachers. The people on this blog who are making judgements of misconduct against the teachers are effectively saying: "We don't care that there is no evidence of any victims, the word of a liar is good enough for us."

      Poista
    5. Bodhi revealed his experiences because he thought people should know what really happened. It was his wish to present it to the public. He was treated unfairly and afterwards was compared by Sante to the school shooter of Jokela. A murderer who killed many innocent children.

      What kind of madman does that to his former disciplines? How could anybody deny this is unethical behavior from a teacher? I would think Bodhi is embarrassed that he was ever a follower of such a loser.

      There are many others who have faced similar treatment, but not many of them are willing to come to public with their experiences. For obvious reasons.

      Poista
    6. Anonymous 10.05, you are just giving us more speculation and adding some gratuitous insults about someone you don't know.

      Poista
  33. I hope UUT will add a section on zen buddhism to their pages. After so many misconducts in so many traditions (e.g. Maezumi, Kempo, Sevan, Aitken-Shimano, Baker, ...) it is obvious that it is a dangerous cult.

    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. I must say, I agree. There's too much bs in Zen Buddhist traditions because of teacher-student hierarchical structure and keeping the Holy Zen scenes alive with urban temples, robes and bells. It's sooooo wicked and sad that some people are actually believing all the crap Holy Zen teachers are telling to people about solving problems through zazen and Zen. Enlightenment, satori, kensho? Hah, what a joke!

      Poista
    2. Uku you are entitled to your opinion about Zen. You are even entitled to express it. But what you are not entitled to do is suggest that there has been any wrongdoing in this particular group, since the whole basis of the discussion about this group originates with a liar.

      Poista
    3. Dear anonymous 12:34. If you take the time to really read through the documents and discussions on this site, as well as listen to the teisho of Bodhin roshi, you can clearly see there are lies involved. But the lies are not made by Sami. The fact that Bodhin removed the teisho from his site tells the whole story - he was been lied to and he was foolish enough to make a public speech based on lies.

      Poista
    4. Uku, based on your comment above, it seems like your over 15 years of zazen practise in the Gudo Nishijima Roshi tradition hasn't been very beneficial either, as the need to ridicule the beliefs of others still arises in your mind and the crap doesn't even stop there. :(

      Poista
    5. Anonymous 16:23, thanks for your comment! Hahhaa, you should have seen me years ago when being an alcoholic, using drugs and smoking weed and whining how shitty life is, crying my soul out. And if you really think that zazen should turn us into some kind of holy beings, good luck! I like to live in the reality.

      And besides, when reading these stories all over the world, you don't have to be a genius to notice that there's a LOT of problems going on in Zen Buddhist traditions. You can start from this blog. And whenever these issues are being discussed, I believe that we human beings really have hope.

      Peace!

      Poista
    6. There's a difference between criticizing and ridiculing. Your comment wasn't far from saying things like "God, Jesus, Muhammad, Heaven? Hah, what a joke!". Nothing good comes out of it. And that's a reality of this world. JMHO

      Poista
    7. God, Jesus, Muhammad and Heaven are good things. Enlightenment is a dangerous fairytale and it plays an important role in these events: people might actually believe that there is some kind of Enlightenment, Satori that can wipe all the problems away. And sometimes teachers are being seen like persons who have achieved these mysterious states. And if they have a brown robe, some fancy Buddhist name... OMG!

      Poista
    8. That snake is dangerous only if you grasp it in the wrong way.

      Poista
    9. Well, I rather leave the snakes alone. I let them do their own things in the wilderness.

      One Love!

      Poista
    10. "It's sooooo wicked and sad that some people are actually believing all the crap Holy Zen teachers are telling to people about solving problems through zazen and Zen. Enlightenment, satori, kensho? Hah, what a joke!"

      Interesting argument. Do you really claim that such thing as "kensho" doesn't exist at all? Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Brad Warner also talk about enlightement as a real thing (even though he doesn't probably use the word "kensho")? And (if I'm right)even Sami hasn't claimed that kensho isn't a real thing, even though he has much critic against the Kapleau-tradition. And if zazen doesn't solve any your problems, why are you practicing it?

      I have also lost my belief to "enlightement" as something that solves all your problems and makes the rest of your life go perfectly spontanious and effortless and blahblahblah, since many people who I know have had it still have many personal problems. But I still tend to believe that "kensho" is a real experience which can really affect one's life, even though it most likely doesn't solve all your problems. The fact that "kensho" doesn't solve all your problems and probably doesn't mach peoples' fantasies about it doesn't mean that it's a fairytale.

      Poista
  34. Uku, you are entitled to believe that there is no such thing as enlightenment. But your belief becomes a dogma when you start thinking that yours is the only valid opinion. And your dogma slides into fanaticism when you start saying that anyone who does not share your opinion is subscribing to a dangerous fairytale. Why didn't you say right in the first paragraph when you started this blog that you had no respect for Zen? Some people may have got the impression that you were trying to get to the truth of this particular situation. Instead you seem to have been motivated by a desire to confirm a prejudice.

    VastaaPoista
  35. many have mentioned UUT in here, but for non-finnish it might be totally useless information. Here it is in English:

    Cult information in Finland

    A brief description of Uskontojen uhrien tuki UUT ry (Support group for the victims of religions)

    Uskontojen uhrien tuki UUT ry (Support group for the victims of religions)

    independent association giving help and support to those who feel that they have been abused, mistreated or deceived by an authoritarian religious community or "cult"
    started 1987, registered 1993
    association also provides the public with information about different religious groups
    We wish that

    religious communities in Finland would openly talk about the commitments they require from their members. Candidates should be informed of all the rules and restrictions enforced by the community before a decision to join is made. Once a person has joined the community, s/he should not be pressured to do anything, which is against his/her will.
    religious communities would obey the law and respect human rights acts declared by the United Nations. They should not restrict individual's legal freedom and contacts to the "outside world": i.e. relatives and friends, etc. Members should not be pressured into giving up their possessions, work or hobbies. They should also have the right to leave the community without threats or fears of retaliation.


    Helsinki Zen Center and Zengården is a cult? propaply not but think abou it. read above carefully and think about it

    VastaaPoista
  36. In the pages of UUT there are introductions of many potentially dangerous religious movements. These include Jehova's Witnesses, Mormons, Leastadions, Krishna ISCKON and Scientology.

    It doesn't mean that every single group in those religious movements are dangerous or unhealthy cults. However, it means that there have been many occasions where these groups have transformed to dangerous cults with disastrous results to it's members.

    Zen buddhism clearly fulfills all the criteria to be added to those pages, as there have been so many scandals inside zen communities. The most recent was Sevan's misconduct in Chicago Zen Center, which is also in the same lineage with Helsinki Zen Center. Perhaps the most horrible case is that of Shimano, who continued to abuse women for many decades and this was even known by most of the zen teachers in America - including Kapleau and Bodhin Kjolhede. This was only revealed by Aitken in his death bed few years ago. You can read more about these horrible events from Aitken-Shimano letters.

    I really hope zen buddhism is included in the UUT pages as it is clear that people should have very critical and alerted mind if they wish to join any zen groups. Especially so with traditions that have monastery-like training centers where people are isolated from the rest of the world.

    VastaaPoista
  37. Let us be careful not to get into any "all Muslims are terrorists"-type bigotry here. Some individual people do bad things. That is a fact of human life, in every context. Those individuals should be judged by what they personally have done. The group they belong to should be judged by how it deals with the bad behavior.

    When Sevan admitted his relationship with his wife had started when she was still a student of his, the punishment was swift and decisive: He had to stop being a teacher immediately. His bad behavior was made known to all the members of the organisation and was apologised for. That is a sign of a healthy group dealing appropriately with the bad behavior of a member.

    VastaaPoista
  38. I believe the problem with zen buddhism has to do with it's authoritarian form, dogmas and belief system. It's not just about "bad apples".

    The in-built elements in zen buddhism encourage people to create fantasies of enlightenment and enlightened teachers. The authoritarian forms encourage people to create strong dependency towards the tradition and it's representatives. The strong emphasis of dharma transmission and lineages coming from Buddha puts unnatural expectations towards the character of teachers and corrupts the teachers themselves.

    Some people can deal with these things better and longer than others, but there are SO MANY EXAMPLES of abuse, misconduct and other unethical behavior amongst zen buddhism that it proves it can be really dangerous religion for the members. For this reason it would be really important to add zen buddhism to the UUT list of potentially dangerous religions, so that people could be more aware of the dangers.

    Hopefully some people from this forum can co-operate with UUT about this.

    VastaaPoista
  39. Hi anonymous 25 12.23
    I have just done a bit of quick research, starting with the English Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cults). That page lists all the organisations that have ever officially been listed as cults, in 9 countries, including countries like the United States, Australia, France and Germany, where Zen is very well established with many centers in many different lineages. Not one single country has Zen listed as a problem. Belgium did a big parliamentary investigation of almost 200 kinds of spiritual activity, including the Christian church, T’ai Chi and Zen, without coming to any conclusions. That is the only reference to Zen on the page. So, what does that tell us? Are the Finnish government and these other 9 countries' governments idiots? Or is this blog turning into some kind of witch hunt? I vote for the latter.

    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. Witch hunt? Have you even read these posts? It seems you haven't, because you seem not to know what Sami, Timo and Bodhi went through; what Sante said; what Bodhin said.

      And about the Zen tradition: have you read what Shimano has done? Are you aware of other problems in Zen tradition? Clearly you have no idea about these events or... you're a follower of this Zen cult. I vote for the both.

      Poista
    2. Sami told the sex/money/drug lies and is now denying he did that. Everything else he has said must be seen in that light. And anyone who says that they still support him even though he lied like this is in the same boat. I am not suggesting that anyone who knows him does still support him. We haven't seen any non-anonymous posts since Kimmo posted an account of the way Sami lied to him. All we have had is an endless stream of speculations.

      Shimano is a terrible person. Yes, he was a Zen teacher and I sure hope his group has changed its structures to make sure that this sort of thing can't happen again in that group. Why don't you spend your time and energy finding out if they have, and start blogging about that group if they haven't? Please stop trying to make a completely unrelated group guilty of his misconduct. It is the same as suggesting that all Muslims are terrorists.

      Poista
    3. UUT isn't a governmental organization. It is established and maintained by people who have become victims of religious/spiritual cults. They list organizations and religions that are potentially dangerous. It doesn't matter in which countries most of the problems have become visible.

      Shimano, Maezumi, Baker, Sevan and Gempo are the most well-known examples of teachers who have abused their role and position. Now we also know that many of these events were known for years, even decades but kept secret by other zen teachers. Aitken roshi revealed some of these things only in his death bed. It is clear that these other teachers kept these secrets because they didn't want have publicity for their own religion. That is really unethical behavior in itself.

      There are more than enough cases to add zen buddhism to the UUT list of potentially dangerous cults. Especially if you compare it to some other religions they present (ISCON, anthroposophy).

      Poista
  40. I started posting here a week ago because I saw that Timo Tapola, on behalf of Sami, had denied that Sami had ever told lies about sex, money and drugs to his fellow Sangha members in Helsinki. One of the people he lied to, Kimmo, posted a description of the deliberate deception Sami had subjected him to and said he was still waiting for an apology. I thought it was appropriate to ask Sami to offer to meet Kimmo, look Kimmo in the eye and either apologise or try and explain himself. Sami did not respond to that invitation. To me, that says it all.

    But not to others here, it would seem. The anonymous stream of attacks against Helsinki Zen Center and its teachers did not pause or dry up, it intensified. We have heard from people who said they didn't care about the facts, people (everyone, basically) who could not bring themselves to even acknowledge, let alone deal with, the clear case made by Kimmo and by me that Sami is a liar. And most of all, people who feel entitled to fling out one wild insult after another and then say that my objections to those insults were proof that the insults were valid.

    I have spent the last week patiently answering every allegation against Helsinki Zen Center and its teachers on this blog. I think I have given cogent replies - fair minded readers can judge for themselves. Now I am really tired of having to answer exactly the same points over and over again for people who have not read my previous replies. Or who knows, maybe they have read my previous replies and are simply trying to use the volume of their material to overwhelm me. I have not seen anything new about the actual events for days.

    I am also tired of the fact that, because there are no legitimate points to be made against Helsinki Zen Center and its teachers, people who seem to be on some sort of anti-Zen crusade are now turning to absurd generalisations based on things that happened in other countries, with other people. I have even answered some of these, but now I realise that there is no point in continuing. Bigotry is bigotry and my reality-based thinking is as unwelcome here as it was in the Bush administration.

    So this will be my last post here. I do hope you come to your senses soon and decide to go and do something constructive with your time instead.

    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. https://xkcd.com/386/

      Hyvää yötä Don Quijote.

      Poista
    2. I'm sorry about anonymous 18:24 leaving. I think s/he started to realize the truth and had to escape before the conflict inside grew too big.

      Poista
  41. Hi all!

    I'll be at the sesshin from Friday 26th to Sunday 28th, so comments will be published after I'll come back.

    "Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds." Bob Marley. Oh yes!

    Peace and love
    Uku

    VastaaPoista
  42. Here's great article by a zen priest who says, like some people here, that it is useful to consider every Zen sangha as a cult risk:

    http://sweepingzen.com/sexual-ethics-zen-scandals-and-cults


    "I think several points are applicable to how we practice together in Zen sanghas, including but not limited to those listed here, which are drawn from the International Cultic Association website – http://www.csj.org/infoserv_cult101/checklis.htm -

    1) The group displays zealous or unquestioning commitment to its leader/teacher and regards his/her belief system, ideology, or practices as “the Truth” or in Zen terms, the true Dharma or correct understanding. In such sanghas, the head teacher’s words and view become the sole teaching or the only teaching paid serious respect.
    2) Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished. Discouragement can be subtle and punishment can be in the form of isolation and disapproval.
    3) The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel; for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, etc. This may sound foreign to our practice tradition, but in fact it really isn’t. Some Zen teachers impose such conditions on students who wish to enter into formal discipleship and insist on having a say over even small details of disciples’ personal lives, even including such things as whether and when they can visit with old friends.
    4) The leader isn’t really accountable to any authorities. While many sanghas may have boards and committees to which the teacher is technically accountable, real accountability can erode over time, especially when boards and committees are comprised of members who are the teacher’s disciples.
    5) Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group. Further to what has already been said, while the word “subservience” isn’t one we use much in Zen, we do place importance on the concept of home leaving and may also place spiritual value on the practice of “venerating” the teacher, which, combined with a teacher’s insistence on micro-managing disciples’ lives, can lead to a kind of subservience.

    What I’m suggesting is that it might be useful to consider every spiritual community, every Zen sangha, as a cult risk."

    VastaaPoista
  43. "Aitken, a deeply respected founder in American Zen, had lied for decades about Shimano’s misconduct in order to protect, as Aitken explained it, “the American Dharma.”"

    http://sweepingzen.com/lineage-delusions-eido-shimano-roshi-dharma-transmission-and-american-zen

    Great article describing how "dharma transmissions" and other unhealthy beliefs and practices of authoritarian zen lead to dangerous dynamics.

    "Even if the magical claims of dharma transmission are discarded and it is recognized as an ordinary human institution, it still should not be retained as a method of training Zen meditation teachers. No truly meaningful credential can be conferred simply at the pleasure of one person. Indeed, as a method, it creates toxic interpersonal dynamics in communities, for the future recognition or preferment of a student is entirely dependent upon pleasing a dharma heir, or a presumptive dharma heir. If I wish to rise in this hierarchical system, I must pay court to the dharma heir and his or her favorites, and as a courtier in such a system, I can never openly acknowledge my self-interested pursuit of attention, for my goal is always, theoretically, “spiritual” development. Yet, of course, my ability to please a dharma heir and receive, in my turn, recognition and/or authorization will give me status and even employment opportunities. The dynamics of court, courtier, and courtship create endless distortions of human behavior even in ordinary institutions – a business, political party, or college. These run wild when the king, queen, pope, or dharma heir has imputed “special” powers. Anyone connected for a length of time to a Zen Center can cite examples."

    VastaaPoista
  44. Let's no forget the founder of Sanby Kyodon, Yasutani, who had really right wing patriotic views and encouraged Japanese people to kill as much enemies as possible, using zen rethorics to legitimize it. Even Bodhin himself wrote about this in Tricycle and was shamed about it. Ironically he himself was supporting US acts regarding the "weapons of mass destruction" case in Iraq, which he mentions in the teisho also.

    There certainly is a track record of black n' white thinking in Kapleau's tradition. No wonder it is also seen in the acts of the current teachers.

    VastaaPoista
  45. I am immigrant here to sweden. I worried very much I see hate saying about Buddhist group Zen. To say opinion about something is okay. But responsible is important. I think anonymously hate opinions is bad. How is possible responsible with no name? Is disrespect to that group zen.
    On Wikipedia it is this:
    Sweden prohibits hate speech, and defines it as publicly making statements that threaten or express disrespect for an ethnic group or similar group regarding their race, skin colour, national or ethnic origin, faith or sexual orientation. The crime doesn't prohibit a pertinent and responsible debate (en saklig och vederhäftig diskussion), nor statements made in a completely private sphere.

    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. I haven't seen any hate speech here against zen buddhism. Only well argumented statements why zen should or could be added to the UUT list. And when you think about it - it seems to be potentially dangerous religious movement.

      Poista
  46. A great documentary about groups, brain washing, the desire to divide between we and the others, and the use of power and charisma.

    I'm not suggesting anything with this. But it can be valuable to reflect on how these subjects appear in one's life.

    http://areena.yle.fi/tv/1653641

    The english name for it is Lesson Plan.

    VastaaPoista
  47. From UUT web site:

    "Vallankäyttö uskonnollisessa yhteisössä voi saada ikäviä piirteitä. Vaikka värvääjät puhuvat hyvin kauniisti yhteisöstään, liittymisen jälkeen paljastuva todellisuus voi olla toinen: jäsen saattaa joutua luopumaan suuresta osasta oikeuksiaan. Pahimmillaan tämä johtaa tilanteeseen, jossa johtaja tai pieni eliitti määrää jäsenten intiimeimmistäkin asioista ja sanelee suoraan, mihin pitää uskoa. Rivijäsenet joutuvat tekemään kohtuuttomia taloudellisia ja henkisiä uhrauksia yhteisönsä hyväksi. Nämä vaaralliset uskonnolliset liikkeet uhkaavat yksilön vapautta, oikeuksia ja mielenterveyttä.

    Kun uskonnollinen yhteisö sairastuu:

    Johtaja/johtajat omaksuvat autoritaarisen vallankäytön, joka käyttää nöyryyttämistä ja syyllistämistä murtamaan alempiarvoisen jäsenen itsetunnon ja oma-aloitteisuuden. Jäsen menettää arvonsa yksilönä: hänen omilla ajatuksillaan ei ole merkitystä.

    Olot yhteisössä heikentävät ihmisen kykyä ajatella kriittisesti. Todellisuuskäsitys hämärtyy uskonyhteisön "ainoan totuuden" edessä, koska oppien vähäinenkin arvosteleminen tulkitaan lankeamiseksi pahaan. Yhteisöstä eroamista pidetään anteeksiantamattomana syntinä ja kaikki ihmissuhteet eronneeseen katkaistaan.

    Jäsenet kärsivät pelkotiloista ja vainoharhaisuudesta (tottelemattomat joutuvat helvettiin, ulkopuoliset/demonit vainoavat heitä), taikauskosta (esim. johtajien uskotaan lukevan ajatuksia), syyllisyydentunteista, identiteettihäiriöistä, ahdistuksesta liiallisten ja ristiriitaisten vaatimusten vuoksi.

    Joissakin yhteisöissä lääkityksen kieltäminen, vähäinen uni, tolkuton saunominen tai jokin muu fyysinen tekijä heikentää terveyttä.

    Jäsenyys voi johtaa kohtuuttomiin taloudellisiin menetyksiin (velanotto kurssien maksamiseksi, kymmenysten/perinnön luovuttaminen liikkeelle, työpaikasta luopuminen).

    Liittymisestä voi seurata opintojen keskeyttäminen.

    Käännynnäisen ihmissuhteet voivat kärsiä: monet ryhmät rohkaisevat seurustelemaan vain toisten jäsenten kanssa.

    Jäseniä voidaan käyttää törkeästi hyväksi: sairastumisen tai muun syyn takia hyödyttömäksi käynyt jäsen, joka on uhrannut yhteisölle koko omaisuutensa ja vapaa-aikansa, heitetään ulos kuin vanha rukkanen."

    Seems to be a good list of things to consider...

    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. In English:

      When religious group becomes unhealthy:

      Leaders use power in authoritarian ways, where humiliation and guilt are used to break the self-esteem and initiative of the people in lower rank. Member loses his value as an individual: his personal opinions and thought don’t matter.

      (Hmmm, isn’t this was happened to Sami and Bodhi?)

      Circumstances in the group diminish the ability of individual to think critically. Reality is distorted by the “only truth” of the group, because all critique is interpreted to be bad. Resignation from the group is seen unforgivable sin and all the relationships towards the person are cut off.

      (This sounds also familiar. But this might be only an opinion of unenlightened being – what do we unenlightened people know about the teachings of enlightened beings…)

      Members are suffering from fear and paranoia (e.g. fear of going to hell), superstition (e.g. leaders are believed to be able to see the thoughts), feelings of guilt, identity distortions, anxiety because of conflicting and too high demands.

      (Enlightenment is the only way out from the burning house of samsara. We need to focus all our time and energy to this mission of becoming enlightened.)

      Some groups have practices that diminish the health: e.g. use of medicine prohibited, too little sleep, really extensive use of sauna, some other physical demands …

      (Good practitioners do zazen also night-time, until the great enlightenment is reached. Sleeping is of secondary value in sesshins. Also the pains of sitting still in lotus posture and hurting your joints/knees are small price to pay for enlightenment.)

      Membership can lead to economical difficulties (need for taking debt to participate trainings, payments for the group, giving up jobs). Membership might lead to discontinue of education.

      (How many people have sacrificed their jobs and education in search of enlightenment by taking full-time training?)

      Members’ relationships might suffer. In many groups people are encouraged to date only other members.

      (How many people have sacrificed their relationships when zen practice has become number one thing?)

      Members might become victims of abuse. If member becomes useless for the group because of illness or something else, he might be abandoned even though he had sacrificed lots of time and money for the group.

      (Hmmmm…)

      Poista
    2. "Hmmm, isn’t this was happened to Sami and Bodhi?"

      You seen Sami ever when he was leader at Helsinki? Very handsome, very much charisma. He liked that people think him very special, so perfect Sami!

      I think happened "to" Sami is this - he tried to be big king and push away teachers. The people just want Zen, not king. And they don't want liar.

      Uku has own Zen place in Helsinki. Ukus way very special. Only right way of practise. Wants to be king too. Uku is using Sami story to try break other zen center.

      People are smart Uku. They know what is true. You say "peace" lot of times. But you make war.

      Poista
    3. What about Bodhi? Was he also trying to become a king by following his own heart with the practice? Why to say that he represents the Ego while teacher represents the Buddha? Why to disgrace him by comparing to school shooter of Jokela after kicking him out?

      Only reason I come up with is what UUT writes about sick religious groups:

      "Leaders use power in authoritarian ways, where humiliation and guilt are used to break the self-esteem and initiative of the people in lower rank. Member loses his value as an individual: his personal opinions and thought don’t matter."

      Poista
  48. A brief description of Uskontojen uhrien tuki UUT ry (Support group for the victims of religions)

    Uskontojen uhrien tuki UUT ry (Support group for the victims of religions)

    independent association giving help and support to those who feel that they have been abused, mistreated or deceived by an authoritarian religious community or "cult"
    started 1987, registered 1993
    association also provides the public with information about different religious groups

    We wish that

    religious communities in Finland would openly talk about the commitments they require from their members. Candidates should be informed of all the rules and restrictions enforced by the community before a decision to join is made. Once a person has joined the community, s/he should not be pressured to do anything, which is against his/her will.
    religious communities would obey the law and respect human rights acts declared by the United Nations. They should not restrict individual's legal freedom and contacts to the "outside world": i.e. relatives and friends, etc. Members should not be pressured into giving up their possessions, work or hobbies. They should also have the right to leave the community without threats or fears of retaliation.

    Our web site gives information about religious abuse issues for Finnish speaking readers. As there seems to be quite an amount of information about cults on the Web in English, we are not planning to translate our articles into English.

    VastaaPoista
  49. Anonymous wrote:

    Uku has own Zen place in Helsinki. Ukus way very special. Only right way of practise. Wants to be king too. Uku is using Sami story to try break other zen center.

    People are smart Uku. They know what is true. You say "peace" lot of times. But you make war.


    Hahhaa! No, I don't want to be a king. I want to be a queen. Or a princess.

    Anyway,I don't have a group anymore. I'm not a leader anymore. I gave up the leadership months ago.

    And besides, I'm not a Buddhist anymore. I'm not following the Bodhisattva precepts anymore. I gave up my rakusu and robes etc. I'm not practicing or following Soto Zen anymore. I'm just an average Joe who is practicing zazen and studying Dogen's teachings. I'm still instructing zazen in our Zen group Kajo Zendo but probably it won't be possible for a long because can a non-Buddhist, non-Zen Buddhist instruct zazen in Soto Zen group? Who knows.

    And oh, I hope people are smart. That's why this blog is established that people could think by themselves too.

    Peace!






    VastaaPoista
  50. I wrote: "It's sooooo wicked and sad that some people are actually believing all the crap Holy Zen teachers are telling to people about solving problems through zazen and Zen. Enlightenment, satori, kensho? Hah, what a joke!"

    Anonymous answered 9th Nov 16.17: Interesting argument. Do you really claim that such thing as "kensho" doesn't exist at all? Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Brad Warner also talk about enlightement as a real thing (even though he doesn't probably use the word "kensho")? And (if I'm right)even Sami hasn't claimed that kensho isn't a real thing, even though he has much critic against the Kapleau-tradition. And if zazen doesn't solve any your problems, why are you practicing it?

    I have also lost my belief to "enlightement" as something that solves all your problems and makes the rest of your life go perfectly spontanious and effortless and blahblahblah, since many people who I know have had it still have many personal problems. But I still tend to believe that "kensho" is a real experience which can really affect one's life, even though it most likely doesn't solve all your problems. The fact that "kensho" doesn't solve all your problems and probably doesn't mach peoples' fantasies about it doesn't mean that it's a fairytale.


    Hi anonymous!

    I know satori, kensho, enlightenment, awakening, being alive, kapow, what ever term we're using, is real. It's possible for everyone and it's not a big deal. But what I wrote was that it's so sad that people are actually believing what Holy Zen teachers (and gurus etc.) are saying about those things. So many are actually thinking that what teachers etc. are telling is real just like they're telling it. But no. That's their experience. Their experience is unique. My experience is unique. Your experience is unique. The problems arise (and they have arised so many times in the spiritual scene as we can see also from this blog's stories) when people are starting to believe that what their teacher/guru is saying is absolute real. So many times people are getting lost into the imagination, following their teachers/gurus, teachings and forgetting their own selves, own lifes.

    Zazen and Zen can't solve problems. But you can and there zazen and Zen can help you. But telling that zazen solve problems or practicing zazen you can achieve the enlightenment or a bigger weaner... no can do. That's not universal. But your experience is universal because awakening, experiencing this moment as it is right now, is possible for everyone. But talking or writing about or describing it... just bunch of words where people can get lost. That's why it's better to just practice zazen and to concentrate on your own individual life, trying to do best and live positive life helping others.

    Peace
    Uku

    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. Hi Uku!

      Good answer! I think I understand you a little better know, and I have to say that I really agree with you. It was just that your "what a joke!" -comment that I quoted in the first place was quite provocative. :P

      Peace
      Anonymous :D

      Poista
    2. I like'd Uku's original comment better. Enlightenment, Satori, Kensho - they are all a big joke. They are nothing real, just concepts developed in a dogmatic religious context.

      Real life is just what it is. We have lots of different kinds of experiences and happenings in our life. To create idealizations like these is a road to fantasies. And when those fantasies are established and socially supported people are ready to defend those fantasies against any criticism. Even if it would mean lots of suffering for themselves or others.

      So I would stand behind the first comment of Uku's:
      "It's sooooo wicked and sad that some people are actually believing all the crap Holy Zen teachers are telling to people about solving problems through zazen and Zen. Enlightenment, satori, kensho? Hah, what a joke!"

      Poista
    3. "They are nothing real, just concepts developed in a dogmatic religious context."

      Just for curiosity: Do you have any personal experience about meditation or zen, or is that just what you happen to believe based on your own worldview? And do you think that everyone (and there are plenty) who claim they've had this kind of experience are either lying or living in a "fantasy world", but you instead are living in a true reality and know for sure what's real and what's not?

      Poista
    4. I have very long personal experience on meditation and zazen. Unfortunately also on zen buddhism. I have also experiences that have been called with such a names. I was also caught to these fantasies. I cherished my experiences which were socially supported by the group. We were all constructing these fantasies of living enlightened lives. These experiences and the practice were the most important thing in the world. If somebody challenged these views we secretly lifted ourselves higher than those people - what do they know, they haven't seen the true reality themselves? Poor bastards.

      But the joke was really on us. Why did we have the need to make it all something extraordinary? To make rituals and religious concepts out of these experiences? They weren't really so extraordinary anyway. Plenty of people had them without making such a fuzz about it... In a way we were separating ourselves from our lives with all these religious doctrines. And people were really suffering behind all these curtains, and hurting others at the same time. Eventually I woke up from all that. But it was hard.

      Poista
  51. Part 1

    As it has been pointed out a few times already, Sami’s critique wasn’t about the things that Bodhin and some of the commentators here are trying to make it look like. The reason there’s so much focus on these things is that Bodhin gave a public speech that was full of misinformation.

    But because there is so much focus on these things, I’ll share my experience as well. I remember it similar to how Sami writes about it in his blogtext. Those things were kind of a side track when talking about everything that happened after his real critique to the teachers. I took it as a way to remind about that the teachers are not holy or perfect in any way. They are normal people with all their shortcomings as everyone else. It was a way to give perspective on the things that happened. But I’m sure there are as many ways to interpret the information as there are readers.

    OK. So Sante sometimes drank a lot of alcohol and he smoked. Sante and Kanja had problems in their relationship and Sante had stated that he doesn’t believe in marriage. Sami was also critical about the way that the teacher had asked dana directly from him and from some other students – he also wrote about this in his letter to the teachers.

    That these things have been blown up to such dimensions, I believe some of the blame could be on people’s scandal seeking minds that made this into a question about alcoholism, sexual abuse and abuse of money.

    When it comes to the statements about the teachers creating an illusion of enlightened masters, my experience is that they for sure do it. In this blog this is shown in the most brutal way in zen-priest Bodhi’s story: Sante told him that he himself represents Buddha and that zen-priest Bodhi listening to his heart is ego - later he even compared zen-priest Bodhi to the Jokela school shooter. This is madness!

    In their public teisho-speeches the teachers give an idealized picture of the enlightened zen-masters with almost superhuman wisdom and they let their students believe that the teachers themselves are the same kind of enlightened zen-masters as well. The teachers might laugh at the ignorance of some students idealizing them: “We’re after all just human”. But still there’s the underlying understanding that the teachers’ enlightenment and wisdom is somehow beyond human.

    Maybe because of this, people’s reactions to these sidetracks are so strong. Sante speaks in his teisho that nicotine is the worst drug of all because it makes one disconnected - still he smokes himself. It’s not allowed to drink alcohol in Zengården - still he himself drinks alcohol even there. People want Sante to lead their wedding ceremony, but he is actually someone who states that he doesn’t believe in marriage. People seek the teachers up to talk about their relation problems, but even two “enlightened masters” have problems in their relationship. Some may despite their tough economic situation be encouraged to practice dana paramita by giving money to the temple or the teachers, and they do it believing it goes to something “holier or higher”, but instead it goes into buying beer.

    These things in themselves aren’t great “wrongdoings”, and I personally don’t care about someone drinking, smoking or having problems in their relationship, but in the context given, I understand that these kinds of things can be good examples to point at, when talking about other issues, so that one would get a more realistic and complex picture of the teacher, and that one could keep this picture in mind. Still one shouldn’t get stuck into these things, of course. I understand well if Sami don’t want to get more into this even though some people are trying to challenge him. As I understand it, it was just his way to give a wider perspective about the teachers, while his main focus was in completely different issues. These things were not his main critique.

    VastaaPoista
  52. Part 2

    The real reasons for Sami’s critique are the authoritarian leadership and the mental health problems that often arise in full time training and how they’re handled. You can read all this from his letter to the teachers, which was meant to be private, but became public after the teachers went public with the whole thing.

    When it comes to Sami sharing actual cases as examples of the mental health issues, I can understand both sides. To make his point clear, Sami had to share a few cases, keeping the persons involved anonymous, about the mental health issues that he had insight into. If he didn’t, people probably would be complaining about that his statements lack proof - like they do now with those side track issues mentioned above, that Sami doesn’t seem to want get into it. Of course sharing these stories, even though he doesn't mention names, is unfortunate to these people who felt betrayed after recognizing themselves in the examples. With names, Sami writes only about the teachers, zen-priests and the leaders who represent the tradition. I don't find it disturbing that those persons are mentioned by names. I think people have a right to know about their leaders especially in a religious group. These are the people who have practiced for the longest time and because of that many have an idealized picture of them. Of course I understand that the leaders can get their feelings hurt as well, like anyone else.

    I would encourage people to read the book that was mentioned in one of the earlier blogtexts:
    The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power, by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad
    http://www.amazon.com/Guru-Papers-Masks-Authoritarian-Power/dp/1883319005
    Despite the somewhat misleading name, it’s more of a general study about authoritarian power and how it’s a part of society, religions, relations, groups and different kinds of ideologies. It’s very insightful reading and can change one’s way of looking at things for good. I think everyone should read it.

    VastaaPoista
  53. "As it has been pointed out a few times already, Sami’s critique wasn’t about the things that Bodhin and some of the commentators here are trying to make it look like."

    You were not there when this all happened, seems clear. Sure Sami did not write those things. He could not write them in his critique because it was too risk-taking for him because the things he said were not true. But he said them a lot, to quite many people. It is silly to say they are not his main concerns. They are the worst things he accused the teachers. Look at what happened to Kimmo. Sami telephoned him and used those lies to manipulate Kimmo. And when Kimmo understood this, he decided not to pay any more attention to Sami. Quite many people did the same. I think you would also if you heard his lies with own ears.

    And we must know why Sami thought it was good idea to say all those lies. A person with strong facts tells the truth. Now it is very clear what Sami did. He tried to destroy own sangha with attacks. But he failed. All the people inside the sangha know that discussions inside after Sami went away were very good and honest.

    I think what I mean is you have no right to use Sami as a source of truth. Maybe not all he said was total lie, but how do you know what is lie and what is truth? You have to see for yourself. Talk to people who know. Talk to Kimmo and other zendo leaders.

    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. Thank you troll 18:41 for your own lies. What Kimmo wrote was this:

      "He mentioned excessive alcohol use and that he (Sante) had other women. He was very vague of the details but he told me that our teacher was living life that was not morally suitable for zen teacher ... Sami never used the word "alcoholism", but the message clearly was some kind of alcohol misuse, why to talk about alcohol use if it was not a problem? "

      Sami didn't say Sante has harem as Bodhin did in his "teisho" and he didn't say Sante is an alcoholic. Harem is total bullshit and alcoholism is Kimmo's own imagination and interpretations.

      Sami did say that Sante used lots of alcohol. However, it doesn't mean Sante is an alcoholic. Alcoholism is a disease with diagnosis criteria. Sante is just an a-hole who likes to drink and pretend something else. The point why Sami mentioned the use of alcohol was that Sante was playing the role of enlightened zen master while in his private life he met other women and drank a lot of alcohol. This is quite normal behavior for most of the men, but then again, most men don't try to pretend being enlightened holy people. Drinking, smoking etc doesn't fit the image of enlightened master. Hence it is what you could call "shadow life".

      I have heard from many people that Sante drinks a lot. He drinks even in Zengården, his disciplines have to clean up teacher's house and they have seen how many empty bottles of beer and wine appears there. Like the previous commenter says, it's kind of unfair that he does this and then says the opposite in his teishos but that's how it is with people - they rarely ear their own dog-food.

      Poista
    2. Somebody who is just making things up.

      >"I have heard from many people that Sante drinks a lot. He drinks even in Zengården, his disciplines have to clean up teacher's house and they have seen how many empty bottles of beer and wine appears there."

      Teachers clean their own apartment. If somebody claims that Sante-sensei is drinking daily they are lying. Sami has never lived in zengarden. He has seen Sante only when there is some kind of big event and celebration. Sante may then take few drinks. He may also enjoy beer few times per week, but his alcohol consumption is very low compared to average person.

      >"Sante was playing the role of enlightened zen master "

      When Sami was zendoleader, he always told the story of how Sante-sensei specially asked that there would be beer and wine in first ever sangha party in Finland, so that people would not be so uptight and think that he is some kind of pure enlighted being.

      Poista
    3. I'm not suggesting Sante is drinking daily, nor that he is alcoholic, but from the evidence I heard he is (or at least has been) drinking in weekly basis - also while living in Zengården. That is quite odd considering that Zengården is supposed to be a training center where people should not be drinking. But of course it is his business - I'm sure his enlightened brains know better...

      Of course, if he actually was an alcoholic that would explain it - alcoholism is a disease and it is impossible for alcoholics to be sober even for few weeks living in training centers. In that case he should simply seek for help for his disease - there's absolutely nothing "bad" of being sick...

      Poista
    4. "Sante may then take few drinks. He may also enjoy beer few times per week, but his alcohol consumption is very low compared to average person."

      I don't know about your vision of average person, but in my world average person doesn't drink beer few times per week. Especially in surroundings where there should be no alcohol at all. Average person drinks beer perhaps once a month or when there's some kind of party, but average person doesn't drink alcohol at all in places like Zengården.

      Poista
    5. This is getting really interesting. I'm starting to understand why there are so many problems in Helsinki Zen Center and Zengården. If a teacher has a problem with alcohol, it's obvious that he can't take care of his students and his responsibilities. And if a person needs to drink beer EVERY week, that's a problem, especially in the monastery and spiritual environment. Anonymous 9.00 above is right.

      This is really sad actually. Why Sante is even a teacher if he can't deal with his own life? How can he help others if he don't know how to help himself? Dangerous games they're playing with other peoples lives. Sad, so sad.

      Does anyone know if Uskontojen Uhrien Tuki ry. is aware of this situation in Helsinki Zen Center and Zengården?

      Poista
  54. @Anonymous 18.41

    After reading your points of view I still consider Sami’s main critique being about the authoritarian leadership and the mental health problems that often arise in full time training and how they’re handled in this particular tradition. I also still consider those other issues more of a side track that has blown out of proportions. This is based on what’s mentioned in Sami’s initial critique in the private letter to the teachers and how he later explained what his reasons were for resigning from the Helsinki Zen Center in his open blog post here.

    If you want to share something that isn’t said here in this blog yet, please share it with all the readers. I don’t personally feel any need to contact Helsinki Zen Center leaders about these matters, as you suggest, but of course it would be nice if you wanted to share the facts about what happened with all the readers instead.

    From Helsinki Zen Center’s side, we have heard Mr. Bodhin’s version of what happened. He was forced to take back his statements after the facts were pointed out here. I don’t think it makes Helsinki Zen Center’s teachers to seem trustworthy if they’ve misinformed their own mentor so badly that he had to eat his words like that.

    I don’t know what to think about Kimmo Takkunen’s interpretation of the phone call between him and Sami. It sounds rather vague. He explains that Sami didn’t give any facts or details nor did he use words like alcoholic or misuse, but Kimmo still feels that the “message was clear”.

    You speculate things further that Sami’s motivation would have been to manipulate Kimmo and try to destroy the Sangha. I’m sure you believe in your idea, but I wonder if you’ve contacted Sami to truly understand his motivations?

    Of course I don’t consider Sami being completely objective, but for sure I don’t think Helsinki Zen Center is objective in this either. Groups, especially religious ones, have a tendency to have the same collective opinions and beliefs as their leaders, which can make them extremely bias. There can be lot on the line, like protecting the tradition and gurus that people want to believe in. Also individual thinking can be discouraged as it seems to have happened in Sami’s and zen-priest Bodhi’s cases. In addition to this, I know about other similar cases in Helsinki Zen Center tradition as well.

    VastaaPoista
  55. "I don’t personally feel any need to contact Helsinki Zen Center leaders about these matters."

    This is the big problem with this blog. Uku did not talk to Helsinki Zen Center before he started this blog. No fair person tells only one side of story. This means Ukus motivation is not correct.

    You anon 20.43 did not talk to Helsinki Zen Center or to Kimmo or to people at Zengården. How can you imagine you know what is true about them?

    No-one can talk to Sami and ask for explanation because he is hiding ever since before big meeting in Helsinki Zen Center 2 years ago, when big group would talk in open about his lies. He likes to whisper into one ear at a time.

    Sami started this blog 9 months ago, but he has disappeared from it. He has never answered any points about his lies and about abusing patients. He was silent about what Kimmo said. This is not action of honest person. Sami is not just biased, but dishonest.

    Sami started the attack and then left it to the anonymous trolls who say any old thing they like, over and over. You want truth about Helsinki Zen Center and its teachers? Go see for yourself. It does not look at all the same as the picture Sami and his trolls are making. If there are any Zen people reading this blog, they know our most important Zen rule: "Don't believe anyone else, check it out for yourself."

    VastaaPoista
  56. "After reading your points of view I still consider Sami’s main critique being about the authoritarian leadership and the mental health problems that often arise in full time training and how they’re handled in this particular tradition."

    It is true that Sami tried to make it look like this was main point. But why do you respect him and believe him? Does it matter nothing to you about all the lies he told behind the scenes? You only have to consider the fact that his trolls are repeating his lies over and over. They do not care that Timo Tapola tries to pretend the lies never happened. They do no care that these lies are now orphans with no name of person saying them to support them. Those lies matter. They are the toys of the trolls here. And they were important to Samis strategy. He had to look like hero saving Sangha from bad teachers. Otherwise all his opinions about fulltime training just were opinions. And not very important opinions since he never did it himself.

    Okay so you dont want to talk to Helsinki Zen Center. Talk to some people who went to big meeting 2 years ago. Not zendo leaders, just others. You will soon find out names of lots of ordinary people who were very hurt when Sami told his lies to them. Hurt and confused when they believed him. Hurt and angry when they found out he lied. And talk to some people who were his patients. They were so hurt. I know some of those people. Many people in the sangha recognised them from Samis stories. He did not protect them. He cared only about himself when he used them.

    I like to give my name here but I was also Samis patient. He knows things about me. I dont want him to tell my private things to his trolls. Sure there are victims here. Samis victims.

    VastaaPoista
  57. Helsinki Zen Center's and Zengården's folks are here asking criticizers to come to visit their places and to meet them in person. But seriously, would religious organization and their people really reveal all their secrets and hidden stories to tourists? Of course religious people are happy and smiling when others are meeting them. But as you all can read from the messages of Sami, Timo and others, all these sad and dirty events have happened behind the scenes. That's why, I believe, Sami and Timo wanted to reveal them. To reveal their experiences, how all those happy and shiny scenes in those Zen centers were also something else.

    Think about it.

    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. Think about this instead: I say to someone who never met you "Anon 14.48 is a racist. I saw him hitting an immigrant." It is not true and you want to meet that person and show them what kind of person you really are. They say: "No, I know all about you now, you dirty racist. I don't need to meet you. You would only act nice to fool me." How would you feel?

      Poista
  58. Zen Buddhism. What a joke... It would be actually quite a good joke, but when you look at what happens in all the zen centers around the world it's not that funny.

    The cult of zen. I sure hope UUT will take this as one example in their "information on dangerous cults" page.

    VastaaPoista
  59. Let's look at the timeline of what happened here:

    2007: zen-priest Bodhi was expelled. The truth of what happened wasn't revealed to anyone. Teachers lied to the core group that Bodhi was acting aggressively and compared him to the school shooter of Jokela.

    2010: Shimano-Aitken letters were revealed after the death of Aitken roshi. Zen community was shocked.
    2010 Sevan Ross from Chicago Zen Center was caught having been lied to Bodhin roshi. He had abused his status as Zen Master to take advantage of some female discipline of hers. That person was seriously hurt by it.

    2010: Sami criticized Zen teachers of Sweden to be incompetent when it comes to mental problems of their disciplines. He also criticized the full-time training that he was pushed to do.

    2010: Sante started to lie to the whole community about the critic. He made fake statistics and other absurd things lie that. He revealed his true natrure in the sangha meeting where he put all the blame on Sami but wrote pure lies to public by lying that they actually prayed Sami to stay etc.

    2011: Other, more healthy zen/meditation groups are established by people leaving the swedish tradition.

    2012 Spring: Sami revealed his story in this blog.

    2012 Summer: Sante continued his lies and told them to Bodhin roshi too. A BIG mistake.

    2012 Autumn: Bodhin published his talk full of misinformation. He was FORCED to take it offline as he understood he was been lied to.

    2012 Autumn: The Zen community of sweden struggles to survive as more and more people are leaving the tradition when they get insights to what is actually happening. More and more lies are spread inside the sangha.

    VastaaPoista
  60. Timeline of the future?

    a) UUT adds zen to their dangerous cults web page and saves lots of people from entering this world of delusions about enlightenment, dharma transmissions, rigorous training practices to kill ego, etc

    b) New people will appear with their stories to tell about zen. People will be even more pissed off and more and more people leave the zen.

    c) Something stupid is done once again by the teachers of Kapleau tradition and a new blog post is made in this blog. Everything starts all over again.

    I hope it will be the a), but seeing what these people do I fear it will be the c).

    VastaaPoista
  61. A real "zen" thing to do would be if somebody would cooperate with UUT to add factual information about zen and all the misconducts happening in that sphere.

    That would be really good thing to do also for the people engaged in zen. Afterall, it is them who are in the risk of getting caught in these dysfunctional patterns. People outside zen centers aren't the ones who I am worried about.

    For any serious zen practitioner it would be really good to take a look at these things and beware that these patterns won't materialize in his/her group. All the elements of potentially dangerous cults are inbuilt in zen, so without a constant reflection to these elements it is only a matter of time when people get hurt...

    I think that Sami realized he was supporting these things for many years and wanted to ease his consciousness by revealing the true nature of this zen tradition. I think that is a good gesture even though it doesn't take a way the suffering of those people who already became victims of zen cult.

    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. Interesting viewpoint. As I recall Sami's resignation letter right, he wrote he felt also shame because so many people were hurt in the tradition that he was leading here at Finland for more than 10 years.

      You are right that these kind of discussions and reflections are for the zen people themselves. People who are not practicing zen don't care about these things. For them it is all the same whether it is the catholic priests or other religions where these kinds of misconducts happen. It is the zen practitioners that will benefit from blogs like this.

      Another portion of people to worry about are the people who are not yet practitioners but will be in the future. For them the information in UUT would be really valuable. They would get better thinking tools to see whether they want to practice in some official tradition or do that by their own as independent practitioners.

      So cooperation with UUT would be really valuable for any "bodhisattva" who wants to decrease the suffering of others.

      Poista
  62. This reminds me of Catholic church where more and more misconducts started to appear. Or leastadianism.

    http://sweepingzen.com/everybody-knows-by-eshu-martin/

    VastaaPoista
  63. Well, if one tries to put things in perspective and to examine this on-going discussion objectively, its quite easy to notice, that for some people it has become a personal mission to slander HZC and its teachers. As the attackers don't have any real arguments, all they can do is throw in some straw man, and present all members of HZC as indoctrinated imbeciles uncapable of reflecting their own actions and attitudes. All this shit is being delivered disguised as a sincere will to help people.

    In my experience, the critique presented is somewhat valid: the traditional buddhist organizational structure is vulnerable, and personally I like to train in an environment less hierarchical and more open. Still, its totally absurd to say ZBS is a cult.

    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. It's healthier to be over-cautious than under-cautious when we are dealing with religious organizations that have so much misconducts as zen does. The cultish elements are real and they are present there at ZBS also.

      Poista
    2. “[…] throw in some straw man, and present all members of HZC as indoctrinated imbeciles uncapable of reflecting their own actions and attitudes.”

      You actually made up that straw man yourself. No one here has called Helsinki Zen Center members imbeciles etc. It’s your own projection.

      There are lots of intelligent people in many different cults. And there are lots of good people with sincere motivation to seek for the truth and upright life in different cults. Being in a cult is not about how smart one is; those are two completely different things. It’s a little bit similar to how even senior forensic psychiatrists can be fooled by psychopaths. It’s not because they are stupid or can’t think for themselves.

      When you are involved in a cult, it's not easy to see it is a cult. Most cults admit that cults exist, but they don't count themselves as one. It's the same for Laestadianism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Hare Krishna and Helsinki Zen Center / Zenbuddhistiska samfundet. It’s easy to think that the others are cults, but we are not. As well as we tend to think that the others have it wrong, but we have it right. The cult dynamic still exists there. It’s very difficult to see it when one is involved and shares the beliefs of the group and the leaders. It’s hard to be objective and have distance to it when one is in it.

      I’m sorry to say this, but I have my own first-hand experience of it (in this particular tradition).

      Poista
    3. Oh, it's just my own projection? I don't think so. The members of HZC and ZBS are indeed portrayed in the comments as mindless lambs seduced by stories of enlightenment and perfected masters.

      Anyways, that's quite contradictory to my own experience within the sangha. For the most of the time I've felt that the athmosphere has been open for criticism and different opinions. On the other hand, it could be just because of my own very skeptical attitude towards the tradition and its flaws.

      Somehow I get the feeling, that the people making these claims about idealizing teachers and practice are the ones who have themselves immersed deeply in to the tradition, and later realized its all about the ordinary, messy human life after all. After such a big disappointment its easy to go from one extreme to another. So who's projecting and what, I may ask?

      The point I was trying to make wasn't about people being intelligent or stupid. It was about people being able to reflect their own experience. In "post-modern" society we're all facing several different sources of power and authority. Because of that we're used to evaluate and compare these authorities and their actions. I don't think that so-called spiritual teachers are above this skeptical attitude. But then again, I might just be overly optimistic about this. People are people after all...

      If ZBS really is a cult, its the lousiest cult I've ever heard of. The leaders aren't really trying to be charismatic, they aren't active in recruiting new members, they're not trying to control people's personal lives, they don't have secret stashes full of money, you can leave the tradition whenever you want, and so on. I know that many of you disagree with me on these issues, but that's my own experience. Frankly, I can't know what's going on behind closed doors…

      All in all, I'm disappointed with the general quality of this discussion. As someone noted below, the other side is just flaming and making bad arguments, while the other side is overly-defensive and "oh-I'm-so-nice-and-cause-I'm-a-buddhist". Fuck that shit.

      Also, to make clear, I'm in no way defending the tradition or anyone involved in this case. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty much fed up with the whole Western Buddhist tradition. I'm all for open-source, pragmatic, non-hierarchical, non-bullshit version of Buddhism. I'm not interested silly rules and bogus forms of authority. Neither am I interested in middle-classish, concensus-ridden, nice-buddhist attitude (which should be quite obvious by now, I guess...).

      Still, I think there's something very valuable in the realm of Buddhist practice, something that goes beyond the "oh-please-just-ease-my-suffering-produced-by-capitalist-consumer-culture" approach of Mindfullness-meditation and the like. I still have a hope for a new, 21st century way of Buddhism. While waiting for that to emerge, I'll be sitting on my ass, facing the wall.

      Poista
  64. I think that discussion is important here in Finland too. In this paper is described cultic tendencies quite well : http://www.thezensite.com/ZenEssays/CriticalZen/Zen_Has_No_Morals.pdf

    And here is good discussion to read :http://sweepingzen.com/those-misbehaving-zen-monks/

    VastaaPoista
  65. These anti-Zen trolls are using standard technique of all propagandists: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof_by_assertion

    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. Funny, I would say that it is the pro-zen who are using the "proof by assertion", not these healthy-minded people who are criticizing the cultish elements of zen tradition.

      Quite contrary, instead of repeating the same messages there are quite good development in this discussion. Instead of just focusing on HZC and ZBS, the discussion is pointing out how these things are actually a problem of the whole zen tradition, not just one or two teachers in Sweden or in Finland. It could be actually said that those teachers are victims of zen tradition themselves...

      Poista
  66. Anonymous 12:35: "These anti-Zen trolls..."

    I am anti-zen, but I am not a troll. The reason why I am questioning the healthiness of zen is because there are so many cases of unethical behavior coming from the representatives of zen tradition - the teachers. In fact, the wrong-doings of these Swedish teachers are quite lame when comparing to their colleagues in other countries. There is no doubt that there is something seriously wrong about the whole approach if the so called "enlightened" teachers are behaving as they are.

    This is not just the view of "anti-zen" people looking at the traditions from outside. There are many zen priests that have publicly written about these things. Look at what female zen-priest Myoan Grace Schireson writes:

    "Recent disclosures about the sexual misconduct of Ken McLeod at Unfettered Mind (see http://patriciaivanconnections.blogspot.ca/) and Fusho Al Rapaport of Open Mind Zen (http://sweepingzen.com/sexual-controversy-surrounds-open-mind-zen) point out how much help Buddhist teachers and their sanghas need to develop a wholesome practice in the West. While it may seem shocking to Westerners that Buddhist teachers could stray so far from Buddhist precepts and vows by exploiting students for sexual relationships, apparently this behavior is nothing new in the Japanese Zen tradition. But not all cases of this kind of unethical (and in some states illegal) behavior are the same. Some teachers – like Genpo Merzel and Eido Shimano – appear to be incorrigible after many decades of repeated abuse. There’s a good argument that they should be prevented from teaching, although there are as yet no clear mechanisms to do so. Other teachers may be helped by rehabilitation."

    http://sweepingzen.com/those-misbehaving-zen-monks/

    I urge you to read the full text before you conclude some of us are "anti-zen trolls".

    VastaaPoista
  67. Here's another good article from zen-priest, zen teacher and clinical psychologist Myoan Grace Schireson:

    "Fifteen years ago one of my students voiced his reason for leaving Sasaki and Mt Baldy where he had lived for an extended period. He said “It is one thing for a teacher to make these mistakes; it is a bigger problem for me that the sangha does nothing. I cannot abide with that.” And this is the dynamic that perpetuates the problem; those who can’t stand it leave (in silence or without public protest), and those who accept this behavior, stay and support the teacher. As others have said, we need to speak out even when there is some risk. I applaud Eshu Martin for doing so at this time and note the extent to which the internet is making it easier for people to speak out and harder for perpetrators to hide."

    http://sweepingzen.com/a-zen-womans-personal-perspective-on-sexual-groping-sexual-harassment-and-other-abuses-in-zen-centers/

    Sami took a risk by speaking up, thumbs up for that, even though one can think about how much he has been enabling these behaviors by leading the sangha for more than 10 years...

    VastaaPoista
  68. I agree that the standard of postings from the people who are criticising the HZC is generally very low. I think it would help a lot if the host rejected obvious flaming. It would also have been good to start the discussion with an account from both sides. It is also quite strange that Mr Mänty-Aho has never answered any of the challenges to his material. He seems to have dropped his allegations like a bomb into his sangha and then left, refusing all further communication.

    A recent post suggested that the alleged misconduct in this particular Sangha is "quite lame". That is an understatement, even if one is prepared to believe that Mr Mänty-Aho's critique is sincere from his side. Having read the other blog about Mr Mänty-Aho's departure from this sangha linked to earlier (http://primejunta.blogspot.se/) it seems to me that there is quite a high likelihood that there is nothing that answers to the description of misconduct in this sangha at all. Certainly, one would need to speak directly to the people the subject of the criticism and find out what they have to say.

    I am all for legitimate debate about anything and everything. But that is not what I see here. I tend to agree that there is an element of propagandising from the anti-Zen side and reactive over-defensiveness from people trying to defend their sangha from attack. Quite a few of the less legitimate techniques of persuasion are being used to suggest that there is something wrong with this particular sangha and that Zen is inherently bad. Proof by assertion is being used, sometimes subtly, sometimes very obviously. Guilt by association is also being used: juxtaposing the vague allegations of overly authoritarian behavior in this sangha with mentions of the most extreme misbehavior in the United States is an example.

    I agree that it would be fantastic to see a mechanism whereby the Shimanos of this world could be brought to account. Good quality debate within the Dharma community about how to deal with the problems which inevitably arise in any human community is already going on. May it bear fruit.

    My post is longer than the system will accept, so I will continue in a second posting.

    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. "It is also quite strange that Mr Mänty-Aho has never answered any of the challenges to his material. He seems to have dropped his allegations like a bomb into his sangha and then left, refusing all further communication. "

      I don't see to be strange at all. He is having his own life and zen is not part of that anymore - why should he live through his trauma over and over again? He didn't drop a bomb, he discussed with many people, including the teachers and as he saw there were no way to drive true changes he had no option but to leave. It was his word agains the highest authority of religious tradition - there's no way to win in that kind of debate....

      I'm grateful he was willing to share some of his email exchange and critique publicly, knowing well he would be attacked from the tradition. He probably didn't know even Bodhin would be involved with spreading the lies in public podcasts. Luckily he realized he was been lied at and removed the podcast...

      Poista
  69. Second posting continuing from “May it bear fruit.”
    I do not think that this particular blog is advancing that discussion, however. I say this quite apart from its problematic genesis and format. It is all too easy for people who are outside a community to fall into destructive and prejudiced thinking, without even realising what they are doing. There is quite a lot of evidence of that in the postings here. Many posts seem to be suggesting that the best thing to do is abandon the whole Zen tradition. That is absurd to anyone who accepts that there is a true mind to be realised, the core activity of Zen. Almost no-one can do this work effectively without a lot of guidance, because the ego fights back very hard against efforts to transcend it. It is about as impossible as becoming a concert-level pianist without ever getting any guidance or feedback on your playing. And it defeats the purpose of having a teacher if you ignore their instructions and just do your own thing. That is why Zen centers continue to attract students, why Zen teachers give instructions about how to practise and why students choose to follow them. And it is also why you will not see any postings on sweepingzen from Zen teachers saying “let’s all pack up and go our separate ways.”

    Almost every truly effective human institution has a hierarchy at its core. And where there is hierarchy, there is potential for the abuse of power. The doctor in charge of a hospital department, the police chief, the orchestra conductor, the sports coach, the school teacher. Examples of individual people abusing their power abound in all these areas. No reasonable person suggests that the best thing to do in response is get rid of schools, hospitals, police departments etc and just manage on our own. And no reasonable person assumes that the mere fact that the power exists means that the person holding it is corrupt. Nor is it enough that some people might disagree about how the power should be exercised. Individual situations need to be judged fairly in accordance with the facts.

    Luckily for us all, when it comes to choosing a Dharma teacher, we are much more free to choose than in most areas of our lives. I think the best thing to do is to rely on our own intelligence and intuition. We should approach a new teacher with both our minds and our eyes wide open. We should pay close attention to the feel of the center. Listen to what its teacher and its senior members say and see for ourselves how they act. Try to be aware as possible of our own tendency to project. That way, we will make the right choices for ourselves.

    VastaaPoista
    Vastaukset
    1. "Luckily for us all, when it comes to choosing a Dharma teacher, we are much more free to choose than in most areas of our lives."

      Are you kidding? You are certainly not living in Finland if you say that...

      Poista
  70. This is where this turns to a religious debate.

    You assume that there is a "true mind" which can only be reached with guidance of teachers "because the ego fights back very hard against efforts to transcend it". "And it defeats the purpose of having a teacher if you ignore their instructions and just do your own thing."

    For me this is just a fairytale, not much different from e.g. Christian traditions. The whole purpose of these tales is to build hierarchical organizations where the authorities know better. They know what the disciplines should be doing in order to reach these idealized states of being. This is the basic structure which creates the authoritarian traditions where somebody can expel another community member without a notice just because they have different opinions on what that person with less authority should be doing with his own practice. This is the reason for coercive persuasion where people are pressured to take full-time training even if it might be very harmful for their mental health and lives.

    Stuart Lachs has written excellent articles of these dynamics with his extensive experience from inside the zen traditions. Take a look at e.g. http://www.thezensite.com/ZenEssays/CriticalZen/ComingDownfromtheZenClouds.htm

    You might not realize it yourself, but you are actually reinforcing the aspects of zen which often turns it to cult:

    When religious group becomes unhealthy:

    Leaders use power in authoritarian ways, where humiliation and guilt are used to break the self-esteem and initiative of the people in lower rank. Member loses his value as an individual: his personal opinions and thought don’t matter.

    (Hmmm, isn’t this was happened to Sami and Bodhi?)

    Circumstances in the group diminish the ability of individual to think critically. Reality is distorted by the “only truth” of the group, because all critique is interpreted to be bad. Resignation from the group is seen unforgivable sin and all the relationships towards the person are cut off.

    (This sounds also familiar. But this might be only an opinion of unenlightened being – what do we unenlightened people know about the teachings of enlightened beings…)

    Members are suffering from fear and paranoia (e.g. fear of going to hell), superstition (e.g. leaders are believed to be able to see the thoughts), feelings of guilt, identity distortions, anxiety because of conflicting and too high demands.

    (Enlightenment is the only way out from the burning house of samsara. We need to focus all our time and energy to this mission of becoming enlightened.)

    Some groups have practices that diminish the health: e.g. use of medicine prohibited, too little sleep, really extensive use of sauna, some other physical demands …

    (Good practitioners do zazen also night-time, until the great enlightenment is reached. Sleeping is of secondary value in sesshins. Also the pains of sitting still in lotus posture and hurting your joints/knees are small price to pay for enlightenment.)

    Membership can lead to economical difficulties (need for taking debt to participate trainings, payments for the group, giving up jobs). Membership might lead to discontinue of education.

    (How many people have sacrificed their jobs and education in search of enlightenment by taking full-time training?)

    Members’ relationships might suffer. In many groups people are encouraged to date only other members.

    (How many people have sacrificed their relationships when zen practice has become number one thing?)

    Members might become victims of abuse. If member becomes useless for the group because of illness or something else, he might be abandoned even though he had sacrificed lots of time and money for the group.

    (Hmmmm…)

    VastaaPoista
  71. I think there may be something beneficial to zazen after all: this discussion is slowly cumulating evidence against Godwin's Law.

    VastaaPoista
  72. Let's forget the conspiracy theories and religious dogmas. Imagine that all of these people involved are plain regular human beings with their shortcomings and humanities:

    Sami was disappointed and discussed these things with various people. Probably a lot of it was just personal crisis of whether he believed in the community and the leaders any more. And of course it must have been hard to be a "therapist" for many suffering people coming to zen and trying to escape whatever issues of their lives.

    Sante and Kanja were hurt by seeing that Sami didn't trust them any more. They felt abandoned and feared he would establish competing group or something. One thing lead to another and a result was a fight. People were following a logic af war instead of peace. This resulted Sami to finally resign, as well as some other people. Probably they felt relieved.

    Community members defended their own community and it's story in a usual way by believing whatever was needed to maintain their belief and by telling diminishing stories of the outsiders. People who left did the same thing.

    Stories evolved by mechanics of gossiping, which is the basic way people establish groups such as outsiders and insiders. Within time all these gossips start to live the life of their own. This is why Bodhin heard a story that had little in common with what actually happened.

    I assume lots of meditation actually affects memory. It is really easy to start remembering things that didn't happen if one does extensive amounts of zazen.

    In the end, all the participants of this drama are just regular human beings, trying to hold on to things that they value. Their own identities, their own beliefs, their own communities. This causes conflicts, it is inevitable. Religious institutions try to reduce conflicts by having very clear dogmas that are unquestionable. As soon as somebody starts to see through them and is arrogant enough to say that aloud it will cause conflicts like this one.

    This happens over and over again in any religious context. It is only when very powerful people leave and won't do it in silence when we see dramas like this in public.

    VastaaPoista
  73. "Even more shockingly, his prosperous community knew it for decades and did nothing, all the while recruiting more students. Only now that the 105-year-old Sasaki has retired from public life and the danger of implosion has passed has the community found the courage to speak about it, and even then from the improvised anonymity of the newly-created Osho Council of Rinzai-ji, no personal names mentioned."

    http://www.thenakedmonk.com/2013/01/14/sick-love/

    Looking at what has happened also here to the people who have had courage to question the authority of Zenbuddhism and it's representatives, I'm not surprised people were afraid to expose Sasaki, and even now prefer to do it anonymously.

    VastaaPoista