Monday, February 24, 2014
Zen center leaves Zen center
I found a church, tried all the doors, and of course they were locked.
I was miffed and stamped my mental feet: Hypocrites! Talking the talk but failing to walk the walk ... or that's how I saw it then.
In the darkest hour, how bright a single match can seem. How brilliant religion burns when first encountered. Jee-sus! Nothing up until now has seemed so bright, so comforting, so compelling. At lassssst! This was the BIG answer to a lot of little harassing questions and fears and wrong turns. The light reached out and touched every darkened corner. How good it feels to feel good, to hope and believe and, on occasion, to swoon. Let us call it "the mystery" and skip over the question of how mysterious anything can possibly be.
Some people never shut up about the good news: You can hear them nattering from every bookshelf and pulpit and street corner. And of course the more they natter, the greater the doubt becomes ... this is the brightness at the expense of the dark and a lot of institutions make a good living from it. It never occurs to them that patching up and buffing the brightness only confirms the shadow ... and the good news goes begging.
Never mind. If you're surrounded by darkness, any match will do and it really is Hollywood.
Based on its own assessments, the Puget Sound Zen Center has dissociated itself (scroll down) from Rinzai-ji, the stomping grounds of the teacher Joshu Sasaki, a 107-year-old whose history of sexual adventure has caused harm and inspired no contrition. Puget Sound Zen Center was, I gather, an affiliate to Rinzai-ji's hub. The brightness of Sasaki's match -- his efforts and teachings and constituency -- cannot be underrated and I can't imagine PSZC's decision was an easy one. In one sense, PSZC risked blowing out the match whose brightness it may have imagined it reflected.
And even now the glow remains: "Zen in America."
Nevertheless, PSZC dissociated itself. Nevertheless, "In the last year, we've created a teacher contract for our Abbot, a teacher ethics policy, and a standing ethics committee. We are in the process of establishing a voting membership which will have the authority to approve board members and to hire and remove teachers."
PSZC has started to put locks on the doors. From where I sit, their actions -- right, wrong or indifferent -- are as daring as they are warranted. "Daring" because the constituency that loves the light cannot be underestimated in its heart-felt insistence and force. "Good news" is not an easy or guile-less adversary. And "warranted" because correcting mistakes may be the only thing any decent religion or spiritual practice can inspire. Getting things "right" is not so much the point; not getting them "wrong" strikes me as a more likely course.
Yeah, but ... what if the match went out?! What then of darkness?! What recourse would there be from horror?! What of succor and relief?! Without the blessing, how could the curse be damped?! Gawd!
The church was locked so many years ago. For all I know, it's still locked today. Who would have guessed that a locked door might open its arms so wide?