Friday, February 10, 2012

the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval

Yesterday, I had a nice email note from a woman I do not know. She wondered if I could recommend a Zen Buddhist teacher or center since the teacher and center she had been attending were corrupted by their links with Eido Tai Shimano, a man whose self-centered manipulative past (see the Shimano Archive) was beyond anything she was willing to stomach.

And the answer was that I couldn't be of much help. I couldn't, partly because as the years have passed, I have lost touch with the wisdom and gossip of the wider Zen community I once involved myself with. And also I couldn't because recommending teachers and centers just doesn't make much sense to me any more. There are good people and bad in every effort, but finding out which is which is a matter of personal investigation and choice. I simply don't believe (though I sometimes wish I did) that there is any place or person or persuasion that can rightfully lay claim to some universal Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

What is this yearning to find a place or person or circumstance that will receive such a stamp of approval? I guess partly it's a desire to join a wider social group. If lots of others believe and I believe, then I will not be lonely or alone. Maybe God or Tao or Enlightenment or some other something or other will prove to be the universal solvent that melts all hearts... and I will rest easier, find some relief and be sheltered from the storm.

I guess it is just one of life's hard lessons. No amount of squirming or fidgeting, no parsing or analyzing or bringing logic to bear or yowling at the heavens or prayer will change it: The universal solvent and the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval lie within...goddammit!

We now return to our regularly-scheduled program.


  1. I think it's more of a challenge than I originally thought--this idea of practicing with others. Sangha is one of the three treasures, right? But I know that for me, "official" Buddhist community has been a negative experience as often as it has been positive--lots of those "Zen-as-an-excuse-to-be-rude" moments. And yet practicing with "others" does matter: the cardinals, the breakfast dishes, other drivers on the highway.

  2. Daishin -- I hear you as regards sangha AND I sometimes wonder how it would be possible NOT to practice with others.