Sunday, May 22, 2016

the resurrection of Eido Shimano

If you wait long enough, the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler will be remembered for creating the autobahn, for conceiving the Volkswagen and for restoring the stature of a Germany battered by World War I. The mercilessness of World War II that Hitler stoked will become a footnote -- an oh-well -- if you wait long enough.

And so it probably is with all events. Harboring critical thoughts takes energy. Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu's treatment of the Palestinians is -- oh well -- an acceptable approach, however Hitler-esque it may be. He may not have an autobahn in mind, but he certainly has proven his willingness to build housing projects without much consultation.

And now too, Eido Shimano's questionable and self-centered activities can be relegated to an oh-well status too as time passes.

Shimano was an expositor of his version of Zen Buddhism in America. He was part of the effort that created a Zen temple in New York City and a monastery in upstate New York. He was brought down and expelled after his shoddy treatment of various women students came to light. His financial shenanigans were never fully investigated. His expulsion meant that, since he had no lineage on which he could base a connection to the Zen establishment, he became an old man on a mostly-deserted island.

But now, with the passage of time, his resurrection is at hand. In connection with the anniversary celebrations planned at the Dai Bosatsu monastery Shimano helped to build, the current abbot, Roko Sherry Chayat has invited (May 7, 2016) Shimano to be part of the occasion, albeit a shadowed participant.
I would like to invite you and your Sangha to a special private commemoration on July 4, 2016, from 1 to 5 p.m. in honor of the Fortieth Anniversary of International Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-ji.
As I mentioned when we met at Shobo-ji, due to the unwillingness of many special guests and speakers to come if you were present, we moved our public commemoration on July 3. That way, we can acknowledge you for your great accomplishments on the actual anniversary date.
I am sorry that there is continuing ill will toward you in the hearts of so many people; this arrangement seems to be the best solution.
I send my warmest wishes, and hope that you and your students will be able to come on the afternoon of July 4.
Shimano responded on May 20:
Dear Roko,
Thank you for your letter invitation dated May 7, 2016.
Right now, both Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo Ji and New York Zendo Shobo-Ji are like barren deserts waiting for drops of rain. I will attend the July 4th afternoon event at DBZ with the request that there will be drops of rain consisting of two periods of Zazen. No festivities or entertainment is necessary. Just pure sitting to commemorate the 40th Anniversay of International Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-ji.... [Letter dictated to Martin Hara by Eido Shimano.]
All of this is collected to in the Shimano Archives, long a repository of Shimano machinations.

Reprising the years and years of Shimano depredations is beyond my energy. I do wonder, however, if Shimano and his loyal adherents will show up for the festivities in a spanky new Volkswagen.


  1. Will zen evaporate with the evolutionary failure of the big brained biped's?


  2. In my mind these new developments prove that the Dai Bosatsu organization and the current abbot Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat are still enmeshed with the disgraced retired founding Abbot Eido Shimano. To invite him as a priest with “his sangha” to come to a "private ceremony" and sit at DBZ is an insult to all those that he has harmed there over the decades. If he laid down his robes and stopped teaching, I think it might then be acceptable to honor him for his contributions to the founding of the temple. At least Sherry has yet to invite him to resume teaching, and I seriously doubt she will go that far.

  3. Highly amusing. Might have been good material for a Gilbert and Sullivan opera.

  4. These emails give new evidence that the sad, pathetic situation at Zen Studies Society continues unabated, as it has been for the last 50 years.

    Daibosatsu Zendo
    At Beecher Lake
    Even after forty years
    Nothing to celebrate,
    Nothing to honor.
    Donors's money squandered.
    The efforts and energies of the trusting misused.
    Nothing transmitted.
    Take heed.

  5. How do we seperate the man from the action? Eido Roshi founded 2 of the most important places for zen practice in the US. Shobo-ji in NYC and Dai Bosatsu in the Catskills. These places and his teachings were a pathway to many toward a deeper understanding of themselves and the beingness of This. I know they were to me and I believe without his presence in the US as a teacher my life and my understanding would not be so rich (I am not refering to money here) as it is. He was abusive to many women apparently and took advantage of his position for that abuse. Yet let us not forget what he gave to so many. To compare him to Hitler is a pedestrian absurdity. Compassion is a tenet of Buddhism. A balanced look at the life of this man is what we need to look at. He caused pain and he brought good. This is what we call a human being. When we look at our teachers as infallable gods then we are in trouble. It is the teaching, not the man we must always keep in our sights.