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The Buddhist Channel, Sept 15, 2010

A Sangha Response to the Eido Shimano Sex Scandal

New York, USA
-- Based on the history of Zen Abbot Eido Shimano breaking his monk’s vows and the Precepts over 45 years, a group of Zen teachers, students and those who care about Buddhism are signing a Petition calling for the immediate removal of Eido Tai Shimano as Director and Abbot of Zen Studies Society, Inc., an organization composed of Shobo-Ji temple in New York City and Dai Bosatsu Zendo, Kongo-Ji, a monastery in the Catskill Mountains of New York State.

The many hundreds of pages of documents compiled at shimanoarchives.com enable readers to understand why supporting this Petition is essential to protect Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.  These archives document and substantiate Mr. Shimano’s serial abuse in his relationships with students training under his guidance, and The Zen Studies Society’s inability or unwillingness to effectively address the problem over a period of four decades.

It was these documents, and his personal experience with Shimano in the early 1960s, that compelled Robert Aitken Roshi, America’s most respected Zen teacher, to write an open letter to Mr. Shimano (formerly known as “Tai San”) and post it on the Internet on May 20, 2010:

Dear Tai San,

There are many reports of your abuse of women published on the web which indicate that you have been involved in breaking the precepts over a period of more than 40 years.  I would like to urge you to come forth and make a statement in response to these allegations.

Sincerely yours,
Robert Aitken

When Aitken passed away on August 5, 2010, at age 93, “Tai San” had yet to respond to this letter.On August 21, 2010, The New York Times ran an almost half-page article entitled "Sex Scandal Has American Buddhists Looking Inward".  The article, while perhaps somewhat lopsided in its presentation, nevertheless indicated that something was seriously amiss in the Zen Buddhist community -- something worthy of note in the most public of forums - the pages of the Times.

Documents in the archives accuse Mr. Shimano of using his position of authority to manipulate students into sexual liaisons with him.  The archives document that this sexual predation began as early as 1964, with two documented cases in Honolulu where “Tai San” was the monk in residence at Robert Aitken’s Diamond Sangha.

Mr. Shimano's continual sexual predation, and the consequent and successive bitter divisions of the Sangha, has injured hundreds, if not thousands, over nearly a half a century.

Mr. Shimano’s sexual predation is not the only abuse chronicled in the archive.  Irregular handling of assets, allegations of financial improprieties, failure to pay income taxes, using the proceeds of drug dealings to fund the organization, conflicts of interest and failed governance are all expressly discussed in documents.

Storms of controversy have hit The Zen Studies Society more than once over the years.  In many instances, Mr. Shimano offered to resign only to reappear again once a storm had blown over.

For these reasons a number of teachers and students have come together to urge the immediate and unconditional removal of Mr. Shimano from any positions of authority within Zen Studies Society.  He has lost all spiritual authority because of his deeds, and for the benefit of the Three Treasures, he must immediately and permanently be removed from a position of power over others.

Jiro Andy Afable, Mr. Shimano's second Dharma heir, makes the following comment and plea:

Until his Abbacy is terminated by an irrevocable, binding resolution of the Board of Directors or him immediately effective resignation, duly accepted and recorded in the organization's minutes, Mr. Shimano not only remains the Zen Studies Society Abbot, but continues, together with his wife, Yasuko Shimano (Director of New York Zendo Shobo-ji), to control the process of his own removal....

We therefore encourage you to sign the online Petition notwithstanding Mr. Shimano's "promise" to resign.  It is not simply that the circumstances permit no other result than his immediate dismissal; it is that the current Zen Studies Society board members must be made aware that the Sangha is watching, calling upon and encouraging them to exercise their independent judgment and to summon the courage to do what is indisputably right, fearlessly and without hesitation.

Jiro Andy Afable  

The petition, as well as documents that can assist in making an informed decision about signing, can be accessed at: http://www.sanghaconvergence.org.

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