Archives recently published on the Internet reveal the enormity and historical depth of Eido Shimano’s violations of the Buddhist precepts going back at least 40 years. With every passing day, former Sangha members, male and female, come forward to recount their stories.
Eido Shimano has denied none of it.
Judged by the standards of civil society, Buddhist law, clergy ethics, or any other standard applicable to the conduct of human affairs, Eido Shimano’s conduct has been a disgrace. It has been an affront not only to the monks and nuns of Dai Bosatsu Zendo, to the practitioners of New York Zendo Shobo-ji, to the Zen Studies Society Sangha, but to sincere Buddhist practitioners everywhere.
The repeated refusal of successive Boards of Directors of the Zen Studies Society to apply minimal professional standards to their Abbot violates our sense of decency.
Given the undisputed record, nothing justifies The Zen Studies Society’s Board of Directors delaying even one more day in acting decisively to remove Eido Shimano.
The current Directors need to actively and resolutely take action to ensure The Zen Studies Society will have a legacy not forever mired by the improprieties of its Abbot and the successive failures of various Zen Studies Society Boards of Directors -- their independent judgment nullified by inherent conflicts of interest and unduly influenced by loyalty -- to act to stop abuses that they saw but sought to rationalize away and even cover up.
Only by the Abbot’s immediate removal by Board of Directors’ action can The Zen Studies Society have any hope of establishing future credibility and beginning a process of healing and reconciliation.
Eido Shimano is responsible for his actions and accountable for the irreparable damage he has inflicted. It is the Zen Studies Society’s Board of Directors that now must make clear to the World that it unequivocally condemns the Abbot’s actions. Allowing the Abbot a face-saving exit on his own terms is exactly what the Board should refuse to countenance. The future of Zen Studies Society, if it is to have a future at all, cannot be based on the sycophantic loyalty to the Abbot that has brought the organization to where it is today.
In 1995, a petition for his resignation came from revered teachers (Aitken, Kapleau, and others). This followed the departure of his Dharma Heir and Vice-Abbot from Dai Bosatsu Zendo because of another major scandal in The Society.
On May 20, 2010, Robert Aitken Roshi, the most respected Senior Zen Roshi in America, issued a historic and unprecedented public letter to Shimano Roshi.
The ethics guidelines for the Zen Studies Society prohibits sexual liasons between teacher and students and guests. The reason for this is obvious.
||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 accusations.
Consider the following allegations:
The abbot had liaisons with many dharma students; with an officer of the Society; with at least one ordained nun; and most recently, yet another kessei student. Some students allege that the seductions were initiated in a Dokusan setting. This is where the student meets the roshi in a private, confidential, and formal setting during sesshin (retreat).
Additional accounts recently published by the writer Robin Westen cannot be ignored. More women are named by Adam Fisher (Genkaku). And as early as 1964, Robert Aitken (later Aitken Roshi) documented the seduction of two female sangha members being ministered to by Eido Shimano who became patients in a Hawaii mental facility.
The internet documents give us so many accusations over so many years, and so many women involved, that it is now impossible for The Zen Studies Society or its Abbot to refute them. The documents allow you to make a chronology of monumental abuse of power and undue influence over almost half a century.
Short of a public ceremony of repentance and reconciliation that will involve the Sangha, it is difficult to imagine how sangha who suffered can be assuaged. This important step cannot be done with a belated and short letter expressing regret.
As Buddhists who take the precepts seriously we entreat you to join us in this petition for Eido Tai Shimano Roshi to withdraw immediately as Abbot and spiritual leader of The Zen Studies Society.