March 01, 2011
I saw the opinion posted by James Shaheen on 20 February with regard to the issues raised in the letter you posted, and subsequent developments.
I think it is a well thought out reflection on the matter. There is one point I would like to have clarified, however, if it is possible. Mr. Shaheen identifies the letter signed by 44 American Zen Teachers as an open letter from the American Zen Teachers Association. While I believe all the signers do belong to the AZTA, we very deliberately did not send it from the AZTA as an organization. The AZTA is an informal organization with no board or governing body. The AZTA crosses lineages and traditions and was formed as a collegial rather than a regulatory body. The Soto Zen Buddhist Association, on the other hand, is specific to the Soto tradition and is working to establish ethical guidelines that can be applied across the many Soto lineages. Unfortunately, Genpo Merzel does not belong to either the AZTA or the SZBA. While most of those signing the letter are from the Soto tradition, it includes other lineages as well. It was important to us to show broad support for this effort. Nonetheless, the action was not taken by the AZTA itself, and I hope that can be cleared up.
With palms joined,
Dharma Rain Zen Center