November 13, 2009

Dharma Wars

What is it about the internet that turns some Buddhist teachers into bullies? Zenshin Michael Haederle has a few things to say about it.

Illustration: Stephen Kronginger

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Tricycle » Why we fight online's picture

[...] time ago Tricycle published an article that caused more grief than we could have imagined. The premise was that online discourse is [...]

Dex Haster's picture

People like kobutsu and fellow hoodiemonks have nothing to do with bhudism, but are just dum ego,s

komyo's picture

Kobutsu malone presents himself as a roshi, but is fake!

Shusan's picture

Mark Porter says "Zen is an abomination of Buddhism. Hows that for a debate? Any form of Buddhism that has a sickness related to it is not Buddhism."

Then: "I have nothing against Zen practitioners"

I don't know if there are exactly Buddhist precepts against hypocrisy, double talk, and sheer idiocy, but if their were, Mark Porter would be immediately cast into the deepest fire Nichirenesque hell.

But you captured that certain uptight swagger and savoir-faire of Nichiren, I'll give you that.

"Any form of Buddhism that has a sickness related to it..."

like intolerance? Like being judgmental? Like bigotry?

Oh wait, those are just related to individuals and their own struggles with living on earth, with a mind and body.

In its essence, Buddha Dharma is clear like space, unconditional, not picking and choosing which 'denomination' has a corner on the market.

Nam myoho renge kyo

The “Dharma Wars” Saga « Rev. Danny Fisher's picture

[...] a thorough comment at the Tricycle Editors’ Blog, Jamie McLeod argued that Haederle’s framing of the Graham matter was a [...]

Tom Armstrong's picture

It may be "unBuddhist" of me in many or most people's minds to react stridently to an injustice. To those who are insistant that others actions always be met with compassion, I bow to you, and cannot discredit your practice.

To my mind, it is necessary in the instance of "Dharma Wars" for those of us who have read it carefully, and examined its supposed evidence, to respond and object.

It is "Dharma Wars," the article, that is a high order of hypocrisy: Claiming to repudiate discord when it is sowing it.

James Shaheen and the other editors of Tricycle should respond. What responsibility do you think you have to read and investigate articles that are to appear in your magazine?

Kyle's picture

Hey Enos Ninrode, Why don't you come pick on someone your own size. So how long have you worked for the oppressors?

NellaLou's picture

"This is precisely the sort of talk that’s useless."

It is rather ironic that Enos Ninrode writes the above in favor of Tricycle magazine, and the author of the article and against me having an opinion but on Shambhala Sunspace takes apart another author thusly:

"There's nothing wrong with selling magazines, but when a Buddhist magazine attaches itself to celebrity to promote itself, it's going to rub many readers the wrong way. Besides, there are so many magazines out there that do celebrity better."

along with other comments of a similar nature.

Do you work for Tricycle Enos Ninrode (on Facebook from New York City)?

Yes deleting all the hoopla in comments on this blog would certainly whitewash the incident here. And that is the blog owner's prerogative of course. But it doesn't mean they wouldn't appear in a lot of other places on-line along with commentary about censorship and the like. I understand Americans have something called a First Amendment. And it applies to everyone not just to those who can afford it.

"Keep in mind people new to Buddhism must be really turned off."

This has been said so often by so many including the article author. The premise being that we should hide things from people exploring Buddhism and only after they are "hooked" should we reveal ourselves as we are. That would be perpetuating a fraud. Highly "inauthentic" to use an overused term.

And how would people feel then, Enos Ninrode, after putting in months or years of practice only to discover they had been "duped" by some sugar coated fantasy? Or do you call fraud "skillful means"?
If so then you've seriously misunderstood the Lotus Sutra.

@kiken May Ven. Kobutsu be well.

kiken's picture

It is my feeling that Tricycle Magazine's editing staff has made a serious error in judgment. Random anonymous blog posts are NOT equivalent to published hardcopy. For example, hypothetically, say some anonymous person posted to a blog and said, "I am the Queen of England, and Tricycle's editor is a Nimrod who owes me $50." The New York Times (or any respectible publication) would probably NOT print "Nimrod, the Editor of Tricycle, owes the Queen of England $50, according to her. Of course, now that this statement has been published, anybody can re-print it... or parts of it. hrm... Interesting how that works, eh?

One might even consider it simple common courtesy to double-check what are being put up as facts before printing them in an apparent attempt to ruin the reputations of well known people ..... people such as Ven. Kobutsu Malone, Osho; Ven. Gomyo Seperic, Ajari; or even Mr. Barry Graham, whatever his title may be (I honestly do not know the title he uses, nor do I know the location of the monastery over which he allegedly presides as "abbot." I do know that Rev. Kobutsu is a ZEN PRIEST, not a monk; and Rev. Gomyo is a SHINGON PRIEST, not a Zen monk.)

Tricycle's editor owes the entire Buddhist community an apology. The Dharma and those trying to teach it will not be safe until Tricycle's egregious misstatements are corrected, and this sort of behavior by the Buddhist Tabloids is stopped.

Rev. Ryushin's post about his father Ven. Kobutsu-Osho literally made me weep last night, and right now it's especially poignant in the light of Ven. Kobutsu's cardiac emergency at the hospital today. Gee thanks, Tricycle editors. And I'm sure you wish him well.

NellaLou's picture

@Enos Ninrode

"The wonderful thing about these comments is that they prove Mr. Haederle’s point!"

Really? Will the comments also be published in an international magazine? Will we get paid to write this drivel? Haederle's no different than the rest of us except for having access to a large media platform from which to spout.

"you’ve got more opinions than cable TV lately (and, in fact, I say that fondly)."

Perhaps you would like to write my blog for me. Just fill it up with quotes from Tricycle? Oh I see there already is a blog like that.

Your point being what? STFU?

Enos Ninrode's picture

Great, look at "Nella Lou's" fulminations:

This is precisely the sort of talk that's useless.

I don't understand why NL thinks Mr. Haederle is attacking bloggers generally, blaming technology, or why she feels any need to so vigorously defend the internet. Tricycle seems to be using it to good effect.

I understand people may be angry and I can't say whether what the article says is true, but judging from the reaction, I suspect it is. All this nonsense should really stop.

About publicly accusing people of wrongdoing online: I know nothing about Barry Graham and I bet most people didn't until now. The indictment may be as true or as spurious as any attack we come across online. True or not, wrong forum--it's been brought down to the level of he-said-she-said, as it often does with unsubstantiated claims, true or not. I don't see anything's been resolved to anyone's satisfaction as a result of all this, nor, given the tone of these posts, do I expect it will. This is disheartening. Keep in mind people new to Buddhism must be really turned off.

As for Mr. Graham and his alleged misdeeds: we need always be vigilant in choosing our teachers--just as teachers must be vigilant in selecting heirs.

Too bad, and more because I otherwise enjoy NL's blog. But in all honesty, NL, you've got more opinions than cable TV lately (and, in fact, I say that fondly).

My question to Tricycle: Why don't you just delete these posts? They don't help anyone. In fact, I would argue that they do damage.

OK, I've had my say, will move on! I rarely respond and usually enjoy the back and forth but again, I find this disheartening.

Enos Ninrode's picture

The wonderful thing about these comments is that they prove Mr. Haederle's point!

Tom Armstrong's picture

Kind Rev. Malone,

I am hopeful that Tricycle will review this pitiful episode in this nonglorious magazine's history, repudiate what has occurred and make amends -- even though such a thing would be a first for this mistake-prone magazine with its slothful editors.

Since Haederle's article what such a calvalcade of attacks unsupported by real evidence, I don't think your father's reputation, nor the reputations of The Buddhist Blog nor Brad Warner will be long harmed.

Rev. Ryushin Sean Malone's picture

Dear Tricycle,

How dare your corporation insult my father whom I have personally watched for 20 years, pour his life into helping people?

He has brought true Buddha Dharma to people who have nothing, the majority being prisoners. He has no great temple, no money and receives not a dime from any Buddhist group to support his efforts. Why is it that the greatest teachers alive value Kobutsu as being a living manifestation of Buddha Dharma? One such master is my own teacher, the Venerable Shodo Harada Rodaishi, who candidly referred to my father, during sanzen with me one evening, as "A living Buddha." Not only have you insulted Ven. Kobutsu, You have insulted Venerable Gomyo Kevin Seperic, Ajari, countless bloggers, Buddhist practitioners across the world, me personally, my family and most importantly, The Buddha Dharma itself!

You are but a poison corporate Buddhism who's job it is to feed people with what you think Buddha Dharma should be and not what truly is. Not only that, but, only teachers you approve of who teach love ‘n light, flowers and bunny rabbits, elusive “happiness,” who advertise in your rag with their large bank accounts, and are featured time and time again in your magazine. As far as I am concerned, you are hiding the truth from people and mischaracterizing the real teachers out in the trenches. You fail to offer real guidance toward walking on the path of The Awakened State Of Mind .

How can corporate entities such as Tricycle teaching, "Doing nothing can make you wise," offer guidance for intelligent action?

Do you Tricycle editors check your facts? Do you even grasp what my father’s single blog posting was about? He was exposing a conman involved in fraud pretending to be a monk, even an abbot! How could you refer to that man as an “abbot”? How dare you refer to my father as “Malone”? Which one of you has stood with your students while they were being murdered by the state? How dare you disrespect Venerable Kobutsu?

Corporations, such as yours peddle supposed Dharma teachings for profit, when brave men like my father slog their guts out in hell for the sake of all beings. You call this man who loves so deeply a bully? How dare you?

NellaLou's picture

@Mark Porter

Hi Mark. I was stirring it up a little too!

A lot of Zen folks seem to have forgotten the spirit of things. All pasted smiles and innuendo. It's like a new art form. Subtle verbal homicide.

Reminds me of the old song written by John Lennon and sung so brilliantly by Marianne Faithfull

"There's room at the top they are telling you still,
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill,
If you want to be like the folks on the hill, "

If one has something to say it's a lot less involved to just say it rather than try to cover it over with a lot of colorful kitty litter.

Bit of a tangent there. I do think Zen and Nichiren Buddhism have had a lot in common in the past in terms of devotion to practice and a certain amount of zeal and vigor. In many instances now though Zen has become rather mushy.

I read some of the Nichiren blogs when I get a chance. I don't comment much though as I am not fully versed in all the practices. People do get fired up though which is pretty interesting.

Nice swapping comments with you here Mark.

Mark Porter's picture

Back @ NellaLou

I have nothing against Zen practitioners, in that I have more in common with you than not. This just got posted to our blog where we were remarking that compared to the Nichirenists it is very tame indeed, so I had to come in here and post my two cents just to stir things up. :)

A little background on me; I am not your typical Nichiren Buddhist. I practice Observation of the Mind, ala Chi-ih. My practice is the standard Nichiren practice, but the emphasis and meditation is on the One Moment in Three Thousand Existential Spaces (ichinen sanzen). I don't chant for things.


Jaime McLeod's picture

While I realize Mr. Haederle has a long and distinguished career as a journalist, I'm afraid he's sorely missed the mark with this article, which provides a superficial look at this topic, at best. At worst, Mr. Haederle's reporting is downright irresponsible in its mischaracterization of the principal players in his central example.

The following is the only statement that Ven. Kobutsu Malone contributed the the "flurry of charges and counter charges" that Mr. Haederle's article claims blossomed into a "full-on smackdown" last February:

I have never successfully posted to any blog before, but circumstances prevail that compel me to take public action.

I accepted the position of serving as Barry Graham's "teacher" some time ago. I did this without ever having met the man face to face. I gave him the name "Dogo." I provided him with many hundreds of dollars worth of materials and cash over the past two years. The monk's robe and rakusus he wears came from me, as did the sound instruments used in his "zendo."

I made a serious error in judgement in taking his word as to his credentials and allowed innumerable unfulfilled promises on his part to go unchecked.

It has become increasingly apparent that Barry is in serious difficulty and that his words and actions have become increasingly erratic and delusional. I withdrew my support from him on December 7 of 2008. I did this as an act of desperation due to his unwillingness to communicate with me, refusal to return my repeated telephone calls and the innumerable promises he made to me that went ignored and unfulfilled.

He has alienated and hurt a number of people recently including my son Rev. Ryushin, myself, his former senior student Mui and now Ven. Gomyo. Last night he removed all reference to Ven. Gomyo from his blog because Ven. Gomyo requested confirmation of his ordination and recent claims to hold inka in the Soto Zen tradition.

I have taken this highly unusual step in bringing these facts out in public because I am partially responsible for validating him by allowing my name to be used in the role of "teacher." It was a grievous error on my part and has resulted in harm to others. For this I express my profound contrition.

I have genuine love for Barry, he has some remarkable characteristics and skills. However, it has become painfully obvious of late that he has slipped into a state of delusional thinking and blatant denial.

This public action on my part is being done out of concern for Barry's mental well being and with great concern over the potential damage he may cause others.

With deep apology and profound regret,

Kobutsu Malone

I fail to see anything in that statement that resembles the "schoolyard brawl" Mr. Haederle evokes. Instead, I see a very pained and humble expression of contrition from a person who admits he has made a mistake and wishes to take responsibility for whatever karmic consequences that mistake may have created for others. Ven. Kobutsu even praises Mr. Graham's "remarkable capabilities and skills," despite his stated need to sever their prior, very public, affiliation in an equally public manner.

I agree in total with the more in-depth criticism provided by NellaLou on her Enlightenment Ward blog, referenced above.

Sometimes, for the good of all involved, difficult things need to be said. Let's not mistake cowardice for "right speech." Holding back when something important needs to be said benefits no one.

Alain Walry's picture

Funny how this man, in a rather dull article, is using the Internet to do the exact same thing he is criticizing. How nice to disparage others (even using their names) to put in light the purity of one’s own camp, his Syracuse stuff for example.

NellaLou's picture

@ Mark Porter. The spirit of the Nichiren folks just can't be beat. Such vigor, audacity and life. Great.


one of those pathetic Zen types.

Mark Porter's picture

Zen is an abomination of Buddhism. Hows that for a debate? Any form of Buddhism that has a sickness related to it is not Buddhism.

NellaLou's picture

My response to this article is too long for your comments section. Expectations, among other things are addressed at the link below

wendy yee's picture

expectations:-['student'--or other]
a killer

learned that in the 80's

still true

Michael James Jaquish's picture

I found the information describing ego-based public Internet bickering between supposedly ‘self-realized’ Buddhist teachers in the article about Dharma Wars by Zenshin Michael Haederle very sad and very disturbing. I read this article before going to bed and I tossed and turned and dreamed dark dreams all night and finally arose early feeling I needed to say something to someone about the negativity represented by this kind of demoralizing behavior.
Worthy masters and worthy students: Please be advised you are being watched! You are hereby ‘on notice’ that you all serve as role models for countless souls seeking guidance for the all-important journey of spiritual evolution regardless of the method you use to embrace, engage and instruct sentient beings. While we searchers of truth do not expect you to be perfect until you reach enlightenment, we DO expect you to understand, possess, express and employ the fundamental qualities and awareness of non-dual, egoless compassion. If any of you find this fundamental beyond your reach, I urge you to consider retreating to a cave for a few decades of serious meditation to open the door to your spiritual essence. Students of The Path have every right to expect nothing less from their teachers.

Michael James Jaquish
Author: A Monk Without A Monastery

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